Friday, May 30, 2008

A Day Well Filled

Today I can say honestly that I worked hard all day and accomplished many things. And I think I even hugged on my kids too!

I will sleep well tonight.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Lovely Anniversary; Home Cooking vs. Eating Out

First of all Joel and I celebrated our ninth anniversary tonight by having a lovely date. We ate at McCormick and Schmicks for dinner--yummy yummy! Then we went clothes shopping cause we're so cool that way.

I had a great time and ate a delicious dessert. Every year our marriage is better and I really do love Joel more each year.


-----

In other news the LA Times compared eating out to cooking at home. I've always told Joel it's cheaper to cook at home, but they actually did the math. Check it out here.

My favorite part of the article is when the author describes what he cooked. Albacore with shittake mushrooms? I guess it is similar to what one would order at a restaurant.

And he didn't use fast food. Of course fast food is cheaper.

Anyway take a look. It's an interesting, if short, read.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Emlyn Grins


P1020465.JPG, originally uploaded by spiffy_guy.

I don't know what's on her forehead, but she's still cute.


Note: Since I'm lazy and am posting pics straight from Flickr, not all of my posts from today are on the front page. You'll have to scroll down and click on "older posts" to see the rest from today.

If anyone knows how to blog from Flickr by putting lots of pictures in one post, let me know.

Denali Swims


P1020467.JPG, originally uploaded by spiffy_guy.

That kid is just so cute.

Joel takes a Dive


P1020473.JPG, originally uploaded by spiffy_guy.

Here he is, my hottie husband. I love that guy.

Ruth Ann and Emily


P1020476.JPG, originally uploaded by spiffy_guy.

Ruth Ann has some snuggle time with her youngest daughter.

Josh dunks Alyson Part 1


P1020480.JPG, originally uploaded by spiffy_guy.

Will Alyson get dunked by her husband? I think she will.

Josh dunks Alyson Part 2


P1020481.JPG, originally uploaded by spiffy_guy.

After.

Jumping in the Pool


P1020485.JPG, originally uploaded by spiffy_guy.

Here I am, at the end of our camping trip, jumping into the pool at Krause Springs. They take natural (cold) spring water and pipe it through a normal swimming pool (untreated). Then it goes in a waterfall down to the creek.

Yes, I know I hold my nose. It's cause I never learned to dive, and that's my parents' fault.

More book reviews

I posted more book reviews today at my other blog. The best one I read for this batch was "The Princess and Curdie."

Go on over and take a look if you'd like.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Tale of Two Homes

I was in two homes today, and on the one hand they were very different. One was very beautiful and in readiness to be sold, so everything had to look perfect for the realtors. One was not so big on the physical possessions, but was full of love for neighbors. Both had some pain and some anxiety. One family is dealing with a long-term chronic illness, while the other family is getting ready for a new life in a professorship in a Christian college.

The contrasts of these two families helped me remember something. It helped me remember that God does not call us to be carbon copies of each other. He does not call us all to be professors at Christian colleges; if He did, where would the students come from? He does not call us all to be refuges for the children; if He did, who would teach those grown-up children? How can I judge which is "better?" Are we called to judge which is "better?" I don't think so. Yet how is it that I keep trying to judge? Why does my brain try to order things from better to worst? I have no answers except to remember, to realize, that these rankings are not from God. They are worldly and I claim no part of them.

I am so honored. My friends are varied and different. I have a friend who will drop everything to help someone clean their house, or cook meals, or go hang out and have fun. She has a real, authentic ministry going to the moms in the trenches who deal with screaming children and laundry all day long. I have yet another friend who is nearing the end of a long and hard pregnancy journey and is heartsick for an end. She can't do much except love her family right now, but you can almost literally see the love in their family, and when she laughs, the whole room lights up. And when she speaks the word of God lives are changed.

I have so many other friends that are doing God's work in their families, in their jobs, and in the supermarket. They are shining beacons on the hillside. Some of them have calm, quiet lights that are steady and reliable. Some of them are fireworks.

If you are in the trenches tonight, wishing for an opening in the fog, aching for hope, just remember that you are noticed. You are called to bloom where you are. Christ will show you the path.

Good job, faithful workers.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Home, Home in the Suburbs

We have returned from our camping trip and oh it was so lovely. We had a large group (~40 people) and the swimming was fantastic. We would swim for a couple hours, then come to the campsite and eat. Then we'd go swim some more. We spent almost the whole weekend in swimming clothes. It was just great. We relaxed and tried not to worry about time or anything else. I'm feeling a little fat today- I've gained a few pounds since April. I really need to cut back on my high-calorie snacks and keep more healthy stuff around.

Anyway the camping really was lovely. It was ALMOST perfect.

And no, my house wasn't clean when I returned, but that's okay with me. I'll get it cleaned tomorrow cause we don't have school tomorrow!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Summertime, and the living is easy

Well the heat has arrived, and none too soon.

Tomorrow we are packing off to Krause Springs, a lovely campground full of springfed swimming areas. Which means the water is COLD.

This will be a very nice break from the muggy humid 95 degrees we've been experiencing.

Have I packed? Not really.

But that's cool. I've still got tomorrow morning!

ehow Featured Article

One of the articles I wrote on ehow is on the front page today as a featured article. It's called "How to Build a Makeshift Desk." Pretty cool! Click on the article name to go directly to the article. To see my other articles, click here.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Apologies

I have to apologize to my readers and commenters over at my book review blog. It seems that I hadn't correctly set up the comments for that blog so I didn't know I was getting comments over there. I just went back and found I had about 15-20 comments from people. Sorry everyone! I do appreciate your feedback and wish I had read those comments when they were first posted. :)

I'm a little sad that Blogger requires me to set all of those things up separately for each blog...

New Book Reviews Posted

I've got two new reviews up at my other blog, including one that was very sweet and loving. Go check them out. Leave me a comment or something over there. Maybe you really don't care about books but I'm starting to feel lonely. :(

Plants

I was going to write about plants but I started boring myself. So I'm not going to continue with that train of thought.

This morning I had a chance to chat with Emlyn's teacher. She is so nice and I feel that we are friends, even though we are also in a business relationship about my daughter. She's expecting her first child so we were able to talk about books to recommend**and other things about parenting. It's odd because this is my first year with a kindergartener, and it's her ninth. But she's never had a baby before so that puts us on more equal footing.

She's going to make a great mom if her parenting methods are anything like her teaching methods.

I am so sad she's not going to be at our school next year.


**Does it surprise any of you that I had books to recommend to her? If you didn't already know, I have a book to recommend for almost any topic under the sun. Cause even though I'm a nerd, I'm a well-read nerd. :)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

It comes to my attention that I have never posted the Good Eats cookie recipe. These cookies make me fat but they are so good.

Some of you may remember some chocolate chip cookies that were pretty
good. Here's the recipe.

Chocolate Chip Cookies (from Good Eats)
1) 2 sticks unsalted butter melted in a saucepan over low heat; pour
into mixing bowl
2) Add to the bowl
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar (the darker the better)
1 egg and 1 egg yolk
2 Tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
mix until smooth
3) While butter is melting, sift together
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4) With mixer on a low speed, gradually add dry mixture to wet
mixture a little at a time. Mix until smooth.
5) Fold in 2 cups chocolate chips

chill for 15 minutes
scoop onto either parchment paper or stoneware
bake at 375 degrees for 7-15 minutes (bigger cookies take more time-
you need to experiment with your oven)
cool and eat!

I make mine exactly the way this says. I take no responsibilities for
any substitutions you may make.

First Lost Tooth

On Saturday Emlyn finally lost her first tooth. It had been wiggling for months. She accidentally swallowed it during nap, but the tooth fairy assured her that it was okay and that she would still get one whole dollar! Big money for that first tooth!


To: the tooth fairy
From: Emlyn
I swallowed my
tooth I think.
Can you leave me
money still?
Love,
Emlyn

Sunday, May 18, 2008

New Book Review at My Other Blog

I put up two new reviews on my book review blog. I may even do some more tonight.

Nickel and Dimed- on (not) getting by in America

The Baby and Fly Pie- young adult fiction

Prince Caspian the Movie

Last night Joel and I had the opportunity to go to a movie.

I looked on the internet and found out that Prince Caspian had finally been released! Immediately that was the only thing I wanted to see.

Out of all the thousands of books I have read in my entire life, the Chronicles of Narnia are my favorite. I'm a little obsessive. Not like I can quote the books but more along the lines of I would kill to see the movie and I would know exactly where the movie went wrong.

Sure, I saw all the Harry Potter movies. And I read all the books more than once. But I couldn't tell you, like some people, that Hermione said "blah blah blah" instead of in the book where she said "bleh bleh bleh." Or whatever.

But anyway I digress.

Turns out Joel was too tired and worn out to go to the movies. So I tried unsuccessfully to find someone who could go with me at the last minute. We're talking leave your house now last minute. I couldn't figure out who it was that I really wanted to go with me to see this movie.

So I went by myself.

And the movie was pretty good. I will say that if you are a purist, you would be disappointed. Without spoiling (I hope) I'll just say that they added an entire battle and invasion and left out most of the back story. But I was okay with the way they did it. If you've read Prince Caspian you might remember that the first 1/3 to 1/2 of the book runs a little slowly. One might even call it *gasp* boring. So the film people had to liven it up a bit.

And I was thankful that the overarching theme of the book stayed the same and was well supported and communicated. How does one keep faith when one has no tangible evidence of a higher power? How does one lean on God's strength to get through trials while at the same time proving one's own strength and faith? It is hard when trials come my way. It's hard to remember that I don't have to make up the whole solution on my own. This movie was a good reminder of that.

God is real. God is there even when I can't see Him. He cares for me and He loves me.

And man, Susan was wearing some awesome dresses.



At the very end of the movie, as I was thinking about the changes the writers had made, and the themes of the movie, I realized who I wanted to be sitting next to.

It was Shannon. I don't talk about her much because she moved away a few years ago. And I miss her dearly. There's something to be said for a kindred spirit. The first time Joel met her (I wasn't there) he gave her my phone number because he knew we would immediately become fast friends. And we did. We immediately understood each other, and our respective failings, and worked around them. A kindred spirit friend is a treasure. Where you never apologize, never hide things, never worry that the other won't understand what you're saying. A friend who could have discussed the whole movie with me, and we would most likely have agreed on how it turned out. Who would have dropped everything to come to the movie with me. It hurts to have a friend move away. I don't like to talk to her on the phone because we can't go to Half Price Books together anymore, and we can't go to each other's houses without months of planning.

I am so thankful to call her a friend (and I did call her last night, really late) and I hope that I can figure out this long-distance friend thing. Because she's worth keeping around.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

How to clean your house in 30 minutes

Last night we had severe weather blowing in, with tornado warnings and hail. Weather forecasting and tracking is such that one can anticipate this storm with about an hour's warning.

As I watched the storm that might possibly blow right over me, I got really antsy. I'd already talked to a few of my friends that were directly in the storm's path and were going in their closets. But I was farther away. I got my closet ready with pillows and blankets. The storm was still far away.

Finally I couldn't handle it any more. I got up and left the TV on and the computer on, but I started cleaning frantically. I washed dishes, cleaned up toys, etc.

Turns out I can clean my entire house on 30 minutes' worth of nervous energy. Yay for adrenaline!

Oh, and it turns out we didn't get a tornado or any big damage from the rain last night. Even though we spent some time in the closet.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Aprons and Ministries

I really like me some aprons. I got a new one the other day and it's very beautiful. In fact Amy is working on a new something that will be unveiled July 15. Here's a hint- it involves aprons.

So if you don't ordinarily wear aprons, and you have some, give them to me.

If you do wear them, give yours to me and buy some new ones later in anticipation of July 15ish.

If you have some old ones from your grandma and you don't want them any more, give them to me.

If you are a grandma and you have some you don't want, give them to me.

Do you see a theme here? I'm greedy for aprons.

Also today I got a chance to be a small part of Amy's ministry. It was so fun to see her get goosebumps over simple things for her neighborhood kids. We carted home snack foods for the masses and some very special things for a very special boy.

Pictures!

Today I am burning CDs for those people I have taken pictures of and never given them to them. Like Emlyn's teacher. I've been taking pictures of her class all year long and I've not given any to her. And people's showers, and camping trips, and Daniel's Graduation. They're all getting pics. Maybe I'll even post some on here...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Procrastination Ends

Today I finally stopped procrastinating on a couple of projects that have needed my attention for a while.

I'm helping Joel organize the church camping trip, and it's in a week and a half. So I had to call all those who have said they're coming and give them more information. There are still spots available if you want to come along.

I'm also organizing the Women's Retreat for the fall, and we are supposed to start registration now. So last night I sent out some important emails for that project. Now I just need to find time to meet with two separate women who are as busy as I am.

Tonight I'm going to the PTO meeting where they will officially ask me to be the Vice President of Volunteer Coordinating. I am not sure what answer I will give them..........

Sometimes I wish I were a little more unreliable. Then maybe people wouldn't ask me to do stuff...

Monday, May 12, 2008

Happy Mother's Day to you too

All weekend I kept taking Emlyn's temperature because she was acting sick. It was always a low grade fever. She never had any other symptoms but that's enough to keep her home from church and school. So I did. This morning about 11 am I was talking to Joel about it. It seems the thermometer said I was 98.9 in one ear and 100.9 in the other ear. I don't feel sick at all.

Joel said (warning science content) that ear thermometers have those little covers on them because it's an infrared sensor and if it gets dirty it reads wrong.

Excuse me?

Do you mean to tell me that all weekend and today I thought Emlyn was sick and she wasn't?

How long has this nonsense been going on? How many times have I kept her home thinking she had fever when she didn't?

How do I clean that sucker before I put the new covers on when I buy them?

Is it too late to send her to school today?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Joel and Emlyn


DSC_0260, originally uploaded by spiffy_guy.

The other day my friends Chinell and Nicole, from Cutie Pie Photography, took a photo shoot of my family. I'm posting these all separately because I'm lazy, so some of them may be on the next page. I'm also tired so you may need to click on some of these pictures to see the whole thing. I'll fix them tomorrow maybe. I love this one. Copyright Cutie Pie Photography.

Sarah and Kids Laugh


DSC_0358, originally uploaded by spiffy_guy.

This one makes me laugh to look at. Copyright Cutie Pie Photography

Emlyn Smiles


IMG_1810, originally uploaded by spiffy_guy.

This one is my favorite of Emlyn. Joyful, sweet. Copyright Cutie Pie Photography

Denali Sits in the Water


IMG_1862, originally uploaded by spiffy_guy.

This one is my favorite of Denali. Sticks, water, it's all there for a good time. Copyright Cutie Pie Photography

Whole Family


IMG_1889, originally uploaded by spiffy_guy.

One of the many "formal" portraits. Copyright Cutie Pie Photography

Denali Runs Like Batman


IMG_1981, originally uploaded by spiffy_guy.

Here comes Batman!!! You may have to click on the picture to see him running. Flickr and I aren't agreeing tonight. Copyright Cutie Pie Photography

Denali Smiles


IMG_2025, originally uploaded by spiffy_guy.

That grin would melt butter. Copyright Cutie Pie Photography

Sarah looks off into the distance pensively


IMG_2062_2, originally uploaded by spiffy_guy.

I never realized how many freckles I had on my forehead till I saw this picture. I mean I know I have freckles but good grief! Once again you will have to click on the picture to see the rest of my face. Tomorrow I will try to fix this. Copyright Cutie Pie Photography

Joel and Denali


IMG_2129, originally uploaded by spiffy_guy.

This is my favorite of Joel and Denali. They look like they're on an adventure. Copyright Cutie Pie Photography

Saturday, May 10, 2008

I was going to write about Field Day. But then I found out that a five year old who went to my church just died of cancer today.

I'm not really in the mood for lightheartedness any more.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Don't Worry! I'm Still Alive

My parents had to go home yesterday after a great week of visiting. I will miss them.

Some of the highlights:
They took Denali to my aunt's for two days. There were a few hours in there when I was completely alone in my own house.

My dad did some awesome work on the house. Someday I will tell you our house is finished.

We played some board games and talked.

My dad got Denali to call him "Pops" instead of "Grandad."

It was such a lovely week. I hope we can visit with them again soon.

My house and car are pretty much a wreck right now, but hopefully that will be taken care of today. On the other hand another service project might come along. We'll see how it goes.

You see it's awfully hard for me to turn someone down when they need help when the only reason would be because my house is dirty. If my kids are cranky or there are other symptoms of over-busy I might listen, but just a dirty house? Not so much.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Friends

Two and a half hours just flies by when you're visiting with great, wonderful friends. Thanks, Angela, Mandi, and Kathy for a lovely evening.

Friday, May 02, 2008

The Best CA Trip

My trip was lovely; thanks very much for the supportive comments.

It was so nice to be in a beautiful location (Malibu) with my sisters, brother, and parents. We went to the beach a few times, ate at fun restaurants, went shopping, went to Daniel's graduation, and played games and visited.

This was an exceptional trip because we were all trying to mark the occasion as an important one. We were making the most of our time, having good conversation. We were also for the most part in a neutral location; hotels and Daniel's apartment. That made it easy to have good conversation because we weren't distracted by clutter or chores. We are also mostly all grownup. There was no hair-pulling or yelling or fighting or immaturity. We were just all talking and visiting and having fun.

It was such a great time. I am so glad I got the chance to have this weekend.

Now my parents are visiting for the week. I'll hopefully post pictures someday.