Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankful...a bulleted list with SOME pictures.

It's been just over a year since we relocated from FL. Sigh. I have been thinking a lot about the last year and all the changes it has brought about in our lives. And of course, what I am thankful for. Some of these items are things we almost take for granted, so I really wanted to concentrate on them...and some, well they are just a little bit hokey. Cause I am all about keeping it real.

In no particular order, here is what I am thankful for...
  • Healthy kids. With healthy appetites!! So healthy that my 13 yr old son is a half-inch shy of 6 ft. Remember in elementary school when that half a year mattered? As in, "I am 9 AND A HALF." That half-inch matters to me. As in, "You are not six feet tall. The height from your shoes doesn't count." I might be a little bit sad about my son growing up. Maybe.
  • Fall. After 10 years in FL, I love the crispness of Fall. My children have never experienced fall before and I love hearing them breath in the crispness of fall and comment on the brilliant colors of the leaves. My 9 yr old is especially outdoorsy and experiencing the wonder and beauty though his eyes makes me positively giddy. =) The worst thing about fall is that while the weather stays cool and mild for a few months before the real cold sets in, the leaves are only at their peak for a week or so. Look Fast...
  • In spite of the economy, my husband not only has a job, but actually got a pay raise this year. God is good.
  • A tan. Yes, you read that right. LOL Okay, I really don't have one now, but this summer was marvelous. It is HOT in FL!! TOO hot to be outside in the summertime, in my opinion. So we spent our summers mostly indoors in the nice, cool air conditioned house. This last summer, we spent a lot of time at the pool. Because friends, it isn't too hot to be outside here in the summer time. Sure, we had some hot days, but overall, it was a very pleasant summer. We swam so much that the kids actually moaned by the end of summer (We're going swimming again?!) That meant that for the first time since I was a silly teen who bathed in Crisco and laid out on the roof, I actually had color that did not come from a spray can. Here's the proof.
Can you see that stripe on my back? Those are real tan lines. LOL
  • A really big house with room for everyone and all their stuff. While it's not ours (we rent right now), we are enjoying the space immensely. All their messes means that they are enjoying the space as well...and that they need to be better trained. But that is a post for another time. =)
  • My DVR. Because we will be driving to Grandma's house while the Macy's parade is on and it breaks my heart to miss it. The kids and I plan on watching it when we get home. It won't be the same as seeing it live, but I love it too much to miss it. Someday, I want to see it live and in person. The closest I have ever come is the little Macy's parade at Universal Studios. Which was such a big deal that I called my mom and my sisters on my cell phone to yell, "I am at the Macy's parade! They have the balloons and everything!" Only, it's not really cold in FL, so it was only quasi-real.
What are you thankful for this year? I hope everyone has a blessed and happy Thanksgiving. =)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I love the library. I love books. I had hoped to pass on a voracious love of reading to my kids...this is free reading time after our trip to the library. You may not be able to see the titles, so let me share with you the literary classics that they selected.

Oldest son is reading "Calvin and Hobbes."
Middler is reading "Walt Disney Comics~Donald Duck's Adventures."
Youngest son is engaged in "Star Wars Comics."

Clearly, I am raising child prodigies. Hope you are all feeling better about what ever your kids are picking out at your library. =)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Chain Letters

This has been a week or so of chain letters. I got one in the mail that said if I would just send $1.00 to the 6 people on this list, make copies moving all the people up the list and add mine to the bottom, with in a few weeks I would have at least $250,000! Most people make more!!! wha?!

I'm not a fan of chain letters. I remember very distinctly the first time I was ever exposed to one. I was in about the sixth grade and a young lady in our church brought over an unmarked envelope she received in her mail that day. She was very distraught over the contents and wanted some pastoral perspective. I remember my parents reading through and reassuring her that curses wouldn't reign down on her life if she just burned the silly thing up. I don't really remember how she responded, but I remember my dad's general disgust with the concept. He shared a liberal dose of perspective with me that day...

With the advent of electronic communication, chain mail has evolved. It is for this reason I'm not a fan of the e-mail forward. On the occasion I *might* feel the need to forward, if at any point in the articles history someone has tacked on a goofy, "Send this to 10 of your friends and make a will come true in 20 minutes" I will edit that part off. I know that wishing and forwarding combo doesn't really work because the Publishers Clearing House people have never knocked on my door and I have never won the Dream House off of HGTV. Clearly, between various forwards (worth passing on) and the official entry into those sweepstakes, I should have won many times over. I have yet to be ambushed with a large check or cameras at my front door. (which is probably actually a good thing since I am sometimes in my PJ's til around noonish. I know, shocking.).

I dislike the inspirational ones even more. LOVE the stories! Often they are moving, thought provoking and encouraging. Just don't go ruining the whole thing by tacking on a spiritual guilt trip ("if you love Jesus you'll forward this to everyone on your list" or a slight alteration of the wishes...only it says "PRAY for twenty people you know and look for your miracle tomorrow" or some other such nonsense.)

Since I dislike the concept of forwards, but I love meeting new people and sharing tips, tricks, gifts, etc., I have been sucked into trying 'nice' chain letters. You've seen them...most notably, the recipe swap.

Yeah, I tried this. I do like recipes and fun is at the top of my list of ways to spend my day. Here is my favorite reply, from my sister. (my paraphrase)

No one likes chain letters and we don't all need new recipes. Frankly, I am overwhelmed with the ones I already have. Take me off the list, I will not be participating.
She was only slightly less snippy.

And even though they are illegal via the postal mail service, I rec'd *this* one and gave it a whirl. I'll have you know that I did not get a single, solitary reply. None, nada, zip. And I purchased some very cute towels for the exchange!

So last week when a friend offered up the Holy Grail of baking chain exchanges, what was a girl to do? I'd never even heard of Amish Friendship Bread. The premise is a little different in the baking world, a chain is when you are given a starter which you must care for and feed until it's ripe enough to bake. But before baking, you split it off and share your starter with other non-suspecting friends. Of course, the same kind of folk-lore that I detest exists even in the baking world. Attached to this recipe were dire warnings with eternal consequences. Okay, not really eternal.

What it did say that I could NOT use any metal mixing utensils or bowls. Um, hello...recipe writer, I'd like you to meet my lovely kitchen assistant, my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer. Metal mixing bowl and beaters. If metals out, then so is the completion of this recipe. Clearly, I could not listen to that warning.

After sizing up the recipe and seeing that the list of ingredients included instant pudding mix, I was pretty sure that this did not start with a sweet old Amish woman. After all, I have read Beverly Lewis' books and I know they are simple people and don't do buttons, zippers, or other inventions of convenience so instant pudding would most likely NOT be on their shopping list or a stock item in their kitchen pantries.

Never-the-less, I was intrigued by the concept. SOOO, we gave it a whirl. We fed, mushed and took good care of that starter for 10 days. Then, in my general kitchen fashion, I threw caution to the wind and adjusted the recipe for my tendencies. I did not follow the recipe exactly (reduced the sugar and substituted applesauce for oil), I completely ignored the warnings (used metal bowls and beaters) and I baked the whole thing in a bundt pan rather than loaf pans. It was DIVINE.

Here is a great blog where I researched all about variations and how to make a starter if you have no Amish connections. I decided not to share my starters as there are so many cool ways to use it! And one of the commentors gave mathmatical ways to reduce your starter production so that you are not everrun by too many, but you can still bake your bread when you want to. I am very excited to try my hand at the sourdough bread mentioned in the comments.
With the Holiday season upon us, I see this recipe and starter as a chain letter I can embrace with enthusiasm. That's sayin' something folks!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Brain Dump

For the last few weeks leading up to this election, I have had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Kinda like that feeling in Jr. High just before you get your grades back...and you KNOW that you could have done more...better...and now, you have to take that D home and explain it to your parents. Ah, Jr. High. I was so blissfully unaware of politics then.

I have had a lot rolling around in my head today and you all already know that thinking too deeply can wear me out, so I am just mentally exhausted. Never-the-less, I wanted to post a couple of thoughts before I return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

No matter who you voted for, this is a historic election. In my own parents life-time, discrimination based on skin color was rampant. No matter that I do not agree with his policies or ideologies, America elected his first black president.

I am encouraged by the fact that many people see that glass ceiling shattered, yet saddened that it had to be someone who is so very liberal. Maybe the most liberal in the whole democratic party.

In reading through many different posts and comments after the election, I heard this sentiment expressed more than once: "I didn't want to let the abortion issue be the only issue that I considered. After all, Roe-v-Wade hasn't been overturned yet after eight years of conservatives in charge. What could they do now?" "After eight years, they haven't made a difference, so it really doesn't matter."

To make such blanket statements is to completely disregard all the small steps that have been made towards making abortions more difficult to get, thus protecting many sweet babies. For example, the Ban on Partial Birth Abortions or the Parental Notification Acts in many different states. Barack Obama is on record saying that he will immediately enact the National Freedom of Choice Act which will effectively wipe out all the state level protections and subsidize abortions with tax dollars. This is so very sad to me.

For a lot more perspective, pop over to author Randy Alcorns blog. He is so much more eloquent than I am, and he has lovely photos of babies to boot.

And now back to your regularly scheduled mom blog.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Get out and Vote

So, today is the big day. Election day. I have stayed out of the political fray here on the blog mostly because it requires a good bit of deep thought to craft a well written political essay. Thinking that hard gives me hives. I'd much rather just chat about it within my comfortable circle of friends...and read, read, read the news and some of my favorite blogs on the topic.

So I have formed some very specific opinions and I imagine you have too. I am just here to remind you to GO VOTE. It's that important. Plus, if you go to Starbucks and tell them you voted, they'll give you free coffee!

God Bless America!