Friday, April 30, 2010

Our home(school) away from home

A few years ago, when our kids were still in private school, conversations with friends frequently focused on our schooling options.

At that time, the idea of home schooling was the one thing I hoped I wouldn't ever have to do. "But if I ever DID home school, " I would say, "I would use all of the money that we would have spent on private school tuition and travel around the country doing school."

The kids were getting older, and they are good travelers. I imagined us living in a cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains in the fall. In February, we would find a place on the beach in Florida. And spring would be a perfect time to see the Grand Canyon.

What better way to study geography than to see it all first hand?

Shortly after we made the difficult decision to do school at home, I also found out I was pregnant. And I resigned myself to the reality we would be doing home school... at home.

Then, a few months ago, a friend offered to let us use her rental home in Florida at an incredibly generous price. Once again, my mind started racing with the possibility that we really could take our schooling on the road. The house had high-speed internet access so my husband could work from there almost as easily as he could work from our home.

We started making plans to pack up our school work and my husband's work and take it on the road. We plotted out a four-day drive across the country with stops at several major cities along the way.

But what happened next? Coming soon...

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

The oasis

It's an oasis in the middle of a city.


It's a garden.


It's a place to go for a walk.


A place to dine.


A place to shop.


A place to go for a boat ride.


It's completely enclosed, heated and cooled to a perfectly comfortable temperature every day of the year.


For us, it was a stopping point.
A place to stretch our legs.
And have a bite to eat.


Do you know where it is? Have you been here before?

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Another year

If you were reading my blog this time last year, doesn't it seem impossible that a year has gone by already?

Actually, I have to thank you for hanging around after that spectacle I created last year surrounding my big milestone birthday. The 40-day countdown. All the celebrations I had for myself. Then the surprise party.

Oh, not to mention the little secret I was carrying around, too shocked to tell all my friends and family there was a perfectly good reason I wanted to puke all of the time.

It was nice to let this birthday quietly come and go. My husband was on another continent, so that left me home to have a nice birthday just doing what I do everyday... being a mom.

It all started when my alarm clock went off yesterday at 5 a.m. Whoa! That was early considering the alarm also had sounded at 11 p.m., 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. But fortunately, even though she has a loud scream, my alarm clock is cute and cuddly. And unlike most mornings when she can be lulled back to sleep, she apparently was excited to tell me happy birthday and couldn't wait to start the day.

Once I got out of the shower, I couldn't find the big kids. I have drilled into their little minds my love for birthdays, so I was afraid they might have pooled all of their piggy bank money and rode their bikes over to Target to buy me a gift. Instead, they all jumped out of their hiding places and sang "Happy Birthday".

They told me they would be more than happy to buy me ANY Wii game that I wanted as my gift. All I had to do was drive them over to the store so they could pick it out.

Then, it was time to rush through school so we could meet up with their friends at the Arboretum. Thankfully, their friends all come with moms who are my friends, and we all had a nice afternoon together.

After that we went to the kids' favorite restaurant, Go Roma. Actually, I don't mind Go Roma. I thought the food was great the first 16 times we went there. But after about 349 meals at their favorite restaurant, I can't say it would have been my No. 1 pick.

I ordered myself a little chocolate molten lava cake for dessert and a little dish of ice cream for the three big kids.

"You ARE going to share, aren't you Mom?"

Oh. Yeah. Of course I was planning to share. I cut the tiny little cake into four pieces and passed a bite to each person.

When we got home, the kids decided we should have a movie night. And guess what?! I could choose ANY movie I wanted to watch!

Well... as long as it wasn't that one or that one. Actually... as long as it was either this one or this one. I made my selection from the two choices I was given, and we all sat down to watch it together while I folded laundry.

By about 8 p.m., I was ready for bed. It had been a long day.

It might not have been a birthday filled with all of the things I would have chosen for myself. But I got to share everything we did with my four greatest gifts. And that was perfect.



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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The notecard

If you are looking for my Lost post, scroll on down...

***

I really don't like getting the mail. It gives me a sense of dread about what demands lie hidden inside sealed envelopes.

Bills that need to be paid. A reminder about something I've forgotten. A meeting I need to attend.

I'll admit it. Sometimes I leave my mail piled in a stack for days before I work up the courage to sort through the junk and take care of the letters that require my attention.

So, it was kind of unusual yesterday that I took a minute to open the mail right away. The first thing that caught my eye was a small envelope with my name and address hand-written on the front. There was no return address.

Hmmm. I can't think of anyone who might be sending me a thank you card (although I still owe thank you notes to about 10 people). Maybe it's a birthday card from my insurance agent. She's one of the few people left who still sends a greeting that way instead of through Facebook or e-mail. Or an invitation? A home party, maybe?

I tore open the envelope and read the first line.




"Emily, you are such a blessing to me..."

What?! I was on the phone with my husband at the same time. While we were talking, I kept scanning the note to try to figure out what it was about. Who was it from? Why had they sent it?

No signature.

I looked at the envelope again. No return address. The postmark was blurred so I couldn't even see from what town it might have been sent.

It must be from my secret sister. I think I remember reading in the secret sister description that we could send notes to each other in the mail. But wouldn't she have at least signed it, "secret sister"?

Maybe it was an early birthday card. You know. You're supposed to say nice things to people on their birthday. But wouldn't it say, "Happy Birthday!"?

I read it again line by line.

"Thanks for sharing kindness to those who are insecure and have nobody."

Really? Me? I have shown kindness to the insecure?

I don't feel like I am that good at showing kindness to the insecure. I'm usually working so hard to battle my own insecurity that I'm afraid I come off as aloof.

I was so struck that this person saw that in me. Because seriously. That would be one of the Top 5 things I would want someone to include in my epitaph. "Loved Jesus. Wonderful Wife. Awesome Mom. Could stretch 5 pounds of ground beef into 10 meals (just kidding). Friend to the insecure."

I continued to read.

Wow. Whoever wrote this note really had the gift of encouragement. It wasn't just a quick one-liner, thank-you-for-doing-such-and-such kind of note. The writer had really taken some time composing her thoughts.

I was so curious that I put out a message on Facebook, hoping the writer simply forgot to sign her name. Another friend from my church responded that she also had received a note of encouragement in the mail that day. So, that means, it wasn't from my secret sister. It wasn't for my birthday. It wasn't from a relative.

Someone wrote that note. For no reason. Just.... to be... nice.

I needed that. More than that person could know. And I just wanted to say, "thank you". You inspired me. I hope I can follow your example and spread some encouragement, too.



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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Lost: The Last Recruit

Spoiler alert: You know the drill. If you didn't watch Lost on April 20, 2010, then don't read this post.


So, it really is a small world after all, huh?

Wasn't it great to see all of our favorite Losties bumping into each other in the off-island reality last night? And finally, it seems that the two realities are starting to merge.

Other bloggers have been saying that what is happening on the island is affecting what is happening off the island. That could be the case. Or maybe it's not a cause-and-effect relationship.

But perhaps — as I seem to blog every week — it's just destiny. Their lives are destined to go in a certain direction and it will happen whether or not their plane crashes on the island. Whatever the case, the off-island existence is starting to mirror the on-island outcomes in many ways.

Let's just break down a few examples.

SUN AND LOCKE

Off the island, Sun and Locke are simultaneously being pulled out of ambulances and pushed into the ER. They are side by side on their stretchers when Sun looks over at Locke and seems to have one of those deja vu moments where she suddenly remembers her island existence. "It's him! It's him," she shouts.

On the island, Locke approaches Sun as they are marching through the jungle. Just as she can't speak English off the island, she has lost her ability to speak English on the island, too. Instead, she writes Fake Locke a note" "You did this to me."

JOHN AND LOCKE

On the island, FLocke asks to speak to Jack in private. FLocke tells Jack that he had been posing as Jack's father when he led him to the water. Now, he took over Locke's dead body because Jack was so nice to bring it to the island. He also informs Jack that Locke "wasn't a believer. He was a sucker."

Claire informs Jack that he has unknowingly aligned himself with the Great Body Snatcher just by allowing FLocke to talk to him. So, I guess all of those warnings about killing FLocke or Jacob before they were allowed to speak were for real. If they do start talking to you, you will be sucked over to their side.

Off the island, Jack is reunited with Locke in the emergency room after he was mowed down in the parking lot by Desmond. I have a feeling Jack is going to restore Locke's ability to walk, don't you?

And while Jack is about to save Locke off the island, it's FLocke who picks up Jack and carries him through the jungle to keep him from getting killed on the island.

KATE AND SAWYER

Kate and Sawyer are getting a little reunion in the police station off the island. And on the island, they are running away together, trying to escape by stealing FLocke's boat and hoping to get a ride on Widmore's submarine.

CLAIRE AND JACK

Jack meets The Claire Littleton when he goes to hear his father's will being read. I loved this part. Not only did Desmond intercept her on the way to the 15th Floor, (I wonder if the number 15 specifically applied to Claire in any other instances?) but he takes her right to Ilana, an attorney who has been searching for the mystery woman mentioned in Christian Shephard's will.

Surprise! You have a sister!

Meanwhile, on the island, Claire tells Jack she chose to go with FLocke because he was the only one who "didn't abandon me". She seems lonely enough as a pregnant woman going to an adoption agency by herself, but not half as sad and hopeless as the on-island Claire.

I was just happy that she was brave enough to leave Locke, even though she knew he "would be mad".

SAYID

And finally, Sayid's two realities seem to be exploding.

He gets arrested by Sawyer for killing Keamy and the gang, and as a result he has to leave Nadia, the woman he loves. On the island, Desmond asks him what Nadia will think when Sayid tells him that he was reunited with her only because he killed Desmond in cold blood.

Will Sayid see he light and realize that by killing Desmond he won't be able to have the reunion with Nadia he dreams of? I have a hard time believing that he really did kill Desmond, but I wonder if he left him in the well. I'm hoping Sayid finally came out of his Zombie state and rescued him.

SUN AND JIN

And finally, finally, FINALLY ,Sun and Jin are reunited. In the hospital room off-island, Jin promises Sun they will always be together.

He makes the same promise on the island when they finally get together. (Was anyone else afraid they were both going to run into the electric fence and get zapped?) As soon as Sun runs into Jin's arms, her ability to speak English is restored. Yay!

**

So, now Jack is convinced the he can't leave the island because it isn't done with him yet. But he's trapped by FLocke, who is determined to get off the island.

And Sawyer tells Kate they are "done going back". He is just as set on stealing the submarine and going home. Unfortunately, they are caught by Widmore, who seems like he might have them all shot execution style.

This is getting good.

What did you think?




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Bible study for kids: It worked!

With only about six weeks left in the school year, lots of people have been asking me how things went during our first year of home school. I decided to write a series of posts on what worked for us!

This first post is about a Bible study we did this year. Even if you don't do school at home, this is a great resource. I actually wrote this post back in November, but didn't publish it.

**

Since I woke up this morning, I have been wanting to write a blog post about a great resource I have been using this school year to work on character issues with the boys.

Instead of getting a few minutes of downtime, I've been fighting an unusual amount of stubbornness, disrespect and bad attitudes all day. You know, character issues.

Isn't that the way it always goes?

It's so tempting to blame the flaws of our children on outside factors. Why are they so ungrateful? Why do they complain so much? Why do they argue with their siblings?

It must be the kids at school. It must be the neighbors. It must be something they watched on television.

The ugly truth is that we, as parents, are responsible for molding the behavior of our children. And if you are like me, you might fall into the trap of focusing on "behavior modification" rather than the real heart issues that are leading to poor behavior.

For example, it's great when children use good manners. But do they say "please" and "thank you" because we have practiced it 100 times, or does it also spring out of a heart full of love and respect for others?

I have been trying to do a better job of teaching my kids the "why" behind their behavior. And these Bible studies have been a huge help.



They are written for kids in elementary school and focus on traits like kindness, obedience, self-control, thankfulness, responsibility, etc. We just finished "Choosing Kindness" and decided that November would be a great time to work on "Choosing Thankfulness". The author of the book is Kaye Freeman.

Each lesson includes a short Bible passage, questions for the kids to answer and sometimes an activity, like a coloring sheet, word search or secret code to solve.

When we started our first study, I would read all of the Bible passages to my first- and third-grader and ask them the questions. I realized a few weeks ago that I was skipping one of the most important aspects of doing a Bible study — teaching THEM to study the Bible on their own.

Now, I let them look up the scriptures, take turns reading and also read the questions. It takes longer, but that's OK. They get really excited about trying to find the verses and they are learning more than just character traits. They also are learning a life-long skill.

I'm linking this post to Works For Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family.


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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Join my fan club and this WON'T happen to you!

Just when you thought you had seen enough here at everydayMOM, I've gone off and done it again. I created my own fan club.

I know what you're thinking. You've GOT to be kidding?!?!

But there is a very logical explanation. I'm just trying to make your life easier.

If you join my fan page, one and only one thing happens: You will get to see everydayMOM posts in your news feed on Facebook. And doesn't that sound exciting?!?

Sometimes I post links to my blog on Facebook, but I thought it would be nice if my readers had the option to get ALL of my sometimes silly, often sarcastic, once-in-a-while thought-provoking, frequently over-the-top and once-in-a-blue-moon spectacular posts delivered right to their news feed. AND this also allows readers to get everydayMOM on Facebook even if they aren't FB friends with the real life eM(ily).

Now, I'm sure you still might be wondering if there is a hidden catch. So let me just tell you the Top 5 Things That WON'T Happen If You Become a Facebook Fan of everydayMOM.

1. You WON'T have to wait in any long lines. That's right. You will be able to read my blog — just as you always have — from the comfort of your own home.

2. You WON'T have to worry that you've missed something. No more rushing to get off Facebook to check for a new blog post. It will be listed in your news feed right alongside all the reports from your other friends about urgent topics like what a nice day it is, who is drinking a second cup of coffee and what fun activities all of your friends enjoyed over the weekend without inviting you.

3. You WON'T have to hurt my feelings if you secretly don't want to get everydayMOM in your news feed. That's right. You can just "hide" me like you do all of your other friends who you regret ever accepting a friend request from.

4. You WON'T have to eat my cooking. You can continue to eat the foods you like. I won't try to make you try any of my ground beef recipes or one single thing I made in the crock pot. I won't even come to your house and try to mooch dinner (unless I'm invited).

And finally....

5. I WON'T feel like a complete idiot because I am the only person in the world who wants to Fan me on Facebook.

So, go ahead. Be nice. Click the link. Become a fan. It will be fun. I promise.

P.S. I'll love you forever.




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Baby talk

I love it!

(Just ignore the spitting sounds at the end.) =]


video




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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Lost: Everybody Loves Hugo

If you don't mind, I'm just going to see if I have everything straight.

So... a bunch of people were born. Their lives were touched by a god-like figure named Jacob. His touch pushed them to get on a plane. The plane crashed on an island.

The survivors eventually started traveling through time. They flashed 30 years back in time and blew up the very thing that caused their plane to crash.

So, now, their minus 30-year selves went through their lives without being touched by Jacob and without being pushed toward the island. When they got to the point in life where they would have crashed on the island, they started having deja vu.

They are starting to sense that they had another life. They have met certain people before. They have lived these same experiences, but in another place and another time.

All of the people on the plane were actually destined to meet. I think of this sort of how I met my husband. We grew up together in a small town. We were in the same class in school. However, we never dated or even spoke to each other!

We could have dated in high school and got married when we were 21. But we didn't. Eight years after high school, we reconnected and began dating. We were destined to get married. It could have happened sooner or it could have happened later. Either way, it was meant to happen.

Back to Lost. So, all of these people were meant to interact in some way, whether it was on the island or not. They are all starting to make these connections.

Libby finds Hurley and is now in a mental hospital because she thinks she is crazy. It seems that the re-living of life is much more difficult for Libby and Charlie because they died on the island. Now that they are alive and have passed over the point where they would have died, they seem to be much more confused and tormented than the other people.

So, back to the point where they set off the hydrogen bomb. I get a little fuzzy here. I'm not sure why they are still alive on the island. Did they travel through time right as the bomb went off? Or did the bomb not kill them?

Whatever the case, they were still alive, so they continued to live a parallel life on the island. Now, they exist at two different places at the same time. But it can't be exactly the same time because we know that at the point they get on the plane the second time around the island is under water.

Desmond enters the picture. He is very important because he can withstand a powerful force of electromagnetism. He also seems to be very important because he is trying to reconnect the people who would have crashed and help them remember what happened in their other life.

Why? Maybe he wants to go back and change that outcome somehow. Oh, and when he orders something at a restaurant, he is given the number 42.

And we already kow that when you add together all of the important numbers, they equal 108. And somehow 108 is an important number. OK.

Back on the island, we don't know who is good and who is bad, but FLocke seems very bad. It wasn't nice at all for him to push Desmond down into a well and leave him for dead. But we know it can't be that easy to kill Desmond. And the previews give us a hint that he is still alive next week. Whew!

On the island, FLocke also needs to reunite the six candidates in order to complete his mission. I'm sure the number 108 will have something to do with what he is trying to do, whatever that is. Do you really think he will unleash evil on planet Earth if he escapes the island?

We also know that some people get stuck in their dead island existence and can't move on. These would include people who kill themselves, such as Michael. These stuck people can communicate with Hurley, but those who were killed another way, like Libby, don't communicate with Hurley.

And, supposedly, Jacob told Richard what the island really is. But, of course, Richard didn't tell us.

And one more thing. Some people have been speculating that as people get injured on the island, they see the scars of those injuries in their parallel lives. I noticed a prominent scar on Desmond's forehead matched up with the big injury on his forehead on the island. I'm not sure if he got that scar another way off the island.

So, there you have it. Simple, right?

Oh, and PS. Apparently Ilana wasn't that important after all. Kaboom.




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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The vacuum

** This post will omit a few words to keep away the creepy people looking for those words in search engines.**

My children have learned a lot this year about life by having a new baby in the house. They've seen diapers filled with yellow goo. They've learned that babies can be born in two different ways — either by cutting the mom open or "the other way". But one of the more shocking things they have learned has to do with how some babies are fed.

When their new baby sister came home from the hospital, I had not prepared them for the news of how she would obtain her nourishment. I only had time to give them a brief explanation before she started crying.

"You're going to do WHAT?!?" they exclaimed.

Since then, the kids have gotten used to this strange form of feeding her, sans the bottles they always see on television and in books. My 9-year-old still uses his hand to shield his eyes if he senses he might be coming into the general proximity of me nursing the baby. My 7-year-old son, on the other hand, loves to see the baby cuddled up next to me and listens for her cute sounds.

I've never had much success in getting my babies to drink from a bottle.

With my firstborn, I had a little hand pump and I used it dutifully to store up milk for him. As soon as he had dropped one of his early morning feedings, I would continue to get up at that dark, solitary hour to pump. I filled ziplock baggies with milk and stored them in the freezer.

My husband would then carefully heat the milk in bottles to the precise temperature and try to feed him. He would scream in torture at this insult. "How dare you try to feed me apart from my warm mommy!" he would wail in baby screams.

We moved from our apartment when he was 7 months old, and I cried as we tossed those frozen bags of milk in the garbage. All of those early mornings spent extracting my own milk like I was both a farmer and a cow had been for nothing.

I tried again producing bottles of milk for my other two children, but their reaction was much the same.

So, from the day Baby #4 was born, I swore that nothing, and I mean NOTHING, would be important enough for me to even attempt to pump.

And I held firmly to this view until a week ago when I hit the point of desperation. Baby #4 is a spitting machine. She spits up at least half of the milk she consumes. The doctor said we should try mixing her milk with cereal to help her keep more of it down.

And guess what? She actually will drink from a bottle! I've started supplementing her with formula, and a friend loaned me her fancy, electric pump to help.

I tried sneaking the machine into the house without any of the kids noticing. Oh, but nothing slips past my boys who spend all of their free time playing detective.

They demanded an explanation for this new piece of machinery that had entered our home.

"So, it's sort of like a vacuum?" the 7-year-old decided.

A few days ago, he overheard me talking about a friend who had adopted a newborn and was looking for women to participate in a "milk sharing program". I had not heard of this, and I was intrigued. He wanted a complete explanation for how this would work.

"So, they'll use the vacuum?" he asked, very matter-of-factly.

Yep. The vacuum.

Well, I'm sure my son will be telling his friends about his mom's new vacuum and news will soon spread about all of the cleaning that is happening over here. But please don't be alarmed if you visit. The carpets are just as dirty as ever.




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Monday, April 12, 2010

Souper Saturday... God showed up!

I'm feeling very awed and humbled after the amazing women's event we had at our church on Saturday evening.

I feel so privileged that I get to organize the women's ministry at my church, but I had not planned anything since last August. I was kind of overwhelmed with being in my third trimester of pregnancy, starting homeschool, then having a baby and adjusting to life with a newborn and four kids. In the meantime, my buddy who helped me with the leadership role decided to leave our church to find a church closer to her home.

I hadn't done anything with Women's Link for so long I wondered if I should just let it quietly fade away and hope that no one noticed. I felt so brain dead that I really had no creative ideas, no direction and no vision.

But then I had a bright idea! Maybe I should pray about it! =]

I sat down at my computer not long after that and was amazed as ideas starting pouring into my head. It was totally a God thing.

**

Our first event of the year was Souper Saturday. The women in our church have been through a lot in the past few years. Many of us experienced the death of a young mom who we all loved. Others have gone through cancer, a debilitating illness or a medical condition that makes life difficult.

Some have experienced miscarriages, the loss of a child or are raising a child with a severe medical condition. Women have lost jobs or their husbands have been without work not just for months, but years.

It's so tempting in these situations to ask, "Where is God?" "Why doesn't he show up?"

The truth is the Bible doesn't promise that life will always be easy.

"Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. " ~ John 16:33

His ways are often impossible to understand. But he also promises that we don't have to walk through the tough times alone. He is faithful. He is good. And he won't leave us.

Our speakers were three ordinary women who have faced extraordinary circumstances this past year. Two of them, Terra and Katie, have blogs that you should read to get the whole story. The stories were so powerful that they brought everyone to tears. God showed up.

**

In the past, we always had 25 women attend our Women's Link events. Because new families have joined our church since then, I estimated we would have about 30 attend this time.

But the excitement started growing, and Souper Saturday began taking on a life of it's own. As more people signed up and started talking about it, more people wanted to sign up. Even with only a few days left, women were still e-mailing me asking if they could come.

In the end, 63 women signed up — more than double our attendance before. God showed up!

**

Originally, I had planned to have the event on a Saturday in March and had made plans to rent out a meeting room that would have held 40 people. A conflict came up and I had to change the date, even after I had announced it to the women at our church.

I also had to find a new location. I asked my friend, Michelle, if we could use her home. She lives in a restored 100-year old home, and she loves to host. Michelle could have panicked as our numbers grew. But instead, she wasn't fazed. "No big deal! I'll just move all of my furniture into the garage!" God showed up.

**

The next problem was finding chairs and tables for everyone. Someone suggested I ask two guys at our church to help move large tables and stacks of chairs from our church office to Michelle's house. Our church meets in a high school, so we don't have a physical location where we can host things like this.

The two men were more than happy to help and moved the furniture in and out like it was no big deal. God showed up!

**

But how would we feed 63 women? I had asked the women attending to sign up to bring either soup, salad, bread, dessert or drinks. Ten women brought big crock-pots of soup and another 10 brought salads. It was the most amazing array of "girl food" you can imagine. The women loved it! We also had WAY more than enough bread, desserts and drinks. God showed up!

**

With that many people and so many new women coming to this event for the first time, I wanted to have some type of assigned seating. But I didn't want to be the one making the assignments.

As the women walked in, we asked them to take a table number to determine where to sit. It was amazing to hear the stories later about how well the seating arrangements turned out.

I needed to sit at a table near the front so I could get up and down quickly as the "MC" for the night. It sounds strange, but with so many details on my mind, I kind of forgot about the two women I had invited to attend.

When they walked in, they had "randomly" drawn the number for my table! Both of these women have faced extraordinary circumstances of their own. One lives daily with the effects of Lyme disease. The other discovered she had an aggressive form of breast cancer at the age of 35. She recently finished a year of treatment. Make sure you read her story here.

It was great to get to sit with these friends I have known for many years but only reconnected with recently. Two other women sat at our table, which was a nice cozy little refuge for me when I wasn't speaking up front. Even the other two women at our table made amazing connections, such as finding out two of them attended the same high school! God showed up!

**

I get a little obsessed with the decor at these events, as I've already mentioned. During one of my long nights up with the baby, I had the idea that I should decorate using soup cans and soup ingredients.

I had already found a little recipe holder box that I wanted to put on the tables and decide to use it as the basis of my color scheme — lime green, turquoise and brown. (You can see from my blog that I like those colors!) I found matching tablecloths that made the place look really bright and festive.


I looked online and got the idea to make fake soup can labels in those colors. I called the soups, "Friendship Soup," "Community Soup" and "Cream of Caring". I will have to post a close-up later of the soup can labels. They included an ingredient list, nutrition info, directions and a recipe, just like a regular soup can, but I changed the words to match the type of soup.


Believe me. In my sleep-deprived state, I couldn't have thought of this idea on my own. God showed up!

**

So many other details came together in such an amazing way. A woman I didn't know that well offered to add her creative touches to some gifts I needed. They were way cuter than anything I could have made!

Another woman brought a microphone and speaker at the last minute. With so many women, they couldn't have heard a word without it!

And Baby Jayda even started taking a bottle just a few days before, allowing me to attend without her. God showed up!



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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Soup's on!

You might be thinking that my blog has been a little dull lately because I'm so sleep deprived, I'm spending so much time wrapping up the school year, I'm busy working on my taxes or I'm tackling the 21 loads of dirty laundry in this house.

And that would make sense.

But actually, I've been spending all of my waking moments lately trying to think of recipes that involve canned goods so I can use the empty cans, making artwork out of beans and playing with PhotoShop. And that can only mean one thing.

I'm busy planning a women's event at my church.

This event is going to be amazing. It's called "Souper Saturday", and we will be blessed to hear from three ordinary women who have faced extraordinary circumstances this past year. I have a feeling that God is going to be moving in some hearts on Saturday night, and I'm privileged to get to be part of the planning process.

But I'm a detail person, so I get excited about putting together all the little touches at the last minute. You know how much I love a theme and a color scheme.

And since I can't keep a secret, and I'm bursting with excitement, here's a sneak peek at what I've been up to the past few days.

I'm hoping it will be souper.






Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Lost: Happily Ever After

I'm feeling a little bit like Desmond right now. I have a glimpse of what the writers of Lost are telling us. I can touch it with my fingertips, but then it slips out of reach. I have a vague idea of what I want to say, but I can't quite articulate it.

This episode felt like a whirlwind of new information, and all of it is swirling around in my brain. We got so many new clues, the characters started having lightbulb moments, and it finally felt like the writers might really be trying to wrap this thing up.

Let's start with Desmond and the experiment Widmore was performing on him. We know that Desmond has a special purpose on the island and now we know that is because he is the one person who can withstand the energy of the island without being fried like a death row inmate in an electric chair.

The experiment seems to put Desmond back in the same state where we found him several seasons ago after the first time he came in contact with the energy of the island. He is flashing back and forth from one reality to the other without the ability to comprehend what is happening to him.

This time, Charlie, in all of his crazed determination to kill himself, seems to be the one person who gets it. He gives us a tiny explanation of the bigger message of the show. If the passengers on Oceanic 815 were being pushed to the island against their will, what is free will anyway? As Charlie explained to Desmond, sometimes a choice isn't really a choice.

If the benefits of going one direction are clearly better than the alternative, then is it really a choice? But Charlie is finally ready to make the unreasonable choice.

He would rather die to experience what he had on the island then make the reasonable choice to go on living in this new reality that they created. He even seems determined to kill himself in the same way that he died before by forcing Desmond to drive his car into the Ocean.

Daniel shows up and explains that he has a perception that they got to a point where they all had to make the ultimate choice. Would they sacrifice themselves and do something completely unthinkable for the greater good?

When the Losties set off the nuclear bomb, they also seemed to have pushed a reset button on their lives. Now, they have attained the one thing they thought they always wanted. For Desmond, that would be the approval of Charles Widmore. When Eloise told Desmond that he finally had what he always wanted, I felt like she had somehow given him a "perfect" life so that he wouldn't be unsatisfied and start looking for what was missing.

Both Eloise and Widmore keep reminding Desmond that his life is "perfect" — perfect job, no commitments, gets to travel the world — but he is lacking the excitement, joy and even the pain of his previous life with Penny.

It was great to see the lives of so many of the characters starting to intertwine off island: Desmond, Charlie, Jack, Charles Widmore, Eloise, Daniel, George Minkowski and Claire. Didn't you love Jack's look of disbelief when Desmond told him he was looking for a patient who was on the flight with the two of them?

Minkowski, by the way, shares with Desmond the past experience of having his mind travel through time, eventually resulting in his death on the freighter in the arms of Desmond. I wonder if George also was starting to get a glimpse of that other life when he told Desmond he would do whatever he needed him to do.

The characters are starting to remember what was and what would have been if they hadn't set off that nuclear bomb. Charlie saw Claire. Desmond saw the message on Charlie's hand and then Penny. Daniel saw Charlotte.

Only Eloise and Charles Widmore seem to be aware of what is happening in both of their parallel existences. So, does that make them more powerful than Jacob and the Man in Black. Are they controlled by the forces on the island? Or is the island controlled by them? Or maybe they ARE Jacob and the Man in Black. Who knows.

I think they wanted to make sure that Desmond did not reconnect with Penny because she was his constant and will be again. And the same is probably true of Daniel and Charlotte. As soon as Desmond and Penny made physical contact by touching hands, his mind flashed back to his island existence.

On the island, he seems to no longer care about making choices or trying to decide what to do. His eyes have glazed and he is content to go where he is told to go and do what he is told to do, without questioning or fighting.

First, he agrees to help Widmore, but as soon as Sayid comes along, he follows him. I'm not sure if he has accepted his mission, if he has a new sense of faith and is following along, or if he has completely lost his mind.

Off-island, Desmond wants to locate everyone else on that flight. I'm guessing that each of them also has a constant and once they find it, they will be able to remember their other life. Charlie will find Claire. Jack will find Kate. Sawyer will find Juliet. And then what?

Before it seemed that their other life, the one "controlled" by the island, was full of pain and misery and needed to be changed. But at the same time, they found something on the island —whether it was love, a purpose, a leadership role, a mission, or health.

Without the island, they supposedly have free will. For many of them, their other lives seem more pleasant, but at the same time mundane. It's as if they have gained security, but given up a life of adventure. Which is better?

The nuclear bomb apparently is some type of loophole to Eloise's statement that "what happened, happened." But now that they changed what happened, will they leave it that way? Or will they be able to change it back? Or will they be able to re-create the relationships they left on the island in their alternate reality?

I can't believe we only have five more episodes to figure it all out.



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Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Sunday

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter Sunday. We were at home this Easter with just our family. I was kind of bummed that we weren't able to get together with extended family, but it's nice to be home sometimes on the holidays, too.

It turned out to be a good day. We had a great church service, then an Easter egg hunt in the back yard. Some friends came by in the evening. They are missionaries, and we got to see all of their photos of life in India. The kids thought that was AWESOME!

Instead of Easter baskets and candy, I got each of the kids a LEGO game. They have been playing with them non-stop!

Here are some photos:



Don't ask me why they wanted to wear those helmets. They had visited their uncle the day before and he is a firefighter. They have been wearing helmets ever since.


Not loving the cereal, but we keep trying!






This photo is so you can check out her little bracelet. A friend gave her that when she was born. Too cute.


The signature headband. It's the perfect low-maintenance hair style!



The kids had fun finding eggs and of course, decided to hide them several more times afterward.



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Thursday, April 1, 2010

It's alive

There's something I've been meaning to tell you all for a while now. I've been keeping it a secret because I wasn't sure how it would affect our imaginary relationship.

You see. When I was in the third grade, I developed this strange belief that everything had life. Straws. Napkins. Milk cartons. Candy wrappers.

I pretended to collect these things for a perfectly good reason. Ummm. Because every third-grade girl needs her own collection of candy bar wrappers? Because I was making a pretend telephone by stretching drinking straws out the window to the neighbor's house?

Afraid to discard any of these objects and hurt their feelings, I stuffed them in my desk at school. I pushed them behind my dresser in my room. I piled them under my bed. All of this continued until my usually mild-mannered third-grade teacher had enough of my messy desk.

She dumped it. That's right. She tilted my desk on its side and dumped out all of the contents to reveal to the entire class a mountain of used straws, napkins and other paper goods. Clearly, she did not share my belief that any of these items had life.

And I have decided to finally come clean with this story to ask you this: Do I seem like a good candidate to own a batch of Friendship Bread starter?

My rational side is very excited on Day 7 that I am a few days away from baking my first loaf of Friendship Bread and slicing into its warm goodness.

But I have to admit that when my friend handed over the bag of starter, my former wrapper-collecting self was trying to hide a little panic. What if I failed to divide and then pass on the starter?

I mean, most of the plants in this household are down to only one green leaf. The dirty clothes are piled 3-feet high above the rims of the laundry baskets. I haven't mopped the kitchen floor in more than a month. I'm not exactly keeping up with things over here.

If I didn't pass on the starter, would I be subjected to seven years of bad luck?

My mind started racing. We love bread. So, I could just keep the bags of starter and make more bread. And more. And more.

I was practicing my math facts as fast as my sleep-deprived brain could multiply. Four bags of starter times 4 would make 16 bags. Sixteen times four is 64. Sixty-four times 4 is 256. Oh man. This stuff is multiplying faster than a family of bunnies in my flowerbed.

I'm going to have so many bags of starter on my counter, I might have to give them names. But the alternative was unthinkable: Throw them away?

At first, that option didn't sound so bad. But that was before I reached Day 6 and added the cup of milk, flour and sugar.

Just mushing the bag for a few minutes a day up until that point seemed simple enough. I could remember that. But once I put in the extra ingredients, I had no doubt this bag of stuff on my counter was in fact alive.

It was gurgling. It was churning in there. I had to open the top a little to release its gas. I am 90 percent sure that I did indeed hear it hiss. I kid you not.

I asked my friends on Facebook if it was really safe to leave a mixture containing milk sitting out on my counter for days. And then adding more milk and dividing it to give to my "friends". Was this a secret plot to use a so-called Amish tradition to annihilate the human race? Had I become nothing more than a pawn in a foreign nation's trick to use food poisoning to knock out American households one by one in the name of friendship?

I was shocked at the wide-ranging opinions that were coming in. Apparently, people have VERY strong feelings about Friendship Bread. It is either something to be loved, cared for and doused with chocolate chips. Or it is a gift to be loaved... I mean loathed.

One thing was for sure. It is not something to take lightly, like Facebook, where you go around befriending every person you vaguely recall from high school or your waitressing job in college. Before you pass along Friendship Bread starter, you better know your friend and be darned sure she isn't going to toss that bag of fermenting goo in the garbage while cursing your name as you leave the house.

I'm not sure where I stand on Friendship Bread at this point. I have been wanting to start baking my own bread so I'm hoping I will like it, despite my reservations about unknown numbers of strangers who have added their portions of milk, flour and sugar to the bag that now lives in my kitchen.

But, I'm not sure what I will do with all of the starter it creates. At some point, my counter top will be too full to collect any more starter and I will have to make the awful choice of whether to risk a friendship by passing it on, or be haunted by its gaseous groan if I throw it in the garbage.

One thing is for sure. My bread is scheduled to rise in the oven on Easter Sunday. And really? How can that be a coincidence?




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