Saturday, April 28

Third Time's a Charm

We have a wedding today. This wedding has been a long time in the coming. The couple have been friends for eight years (...I think, longer than I've known either of them, anyway). They've been dating just over a year and today is the one-year anniversary of their engagement.

It's been a tough year. They've had to postpone this wedding twice, already. They've dealt with mental illness, job loss, and overcoming some serious issues from past relationships. They cut their guest list from 250 to 40. They termed the simple wedding invitation "immediate family (this means you)." I am honored to be considered family.

To my friends: I am so happy to be a part of this special day for you. I can't wait to see the dress I've heard so much about. I am so excited for you both, as you become husband and wife, taking that exhilarating and scary next step into the unknown future. God has already blessed you with one another and a wonderful community of family and friends. May He continue to pour out His blessings on you as two become one.

Thursday, April 26

Thirteen-less Thursday

As much as I have enjoyed the weekly Thursday Thirteen meme, I think I need to take a break for awhile, or at least become more of an occasional participant. Last week I spent the better part of my limited free time, three days running to get my post put up, then visit so many other participants. I don't have time for that every week!

So, I will plan to still participate once in a while (maybe the first Thursday of the month or something), but for this afternoon, I have more valuable pursuits in mind.

If you still need your 13-point-list fix, you can check out some other blogs at

Wednesday, April 25

Works for Me: Budgeting with Gift Cards

A special thanks to my friend Dawn who inspired this idea.

Adam and I have been fighting with our budget for about as long as we've been married. The problem is, the numbers will work on paper, but in real life we find it much harder to be disciplined about how much we're spending--especially when we use our debit card.

I've tried the cash envelope method (all the cash you are budgeted to spend for groceries or gas in an envelope and when the cash is gone, you're done buying) but that really didn't work well for me. I kept borrowing and lending cash back and forth between envelopes and I never knew quite what to do with all the coins.

But then I was at dinner with Dawn earlier this week and she talked about her Starbucks card that she would reload at the beginning of every month to keep track of her coffee habit. Suddenly it occurred to me that many places have gift cards, in fact, all of my regular grocery/gas/baby/etc. stores offer gift cards. What if, instead of messing with coins and envelopes, I just went to the store at the beginning of every month and bought a gift card in the amount of my monthly budget?

I should qualify this tip with the notice that I haven't actually tried it yet, so I only think it would work in theory, but I liked the idea so much I thought I'd share now rather than a few months from now. I will definitely update in a few months with a review of how it's been going.

UPDATE: It didn't work for me! Here's the post explaining why.

For more tips and advice visit Rocks in my Dryer.

Monday, April 23

Of Bubbles and Trikes

Well, just one trike, really, but that sounded funny to me.

This afternoon, it was absolutely gorgeous outside. My daughter had been begging to go out, and since it really was so pretty I figured we could have fun for a half hour or so before her nap.

While I was looking for her sandals, I found a couple of no-spill bubble wands and cups that some friends gave us last summer. "What fun," thought I. "We can blow bubbles in the sunshine."

Uhm, yeah. She's two. She's a bright kid, but she's never seen a bubble wand in use before. Plus, she dropped the wand out of one of the cups (it's around here somewhere) while I was making the bubble stuff, so I was blowing bubbles with a straw. She got all confused and was trying to suck on her wand in order to make bubbles come out. She quickly got frustrated with her lack of bubble prowess and decided to play instead on her new tricycle (a gift from Adam's parents for her birthday).

Sitting on the tricycle seat, her toes just reach the pedals. She was trying to ride from the sidewalk into the grass, but the inertia (is that the right word?) was just too much to overcome. I moved her out to the short paved part of the driveway where she did much better. Well, she rode backward pretty well, anyway. Maybe it's like crawling. She did that backward for a week or so before she started heading forward, too.

But she had fun, anyway. She was even almost ready to come inside when I announced naptime. Unfortunately, I think that was mostly because of the blister she got on her foot (Mom was trying to get one more wear out of too-small sandals that still looked like they fit okay for a quick romp around the yard...). Still, though, she went down for her nap with a minimum of fuss and I got a whole hour of Mommy-time.

*happy sigh*

Sunday, April 22

I Only Have Five Minutes... I'd better type quickly and without error.

I just wanted to check in with something I've been learning and thinking about a lot lately. You may not think it's so profound, but it's totally transforming my life.

Here it is: God loves me, even when I don't do what I'm supposed to. That's all. God loves me just because I'm me. Isn't that amazing?

I need to go now. I have a meeting to lead and committee members to whom I need to admit that I didn't do any of my action points from the last meeting. In fact, I've even lost my notes from the last meeting. But they love me anyway. Just like God. Isn't that great?

And, also, I've discovered that admitting when I screw up frees them to not beat themselves up when they've had a busy month and haven't completed their responsibilities. 'Cuz let's face it. We're all volunteers and there is only so much we can get done sometimes. I know that and they know that--and I love how we have no reason to pretend we don't.

Friday, April 20

Thirteen Questions and Answers

I was visiting some other Thursday Thirteen bloggers and came across a very fun list of questions in Goofy Girl's post.

1. Apples- what kind is your favorite?
Adam has gotten me hooked on Pink Ladies. Granny Smiths are good for cooking, though (and a lot cheaper).

2. Bears- which one do you think is the cutest? Hmmm...not sure on this one. They all look rather alike in their uniforms. Maybe Brian Urlacher?

3. Coffee- what do you like in it?
Ice cream. Lots of ice cream. Actually, I've only had coffee a few times. I really prefer tea.

4. Drink- what do you normally order at a restaurant?
Water, iced tea or lemonade. Once in a while I'll get Coke or Sprite, but usually I stick to those three.

5. Eggs- how do you normally have them done?
I really like them fried, with the yolks completely solid. I usually order scrambled, though, because they're harder to mess up.

6. Friends- do you look for something in friends, or are your friends of all different types? Hmmm...I never really thought about it. I guess I look for people who are interesting to me, maybe people I admire.

7. Gems- what’s your favorite gem?
I like the brightly colored ones: Amethyst, emerald, ruby, sapphire.

8. Happy- what makes you smile?
Right now? My daughter setting up food on tiny little Japanese sauce bowls while announcing "Mamie tchin (chicken). Baby tchin. Daddy home? Daddy tchin."

9. Ice cream- what’s your favorite type?
Totally depends on my mood. I really like Ben & Jerry's though, especially Chocolate Fudge Brownie and Chubby Hubby.

10. Jellybeans- what kind do you like?
Red ones. As long as they're not cinnamon flavored. I really don't like the spicy ones. Ooh, and Jelly Belly Buttered Popcorn. Yum!

11. Knowledge- what do you know a lot about?
Um...compared to whom? I worked for five years as a meeting planner, so I guess I know more about event planning than an average woman on the street. I studied sociology in college, so I probably know more about group dynamics than your ordinary Spanish major. I probably know more about fertility and birth than a typical first-time mom.

12. Lemons- do you put lemon in you water, tea, or soda? Or lime?
Lemon in tea, lime in water or Coke.

13. Muffins- what kind do you pick out at the coffee shop?
Depends on the selection. I'm kind of partial to streusel-topped blueberry and lemon poppy seed, though.

Thursday, April 19

Thursday Thirteen #16: Places I've Gotten Lost

I'm back from hiatus with a collection of places around the world where I've lost my way. Thankfully, I've always found it again!

1· Pauanui, New Zealand (1998)
2· Youngstown, OH, USA (1993)
3· Rainforest outside Barahona, Dominican Republic (1993)
4· New York City, NY, USA (1991)
5· Chicago, IL, USA (2000)
6· Pisgah National Forest, NC, USA (1997)
7· Along the border of Illinois and Wisconsin (2003)
8· London, England (1999)
9· Carlsbad, CA, USA (2000)
10·Sydney, NSW, Australia (1998)
11·El Paso, TX, USA (2003)
12·San Francisco, CA, USA (2000)
13·Rome, Italy (2001)

Check out other thirteeners at

Tuesday, April 17

Handmade Cards

This post originally appeared on By Hook or By Cook.

Lately I've been having a lot of fun making my own cards and envelopes. I recently was in charge of invitations for a wedding shower and decided to make square invitation cards along with their own envelopes. I thought they would also make a really neat gift for anyone who likes to write little notes (or for a bride or new mom who has all those thank yous to send).

You can download my templates for the 4¼" x 4¼" cards, envelopes, and a gift box, just the right size for 4-6 cards. The templates include cutting and folding instructions.

You can find a good recipe for envelope adhesive here.

Once I find my camera again, I will post photos of the finished product.

Sunday, April 15

What Brings Us Together Today

I have a wedding shower to attend today. One of my prayer partners is getting married in a few weeks and she's asked a handful of her own and her fiance's closest friends to share what we consider to be the biggest challenge and the biggest joy in marriage.

Because I was the one sending out the invitations, I knew about this request two or three months ago. I filed the thought away in the back of my head and periodically pulled it out to say, "Biggest joy... Biggest challenge... Hmmm..." before promptly filing it back in the drawer marked Things to Deal with Another Day.

Anotherday has finally shown up. Adam suggested we write separate answers so that our friends can see how we each may interpret our relationship differently. Here's what I wrote for them:

My biggest challenge in marriage?

I'm basically a selfish person. I want what I want when I want it. That's what I'd looked forward to most in becoming an adult; I could do whatever I wanted. I just didn't count on having to consider someone else's feelings in addition to my own, much less before my own. Somewhere deep inside, in that place we're rarely aware of but we think our deepest thoughts, I always sort of figured that one day when I got married, my husband would want whatever I wanted, simply because he wanted to please me. The concept that maybe I should want to please him...never really entered the picture. But then Adam entered the picture. And my nice little world that revolved around me came crashing down at my feet. I'm still trying to recover. In fact, I'm still trying to keep things spinning around me the way I'd always thought they should. Only, at such an unconscious level, I hardly realize what I'm doing most of the time. Before I know it I'm disrespectful and petulant and nagging. All because I want to make sure I'm taken care of before I focus my attention on Adam's welfare. I have trouble trusting that God (and Adam) will care for my needs, so I hoard my own energy and attention rather than giving freely to him (and Him).

As for my greatest joy?

I live with a man whose goal it is to love me as Christ loves me, perfectly amidst my imperfection. I have a real live example of someone knowing me very well--inside and out, really--yet choosing still to love me. Which is not to suggest that I never annoy Adam or that he is never angry at me, but even in his anger, he tells me and shows me love. At my most selfish, crabbiest me, he has yet to be scared off. Even in the middle of still another round of Great Fight #6, he is willing to say he's more content in his life married to me (difficult though it may be) than he was as a single man. I don't have to make nice; I don't have to measure up; I don't have to play by the rules for him to love me. I just have to be.

Monday, April 9

She's a Smart Kid...Sometimes Too Smart

My daughter has been high on the antics lately. In some cases, literally. She likes to climb on the piano (despite the fact that she gets into trouble nearly every time she tries it). At the moment, there is a large box on top. The past several days I've found her perched on top of the box on her toes, reaching out for the ceiling, and saying, "Wah, wah?" It took me a couple of times before I realized she didn't know the word for ceiling and was calling it a "wall."

And let me tell you about the eggs. Oh, the eggs. About a month ago, I discovered that my daughter could open the refrigerator door. I didn't realize what a problem this would quickly become. I was amused, at first, to find the ketchup bottle sitting by itself in the middle of the bathroom floor. But then she discovered the egg cartons. I make her eggs for breakfast nearly every morning. She alternatively calls them "hah" (hot) or "hek" (eggs), and she'll eat two or three of them at a time. All of which was fine, until she decided to try making them herself.

Last week, Adam was meeting with his prayer group one evening and our daughter was alone with me. I don't remember what I was doing in the living room (crocheting, most likely), but I was suddenly aware of an unnatural silence coming from her bedroom. As I got up to check it out, I heard little footsteps padding down the hallway and into the kitchen. I followed to find her in front of the open refrigerator door holding a dripping egg carton.

I told her to set it down (well, shouted, really) and took a closer look. The carton had about a half dozen whole eggs, plus a cracked one that was dripping onto the others and out of the carton. I carefully washed the whole eggs, so they wouldn't stick to the carton later, then replaced them in the fridge. I was about to sigh with relief at yet another crisis averted, until I remembered the quiet in her bedroom.

Four eggs. And their shells. All on the carpet. That sigh wasn't about relief. Neither was the screaming that followed. Mostly mine. A little bit hers. And Formula 409. God bless the inventor of Formula 409.

Oh, and we may have to revisit that duct tape on the diaper thing. My little Houdini-in-training has now figured out how to get her diaper off from under a onesie. I don't know how she does it, I just know she does.

It's been a busy Lent.

Sunday, April 8

Chocolate Popovers

This post originally appeared on By Hook or By Cook.

Now that Lent has ended and we are celebrating the Easter season, I thought I'd post a great little chocolate brakfast recipe. It's not quite chocolate cake for breakfast, but it's awfully close (and a bit better for you).

2T butter
4 eggs
1c milk
1c flour
½t salt
¼c cocoa powder
¼c sugar

· Preheat oven to 400°F
· Melt butter and set aside
· Beat together eggs and milk
· Add flour, salt, cocoa, and sugar
· Mix well with whisk
· Pour evenly into 12 well-greased muffin cups
· Bake 25-30 minutes until popovers are well puffed and lightly crispy
· After baking, prick each popover with a toothpick to let steam escape
· Serve immediately

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 popover (52 g)
Serving per Recipe 12
Amount per Serving
Calories 105* Calories from Fat 37*

% DV
Total Fat 4g*
Saturated Fat 2g*
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat .5g
Cholesterol 68mg
Sodium 42mg
Total Carbohydrates 13g
Dietary Fiber .5g
Sugars 5.5g
Protein 3.5g

*Note: values using whole milk, substituting a lower-fat milk would decrease calories and fat content.

Happy Easter

Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed.