Friday, December 28

Sometimes Wisdom ... found in the strangest places.

I was visiting an online discussion board about birth choices the other day and discovered a quote from C.S. Lewis that pretty much sums up my anxiety issues in a nice neat little package:
We're not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.


Wednesday, December 26

Boxing Day

That's where you take all the boxes and wrapping paper out to the trash after the Christmas bonanza, right? No. I know. It has something to do with bestowing gifts on those less fortunate that oneself. (And, yes, as a matter of fact, I did know that before I read the Snopes reference. A game of Trivial Pursuit, anyone??)

In any case, it is Boxing Day, the feast day of St. Stephen, and the first day of the twelve days of Christmas. To celebrate that last one, I posted one of my favorite new snacks on By Hook or By Cook.

Pears and Cheese

This post originally appeared on By Hook or By Cook.

I'm not usually a big fan of salty cheeses with fruit. No slice of cheddar on my apple pie, thank you very much! I tried this combination accidentally one day while I was having a snack, and WOW! I may just have to rethink that apple pie thing.
click photo for larger image       
Dried sliced Bartlett pears
Basque Shepherd's Cheese, sliced

· Arrange slices of cheese atop slices of pear.
· Enjoy the symphony of flavors.

Ingredient note: I found both the dried pears and the cheese at Trader Joe's. If you're not able to find these particular ingredients, however, you can substitute another semi-soft cheese and dry your own pears. Colorado State University has a nice drying primer available here.

Tuesday, December 25

Happy Christmas

Glory to God in the highest
and peace to His people on earth!

Easy-Peasy Peanut Butter Fudge

This post originally appeared on By Hook or By Cook.

I found the original recipe for this simple yummy fudge in an old cookbook put together by the Women's Missionary Society at my grandmother's church. I've made it according to their recipe, but I think my version tastes better!
click photo for larger image       
1 lb. powdered sugar (3¾ c)
1 t vanilla
¼ c milk
6 T butter
¾ c chunky peanut butter

• Line an 8x8 pan with foil and butter lightly.
• Measure sugar and vanilla into a medium bowl. Set aside.
• Heat milk, butter, and peanut butter over medium heat until just boiling, stirring constantly.
• Pour peanut butter mixture over powdered sugar and mix thoroughly.
• Press fudge into prepared pan. Refrigerate 1-2 hours.
• Unmold fudge from pan and remove foil. Cut into ¾-inch squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 3 pieces (12 g)
Serving per Recipe 36
Amount per Serving
Calories 56 Calories from Fat 17

% DV
Total Fat 2g
Saturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.5g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 5mg
Sodium 14mg
Total Carbohydrates 10g
Dietary Fiber 0g
Sugars 10g
Protein 0g


Saturday, December 22


When I was single, housecleaning was a reasonably rare activity. Unless people were coming over or I was out of dishes, there didn't seem to be much point. When I would finally get it all together and clean, it would stay that way for weeks ... or, well, days anyway.

Now, I'm married with an almost-three-year-old kid. Adam and I can spent hours cleaning and tidying the house, only for our daughter to start messing it up--before we've even finished cleaning. It's very demoralizing.

We had a date last night, our first real date in months and months. Our daughter's godmother graciously offered to babysit for us, so we needed to make an effort to tidy up the house. We'd been a bit lax about it the last several weeks; we'd all been battling illness and hadn't gotten back on track yet. But we put a few hours of work in and got things organized, swept, dusted, toys put away, and the bathroom clean. It felt really good to come home last night and have the living room look all tidy and inviting.

Within 20 minutes of waking up this morning, the wee one had already started leaving tracks of her progress around the house. There is currently a pair of discarded shorts in the corner, two books on the coffee table, her purse with its contents scattered on the easy chair, a toy ball resting on top of the TV stand, and the backing from a page of stickers crumpled on the floor. The stickers themselves are plastered to her bare tummy. She was dressed less than an hour ago.


I know this stage will pass. They even tell me it will be over all too quickly. But some days, I'm just discouraged that I'll ever have a clean house.

Wednesday, December 19

Vegetarian 3-Bean Chili Mix

This post originally appeared on By Hook or By Cook.

Originally this was a recipe for hearty bean stew. As I played with it, though, I found that the chili was more appealing to me. This makes an easy homemade gift or something nice to have on hand in your own cupboard for cold winter days when you don't want to spend too much time thinking about what you'll make for dinner.
click photo for larger image       
½ c dry kidney beans
½ c dry black-eyed beans (also called "black-eyed peas")
½ c dry black beans
1 t cocoa powder
1 t vegetable bullion (or 1 cube, crushed)
1 t dried minced onion
½ t parsley
½ t chili powder
¼ t garlic powder
¼ t thyme
1-14½ oz can diced tomatoes

Mix Directions
• Layer beans in a sealed 12 oz container.
• Mix dry seasonings in a sealed bag.

Cooking Instructions
• Add beans to 3 cups boiling water. Cover & remove from heat. Let soak 6 hours or overnight.
• Drain beans & add another 3 cups water. Cover & bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat & simmer for 90 minutes.
• Stir in undrained tomatoes & seasoning mix. Simmer an additional 60 minutes or until chili has thickened.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 370 g (approx. 1½ c prepared)
Serving per Recipe 6
Amount per Serving
Calories 219 Calories from Fat 9

% DV
Total Fat 1g
Saturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 110mg
Total Carbohydrates 41.5g
Dietary Fiber 12g
Sugars 4g
Protein 12.5g


Christmas Star Ornaments

This post originally appeared on By Hook or By Cook.

I was playing around with an idea one afternoon, trying to figure out how to fill in a star and these little guys just appeared, almost fully formed, on my hook. They work up very quickly and are a great gift in themselves or as a package embellishment.

Materials used
small amount of Red Heart® Super Saver® #324 (Bright Yellow)
I crochet hook (5.5 mm) for large star
1 steel crochet hook (2.75 mm) for small star

Gauge and Finished Size
Not essential to measure. The large star is about 4" tall and the small one is about 1½" tall, but really, they can be any size.

Skill Level

Large Star
click photo for larger image       
Pattern is worked with two strands of yarn held together.
Rnd 1: Using the Magic Adjustable Ring technique, make 5 sc in loop. Do not join.
Rnd 2: Make 2 sc in ea sc around (10 sc). Do not join.
Rnd 3: *Sc in first sc, 2 sc in next sc* around (15 sc). Join with slst in first sc. Circle complete.
Rnd 4: Slst in 1st sc. *[Ch5, slst in 2nd lp from hook, sc in next st, hdc in next st, dc in next st] point made. Sk next sc in circle and slst in next 2 sc. Rep from * around circle, after last point, make only 1 slst.
Rnd 5: Ch 1, sc in ea st around (50 sc).
Bind off ends, tucking tails into right side of fabric.

Match stars with right sides facing in. Beginning at the top of one point and leaving a 5” tail, whipstitch around in the back (inside) loops only for each stitch around. Tuck ends beneath the top stitch from opposite directions and knot. Knot again several inches above star to form hanging loop.

Small Star
click photo for larger image       
Rnd 1: Using the Magic Adjustable Ring technique, make 5 sc in loop. Do not join.
Rnd 2: Make 3 sc in ea sc around (15 sc). Join with slst in first sc. Circle complete.
Rnd 3: Slst in 1st sc. *[Ch5, slst in 2nd lp from hook, hdc in next 2 sts, dc in next st] point made. Sk next sc in circle and slst in next 2 sc. Rep from * around circle, after last point, make only 1 slst.
Bind off ends, tucking tails into right side of fabric.

Match stars with right sides facing in. Beginning at the top of one point and leaving a 3” tail, whipstitch around in the front (outside) loops only for each stitch around. Tuck ends beneath the top stitch from opposite directions and knot. Knot again several inches above star to form hanging loop.

Works for Me: Homemade Christmas

This week's theme is Last-Minute Christmas Tips. If you're trying to find something easy and inexpensive, but still with that homemade touch, take a look at what we did.

This year for Christmas, Adam and I gave our friends dinner baskets filled with homemade mixes, a small bottle of wine, and a coupon for dessert.

Dinner is Vegetarian 3-Bean Chili (mix recipe and directions here) and cornbread. I designed the apple-shaped coupons to round out the meal. They read, "This coupon entitles you to one scrumptious dessert made fresh in [Adam & Amy’s] kitchen."

I packaged the mixes in Wilton® Clear Party Bags, but they could just have easily gone in canning jars or even plastic zipper bags. The chili mix includes a small spice packet and a can of tomatoes. To make them look a little prettier, I placed the bag containing the spices on top of the tomato can and covered both with a crocheted cap that Adam made--doesn't it look great? The star ornament is my handiwork. It does double duty as both another small gift and a package embellishment. I posted a pattern for the star here (it's the Small Star).

To find more Christmas tips, head on over to Rocks in My Dryer.

Monday, December 17

Comment Etiquette

Okay, I've been a blogger for more than a year now, and I have to just come out and admit it. This commenting thing confuses me.

I know there are various ways to deal with comments. I could respond individually by e-mail (to those people who have included an e-mail address). I could do that, but I really don't see it happening.

Another choice is to respond in the comments section of the post. I have done that on occasion. But most of my posts don't seem especially controversial. Certainly not enough to bring in the sort of comments that inspire ongoing responses back and forth. Plus, how many of you actually come back to read again?

Or I could respond by leaving a comment myself at the blog of the individual who commented here. This one just seems a little strange to me. Unless it's part of a carnival or meme, I don't usually do this. I almost always visit the blogs of people who've commented, and will often comment on something there which piques my interest, but I've always felt a little awkward leaving a note that says "thanks for visiting my blog."

Then there is the just-ignore-them-and-hope-they'll-come-back method I've been employing lately. I hope I haven't offended anyone. I really do like your comments. I do read them. I just don't really do much else about them.

So here is my question: What is your comment etiquette? Do you respond to comments regularly? Do you expect other bloggers to respond to your comments? If so, how?

Sunday, December 16

What You Think It Means

One of my favorite quotable movies of all time is The Princess Bride. There is one scene where the kidnappers (Vizzini, Fezzik, and Inigo Montoya) have just carried Princess Buttercup up the Cliffs of Insanity. They reach the top and cut their rope only to discover that The Man in Black not only didn't fall to his death, but is actually scaling the sheer rock face to reach them. Vizzini and Inigo stare down from atop the cliff. Vizzini shouts his trademark, "Inconceivable!" To which Inigo replies, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

The same, I believe, can be said of the word "communication." We all use it; we bandy it about as though we understand what it means to communicate with family, friends, co-workers ... but do we really?

In general usage, communicate can mean two slightly different, but very distinct things. In the first sense, you can communicate your thoughts, desires or dreams to someone else. That is the way most of us think about communication--talking with one another about how we feel inside. The second meaning of the word is a little trickier in real life. Merriam-Webster says it means "to transmit information, thought, or feeling so that it is satisfactorily received or understood."

We skip that last part a lot, don't we? I know I do. And it's not just a matter of not being clear in my own speech. I have that problem, too, but more often than not, my breakdown in communication comes from listening poorly. I think I've heard what someone (usually Adam) has said and I respond or act on what I think he meant. But, what happens if that isn't really what he meant? What if, when I understood what he said, I got it mixed up? All of a sudden, I'm starting fires in the microwave.


When I was about 10, we got our first microwave oven. My mom loved the speediness at which she could now cook--potatoes no longer needed an hour to bake, just pop them in the microwave for a few minutes and they're done! Personally, I preferred the chocolate chip bar cookies made from the recipe printed in the manual. In any case, one evening we were sitting down to dinner and my brother got a delivery call (he worked for the local pizza place a few nights a week). He dashed out the door leaving his food untouched. An hour or so later, we got a call that he was on his way home. My mom asked me to reheat his dinner for him in the microwave. I asked how long the potato needed to cook and I set the timer for the 15 minutes I thought she'd told me. About 8 minutes later, my mom glanced from the family room into the kitchen and saw flames shooting out of her new oven.

We were able to put the fire out quickly enough, and after a cleaning, the microwave looked almost as good as new. When my brother got home, we were all scratching our heads trying to figure out why the potato would just burst into flames like that. Mom must have asked me half a dozen times if I'd set the timer properly. I told her I had; I was sure of it. Finally, someone thought to simply ask me how long I'd cooked the potato. "Amy," Mom shouted, when I told her, "it only needed to be in there for three minutes!" Whoops.

The same thing happens, though, in conversation with spouses, parents, children, friends: I think I hear one thing, respond to it, and suddenly a burning argument needs to be resolved. Maybe one of these days, I'll learn to curb my temper and just ask, "Does this mean what I think it means?" before bursting into flames.

Saturday, December 15

Ramblin' Woman

I just checked the date of my last post and realized it's been nearly three weeks since I've written anything. It's been a crazy three weeks, so I'm only sharing the highest and lowest lights, not all the in-between days.

In good news, Adam has been getting a lot of calls for interviews lately. He finished his course with the executive coach he's been seeing and the new résumé really seems to be garnering more attention on the job sites.

Not so joyfully, I had another miscarriage. On the plus side, I had known I was pregnant and had a full week to enjoy the little life I carried. But a loss is still a loss and death is still death, even if it occurs before life legally begins. Grief is still grief. Life is still life, too, though, so I'm pointed forward again, at least.

I simply can't believe that Christmas is in less than two weeks. All of the Advent waiting that I had in mind when I wrote last has gotten a bit sidetracked amidst the chaos that has surrounded us the past few weeks.

Anyway, I mostly wanted to just check in and say I'm here and hanging in there. Let's see if I can get back to blogging a little more regularly again, shall we?

Sunday, November 25

Christmas Eve Will Find Me

Our daughter turns three in a few months, so we're beginning to think a little more deeply about holiday traditions, what they mean, and what she will remember from her childhood. As a kid, in my mind "Advent" was just a church term for the time leading up to Christmas. We didn't do anything special for the season beyond lighting the pink and purple candles on the dinner table that month. Not until I started attending an Anglican church did the concept of Advent mean anything much besides a good time to decorate the house and watch presents collect under the tree.

In the liturgical tradition, Advent is a time of penitence and waiting, rather akin to Lent. A couple of years ago, Adam and I fell into a wonderful way to make a practical statement of this.

It was our daughter's first Christmas and I had not yet learned to juggle the activities of childcare and feeding with much of anything else. The weeks before Christmas, I had planned to decorate with lights and ornaments as my parents' home had been. But, time passed quickly and the house remained unchanged. The day of Christmas Eve, I was quite sad that we hadn't managed to make the house look pretty. Christmas just didn't seem very celebratory without strings of lights and decorations on the tree. After our daughter went to sleep that evening, Adam pulled out the Christmas boxes from our storage room. We spent an hour or two putting up lights and bows and cards and glass balls.

After we'd finished, we sat in the glow of Christmas tree lights and started to talk about the transformation of the house. How fantastic it seemed to me that it now really looked and felt like Christmas. That evening, we decided to make the Christmas Eve decorating an annual tradition. We would allow ourselves the space to contemplate and anticipate during Advent, but, in a burst of activity, it is suddenly Christmas.

This year, our church is commemorating Advent with a series of services looking at some of the the individuals who surrounded Christ at his birth. Each week, we'll look in depth at Zechariah or Elizabeth or Mary and see a little bit more of the well-known story. I was thinking I would like to incorporate this same sort of storytelling into our family tradition.

The first Christmas Adam and I were married, I was seven months pregnant. I was not a happy, glowing pregnant woman riding the "blessed art thou among women" wave. We had agreed as a couple that year not to exchange gifts. On Christmas morning, I was rather taken aback when Adam handed me an envelope. Inside, he'd written a first-person account of Mary's pregnancy--fraught with struggles and frustrations, but ending in the joy of giving birth to Jesus, the Babe who would save the world.

I've always loved the book The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. The way the Herdmans react to the retelling of Christ's birth as they hear it for the first time inspires the narrator and her mother to take a fresh look at the traditional account as well. Over the next few years, as a family, I'd like to rewrite the stories of those who were a part of The Story. Maybe one person each year, taking a look beyond the glossed-over tradition to see the real people. Collecting these perspectives can offer a new insight on a story that should never (but sometimes seems to) grow old.

This post was written for the Carnival of Anglican Advent Traditions. Find out more about this carnival here.

Tuesday, November 20

At Last ...

Here's to Mr. Dragon and Miss Noah on their recent engagement.


(Now, are you in the market for a cute blonde flower girl? She's really good at dropping things on the floor )

Friday, November 9

Just Under the Wire

MamaLady is hosting a carnival of birth stories today! I just got the message, but I think I can make it in under the wire. Luckily, I already have my birth story posted. So, really this is just a heads up for anybody else who wants to join in the fun. You have two minutes left--get typing!

Special thanks to Jeanne for sharing.

Wednesday, November 7

Works for Me: Birthdays

Today is my birthday, and another Works for Me Wednesday: Backwards Day over at Rocks in My Dryer.

I'm planning a party this weekend for three of us who have birthdays all within a week and a half of each other. This year, the sum of our ages is 100, so we're celebrating together at a 100th Birthday Party. I'm excited for that, but I'm in charge of doing a lot of work for it, too.

What does your family do to make your birthday special? Especially if you're the one who generally makes the special stuff happen?

Thanks in advance for the thoughts. I'll be sure to pass them on to my husband and daughter!

Tuesday, November 6

Chocolate Cheese Fruit Tart

This post originally appeared on By Hook or By Cook.

I was looking for something fresh that would compliment an Italian meal we were making for company. I found some tart recipes, but none of them were quite right, so I combined a few elements of different recipes and made up my own.

½ c whole blanched almonds
1½ c flour, divided
2 T sugar
6 T butter, melted and cooled
1/3 c orange marmalade, melted
1 c chocolate chips

· Finely chop almonds, or grind in food processor with ½ c flour.
· Stir in remaining flour and sugar.
· Blend in butter until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
· Press into 10" tart pan.
· Bake at 350°F until crust is golden brown, about 35 minutes.
· Remove from oven and let cool 15 minutes.
· Spread bottom and sides with melted marmalade.
· Return to oven until marmalade is bubbly throughout, approx. 15 minutes.
· Immediately spread chocolate over bottom of crust only. Cool completely.

6 oz cream cheese, softened
2 T sugar
1 T milk

· Whip together.
· Spread over bottom of cooled crust.

½ pint fresh raspberries
1-10½ oz can mandarin oranges, packed in juice
1 c orange marmalade, melted

· Arrange fruit on top of cream cheese mixture.
· Brush melted marmalade over fruit until it is completely covered. Let cool.
· Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1¾" slice (86g)
Serving per Recipe 18
Amount per Serving
Calories 207 Calories from Fat 91

% DV
Total Fat 10g
Saturated Fat 6g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5g
Cholesterol 21mg
Sodium 68mg
Total Carbohydrates 29.5g
Dietary Fiber 2g
Sugars 21g
Protein 2.5g


"All" About Me

I just got an e-mail from a friend of mine with all sorts of personal, but not especially intimate questions. I thought it would make a nice quick blog post.
  • Were you named after anyone?
    My great-mother, grandmother, and father
  • When was the last time you cried?
    Sunday night
  • Do you like your handwriting?
  • What is your favorite lunchmeat?
    Roasted chicken, I guess (I'm not much of a lunchmeat fan)
  • Do you have kids?
  • If you were another person, would you be friends with you?
    Yes, but I would probably annoy me
  • Do you still have your tonsils?
  • Do you use sarcasm a lot?
    I'm trying to cut down
  • Would you bungee jump?
    Maybe--not by my feet, though
  • What is your favorite cereal?
    Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds
  • Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?
  • Do you think you are strong?
    I think I have a strong character
  • What is your favorite ice cream?
    Ben & Jerry's Chubby Hubby
  • What is the first thing you notice about people?
    I don't really know (according to Adam, it's "whether they're organized or not")
  • Red or pink?
    Red, almost always
  • What is your least favorite thing about yourself?
    My belly fat
  • Who do you miss the most?
    My mom
  • What color pants and shoes are you wearing?
    Black pants and white shoes
  • What was the last thing you ate?
    Beef stew and wheat bread
  • What are you listening to right now?
    Divorce Court (Adam's watching TV)
  • If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
    I've always liked Burnt Sienna
  • What is your favorite smell?
    Fresh bread, new books, and warm cider
  • Who is the last person you talked to on the phone?
    My daughter's Sunday school teacher
  • Do you like the person who sent this to you?
    Hmmm ... just kidding, Clare!!
  • What is your favorite sport to watch?
    Football--especially if the Bears are actually winning
  • What color is your hair?
    No longer blonde
  • What color are your eyes?
    Hazel, but mostly brown
  • Do you wear contact lenses?
    Not until I get a new prescription
  • What is your favorite food?
  • Scary movies or happy endings?
    Happy endings, no question
  • What is the last movie you watched?
    The Prince & Me (Adam picked it because he figured I'd like it)
  • What color shirt are you wearing?
  • Do you prefer summer or winter?
    I like the sunlight and carefree attitude of summer, but the snow and holidays of winter
  • Hugs or kisses?
  • What is your favorite dessert?
    Chocolate cheese fruit tart (see the recipe here)
  • What book are you reading now?
    My sidebar says The Blind Assassin, but I'm not really reading anything at the moment
  • What is on your mouse pad?
    My mouse
  • What did you watch on TV last night?
    Part of Still Standing and That '70s Show
  • What is your favorite sound?
    I love the sound of snow, the way it muffles everything when it first falls
  • Rolling Stones or The Beatles?
    Not really a fan of either; if I had to choose, probably the Stones
  • What is the farthest you have been away from home?
    8837 miles (Sydney, Australia)
  • Do you have a special talent?
    I can curl my tongue into three "leaves"
  • Where were you born?
  • Who will you tag to go next?
    Angela from Purple Puzzle Place (I think it's time for more of your eleventy-one things)

Thursday, November 1

Ohh, the Sinus Pressure!

Just wanted to let everyone know I'm sick and crabby--so really, right now, my continuing to not post regularly is for your benefit.

Take good care of yourself!

Saturday, October 27

Still Kicking

Yes, Ruth, I'm still here, and I haven't completely given up on blogging. I'm just a bit swamped with other projects at the moment.

For those (two) of you holding your breath to hear the source of "tootle with vigor," here you go:
    More than 300 million people in the world speak English and the rest, it sometimes seems, try to. It would be charitable to say that the results are sometimes mixed. Consider this ... warning to motorists in Tokyo: "When a passenger of the foot heave in sight, tootle the horn. Trumpet at him melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles your passage, then tootle him with vigor."
    . . . .

    [I]t would appear that one of the beauties of the English language is that with even the most tenuous grasp you can speak volumes if you show enough enthusiasm--a willingness to tootle with vigor, as it were.

    -Bill Bryson in The Mother Tongue: English & How It Got that Way
Have a happy weekend!

Thursday, October 11

Happy Birthday!

Today is the first anniversary of the birth of Experience Imagination. Enjoy. Celebrate. Tootle with vigor!

And, bonus points to you if you know the source of the last sentence.

Monday, October 8


According to some commentator or another I heard last week, it's pretty common to watch the Conference Champion one year, the so-called "team to beat," turn into a regular, average-joe, nothing-spectacular kind of team the next year.

That is, last year at this time, I was overjoyed by "my" Bears winning five in a row. Woohoo! They went on to become NFC Champions and had an excellent first play in the Superbowl. After that opening drive highlighting Devon Hester's amazing return capabilities, unfortunately, things went down hill. At the end of week five, this year, we're at only 2-3. On the plus side, at least we have finally managed to have an interesting game that put another tick in the W column. It doesn't hurt that the team we beat last night was the arch-rival, 4-0 Green Bay Packers.

Oh, yeah, make that 4-1. ;)

Saturday, October 6

Two for the Price of One

This morning, I was working at the computer while Adam was crocheting a doily (no, really, he was). Our daughter was alternately dancing around the living room, watching TV, and whining because all eyes weren't focused her way.

As one show ended, PBS began advertising the next program: Caillou. Adam looked up at the screen and said, excitedly, "Oh, it's Caillou" (in case you're not familiar with this show, "Caillou" is the little boy's name and it rhymes with the phrase "dye you").

Our daughter responded, "Oh, Cai-me!"

After my stumbling explanation that the "you" sound is not actually a pronoun like she's been learning, she changes it to, "Oh, my Cai."

Another program announcement followed for the show Wishbone. Our daughter got all excited to have recognized the letter "W" in his name and called out "Double-u. Double-u!"

Her daddy encouraged her, "Yeah, Wishbone starts with a W."

She smiled, and began repeating the letter's name, "Double me, double me, double me."

* * * *

Lately our daughter has really been getting into reading books. She's memorized bits of her favorites, and will even read some by herself when Adam or I have refused to read them for the 647th time.

She brought a book to me yesterday and I just wasn't in the mood. I knew she'd been very patient with my moodiness this week, though, and I thought she should be rewarded. I decided to see if I could make her smile. I opened her book to the first page, and started to read the opening sentence from a completely different book, "In the great green room ...."

"No!" She interrupted me, "Not that book. This book!"

"Not that book?" I asked, grinning.

"This book!" She repeated, poking the page in front of her and giggling.

"Oh, okay," I replied, turning back to the book. With a smile still playing at the corners of my mouth, I started reading lines from yet another book, "Stomp your feet ...."

"No!" She interrupted, already giggling.

We went through that routine three or four times, before, mood much improved, I read her the book she'd brought to me in the first place.

A little while later, she tired of playing by herself again and climbed up in my lap with The Giant Jam Sandwich back in her hand. She asked me to read it, again, but I suggested she read to me instead.

She opened to the front page, started out, "In the great green room ..." and collapsed in a wave of giggles.

Friday, October 5

How Do You Post?

I've decided to participate in Lori's Advice Forum Friday once again. Actually, it's something that came up in my mind as I was visiting blogs for Backwards WFMW this week.

How do you fit blogging into your schedule?

The times when I have managed to be prolific lately, I know I'm blogging when I really need to be catching up on chores or (ahem) I should be asleep. I only have one kid, here. I know a lot of you are writing with three, six, even ten kids! So, I want to know ... how do you do it? Where do you find the time? Do you really type that much faster than I do?

Help me figure this out, please.

Wednesday, October 3

Works for Me: Stain Tactics?

Aha!! I've finally figured out how all of those people manage to get on the list before me at Shannon's WFMW--You all post on Tuesday night. Cheaters! :P

At any rate, this week is Backwards WFMW over at Rocks in My Dryer. Instead of my sharing some brilliant tip with all the world (or the three of you who still read my blog), I am to pose a question to the rest of the WFMW crew to share their brilliance.

So, here's mine: How do I get stains out of my daughter's clothes?

Particularly troublesome are tomato sauce and mud. Is there a product that really works for you? What about set in stains from, say, when we went to the park after it rained and she landed on the seat of her pants, smack-dab in the mud puddle at the bottom of the twisty slide, then I didn't get to the laundry for another three days? Not saying this is necessarily what happened ... okay, it's exactly what happened. Her light pink pants now have huge brown stains where you really don't want to see brown stains.

Ooh, and what if I accidentally didn't notice, say, a red marker she'd put into her pocket, so I've already washed and dried a whole load of t-shirts that now look like they were tie-dyed by someone with no sense of balance in their design. Am I just out of luck? Or can my clothes be saved??

Tune in next week ....

Whoops! Sorry, I was suddenly hearing the warbly organ music from those old radio dramas.

If you have any hints, especially ones that don't require I treat the stain right away, please leave me a comment. I would be eternally grateful--or at least until she grows into another size and requires new clothes anyway.

Tuesday, October 2

A Proud Day

As a parent, I'd known this day would come. I looked forward to it with a mist in my eyes, unshed tears of pride mixed with grief over the all too rapid passing of time.

This morning, my daughter gave me her first full-on raspberry, pressing her dainty little lips against my shoulder. Truly a YouTube moment. If I YouTubed, I mean.

Seriously, though, what is it about that sound of passing gas that children (well, mostly children) find so hysterical? My daughter was blowing a raspberry and laughing hysterically for a good sixty seconds before starting the whole process over again.

Sunday, September 30

Where's that Warning Label?

Okay, folks, this is addictive.

From Blogger Buzz: "Blogger Play will show you a never-ending stream of images that were just uploaded to public Blogger blogs" (read more here).

They do warn: "[W]e use many techniques, including Google’s SafeSearch technology, to keep the images clean. Nevertheless, on rare occasions an image that you may find vulgar or obscene will slip through our algorithmic filters."

No lifeguard is on duty. Surf at your own risk.

Thursday, September 27

God and How He Works

Morning has started early today, though I'm not really sure why. I woke up about 6:00 and just feel rather unsettled. Probably "anxious" or "worried" is more accurate. I'd decided to search through Bible Gateway to see if I could find some reassuring passage about worrying, and how not to do it.

Instead, I found Matthew, chapter 6. It's a pretty familiar passage, all about how God gives the birds of the air and the flowers of the field everything they need, so why should we worry that He won't give us everything we need?

I switched back and forth through a couple of versions, just to see some similarities and differences in the language. A particular phrase caught my attention in The Message paraphrase by Eugene Peterson, "People who don't know God and the way He works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how He works" (v. 32).

That got me thinking ... do I really? I mean, if I really knew God and how He works, wouldn't I be able to say, as Paul does in Philippians 4:11, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." And yet, my life seems to exemplify the opposite pole of living. I have learned to worry and be anxious, whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have completely missed the secret of being content in any and every situation.

I have mentioned previously that Adam is out of work. It's been 3½ months now. When he was let go from his last job, we had no money saved up in the bank. Unemployment pays just over half of what he was making, and I felt like our budget was tight then. Yet, we're paying our bills, and we've even had a few extra dollars here and there to go out to eat on a Sunday or pick up a book I've been wanting to read. Doesn't that exemplify how well God's taking care of us? Why is it then, I can't get past this feeling that it's my job to figure out where the money is going to come from?

Before we were married, Adam and I had a very interesting discussion about birth control. We talked about the different views, from trusting God, believing that He does not allow any "accidental" children, and making no attempts to prevent conception to taking full responsibility, carefully planning for the season or month of each child's birth and using some method of contraception to ensure that children are not conceived outside the plan.

In the midst of that discussion, I didn't really know where to draw the line. And not just in this one arena, either. It seems like there is a line in between trusting God fully for His provision and taking responsibility for your own life. Take grocery shopping, as an example. If I trust God to provide food, does that mean I shouldn't go to the grocery store, but should subsist on twigs and berries and whatever people drop on my doorstep? That seems a little silly, doesn't it? I think most people would agree that we have some responsibility to take care of ourselves. But the question remains, just how much does God expect from us? How much is He willing to do if we don't take responsibility?

Deuteronomy 31:6 states that "God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you." How far is He willing to go, though? How much of my life is His concern, and how much is mine? If I'm looking for a job, I shouldn't expect one to simply fall into my lap, but how much searching is reasonable? Do I look at one job a day? Ten? Twenty? Should I be spending 40 hours a week polishing up my résumé and sending it to every company within a 10 mile radius? What about taking this opportunity to spend more time with my family? Going to the zoo during school hours when it's not so busy, window shopping at the mall, checking out the new playground down the street. How much of my time should I devote to that while still making a reasonable effort to find gainful employment?

I'm stuck, you see. Stuck in the unwritten rules and regulations of a legalistic background that I'm not sure how to untangle. Relationships are messy. They aren't based on rules and precedents and performance incentives. They're not about trying with all your might to fulfill one another's expectations. God sure doesn't see any need to try to meet mine. He just continues being God. That's who He is. But, here I am, like a gerbil on a wheel, trying desperately to be enough: good enough, smart enough, busy enough, responsible enough. If I relax, I'm afraid I'm not doing my part. Even if I keep busy, though, I'm afraid I won't be able to keep up. Stuck.

Adam tells me I'm a verbal processor: I don't know what I'm thinking until I hear it come out of my mouth. The birth control discussion I mentioned--that was more than three years ago, now. Since then, I've been noticing all the areas where this line of responsibility is an issue for me. For the first time, as I was writing the last paragraph, I have begun to recognize that it's really symptomatic of a deeper issue. I don't have the answer to that problem. I'm still caught in the legalistic muck. Yet, somehow, I'm really encouraged. I'm not stuck forever.

Thursday, September 13

You Know You're Watching Too Much TV When...

Adam's story:

He was giving our daughter a time out, holding her still in his arms. She was fussing and fighting, as she often does. The television was on in the background and a new show started. As soon as she heard the theme song, she stopped fighting, turned her little head toward the sound and commented, "Oh, that show!"

My story:

We were reading a picture book about animals. As I turned the page she pointed to the photo and said, "Kitty cat."

I corrected her, saying it looked like a cat, but it was actually a fox.

"Oh, FOX," she said, thoughtfully, "Like TV!"

Saturday, September 8


Trust is a pain in the hindquarters!

I never did very well learning my lessons about trust and security as a child, so God's been going over them again (and again, and again) lately. Apparently, it's back to school time for this mom this month, too.

The thing about trust is, you have to keep doing it. You can't (or, at least, I can't seem to) just trust once and for all and let that be that. I keep wondering if I've made the best possible choice.

Really, why can't God just be more like me?

Makes me wonder if He's up there thinking, "Why can't Amy just be more like Me?"

Deep down somewhere, in that place I've already learned to trust, I know that God understands better than I do. He knows I'm still just little and need to grow up a bit more.

Growing up is hard work. I should remember that next time my daughter frustrates me.

Saturday, September 1

Random Thoughts on College Education

I was about to get sucked into a totally off-topic discussion on one of the childbirth sites I visit, when I realized my thoughts would be much more appropriately shared here on my blog. The gist of the thread was: Why wouldn't you pay for your kids' education, if you could afford to?

When I first applied to colleges, I was living in Westchester County, New York. I don't know where it ranks now, but at the time, it had the second highest cost of living in the country, right after Orange County, California. Because government assistance and need-based loans were figured at the national level, rather than calculated by region, my father's income fell well above the cut off. Keep in mind, at the time, he worked for a local Christian not-for-profit organization--not the sort of place known for paying unusually high salaries.

However, even if he'd been a wealthy man, my father has told me he would not have paid for my college education. He felt it was important that I see the value of my schooling--and figured I would truly know its value if I was the one coughing up the funds every semester.

Now, I do have to add that it was understood I'd have a portion of my bill paid by academic scholarships. And, while they certainly did help, I still went into debt to pay for college. I attended a state school with in-state residency, so my costs were kept to a minimum, but I finished school with about $15,000 I needed to pay back.

I didn't find it an unreasonable burden to carry. I did have to seek out financial aid, as well as work part-time (10-15 hours per week) my entire college career. That seemed like a decent exchange to me. I did know exactly how much my education was costing me because I saw the bills coming in and wrote the checks going out.

What I also noticed was a large percentage of my friends who partied and blew off their class work didn't have to pay anything towards tuition or room and board. I felt that paying my own way made me a more serious student. I was much less likely to waste my time when it was costing me so much!

Would I do the same for my kids? I don't know. I definitely believe that students should contribute to some of their educational costs. But what if my kid wants to go to a private liberal arts school that costs $30,000 a year? Should she have to raise all that money herself?

Now that I'm married to a man who went to a private college on his own dime (or at least, his own signature on the student loan forms), I know what it's like to be in my 30's and tens of thousands of dollars in debt. For the cost of Adam's monthly loan payment, we could be driving a pretty nice new car.

So, is it worth all that? I'm not entirely sure. For now, at least, we don't have a college fund set up. What money would we be using to put into it? Maybe we should start the test-taking strategies early and make sure our daughter does really well on her PSAT. National Merit Scholarship, here we come!

Eh, maybe it can wait until she turns three.

Friday, August 31

Update Points

  • Last week Thursday (8/23) a huge line of storms moved through the area. Our next-door neighbor's house had a tree that was struck by lightning and there were a number of trees and limbs down, including many which caused damage. Thanks be to God, the only problem we had was loss of power for three days.
  • Because of the power outage (and the fact that when we lose power, we also lose water), the family spent three nights in a local hotel. Every time we have driven by said hotel since the storm, our daughter calls out, "'Otey. Baby otey. Go simming! Nee go poo'!" [Translation: Hotel. Baby's hotel. Go swimming! I need to go to the pool!]
  • With our house finally clean enough for company, we went whole hog and had people over for three separate occasions this week. Whew! What were we thinking? At least we're invited somewhere else to celebrate Labor Day.
  • Oh, yeah. We finally had that ducky birthday party. The cake didn't quite turn out how I'd been imagining. In fact, it turned into two cakes. You can click on the photos below to see larger images. I'm planning to write up a full description of all the pieces to post on my craft blog. I'll make a note of it when that's done.

Wednesday, August 22

The Indoor Naturalist

It was a hot and steamy Tuesday afternoon in the wilds of suburbia. Adam was headed on safari, camera in hand, hoping to identify the elusive predator before it made another lightning-fast get away.

Meanwhile, our daughter headed into the kitchen for another serving of peanut butter fudge--she was hoping to feed the critter, and maybe encourage it to make babies.

After several fruitless missions, and a number of fuzzy photos, Adam had our answer. We had a wolf in the bathroom!

I read the online descriptions out loud to the family:

Although non-aggressive, they bite freely if provoked and should be considered dangerous to humans .... [They have] a roving nocturnal lifestyle to hunt their prey and can move very rapidly when disturbed.1

They are robust and agile hunters ... usually considered harmless to humans.2

Nothing like a little consistency among websites. At least we finally had a good photo or two. Click on either of them to see the bigger, scarier-looking image.

We could have made a pet of our particular pest (find detailed instructions on what you'd need to do here), the consensus among the adults in the house was to find a good poison and kill it.

Unfortunately, neither Lysol® nor Formula 409® is recommended for that purpose. Probably because they're not very effective. They did put a nice sheen on the funnel web, though. So, off to the store we went, only to find an aisle of ant, roach and housefly toxins. A few of them, however, did have a little yellow notice to one side that said "also kills spiders."

The problem with toxic chemicals is, of course, they're not just toxic to pests. They also carry big warning labels about using them away from children and pets, in well-ventilated areas. I ask you, is your small bathroom well ventilated? Really, do they expect us to coax the spider out of his comfy hole and onto the back porch where the breeze is better?

We waited until after our daughter was in bed asleep. We figured this was better for her health, plus we wouldn't have to explain why we were trying to kill her new favorite pet.

So far today, we've not seen the critter again. Actually, it ran away back into the hole when I started Lysol-ing it yesterday afternoon, so maybe it really did move to a new house. At any rate, that's the story my daughter's going to hear if she asks.


Saturday, August 11

Are You Ready for Some Football?

It's that time of year again, when the heat of summer has gotten to be just about all I can take and baseball season is still not over yet: It's pre-season football!

Tonight the Bears played their first game against the Houston Texans. I was watching with some friends, but Adam and I had to leave with about five minutes left in the game. Apparently, I missed the most interesting few minutes of the game.

The short story is, the Bears managed to pull victory from the jaws of defeat. Just barely. Or should that be "Bear-ly"? They've had an awful lot of close games over the past season or two. I really can't complain, though. My team is winning the games after all, and I must admit, a squeaker is a whole lot more fun to watch than a blowout.

Here's to another exciting season of football!

Friday, August 10

Very Excited (and bonus kid funnies)

Lori over at Queen of Dirty Laundry has started a regular feature called "Advice Forum Friday." I must admit, I'm pretty excited about it. I often find myself wondering how other parents deal with certain issues, but I'm mostly too embarrassed to ask such things of the moms I know in person.

So, here goes. As I may or may not have mentioned lately, we are working at phasing diapers out of our lives. Yeeha! My daughter's doing pretty well at most aspects of remembering to use the bathroom for her expulsion needs, but we're discovering a disturbing trend.

Several times in the past few weeks, she has gone to use the facilities of her own initiative. While we are home, she can take care of things mostly all by herself and will often only tell us after the fact. That part I'm okay with. It's the Show and Tell (or worse yet, Hide and Smell) aspect of this little procedure that's beginning to get to me.

We have told her several times that touching her own waste is not a good idea, I may have even shouted it at the top of my lungs once or twice. Every episode so far has been followed by a trip back to the bathroom, a reintroduction to the functions of each plumbing fixture, a very thorough hand washing, and a reminder that she has made a bad choice and must learn to make better choices in the future.

Am I doing this right? Because it hasn't seemed very effective so far. Is she just so interested in what comes out of her that she can't keep her little fingers to herself? Honestly, not one of the parenting articles I've read covered this sort of thing. What do I do?

And for the promised funnies:

1) Adam has recently begun singing "Jesus Loves Me" to our daughter at bedtime. She's been really interested in songs and singing lately, and has been picking up the words incredibly quickly, albeit with a bit of a twist. Her version of the song goes, "Jesus yummy, sigh no!"

2) We were grocery shopping and she got a special treat: Rather than having to sit in the cart's fold out seat, we got one of the bigger carts with a two-seat bench that let her sit like the big kids. At one point on our way to the pretzel aisle, she twisted around in her seat and grabbed for the metal bar across the back. She held on with both hands. "What are you doing?" I asked. She looked up with a grin, "I pushing!"

Wednesday, August 8

Works for Me: Egg Salad

This post originally appeared on By Hook or By Cook.

Egg salad was not something I readily ate growing up. I didn't think I liked mayonnaise. Little did I know, my real problem was with that "salad dressing" people like to pretend is mayonnaise. Once I discovered the real stuff, there was no going back.

My biggest trouble in putting a good egg salad together (once I'm past peeling those suckers), is the actual crumbling of the eggs. I tried being a fork masher, but it took too long and seemed rather demanding (I hate to be picking half-mashed eggs off my counter).

Recently, I discovered the best egg salad helper: my pastry cutter! Drop my dozen eggs in the bowl, mash mash mash, and they're done!

Now, as far as my recipe ... I must admit I don't really use one. I tend to start with about a dozen eggs (or six or eight, however many are on hand), boil them, dip them in cold water before peeling, then mash.

I finely chop a stalk or two of celery and add as much mayonnaise as it takes to make it all stick together. Then I sprinkle the whole thing with salt and pepper, stir it up, and serve it on hard rolls or crackers.

Check out more tips and techniques to make life more sane at Rocks in my Dryer.

Tuesday, August 7

First Letter Meme

I recently read this meme on Jennifer's blog, Chronicles of a Night Owl.

The Rules
  • Use the 1st letter of your name to fill in each category.
  • You are not allowed to make anything up; each answer must be a real place, name, etc.
  • Use different answers if the person before you had the same 1st initial.
  • You can't use your own name for the boy/girl name category.
  • If you can’t think of anything, skip it.
Your Name: Amy

1. Famous Band: ABBA
2. Four-Letter Word: Alms
3. Street: Abbey Road
4. Color: Aubergine
5. Gift: Aspen Cologne
6. Vehicle: Accord
7. Souvenir Shop Find: Agate
8. Boy's Name: Adam
9. Girl's Name: Adrian
10. Movie Title: Anastasia
11. Drink: Appletini
12. Occupation: Astronomer
13. Celebrity: Abigail Van Buren
14. Magazine: Among Worlds
15. U.S. City: Albuquerque
16. Pro Sports Team: Avalanche
18. Reason for Being Late to Work: Amnesia
19. Something You Throw Away: Advertising Circulars
20. What You Shout: Ahoy!
21. Cartoon Character: Archibald Asparagus

Oh, and I came up with all the answers on my own. Google only helped me find some of the cool pictures and websites.

Saturday, August 4


I know, I know. Two posts in one day...what are you going to do with yourselves?

Really though, I was just checking out some of the updates I was doing today, and I noticed one post had a lot more comments on it than I had remembered reading. Sure enough, there were three or four there I'd never seen before.

I looked into my e-mail folder where the comment notices from Blogger are filed and I didn't have any of these comments. Hmmm.... A quick glance through the spam folder and I found half a dozen comments I never realized I'd gotten.

Apparently the various entities Google haven't been playing nicely with one another!

So, officially to everybody who's been commenting the last couple of weeks--THANK YOU!! I really appreciate your thoughts. As a writer, I often don't have any idea whether or not what I say means anything to anyone besides me. That's one of the nice things about blogging--it's really easy to tell somebody, "Hey, that was great!" or, "You know, I don't quite see it that way. Have you ever considered...." It's nice to know you're out there and still paying attention.

I guess from now on, I'll need to keep an eye on the spam folder to see if anything important has been misfiled among all the ads for cheap prescription drugs from other countries and pleas from soon-to-be exiled high-ranking officials in war-torn nations who want to borrow my bank account in order to launder some money.

Birthday Party Time (again...)

Some of my regular readers (can I still call you that--even though I haven't been regularly writing?) may have noticed that I've kept the ducky "wishlist" logo up in my sidebar, even though my daughter's birthday is now many months past.

Actually, the originally scheduled party never happened. The birthday week ended up getting a little bit crazy here at our house and we decided it would be in the best interest of our sanity to postpone for a couple weeks. A "couple" has turned into 20-some, but we're finally back on.

We've decided to celebrate her half-birthday this year. This way, we can still have friends over and party hearty, but we don't have to wait for birthday #3. And, since she was born in February, we can do an indoor/outdoor party, which just isn't as easy when there's a foot of snow on the ground. Plus, we can splash around with all the ducky bath toys in our backyard blow-up pool. Definitely not as nice an option in the snow!

The ducky theme is still good, especially since plates and cups have already been purchased, I think we'll call this the "birthday party re-DUCKS" (hee hee hee).

Thursday, July 26


Hi! I'm still here. I haven't had a lot to share with the world lately. Adam's still out of work. We're still waiting on God's perfect timing for growing our family. I guess I feel like I haven't been doing anything much exciting.

Monday, however, we did have a radical change in the household. Our lovely, too-smart-for-her-own-britches daughter learned how to open the bedroom door. Bye-bye privacy. Actually, she hasn't abused her new power too much the past few days. But, quite frankly, we're running out of places to hide child-unfriendly items like scissors, knitting needles, permanent-ink pens.... Anybody have some unusual ideas?

Our VCR died a couple of weeks ago. I'm very bummed. I may not have ever mentioned, but I have a pretty large movie collection. I haven't counted lately (especially with the tapes and DVDs scattered around the living room floor like they are), but I'm sure it's over 100. Most of them are VHS, though. Sigh.

Life hasn't been completely boring. I did get invited to a baseball game this past week. I went with a couple of girlfriends (two of my prayer partners, who are also my daughter's godmothers) and we had a good time laughing and cheering and gabbing. Our team lost, but it was still fun to be there. Now, if anybody wants to send over some free football tickets...just make sure you include a free parking permit, too, though. I was looking at stadium parking on-line the other day--how can they get away with charging $30 a car for game day parking? That's after paying $65 a piece for the cheap seats!! Maybe there's a reason I've never been to a live NFL game.

Well, enough late night rambling from me. May your days be merry and bright (and may all your Christmases-in-July

Saturday, July 7

Seven Random Things

This is about the level of my brain activity today. Angela at Purple Puzzle Place has tagged me for the 7 Things Meme. I'm supposed to list seven random things about me, plus the rule of the meme and a bunch of tags. So, here goes...
  • My favorite flowers are Gerbera daisies
  • I played the clarinet for a couple of years in junior high
  • Adam and I got engaged eight weeks after our first date
  • I prefer Coke to Pepsi
  • My first job after college was interviewing fishermen
  • I don't own an iPod and have no plans to buy one
  • My IQ is 16 times my shoe size
Rules: Each person tagged gives 7 random facts about themselves. Those tagged need to write in their blogs the 7 facts, as well as the rules of the game. You need to tag seven others and list their names on your blog. You have to leave those you plan on tagging a note in their comments so they know that they have been tagged and to read your blog.


Thursday, July 5

Life and Death

I don't really know how to write about this. I've tried being witty, and it's simply falling flat. The reality is not funny. Surprising, unusual, unexpected, and leaving me feeling as though I ought better to know what to do next, yes. But funny, no.

A few days after my last post, I had a miscarriage. It wasn't until three days later that I recognized what had happened. Despite being reasonably competent in knowing how to chart my cycle, I had missed the subtle signs of a possible pregnancy.

I am left, for the moment, with nothing more than emptiness. I don't know what to feel or how to grieve this completely unexpected loss.

For now, I'm simply collecting. I'm collecting information. I'm collecting ideas. I'm collecting prayers and thoughts from my friends. In a few days or a few weeks, when I'm past the shock I keep falling back into, everything will at least be together waiting for me.

Wednesday, June 20

Wonder Woman Doesn't Live Here, Either

Jennifer at The Lactivist has a great post up today about being a perfectionist mom.

I am reminded of a conference Adam sent me to last year. I wasn't entirely sure I wanted to be there and definitely wasn't in the mood (when we arrived) for all the high-energy praise music and hanging out with the rest of the women filling up the stadium. It just didn't feel like me. But the main speaker for the evening got up and shared her story about coming to terms with her own imperfections. By the end of her session, I was bawling with the best of them.

To admit I'm not perfect, even in the face of the overwhelming evidence, is soooo difficult. It's a matter of pride, I guess. I want other people to think I'm perfect (or at least be impressed with how close I've come), even when I know I'm not.

The thing is, God knows all about how imperfect I am. He knows because He knit me together this way. Humans are not perfect. That's part of our nature. And God loves me here in the midst of my imperfection. Sometimes, I have a really hard time trusting in that. I mean, it's so much easier to love someone when they're doing good stuff for you, right?

I'm glad that God is more perfect than I am. I just wish it were easier to believe that sometimes.

Tuesday, June 19

Will Work for...$50 Grand?

I haven't really known how to say this (especially in the midst of my contest over the weekend), but Adam lost his job on Friday.

We're not entirely devastated, by this turn of events, as he was having problems with some of his coworkers and had already begun to look around for another job. But, at the same time, it's nice when one of us is bringing home a regular paycheck.

While I'm confident in the Lord's provision, I'm also a person who likes to have a plan, so this time of uncertainty is very uncomfortable for me. We have a lot of decisions on the table besides just where to find a new job.

Please keep us in your prayers, and by all means, if you know of an employment opportunity, let me know! Adam's got a ton of Customer Service and Call Center experience, as well as some management, training, and teaching (piano). Moving isn't entirely out of the question, either, so even if you're not local, feel free to suggest a job we might not otherwise hear about.


Monday, June 18

Contest Results

And the winner is...

(drum roll)

TotallyScrappy from Mudpies to Dragonflies.

Congratulations. Please send me an e-mail so we can get started on your new banner or button!

Thanks to everybody who entered and talked up my contest on your blogs. This was fun. I'll have to do it again sometime.

Also, for those of you who were left wondering, the movie quote was from Beaches. The character's name is Cecilia Carol (C.C.) Bloom, portrayed by Bette Midler.

Thursday, June 14

Bloggetyville...100 mi.

It's my 100th post. Hooray! I had big plans to make a banner and everything, but somehow the time this week has gotten away from me. Alas.

Still, you can share in some of what I have most enjoyed creating so far.

Favorites from my first 100 posts.

My Best Photo:

My Favorite Meme: Meme of the Arts

My Best Carnival Entry: Thirteen things that make it Christmas

My Favorite Comment: You all leave some great comments! I couldn't choose just one, so I broke them down by category. My favorite serious/inspirational comment is from Cool Mama. I still have two that tied for the funny comment, one from Jeanne and the other from Ruth.

My Favorite Link From Another Site: My intro from At A Hen's Pace

My Favorite Graphic: (from this post)

Most Fun Off-site Links: I couldn't decide between SnowDays virtual snowflakes and 3D Stereogram, where you can create your own magic 3D images.

Most Inspiring Quote:
    [T]hink about what we do...spend time praying and seeking to discern what is done because it 'should' be, and what is actually part of God's plan and will. It is easy to feel like I 'should' be busy and active and accomplishing tangible things. But maybe for this season living the Gospel authentically means being content without being particularly productive. It's a challenge to live to please God and not others or myself.
    -Abigail Sutton (quoted here)

Best Books I've Read: Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend wins for most useful, but Theodora's Diary by Penny Culliford wins for most fun. You can take a look at all my 2007 reads here.

Best Contest: I've never done a contest, so I thought this would be a good time for my first. Here's the scoop...

I'm giving away a free custom button or header graphic for use on your blog, website, or e-mail.

How to Enter
Leave me a comment on this post by midnight on Sunday, June 17th. I will randomly select one winner on Monday, June 18th.

Improve Your Chances of Winning
Link to this post on your blog and I will enter your name into the drawing twice more. Also, if you can tell the character and movie for the quote below, I'll enter you once more.

Enough about me, let's talk about you.
What do you think of me?

***Updated to add***
You can e-mail me your reference for the quote using the link in my sidebar--you don't want to be giving away the answer to just anybody now, do you?

Let the festivities continue!!

Wednesday, June 13

Something's Coming, Something Good

I've decided to be mysterious...

Tomorrow, come by and join in the celebration.

If you're looking for something to do today, I'm participating in the Works for Me Wednesday carnival with a summer cooking and dieting tip on my project blog.

See you tomorrow!

Works for Me: Summer "Diet" Cookies

This post originally appeared on By Hook or By Cook.

One of the reasons I've never been good at the pre-packaged diet plans is that I just can't do margarine, reduced-fat cheeses, and artificial sweeteners. I'd rather simply eat less of what I really like (though, I'm not so good at that either...).

This is a recipe for those of us who do not have large families to eat a couple of dozen cookies in an afternoon. It makes 6 cookies. My theory here is, if I only make 6, I can't eat a dozen accidentally before Adam gets home from work. For summer heat-reduction purposes, you cook them in a toaster oven.

"Diet" Cookies

¼ c sugar (you can mix white and brown sugar, if you like)
2 T butter
1 T beaten egg (see note)
¼ t vanilla
¼ t baking soda
½ c flour
2 T miniature chocolate chips
2 T chopped walnuts

• Cream together butter and sugar(s)
• Add egg and vanilla; mix well
• Stir in flour until soft dough is formed
• Add chocolate chips and walnuts; mix until they are evenly distributed throughout dough
• Drop six evenly-spaced cookies onto a small baking sheet
• Bake in preheated toaster oven at 350° for 8-9 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown

Note: Beat one egg and measure out one tablespoon. You can refrigerate the remainder in a cup with plastic wrap pressed to the surface of the liquid or in a zippered bag with the air pressed out for 1-2 days.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 cookie (16 g)
Serving per Recipe 6
Amount per Serving
Calories 83 Calories from Fat 48

% DV
Total Fat 5.5g
Saturated Fat 2.5g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.5g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 10mg
Sodium 27mg
Total Carbohydrates 8.5g
Dietary Fiber 0g
Sugars 8.5g
Protein 0.5g


For more tips and advice visit Rocks in my Dryer.

Check out Experience Imagination tomorrow (Thursday, June 13th) for a special celebration!

Monday, June 11

M&Ms--Guilt Free

One of my friends keeps a regular update of interesting quotes, websites, and random thoughts on her e-mail profile. Today's is Planet M&M.

Using their Character Creator, you can design an M&M that looks just like you. Or your friends or a space alien or whatever. Then you can have a photo shoot or even create a movie (I haven't tried that one yet).

Here's my creature:

Those of you who have seen me in real life will have to let me know if you think it really looks like me.

Sunday, June 10


I submitted my true story yesterday for Owlhaven's Opinion Saturday. The topic this week is miracles. Go check it out.

Saturday, June 9

Proud of Me

I've been in a bit of a funk lately. I recently had some good friends talk to me about areas in my life where I need to grow up (important conversations, but never fun). Adam and I have been dealing with some work-related stress as well. Generally, I've just been kind of down on myself.

Additionally, for the past several months I've been spending a lot of time participating in some on-line discussions about childbirth. I've realized that I had a number of unresolved issues from the birth of my daughter. Everything seemed a bit out of control to me and I felt forced into some decisions I was uncomfortable having to make. Now that Adam and I are trying to conceive once again, these issues started resurfacing as fears about another birth.

Today, for the first time, I found myself able to write a positive description of my experience. I was responding to a question about Natural Childbirth (NCB) on one of the bulletin boards I frequent. NCB can be described as birth without pain medications or, for some, without any medical intervention. Another poster to the discussion had suggested perhaps women who succeed in having a NCB simply have lower-risk pregnancies. She wondered how many women who had risks higher than those considered acceptable for a birth at home or in an out-of-hospital birth center were really able to achieve NCB.

Here is part of my response to her:

I left my homebirth midwife at about 25 weeks [six months pregnant] because of high blood pressure. I usually say I risked out, but I was the one who made the choice to leave at that point in order to have more time to build a relationship with the midwives in the practice to which I transferred.

My active labor was...20-some hours long. My contractions stopped getting stronger and closer together pretty much from the moment I set foot in the hospital. We tried walking, other means of naturally stimulating contractions, and finally breaking my water. None of it got the contractions moving forward. After I was there for nearly 12 hours, stuck at 5cm [full dilation is 10cm], they started Pitocin. I spent about an hour not thinking I could make it--the Pit-induced contractions were horrible. When I was asked to give my pain level on the 1-10 scale (1 being hardly anything, 10 being the worst pain you've ever been in), I said 12!

But I did it. After the first hour or so, I started listening to my body again and stopped fighting. It still hurt, but I was able to take one contraction at a time. When I quit trying to figure out how I'd deal with all the contractions after the one I was in right then, I found my groove, so to speak. From then on out, I knew I could do it.

Three-and-a-half hours later, my daughter was born. I was amazed at myself, because I really hadn't thought I could do it. And yet, I did. I guess that's what I would have had a hard time with if I'd consented to narcotics or an epidural--I'd have always wondered if I really could have done it if I'd tried.

Some women may never care one way or the other and that's their prerogative, but for me, I wanted to have the lowest-risk, least-interventive birth I could in the circumstances. I was (and am) quite proud of what I accomplished.

Thursday, May 31

Jumping on the Bandwagon

I've been hearing the buzz for months now about this great book that everybody had to read and how it would totally revolutionize our marriage.

Yeah, right.

Am I the only one who, the more glowing reports I hear about just how fabulous something is, the less I tend to believe it?

Well, I was at the bookstore tonight when I saw Love & Respect for 50% off. I decided to see what all the fuss is about.

I'm only on chapter three, but it really is a great book. I'll share more once I've finished it.

Wednesday, May 30

Works for Me: Budgeting by Paycheck

For the whole of my adult life, I have been paid either once or twice a month. When Adam and I got married, his new job paid him every two weeks. This caused undue stress in my life, since I wasn't sure how to deal with the variable paycheck dates. Sometimes the first check of the month would be on the first. Other times, not until the 14th. While some bills can be put off a few days without too much problem, I've yet to find a landlord who allows rent to be two weeks late, several months a year.

I finally figured out a workable system. Rather than simply budgeting the whole month, I took a look at the billing cycle for each bill. Those due between the 1st and 15th would be paid from the second check (of the month before). The bills due between the 16th and 31st are paid from the first check. All the rest could go into either check, as funds allowed.

Then I wrote up our income and expenses by paycheck. For example, our first paycheck of the month includes expenses for groceries, gas, household utilities, and credit card payments. The second paycheck covers rent and investments.

Twice a year, we get that bonus three-paycheck month. If you make enough money that you can cover your budget with the first two paychecks, the third can simply be savings, investment, funding for special charity projects or whatever else you like. However, for the rest of us, I've found that the third paycheck tends to budget nicely for those non-monthly expenses, such as car registration and insurance, quarterly taxes, and so forth.

For more tips, check out Rocks in my Dryer.

Sunday, May 27

Life, or Something Like It

I haven't written anything serious for quite a while. I've been thinking serious thoughts often, sometimes, too often, so writing has been a bit on an escape for me.

May has been hard. Adam's been dealing with some situations at work that made it appear he might soon be out of work. I wasn't sure what to feel about that. Ecstatic that the horrible stress of work would be over, but frightened that we wouldn't have a steady income.

Among the three of us, we've been sick for more than half the month. I don't think it's in the Bible, but sickness begets tiredness. Especially when you have to get up and go to work or take care of your household even though you're not feeling well.

I've also recognized in the past 10 days or so that I've been dealing with some depression. I'm not simply sick and tired, but overwhelmed and virtually bereft of motivation to get anything worthwhile accomplished.

And in addition to everything else, yesterday, I found out that my dad and stepmom are splitting up for good. This was not unexpected, they've been separated on-and-off for nine months. I'm just...sad. Disappointed. Wanting more or better things from them, for them.

Today I'm home from church again. That's the second time in four weeks. I was up for several hours overnight spending quality time with my bathroom spiders. Chicky and Moe are doing well. After Adam got up with our daughter, I was able to sleep for a good three hours. I'm feeling better, but craving noodles in chicken broth. That's what Mom used to make when I was sick. Isn't it funny how things that would normally cause us to turn up our noses sound so good when we're feeling down?

Friday, May 25

Reading and Writing

I've been doing a lot of reading lately. I keep thinking I have lots of interesting things to say, but somehow, as soon as I sit down to write a post or an e-mail or an essay just for fun, all my brilliant ideas seem to fly right out the window. Maybe I need to close the window....

Thursday, May 24

I Want a Spa Holiday

Last night, as I lay in bed, finally feeling cool after a late evening shower, I was daydreaming a day at the spa for myself.

Imagine a 90-minute massage, followed by a nap on a breezy covered porch. Waking up to frozen frothy yumminess, perhaps a Strawberry Colada. Lunch is fresh, well-balanced, a symphony to the taste buds, and I don't have to cook it.

My afternoon consists of a full-body wrap that exfoliates and moisturizes, followed by a manicure, pedicure, and hair dressing. After all that pampering, what can I do but take another nap before dinner? This time, it's in a cloth hammock on the beach...maybe strung between two strong palm trees.


I fell asleep before I made it to dinner.

Doesn't that just sound wonderful. A week off? Total relaxation? No responsibilities? Sigh. Maybe next week.

Saturday, May 19

S'more Bliss

This post originally appeared on By Hook or By Cook.

Why didn't I think of these before? I should clarify, there are other recipes out there for similar "indoor s'mores" calling for additional ingredients that I really can't see improving the flavor. I like mine. Try them both and let me know what you think.

1-13 oz box Golden Grahams (about 8 cups)
½ c butter (1 stick)
1-10 oz bag marshmallows (about 50 large marshmallows)
¾ c chocolate chips

· Pour cereal into a large mixing bowl. Set aside,
· Melt butter over medium heat.
· Add marshmallows. Stir constantly until melted (may be a bit lumpy).
· Pour marshmallow mixture over cereal. Mix well.
· Fold in chocolate chips.
· Press into a greased 9x13 pan. Allow to cool completely before cutting.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 square (25 g)
Serving per Recipe 24
Amount per Serving
Calories 89 Calories from Fat 5

% DV
Total Fat 0.5g
Saturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 145mg
Total Carbohydrates 21g
Dietary Fiber 0.5g
Sugars 11g
Protein 1g


Notes to Self...

If you ever decide to garden again, please take note:
  • Don't wear your Tevas. They collect dirt. This is especially important if you are planning to wear them to church tomorrow.
  • The first day you are feeling better after being almost completely out of commission for 10 days is probably not the best time to weed the front flower bed...when you haven't weeded it since you moved in...over a year ago.
  • Remember how much worms gross you out? Keep that in mind when you start digging in the dirt. Wear gloves.
  • Adam is bigger and stronger than you are. Of course he's going to garden claw faster. Don't try to keep up.
  • Gardening clothes are a good idea. Jammies, not so much.
  • A big floppy hat is an excellent idea. Barring that, wear sunscreen. Lots of sunscreen. Reapply often. Bright red is not your best look.
  • Just because all of your neighbors have pretty flowers doesn't mean you have to compete. Nicely trimmed hedges and the hostas left by the last tenants are lovely all on their own.
  • This is supposed to be fun. If you're not having fun, you can always try again another day.

Saturday, May 12

Bathroom Reading

Ahem. Tap, tap, tap. Is this thing on?

You may have noticed a distinct lack of new and in-depth posting on this blog lately. Or maybe not. At any rate, I've spent the last several days and nights under the weather with, shall we call it intestinal difficulties?

Which is to say, my bathroom spiders and I have become good friends. I call them Chicky and Moe.

What I really needed was this little gem. Bathroom reviews from around the world. Just that little pick-me-up I was looking for.... Thanks to Ruth for this glimpse into the world I could have been stuck in enjoying sharing with Chicky and Moe!

Monday, May 7

From the Sublime...

Our daughter has hit that scatological stage--nothing is more interesting to her than what comes out of her.

In other news, over the past few months she's started talking quite a bit more than she had been. She'll repeat just about anything we say, though sometimes she gets it wrong. She has trouble distinguishing, for example a "t" from a "p" at first. She usually catches on after a couple of tries, though.

Recently, she started saying, "Wuv ooh" (I love you) as we'd put her to bed at night or when we were leaving. Soon, she added to her vocabulary "wuv ooh, pooh" (I love you, too).

The other night she was feeling comical and she began having a little conversation with herself:

Wuv ooh, pee.
Wuv ooh, pooh!

Followed by bursts of hysterical laughter.

Tuesday, May 1

Psalm 117

Everyone, praise the Lord.
Let all the people applaud Him.
His great love has taken over our lives,
And His faithfulness endures forever.

Once upon a time, a little boy lived on a small island in the middle of a great big ocean. He looked around him and saw that his family was not like the other families on the island, but still it was home. At just five years old, he knew what he wanted to be when he grew up: a daddy with a wife and family of his own.

Thousands of miles away, a little girl lived. The closest thing to the ocean she saw was a great lake. Growing up, she knew many things she wanted to be. First, it was either a movie star or a teacher. Later on, she considered entering medicine or perhaps law. By the time she was in high school, she knew she wanted to be a psychologist, or maybe a church youth pastor.

As the boy grew older, he suffered trials and pain, distracting him from his original goal. He also discovered the piano and the wonderful ability of music to soothe a restless soul. He left his island home to pursue his dreams. He gained entrance to a well-respected conservatory and began his study.

The girl was quickly becoming a woman, but still unsure about her future. She finished college and moved to a big city, unlike any she'd lived in before, yet it felt like home. She spent a few years working long and hard to facilitate the education and entertainment of others, but found she was missing opportunities to contribute to the greater good.

The man finished his time at college unhappily. He left school drained and confused about where life might next take him. He spent several years working, practicing and searching for something that would fill the hollow places inside. He began to attend church in his area. He heard a message of hope, trusting in God to fulfill the specific desires of his heart. The man gave God several years, as he prayed for a wife and child before he passed 30.

Finding a church home had not proven to be one of the woman's strengths. She visited churches occasionally, only to be dissatisfied with some aspect of the worship, the message, or the congregation. On one visit with her brother's family, she discovered a church unlike any she'd attended, well-steeped in tradition, but alive in the Spirit. After only a few months, she began to volunteer with several ministries, including the preschoolers' worship. For the first time in many years, perhaps her whole adult life, the woman felt content with her life, just as it was.

Time was passing quickly for the man. He'd become involved at church, volunteering with children's ministry and the prayer team. His 30th birthday was just around the corner and he was beginning to doubt God's desire to bless him with a family. He'd decided to strike out on his own seeking a mate. But his own searching was not as easy as he'd hoped. Months passed, and he had still found no one with whom he wanted to share his life.

The woman found herself unaccountably happy. She'd never before felt the presence of God with such strength. Her job was satisfying. Her ministry activities kept her busy while offering a challenge. Only one thing seemed to be missing: a family of her own. And she'd picked out just the man she wanted...if only he would show an interest in her.

Stuck. That was how the man was feeling. His job was unfulfilling, he wasn't finding a date, and one of his best friends was about to be married, for the second time. The day of their wedding shower, he was searching for somewhere else to be. An acquaintance from church invited him for coffee after lunch. He jumped at the chance.

Nervous. The woman was about to have coffee with the man who'd been invading her dreams. Would this mean something? Was he interested? What on earth would they talk about?

For nearly four hours, the man and woman talked. They shared stories from their lives and their travels, amusing anecdotes about eccentric family members, even ideas of what would make a perfect date. The woman left exhilarated, excited by the talk and the potential. The man drove away shocked, a bit afraid of what might be happening.

On a game night the next weekend, they met again and played Trivial Pursuit. Sunday lunch was shared with a large group of friends the following weekend. After lunch, they drove to a nearby park and hiked in the woods, talking for another seven hours. A dinner together at an outdoor concert, their first official date, came two weeks later. Only eight weeks after that, the two were engaged. Less than a year passed and the couple married. Within the month, they were expecting their first child. That fall, the man celebrated his 31st birthday.

And they lived (mostly) happily ever after.

Happy Anniversary, my love! I am so glad to be your wife. God has been incredibly gracious to me. Iau lala mámna iáu!