Sunday, August 21, 2011

Love is Not for Sissies

I think I’ve mentioned (a time or two) that mom-hood is awesome.  It’s full of baby giggles, skipping, story time, hugs, kisses, surprises, laughter, fun and love.  Becoming a mother is the most fulfilling, wonderful thing I’ve ever done.

However, there is a darker side to parenting that I rarely mention . . . colic, teething, skinned knees, homework, hurt feelings, tummy aches, rebellion, and heartache.  Heartache --- it’s the worst!  As moms and dads, we take great pains to ensure our kids are happy and healthy, safe and secure.  We strap them into car seats, pump them with vitamins, cook healthy meals, counsel them, tutor them, and patch their boo-boos.  But, when it comes to heartache, we’re pretty-much useless.  There’s no way to protect against it.  In fact, not only do we not protect them from it, but we actually potentially push them toward it!  We encourage them to develop relationships, pushing them to surrender to love, marriage, and a family of their own.  We tell them how wonderful it is to be in love, and tell them to put their trust in another.

Then, what if things go awry?  What can we say to ease their pain?  -- Absolutely nothing.  It's the most helpless feeling.

Truth is, nothing will ease the pain, but time.  So, we listen, we hug, we tell them we love them.  And we remind them that, no matter how much it hurts at the moment, true love is worth finding and always worth the risk!

. . . and someday they’ll believe us.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"Come 'n get it!!"

Celery +

onion + carrot +

garlic  +

secret ingredients
my "secret" ingredients +
split peas and lentils
split peas and lentils +
water and broth
water =

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Pretty Stinkin’ Cool

This past weekend, my friend Jomarra and I traveled to Tennessee to attend my baby bro’s 40th birthday party.  It was such a nice weekend, filled with lots of laughter and fun. 

It’s hard to believe that my little brother is 40!  I remember vividly the day he was born – a boy born into a family of six girls was a big deal!  Of course, that was long before there was any way to determine the sex of a baby.  So we all wished and planned and hoped for a boy, but had to wait nine long months to find out if our wish came true.  (Actually, I was only six when he was born, so I don’t really think I had a preference, but all I heard was how much everyone wanted a boy.)

70s A
Markie and his big sisters (plus 2 bros-in-law)
circa 1973

When people hear that he is the only boy, born into a family of six girls, they usually feel sorry for him.  They assume it was rough living with all those moody, emotional females.  To which we usually respond, “Are you kidding?!  He was spoiled rotten!”  He was carried around by adoring sisters, every little thing he did was considered “cute” or “funny”, and he was my folks’ long-awaited son.  We jokingly complain about how spoiled he was and tease him about being a “brat”.

However, I can’t express enough how proud I am of the man he’s become!  He is so good and sweet.  (Much like his daddy!)  He is a loyal husband and loving father, raising kids to be honest and respectful.  He’s active in his church and hardworking in his job.  I watched him this weekend wrestle and tease his boys, and beam with pride over his sweet daughter.  It’s obvious he loves his family and they adore him too. 

Mark with his sweet family

I talk a lot about how much I love having sisters . . .  Truth is, my brother’s pretty stinkin’ cool too! 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Games on the GO!!

I got a new DROID X2 last weekend.
(For those of you who don’t know, it’s a cool, smart phone.)

Red heart  it! 

Of course, knowing my affinity for playing games,
can you guess one of my favorite things about this phone?



Now I can play Scrabble (technically, “Words with Friends”) all day long! 
I think, at this particular moment, I have games going with 5 different people so far . . . .

anyone else want to play?

I’m Baaaa-aaack!

I’ve been a busy, busy girl this month – as evidenced by the lack of entries in July.  I’ve been working a lot of extra hours, covering for some vacationing co-workers.  You know I’m not a big fan of working full-time – but, I’ve been trying hard to keep my mouth shut about it and just “suck it up”!

I’ve made it through – back to my part-time hours this week!  Woo hoo!  Now I’ll have more time to ramble on here.  Yay – I’ve missed it!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fabulous 4th

This past weekend was 4th of July.  Unfortunately, I missed out on a family reunion in Michigan with my mom’s side of the family – it’s been years since we’d all been together.  I was really disappointed that I missed it.  But, we had a great family time at the boat with the kids, Todd’s two brothers, and their families.
I love the 4th.  Family, food, and fun in the sun – the best kind of holiday! 

Cassie & Kristi kayaked -- and, yes, that is a dolphin they're heading toward.  They were everywhere!

Todd with the sun-kissed girls.

He knows how to relax!

Enjoyed spending time with Todd's bro and family -- gotta love the enthusiasm of a 1-year-old!

This is the life!

Perfect ending of a perfect day!


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Patience is a Virtue

I’ve always considered myself a patient person.  In fact, it’s something I take pride in.  When our kids were young, I did my best to maintain a calm, patient attitude in the midst of kids running in and out of the house, phones ringing, hubby wanting my attention, and all the other events of our crazy home.  When milk was spilt, kids were fighting, or a lamp was broken, I didn’t flip out and start yelling, embarrassing the kids in front of their friends.  I tried to be the nice, patient mom.

And, as far as hubbies go, mine is what many would consider “high-maintenance”.  (I mean that in the best possible way!)  Don’t get me wrong:  he is the most considerate, sweet guy.  Hetodd's cute treats me like a queen and is helpful around the house.  In fact, he does laundry, cleans the house, and even cooks now and then.  However, he’s one of those guys that needs a fan to fall asleep, uses 4 pillows, has to have a particular kind of undershirt, etc.  Not fussy and primpy, just particular about certain things.  Luckily, he has me!  :)  I do my best to keep the home calm and approach his particular desires with a cool, patient attitude. 

So, between my kids and my hubby, I have my hands full - like all moms.  But, if I were to name what I considered my best traits, patience would be right up there at the top.  That’s why it completely floored and disappointed me when Todd told me yesterday, “You are NOT a patient person!”  I don’t know why he would say such a thing!! 

-- Ok, maybe I do.  --

It may have been the rolling of my eyes when he sat on the couch and asked me to help him take his shoes and socks off.  Then, a few minutes later, when he was grumbling and searching the house for his flip-flops, I may have let out a huge sigh when I got up to find them for him.  And then, my sarcastic remark, “Is there anything else I can do for you?!” might have made him think I was being impatient. 

I claim to be patient.  I do NOT claim to be quiet about it.  Apparently, it’s something I need to work on.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Daily Choice

087In case you didn’t know --- my life isn’t perfect.  I know most of my posts are about my amazing family, my awesome mom, and my sweet daddy.  I talk about how lovable my puppies are, how happily married I am, and what a great life I’ve lived.  And all that stuff is true.  However, after reading over some of my past postings, I realized that I may come across a little “Pollyanna”. 

The truth is, I have had just as much heartache and sadness in my life as the next guy.  I lost a dear, sweet mom to breast cancer.  Todd and I have had a miscarriage, a house fire, and a failed business.  We’ve had financial problems, gone through some rough patches with our teens, and fought cancer.  089

Despite all these sad events, my basic nature is to look on the bright side of things.  In fact, I try to make a daily choice to be positive.  Consequently, my posts usually highlight the good memories, the positive aspects of my family life, happy events.  However, every once in awhile, there are days – maybe even weeks – of gloominess or sadness.  In fact, I’ve been a bit “down” for the last three or four weeks.  I can’t even pinpoint what started it, but I have been bored with my job, frustrated with housework, and have experienced just a general “blah-ness”.  

So, I had to wake up this morning and remind myself it’s time to “suck it up” and choose to have a positive attitude.  And, thanks to encouragement from a dear friend, I spent the day cleaning, followed by a little pampering with a pedicure and eyebrow waxing.  My house is clean, my toes are pretty and I’m back on track. 

Now, I can get back to writing all those ridiculously cheery posts about my wonderful family and blessed life -- which is a lot more interesting to read about than my boring job, my messy house and negative attitude!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Insomnia (ĭn-sŏm'nē-ə)

Insomnia is NOT usually a condition from which I suffer!  In fact, I have been known to fall asleep as early as 8:00 or 8:30 by light of the flickering TV screen.  Also, I'm one of the few people I know who has a problem reading -- I'm usually good for a chapter or two and then I find myself falling asleep.  It’s just that, by the time I get into my ‘jammas to relax in front of the TV, or lie on the bed to read, I’m ready to crash!  Also, I am not a worrier by any stretch of the imagination, and I don’t need to "wind down" or review the events of the day – so when my head hits the pillow, I am O.U.T. --  out!

This completely frustrates my hubby!  He tosses and turns, replays conversations and situations from his day, and worries about future decisions.  It can take him hours to fall asleep!  I usually try to let him get to sleep before I even go to bed.  I've started doing this because, if I should begin what I like to call loud breathing (NOT snoring), he can get so worked up and frustrated that one of us ends up having to move out to the couch so he can fall asleep!  

Insomnia is not a problem I deal with -- as a general rule.  However, every now and then I have a night where my mind spins.  I think about upcoming events, past events, and what to make for supper tomorrow night.  I get too hot and throw off the covers, then too cold and bundle back up.  I lie there and think about my kids and what’s going on in their lives, how bored I am with my job, and how much I’m looking forward to retirement some day. 

Tonight is one of those nights.  I’m wide-eyed and my mind is spinning.  Todd’s out of town, so I’ve got no one to talk it out with.  I’m thinking about my son’s upcoming wedding, the mother/daughter cruise my sisters and I are planning, and the humdrum of my job.  It’s driving me crazy!  I’m tired and I just want to sleep! 

It doesn’t help that both dogs are sprawled out next to me, snoring away.  Now I understand how Todd must feel. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Daddy & Me - circa 1964It’s Father’s Day – I can’t let this day slip past without talking about one of the best men I know!  I’m sure many girls feel this way, but in my case it’s actually TRUE – my daddy is amazing!  I had such a good example of what a loving father and husband should be – which is what I used as an example when I bagged my sweet hubby!   (My hubby is an amazing daddy, too!  Just ask my kids!)

One of my dad’s best qualities is his patience.  Can you imagine the drama and nonsense that seven kids produced?  When my little brother – the baby of the family – was born, my dad was 37 years old.  So, at age 37, he had seven kids, ages 17 and younger!  That’s a lot of craziness!  Ours was a noisy, busy house.  There was teenage drama, young kids running around, baby diapers, and spit-up all at the same time.  Not to mention being the only man in a house full of women!  However, in the midst of it all, he maintained a cool, patient attitude – for the most part!  I’m sure there were instances when he was at the end of his rope, and I can think of a time or two when he lost his cool a bit; but I think he deserves a “my-life-is-crazy-but-I’m-staying-patient-in-the-midst-of-it-all” medal!

Another one of my dad’s amazing qualities is his steady, consistent goodness.  He is just a good man.  Honest, loyal, dependable, genuine.  I’ve never heard him lie and never seen him cheat.  That’s not a common claim these days.  It’s so easy to tell a “little white lie” or cheat on your taxes.  It’s almost expected.  I’m thankful for his awesome example of moral, Christian character. 

My dad and all his kids - being silly.

My dad is also very fun and has a great sense of humor!  He loves a good clean joke, loves to sing silly songs, and have fun with his family.  I remember bouncing on his knee to “trot-little-pony”, going on camping trips, singing around the campfire, and listening to his corny jokes or silly poems he could still recite from childhood. 

grandpa loves cassie
Cassie loves her Grandpa!
 But, the number one thing about my dad that makes him so special is that he is – by far –

As a pastor, friend, husband, and father, he has won many hearts and affected many lives with his kind, sweet heart.  He loves his family deeply, and we all know it.  A few years ago, my sisters and I went on a weekend getaway and the conversation shifted to Dad.  Someone jokingly announced that they thought they were Dad’s “favorite”.  But, wait a minute!  thought was his “favorite”!  I’m his baby girl!  Before we knew it, we discovered that every single one of us felt the same way!  Of course, we didn’t really feel he was playing favorites.  It was just a joke among sisters.  But, how amazing is that!?  Somehow he has succeeded in making each one of us feel specifically loved! 

I’m so thankful for my daddy.  He is a man of character and sweetness and I love him with ALL MY HEART!!  Happy Father’s Day to the best daddy in the world!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Here’s to Barney Rubble Feet!

It’s the 8th of June and I’ve only written one entry this month.  I’m feeling the pressure to write something, but I can’t seem to come up with anything interesting or clever!  Not sure why.  Maybe it’s because my hubby’s been out of town all week; or maybe it’s because I’ve been obsessing over finding a “mother of the groom” dress for my son’s upcoming wedding.  It could be because I haven’t been sleeping well lately.  Whatever it is, it has completely dried up my creative juices!

So, I’ve decided NOT to be interesting or clever today.  (Why start now, right?)  Instead, I’m just going to give a TOP TEN list. 

The TOP TEN Reasons I Love My Family:
100_0224(Of course, some of these are specific to one or two different people, but you should be able to figure out who I'm talking about . . . I know they will!)
10)   He can fix anything and everything – and is always willing to help others.   

  9)   They know their way around the kitchen.

  8)   They work hard, handle responsibility, and are respectful to others.

  7)   They love the puppies – gotta love a guy that’s not afraid to gush over a prissy little poodle! 
  6)   We can share shoes!

  5)   They possess a sincere appreciation of all types of music and know exactly who you mean when you talk about “Stevie”, “Billy”, or “Bob”.

  4)   They can quote lines word-for-word from more than 100 different movies . . . and can reference a “Friends” episode to fit just about any circumstance.
barney rubble
  3)  She has the cutest Barney Rubble feet!

  2)   He can spontaneously make up a song on the guitar and WOW us with his amazing falsetto voice!

. . . and the NUMBER ONE reason I love my family . . .

  1)   They are just plain goofy and they make me laugh every day – not just a snicker or a giggle, but an all-out, spit-out-your-drink, pee-your-pants kind of laugh!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A “Kick in the Seat”

Every life is peppered with major, life-changing events:  starting school, getting a driver’s license, graduating from high school and/or college, getting married, buying a house, having a child.  These events can be exciting, fun, scary, sad.  Sometimes they’re planned and anticipated for weeks – excitement and anxiety building until “the big day”.

 weddingbabycargraduation 2

Sometimes they’re unexpected and difficult to accept:  losing a job, caring for an ailing parent, breaking up with a mate, developing an illness.  These things can blindside you – knocking you down, taking your breath away like a punch in the stomach. 

I speak from experience.  I can tell you the very day it happened to us.  It was that day, just over two years ago, when we sat in the doctor’s office and heard the doctor say to Todd, “you have cancer.”  It was actually more like, “Blah blah blah blah blah.  Blah blah blah non-small cell carcinoma.  Blah blah blah blah."  He said it so nonchalantly that, if you weren’t paying attention, you’d totally miss it.  In fact, Todd did!  I had to stop the conversation and say, “Todd, he said it’s cancer.”

I remember the feeling of nausea that started deep in my stomach and grew up and up, into my throat.  My mind was racing.  “Who do we need to call?”  “How will we tell the kids?”  “What’s the next step?”  We had known it was a possibility, but I don’t think either of us really ever thought it would be cancer!  Our life together so far had been fairly charmed.  We were happily married, we had beautiful kids, we had good jobs.  We were going to grow old together and have amazing grandkids.  Anyone that knows my husband, knows that he has always been considered “lucky”.  Good things just happened to him.  We weren’t used to getting bad news! 

Leaving the office, we walked to the car in silence.  Once inside, he reached over and grabbed my hand and said a prayer.  I don’t remember exactly what was said, but I do remember the feeling of helplessness.  In that instance, I understood – maybe for the first time in my whole life – what it meant to rely completely on God.  We were both raised in Christian homes; we knew right from wrong.  But, somewhere along the line, we’d gotten lazy.  We hadn’t taken our family to church in years.  We’d strayed far from our childhood morals and ideals.  But, when faced with a problem bigger than we could handle, we knew what to do.  We hit our knees. 

Over the next several months, cancer consumed our lives.  It affected our diet, sleep habits, schedule, relationships.  The doctors didn’t give us much hope.  So we pumped vitamins and supplements, juiced more vegetables than you can imagine each day, and drank fruit smoothies every morning - doing our best to attack the cancer in the most natural way.  Upon finding out that the mass below his right ear was growing, we opted to have it removed, and traveled to Houston for a grueling 11-hour surgery.  And somewhere in the midst of all this fear and chaos, our home and family were restored.  While “getting our house in order”, we began praying together, reading our Bible, and going to church as a family again.  Todd and I grew closer and were reminded how blessed we were to have each other. 

drinking smoothieafter surgery

It has been over 2 years now - a milestone in recurrence expectations!  We PRAISE THE LORD everyday for His healing touch and for giving us this time together --- but, most of all, we THANK HIM FOR THE CHANGES IN OUR LIVES as a result of this cancer.  In many ways, our lives are sweeter and happier from going through this experience.

“Thank you, Lord, for giving us this ‘kick in the seat’ and reminding us how important it is to use our time on this earth wisely!  Through it all, we have felt Your hand in our lives and we know that, no matter what the future holds, You are in control.”

Monday, May 30, 2011

Brighter and Better

My hubby loves me.  He really loves me!

After a little whining and “wearing him down”, I finally got my ugly, paneled dining room painted!  He was not excited about using his day off to paint, but he’s a good sport!  As much as he originally fought me on it, even he has to admit It looks much better!  There are still curtains to hang, a new rug to purchase, and dining chairs to reupholster.  Those pictures will come later.



Thursday, May 26, 2011

“The Meltdown”

I’m pretty sure there is a huge, invisible vice squeezing my head.  In fact, I believe it’s been on there for about a week now.  What makes it even worse is that someone or something is t-w-i-s-t-i-n-g  it tighter and tighter each day!  It’s getting to the point where I am getting a bit . . . should I say . . . irritable

Which might explain the fact that I had a bit of a meltdown this past Saturday.  It started out as a pretty good day.  Hubby and I got up and went garage sale-ing, got some great bargains (6 pairs of jeans, 6 pairs of shorts, and about 10 shirts for Todd – all for about $20!), and enjoyed our morning together.  Next thing I know, just as he was heading out the door to go help a friend, I’m blubbering like an idiot about how stressed I am at work, how tired I am of housework and laundry, and how much I hate our house!  I know it was the headache that triggered this sudden release of emotion, but my hubby was completely blind-sided by it!  When someone like me -- who is calm, cool, even-keeled -- suddenly falls apart, it takes everyone by surprise!  Including me! 

Actually, a meltdown like this happens once or twice a year.  It can be triggered by just about anything, and I never really know when it’s going to hit.  It can be about anything or nothing at all; because, in actuality, it’s about everything that’ I’ve saved up throughout the year.  Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t hold grudges or “bottle up my emotions”.  I’m not worrying and fretting inside, while putting on a brave face to the world.  I really am a very easy-going kinda gal!  But every 6 – 12 months, I need an “emotional cleansing”!  And it can strike at any moment.

By the way, to set the record straight, I don’t hate our house.  It is, as I’ve mentioned before, a “fixer-upper”, but it’s comfortable, livable, and just the right size.  The yard, the woods, the pears and blueberries are awesome!  I love the privacy and quietness of our setting.  I love my kitchen.  Thanks to the amazing handiwork of my sweet hubby, there’s ample cupboard space, the floors are beautifully tiled, there’s nice new countertops, it’s a bright green color (my fave) – so we’re good there.  Our straight-from-the-50’s PeptoBismol pink bathroom is hideous, but functional.  The bedrooms are small, but who really needs that much room?  All the windows need to be replaced (especially the front window in the living room that has a cardboard panel where one of the panes broke out).  But, all in all, I know these things will be addressed eventually and I can live with things in the mean time. 

However, what I really can’t stand one moment longer – and didn’t even realize until “the meltdown” – is the fact that I’m surrounded by brown!  I like brown.  It’s a pretty color – one of my favorites to wear.  But, hardwood floors, wooden dining room table,  brown leather recliners, tan/brown couch, and (the kicker) dark brown paneled walls!  Blachhh!!  I need paint, brightness, a little color, a little style!!  My husband, of course, loves the paneling.  If I hear, “That’s good-quality paneling!  They don’t make it like that anymore!” one more time, I think I’m going to have a meltdown!!!  
---Wait a minute.  I already did.  And I think I got his attention.  We’re coming up on Memorial Day weekend and are planning to go to Home Depot and get some paint to cover that brown, ridiculous, ugly, good-quality paneling! 

So, what have we learned here?  Not sure about you, but I’ve learned that these unexpected bursts of emotion can be useful!  And, more importantly, I’ve learned that my hubby loves me!  He doesn’t like when I’m unhappy.  All I need to do is tell him what I want.  He’ll do whatever he can to make me feel better.  He’s a good man!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Worth a thousand words . . .

So, a picture a day is harder than you’d think!  You have to really be looking and paying attention to get a shot that’s even close to interesting – but, it was a lot of fun!  I encourage you to give it a try sometime.  It definitely forces you to take notice of the world around you! 

Click on the photos below to see my shots for the week:


1 - Sunday

2 - Monday

3 - Tuesday

4 - Wednesday

5 - Thursday

6 - Friday

7 - Saturday

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Photo Experiment

I've recently been totally captivated by a blog I came across called "Everyday Photos".  It's a beautiful photo diary of a young photographer mom of three little girls.  She has determined to post one picture a day for an entire year.  It could be a photo of her adorable little girl taking a nap, or a snapshot of a cardinal she saw sitting in the road, or even a beautiful flower.  She's very talented and I find it inspirational!  Whether the picture is beautiful, shocking, or melancholy, it draws me in. 
collage of us

So, I've decided to do my own version of this for a week, starting this past Sunday.  Obviously, this will not compare to her blog!  Her pictures are beautiful and professional, skillfully capturing moments in her family's life that she'll treasure forever.  My expectation is quite different.  I just want to snap one pic a day of something that inspires me or surprises me that particular day.  Maybe something I see while driving to work that I snap quickly with my camera phone; or something that makes me laugh, like my dogs playing in the back yard.  We live in a beautiful world - God has created a masterpiece.  I'm just going to try to capture it in my unique perspective for one week.  Should be fun!! 
Stay tuned.  I'll post the pics on Saturday.