Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I'm Thankful For . . .

Friends like the Hinckleys, who let me drag them along on one of my hare-brained ideas last night. Usually my wild & wacky ideas involve dragging along a friend or two; sometimes it's Dan or other family members; & thankfully everyone's always a good sport about it.

We have supper each Wednesday night before Bible study, & each week one family or group of families provides a main course, while the rest of the congregation that comes brings a side dish or dessert. Signing up for these suppers has slowed down, & I wanted to sign up for one week but didn't want to do it by myself. So I asked Tanya if she'd be interested, or if she at least could give me an idea for what to cook. So, she came back with several ideas & offered to help (or did I ask? I don't remember). We decided on spaghetti. Sounds pretty easy, right? Why, oh WHY????, do things have to be so complicated when they should be so very easy? The basic food prep was pretty easy, but the timing of everything was a lot harder than it should have been, & there were lots of little things that I forgot about. I felt responsible since it was my idea in the first place. I felt bad for dragging Tanya & Jonathan into it without having a clue as to what I was doing. But, as always, they were good sports about it & SUPER helpful!!

In case you need some tips on preparing a meal for a large group, here are some ideas that should make it easier for you, based on what I learned last night:

1--A large pot of water will probably take longer to boil than a small pot. (Okay, so maybe for most of you, that's common sense, but some of us are a little slower)

2--Watching a pot of water & waiting for it to boil will make it take longer to boil (ask Tanya if you don't believe me)

3--If you're planning to serve drinks with dinner, you need ice. (Again, maybe common sense for some of you)

4--Don't use the spaghetti sauce spoon to stir the tea. (once again, common sense probably...)

5--If you don't mind dragging yet another friend into the mess, ask one to help watch the kids while you're setting up; but don't be surprised if everyone else coming in thinks you must be someone else because your 3 extra limbs (otherwise known as children) aren't hanging off you for once.

6--Enlist a guy (a strong one, like Jonathan) to help set up the chairs & tables & to lift the big heavy pots of spaghetti sauce & pasta.

7--It's helpful to check your supply of plates, cups, napkins, etc., BEFORE the night of your activity.

8--However long you think it's going to take to get everything ready, add 20 extra minutes.

9--Above all else, when you're planning an adventure (even if it's not a far away, exciting adventure), take a friend along for the ride. I'm glad I did!!

Monday, November 27, 2006

My Thanksgiving Trip & Mommy's Bad Idea #87 (also, trip to Storybook Land)

On Wednesday afternoon the boys & I drove up to New Jersey. Dan has this portfolio he needs to get done for his course, which he had been planning for months to spend this weekend working on. So he was not able to go, but I really had a desire to do something with family on Thanksgiving. Since no one was coming here, I decided to go to NJ. Mom & Dad L. were gracious hosts, as always, & it was great to be with them.

Wednesday was not such a great day. I hadn't been keeping up with the weather, but apparently it was supposed to rain. I did not realize this fact until a little before 1PM when I left the house to go pick up Nathan from school & it was starting to rain. Great. So, on top of the weather (which was coming down pretty hard for the majority of the trip), the traffic was really bad. That's to be expected the day before Thanksgiving, but with the rain it was doubly frustrating. What normally should be 7-7&1/2 hours was 10 hours!! Ugh. I'm thinkin' I should have just not sent Nathan to school that day & left as early as possible. Oh well, would've, should've, could've. Fortunately, the travelers were suitably entertained on the trip, which made it a bit easier. Plenty of DVDs for the kids in the back, a book on CD for me. It's the first time I tried a CD book while traveling, & though I don't absorb as much listening as I do reading, it was entertaining. Next time, though, I'll research a little more before choosing books to listen to with kids around. Though my first book was tame (Philip Craig does not do the really bad words, but some of the not-as-bad bad words), the book on my trip home had a lot of the bad bad words & A LOT of taking God's name in vain. Annoying!!

Thursday was a great day! The morning was relaxing, sleeping in (for me, anyway), hanging out with Dan's folks & the kids. At 2 we picked up Grandmom Leichner & drove over to Steve & Jane's house. It was GREAT to see a lot of extended family that I don't see often or some I've not even met yet! After a few hours there, we went back to "our" house & had dinner with Dawn & Steve & their kids & their girls' boyfriends. That was great too! And Dawn sets a mean Thanksgiving table. Everything was so yummy!! We also played a game that Dan's mom made up, sorta like the surveys that go around the emails & blogs: "What color is most like you?" or "What would you do if you weren't afraid to do it?" etc. Since everyone was such a great sport, it was a lot of fun. I think the answer that elicited the most laughter was Nathan's: "My favorite letter is A, because it's the second letter in my name." Where does he get this stuff? But the most appreciated answer was also from Nathan: "The famous person that I'd like to be friends with is Pop-Pop." Apparently Dad has been bragging to as many people as he can about that.

On Friday, Dad set up the artificial tree he got last year after Christmas for $28. I think he was more excited about the deal he got on it than actually having it. We (Dad, Mom & I) were pretty much making fun of it while he was setting it up. It was sparse-looking. I pointed out, though, that even if it didn't turn out all that great, it's less than he would have spent on a real tree so one good use out of it would have been worth it. After the branches were all spread out, the lights turned on, and the garland draped over it, the tree was looking much better. But I have to say that it looked pretty darn good after the ornaments were put on. Maybe that was the $37 burning a whole in my pocket that made me think it looked good. Mom has some ornaments with good hiding places. Each year after Christmas, while taking the ornaments down, she puts money in those ornaments. Then the next year whoever is helping to decorate the tree gets to look for the money. The kids enjoyed getting the "special" ornaments this year. Even though Nathan found the most bills (6), Jeremy found a 20, so his $23 won. Derek also only found 4 bills, one of which was a 5, so his $8 beat Nathan's $6. It didn't really matter, I decided to put it all together & we'll use it for a special family treat soon. We're looking forward to that.

The other special treat of Friday was going over to Autumn & Chad's house. They also had Shawn & Cindy, Mike & Amy & all of our kids over. We had breakfast for dinner. YUM!! It was so wonderful to spend so much time with our old friends; I was just sad that Dan wasn't there too. It's the most we've done with them in a long time. We're hardly ever in town the same time Mike & Amy are. And we usually only see the rest of our friends at church when we're in town, so to have an evening together with them was really great.

On Saturday, the two big things were Treasure Hunt & Storybook Land. If you don't know what either of those two things are, you are REALLY missing out. ;) The treasure hunt is where Dan's mom (Oma) hides one-dollar bills around the house & the kids find it. They each have a limit (this time, $13) & then they stop while Derek finds the rest of his. Dan's parents really like to spoil the kids, in case you couldn't tell. It's getting to where the kids expect it, though, so I hope they don't do this EVERY time we go (hint, hint). So, we took our $13 to Wal-Mart after lunch & spent it. Nathan & Jeremy both got play guns & small cars. Derek got a Dora puzzle and a Little People SUV (it's purple, & the driver is a girl, but he doesn't seem to mind). After that we drove the rest of the hour to Storybook Land. It's a bit cold for amusement parks this time of year, but we were really blessed with warm weather that day. The main reason for us going this time of year was that Mom had heard Santa comes out at 5 & turns on Christmas lights all around the park. She heard it was pretty amazing. Since the kids absolutely love Storybook Land (voted Most Fun Place on Earth, by Nathan the night before), it wouldn't have mattered what the lights looked like, but I do have to admit, it was pretty amazing. Lights EVERYWHERE. Before that, we had enjoyed rides all over the park. I agree with Jeremy that the best ride is Turtle Whirl (AKA, Spinning Turtles, according to Jeremy). Turtle #6 is especially whirly, & especially so when you have two adults sitting on the outsides with the kids crammed in the middle. I think the centrifugal force affects the speed of the spin. Maybe. I didn't do so well with Engineering Physics. Not my best science class.

Sunday was difficult for me, mainly because I feel uncomfortable with my old congregation after what they did to my parents. But it's not everyone, & I was trying to suppress feelings of betrayal & such. Maybe I'll blog some more on that later. LOTS of people came to hug me & say how cute our kids are & to say that they miss my parents & sister & grandparents. I told them that they miss lots of people in NJ too. Apparently my sister has recently written to a few of the seniors there, & they were very appreciative of that, so Go Loni! (Ellen wants you guys to write to her!) After lunch we had another long trip home. I really intended to drive an alternate route suggested by Dad, but my hands on the steering wheel were on autopilot, apparently, as we just went the same old route we always go. Old habits die hard. Sure enough, we hit bunches of traffic in Delaware & Maryland, which we might have missed if we'd gone the other way. Oh well. Another long trip, 9 & 1/2 hours. But we're home, safe & sound, & I'm relieved. Trying to rest up!!

I was going to include some things I'm thankful for, but this has gotten pretty long, so I'll finish this up with another bad idea & post on my list of thanks later. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving. Love to you all!

Bad Idea # 87: (In case you're wondering where the first 86 bad ideas are, they're around somewhere. I haven't been keeping exact track, but I'm pretty sure 87 is close.)
Last week before our trip, I stopped at Wal-Mart to pick up a few things & went by the toy department to see if I could spend my meager allowance (yes, I said "allowance") on some small, cheap toys for the trip. I thought I had a pretty good idea: some glow sticks & these little balls that, when you squeeze them, flash a bunch of different colors. It was a good idea; the kids loved the glowing toys when it began to grow dark outside. The problem? Those flashing balls caused me to think there were flashing police lights behind me every time they were squeezed, which was frequently. I started to get used to them, but then there would be a break in between flashings, so when it started up again I panicked again. Not such a great idea after all.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Static Electricity

My sister-in-law Terri took this picture of my niece Hannah and submitted it to our local paper. It was published a few weeks ago, then it was chosen by the paper to be part of this Best Shot contest they're having. If you want to help Hannah win the contest, you can go to this link & vote for her picture, "Static Electricity," or "static," as they have it listed in the left column where you vote. I think you can vote multiple times, though just once each day. I hope I'll be announcing after December 15th that she won!!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

How Much Is Your Life Worth?

I am hooked on this BlogThings site--well, I'm hooked on all things BLOG--but my latest entertainment has been to take one of these tests & then maybe put it on my blog. I enjoyed taking the intelligence test (not to see how much intelligence I have but to see what "type" of intelligence I have). The results are in my last post, near the bottom. [FYI, the other 2 people who took it told me their results were the same; but I know that not everyone gets the same answer because the first time I saw it on someone else's blog, the results were different]

I also took the "What Does Your SAT Score Mean?" test, & the results were quite exciting: my SAT score of 1370 was higher than that of Howard Stern, George W. Bush (I should run for president!!), Al Gore (then again, maybe not), but lower than Bill Gates, Natalie Portman & David Duchovny (who knew that alien chasers were so smart?!). My SAT score also means my IQ level is in the 130-140 range (according to this site, mind you), and that the ACT equivalent was 31 (though I can't remember what it actually was when I took it TEN whole years ago, that sounds about right).
I haven't yet but look forward to taking the Redneck & Driving tests, which I told you about in my last post. Don't hold your breath, I'll get to it.

I did a double-take when I came to "How Much Is Your Life Worth?" I thought, yeah, let's see! So here are the results:
Your Life Is Worth...


Whew! Sounds like a lot, but that $1,000,000 life insurance policy might be a good deal after all!

The truth is, there are many ways to calculate what your life is worth, but I initially would not have thought about it in monetary terms, despite my history with math. Maybe that's because of my history with God's Word. One way to look at it (in my opinion) is that the sacrifice of the Lamb of God is what gives my life its worth. That cost is far more than I could ever repay. Thank you, God, that I don't have to! The grace that God extends to me daily covers over whatever worthlessness I created in myself. One of my Dad's favorite quotes is:

The fundamental problem with most of us is not deficient self-esteem but inadequate divine-esteem. (Daniel Block)

Every time I read that, I think "Right on! I know that's true of me!!" When I try to calculate what I am worth, I come up empty. I have issues with self-esteem. And actually, according to Daniel Block & I am apt to agree, my focus on self-esteem IS the problem. I am looking to myself & what I can contribute to society, to my household, to the church; instead I need to look & see what God can do through me to contribute to society, to my household, to the church. When I compare myself to others, I am immediately overwhelmed with all the things about myself I'd change so I could be more like so-&-so or less like another so-&-so. Well, you know what? God can work though me and in spite of me to accomplish the good He will accomplish. When my focus is less on myself and what I want to change the focus is instead on God and what He would change. A favorite quote of mine is from The Purpose-Driven Life:

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less. (Rick Warren)

Again, when thoughts of myself are not at the forefront of my mind, then thoughts of God and His work take over. I'm not thinking less of myself in those instances, I'm thinking instead of my God and Savior and I don't worry about my body or my shortcomings as a human being.

Here's what I'm going to try to do to work on my divine-esteem and maybe this will help you too. Or maybe you have a good handle on this and can give the rest of us some suggestions.

*I am going to try to journal about my day, & home (hone?) in on the times or situations of each day that I am most likely to be distracted with thoughts of myself which almost always end up negative (i.e., I know when I go into the bathroom, I am going to look in the mirror, and then I will proceed to pick out the things about my body I wish could change. That's not a good time of the day for me)
*When I figure out what situations in my daily life I am likely to focus on self (i.e., being in the bathroom), I can devise a plan to stay away from those situations (while not going to the bathroom ever again sounds like a good plan to me, it's not that realistic so instead I am going to try to coach myself before I go in there not to look in the mirror, maybe I won't even turn on the light so it won't be so easy to spot my flaws)
*What else can I do since draping something over the mirror won't help when I need to put my makeup on in the morning? (i.e., Pray before going into the bathrooom; carry a verse with me to read & dissect & think about)

So I chose a somewhat simplified situation to get you thinking. I hope this will at least generate a discussion that can help us to encourage each other. I don't know how much guys are affected by the sort of things girls are, but I know that I have several friends who've complained of the "blahs" lately, and--believe me--I've been there a lot too! Whatever ways we can find to focus on God instead of on self are going to be helpful in the fight against the "blahs" (when did the "blues" change to the "blahs" by the way??). So please share your ideas!!

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

And anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:38,39)

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment . . . Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. (1 Peter 3:3,4)

And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:10)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Just Some Miscellaneous Ramblings

This is how stubborn my youngest is (& if you'll remember from his birthday post, I told you we really thought Jeremy was stubborn until Derek was born):

He comes into the living room really frustrated because he can't get his shirt off. I mean, he's getting angry. I offer to help, but no, he wants to do it himself. He gets it up over his head, but it's still on his arms, & behind his head. He is just wrestling with his shirt & I'm thinking, "what a silly kid, you could just let me help you!" He finally gets it off, & then decides to give it to me. At which point I notice it's wet -- REALLY wet.

"D e r e k..." (I say it really slow because I know he's been up to something but I'm not sure I want to know what that "something" is)

"Why - is - your - shirt - wet?" (I say between gritted teeth)

Jeremy answers for him (they love to get each other in trouble): "Because he was playing in the water!"

So I scold Derek & tell him not to play in the water. Then I scold Jeremy for telling on Derek (not a big fan of the kids telling on each other).

A few minutes later I'm walking down the hall & I hear some noise coming from the bathroom. Hmmm, sounds like running water. Yup, it is running water. Apparently Derek left the water running after he was done with it . . . AND my (still unread) Reader's Digest is now in the sink! This is the second time he's ruined a Reader's Digest I hadn't even read yet! What does he have against the great writers at Reader's Digest?! Especially that witty Mary Roach who I aspire to be like--well, to write like. And who doesn't love all the funny stories that are shared in "Laughter: the Best Medicine," "Humor In Uniform," etc.??

I'm going to have to find another place to leave my RDs.

Okay, another few things...

I love Wayne on Sesame Street, by the way. Wayne was the funniest guy they've ever had on Whose Line Is It Anyway? in case you don't know who "Wayne" is.

My friend Bevin has entered the wonderful world of blogging! And her husband's basketball team (Go Highlanders!) has a blog. I've added both of the links to the right. Unless you're really interested in basketball, I'm not sure you'd want to read about a team you're not familiar with, but then again you might! The Highlanders have provided the majority of our family's winter-time entertainment for the past 3 years & we are looking forward to another year. Especially since they've had such a great start! You can read all about their "surprise" win over VT (another local team & usual victors of the RU-VT battles). I just hope Dan will be able to join us as much as he has in the past. Corey & Bevin just had a baby in August, so you will enjoy seeing sweet pictures of their adorable little Cooper on Bevin's blog.

My brother Trey also now has a blog in addition to Xanga. He hasn't written much yet, but the link's to the right if you're interested to see what kind of little brother I have.

I am also adding Matt Dabbs since he apparently will be an occasional visitor to my little world. Since he's befriending my dad--the new guy--in Florida, & he's going to help me find a husband for my sister, he's almost family. And I've never even met him! Just kidding, he didn't say he would help me find a husband for my sister. If you didn't read my last post, then you are thinking I'm really crazy right now!! Matt's posts are really encouraging, & he also has links to other great preachers, so check out his blog & be prepared to be challenged & encouraged. (Don't worry, Matt, most of my friends are not as annoying as I am)

While I'm at it, I'm adding the other blogs I regularly read. And yes, I KNOW, I am way too obsessed with the whole blogging thing. You can see from the list how much time I must spend each day reading all these blogs. And this list doesn't even include some other blogs that I read a little less frequently or the myspace people that don't really blog on it but occasionally add pictures or whatever. I might be addicted. Dan makes fun of me. Or he might be serious.

Well, anyway, I will try to work on it. For instance, my goal today is to get online to check blogs & email one less time than I did it yesterday.

Today I am aiming to get on only 38 times.

A few posts back I asked a few questions you might be interested in answering if you haven't already seen the post. My brother said something about being sorry he didn't get around to answering them, so I just wanted to let him & others of you know that it's never too late! You can read & comment on my old posts, & I will still very much enjoy reading your comments!

What kind of intelligence do you have?

This is mine (don't laugh!):
Your Dominant Intelligence is Interpersonal Intelligence

You shine in your ability to relate to and understand others.
Good at seeing others' points of view, you get how people think and feel.
You have an uncanny ability to sense true feelings, intentions, and motivations.
A natural born leader, you are great at teaching and mediating conflict.

You would make a good counselor, salesperson, politician, or business person.

There are several other quizzes you can take at this site, & I plan to try a new one every once in a while to share with you. I am looking forward to taking the driver's test & the redneck test. Those will be interesting.

You might also want to scroll down to the very bottom of the page to see my Countdown to Christmas!! Yep, very excited about that.

Last night I had a jewelry show at my house. What fun! I actually really like jewelry, but I've never really had the money to indulge in it that much. So this was a treat. My show totaled over $1,000. Normally the host gets 30% of the total in free jewelry, but they were having a promotion this month so I am getting 50% in free jewelry. (For those of you not inclined toward math--as I am, of course--that's over $500.) So, WOW! I am way excited. I hope it's not too cheap of me, but some of you that I exchange Christmas presents with can probably expect jewelry in your stocking this year.

Okay, I'll wrap this up. I will leave you with my (current) favorite verse: "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." -Isaiah 40:31

I hope you're able to remember today to trust in Him who gives you strength. He will help get you through. Blessings!!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

My Answers to the Last Post

I was going to just leave a comment to my last post with all my answers, but it got so long I thought I should just go ahead & make a new post.

Wow! Great response so far, guys! Thank you! I am enjoying all your answers.

Matt totally took me by surprise, though!! I really thought my post with Derek's bare bottom would scare away all of the preacher friends I've made recently. I'm wondering, Matt, if you know any single guys in FL that I can hook my sister up with. She's going to be really mad that I asked that! You're just the only young guy in FL I know (if we could say I know you), & you're already taken.

Maria, I love imagining your accent as you said "porridge" for breakfast. Too cute! I wish I could hear you!

Amy, can you say "Obsessive/Compulsive"?? HA!! I'm just kidding.

Malia, I love your answer to what you wanted to be when you were a child.

Bevin, I think we should take our vacation together next year. I love the beach too!

Dee, I remember in Searcy there was this horrible trend with the natives there to not use their turn signals. What is up with that?! They're only a little better about that here in VA.

Okay, here are my answers...
1. I guess there is no answer to this one. Thanks a lot for all your help, guys. Really, I mean it, so helpful.
2. I read mostly NIV, but we also have a New American Standard now because Dan was once asked at another church to not read from the NIV. So now I like to compare some of my favorite verses in his translation.
3. Yes, I do think schools should ask for ID, but twice I went to Nathan's school & was not asked for it--once, when I was staying for lunch, I wasn't even asked to sign in. Another time, when we went to pick Nathan up for a dentist's appt, I signed him out & then went to wait for him in the hallway--it wasn't until later that I realized if I were an evil person, it would have been WAY too easy to sign out a kid that wasn't mine & take him home with me! I was just wondering if I was being too paranoid or if others agreed with me.
4. I am definitely NOT a minimalist. I like clothes. I don't really like shorts, even in the summer.
5. There are so many ways I need to work on my relationship with God that I don't know where to begin. But I have determined to be more patient, because that characteristic spans several areas in my life that need improving. (patience with kids, patience with Dan, patience with God, patience with other drivers, patience, patience, patience!!) And I love Matt's latest post on Waiting on the Lord. I actually have a similar post I've been working on, but I think I'm going to scrap it as Matt says it so much better. So go on over & check it out.
6. My biggest driving pet peeve is other drivers, period. But I'm working on that. :)
7. Let's see, breakfast . . . I think I had some.
8. My ideal vacation would be a resort on a tropical beach where I could take lots of books, maybe some craft stuff, where I had absolutely nothing else to do, nothing to cook, nowhere to go, & it would be absolutely free. Since that's not likely to happen in my lifetime, I'll settle for Mom & Dad's new place in sunny FL. It'd be almost the same if I could go without the kids!! I don't think the grand-folk would let me come without them, though. Oh well!
9. I am a night person. I hate it too, because I have three morning children who like to wake me up early! But for some reason, I cannot bring myself to get into bed at a reasonable hour. Maybe it's just that there's so much to do after the kids go to bed.
10. I have always wanted to be a teacher & a mom. Well, I'm halfway there (unless you count Sunday school, which I would, except I planned to be a teacher that got paid).

Monday, November 13, 2006

I need some answers!

Just feel free to answer whatever questions you want to.

1. Can someone who has beta blogger please tell me if there is a way to avoid having to sign in every time I want to post a blog or post a comment on someone else's blog?

2. What translation of the Bible do you read the most? (this question courtesy of preacherman's post)

3. Do you think schools ought to require to see ID of visitors or of parents taking their children out of school? (this question I'm asking because of my recent visits to Nathan's school--I'll discuss it later)

4. When it comes to clothing, are you a minimalist or an I'd-prefer-to-have-a-pair-of-pants-&-a-shirt-on-even-in-the-muggy-heat-of-summer kind of person? (this question courtesy of the comments-discussion on My Fatal Mistake post)

5. What is one way you want to better yourself or your relationship with God? (this question courtesy of Matt Dabbs' post--incidentally, I want to know if any of my Harding pals remember this guy--he was there around the same time most of us were; after my "Fatal Mistake" post, I don't think he'll be coming around here anymore!)

6. What's your biggest driving pet peeve?

7. What did you have for breakfast this morning?

8. If you could go anywhere for vacation, where would you go?

9. Are you a morning person or a night person?

10. What did you want to be when you were a child?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Happy Birthday, Derek Braden!

In honor of Derek’s second birthday today, I wrote a loving (mostly) tribute to honor the child that is my youngest son. Incidentally, he is the third son of a third son of a third son of a third son (no joke!). Very special, indeed!

Derek . . .
*Until you were born, we thought Jeremy was stubborn
*Until you started jibber-jabbering, we thought Nathan was going to be our chatterbox
*Until you, we had no idea just how loud a child could scream
*Until you, I wouldn’t have figured on a child falling out of his chair so many times simply because he refuses to sit still for even a second
*Until you came along, I thought 7 a.m. was pretty early to have to wake up (why, oh why, must you consistently wake up at 6:15?)
*Until you, I didn’t know the meaning of the word “bossy”
*Until you, I didn’t know a rough-&-tumble little boy could turn around & give babies gentle little pats on the head or sweet little hugs
*Until you, I never knew how cute the color “leh-lo” could be
*Until you, I didn’t know just how precious it would be to witness my two oldest sons protect their younger brother & then in the next second wrestle him to the ground
*Until you, I couldn’t have guessed how cute it would be to have Nathan & Jeremy be renamed to “Nay-nay” and “Meh-mee”, although I’m glad you’re getting the hang of their given names, even imitating me when I “sternly” call them “Da-faniel” (Nathaniel) & “Deremiah” (Jeremiah)
*Until you were born, I wasn’t sure how three children would fit in that small room in our tiny little house
*Until you were born on that lovely Wednesday afternoon two years ago, I wasn’t sure if I could fit my three little children in my lap, or surround them with my arms
*Until the very second you were born, I wasn’t sure my heart could grow to fit the love I’d need for my three precious little boys

How easy that was, & needless my worries! Your impish little smile, your obvious leadership qualities (even at such a young age!), your friendliness–all of these things plus so much more make it pure JOY to love you, to treasure you, my dear sweet child. I love you, Derek Braden, & have from the first moment I laid eyes on you. I still remember how wonderful it was to be able to be in my own room, waiting so impatiently & painfully for you to arrive, then the moment you came I forgot all about the pain I was in & hugged you so close & cried & cried & cried (it’s a good thing you’re too young to be embarrassed by your ol’ Ma). I had a feeling that the slowness with which you were brought into this world might be a sign for things to come. While you have taught me patience in many ways, all of them are ways I’ve needed to learn.

DB, I will treasure you always.

Perhaps those of you that know Derek might like to share a special memory or thought of him as well. Thank you!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Our God Reigns!

The God who heals
The God who provides
All Sufficient One

A friend of mine sent me these names for God today, & they really encouraged me. Enough to want to share them with you.

I went forward yesterday at church. Though we had a guest speaker who was GREAT, the reason I went forward had more to do with these burdens I carry that have gotten too heavy. I share with a small group of friends what's going on in my life, but I guess yesterday was the point of breaking. I just posted a few days ago about how great I am at giving my burdens over to God. How arrogant of me! I was so wrong! There is at least one big burden that, though I pray about it often, still weighs heavy on my heart and tears me down regularly. I thought I was giving it over to God, but since I let myself still worry over it, I don't. I have been trying to manipulate someone into doing something, when it really has to be this person's decision. Even if I were able to convince them of the change they need to make, it means nothing if I've coaxed it out of them, rather than letting them discover the need to change themselves.

Praise God for being El-Shaddai--I am nowhere near being all-sufficient, but He is all I need.
Praise God for being Jehovah-rapha--We all need healing!
Praise God for being Jehovah-jireh--My God provides for all my needs. In this case, it was a church family that enveloped me after services & again last night & reminded me that I am loved & cared for by earthly beings as well as by Jehovah God.

And it's knowing you, my friends, are there for me as well. I love you!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Cornbread Muffins

Here is the perfect partner for your cold-weather chili (or Taco Soup, if you're Dee!):

Cornbread Muffins

1 1/2 c. flour
1 c. fine yellow cornmeal
1/3 c. sugar, heaping if you like it sweet
1 T. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 egg
1 1/2 c. milk
1/3 c. vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter the bottoms only of 12 muffin cups. Mix the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk egg, milk, and vegetable oil. Make a well in the dry ingredients. Pour in liquid mixture & stir just until smooth. Spoon the batter into muffin cups. Bake the muffins on the center oven rack until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 15-20 minutes.

A "cheesy" option is to add a bit of cheddar to the top of each muffin; I think it would work adding it before cooking, but I usually top them off with cheese just after taking them out of the oven.

I got this recipe from Family Fun, it was originally for making a mix to give as gifts. You just measure the dry ingredients & put them in a bag or jar. Attach instructions for making the muffins; your gift recipient only needs to add the liquid ingredients.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

For the curious...

The bug that I posted about has been identified as either a house centipede or a silverfish by you, my devoted readers. Dan doesn't think it's very easy to tell from the picture what it is. You can't see the size of it, or really what its back looks like. I have looked up silverfish before, & I can tell you with about 90% certainty that it is not a silverfish. (Again, it is hard to tell from the picture, but thank you all who tried to help me figure out what kind of bug it is) I am apt to agree with Kim Hill who said it's call a house centipede. Aunt Dawn, who "googled" it agrees that it's a centipede. It is very centipede...ish. If I had our Audobon Society books here at home, I'd look it up again under centipedes, but alas, they are in Dan's classroom (the books, not the centipedes).

Interestingly enough, this post has generated quite a few comments, even comments that were sent to me by email rather than posted on the blog, & even a comment from "James", a man that I'm not sure I know. It's good to know that you're just as interested in the bugs that reside in our home as you are the children. I'll be sure & post a few pictures of the fruit flies, fleas, spiders...just kidding. Have you ever noticed how many bugs you get in your house when you're moving in? It's amazing--probably more so in the summer than during the winter (it is cold in the winter, after all). But they're gone now. We miss them terribly.

If you're just checking in for the first time in a few days, make sure to scroll down as I've posted several times in just a short while. I don't want you to miss a single post!

And, now I leave you, my dear friends. I have spent so much time on the computer today that the house is suffering (& Derek is flashing the neighborhood). I will be back, but when? I cannot say.

Good day to you all.

Fatal Mistake

Derek is going to be the cause of a heart attack--& I predict it will be before he's 4. My BIG mistake of the day: not getting a shower before Dan left for school. I needed a shower, though, so I decided to try it--with Derek & Jeremy running loose around the house.

Jeremy comes into the bathroom while I'm showering & says that Derek has let the dog out of the house (oh no! not again!). So I quickly get out, dry off, get dressed.

Then it hits me... "Jeremy, where's Derek?"



I run to the front door & peek outside. I don't see him, so I'm hoping maybe Jeremy was wrong?? No such luck. I hear Derek, so I call to him & he comes around the corner of the house. Apparently he went after the toys we left in the driveway yesterday in our rush to get ready for trick-or-treating.

What I learned from this mistake: from now on, when I MUST take a shower & it's not naptime & there's not another responsible adult in the house, I will lock & bolt all the doors. I will lock Snickers in the basement & turn off all the lights so Derek won't go down there. I will instruct Jeremy to stand guard over Derek & not let him near any of the doors. In fact, I think I'll chain Derek to the dining room table.

Better yet, & much easier, I'll just put Derek in his room & lock the door ... from the outside.

Oh, and did I mention that Derek is going through I-love-to-take-off-my-pants-&-diaper-&-run-around-the-house phase? So, yeah, any neighbors driving past our house around 10 this morning got an eyeful!!

Warning: Bare-bottomed picture of Derek ahead--you may want to close your eyes!


Is it okay to post a picture of your baby's bottom on your blog? I wasn't sure.

Was it his morning adventures or last night's excitement that wore him out so thoroughly that he fell asleep on the living room floor?!