Wednesday, August 29, 2007


I promise to do a post on the lessons Beth gave at the conference. We've had the little girl across the street with us in the afternoon this week so I haven't had time or energy for serious thinking posts. Joel will be home on Monday so maybe I can get some writing done then. Or house cleaning. Or decluttering of my basement, AGAIN. Anyway.

Here's a tip for all you new moms. Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting shows up the best in pictures when your children are as lily white as mine. So that's what we have for the 1st birthday cake. The boys had to be coaxed into eating theirs. It took a few samples before they decided chocolate tasted yummy. Now they need no coaxing! Ellie didn't need convincing. She dived into her cake with enthusiasm and zest. And here is the photographic evidence. Sorry the pictures are a little blurry. You get the idea though.

A Year Already?

Tonight we will eat chocolate cake with chocolate icing and ice cream as we celebrate Ellie's First Birthday. It's hard to believe a year has passed already. I can't imagine our lives without her. Spunk and sass this girl has in spades!

It's fun to watch how different she acts compared to the boys. For instance, she knows already that Daddy is the key to getting her own way. When I scold her she looks at Daddy and pokes out her bottom lip in the saddest face you've ever seen. Then she proceedes to cry like her little heart is broken. I seldom get that kind of drama when Daddy isn't around. Normally she ignores me and proceeds on her merry way. If Daddy scolds her, oh boy, the DRAMA! Needless to say, the boys don't act this way!

Without a doubt she's not a girly-girl. She pulls bows out of her hair every time. She likes playing in the dirt and grass. And she climbs anything her little leg can hike up on including, but not limited to, the swingset slide, the outside climber stairs, the futon, any stool, and currently she's working on climbing into a kitchen chair. Some people suggest her tomboy ways are because she has two older brothers. I don't think so. I don't have an older brother but I was a tomboy. I think it's just her personality. After all, enjoying dirt is something you're either born with or your not.

An extra special detail for this day is that we share it with my friend Christie and her son Connor. We knew we would deliver close together. Our original due dates were about 6 weeks apart. I always go passed my due date. Christie has a history of going early with her babies. So last year on this day Christie called me at the hospital. "Guess where I am," she said. She had just delivered Connor. How fun is that?!

Here are a few pictures of my spunky girl. All 8 pounds 11 ounces of her at birth. Can you resist that face?!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Sistas in Christ

Amy & Jessica

Kelli, Shelley, Bonnie

Miss Sara & Amy

Jessica, Tiffany, ?, Asia, Diane

24 Hours of Freedom in Pictures

Stephanie, Julia, Carrie, Amy ready to leave for the hotel on Friday.

Carrie chatting & reading.

Julia and Miss Sara (aka Julia's Momma)

4:45 a.m.

This weekend really consisted of two separate but overlapping components: the Word of God & friendships. Both are fundamental to my health and well-being. As a wife and momma I can't do what I do without staying in the Scriptures. I also NEED my girlfriends. They remind me insanity comes with motherhood. They also remind me that God gave me the husband He knew I needed!

When we were with Beth this weekend it was all about the WORD. But when we left Beth, Oh BOY! did we get rowdy. We talked non-stop from the time we met up until we separated to return to our homes, with the exception of one hour and fifteen minutes. You think I'm kidding?!

Our hotel sits across the street from the convention center. Whichever one of us thought of spending the night in Providence was a genius! While everyone else waited in their cars to drive out of the parking garages (Julia's mom took 45 minutes, at least, just to get out of the garage!) we casually looked over the book tables and strolled to our hotel.

Once in our room we changed into our pajamas. Julia won the Best Pajama/Nightgown Award. Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of her Cinderella and Step-Sisters nightgown. It definitely set the tone for our pajama party! I also need to present a Most Prepared Award to the woman who brought the most underwear. The winner brought FOUR pairs of underwear. And I quote, "in case there's a nuclear bomb." She requested to remain nameless.

After switching into our comfortable p.j.s we arranged ourselves and our buffet-o-weight-gain on the beds. We laughed and talked. Swapped labor and delivery stories. Discussed having more children. Shared thoughts on school choices. The topics were endless, as was the chatter. Around 1:30 a.m. Julia & Carrie drifted off to sleep. Amy & I tried for about 2 minutes to go to sleep. Then we yakked some more until 4:45 a.m., at which time we decided a nap would be a good idea.

The funny thing is that Amy & I see each other every Sunday at church and often e-mail throughout the week. Yet, we were the ones who stayed up all night talking. She insightfully pointed out the reason: we seldom finish a conversation do to the combined 5 children that are normally with us.

Even though I'm still trying to make up for the sleep I missed I'd do it all again! Saturday was more of the same so I won't bore you with the details. Just trust me there was talking. Laughing. Worshipping. Crying. And more eating.

God does indeed supply every need. This weekend he supplied 3 girlfriends to fill my need for fellowship. Three women who are learning to love God with all their hearts. Three women who inspire me (no more seconds! and sit-ups here I come). Three women who see life differently than I do and that's a good thing!

Thank you, Ladies, for contributing to a fantastic weekend that I won't forget. By the way, next year I vote for TWO nights in a hotel. Do you think the husbands will go for it?

The Food! Oh The Food!

You may think I'm a little crazy to do a post on the food I ate during my 24 Hours of Freedom. You'd be right. Just keep in mind that I have three children ages 4, 2.5 and 1 year. That means I NEVER finish a meal in one sitting. Also, have you ever tried to eat any chocolate without sharing with your children? I tell you they have junk food radars! Let me sneak a healthy snack and I never see them. Pull out a piece of chocolate or chips and they are on me like a duck on a June bug. Maybe now you understand my need to recount our pigging out adventures.

If you read this you saw the junk food I took with me. My friends contributed strawberries, bananas, homemade muffins (with butter!), shelled pistachios, cashews, almost every chocolate candy bar conceivable, chips & salsa, Dr. Pepper, bottled water, and donut sticks. I know I'm forgetting somethings. (Amy, Julia, & Carrie feel free to add to this list in the comments!) We even had 2 soft-sided ice chests to keep our drinks cool.

Friday we ate an early supper at the Mall Food Court. I ate an exceptionally greasy pizza. After Beth finished speaking Friday night, we walked across the street to our hotel room and chowed down on the above yummy stuff. Saturday morning breakfast consisted of leftovers. We ended our 24 Hours of Freedom with lunch at On the Border. Yum! I love Mexican food!

I enjoyed eating hot and cold foods instead of lukewarm. I enjoyed eating my food in one sitting. I enjoyed feeding only me for a change. And I REALLY enjoyed not having to share off of my plate or have someone question my choice of Coke and Nutty Bar for breakfast. = )

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Beth in a Nutshell

Be prepared for a week of re-cap on the Living Proof Live Conference with Beth Moore. I'm still processing everything so I hope you bear with me. Visit Beth's Blog to see some pictures and read a little from her perspective. She actually has two posts about Rhode Island. If you attended the conference the commissioning we spoke to one another is on the first link.

Here's just a brief nutshell of what happened. Four of us carpooled and roomed together (Amy, Carrie, & Julia). I missed meeting up with Darla from PA and really regret that. But, a conference of over 4,000 women can cause that. 42 women accepted Jesus for the first time Saturday, including many teenagers. I ran into a lot of women I know from 2 previous churches and the wife of one of Joel's co-workers. Amy saw the doctor who delivered her daughter Mia (if you look at the pics in the first link there's one of a woman with a baby, that's the doctor!). We ate TONS of junk. My body has been reminding me it doesn't like so much junk!! Amy and I talked all night. Literally. The other two conked out at 1:30 am but we talked until 4:45 am and the wake up call came at 6 am. Needless to say I'm tired! God spoke and we worshipped. More on that later this week.

On the home front everyone was fed and healthy when I got back. Joel even washed all the dishes. Thank you, Sweet. They were playing with a water gun when I came home and felt the need to include me in the fun. Welcome home, Momma! Joel has a cute countdown of his own on his blog starting here.

I think that's it in a nutshell. I'll try to have more tomorrow. Maybe I can get some pictures up, too.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Counting Down #5

Countdown: 18 hours until I leave the house!

This will probably be my last post for a couple of days. Why? Oh, a little thing called Living Proof Live. Or as I like to call it "Beth is coming. Beth is coming." (Think Paul Revere)

I've been preparing the boys for my absence. I told them that momma is going to a party with Micah's mom and Emma's mom. They want to know why they can't come. Because this is a special party just for mommas!!! A party complete with FOOD!

In case you've been concerned, I have also been praying this week and trying to prepare my heart for the message Beth will deliver from God. I can't wait for that part. And the music!!! Oh man, I can't wait to worship Jesus this weekend!!

I fully expect to arrive home Saturday exhausted, but a good kind of exhaustion. If you know what I mean. So, don't expect any long posts Saturday or Sunday. Though I may need to do some processing and if my poor husbands ears give out I'll be sure to hope on line. = )

Some Like It Hot

We like our food spicy around here. Chili. Enchilada casseroles. Tacos. Burritos. Salsa. You name it, I want it to have a kick to it. When I eat at a Mexican food restaurant I expect the salsa to be spicy and require a drink. If I can eat half the bowl without ever needing a drink it's not very good salsa. My husband is the same way.

Yesterday after work one of the first things Joel said to me was, "I have my blog post for tonight." Apparently, a hot pepper reverts a group of 30 year old men back to junior high boys all daring one another to taste it. Let's just say he concluded that pepper should never be used with other food. I couldn't help laughing. With him of course, not at him.

You can laugh, too. Scoot over here and read the story for yourself. Be sure to leave him a comment if you've ever tried a hot pepper. Since most of my readers are women, I'm going to guess that you haven't.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Countdown Continues #4

Countdown: 2 days. 48 hours. Until the Living Proof Live Providence Event!!!

I've been checking off more items on my To Do List. Today I shopped for my contribution to our Friday night/Saturday morning Junkfoodpalooza. We decided that eating supper at 4:30 will leave us ravenous when we return to the hotel at 10:30. As there aren't many places in down city Providence open at that time of night that we care to be seen in we agreed to bring our own snacks to the hotel.

Amy's sweet husband has supplied her with a "Care Package." I don't know what's in it but I'm betting CHOCOLATE!!! Julia loves nuts but her daughter has a peanut allergy. Guess what she's bringing. She mentioned peanuts, pistachios AND cashews when I spoke with her a couple of nights ago.

And me? I'm bringing something dairy, grain, meat, and fruit. Don't believe me? Check this out.

I realized when setting this picture up that there is a definite deficiency in chocolate! I must have been in a salty mood while shopping this morning. I plan to run to the grocery store tomorrow night (it's the last day for $1.79 steak!). I might just have to pick up a bag of chocolate candy.

At this rate I'm going to be lucky if I haven't picked up 5 new pounds by Saturday night. I say Saturday night 'cause we're planning to meet some old friends at The Cheesecake Factory for lunch Saturday. I'm confident decadent desserts will be shared by all!

30 Months

Today Ben is 30 months old. That's 2.5 years.

A friend of mine recently wrote an acrostic using her son's name and words describing him. I'm going to steal her idea. I give you:

Best chuckle I've ever heard!
Enjoys wrestling with brother & Ellie, when she lets him.
Never gives up.
Jumps at the chance to go anywhere, especially the library or zoo.
Monkey see, Monkey do.
I love YOU! When asked "Ben, guess what!"
No is one of his favorite words! He IS two!!

Two and a half years ago. All 9 pounds 9 ounces of him.

I just love this boy!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

No Prayer Is Too Small

The children & I participate in a program called Parents as Teachers. A "Parent Educator" comes to my house once a month and leads my children and I in an activity. She & I then discuss what skills are being developed by the activity. She always leaves handouts with more ideas for activities I can do with the children to further encourage their development.

This program is run by our local public school system. I'm not a big fan of our local public schools. Frankly, their product, which I see walking down my street every day, scares me. So I felt a little nervous last year when we joined this program. I prayed that God would send us a Christian parent educator. I have to confess I prayed without believing. After all, I live in Rhode Island. Evangelical Christians are not exactly a dime a dozen around here!!

God answered my prayers anyway. He sent us Miss Julie. Not only is she a Christian, she's a Baptist! (Though not a Southern Baptist but beggers can't be choosers.) Our sisterhood in Christ adds an additional dimension to our activity sessions as it allows us to also discuss spiritual development, which is not on the school's curriculum list.

In fact, Miss Julie invited Will to attend Vacation Bible Time (School) at her church this summer. I felt completely comfortable sending him because she taught his class. He enjoyed the week and still talks about it.

We saw Miss Julie today. She helped coordinate a behind-the-scenes tour of our public library for those enrolled in the P.A.T. program. My boys enjoyed the tour. We even saw the little room (really just a closet) on the other side of the drive-by book drop. While we stood in the room looking at the giant basket that holds the returned books and the slot they come through, someone drove up outside and dropped about 5 books through the slot. The children thought watching the books fall in the basket was fun.

As we left the room I found myself walking with Miss Julie. She leaned toward me and whispered that her son had just told her, "Mom, I prayed that God would make someone drop some books in."

From my grown-up perspective books dropping in the basket was such a small thing. Really not worth bothering God about. But God cared. He cared about building the faith of a 9 year old boy. He cared about amusing a group of toddlers and preschoolers. And He cared about reminding this momma how much He delights in answering our prayers, even the seemingly insignificant ones.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Quote of the Day, August 19

Background: Will has been completely potty trained for about 8 months. Except at night. It's any one's guess whether he will wake up dry or not. Not for lack of ability. He has proven he can wake up and go to the bathroom and he can hold it all night. For some reason he just doesn't choose to some nights. Needless to say I'm tired of washing sheets. We are starting a new round of positive reinforcement this week. For every day he wakes up dry he earns 30 minutes of TV viewing on the weekend. Today he & I discussed him waking up dry tomorrow.

Momma: Do you have any ideas for how I can help you wake up dry?
Will: Kisses.
Momma: Kisses? When? (I wasn't sure if he meant a kiss or a chocolate kiss for reward.)
Will: During the days and nights.
Then he stuck out his cheek for me to kiss. How can I be annoyed about the laundry when he's asking for kisses?!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Countdown Continues #3

Countdown: 6 days. 144 hours.
Until the Providence Living Proof Live Event!!

To Do:
1. Stock freezer with frozen food Joel can cook while I'm gone.
2. Haircut.
3. Shop for sassy top & jacket.
4. Pack.
5. Check 58 times to make sure I have my ticket.
6. Have a blast with Beth, my friends & Jesus.

If you are planning to attend the Living Proof Live Event in Providence this weekend there is a group of us who will be meeting for an early supper on Friday night. We will meet about 4:30 pm at the Providence Place Mall Food Court. The Mall is within walking distance of the conference center. The food court is on one of the upper floors. If you aren't from the area, just ask anyone and they can direct you to the right place.

If you are going, can you send me an email or leave a comment? Then we'll know to be on the look out for you. Thanks.

Oh, if you're curious about my husband's thoughts on my outing go here. He's mostly tongue-in-cheek.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Introducing... my niece/nephew, Baby R. at 9 weeks and 3 days.

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."
Psalm 139:13-16.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

11 Reasons I'd Date Him All Over Again

Eleven years ago today my husband and I began dating. In honor of that life changing event I give you my list:

11. His mischievous grin is contagious.

10. He gives great back rubs.

9. He makes me laugh.

8. He's really a softie. Shh! Don't tell anyone! Extreme Home Makeover gets him every time. The part at the beginning when they explain why the family needs the house. Not the actual building the house. = )

7. My hand fits perfectly in his hand.

6. He seeks God with all his heart.

5. He encourages me to seek God.

4. William.

3. Benjamin.

2. Elisabeth.

1. I love him and can't imagine life without him.

***Would you mind being really sweet and checking out his blog? Rambling Bits & Bytes. While your there, could you please leave a comment, too. That would totally make his day. = ) Thanks.

Fr*e M@vies

*** Edited. 12/28/07. This post keeps getting search engine hits. After doing the same search I think people are looking for a VERY VERY BAD m@vie so I am editing this hoping to stop these people from coming to my blog.

I enjoy watching m@vies. I do not enjoy paying an arm or a leg to watch a m@vie whether it's on the big screen or my screen. A number of years ago my husband discovered the library system in Rhode Island has vid*os and d v ds as well as books. FR*E m@vie viewing!! How incredible is that?

Pop the kids in bed. Pop some popcorn. Pop a fr*e m@vie in the machine. Hello, fr*e date!

We probably wouldn't watch as many m@vies as we do if it not for one thing: one of the larger libraries in our state is right next door to my husband's office. For years he has walked over during lunch and checked out an armload of m@vies. They aren't usually new releases but they are new to me. Sometimes he picks real duds. But, hey, they were fr*e so what does it matter? Sometimes we don't watch them all before they are due. But, again, they're fr*e so we don't care.

Fr*e vid*os and d v ds? Works for me.

*** To see what we watched recently head over to my husband's blog, Rambling Bits and Bytes, and read some of his m@vie reviews. You'll find them under the "m@vie review" label. If you do visit him, could you leave him a comment, pretty please? Thanks.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Good Friends

My husband has already blogged about our cookout on Monday. You can read his version here.

This weekend our dear friends, Mike & Dawn, came to visit from out of state. We've known them for over ten years and have still not forgiven them for moving away 3.5 years ago. = ) We know God has a special plan for them. We're just grateful we see them at least once a year.

Our friendship with Mike & Dawn, Amy & Andy and two other couples began when we were all recently married and no one had children. The fun times we had!! Usually the women talked while the men stirred up trouble. Even with children and our years of maturity not that much has changed.

This picture was taken in November 2003. I have no idea why we are so far apart. In all fairness to Amy, she gave birth less than a month after this picture was taken. Doesn't she look great?! My husband is taking the picture and must be doing something VERY funny.

This picture was taken yesterday. Like I said, not much has changed. They are still looking for trouble. If you look in the background you can see two Junior Troublemakers in Training.

P.s. Andy, you had to know I was going to post at least ONE of those pictures yesterday! = )

Climber Extraordinaire

We just finished a crazy weekend. Partly crazy because of a house project that would not end. Partly crazy because of a baby shower on Sunday afternoon and a cookout with friends on Monday afternoon. Also crazy because Ellie picked this weekend to practice her climbing skills. For a girl not yet a year old and who can't even STAND UP BY HERSELF for more than 5 seconds, she's got climbing skills! And here is my photographic evidence.

It's hard to tell but she's standing on a two-step stool looking into the dresser mirror. That's a butterfly net in her hand.
Daddy moved the stool after taking the previous picture. He came back a little later to find her sitting on brother's bed.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Cleanliess Is Overrated Anyway

A couple of mornings ago I sent the boys outside to play in the backyard while I cleaned up breakfast. Still in my pajamas, I heard the tell-tell sound of water gushing through the outside faucet. I rushed to the window and started yelling at Ben to "SHUT THE WATER OFF!!" "DON'T MAKE ME HAVE TO COME OUT THERE!!" Water soaked his shirt and shorts; he started crying about being all wet. Clearly yelling at Ben wasn't getting me anywhere so I changed tactics. "WILLIAM, HELP YOUR BROTHER SHUT THE WATER OFF!!! JUST SHUT THE WATER OFF!!" Being the street-wise four year-old that he is, Will reached from the side to avoid getting wet and twisted the handle. Nothing happened. Finally he looked up at me and said he couldn't turn it off.

I ran to my room and added the appropriate clothing for going outside. Then I hurried outside and turned the handle myself. Again, nothing happened. Water continued to gush from the spigot and I was getting wet. Arrgh!! The faucet had broken and would not shut the water off!

I ran into the house, being careful to close the screen door behind me so Ellie didn't fall down the steps into the backyard. Once inside I rushed through the kitchen, grabbing the phone and dialing Joel's number as I ran down the hallway. Down the basement stairs I sped, careful to close the door at the top so Ellie didn't follow me down. At the other end of the basement I hopped on top of the washing machine just as Joel answered the phone. I gave him a quick rundown of the situation and confirmed that the knob I was currently turning would shut the water off outside. Thankfully, I didn't have to shut the water off to the whole house!

Just another day in the life of Super Momma. You might think that's the end of my story. Boys dried off and changed. Me finally dressed. Joel replacing the faucet at the earliest convenient time. You'd be almost right.

Today Joel's project has been to replace the faucet. Sounds easy enough. But see, projects around here NEVER go smoothly, quickly or inexpensively. THREE trips to Lowe's later the water to my house is still off! (He had to replace the inside cutoff valve also. That required shutting off ALL the water.)

Taking the old faucet off apparently was a piece of cake; demolition usually is. Putting the new one on has proved not to be so easy. I don't understand the ins and outs of it. I just know it's after 10 p.m. and my handyman husband is now tired, cranky and overall put-out because the water won't stay in the pipes where it belongs.

If you see me at church or a baby shower tomorrow and my hair looks a little odd, please don't laugh. It means the water is still off and I washed my hair in the sink with bottled water. Bottled water that I keep on hand because this is NOT the first time our water has been off all day.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Countdown Continues #2

In case you are wondering: 2 weeks, or 14 days or 336 hours until my Day Of Freedom!

I have begun planning the details with my friends. Important details like what kind of junk food we are bringing to snack on in the hotel room. And what time we want to get to the Convention Center so we aren't sitting in Nosebleed Section.

I'm also planning a haircutting expedition and a clothes shopping expedition for next week. I know everyone is very concerned about these important details.
As I looked at the LifeWay website last night I noticed something very interesting. Beth already has her 2008 schedule posted. (Did you like the way I mentioned her like we are BFF?) In August of 2008 she'll be in Louisville, KY. I had a fabulous idea of my 2 friends and I taking a road trip to attend that conference with our dear friend who lives in Kentucky. My husband shot down the idea before it even left my mouth. As I said, "HEY! BETH'S GOING TO BE IN LOUISVILLE IN AUGUST NEXT YEAR!!" He said, "NO." Period. End of discussion. No, "let's think about it." No, "wait and see what next year brings." Just a solid, No. was worth a try.

Six Die in Burnt Offering

The flies invaded this year. I'm not kidding. We live in the suburbs so we don't usually have flies. Not like being on a farm in Arkansas. But this year we've got 'em.

They aren't content to stay outside either. No, they are taking over the house. Every time I start whacking with the flyswatter I think of the story of the Brave Little Taylor who killed five in one swipe! I understand his excitement. Sadly, for every five I swat ten take their place.

I've considered my fly problem. I know the how part. As in how are they getting in the house? They fly in through the opened back door. Duh, right? There's a little more to it than that. We have a screen door off of our breezeway that leads into the backyard. My guys are spending LOTS of time in the backyard these days. Ben's arms and legs are still kind of small so he works REALLY hard to get that door opened. I've taken pity on him and left the door open even though the resulting swarm of flies in the house is something out of a low budget horror movie.

What I'm really wondering is where are all these flies coming from?! I've even talked with my neighbors about it and they are also seeing more flies than usual. I have a theory that someone in the neighborhood, though not my immediate neighbors, has a new dog or two this summer and they aren't keeping the yard clean, if you know what I mean.

Yesterday I discovered a new means of eradicating flies. Torch 'em. This method came to light quite by accident. As I sat at my desk I smelled the terrible odor of something burning. After checking the computer and electrical outlets I tipped the halogen lamp down to look inside. There I found no fewer than SIX flies had given themselves as a burnt offering for my lighting needs.

I appreciate the sacrifice but my nose really wishes they had chosen a different method. Perhaps a spider's web. We've got plenty of those to choose from around here. See, I knew there was a good reason not to clean house! I'll just let the spiders take care of my fly problem. But who will take care of the spiders?

That reminds me of another story about an Old Woman who swallowed a fly...

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Quote of the Day, August 9

"Can I shoot water out of my nose?" - William, 4 years.

"What?!" -Momma, not important.

"Like elephants do." - William, 4 going on 14.

"No. You can't. I think that might hurt." - Momma, not relevant.

"But elephants do it." - William, 4 years, 2 months, 13 days.

"That's the way God made them. He didn't make our noses so we can shoot water out." - Momma, turning grey by the minute.

To Be Read in March

Dear Me,

Remember to read this post in March. When the sun hasn't shone for days and days. When the ground is muddy, the sky is grey and all vegetation is dead. When the boys are climbing the walls because they haven't played outside in weeks. When the boys have you pulling your hair out by the roots.

Remember that today, August 9, the temperature is 78 degrees. The humidity is 35%. And the breeze blowing through all the opened windows is delightful.

See, you do like the weather in Rhode Island.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Works For Me: Bill Inserts

I am one of those rare people who reads the inserts that come in the bills. Mostly it's just trash. In fact, when I open the envelope I stand over the trash can, scan through the insert and dump the ones that don't interest me.

But every once in a while there's a good one. Like a couple of months ago when the Cox bill (we use their Internet & telephone services) included a small paragraph announcing their NEW International Calling Plan. My interest peaked when I read the monthly rate for the plan would be .99 cents. Much better than the $3 a month we had been paying.

A few days later I called the Cox customer service line. The young guy on the other end of the phone informed me that this was a new Plan, different from my current plan. To be specific I would go from $3 a month and .35 cents a minute to .99 cents a month and .07 cents a minute. No hook. No gimmick. No change in actual service just a lower price.

I asked if this change would be automatic or if I needed to do something. That's when I learned a valuable lesson. He said that do to "government regulations" I needed to give him permission to make the changes. Because of some hoity-toity sounding government Act they could not automatically switch people over to a new plan. Huh?! What he really meant was, "We like to make 3X's the money on those poor folks too busy to read the inserts we send them."

Needless to say I immediately gave permission to switch me over!

Saving at least $24 a year with a 5 minute phone call? Works for me!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Roots Revisited

We have lived in Rhode Island for 10 years. It's taken a while but we have put down some roots here. But it's going to be a long time before they run as deep as my roots in Arkansas.

Those roots go back generations. My extended family still lives in Northwest Arkansas, where multiple family members work or have worked at one time or another for Wal-Mart and Tyson. O yes they do! And you better believe my parents sent a Razorbacks outfit for my son to wear when he was an infant!!

Some of my roots are in South Central Arkansas. Arkadelphia, Arkansas to be exact. I lived there four years as a child while my parents attended Ouachita Baptist University. That's pronounced Wash-i-taw for those who are unfamiliar. It was one of the first words I learned to spell and boy was I proud!

I returned to Arkadelphia for my own 4 year stint at Ouachita. And one week after my college career ended I walked down the aisle at First Baptist Church and married the man of my dreams.

Because of these roots I always get a real kick out of Beth Moore talking about growing up in Arkadelphia. It's kind of surreal to be in Rhode Island and hear her mention First Baptist. Needless to say I thoroughly enjoyed the posts here and here by her daughter on the LPM Blog. When you look at the pictures of the church keep in mind that's where I got married & had my reception. So FUN!

The comments are even more fun for me as I see Arkadelphia names I know well. I've even had emails and comments from Arkadelphia/OBU people as a result of the comment I left. Keep 'em coming, ladies, this is a blast!

I'm thinking I may need to make a sign for the Living Proof Live Conference I'm attending in, oh, about 17 days, have I mentioned that conference? I wonder if my friends will be embarrassed by my "I LIVED IN ARKADELPHIA" sign? Surely not. Not this friend. Maybe she'll even help me hold it up. Or not.

Playroom Disaster

One day my children will be grown and my house
will always be in perfect order.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Ben's Itchy Spots

The squinty eyes are because he's smiling for the camera not because he's swollen. The poochy belly is FIVE chocolate chip pancakes from breakfast.

Poor Little Guy! He hasn't complained and doesn't scratch too much. Today his itchy spots garnered him a bath all by himself. Normally the boys do baths together. Hopefully Daddy washed all the poison ivy oil off and the itch will stop spreading.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Jesus Goes to the Sale Barn

God reminded me of something this week: following Jesus seldom makes me comfortable. For some reason Jesus likes to take the road less traveled. The road without Five Star accommodations or on/off ramps!! He likes the scenic route and camping along the way. Camping is not high on my list of things to do. And the scenic route often makes my stomach queasy.

Last fall we followed Jesus down a road to Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. Compared to most of middle-class America we were in pretty good financial shape. No credit card debt. No car loan debt. We even had an emergency fund. Though we weren't carrying a lot of debt weight we weren't fit for the scenic road either. Jesus didn't give us an "Extreme Financial Makeover" but he did tone and slim us.

Specifically, in eleven months from start to finish, we will have worked off a Sewer Assessment bill (the city installed sewer pipes and we paid for the privilege of having the pipes buried in front of our home) and a home equity loan (we were naive when arranging our mortgage!). Neither of these endangered our financial security. In fact, we were comfortably making the monthly payments. But Jesus wasn't comfortable with us making those payments. He wants us fit to follow Him; not comfortable.

So, He toned our budget and gave us the discipline to live by the plan. All that toning resulted in a budget surplus (where had that money been going before?!). Then He started selling off cows. You know, as in He "owns the cattle on a thousand hills." First He sold a Holstein named "Whole Life Insurance." Then a Longhorn called "Federal & State Tax Refunds" provided a tidy sum. Finally, a Limousin tagged "Promotion & Raise" increased our budget surplus and monthly payment. Most recently we discovered we own stock, as in Stock Market, not Livestock. Hee! Hee! We haven't decided exactly what to do with this Jersey, yet. We may "milk" a college savings account, or three, out of her. Ha! Ha! I'm on a roll! Sorry, couldn't help myself.

Seriously, this road to being debt free has not always been comfortable; like when we've spent all of our eating out money for the month and the last thing I want to do is cook. But I am comfortable being financially trim and toned. And I'm learning to be comfortable following Jesus because I know He always has my best in mind.

Now that this road feels comfortable, I'm wondering what's around the turn up ahead. A turn that requires us to be financially fit. I already have an idea of what's in front of us. In fact, this week I registered for a meeting on August 7. I even have a babysitter so we can both attend the meeting! If Jesus is taking us down the road I think we're on, oh Baby! is it going to be expensive and life changing.

Two of the links are to articles that got me thinking this week. They also give a hint at our mystery meeting.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Beeenn jaaaa miiin

It's been hot here in Rhode Island the last couple of weeks. For all you folks down South I'm not even comparing or complaining. Today we were in the 90s and for New England that's HOT! So we've been running an oscillating fan in the boys' room. Tonight the AC is on but that's beside the point.

The point is that the boys have discovered the fun of talking into a fan and listening to their voices sound distorted. Tonight Ben was yelling "BEEENNNN-JAAAAAA-MIIIIIINN" and "WIIIIW-YUUUUMMM" (that's Ben speak for Benjamin & William) into the fan. He's so cute! I could just eat him up!

One other thing I noticed, he sounded a lot like me when I'm scolding them. Clearly enunciating every syllable and throwing in some extra ones. I wonder if there's a lesson in that for me?

In other, completely unrelated, news, Ellie is teething again. She currently has 4 uppers and 2 lowers. It appears 2 more lowers are trying to come through the gums. No white spots yet but the chewing and drooling is non-stop. And the gums are looking irritated. And the crying is almost every night, for only a couple of minutes so I'm not complaining. Believe me, I know when I've got an easy teething going on!!! I'm just waiting for the molars. Those are always the worst!

Countdown Continues 1

If you missed the beginning of my countdown go here to see what it is all about.

T minus 3 weeks & 1 day, or 22 days, or 528 hours.

Today I had a very important thought regarding my 24 HOURS OF FREEDOM. What am I going to wear?! Do I dress for comfort? Or do I dress for style?

Comfort means capris, flip flops and a sleeveless shirt. Somehow that doesn't feel up to the level of style for this event. It feels kind of soccer-momish. I want to look hip and stylish. But comfortable at the same time. (Yes, I am keeping in mind that the purpose of the conference is to hear Beth teach about Jesus but a girl can look good while she's listening. After all, Beth always looks good while she's teaching!)

I have some fantastic blue jeans and ankle boots that look VERY snazzy. I'm not sure how comfortable they will be to wear all day. And if the weather holds like today I may be HOT, as in perspiring, grubby, sticky, YUCK kind of hot. I hate to be hot!

Hmm... this may require a shopping expedition.

Taking Care of Business

It has been over four years since I had the delightful experience of taking care of my business in the bathroom alone. Now that Will is older, and a boy, I do close the door. But a closed door is nothing more than a signal to come pound on the door, stick fingers under the door, and yell through the door. So even though I am technically by myself I'm not really alone.

I recently instructed Will to begin closing the door when he takes care of his business in the bathroom. The main reason for shutting the door is because Ellie and Ben feel the need to follow big brother into the bathroom. Hmmm... sounds familiar. Ben stands and watches (which isn't a bad thing since I plan to start potty training him this month) but Ellie wants to play in the potty. Not a good thing; thus the shutting of the door.

I debated with myself over this decision for a couple of weeks. Partly because a four year old boy left behind a closed door in a room with multiple access points to water is just asking for a mess. But mostly his discomfort at his audience amused me. Yes, Mother of the Year here. I kept thinking, "Now you know how I feel, son." Only I don't think he's made the connection. In his little head it's just not the same thing as what he does to me. In the end I issued the edict to close the door, mainly because I was tired of hauling Ellie out of the room so Will could take care of his business.

One of my fears in the closing of the door is that Will is going to lock himself in the bathroom. So far that hasn't happened. But he sometimes has a hard time opening it. Especially when his hands are damp from being cleaned. One of those times happened today. Will kept yelling for help but I couldn't due to being in the middle of changing Ellie. Then I heard Ben race down the hall. With only a little effort on his part, the door opened. Will politely thanked his little brother for coming to the rescue.

I'm torn over this incident. I feel proud that Ben helped his brother. But is it REALLY a good thing that the two-and-a-half year old can open the bathroom door by himself? I'm thinking no on that one.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Quote of the Day, August 1

Why does Garfield eat the green part of the 'wallermelon'? - Will, 4 years old.

Leaves of Three Let it Be

As a child I learned I react to poison ivy. Bad. It's not fun. I break out in a rash and ITCH! So I've always been careful to avoid the nasty stuff. In college I went on a hike with my now-husband, and several other friends. They were all fine. Some how I managed to find the poison ivy. Again, NOT FUN!

Saturday evening a place on my right wrist started itching. Followed by a spot on the same forearm, a spot on my chest (how did it get there?!), and right now my neck is itching like crazy!!!

How in the world did I get poison ivy?! I don't go tramping through the woods these days. I've learned my lesson and stick to the beaten path and NEVER touch leaves on any ivy sort of plant.

In search of answers I took a closer look at some bumps on Ben. He's a two year old boy. He's covered with bumps, scrapes and bruises so I tend to dismiss them. On closer inspection I realized he also has poison ivy. That answered the question of how I got it. The problem is I'm not for certain when his bumps first appeared. They could be from a birthday party we attended last week in the boonies of Connecticut. Or it could be from the park Daddy took the boys to Thursday night. Or it could be from the Nature Trail at the Zoo we visited on Friday.

Regardless of where it came from it's spreading on both of us. So far no one else has gotten it. Thank goodness! But you should see the poor little guy's chest. He hasn't complained about itching and I haven't seen him scratching but I think a little Benedryl is in order tonight. For BOTH of us.

Hey, since it's on my wrist maybe I can get of out should not be cooking and washing dishes. After all I don't want to contaminate our food. Purely, selfless motives on my part. I wouldn't want this plague to spread to anyone else. Just a thought.

WFMW: The Great Parenting Advice Edition

My most important parenting advice for mommas both new and experienced is to encourage the relationship between Daddy and child(ren). Research shows over and over that Daddy is vital in the life of a child. I think we'd all agree with that. A hands-on Daddy is what most of us say we want. But so often we shoot ourselves in the foot when it comes to achieving this goal.

Here is a list of things I've attempted in my four years as a momma to support my husband in his role as Daddy. I hope they are helpful to you.

1. Pump a bottle so Daddy can have one regular feeding every day. I did this with my first child and believe it helped them bond quicker. I'm not a morning person but my husband is so he took the 6 am feeding. This helped me get 6 continuous hours of sleep and gave them special time together.

2. Leave Daddy and baby ALONE at home. I planned my shopping errands for after supper and left baby at home with Daddy. Again, they had bonding time. Daddy became confident in his parenting skills and my son attached to him as much as to me.

3. Make Daddy's coming home THE EVENT of the day. My husband calls before he leaves work. This gives me 15-20 minutes to prepare the children for Daddy. We eagerly check to see if Daddy is home yet or stand at the window watching for Daddy. The boys smile, yell "Daddy" and run for the door to let him in. My husband enjoys this kind of greeting. He feels loved just as much as the boys do. Even my 11 month old daughter is starting to smile and crawl quickly to the door.

4. This is the hard one. Understand that Daddy does things different. That is neither good nor bad. Just different. When I was first pregnant I heard or read that Momma must decide what she really wants when Daddy is involved. Many times I've wanted to step in because my husband wasn't doing something my way. But I try to remember to ask myself, "what do I want?" "I want the baby changed by someone other than me." Does it really matter if he does it slower, plays during the process, or does the task in a different order than I would? NO!!! In the end, baby is changed. Goal is accomplished. This one takes practice. You may even have to leave the room to keep from taking over.

5. Daddy does baths and bedtime around here. At first this took a lot of stepping back on my part. Your husband may not want to do baths. Find that one thing he is willing to do every day. Maybe it's just reading the bedtime story. Or it could be waking everyone up in the morning or setting out breakfast. Ask your husband what he wants his thing with the kids to be. And then learn to let go of your control.

6. Now that my kids are moving out of the baby stage we are adding some new things. Saturday morning is Daddy Time around here. Daddy cooks pancakes, with chocolate chips!, every Saturday morning. I get to stay in bed a little later, the boys get to help Daddy cook, and we all enjoy yummy pancakes.

7. We've also added lunch with Daddy. Ideally we will do this once a month, but right now we are averaging about once a quarter. We pack a lunch and drive to Daddy's office. We all go in and eat in the cafeteria with Daddy and then go upstairs to visit his co-workers and see Daddy's desk. This helps the boys to understand where Daddy is all day and to put faces with names. They have even asked about and drawn pictures for Daddy's boss, Miss Kathy.

8. Daddy calls us every day at lunch time. I put the phone on speaker and we can all talk to him. Sometimes we have something to tell him (we caught a lady bug!) and sometimes we don't. This helps keep us all connected throughout the day.

9. I've trained the boys to ask during supper, "What did you do today, Daddy?" He usually tells them some little snippets. Then they tell him what they've done during the day.

10. Never say anything negative about Daddy to your kids or in front of your kids. Mumbling under your breath also counts! Talking to your girlfriends in person or on the phone counts. Children pick up on things. QUICK! If they hear you speaking without respect then they will speak without respect. Remember, if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.
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