September 29, 2011

The Sweetest Storm

As the thunder in the distant grew louder, I could feel the air sizzle with electricity.
It would only be a matter of time, I knew.
Soon the pelting rain on my window turned to small hail, making the storm sound more ferocious than a tempest with a mind of its own.
Yes, only a matter of time.

Over the sound of the deluge, I heard another familiar noise; the one I had been waiting for.  The pitter patter of feet, once so small, running to the safety of our giant bed.  No words were needed.  He knew.  I knew.
Comfort in the storm.  Isn't that what we all desire?

He gripped my hand and I squeezed a mother's assurance that all was safe. My momma-heart hurt as I felt his warm toes touch my ankle.   I remember when those toes used to curl into the curve of my arm.
I've learned to savor these moments.
Moments that at one time might have been an annoyance, are now a treasure that the ebbing of time will steal from me before I'm ready.

As the torrent raged, he slept.  Sleep eluded me.
Jumbled thoughts of motherhood filled my soul.

In the storm-drenched quiet, I began to pray for my son.  But he wasn't the only one who filled my thoughts.  No.  It was someone else.
His one-day-wife.  My daughter-in-law.
I prayed for her.  It's such a privilege, really.

What if she doesn't have a momma to hold her through a storm?  Oh Jesus, hold her through the storms of life.
What if no one else is praying for her?  Lord, I'm overwhelmed.  
Guide her.
Save her.
Protect her.
Love her.
Prepare her.

The sweetest time of prayer for my future family.
My future family.
I smiled at the thought of what that will look like.  I prayed for my children's future spouses as though I already knew them.  I prayed for my role as a mother-in-law.  That's such a hard role to fill, isn't it?

The storm raged but my heart filled with the sweetness of holding my ever-growing child and knowing that my heavenly Father holds our futures.

September 28, 2011

What's White and Round?

I've had a hard time getting my fall mojo on.  Maybe because it still feels like the Amazon rainforest here in NC.  But alas, the trusty weatherman tells us cool temps are on the way.  
Since fall is my absolute favorite season, I decided to just pretend that the air is crisp.  :)

 Acorns might be one of my all time favorite shapes.  I have several acorn Christmas tree ornaments but I didn't have any fall ones.  I found these beauties at Kohls for 50% off.  My one fall purchase of the year.  I love them in a glass milk bottle.

A little fall goodness to grace the mantel.  Nothing like a couple of bags of mini-gourds from the Dollar Tree !

Last year I purchased two of these gourds on sale at Micheals.  Can you tell which one is real?

Yes, it's the one in front, lovingly grown by a friend.  It's actually a squash of some sort, but since I don't eat squash I thought it would make a perfect fall centerpiece.

 A little sprig of fall near the front door.

 I have a thing for white pumpkins.  They seem so soothing and fresh.  I found these at Walmart for $1.50 each last year.  So yeah, I'm a little strange (but you already knew that).
White pumpkins and acorns = happy girl.

I haven't purchased any mums yet.  Have you?
What's your favorite fall item?

September 27, 2011


 Have you tried Gingergold Apples yet?  Oh my.  They are worth their weight in gold.  Speaking of treasures...
I don't have very many items in my home that I treasure.  Yes, I like fun stuff, but if the house were on fire the one item I would want to make sure I grabbed is this little treasure:

 This miniature pie safe is a family heirloom.  It's been in my mother's side of the family for generations.  Since it's origin, it has been passed down to the eldest daughter.  When my mom inherited it, she immediately gave it to me (her eldest daughter) because she knew my love for it.  I have fond memories of playing with it at my grandmother's house.

It isn't perfect, but the sentimental value is priceless.  I think my momma left her toddler size mark on the inside of the door.  I can just imagine her in a baby doll style dress and dark ringlets.

 It doesn't hold much.  What I found in the drawer today is probably a bit different than what it used to hold in years past.

I didn't even realize until I took the picture how different the tin is in each door.  Now that I look at it, I believe the tin on the right is the original.
 Yep, it's not perfect, but it is a treasure to me.

A pint sized treasure that my own children have enjoyed.  And now I treasure all of those memories in my heart.

Do you have a treasured heirloom?  Do tell!

September 26, 2011

Putting on the "Breaks"

 This photo pretty much sums up my wild weekend.  

1. For the first time since pre-babies I slept past 10 a.m. on Saturday.
2. I went back to sleep at noon.
3. My "Words With Friends" friends should thank me since I played while under the influence of cold medication.  You're welcome.
4. I spent two full days in my bedroom.  It was kinda fun staying in bed with my computer, books, tv remote and the humidifier.  I caught up on all of my weekend daytime viewing.  Um, I'm good for a loonngg time.
5. HGTV and the DIY Network ended up keeping me company.  I still love Candace.  I still don't love Property Virgins.
6. I mustered enough energy to go to church and I was blessed by two friends.  One brought me some delicious pumpkin bars and another gave me a pumpkin candle.  Thank you, Angie and Erin.  You know me so well.
7.  Church and lunch out turned out to be too much so I spent the rest of the afternoon in bed.  Sometimes it's nice to have a good excuse reason to put myself in time-out quarantine.
8. I was looking through the pictures on my laptop and ran across this one from Labor Day:
Do you think this is what Apple marketing had in mind when they agreed to a contract with Walmart?  Not quite the streamlined look that I associate with Apple products.  Notice the silk flowers on top still have a hanging price tag.  Classy.
9. I was delighted by the comments and suggestions from my Kids in Church question from last week.  I am so blessed by you!
10. We've been in school for 10 weeks.  I'm ready for a little break.  I've been putting it off because everyone is going strong (except me) and I know that this is the time of year that we accomplish the most.  Yet, it's about time for a break.  Preferably one that doesn't include cold medication.

September 22, 2011

When My Answers Are Lame

 I mentioned earlier this week that I wanted to chat about kids in church.  Now before you think I've gone crazy, let me make a few statements about what I believe:
1. I believe families should attend church.
2. I believe the reason for attending church is to worship Christ; serve others; fellowship with other believers; and learn truths from His word.
3. I am a firm believer in teaching our children the importance of being involved (not just attending) church.
To read more about why we make it a priority, click HERE.

With all that said, I'll take a deep breath and pray that you read this with an open mind and a willingness to discuss it kindly.

A few weeks ago as we sat in our usual seats in church I looked to my right and realized that both of my girls were playing tic-tac-toe with their friends.  They were being quiet.  They were not being disruptive.  But something in me felt embarrassed that they were not diligently taking notes and hanging on every word of our pastor.  I whispered for them to stop playing games and pay attention!  My sweet daughter innocently replied, "but Mom, I don't understand what he's saying.  I never do."  How, pray tell, do you respond to that?
"Just act like you're listening."
"You just need to pay attention."
"Well, listen better!"

All of the responses I could come up with at that moment sounded absurd.
Have you ever said things to your kids and while it is coming out of your mouth you've thought what I'm saying sounds so ridiculous?  I do that so many times.  True confession.  How about you?

Back on track...
I'm not sure what I muttered as my response that morning.  I do know that it really got me thinking about kids in church.  I know there are many churches who are extremely kid friendly.  They realize the importance of creating a sense of community for the children within the worship service.  Other churches offer "children's church" as a great alternative by creating an age appropriate teaching/worship time.  While our church has many strengths, creating a child friendly worship service is not one of them.  It is so disheartening to sit week after week under great teaching but feel that our most precious attenders are being completely ignored.

Yes, they are engaged during the song/worship time.  But then I have to ask myself, realistically, would I want to attend a service week after week where I was expected to sit (quiet and still) for 45 min while someone spoke only to the grown ups in the room?
My children are compliant.  They do sit quietly and without complaint.  They are learning by example what worship time looks like for adults.  When Jesus said, "let the little ones come to me" he didn't say, "when the adult teaching time is over."  He included the children right then.  I want my children engaged in the act of worship.  Now.  Not when they get to their Sunday school class.  Now.  With us.  Alongside other believers of every age.  Engaged.

I want to ask these hard questions before they start asking me:  Why do we have our children in church?  Do I expect them to act like they are paying attention?  Do I expect them to take notes on a topic that is beyond their comprehension?  Do we, as a congregation (for generations in America), hinder our children's spiritual growth by expecting them to sit and behave, while ignoring them as a significant part of the body of Christ?

If you read this with the expectation that I would have good answers to these questions, I'm sorry to disappoint.  Like the title says, my answers right now are lame.  I'm taking these questions to Jesus.  I'm also open to suggestions from you.  Maybe you attend a church that succeeds in making sure children are an intrinsic part of worship/teaching time.  Maybe you've found something special for them to do while sitting in church.  Maybe your Sunday morning looks much different than mine.  I'd love to hear.

September 20, 2011

Tuesday Tidbits

1. We had a touch of fall over the weekend.  It was wonderful, but now that we're back up in the 80's with humidity I feel like I was given one chocolate chip from the bag.  Only one. 
I'm craving more! 
 What better way to enjoy cool weather than a football game?  It happened to be military appreciation night, so I had goosebumps that were a result of more than just chilly weather.

2. By mid-September my house is usually filled with fall decorations.  What is it this year?  I have one gourd sitting in the powder room.  That's it.  Over the cool weekend I almost bought a couple of mums.  Now that it's muggy again, I can't bring myself to do it.

3.  We decided that our son would have to be deathly ill before we took him to the emergency room this week, for fear that we might be turned in for this:
He "clotheslined" himself on Sunday.  I guess the vine won.  He didn't even tell us it happened, so imagine my horror surprise when I noticed the slice on his neck when he got out of the bath.  Boys!  It's a whole 'nother world from girls.  ;)

4.  My 10 year old has been sick for the past two days.  It may or may not be a result of not so great parenting choices staying up really late for 2 days in a row and sitting in the drizzle of rain for 4 hours to watch a football game.   While I never like my children to be sick, I have to admit it's been kind of nice to be forced to lay low and stay at home.  

5. I made these yesterday.  When my kids asked what they were I said, "Energy Balls."  It kind of just rolled off my tongue.  I feel like a really good mom when I hear my kids say, "mom, can I have an energy ball?"  Yep, it sounds so much better than, "mom, can I have a pop tart?"  I'll go with it!  :)

6. I, on the other hand, found a new way to feed my addiction to Nutella.  Now I can enjoy my favorite chocolate silk in the car:
Hello Daaaling.

7.  I've been mulling over a topic that will probably go against my non-confrontational persona:  Kids in Church.  The last time I touched on this topic a tempest blew in from the north and nearly killed us all.  I ended up having to remove the post from my blog because of the fall out; so we'll see how frisky I'm feeling toward the end of the week.

8.  Since we're on the topic of confrontation.  Here's the thing.  I have a few local bloggy friends that I know read my blog, but rarely comment.  I comment on their blogs but crickets chirp here.  I kind of see blogging as a good conversation.   Just a lil' disheartened.   

9.  With that said...  I have gained some new readers lately who have left the most encouraging comments.  So THANK YOU "Alice," "Michele," "Thoughts for the Day,""Laura," and "Emily"  for joining in on the conversations here at NEM.

10.  We're having tacos tonight.  It's one meal that my family never tires of.  Tonight it's grilled chicken on soft tacos.  What's a meal your family never says no to?

September 18, 2011

Why Do We Stay Silent?

I'm feeling thinky, so we might trudge through some deep water today.  Just warning you...

Her voice, filled with the venom of self hatred, could be heard throughout the store.  Her need for attention, good or bad, triumphed over self preservation as she slung words at her daughter.  Our entire family stood in shock at what we heard her say to her wee one.  I cringed as my own children were exposed to words we have worked so hard to protect them from.  I said a prayer for her daughter, the receiver of the poisonous words. It was only a brief encounter, but long enough for my husband to shake his head at her vehemence and her anger to turn on him.  We walked away, to not add fuel to her fire.

We walked away.  Those three words have burned a hole in my heart for three days.
We walked away.  Why didn't we do more?  Why did we leave that little one in the hands of a woman so filled with hatred the only way to live is by spewing ugliness and abuse.
Why did we walk away?  Why didn't we stand up for the weak?  Why didn't we call the police?  Why didn't we step in?  I've replayed the "should haves" in my mind over and over.

I was hoping we were on the 20/20 special "What Would You Do?"  Surely John Quinones would step out with his camera crew and we could hang our heads in shame for not stepping up to the plate.  But there were no actors involved.  Only a little girl enduring yet another public tirade.

So I asked myself why didn't I do something?  I was reminded of another time a child was involved in a helpless situation.  My own child.  Her teacher was out of line; a bad attitude on life left its mark on her students, every single day.  Everything within me wanted, needed to confront her.  Why were her students paying the price of her unhappiness?  My daughter was losing her love of school and I couldn't do anything to stop it.  Why didn't I say something?  I think it was the same reason I didn't do anything the other night.
Not fear of what the adult involved might do to me, but how much worse will I make it for the child?  If I had confronted the teacher, she had the power to make the rest of the school year miserable for my daughter.  If I had confronted the angry mother at the store, I could have made life much harder on the little girl when she got home.  I'm not saying I made the right choice.  I know I didn't.  I'm just verbalizing my rationalization.
Fear of making things worse overrode my willingness to try to make it better.  But I have to ask myself:
At what point are we willing to not be silent?

A sweet friend reminded me that even though I didn't do anything for that child right then, I now have the power to spread her message to others to pray for her.  What could be greater than the prayers of a multitude?  Don't just pray for the child.  That momma needs Jesus' gift of love more than anything.  She's got a whole lot of hurt going on.  Will you join me and help me break my silence?

September 16, 2011

Five on Friday

 Thanks to my friend Susan, I have a title for today's post.  ;)

1. We spend the summer in my parent's pool.  Everyone has a blast, but I think my mom enjoys it the most.  Last night a cold front moved through our area, so our pool time might be over for 2011.  We got one last swim in last night and my kids kept saying "we'll probably swim tomorrow."  Yesterday the high was close to 90.  Today the high is 64.  Yep, I think the pool days are gone for now.  This morning when I woke up, my kids had on down vests and wool hats.  Can we say a little excited for fall??

2. Whole coconuts were on sale last week so I made an impulse buy in the name of education and purchased one.  The kids had never seen a coconut up close.  They thought it grew in a blue bag in the freezer section.  So we punched a hole in it and everyone tasted the milk.  No one liked it (including moi) but we all tried it.  Then we cracked it open for a taste.  It was yummy, but after tasting it we kinda didn't know what to do with it.  Several Facebook friends suggested coconut cake, but really, that was way too much work. ;)
So I did what I do best.  I made a fun little centerpiece and called it a day.

3. One of our all time favorite summertime traditions is visiting the lake with friends.  This year it looked like it might not happen but we were able to squeeze a short weekend trip in before the weather turned cold.  There's just something about large bodies of water filled with little tan bodies of energy that makes me SO happy.  

4. Yesterday we did something we haven't done in a long time.  We ran errands in the morning and did school in the afternoon.  It started out as a quest to find jeans for my girls.  I need to stop right here and say it ranks right up there with a mammogram and cleaning the shower floor.  I love to shop and I love my girls; but shopping with a specific goal and trying to do it in one day is not fun.  While we were out and about I made a phone call to find out what the attire would be for a birthday party one of my girls is attending tonight.  While the idea of a bunch of 11 year olds dressing up and going out for a nice dinner sounds fun (fun enough we might copy that idea) it made me realize that my girls have NO church/semi-dressy clothes for the fall.  My poor son had to endure 4 hours of dressing room torture.  Finally he said, "Mom, I'm really tired of girl stuff."  Me too, baby, me too.

5.  During our torture session shopping spree, we discovered that Target has all of their school supply stuff 75% off.  We racked up on notebook paper (.18 a pack!) and other fun stuff.  
We took a stroll down the seasonal aisle and I discovered that somewhere between pirates and mummies, someone wants to dress as ME for halloween:

 How's that for a little narcissism?  Ha!  My kids thought it was great; my husband made googly eyes at me, and I suddenly had the urge to find a good German pretzel.

Guten Tag!!!

September 14, 2011

PeanutButter Chocolate Bliss

Have you visited The Picky Palate?  Stop what you're doing and go.  You can thank me later.  You'll come away feeling like you can be a gourmet chef tonight.

I took two of her recipes and combined them into one.  It turned out so ding-dang good, I just had to share!

PeanutButter Chocolate Bliss
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

2 sticks butter (just do it, don't think about it)
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tbs. vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup cocoa powder (yes, you read that right, 1 cup!)
12 oz bag chocolate chips (semi sweet)

Mix peanut butter and powdered sugar.  Press into a foil-lined 9x9 baking dish. Freeze for 30 minutes, while preparing the rest of the ingredients.  Once frozen, slice into 1/2 inch chunks (see her great pictures here).

Preheat oven to 350.  Beat softened butter and sugars until well combined.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat until well combined.
Combine flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa into separate bowl.  Add to wet ingredients and mix slowly, adding chocolate chips.  

Scoop medium size spoonful of dough onto parchment lined cookie sheet.  Add 3-4 peanut butter chunks as you do.  Don't mix the p.b. chunks into dough, they will just spread out and you won't have those divine chunks to bite into!  

Bake 15 minutes @ 350.  I know you'll want to sample as soon as they come out of the oven, but USE SELF CONTROL.   Wait until cool otherwise the p.b. chunks will fall apart.
It will be worth the wait... trust me!

Makes about 3 dozen.

September 13, 2011

When Plans Change

For the last 12+ years we have spent Labor Day weekend with my family in the NC mountains, celebrating the end of summer.  A few years ago my parents started a new tradition with their friends at the beach.  With my brother enjoying married life and my parents at the beach we found ourselves looking for a new way to celebrate the long weekend.  We decided to use the opportunity to share the mountain experience with friends and make new memories.  For the past three years we've had three different families join us. It has been a fun way to practice hospitality and give our kids a new kind of memory to cherish.
This year we experienced record heat and since the mountain house has no air conditioning, we needed to look for something cool to do.  The little town nestled in the hills doesn't have much to offer as far as entertainment, but we decided to try the bowling alley.
Best decision ever.
It was old, but well maintained.  The balls were wobbly, but hey, at $2 per game we didn't complain.  The kids thought it was the best thing since sliced bread, once we put up the bumpers.  

After cleaning out the local Dollar Tree's glow stick supply we were ready for some evening fun.
We got parents-of-the-year award when we allowed the kids to stay up late and roll down the mountain in the dark with glow goggles/wands/swords.  I'm sure the dinner party next door enjoyed the light show, complete with shrieks of laughter.

No trip to the mountains would be complete without a hike.  This time our hike was a quick one due to flying ants that decided they owned the top of the mountain.  We graciously surrendered to their authority.

  I never made it to the river, which is my FAVORITE place to be.  I'm sad that I allowed the summer to slip by without getting in the kayak, but plans change and I think we made the best of it.  I'm so thankful for the chance to enjoy God's creation, especially the hilly part! :)

September 6, 2011

Whole Latte Good

1.  After a fun-filled weekend in the mountains my sweet man stopped to buy a coffee for me. Much to my delighted surprise, the Pumpkin Spice Latte is back.  The heavens parted and the angels sang.... fall must be on the way.

2.  On the rain-drenched trip home, I opened this book:
I was smitten.
Its new take on the act of thankfulness brought me to my knees.  I rarely recommend a book, especially when I am only half way through it, but this is worth its weight in gold.

3.  Last week we made a trip to the local Trader Joes.  It had been months since our last visit.  It's just far enough that we have to make a special effort to go.  I stocked up on all my favorites and when I got home I decided to take a picture to share with you.  These are just a few of the things we love:
The kiddos love the mini tacos.  Me?  Not so much..  The Island Soyaki sauce is good on anything.  Except ice cream.  We like to marinate chicken in it and then grill up a storm.  Good stuff.  I'm a pimiento cheese snob and theirs is worth mentioning for the prepackaged variety.  Do you have a good recipe for pimiento cheese?  Do share!  I've shared my other TJ favorites here, here, and here.  Hello, my name is Gretchen and I'm addicted to Trader Joes.

4.  This gorgeous, huge bouquet came from Trader Joes for only $5.99.  They are almost a week old and still this fresh!  It was a little tiny gift to myself.  Those are okay, once in a while, right?  :)

5. We came home to an upstairs broken air conditioner.  With only a few weeks of summer-like weather it was a hard pill to swallow.  However, since I had just spent the last 2 hours reading about the act of thankfulness, my heart-response was much different than it would have normally been.  The good news?  We were able to get it fixed today!

September 1, 2011

The Color of Life

 It's been a week of accomplishing very little on my "to do list."  Do you have weeks that get away from you?  Sometimes I look back over a week and wonder where all the hours escaped to, leaving me searching for some glimpse of accomplishment.  This week I decided to take pictures of the quotidian routine.

I'm so glad I did.  As I look back over these pictures I am reminded that much was accomplished.  So much more than could have ever filled a page of "to do's."

We lived.  
We learned.  
We created.
I stepped outside of my comfort zone and purchased paint.  Real paint.  My kids looked at me like I was crazy and said, "we're going to DO art?!"  I like creative stuff, but art scares me.  We took a little trip to the art store, where REAL artists shop.  I forgot to wear my pajama-jeans and flowy tunic, so it was pretty obvious that I was the novice.  Especially when I had to ask what kind of paper to buy.

We decided to start with something simple.  When I say "we" I mean that I pretended to do a demonstration while really trying to figure out how to use those blasted professional tubes of color.  Blending.  Lots of blending.
 I'm glad they're creative and willing to try something new.  I will treasure their little pieces of art as a precious memory making day.

Speaking of their creativity, we had a nice surprise arrive this week.  A package containing styrofoam packing puffs that will stick to each other when moistened with a paper towel. You can purchase them at craft stores but I cannot for the life of me think what they are called.  Do you know what I'm talking about?
 Anyways, hours of entertainment.  I loved how it was thrilling for all three of my kids.  Sometimes it's hard to find a craft/project that appeals to everyone.  This one was unplanned and definitely not on my list of "to do's" but it gets a gold star for fun and sibling bonding.  Oh, and it was free!

This has been the most time consuming homeschool year for us yet.  It has required a lot more of me than the past two years have.  Maybe it is because the kids are getting older and their subjects are more intense.  I thought it would get easier.  It's getting better each year, but I've had to learn that this is my full time job right now.  I'm so grateful for the variety of curriculum choices.  This year we have 3 new science, spelling, math, writing, and Bible curriculums. We've stuck with the same history curriculum for the past 3 years but that's about it.  Whew!  I'm learning so much!


So thankful for the little gifts of each day that fill my soul with the colors of life.