Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thursday Thanks Tank #153

Today I am thankful for:

1. Sanity. I feel like I am lucky to still have mine.
2. Teachers. I am amazed at what they do each day.
3. Businesses that support schools. I guess I probably had this one last week. I've been busy collecting donations for our school's upcoming fundraiser.
4. Supportive Parents. My parents are fantastic. Faced with disappointment, they still support and encourage.
5. My husband's job. I'm not sure where it is taking us. I am thankful that he has a good job.
6. Flexibility. In the last 3 weeks, I have been given serious thought to three possible locations where my family might end up. As each door closes, there's a new opportunity waiting.
7. Clothes. I am a little (read that as a heckuva lot) behind on laundry. I am thankful for clothes.
8. Being available. I am too busy. I have too much on my plate. I am thankful that this week, when called on to help someone, I made myself available.
9. Honesty. One of my kids came home today quite distraught. Turns out he got in trouble at school. He shared it with me because he wanted to- not because the teacher made him. That was a beautiful moment of honesty.
10. Skype. I've been skyping with my husband this week. I'd prefer to be together but skyping is sweet when you are apart.
11. Mentors. A sweet friend passed away today. She will be missed by many.
12. Space. I am finding more and more of it as I clean out. It's so refreshing.
13. Grace. I've been given grace this week by friends, by my kids, and by God. I am very thankful.

Take time to be thankful today. You will be glad that you did.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thursday Thanks Tank #152

I am thankful for these things and much more:

1. Laughter
2. Pizza for dinner
3. Hanging out at a friend's house
4. Inhalers
5. The quiet in the house after the kids are asleep
6. Sleeping in during spring break
7. coffee
8. my niece's continued recovery
9. nerf gun wars
10. my daughter's well-loved security blanket
11. businesses that support schools
12. taking time to read
13. surprises
14. a different perspective
15. pictures drawn by my 5 year old brought to me first thing in the morning
16. my husband

Monday, March 21, 2011

Driving Lessons

We were on the highway, returning from a town 30 minutes away.

With a sheepish grin on his face, my oldest said, "Momma, I have a new motto."

"I need to be prepared at all times."

"I need to know what I need to know before I need to know it."

My response,
"Uuuuum, how will you know what you need to know before it's time?"

"I have to be prepared for everything. When I think of something I will need to know, I need to know it before it is time."

I nodded,wondered what he was up to, and kept driving.

In the few moments that followed, as I drove down a highway surrounded by farms and fields, I thought about my life as a road. I keep driving taking turns here and there but I don't stop and I don't turn around. I can't.

If only it worked that way. There is so much I know now that I wish I knew back then.

Thank goodness it doesn't work that way. If I knew what I know now, I would have made different decisions and some great things in my life would not have happened.

Despite the twists and turns- and missed turns- we keep driving. Pressing on. It's what we can do.

My son? He interrupted my thoughts to say:

"Soooo... I was thinking that you should go ahead and start teaching me how to drive."

Not on your 9 year old life -or should I say, mine!

Sunday, March 20, 2011


I can be fragile.

I can be broken in so many ways. Hurt feelings. Poor self image. Lack of ambition. Loss of life. A change of plans.

I can be affected by others. The quickly spoken words of another person can linger in my mind for weeks. I hate it when I let that happen. I can internalize disappointment, criticism, loneliness and more. I often let the imperfections of myself and others leave a mark on my daily outlook.

A tattoo.

I am tattooed by failures and longings for what is out of reach.

I am stained.

The struggles, the pain, the selfishness stain my life and affect me each day.

I press on, but my vision is clouded by poor choices and the imperfection in my life.

I press on, but I am jaded and unimpressive.

Love changes everything.

I stop. I pray. I ask God for help.

The broken stained pieces of my life are taken and put together in an array of color and life. I have a life rearranged.

With God, and a sustaining belief that Jesus died and rose again, I am transformed.

I bring my broken pieces to the Father. He artistically creates. He puts me together.

The world provides nothingness. Broken pieces.
With the world's viewpoint, no matter how I am put together, I am dull and useless.

God provides life.
With a dependence on God, I live a life vibrantly illuminated by God's love.

On this day, I choose life.
And, I pray that I will make the same choice tomorrow.

"The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing..." John 6:63

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Movie

I just did something I hardly ever do. I watched a movie. It's even more remarkable because my husband is not here. He's a movie guy. He wouldn't say that but if you quote a line from a movie, he usually knows it.

I watched a cute flick- The Switch.
It was pretty good as far as chick flicks go.

I finished the movie and thought, 'Thank God it was a good.'

On Friday, I took all 4 of my kids in blockbuster to rent movies and I got yelled at. It was so startling I cannot even tell you what the lady yelled.

My free spirited son was touching the movies. He was just touching them- as he quickly sauntered by.

Apparently, the shelves can fall easily.

The lady yelled ~ at me.

It was weird.

The shelf didn't fall. The movies were hardly moved. My son was walking quickly by the shelves- faster than I wanted- which is why I was looking at him when the manager raised her voice.

It's been a long time since I have been yelled at by an adult. I felt berated. Stunned. And then I thought, 'Lord, that lady needs a good dose of my kids. I might just walk out and leave them with her.'

Instead, I grabbed a move (The Switch) and gathered the Owen Troops at the counter to pay.

Next time you judge someone - or are tempted to yell at them- take a minute and rethink it.

I'm just sayin: I was a half a second from goin' psycho single mom on her.

I'm just sayin' someone's bad behavior might be good behavior.

I'm just sayin' a kind word about something that needs to be changed is much more effective than anything yelled in frustration.

Ah... The Switch... cute Jennifer Anniston movie. Thank Goodness.
If you are up for a chick flick that makes you smile at the end, The Switch is a good movie to rent.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Moments that Matter: Following Through and Sibling Relationships

He yields to others. He is thoughtful. He cannot stand for other people to be upset. He is ultra sensitive. He is happy when those around him are happy. Sometimes he regrets giving in to his brothers when he realizes he didn't get or do anything he wanted.

This day has been his.

His two brothers got grounded yesterday from video game time today. This was a hard punishment for me to give because the boys have not had any video game all week. They have waited for the weekend for their game time. On top of that, this is the Friday before spring break. In other words, spring break started today.

My oldest sulked all night and again as soon as he saw me after school.
My youngest son cried quite a bit last night.
I am a softy but I managed to stick with the punishment (and not allow them to earn their game time back).

I decided to rent movie to celebrate spring break and cheer everyone up. In retrospect, I should have considered that the kids would want to rent a Wii game. I had no reason not to let them rent a Wii game (or 2).

My 2nd son has played the rented Wii games all afternoon, while his brothers have watched (and laughed, directed, and complimented).

I asked my son how it felt to play when they couldn't. Sheepishly, he said, "It feels good."

~ ~ ~
Moments that matter
Today has been about following through, which is hard for me, and sibling relationships.

Following through: I am happy with myself for enforcing the rules and following through with a punishment. I wish I were better at discipline.

Sibling Relationships: My son has been the center of attention all afternoon. It is good for him. The situation put him in a unique place. He needs the respect of his brothers. His brothers: 1 likes to lead, 1 likes to be the center of attention -it's good for them to take a step back.

That's a snapshot of our day and our muted start to spring break.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thursday Thanks Tank

It's been a while since I've shared a thankful list for my Thursday Thanks Tank. There are numerous reasons for that. One thing is certain, I need to work on my grateful heart. I'm going to make a list right now. It may not be rich in depth but it will be real.

...and I wrote it out on paper.

It was worth it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What-in-the-World Wednesday: That's My Boy

In December, we had family photos taken. The goal was to get a good photo for the Christmas card. Once we picked a photo for the card, my husband took all of the kids out of the studio. I quickly picked a few other pictures to purchase.

In January, I was smiling at a photo of my husband and the boys when I noticed something I hadn't seen before.

My 3rd son is always up to something...
If you're gonna get your picture taken, you might as well show a little belly.

Monday, March 14, 2011


I drove into my garage this afternoon and promptly grabbed a letter and business card out of my car and accosted the landscaper working on my neighbor's yard.

I was polite. I asked for support. He was gracious and promised to pass on my request to his manager.

I am constantly on the prowl, if you will, for opportunities. I get absurdly excited when I get a donation.

I am soliciting donations for a basket raffle fundraiser for my kids' school.

I am a volunteer. I am an advocate for the elementary school. Sometimes, I don't recognize myself.

How did this happen?

For the last few weeks, I've been trying to determine what motivates me to volunteer.

I like to help. That's true. It's always been true.
But, I never imagined myself in this role when I showed up in my little town 3 1/2 years ago.

I became involved at the school because I wanted to be known by the school administration. I did it for selfish reasons. I have a child with a severe food allergy. That's what prompted me to show up for my first parent teacher organization meeting.

I attended meeting after meeting and as time went by I cared more and more about the needs of the school.

I don't like fundraising. I don't mind asking for money for the school. It's a strange dichotomy.

I loathe some parts of volunteering.
I know I could do the job better if I could dedicate more time to it. As it is, it is not my full-time job. I give it more time than I'd like to admit.
I detest getting attention for being a volunteer. I don't enjoy being in charge of events (and the larger organization, for that matter) because often it appears that the leaders want credit. I could care less about credit. I'd do it all anonymously if it were possible.

I love volunteering at the school because I enjoy finding ways to help the teachers and students. It feels good to support the organization that is teaching my kids and giving them a future.

I have been considering my efforts as a volunteer. Is it worth it? Does my family suffer because of my dedicated time? Will I volunteer at my kids' school once we move? (We will move this summer.) Do the benefits outweigh the sacrifice?

I realize only I can answer these questions. But, being a volunteer baffles me. I love it and I hate it all at the same time.

"When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die." Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, March 07, 2011

Face Time

My husband's home so you won't see my face around here for a few days.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Sarah Update

Thank you for your prayers. I'd love continued prayer for a smooth recovery. The recovery will be a bit more prolonged because she had a different procedure than planned. The hospital stay could stretch to the 5-10 day range, but it depends on how fast she recovers.

Here's an update from my brother-in-law about Sarah's surgery:

The Doc did not do the Nissen (tie the stomach around the esophagus) procedure. When the Doc went in, he took a look around and noticed that Sarah's intestines were not all in the right spot. She had what he described as malrotation of the intestines, but not the normal malrotation. The intestines were in the right spot enough to "look good" during all the normal tests that would diagnose this, but there was a lot of twisting of both the intestines and the blood supply to the intestines. So the Doc fixed the malrotation which is considered the worse of the two conditions.

The good news is that the malrotation was found and fixed, and the doc is confident that this could have been the cause of the pain. Only time will tell, since there are a lot more variables involved now, we should know better in a few months. If this did not work, then we might be back in the boat of doing the Nissen procedure down the road sometime.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Surgery Today

Sarah's surgery is today at 2:30 Eastern Time - 11:30 Pacific Time. They have to be at the hospital 2 hours ahead of time. The surgery will last 2 hours.

Here's the post where I explain her surgery: I need you

Thank you for your prayers. I sincerely appreciate it.

Friday Photos

~Pictures from our week~

Celebrating one hundred days of school

Playing together after dinner

Being a cutie-pie

Showing off artwork: It's a Pee Gun
Oh yes, he worked on that for quite some time and then I laughed my head off when he showed me what he made.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

I need you

I need you to pray for my 4 year old niece Sarah.

She is having major surgery (nissen fundoplication) on her stomach and esophagus tomorrow at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, MD. This will hopefully stop her chest pain and eliminate the need for all her medicines. She will be in the hospital for 3-5 days.

Nissen fundoplication is a surgery where basically they move the stomach up and wrap it 360 degrees around the lower esophagus to make the esophageal sphincter tighter and reduce her severe reflux. They think her pain is from the esophageal sphincter being too loose and related to her severe reflux.

This is Sarah's 7th surgery. Please pray this one will take away her pain.

Please pray- even say a quick prayer right now.

If you will, leave a comment that you are praying. I know that seeing those comments will encourage my sister.

One of my favorite pictures of Sarah and Elisabeth.

Here I am with Sarah and her brother, Matt.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

God's Own Food

Aw'ight, I reckon most ya'll don't know that I'm from Tennessee. My people are East Tennesseans. But hold up, before you picture me in orange, I am not a Volunteer fan.

Now that we've cleared that up, I've gotta tell all ya'll 'bout my dinner. I was full as a tick for about 3 hours after I ate.

Oh my word. Yep, I'm serious.

So, I've always thought of myself as a Southern gal. I wouldn't say Southern Belle... because, honestly, I ain't ever been good at keepin' the rules.

There are a few southern dishes that scream the South to me. One of them is chicken n' dumplin's. I've watched my grandmother make 'em. I've adored my mother-in-law making them. Oh law, I've loved eatin' them so many times. There was this place in Tuscaloosa (near the great University) that served up the biggest helpin' ever. Oh honey, chicken n' dumplin's defines comfort food.

Before Tuesday night, I'd never made them. Oh sure enough, I thought about it. I'd just not done it.

I gotta tell ya'll. I was fixin' to make dinner and my kids were creatin' the biggest ruckus. I was fit to be tied, ya know? Mad as a hornet. I thought about pullin' out the left overs right then and there. But I didn't. It was worth it.

The best part? Hearing my 9 year old say, "I want you to make these again and again."

Noooo... I take that back. The best part was eatin'. It was good. It was real good. God's own food. I'm tellin' ya'll.

Ok, I don't even claim that this is the best chicken n' dumplin's recipe ever. It's just a good one... course, it's good. I got it out of a Southern Living book I checked out of the library. (Thank the Lord, they have a Southern Living book in my Oregon library.)

JA's Chicken and Dumplings
Heck ya dadgum, I just put my name in the recipe title. That's how happy I am.

1 (3 to 4 pound) broiler-fryer
2 quarts water
2 stalks celery, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

Place chicken in a Dutch oven; add water, celery, and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour or until chicken is tender.

Remove chicken from broth, and cool. Discard celery. (For this, I put my large strainer on top of a large bowl and poured everything in it. That separated the chicken and celery from the broth.) Bone chicken, and cut into bite size pieces (Note to self, the chicken is hot. Next time, give yourself more time.) Set aside chicken and 3/4 cup of the broth. Leave remaining broth in pan. (Or, pour back in pan, like I did.)

Combine flour, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Add 3/4 cup reserved broth, stirring with a fork until dry ingredients are moistened. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface, and knead.

Pat dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut dough in 4 x 1/2 inch pieces, and sprinkle with additional flour. (I gotta admit, I just cut them as I saw fit- the size I wanted.)

Bring broth to a boil. Drop dough, one piece at a time, into boiling broth, gently stirring after each addition. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in chicken,and serve immediately with sweat tea to drink.

Okay ya'll, a few things:
1. I made side dishes. You don't need 'em.
2. I know the steamed broccoli gives me away. I've lived away from the South for over 10 years. Real southern veggies are not steamed.
3. Aw'ight, I don't normally talk like this- not here in Oregon, anyway. Ya'll gotta know, it all comes back to me when I visit family.
4. Dad-freakin-frackin-gumit! I threw those utensils down in the wrong spot for the picture. Dang it. My momma will just die wring my neck when she sees that place setting wrong.

Next up (next Southern dish to make): Banana Pudding.

It's Friday now, and I've decided to link up to Food on Fridays. I made this on Tuesday and I am still thrilled with myself. Silly? Perhaps. (I mean, heck ya dadgum) But, wonderful, too.

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