Saturday, December 29, 2007

Echo...echo...echo....

Hellooooo.....
Helllooooo.....
Hellllooooo...

Is that an echo? I need to clear the bloggy cobwebs, huh? Ohhhhh, my friends...what a week it has been around here!

Both of my kids had a short-lived tummy bug at the end of last week. Mitchell's came back in the middle of the night the next day though (meaning more pukey sheets to wash!) and a fever came with it, which was different from Georgia who simply threw up twice and was fine two hours later. I took him to urgent care on Sunday after learning that our neighbor (who is also his classmate at school) had just tested positive for strep the day before and sure enough -- he had it, too. The doctor was nice enough to write me a pregnancy-friendly prescription, too -- that way I could save myself the $50 copay if I started having symptoms.

Anyway - for me the sad part (you know, in addition to having sick kids and having to repeatedly clean up throw up with a delicate pregnant nose and wash sheets 6 - yes I counted- times) was having to miss our annual "cookie day" at my mom's house. We get together and make all kinds of cookies for Christmas: iced sugar cookies that we really get into decorating, russian tea cookies, chocolate chip (a different than usual recipe), peanut butter, raspberry jam filled sugar cookies, Danish dapples, and peanut brittle. It's a big-time tradition for us and a day that I always really enjoy. Even though *I* wasn't sick, if there was a chance that I would be, I didn't want to be preparing food that 35 people would eat on Christmas Eve, as the cookies are our family's dessert every year. I also stayed home from making our yummy meatballs on Sunday which also bummed me out, but again - better safe than sorry. Sooooo, anyway - Sunday was a pretty good day - Mitchell seemed much better and the rest of us felt fine.

Then, on Monday - yes, that would be Christmas Eve - I ended up having the other kind of tummy issue allllllllllllllllll day long. Chris had to work and when he left for work it wasn't too terrible yet, but it quickly got to the point where I was pretty much non-functional. (I have hit that pretty much constantly nauseated point of my pregnancy, so that on top of the other stuff = not good.) I knew Chris had a really big, important meeting at 3pm though, so I just decided to suck it up and handle it myself. Both of our parents offered to come help me take care of the kids, but there was no way that I wanted to pass this stuff around so I just managed. The tv was on literally all day long and they ate things that required me to get up no longer than about 2 minutes: cereal, cheese quesadillas that I nuked in the microwave for 30 seconds, fruit, etc. The rest of the time I was either parked on the sofa or in the bathroom. I think Georgia must have sensed just how yucky I felt because all she wanted to do was sit on me all day. Literally. That girl never left my side -- I think it was the most still I've seen her. Ever. Such a sweetie -- and Mitchell was such a big helper to me. So, we made it through the day. By the time my husband fought traffic, stopped at the store for me and finally arrived home, it was later than he had hoped. He got the kids fed and into bed and then came downstairs with me.

He started acting really weird right about then. Now, I don't know if any of you have the type of husbands who will just readily tell you when they don't feel good, but if you do - count your blessings. I have one stubborn man who pretty much tries to hide and/or downplay his illnesses. It is always sooooooooo annoying when he's denying that anything is wrong, but on this day it was particularly feather-ruffling for me. After he tidied up the kitchen, he came and sat on the loveseat directly across from the couch that I was laying on. He had his hands between his knees, his head bent over and he was rocking back and forth slightly. I asked him what was wrong and he said he was just really cold.

Really cold? MY husband? I have never in our almost 6 years of marriage heard him say that he was ever slightly cold unless we are literally outside in frigid weather. Usually I will have on three layers of clothes, two blankets (so not kidding) and still be cold and he'll be talking about how it's hot in the house since I turned the heat up.

Anyway - I knew something was up, so I had him come over and let me take his temperature. It was 101.5 and I just sighed. Here we go again.

I'll spare you the long, drawn out version - -ha! Too late, huh? I ended up being up all night long with him (he slept most of the night though) worrying myself silly because his fever climbed all the way to 104.9 and wouldn't come back down past just under 102. He was in pretty bad shape and it was worrisome for me to see him have such a high fever, as that is COMPLETELY unusual. I did the whole alternating tylenol and ibuprofen thing every 3 hours and let me tell you how fun it was to convince him each time to sit up and take it. Uhhh, yeah.

Luckily, I started actually feeling much better during the night and by the time Tuesday (Christmas morning) rolled around, I actually felt like I was halfway human again. The yuckies had stopped and my stomach was no longer constantly rolling. I was actually hungry and enjoyed drinking some water and gatorade. Funny how little things like that will make you so happy sometimes.

We had cancelled our annual Christmas breakfast with all of the grandparents, but my parents still came over to see the kids open their big surprises. (I ran around - again - with the lysol spray and clorox wipes prior to their arrival.) Poor Chris managed to make it to the landing, where he sat to watch a safe distance away from everyone. After about 2 gifts for each kiddo, we packed them up and shipped them off to grandma and grandpa's for the day and a sleepover. I'm sure I don't have to tell you how sad it was for me to not spend Christmas with my children, but it was important for us to make sure that they still had an enjoyable holiday, and we knew that it was the best thing.

Chris went back to bed for a few hours and then it was back to urgent care again. I should mention that it was snowing hard all day on Tuesday, so we got to do all of this running around in the middle of a very cold, blustery day. The doctor told him that he had influenza, gave him a shot of something and a prescription for tamiflu. Off to the pharmacy! Of course the one that is about a mile from our home was closed, so it was off to the Walgreens about 20 minutes away. It turns out that half of the world was in the same place and we ended up waiting almost two hours for our prescriptions. (I decided to just go the cautious route at this point and take the antibiotics.) As we were sitting there waiting and people watching, we knew that the kids were definitely where they needed to be and we were thankful to just be together. When our name was finally called, we grabbed a frozen pizza and some drinks on the way out, which gave us a good laugh. We never envisioned grabbing our Christmas dinner from Walgreens. I also told him that no one had selected "pizza" on my what will you have for Christmas dinner poll, yet here I was.

As we drove home, a little piece of irony came to my mind. My friend and I write the group's discussion questions for half of the MOPS meetings, and one that I myself had come up with for our most recent meeting was about a holiday where things didn't go as planned. Nice foreshadowing, don't you think? On our slow, snowy drive home, we were talking about people we know that have critically ill children who are in the hospital, friends who have endured major family losses so close to the holidays, and all of our country's soliders who would LOVE to be driving home with a frozen pizza from Walgreens, as long as they were with their sick-as-a-dog spouse on Christmas. We still had a whole load of presents to open with each other and the kids, even if it was a day or two later.

We decided right then and there that we really didn't have too much to complain about after all.

So, the good news is that we *hopefully* got all of the sickies out of the way before we head out of town. We are off to the mountains today to spend three nights at a lovely little condo. Just the four (and a half) of us. We're really looking forward to it and have already decided that instead of killing ourselves to get the house all crazy perfect before we leave, we're going to call the realtor's office and tell them no showings this weekend. That really wasn't a difficult decision at all. At this point, it's all about our family and what we need: some time to get away together, relax and unwind.

Happy New Year, friends. May you all enjoy a year filled with love, peace, happiness, health, and an abundance of God's blessings. Thank you for filling my year with friendship, hope, encouragment and laughter. See you in 2008!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Still here...

Thanks for checking on me, friends. I'm still here. Not feeling all that horrible, but not feeling all that great either. I had my first appointment at the OB's office on Monday and all is well. I even got to see the little bean on an ultrasound, so that was reassuring. My due date is now officially July 27. I've just been really, REALLY tired so blogging has been put on the back burner until I can keep my eyes open past 8 pm. Plus, I've been enjoying the fact that my husband has been getting home earlier and we've been spending time together at night. This week I have got to wrap presents as so far, I have wrapped ONE. Probably not a good pace I'm setting.

Seeing as how it's Wednesday and I'm in a rush to get Mitchell to school so that Georgia and I can go finish my shopping, I will just take the Not-So-Wordless-Wednesday path today. I *do* have a more thinking cap type blog in my head -- it's been there for about 2 weeks now -- maybe this week I can find a few minutes to get it down.

Love and hugs to all my bloggy friends. Hope you are wrapped in the love of Christ as the day of his birth draws near.

Our first family gingerbread house. We were sort of over it by the time we got to the windows and the wreaths. The kids loved playing in the backyard after the snow. Unfortunately my camera batteries died after these two shots. That last one is of Georgia after she face planted. Doesn't she look thrilled? It was pretty funny - she is SUCH a drama queen.





Saturday, December 08, 2007

Thankful and then some...

Okay, thanks to Alana for giving me the idea to keep my November thankful list on my blog. I'm moving on to December. It's a blessing to be thankful for so many gifts in my life...big and small.

*Cameras. I LOOOOOVE pictures. They are definitely on the things to grab list if there's ever a reason to flee the house.
*The telephone. Seriously. What would I do without it??
*Fresh Flowers. I love to look at them and feel so special when I receive them. They're so beautiful. One of God's amazing creations.
*Blogs! Hellloooooooooo...self explanatory, right? *hugs, bloggy friends*
*My husband and I crack each other up. Yesterday I hit him between the eyes with a spongy football the size of a tangerine and I bet we laughed for 15 minutes. I was crying I was laughing so hard. It's so "us" and I'm so thankful that it's true. We laugh all the time.
*A hubby who doesn't mind rubbing my back. Does it get any better than that??
*Ice cream. Uhhh, YEAH. 'Nuff said.
*Grandparents. They have made a huge impact in my own life and are tremendously influential in my children's lives. I'm so thankful to be able to say that.
*My pink bathrobe thing. So comfy!!
*Always having enough to eat. My children have never TRULY experienced hunger, and for that, I am so grateful.
*My iPod - Rebekah, you're right. Thank the Lord for iPods!!
* Tissue. We have been very appreciative of it this week around here.
*Shoes. I love them. I just do.
*Public libraries. I mean, free books? Come on...that is the coolest!!!
*The Bible. It is where I go to renew, refresh and remind myself of what REALLY matters and where my Hope can be found.
*K-Love -- that station keeps me in the right frame of mind all day long. It's especially good on days like today where I'm dangerously close to losing my mind!!
*Gingerbread Spice hot tea. It's my new thing this week. Just the little treat I need to warm me up - -and no guilt! Hooray!!
*We have two safe, comfortable vehicles. Being able to go where we want, when we want, and not have to worry about the safety of the car taking us is such a gift. It gives our family freedom.
*A warm bed to snuggle into each night. I can't imagine not having that and know that I am fortunate for having a bed at all, let alone a very, very comfy one. (And a snuggly hubby in there, too. Bonus!!)
*Mexican food. Specifically chile rellenos, cheese enchiladas and GOOD green chile. Not that I have weight issues or anything.
*MOPS...it has blessed my life in so many ways. I have made some amazing friendships and have learned so much about myself there.
*Hugs. Very few things in this world can make me happier or feel better than a good hug from someone I love.
*Okay, okay - I'll say it. I am thankful for Starbucks!!!
*We're selling our house because we WANT to, not because we HAVE to. We're not in foreclosure, we don't have two mortgages, we're not upside down in our mortgage. We will actually be upgrading. So our house hasn't sold yet. We are tremendously blessed to HAVE a home of our own.
*My good health. I'm SO appreciative of that.
*My girlfriends...each and every one of them.
*I'm a child of God, and have the freedom to worship Him. Amazing Grace for sure.
*I'm an American! I'm so blessed to be able to say that.
*Being married to my (totally hot) best friend. I treasure our love.
*My two beautiful, healthy children. Miracles -- both of them.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Mini-Me Friday #10 - A Biggie!!

So...I expected to get some questions as to why I hadn't been updating my Mini-Me stuff, but I guess you were all just assuming that I'd already fallen off the wagon or something. Naughty people! You're supposed to be holding me accountable over here!! *wink*

Well, I can tell you this. I am going to be changing the focus of Mini-Me Fridays from a weight loss journey to a weight gain journey. You see, sometime near the end of July, there will literally BE a Mini-Me. Or a Mini-Chris.

Look what I found last Monday:


Yep! Baby Number 3!!

Yep! Total surprise!! (Yes, we know how it happens, by the way.)

Yep! We're excited!!

Nope! Don't have a preference for what we're having!!

Yep! Feeling pretty good -- nausea off and on, but otherwise just fine.


So, there ya go. The biggest Mini-Me update yet. Oh, but in case you're wondering -- I still plan to exercise throughout this pregnancy. I think it's funny that *I* of all people am actually excited to get the 3 new pregnancy dvd's that I just ordered this week. I am sure that I have already gained back all 8 of the pounds that I lost...I have been an eating MACHINE this week. I think that the brakes have been applied though -- last night was my first big food aversion and it was a biggie. I'm feeling more queasy today than I have pretty much all week, so I'm guessing that I'm entering "that phase".

Well, anyway -- there's the big news! *big, deep breath* We are looking forward to seeing all that God has in store for us with this newest little blessing.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Another Meme - Christmas Edition!!

The lovely and talented, Renee tagged me for this one and I'm all over it as I was fresh outta bloggy material. Sweet timing!



1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?

Both. I have a large collection of both. In storage. And an ever growing assortment of gifts accumulating in the basement. Waiting for both a tree and gift wrap. Back to the subject though - I have both bags and wrapping paper, but when it comes to wrapping paper, look out. I have sort of an addiction to it. No matter how much I already have, I *always* buy at LEAST a roll or two every season because I just can't help myself. Oh, and one thing I also have started doing that my mom did growing up was to do covered boxes. Basically you wrap gift boxes in special paper and instead of tape, use glue to secure it and permanently wrap it. Then, every year that person gets a gift in the same box. They are my most favorite boxes in the entire world and some of them are literally falling apart but we still use them. I love getting gifts in my scottie dog paper (I had a scottie dog phase in 7th grade), or my paper doll paper (that started in about 3rd grade), etc. It's definitely a tradition I want to continue in my family. Mitchell already has a Peanuts box and Georgia will have a Princesses box this year.



2. Real tree or artificial?

Artificial. My mom is allergic to pine -- she stops breathing. SO - we have always had a fake tree. I actually am very turned off by the strong scent, so it works for me. I think my husband missed a real tree at first but he's all good with the not ever spending money on it again thing, being the thrifty man that he is. Plus, it's pre-lit. Hello.



3. When do you put up the tree?

Not as soon as I'd like. It varies every year. The year Mitchell was born I had it up the day after Thanksgiving with some help from my dad because I was ready to pop. We were going to put it up last week but did the outside lights instead. We're doing it on Saturday.



4.When do you take the tree down?

Usually the week after New Year's.



5. Do you like eggnog?

No. I LOVE IT!!! And Renee -- there is a GREAT, lowfat, safe for pregnant women eggnog that I discovered when I was preggo with Miss G. It's yummy and better for you - I love it and haven't bought the real stuff since! I put some in my coffee this morning, actually. You're welcome. :)




6. Favorite gift received as a child?
Ohhh, toughie. Hmmmm - I'm going with my walkman and Bonnie Tyler tape in 6th grade. Total Eclipse of the Heart, dudes. Like, totally.


7. Do you have a nativity scene?
Yes, three of them. Two are for the kids, the white, ceramic one is for the top of the entertainment center! We have this one from Current and Mitchell just got this Little People one for his birthday. Both are huge hits.


8. Easiest person to buy for?
My husband. I get a list every year.


9. Hardest person to buy for?
My grandma. I hate drawing her name because, seriously. The woman needs (and pretty much wants) nothing. I usually end up doing gift cards to restaurants for her.


10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
Oh, SO easy. The ex (a.k.a., "The Jerk") on our first Christmas together gave me -- and I promise, I am not making this up -- a joke book and a tin of popcorn. We were 24 years old and that's what he gave me. Uhhhh, YEAH. That was him in a nutshell.


11. Mail or e-mail Christmas cards?
Mail. Though at this point, I'm aiming for Valentine's Day cards. *sigh*


12. Favorite Christmas movie?
I think it's Rudolph, which I just watched tonight with the kids. Still love it. It was always my favorite.


13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
Usually the first week of December, but I started a little earlier this year.


14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
I think I did with a bottle of red wine once. I just have never been a cabernet fan and gave it to someone who was as a hostess gift.


15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Oh, another easy one! Our traditional Christmas Eve meal. It's a Danish thing (my great grandparents on my mom's side came from Denmark) and we always thought it was this very special meal. My mom and her cousin went to visit a few years ago, and it turns out it's a very routine thing to eat there. Who knew?


It is carb city, people and sounds strange but it is so yummy I can't even begin to describe it to you. Anyone who has ever joined us for Christmas Eve dinner has fallen in love with it, too!


Here's how you put it in the soup bowl (the flat kind work best, by the way):
*rice
*mashed potatoes on top of the rice
*homemade chicken and noodles (like a stew with peas and carrots) over the top of both
*homemade chicken/veal meatballs (that have literally like 10 sticks of butter in them) on top of everything


I have no words for the yumminess that IS this Christmas meal.


16. Clear lights or colored on the tree?
Ours are colored. I think the kids like it that way. Works for now. I don't have a strong preference. My mom has two trees -- her fancy tree is all clear lights with gold, crystal and white ornaments and is just gorgeous.


17. Favorite Christmas song?
Away In A Manger.


18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
Well, we go to my parents' house for Christmas Eve, have all the grandparents over for breakfast on Christmas morning and go to my in-laws for Christmas dinner.


19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?
Not at the moment. I'm too tired. Love that Rudolph, though!


20. Angel on the tree top, or a star?
We have both. The angel is in SORRY condition though, so probably a star.


21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?
My kids get to open one gift on Christmas Eve each year and it's always new, washed and ready to go pajamas to sleep in. Another tradition I carried over from my own childhood. I love it. Georgia's just arrived today -- here they are!


22. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
I think for me it's that stress sometimes wins out. Too many parties, too many gifts to buy, too many cards to mail, too much food to cook, etc. It's like good intentions pile up and sometimes result in the focus of the season getting lost. It's sad that it sometimes feels so hard to make the season Christ-centered.


23. What I love most about Christmas?
I love seeing the whole thing through the eyes of my children. The wonder of the story of Jesus' birth. The beautiful songs that they love to sing. The joy and excitement of the gift giving and receiving. The fun it is to see them adore the trees, the lights, and all of the decorations. I just think that there's nothing like the magic of the season to a child. I just love it.



As for tagging someone, I'm going with Sadie, Emily, and Teresa. Get on it, sisters. By the way, T -- I always want to comment but it won't let me. And, Em - I am trying to get you to move past the pumpkin patch, honey. LOL *smooches to you, friends*

Friday, November 30, 2007

A Hand To Hold...

On Thursdays I work and am lucky enough to have in-laws that not just agree to, but love to watch our kids for me while I see my clients. The kids look forward to going, and their grandparents look forward to having them. It's free daycare for us, so it's a great situation all the way around.

Yesterday morning as we arrived, Georgia did something that really caught my attention. It was one of those things that I'm sure on most days I'd never notice, but ever since it happened, I have found myself thinking about it pretty frequently.

It was really cold yesterday morning so Miss G was all bundled up in her coat and hat and was tightly clutching her beloved Duck Duck in her right arm. I was walking beside her on her left side. As we got to the porch step that is much too tall for her to just step right up on, she stopped. Then she simply lifted her chubby little hand in the air.

She didn't look up.
She didn't look around.
She didn't say "Momma."
No, she simply held up her hand and knew with unfailing certainty that I would be there to help her. She was right...I was.

As you may or may not recall, I have chosen the word "Trust" to be my guiding theme for the coming year. There was my not-yet-two-year-old baby girl demonstrating for me what it truly means to trust. Without batting an eye, she raised her hand into the air, confident that I would be there to hold it and help her get where she needed to go.

I so badly want that to be me.

Next time I'm standing in front of a step that I know is much too large for me to take, holding tightly to that which I hold so dear, I want to without a second thought hold up my hand. I want to do that and know that He is beside me, waiting to take my hand and give me the help we both know I need.

Unfortunately, this is not a strength of mine. Yet.

I tend to get into situations that require a great deal of faith and trust and do a lot of talking about both of those things, yet it takes me a while to actually do the trusting and have the faith. It's not that I don't think the Lord walks beside me. It's not that I don't think He cares. It's not that I don't think He wants to help me.

It's that I don't make myself available for being helped. He can't hold my hand unless I give it to Him. Many times I make it as though I need to seek Him out with bullhorns and neon lights.

"Yo, God -- this way. I'm over here. I see a step. I'm afraid. I can't do it myself. I need help."

Sure, that will get His attention. Sure, He will find me. Sure, He will help me.

But He'll do it anyway, even if I don't say a word.

Psalm 9: 9-10 (NLT)

9 The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.

10 Those who know your name will trust in you,
for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.

Trust.

I keep coming back to trust in a big way, friends. I just never thought my little Love Bug would give me such a clear example of what it's supposed to look like.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wordless Wednesday...

Blue Tootsie Pop + Runny Nose = Not Good For Anybody



Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Spreading Free Holiday Cheer...

Okay, I know -- two posts in one day! But I had to share! You see, last year one of my friends emailed this to me and Mitchell just about peed his pants watching it. Then we did it with Mitchell's picture and the child was literally doubled over, cracking up through the whole thing.

Well, folks -- it's that time of year again and this time, they've bumped it up a notch. Instead of one picture, you can use up to four.

So. Of course we did the whole family!!

I just emailed it out and have gotten responses that have ranged from "sort of disturbing" to "hilarious" to "wow". (Incidentally, the friend who said it was slightly disturbing OF COURSE tried it herself!) So -- make your own decision. If you (and your kids) love it, you can make your own when we're done grooving. Oh, and you can record your own voice on there, too -- but we were much too impatient to wait for that to finish loading. Enjoy!

Watch our family rock the house by clicking here.

Tag, I'm It!

My buddy, Jennifer, tagged me for a Meme -- 8 Random Things. If you have read any of my blog at any time, you will know that I specialize in randomness. I know I just did 7 things about me a while back, but this time, I will NOT be consulting The Cabana Boy so it is all me.

1. I was bald until about the age of 3. Then I was a toehead. Now I'm back to being a brunette (natural color) with blonde highlights (a little help with those) and have more hair than I can handle. (Seriously - it takes forever and a day to dry because there is SO MUCH of it. I am not intentionally whining, for those of you who are about to tell me to count my blessings because you have thin hair and hate it. I'm just saying - it's REALLY thick and some days, it stinks.)

2. I am the only person in my house who likes pickles.

3. My nickname when I was little was (hold onto your hats, friends -- it's gonna blow you away)... Motor Mouth.

4. I have never, ever been able to consistently sleep through the night.

5. My husband and I had our son named before we were married, let alone pregnant.

6. I have always really, really, really wanted to go to Italy.

7. I am uber clumsy. As in, my college roomie nicknamed me "Ouch" for awhile.

8. I can do this funky thing called the 5-toe-spread where all of my toes spread out like fingers. Speaking of things The Cabana Boy just can't get enough of. *snort*

Tagging people -- hmmmmm...if your name starts with the letters A-Z, you are reading this blog and need something to blog about...I tag YOU! You're it!

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Cabana Boy Said WHAT?! And A Recipe...

Just a few random tidbits here and there, and the chicken enchilada casserole recipe at the end...

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Last night at dinner -- I made Chicken Parmesan (yum!)with a new marinara sauce recipe --

Me: I am not a fan of this sauce.
The Hubster: I don't like it at all.
Me: *blink*blink* Oh.

That is the first time in our almost 6 years of marriage he's ever said anything like that. I actually just laughed and didn't get my feelings hurt -- after all, I didn't like it either. To be fair, he can't stand tomatoes and that's all that was in the sauce...so there ya go.

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About 10 minutes later, laughing about how bad the sauce was...

Me: So, did you just take your vitamins with Budweiser?
The Hubster: Yep, sure did. Blog that!

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I don't recommend not being able to find the word you are thinking of when you are a speech therapist. You don't get cut much slack. Especially when the word is "fast"...

The Hubster: What's up with that cop?
Me: I'm not sure, but he's not going very hurry for having his lights on.
The Hubster: Going very hurry?
Me: Going very hurriedly.
The Hubster: Hurriedly?
Me: He's going pretty slow, huh?
The Hubster: Stay in the shallow end, honey.

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White Sauce Chicken Enchilada Casserole
(so NOT a Martha Stewart recipe, by the way, Beth Anne!)

This makes either one 9x13 pan or two 8x8 pans.

4 medium or 3 large chicken breasts (boneless,skinless)
3-4 large or 5-6 small flour tortillas
2 cups shredded cheese (I used 2% monterey jack/colby)

Sauce:
5 oz evaporated milk (fat free)
1 can cream chicken soup (healthy request)
1 small can diced green chiles
1 small (8 oz) tub light sour cream
Any seasoning you want -- I used some garlic powder, salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350. Boil chicken breasts until cooked through. As the chicken is cooking, stir together the sauce ingredients in a large bowl. Tear the tortillas into 1-2 inch pieces.

When the chicken is done, shred it and stir it into the sauce until well combined. Spray the bottom of the pan with cooking spray and line with a layer of tortilla pieces. Layer half of the sauce onto the tortillas. Spread half of the cheese over the sauce. Repeat the layers. (I had enough for two layers.)

Bake uncovered for 45 minutes or until cheese is melted and everything is hot and bubbly. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!


Happy Thanksgiving to all of my bloggy friends. May we all be reminded of the tremendous blessings that surround each of us, even on the worst of days. I've enjoyed adding to my thankful list every day - so much so that I have decided to have a Thankful December as well. I hope that everyone enjoys a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday -- enjoy celebrating with your friends and family and don't forget to make some time to truly count your blessings.

With a thankful heart,

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thoughts galore...

This will be a totally random post, so if you are expecting a logically sequenced stream of thoughts, you might wanna keep on shopping around.

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I am having a very productive day -- and it feels so good! I had our dinner made and in the fridge by 8 am, if that tells you anything! Today was my day to take dinner to a woman from my table at MOPS as she's recovering from surgery, so I made a pan for her and a pan for us. It makes a 9x13 casserole, so I just made two 8x8 dishes instead. (Here's where there would be a lot of clicks on the remote if I were a tv show, huh?) I know she got a meal last night and will get one tomorrow, so I figured on Thanksgiving week, leftovers probably wasn't a big deal -- besides, the only disposable pan I had was 8x8. (That way she doesn't have to wash or return the dish.) I felt even better about my choice when I got there and her hubby had me leave the food on the table because he needed to make room in the fridge for it. Plus, now we have dinner ready to heat and serve, too! Score! Oh, and in case you're wondering - I made White Sauce Chicken Enchiladas. We're also having refried beans/cheese, brown rice and fresh green beans. (They got the same, except for I gave them one of the steamer broccoli bags instead.)
Yummy!!

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So, I just got off of the phone with my husband a few minutes ago and our conversation prompted him to say the following:

Hubby: You need to add that one to the list.
Me: What list?
Hubby: The list of random things about you.
Me: You mean the one that quickly grew into a list of crap that bugs my husband?
Hubby: Yeah, that one.

What was he talking about, you ask? My need to clean by hand our self-cleaning oven. Apparently, his label for this sort of issue is (and this is a direct quote) "There's clean, and then there's 'Tara' clean."

Ummmm, yeah. I have a few issues. But, to be fair -- the man was cleaning his bathroom with dish soap until I came into the picture, so ladies -- let's consider the source, shall we?

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I so totally did NOT want to work out today. (Like, totally dudes. Gag me.) However, I managed to scrape up just enough motivation and did a quick 30 min dvd during nap time. I feel good about that one!

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Did I mention that my oven is clean? And I love it that way?

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Yesterday at the pediatrician's office, we graced a P.A. that we'd yet to meet with our family goo. Both kids have snotty noses and coughs -- and for the past 4 years, that has meant a good possibility of an ear infection, so I took them both in. Mitchell had just started to fall asleep in the car on the way there, and I'm sure I don't have to explain the resulting demeanor to those of you moms with preschoolers who don't nap anymore. When they do fall asleep, and it's only for a few minutes -- whoo---eee, look out now. Or is that just him? Not sure.

Anyway -- so we're in there tearing up magazines and other fun stuff (uhhh, yeah - good times) and in walks Mark, the P.A. that we've never met. Georgia immediately shows off by blowing a snot bubble out of her nose and Mitchell literally crawls under the table.

Me: Hi! Welcome to our little world of fun.
Mark: *blinking like a deer in headlights* Hi, guys!

No, really - he was super nice and quite the trooper. In my defense, it was 2:45 and we'd been waiting for a while. Mitchell quit the shy act after about 2 minutes and Georgia did her normal charming act and all was well.

I think the highlight for me was when Mark used his little plastic hook tool to get a chunk of wax deep out of Mitchell's ear so that he could see the eardrum. He cleaned the tip of the tool off with a tissue and set it down to pick his otoscope (the little ear looker thing) back up. Mitchell saw the tissue sitting there and blew his nose with it.

Mark looked totally grossed out.
I just laughed and said "Well, at least it's his, right?"

I'm pretty sure we made an impression. Oh, and by the way - Mitchell does have an ear infection, and Georgia's was pretty close. (Even with tubes.) *sigh*

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I'm making out my Christmas list (of things to buy, not receive) and can I just tell you right now how LOVELY the whole "scaling back" effort feels right about now?? Not just the money we won't be spending, but the stress of shopping, wrapping, etc. for stuff that I am not so sure people will really use or love. I *know* that each and every thing on my list will be appreciated and I think it just might mean more, not getting lost among a pile of other "things." I feel so good about it -- and the shopping I'm really looking forward to is with the kids and Chris for our soldiers at war that we sponsor, and for the angel tree families we will sponsor this year as well. I can't wait!!!

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Alrighty then, I'm off to make sugar cookie dough. We're making football and turkey cookies for Thursday. In my very clean oven. Did I mention how clean it is?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Walking...

My sweet, sweet hubby has been so wonderful to make sure that I get some time to myself on the weekends -- and I usually go for a walk. It's nice not to have to push the stroller, stop to dish out snacks, put jackets on, take them off, pick up sippy cups that have rolled under the stroller, etc. I also don't have to stop at the park for a wiggle break. I can just strap on my iPod and start walking. I get to keep walking until I want to stop.

I'm always surprised by the flood of thoughts and ideas that I experience -- they don't seem to make their way out of their little brain jail until I'm alone and just walking. Maybe it's because I'm always too preoccupied, or too focused on other things and other people in every other situation. Maybe it's because I don't take the time to just breathe. To just focus on me and the things that have been building up -- thoughts, emotions and ideas come in a steady stream as I walk.

Stress.
Anxiety.
Praise.
Joy.
Worry.
Fear.

It all seems to come out when I'm walking by myself. I was thinking about this yesterday as I was trucking along -- and it's like my walks become one big prayer. Sometimes I pray out loud, sometimes I pray silently, and sometimes I let the music I'm listening to guide my prayers. I pray for myself, I pray for my family, and I pray for countless others that are on my heart and in my mind.

I always thought that I liked to walk by myself because I didn't have to deal with the exercise-hindering issues that come with kids and strollers, but yesterday I realized that I like to walk by myself because it's such a huge release. You'd think it would have been more obvious, but for some reason it wasn't. Yesterday as I left, both of my (sick) kiddos were pretty much melting down at the fact that Mommy was walking without them. They were both throwing pretty sizeable tantrums, which of course, made me feel guilty for leaving my husband alone to deal with it. Instead of being annoyed, he said "Honey, GO. I got it. We'll be fine -- just go do your thing."

So, with a big sigh and a somewhat reluctant stride, I made my way down the sidewalk and away from the house. As I got about a block away, I called home and asked him if he was sure he wanted me to go. He just laughed (above the screaming in the background) and said that it was fine and the only thing that would make him upset is if I came home. With that reassurance, I set out on my way.

Obviously, my thoughts and prayers started there, at home, and as I prayed, I was aware of the fact that I was physically walking away from the stress and into my own little world. I wasn't going to work, not to the grocery store, not running errands, not volunteering at school -- I was going to be alone with myself, my thoughts, and my desire to improve my life.

What a gift.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Mini-Me Friday #9 - and a Me-Me

This is gonna be a quickie while I'm waiting for my hubby to get home. If I end abruptly, now you know why! I choose him. Yay!

So, I lost one pound this week. I can't remember who asked, but someone asked how much I've lost. I've lost 9.5 lbs so far, which makes it 10.5 lbs away from my first goal of 20 -- and I have 5 weeks to get there. (That's the end of my first session with First Place.)

I feel good about things and know that I can do better. I *will* do better. I think this week was about more than weight loss for me, and the fog has lifted. I feel more energized, more joyful, and more confident in myself -- I finally feel like things have clicked in on this journey and I'm doing it the way that I need to. I'm more about the whole package than the scale, and it's been a LONG time since I could say that.

So, there ya go. The long and short of it.

Bethanne basically dared anyone who reads her blog to do a Me-Me, and because we were united in our tween angst of being Annie-haired-freaks, I will go ahead and oblige her. I'm tagging anyone who needs something to blog about and has seven wacky facts to share. (Basically, that's about 75% of my audience, I'm guessing.)

Okay -- here ya go. 7 (probably lame) things you might not know about me:

1. When I was growing up, I *hated* playing Barbies. This got me into many little squabbles with friends who were Barbie-a-holics. I wanted to play house. Or store. Or teacher. Or some sort of role-play game. (Yes, I was a five year old control freak -- started early, girls. What can I say?)

2. I am PHOBIC of lightning. I'm not talking "I don't like it" or "It scares me" stuff. I'm talking I go into almost hyperventilating, shaking mode when it gets bad. I will NOT go outside if I see it anywhere REMOTELY close. (This is where my definition of "remotely close" usually drastically differs than 99.9% of the population.) This whole lightning "issue" drives my husband nuts.

3. I had stick straight hair before I had kids. I know some women's hair falls out. Mine all stayed in, but it got curvy. Yes, curvy. Not wavy, not curly -- curvy. The first time I got my hair cut after I had Mitchell, my hair stylist accused me of cheating on her -- she thought I went and got a bad perm. Not so much. She right then and there appointed me the posterchild for what hormones can do to someone's hair. Oh -- and it gets worse -- it's only on like the bottom half of my hair -- not bottom half as in one piece of hair -- but as in thickness. So the top to middle of my hair is sort of straight and it gets crazier as ya go deeper. Not pretty. Not. Pretty.

4. I don't wash my face at night. I know, I know. I'm an alien. With a bad skin care regimen.

5. I do this thing that Chris has nicknamed "The Tara Shuffle" and it is off-the-charts in the nerdy department. Basically, my arms are stretched out straight in front of me and my legs are stretched out straight behind me and I run in place that way. Yes, it's quite a sight.

6. When I sit and watch TV, I don't realize I'm doing it, but basically I rest my hand (in sort of a loose fist) against my chin and my pinky goes against my upper lip. Chalk up another "drives the hubby nuts" thing.

7. Every hanger in the closet has to face the same direction. HAS. TO. As in NOT up for discussion. (By the way, the hubster just got home and helped me with these last two and suggested a &, *, !!! for this one. I'm a bit freaky about it.)

Okay -- done. There ya go. Happy weekend!!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Do you really want to hear?

That was one of the "themes" of this week's sermon at my church. He was talking about hearing God's voice in your life and using it to direct your path.

One thing that he said really, really resonated with me and I've been thinking about it a lot this week. He said that if you are TRULY interested in hearing His voice, you need to be prepared and willing to hear him say NO. That's a good thing for me to hear because I can definitely get into periods where I perceive a non-response, when really it's just a NO. I am completely capable of being pretty self-absorbed and just waiting on the big YES that I know is surely coming my way. Really, I'm pretty dorky in that way.

Anyway...back to the thing I really wanted to share. He said that many times, God's responses to our prayers fall into four categories:

*No, I love you too much.

*No, not yet.

*Yes, I'm so glad you asked.

*Yes, and here's more.

In looking at my own life, I couldn't agree more with this. I really can plug into one of those for each and every prayer I've ever laid before His feet. I find, too, that lots of times -- the "Yes" answers start with the "No, not yet" reply.

Okay -- this is a much quicker post than I would like but I have to go sort $5,000 worth of cookie dough at M's preschool this morning. Don't ask.

Maybe I'll come back for Part 2 later.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Spiritual Gifts...

I am on the steering team for my MOPS group this year and am really enjoying the Bible study that we are doing on servant leadership. Last week, in preparation for our discussion, we took an online survey to determine what our spiritual gifts are.

Here's the survey.

It was so interesting for me to do, as I haven't done anything like that before. Truthfully, I wasn't really all that surprised by my results -- they were kind of what I thought they would be. (I do have to add that #3 on my list was writing, so obviously this blog lets me get a lot of what I have inside out in a productive way!) Since you asked...
Tied for 1st: Hospitality/Encouragement
Tied for 2nd: Faith/Writing

One thing that did surprise me as I took the test were the occasional pangs of guilt about not saying "yes" to some of the questions. I wanted for it to be true about myself, but I also know that I could in no way represent that it was. It just wasn't me even if I wanted it to be. The other thing that I took note of as I went through the questions was that different people popped into my head -- I could tell "Yep, that's a spiritual gift for So-And-So" or "Oh, that's totally So-And-So."

As we were talking about our results during Bible study, the funny part was that most of us had trouble believing that our top gifts were truly spiritual gifts. There were lots of comments about how it just seemed like that's the way you do stuff...that's the way you go about things...that's just the way it is.

I came to the conclusion as I listened to everyone share that having that feeling is actually confirmation that they are INDEED spiritual gifts. Each person is blessed with the innate skills and talents to have those things be second nature, to be a part of that person's core. The fact that it is "just how you do things" says to me that God made it that way for you because he definitely didn't make it that way for everyone. Others that didn't have those spiritual gifts also chimed in, indicating that they wished they were blessed with such things.

I just thought I'd share this with you all since I enjoyed taking a closer look at myself in such a cool way. Try taking the survey with some friends, your spouse, and/or a Bible study group. The discussion is the best part! I'm guessing that whatever you are surprised with will be obvious to those that know and love you.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Funnies From The Bugs...

I've been so caught up in my "ME" journey that I haven't taken the time to really have some good bloggy Doodlebug and Lovebug moments. I am going to remedy that one right now!!

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Chris: I can't remember what it was that he said, but it was something really dorky

Me: You are such a ding dong.

Mitchell: Mommy, don't call Daddy a ding dong. He's not a doorbell!

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Last night I picked Georgia up from the nursery at church and asked how she did. (She had on her Sesame Street jean jacket.) They said she did great and that they enjoyed having her. One lady said "She is so funny! I told her that I liked Zoe and Elmo on her coat and she looked at me and said 'My JACKET.' I mean she flat TOLD me, it's a jacket. Can you believe it?"

Me: Oh, yeah. I believe it.

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The other day Chris had just gotten out of the shower and was getting ready for work. Mitchell had just come in our room and I could hear Georgia in there making all kinds of noise in her crib. (Her room is attached to our room by french doors that we leave cracked open.) I went in to get her up and found that she had taken her fleece, footie pajamas off and was sitting in just her diaper. She got all happy when she saw me and said this while she rubbed her naked baby belly:

"Hi. Joja shower Daddy."

Yep, that's right. She was all ready for the shower, just like Daddy.

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Mitchell made a book the other day at school. Mrs. G. had written words for him (dictated, I believe) on the inside two pages, but not on the cover. I wanted to know what the picture of the cover was so I asked him to tell me. I got out the sharpie and wrote it on there. How could I not? I mean, it's not every day that Jesus drives to the park.


I should add that some of the drawing is hills. Some of it is Jesus. Some of it is children. And some of it (when he showed me) is actually Jesus' driving route.
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I think that my favorite thing about those two at the moment is that they really, truly love and I mean L-O-V-E each other. It's so fun to pick Mitchell up from school. Georgia usually doesn't even wait for me to finish signing him out in the attendance book before she's running in to find him. I have yet to see one single day where they didn't do a big, running, "The hills are alive" run toward each other with outstretched arms. Then they do this big, huge hug and giggle at each other. You would think by now, after about 3 months of this, that I'd be over it by now. But I'm not. I look forward to it every time. So do the teachers -- one of them was in the bathroom the other day when we came and she actually said "Oh, darn! I missed the big reunion moment!"

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So, there ya go. Life with The Doodlebug and The Lovebug. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.



Friday, November 09, 2007

Mini-Me Friday - Check In #8...ANNND...A recipe!!

First things first -- thank you for all of the kind words, support and encouragement. I think that the scale just sort of was the tip of the iceberg for my bluesy attitude the past few weeks. I'm happy to report that I'm not feeling so "funky" anymore -- and that was even before the good news I got at my weigh in last night.

Yes, I said good news. I lost 1.5 pounds this week...so basically, I undid the last three weeks and am now back and ready to keep on truckin'.

I feel good about my efforts in all of my 1st Place commitments and know that I did the best I could this week. The funny thing is, last night after my meeting, I came home and had that "bottomless pit" feeling. I just wanted to eat. And eat. And eat.

And eat.

So, I sort of did...but not on anything that I felt horrible about and nothing that put me over on my daily exchanges, so I don't feel guilty. (And let me tell you what a great feeling THAT is to not lug around today!)

I also finally busted open the motivational cd's that came with my starter package and have listened to them the past few days. There really was some good stuff on there, and I've had lots to think about.

Okay -- I have to go clean up the house from today now that the kids are both snoozing away. I'll leave you with the recipe for my dinner. Jennifer's Veggie Stew (which, by the way, made me giggle because it has a roast in it! How awesome is that??) inspired me to make some vegetable soup, so this was my quickie, off the top of my head version. I'll put the "recipe" (ha!) below. Enjoy -- and Happy Friday, friends.



Quick And Yummy Veggie Soup
1 cup whole grain pasta (I used mini penne)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 yellow squash, chunked
1 zucchini, chunked
1/2 red pepper, chunked
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Whatever seasonings you choose, I used about 1 1/2 tbsp of this salsa seasoning mix
2 cups vegetable broth (1 can) - I only used half a can because that's what I had, but it didn't make a whole bunch of broth.


Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add garlic, squash and zucchini and sautee for 3-5 minutes. Add red pepper and tomatoes, and seasoning. Sautee 5 minutes longer. Add vegetable broth and cooked pasta. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 5- 10 minutes. (This is also the part where if I would have had it, I would have added some fresh basil.)

Enjoy!!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Still grateful over here...

This song seriously hits home with me right now and reminds me about the joy and attitude I want to meet each new day with. Enjoy and be blessed.

"How You Live" by Point of Grace.



Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A Month of Gratitude...

Don't you just love it when someone else's ideas give you a little way out of a funk? I do!

Alana (who, by the way, is awesome!) did a "thankful month" post and I absolutely think it's just what I need, so I'm following her lead.

Each day this month, I will add to the "Things I'm Thankful For This November" list in my sidebar.

Blessings. I don't count them often enough.

Do you?

Friday, November 02, 2007

The blahs...and Mini-Me #7

I got 'em. And I mean I have GOT 'em. I haven't been in a very bloggy mood lately -- I think it's because every time I think about writing something down, I get all blah-ish again. I'm blue. Funky blue.

So, the Mini-Me part of things -- not so mini. Up another half of a pound. This time, I seriously (and I mean SERIOUSLY) had to talk myself out of bawling my eyes out in front of everyone. I stepped right off of the scale and had to go to the restroom and compose myself. My leader that did the weigh in was very sweet (sigh -- AGAIN) and understanding, but I'm pretty sure that she might think I'm a bit nuts at this point.

I didn't say a single word during the Bible study. Not one word. And that's just not me. Well, it is, actually -- when I get upset, discouraged, frustrated, etc. -- I clam up. So, there is your explanation for my MIA bloggy status. I just don't have words.

The thing is, I know that I'm doing the right things. I can honestly say that I have nothing to be ashamed of this week. I fulfilled all of my commitments. I was accountable to myself and to others. I not only did my Bible studies, scripture readings and memorizations - I did them joyfully.

Which is why it really stinks that I let myself get down and not participate in the Bible study when I had the chance. I let "him" win again. I was right where he wanted me, even though I was *really* right where the Lord wanted me to be. I missed it because I got distracted by thoughts and feelings that I know in my heart are nowhere near what I was meant to be feeling. The upside to being quiet is that I heard some pretty great discussion from my fellow group members and even though I was a complete non-participant, I left feeling blessed anyway.

I think that's the thing. I need to stop looking at this through my own eyes -- that leads to seeing what the world sees, what the enemy wants me to see. My own eyes don't show me what I need to see. I need to start looking at this through His eyes.

Okay -- really. I'm such an idiot. Guess what I just thought of? My memory verse for this past week...want to know what it was???

I Samuel 6:13 "The Lord does not look at the things that man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart."

Ummmm, yeah. I get it. I. GET. It!!! Can you say slow learner??

As my thoughts turn to THIS week's verse...

James 4:7 "Submit yourselves then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you."

Okay. Guess I have my game plan then. I have a devil to resist, friends. Oh, and there's more. I read these two thoughts while doing my Bible study tonight. It hit home in a major, MAJOR way for me, particularly given the verse that I put on my fridge last week.

"The devil enjoys placing before your eyes the things that are your greatest temptations. Images of food appear when you are hungry, images of bed and/or rest appear when you feel too tired to exercise, images of all you have to do appear when you are pressed for time and you haven't done your Bible study. All these images lead you away from God and what He wants for you."

"Satan is working overtime to make sure temptation is everywhere."

So, there ya go. That's where I am. That's where I've been. That's where I'll be.

I promise, I'll be back. I just need to go inward for a bit. Do some thinking. Let these thoughts rattle around a little longer. Love to all of you, my bloggy friends.

Happy Friday.





p.s. Earen and Renee, thank you for your check-ins and encouragement...they are like big, warm hugs and I can't thank you enough. I thank the Lord for both of you and the priceless gift of your friendship.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Mini-Me Monday - Check In #6

Before I start in on the whole thing, I want to say that I think after this week, I might switch from Mini-Me Mondays to Mini-Me Fridays or something. It's hard for me to weigh in on Thursdays and then wait until Monday to talk about it.

Okay -- I just finished typing, and this is long. And ugly. And probably somewhat difficult to follow. Don't say I didn't warn you!!

Soooooooooooo...another week has come and gone. Another week -- annnnnnnnnnnd, I blew it again.

*sigh*

I gained another .5 lb this week. I know that doesn't sound so bad, and in the big scheme of things, I know -- it's not. I know exactly what happened, and I also know exactly what didn't happen this past week to get to this point, and let's just say I was in clearly in charge of both. I feel badly for the sweet co-leader of my 1st Place group. I hopped up on the scale (after arriving late to the meeting) and when it went back over, I asked if it was a gain. She said "Yeah, a half pound."

*Dramatic pause while those words echo around the room.*

As I stepped off of the scale, I let out a big "UGHHHHHH, WHY????!!!!" and basically threw a big-girl tantrum over the whole thing as I stormed out of the room. (I know, pretty mature.)

I know she gets it. I know she does. Heck, anyone who's ever had a weight issue gets it, I'm sure. The thing is -- what an idiot. I mean, first of all -- I have the nerve to ask "Why???" Come on, Tara...you KNOW why. Then, to just flip out like that and act like a total brat??? Nice, real nice. So, yeah...not the best week for me. I did apologize to her and of course she was sweet and understanding and not feeling the need to be apologized to, but still. So lame of me.

So. Lame. Of. Me.

Ever since Thursday night, I've had time to think. Think. About what really happened. And not even so much as what happened, but more about why it happened. (And I also realize that right about now, there are probably some "Does she realize she's talking about half a pound here?" thoughts going on, but really - it's just so much more than that.)

See, here's the thing.

I was so excited about joining 1st Place because I knew it was what I needed. A nudge not only for my actual weight, but also for every thing that's caused my weight to actually be a problem. I was so excited because it was finally a structured, concrete way for me to combine my faith with my weight loss efforts. The more I learned about it, the more excited I became. The first two weeks were great.

Uh, yeah -- honeymoon, anyone??

After that, back to the same old bad habits. Weekends killing me. Stress killing me. Emotions killing me. One slip up leading to the next. And the next. And excusing it all with the same excuses. Hoping to make up for it here, make up for it there. All the while never truly acknowledging what's going on.

What's. Going. On!!!!

Here's what's going on. Until Thursday, until after my little tantrum -- I wasn't doing any of this for me. I wasn't doing it for my kids. I wasn't doing it for my husband. I certainly wasn't doing it for God. I was doing it because I just kind of felt like I should. Like it was the way into some skinny jeans. Into a better looking, better feeling me.

After Thursday, I got real honest with myself in a hurry. I looked back over the first 4 CR's that I'd turned in and gotten back from my group leaders. (The CR is the Commitment Record - it's basically a daily journal of my eating, exercise, prayer, etc.) I started really looking at what I was doing.

I found that after those first two weeks, I started creeping over the limits for the food exchanges with my eating. Not by a lot, just a little. Then on the weekends, I'd not just creep over -- I'd march across the line and pitch a tent on the other side. Any victories during the weeks were wiped out by the weekend behaviors -- and then some.

Once that started to falter, my exercise started to wane a bit as well. I went from working out 4 and 5 times a week to 2 and 3 times a week. Still exercising, just ehhhh - half-heartedly and not as often.

What came next? A day here, a day there - no prayer time, no Bible study time, no scripture memorization, no time in the Word. Two weeks went by without me reaching out to encourage other group members.

Basically, one by one, I started to loosen my grip on the 9 commitments of the 1st Place group I'd so tightly held when I first agreed to follow them. As I read through my CR's and watched it all unfold, I realized that I hadn't done any of this for the right reasons. Truthfully, the only reason, and I mean the ONLY reason I filled them out at all the last two weeks is because I knew we had to turn them in, and I'm sort of anal about that kind of task completion. Basically, I was doing it because I knew someone would be asking for them and I didn't want to turn them in blank or say I hadn't done it. So, I did.

(By the way, I know I'm rambling now, but it's my blog, so I'm gonna keep doing just that.)

By the time Thursday night rolled around, I was sitting at the kitchen table waiting for Chris to get home so I could leave for my meeting. The kids had just finished eating dinner and were watching whatever TV show I turned on for them so that I could finish my homework. We had 3 things to read in the big 1st Place book, and I also needed to complete the week's Bible study.

Yes, that's right. All of it. That night. Because I hadn't done ANY of it. Nope. Not one day's worth. And to make it worse -- I was only doing it because we would be discussing it at the meeting. Oh -- and as for my memory verse for the week...I learned it that day. In the car as I was driving between my appointments with my clients. And only because I have to recite it as I get weighed in each week. Not for any other reason.

After I looked through my CR's, I got out my prayer journal and was ashamed to see that I hadn't written in it in almost a week. I had said prayers in between that time, but I hadn't taken a serious chunk of time and committed it to prayer.

What. Was. I. Doing?!?!

Humble pie -- at least it's calorie free, right? Goodness, goodness...I think that I have lived off of it this week. Something finally clicked. All of that reflection on the past 5 weeks was like a huge slap upside the head for me. (One that I desperately needed, I might add.) As I considered all of the things I'd done and not done, my thoughts were actually brought back to something I myself had *just* said.

While we were driving on our date last weekend, my husband and I were talking about our faith lives and especially about the changes that I've made in the past year or so. I said these exact words to him: "I finally figured out that I can't do it by myself. I just can't. I need help. And the only place I can find enough strength, joy, comfort, peace, and determination to do things better and over and over and over again is through the Lord."

My own words rang out in my mind -- when I spoke them, I was talking about myself as a mother, wife, friend, daughter, woman, etc. I wasn't at all speaking about my weight loss efforts and everything that goes along with that journey -- yet, here I was -- at the same place and feeling and thinking the very same thing.

I can't do it by myself. I just can't. I need help. And the only place I can find enough strength, joy, comfort, peace and determination to do things better and over and over and over again is through the Lord.

And now I'm talking about my weight loss efforts. It's finally time to do this the right way. It's time to do this for me, through Him.

Ever since Thursday, I've had a great week. It hasn't been a struggle to do what I need to do. What I NEED to do. The biggest change is that I *want* to do it now. For me. Not because I'm turning my CR in. Not because I have to recite that verse as I step on the scale.

I want to do this because I know I can. I want to do this because I know He wants me to. I want to do this to glorify Him.

Here's a verse I found this morning as I was doing some reading. I put it on an index card and taped it to the fridge. It's basically what happened to me after Thursday night. I love it when the Word speaks right to me. To me. What a gift; what a treasure.

I Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)
"But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different than what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it."

Monday Morning P.S. - I wrote this last night before going to bed. I just finished my Bible study for the day. Here is word-for-word the prayer at the end of the lesson (which was pretty much ALL about this exact topic): "Heavenly Father, help me to make a fresh commitment to my efforts in the First Place program so that I may reap a harvest. Holy Lord, help me to make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with You."

I guess I'm really in the right place, wouldn't you say?


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Not-So-Wordless Wednesday

I seem to have trouble with this whole "wordless" part. (Shocker.) For the record -- I am SO FAR behind on making the bloggy commenting rounds. Sorry, bloggy friends. I've been kinda swamped over here. I'm reading, and enjoying and will be back in the saddle soon. I promise!!

Okay- so here's an oldie, but a goodie. Yes -- that's right, we are Red Sox fans smack dab in the middle of Rockies country. (FYI for all of you out there that may not be married to baseball fanatics like my man -- the World Series starts tonight.)

Oh, and p.s. - that one sock of hers was missing for that ENTIRE season.

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Red Sox!!!




Monday, October 22, 2007

Mini-Me Monday - Check In #6

Okay - so not so great of a week. Both kids were sick, I fought off a cold myself, and well - without spelling it out - let's just say I had a very good reason for gaining some weight that day. I didn't work out as often as I would have liked to, and I completely (and I mean COMPLETELY) blew it this weekend. The thing about this weekend is that I got a date day in with my husband -- and we needed that so much. We had a couple of weeks where we were snapping at each other about any and every little thing, and both generally were run down. To get away from town for a day, enjoy ourselves and just be together without anything pressing on us was exactly what we needed. We needed some rest and relaxation and we got both.

Okay, so back to the mini-me part of things. One of the comments on my CR (the thing I turn in at meetings that says what I ate, etc.) one of my leaders wrote to me was to try and not lose control on the weekends. Ummmm, yeah. Maybe next weekend I'll work on that one. Baby steps. I'm taking baby steps. It's still a problem.

Maybe that will be my goal - to keep this coming weekend under control. Okay - there ya go. I have a goal. Well, that - and to tip the scales in the right direction again.

On a good note - this past week I used my weights for the entire workout for my hardest dvd - AND I did each and every situp, and all of the pushups. To do ALL of that - was a good step. I'm getting in better shape, apparently. Hooray!

How's it going for you ladies, my other mini-me'ers?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thursday Thoughts - and another recipe!

This might become my usual - who knows? But it works again for me today, so here I am Thursday Thinking and dishing out a recipe at the end.

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My friend, Jennifer, is someone that I've recently come to know pretty well through the bloggy world. We've bonded over our Starbucks from a world away, and it all started because I don't like McD's french fries. (Apparently they are quite amazing in Japan!) She is such a sweet woman, and you don't have to guess how she feels about things. I love that about her, and I especially love how her heart for the Lord just shines. I am blessed each and every day that I read her blog. She passed this award onto me, which sort of blew me away, by the way -- and I'm excited to pass it on. (I love little "happies" like this!)


This award was designed to honor people who walk the walk with regards to what they "preach" (though I personally don't like to think that I preach -- just talk, really) in their blogs, and who are trying to start in their own homes with making the changes they'd like to see in the world. (Um, see why I'm surprised I came to mind? LOL)

So, now I am happily passing this along to Earen , Heather and Beth Anne because they all hit home runs in the change starting at home department. Every time I visit their blogs, I'm always blessed and challenged by what I read, and they all have an obvious heart for the Lord. They are just regular moms trying to figure out how to make each day better than the next, and how to grow closer to Him in the process. I think that maybe that's what this little award is all about.

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Moving right along, back to things on the homefront...I really don't like it when my kids are sick. I know that no mom does. It just stinks to have to watch them be all yucky and not be able to to fix it. Thankfully, this go-around they both just have nasty colds -- actually I think G's is more of a sinus infection so we went to the ped yesterday and left with meds for her. I hope they kick in quickly - she is so congested that it's just nasty.

Yesterday was Mitchell's day to bring snack at preschool and it just about killed him that he wouldn't get to be the line leader and snack passer because I kept him home. (He probably could have gone, but in addition to making sure he wasn't contagious anymore - just a cold, but still - they are having a harvest party on Friday and he would really be sad if he missed that one.) I took the snack down to my neighbor so that she could take it to school for me and he said "Does Ela get to be the snack passer instead of me??" He was so worried about it.

It made me think about myself and how sometimes I'm still guilty of that same mentality as an adult -- I don't want to miss anything and it will just about kill me if someone else has to do one of my jobs. You'd think I'd have learned my lesson with leaving my job at school. The building didn't fall down. The school didn't get sued. No children fell ill. The world moved on, even without me. I know that in Mitchell's case, he just didn't want to miss being a part of things and to have his moment in the spotlight, but for me -- I think it's that whole needing to be needed thing. I have a few people in my life that this is their "thing," it's actually what they are known for, so it makes me cringe a bit to think that I have some of that myself. I am working on it and hope that I don't wear it as a badge as I have seen others in my life do.

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Last night I was getting the kids out of their clothes and into their pajamas. I was busy cleaning up a pretty icky diaper for Miss G and sort of half-paying attention to Mitchell, who is completely able to change his own clothes at this point. Out of my half an ear I had turned in his direction, I heard something that sounded like "both of my underwears" so I decided to actually turn my head in that direction. Would you believe that my silly little boy wore two pair of underwear all day yesterday because he loves his new Spiderman undies that much?! Here's how our conversation on the subject went:

Me: How in the world did you end up with two pair of underwear on?
M: Well, I love my new Spiderman underwear and I just couldn't choose.
Me: Wasn't one pair dirty?
M: No, I put them on after my bath last night so I was really clean.
Me: Oh, I see.
M: Which pair do you like the best, Mommy?
Me: Ummmm, whichever one you leave on.
M: I like them both just the same. I wonder what kind of underwear Spiderman wears?
Me: Probably Spiderman undies.
M: No, I think he likes Thomas.

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I really should have taken a picture of this, but my cranky girl yesterday cracked me up. At one point in the day, the only thing that made her happy was wearing her birthday crown, the thick, blue doctor's kit glasses, a string of fake pearls, my tennis shoes, and she had to tote around her plush, pink purse. She was so dang proud of herself.

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Okay, so I actually read the paper yesterday morning. As in, I sat at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee and read the newspaper. Cover to cover. That simply doesn't happen in my life anymore.

Here's an article that I read that really made me upset. I can't STAND this sort of thing. (I also couldn't get the paper's website to load, so I copied this from another blog, but it's the actual article and that link works, just not for me apparently.)


This from the Rocky Mountain News:
Suggesting church for students gets district suedBy SARA BURNETT
CHERRY CREEK, Colo. — The Freedom from Religion Foundation has filed a federal lawsuit against Cherry Creek Schools, saying a project aimed at helping students reach their full potential illegally encourages going to church.
The complaint, filed on behalf of two parents who have children in Cherry Creek schools, accuses the district of violating laws regarding the separation of church and state.
Tustin Amole, spokeswoman for the district, said Tuesday the district is confident the project is not illegal because it does not mandate participation in any religious activity.
Known as the 40 Developmental Assets, the project is promoted as a way to help students grow into “responsible, confident and healthy young people,” according to a newsletter sent to parents.
Among the assets is having family support and telling the truth, “even when it’s not easy.”

Recommendation number 19 is “religious community.” It suggests young people spend time each week in activities at a religious institution.
The project, which is used nationally, has been in the Cherry Creek district for 18 years, -Amole said.
The complaint asks the court to order the district to stop endorsing Developmental Asset 19. It does not specifically seek damages, but asks for any other relief the court deems proper.


The bolded part actually made me laugh because I immediately thought about how these parents seem to be doing the complete opposite of what the whole project is supposed to be doing for their children. How about telling your kids that although you don't like these recommendations and that although they upset you, simply recommending these activities is not illegal. How about telling your kids that if they had required such participation, then you bet - scratch that itch and file your lawsuit. How in the world is filing this lawsuit teaching those children to be healthy, confident and responsible? If you ask me - it's teaching them to be ultra-defensive, catered to, complainers.

I can only say that if our kids went to that school and it was recommended that they not be involved in religious activities, you bet your bippy that it is we, as parents who would be addressing that with our children. We wouldn't go running to the courts to file a lawsuit because the school system recommended something that was in contrast with our beliefs as parents, and we DEFINITELY wouldn't claim we'd had our rights violated. We would make it clear that no matter what the school recommends about that area of their lives, this is where we stand as a family. And if the recommendation meant that much to us, I doubt that we'd be sending them to school there.

That, to me, is taking a stand. Not claiming that they are having their rights mowed down. I think that they are coming off as whiners, personally. I also want to say that I'm completely open to other opinions on this subject, but since it's my blog...

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I just thought about what I wrote, and my husband will probably be so excited about it when I tell him. He loves it when I get fired up about stuff like that. I'm so much more lukewarm than he is on things so much of the time, I bet he'll be all jazzed to see me with my feathers ruffled. What a nerd. Also, he'll probably get a good chuckle out of the little award thing because (a) he doesn't really get this whole blog thing and (b) because he more than anyone else sees my warts. I think he'd chuckle, and then say he's proud of me. We'll see.

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Okay - so now for the recipe. I found this one in the paper on Sunday, so we had it on Monday and it was yummy. Here are my own personal notes -- can you tell I rarely follow a recipe as it's written?

I used the bones from a whole chicken I'd cooked the day before, and I also used a cooked chicken breast I had leftover. I just chopped it up and threw it in. Seeing as how I try to use the crockpot instead of the stove whenever possible, I threw it in there and it was fine. I think next time I'll not cook it quite so long because it reduced quite a bit -- I'd do maybe 2-3 hours on low instead of my normal 5-6. It was a nice change of pace and we both really liked it. I think next time I'm going to add shredded cabbage and lots of stir fry-type veggies. I forgot to add the veggies even though I thought of it this time, and I also forgot that I was going to serve it over ramen noodles. Whoops. Welcome to a day in my brain.

Oriental Chicken Soup

1 lb - cubed, boneless chicken breast (mine was already cooked)

4 - minced scallions (my hubby hates onions of any kind so I left them out)

2/3 cup of orzo (I left it out)

4 cups - chicken broth (I used low sodium)

2 tbsp - soy sauce (I used low sodium)

2 tbsp - rice wine or cider vinegar (I used rice wine)

1 tbsp - fresh, minced ginger (I only had powdered and just sprinkled, I didn't measure)

2 tsp - sesame oil

4 oz - trimmed/julienned snow peas

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients except snow peas. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook 5 minutes. Add snow peas. Cook 5 minutes more, or until orzo is tender and chicken cooked. Makes about 4 servings.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wordless Wednesday...

I feel sort of strange doing a picture after my "Pictures of A Happy Family" (thanks, Jennifer!)exhibition yesterday, but I just love this idea so here ya go. Wordless Wednesday, complete with a few words today.


Fashionistas take a little longer to put down for a nap. Lots to take off, you know.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Mega Picture Overload. (So not kidding.)

Maybe it's because I'm fighting a cold and am up at 2:53 a.m.


Maybe it's because the only sound in my house right now are the tapping of the computer keys and the breathing of my husband and kids as they sleep.


Maybe it's because I am just having a moment.


Whatever the reason, I've been spending some time in the past this morning. Revisiting big, swollen, pregnant bellies. Sighing with bittersweet adoration at tiny fingers, toes, noses, and mouths drawn into little "o's". Giggling at silly moments and goofy expressions.


I am extraordinarily blessed. To have this love, these smiles, such cherished times to reflect on...what a privilege. Prayers of gratitude for His love and grace were intertwined with my memories tonight. (This morning??)


Here are some of the pictures that I treasure the most. They are in no particular order (mainly because my photobucket is 45 pages big and in very random order) and I wonder if you can spot the completely unintentional Austin Powers-esque photo? Once someone pointed it out to me I was like "Oh, WOW!!" Would have never noticed it otherwise, but now I can't look at it without laughing. I know there are a ton, but trust me - -this is a small sampling!!

Thanks for indulging my sense of nostalgia, and I am SO sorry if you have dial-up. I have probably ruined your day with this one.

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