Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thursday Thanks Tank #148

I'm enjoying some long-awaited time with family. I've taken hundreds- and I mean hundreds- of photos this holiday season. I'm thankful for so much right now, my thankful list this Thursday could be huge. Here's a pictorial Thankful Thursday list.

Christmas Morning Coffee

Nerf Gun fights between cousins

No injuries (yet)

Naps (oh ya, he's gonna kill me for posting this one)

Stories read by the fireplace

Family PJs (made with love from Mimi)


A visit with my grandparents

Spending time with my hubby

This has been a great holiday season for me with lots of family time.

I am thankful.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A sweet reunion (TTT 147)

This past weekend, I saw my younger sister and her family.

I had not seen my sister in 7 years.
I had not met my niece and nephew.
My sister had not met 2 of my 4 kids.
Our kids had not met each other.

Our visit was amazing. What a sweet reunion!

I thought I would cry when I saw her. Instead, I was just beaming. I could not stop smiling.

I am tremendously thankful that we could work out our schedules to see each other. My sister's husband is a pilot in the Air Force. He is basically on-call for the Air Force. He was one of 6 pilots in his squadron to win the "Christmas lottery." That gave him time off and the ability to travel.

This visit is what I am thankful for this Thursday. This is my Thursday Thanks Tank.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Aye! Me Hearty was not Happy Long

This pirate was super happy to get new pirate accessories as an early Christmas present.

He was not happy long.

He let his matey (big brother) check out his earring. They were in the bathroom.

The mate dropped the earring into the toilet while he was peeing.

Yes, in the toilet while he was peeing.

You'd think that my buccaneer would have said "Shiver me Timbers!" or "Scurvy Dog!" but instead the ship (house) erupted with the sound of hysterical screaming and crying. The high seas were not calm.

Lesson learned:
If you are a gentlemen o' fortune, do not share your booty with a mate in the bathroom.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thursday Thanks Tank #146

Each week on Thursday I take time to focus on thankfulness. I post a list, which varies greatly in appearance, on my blog. This is my Thursday Thanks Tank.

I am thankful for:

1. Sound sleepers: Sometimes I turn up the music at night. Like now. And the kids just keep sleeping.
2. Friends: I have some great ones.
3. Starbucks gift cards: I got one tonight!
4. School Christmas Programs. It's super sweet to see all of the kids dressed up nice and performing.
5. Stride rite: They have the best shoes for kids with wide feet. My 5 year old has "block feet" and I'm super thankful for finding him comfortable shoes.
6. Folded laundry: Seriously, what's better than folded laundry? Oh, right, folded and put away laundry.
7. Grace: When I can't see through the muck I'm sludging through, I'm thankful for grace.
8. Comfy clothes.
9. Teachers: They constantly amaze me. I am thankful for the teachers my kids have.
10. My husband.

That's a small sampling of what I am thankful for this Thursday. Take time to be thankful. It's time well-spent.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Things I think

I think that love is all you need.
I think that different people love different things.
I think that the differences cause strife and feelings of discord.
I think that most people have good intentions.
I think that stress is easy to avoid.
I think that every day can be stressful OR I can choose to accept the good with the bad without stressing over it.
I think one person taking things lightly causes someone else to stress.
I think that I am a forgetful person.
I think I am procrastinating right now.
I think that I want a love-filled Christmas.
I think I want a stress-free Christmas.
I think the song "All you need is love" is pretty catchy.
I think this list is pretty silly.
I think that it is silly to want what you cannot have.
I think I do silly things all the time.
I think I will have a great Saturday this week. (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, you know who your are)
I think that I just nudged several people.
I think that I should be getting more sleep.
I think that most people have stopped reading already.
I think the ones that haven't are laughing... or not.
I think I've decided to have fun no matter what happens.
I think that my circumstances don't mean a hill of beans in light of Christmas.
I think hill of beans might be a southernism.
I think that I will focus on having more reflective, prayerful time.
I think that I am a terrible gift giver.
I think that I want to do better at showing those I care about how much I care.
I think I have wonderful friends.
I think my family is incredible.
I think I am going to do everything I can to enjoy those around me.
I think I cannot do everything I want to do.
I think I need to stop thinking.
I think I cannot stop thinking.
I think I love to think... and wonder... and wish.
I think all you need is love.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

We celebrate the birth of Love

"For your Maker is your husband— the LORD Almighty is his name— the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth."
Isaiah 54:5

A friend of mine lost her husband this week to Cancer. Please pray that she is comforted in a way that is unexplainable.

We celebrate the birth of Love. Their spirits are crushed by death.

Please pray that her and her three children (one of whom is in my son's class) will feel surrounded by Love.

Death at Christmastime is harsh.

Please pray.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Thursday Thanks Tank #146

I had this wordy (lovely detailed) post planned. And, then, the day got away from me.

I have a thankful heart today.

Here are somethings that I am thankful for:

Christmas cards. I love sending them almost as much as I love getting them. Let me know if you want my address.
Christmas crafts. Tonight was craft night at school. The kids had so much fun making crafts.
Christmas cookies. I've tried two (no, three) new recipes recently. Yum.
Santa's Closet. Each year my kids get to shop at "Santa's Closet" at school. They buy (gently used) items to give to family members. They get extremely excited about getting and giving gifts. It is so sweet.
Christmas lights. My parents lovingly insisted that I put up Christmas lights on the house. I love, love, love seeing them each night.
Pictures of my kids. I take way too many pictures. I love every single picture. I love taking pictures of my kids. Here's a picture I didn't take: The Owen Kids
Safe field trips. My Peanut Allergy kid went on a field trip this week. He was covered in prayer by his Momma.

I am thankful for so much more... but I need to get some sleep.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Change of Heart

I started this Christmas season longing for a different focus. I wanted my kids to see the meaning behind the season.

I made a list of places where we could give. I looked up their phone numbers, addresses and email addresses. I emailed a handful of local social service organizations in the area.

The longing in my heart grew and so did my frustration.

I waited on email replies that never came. I put out the list of phone numbers but never found a calm moment to call.

I've mentioned this a few times recently- I'm having trouble keeping up with my day-to-day life. At the end of the day -and often right smack dab in the middle of it- I am depleted.

I cannot erase the desire to give from my heart or reconcile the difficulties of a busy life.

Is it possible that my life just doesn't lend itself well to giving?

My heart's cry is that I want less of me.
I cannot erase the desire but I can change my heart.

I've realized that the havoc that might be created with a stressed-out mom taking 4 kids on a service project isn't what's necessary.

That's not a change of focus for Christmas. I would have put a check mark besides "Giving" but it wouldn't have come freely- out of love. That's not what I want.

I can give to others from my life- from my heart.

I want to live what I believe. If my heart is full of a dedication to God this season, the kids will notice. If my desire is to serve God, I will see opportunities to meet needs.

I've decided to focus on my community. My neighbors. My friends. Teachers. Other Parents. Clerks at the grocery store.

In some ways, it is only a heightened awareness (stepped up effort) to something I was already working on. I may only be able to offer babysitting, cookies, a meal, a friendly conversation- but I will give what I can, without reserve. I will look for ways to meet needs and offer kindness.

We may still donate toys or food locally but I am committed to showing love to those around me in new and personal ways.

This is where I focus on loving others for Christmas.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Facebook, Perspective and Prayers

I've been in a bad mood all day. I've had a headache, been down-right grumpy, and had to take care of four energetic and loud children. I've missed my husband. I've missed his help. I've cried due to exhaustion and loneliness. I've felt frustration because I am doing this and feeling this again.

~Backtrack with me to first thing this morning.~

I read a status on Facebook that simply said, "Bad day."

I stopped reading. I couldn't scan statuses any more.
I was stunned, curious, and concerned.

The author of the status, my friend Trent, is deployed with the Army. I left a comment that I was praying. And, I prayed.

Not very long ago, he updated his status:
"Thanks for all the prayers...pray for the families effected. They just had the worst day of their life."

I ache for my friend Trent. I ache for those families.
They've been waiting.
They've been lonely. And now...

Please pray.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Friday Football

Today is Civil War Day at my boys' school. Tomorrow is the Oregon Civil War game. OF COURSE, my two oldest boys cheer for opposing Oregon teams. My third son stays out of it (which is, honestly, pretty shocking). I like to think it is because he is a die-hard SEC fan.

They were talking trash at 6:45 this morning. I drank a cup of coffee and then encouraged them to wrestle a bit... purely for photos (aren't I a good mom?).

What a great referee!

I love this one. The Ducks go down.

This one cracks me up. I just told them to get together for a group shot. Check out my 3rd son. His shirt says, "I do all of my own stunts". Too perfect!

I'm pretty sure I know who is going to win this game.

Now I just have to convince the boys that the SEC Championship game is more important to watch than the Oregon Civil War game.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Thursday Thanks Tank #145

Right now I am sitting on my couch. On the smaller couch, there is a pile of clothes waiting to be folded. The only noise in the house is hum of the dryer. My sink is full of dirty dishes from dinner. The kitchen table is strewn with items from a Kindergarten craft project. The kitchen floor also has remnants of the project. Ribbons, paper, and a few sequins are tossed about under the chairs. Today was full of activity.

About the time I was cooking dinner and the kids were constantly asking me for help, my husband texted me and asked me what made me smile today. I couldn't think of a thing. Not one thing came to my mind. It wasn't a bad day. It wasn't the kind of day I want to repeat, either.

Speaking of the day, here's my sweetheart at wal-mart today:

That picture speaks for itself, doesn't it?

I've gotten bogged down with my situation lately. That's the crux the matter. I'm just barely keeping up with the basics that I need to get done. And, it frustrates me. When I can't keep up, I can't accomplish more. By that I mean, I don't have time to read or learn something new. I feel stagnant. I have a hard time writing. In fact, I keep starting to fall asleep right now- just because I've been sitting for a few minutes. I am being challenged in very basic, shallow ways.

I was reminded today that being thankful keeps us from focusing on what we don't have.

With that in mind, I am forcing myself to jot down a few thankful thoughts.

I am thankful for the little things:
1. coffee
2. groceries
3. Christmas lights
4. creativity of kids
5. my phone
6. bedtime prayers with my kids
7. sleep (oh my word, I think I'm going to go to bed early)
8. soft cuddly blankets

Sweet stars! I think the sandman is calling my name. I keep falling asleep.

The point of this wordy post is, I'm bogged down but not conquered. I will press on and I am committed to cultivating a thankful spirit. I am thankful for this Thankful Thursday exercise and how it challenges my heart.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Do you hear that?

Recently, I was with a friend, listening and answering questions. There was so much that I wanted to say. I waited until the right moment to open up. And, as I started, the friend spoke over me about something totally unrelated.

With acceptance, I let go of my desire to confide in someone else. It wasn't the right time.

The friend told me that I was easy to talk to. The friend expressed thankfulness for being able to talk to me.

So, I waited.

Another day came along and we had another opportunity to sit and talk. I waited and decided to talk about what was on my heart. But again, the friend was distracted and didn't even realize that I had something I wanted to say.

They weren't listening to me. I wasn't heard.

And I wonder how many times I am guilty of the same thing.

Do you hear that?
Are you listening to those around you?


Everyone around you has something to say.

Be present in your conversations.


You Scream, I Scream

Imagine traveling at no cost and being handed $1,000 spending money.

Wouldn't that be fantastic? I think it sounds Amazing.

That's what's up for grabs for my friend, Roxanne. She created an ice cream flavor for Baskin Robbins and if her flavor gets the most votes she wins a trip to Boston and $1,000 spending money. (Can you imagine how fun would that be?!)

Will you take a minute and vote for my friend's Ice Cream flavor -- CHERRY PIE.

1. Click on this link:

2. Vote for Cherry Pie.

You're helping me help a friend. Now, doesn't that feel good? Oh, I know, some cherry pie ice cream sounds good right about now.

Pass the word! Let's help Roxanne win.

You scream, I Scream. Let's all Scream for Roxanne's Ice Cream

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Tonight on the way out of Kmart, a presumably homeless man asked if I could spare some change.

I had a ziploc bag of change in my purse.

I handed the bag to the man.

His face lit up like the lights on my tree- brilliant, shining, and full of life.

He thanked me. Then, he offered his name.

He wanted to be known. It caught me off-guard.

He thanked me again. I wished him good luck.

Change. I offered him change (and, of all things, luck) and he offered me his gratitude and his name.

. . .

This small exchange weighs on my mind tonight.
I gave change.
A homeless man named Travis Mills may have changed my perspective.

This season, I want to acknowledge and celebrate individuals. I want to give with a grateful heart.

I want to~
Change priorities.
Change activities.
Change perspective.
Change focus.

I want changed giving.

. . .
I'll let you know the strides I make in this quest of my heart.

My Princess (Bride)

Every year, on or around my daughter's birthday, my daughter puts on my wedding dress. It's a sweet tradition (that I got from Jill).

My Princess (Bride) is 3.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Food on Friday: Maple Syrup Cake

This cake smells heavenly when it's baking. Think warm maple syrup. The cake tastes amazing. I've never had anything like it.

You don't need a fancy cake pan. (But I sure I love the one my mom gave me.)

Maple Syrup Cake

2 3/4 cake flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (I didn't have fresh)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 vanilla extract
16 Tbs (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten

Have all of the ingredients at room temperature.

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 325 degrees. **Using a small pastry brush, brush the inside of the cake pan with softened shortening or butter, making sure to coat the detailing in the pan. Dust with cake flour; tap out excess flour. (**I just used no-stick bakery spray.)

To make the cake, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, maple syrup and vanilla. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition.

Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk mixture and beginning and ending with the flour. Beat each addition just until incorporated, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool upright in the pan for 15 minutes. Tap the cake pan gently on a work surface to loosen the cake. Invert the pan on wax paper or a serving surface and lift off the pan. Let the cake cool completely, at least 2 hours, before serving.

Be sure to check out more tasty recipes at Ann Kroeker's "Food on Fridays".

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gobbled Up

My kids love making the turkey.

They really love gobbling it up.

I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful.

I am thankful for my family.

It's fantastic to have my parents in town for the holiday. I'm so thankful for them!

A self-portrait of Daddy, while at work (Don't you love that he's participating in "no shave November"?).

These kids love fruit turkeys!