31 January 2008

Exciting Lenten idea

I don't know if I am starting this early enough, or if it will work, but someone might want to steal it, so I'm sharing.
Today, I am going to buy a couple of packets of sweet peas at good ol' WalMart. I'm going to soak them for a day and then put a few of them into terracotta pots that have potting soil and Miracle Grow in them. THEN -- and this is the cool part -- I'm going to stick a cross about 18 inches tall, (made out of two twigs, bound together with raffia) about 6 inches into the pot. After Ash Wednesday, I'm going to wrap the pot in burlap and take them to church and stick them in the sanctuary windows.
I'm not going to tell anyone about what is under the soil. My hope is that the little peas will grow and that I can get them to grow enough to help them up the twigs and that it will surprise and delight everyone and that they will invite all their friends and family members to see them and that by Easter we will have crosses that are greening and maybe even blooming and 50 new members to add to the church!
Ok -- not really on the 50 new members, but won't it be cool if it works?

30 January 2008

Happy Birthday, Scoot!

Today is the first birthday of my niece, Lirah. She is such a sweet girl... a happy baby turned toddler who scoots everywhere and voices her observations and opinions constantly and loudly. I can't wait to see what the next 50 years hold for her. Happy birthday, little one!

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29 January 2008


We're supposed to have a blizzard this afternoon.


I take it back. I hate snow.

27 January 2008

A time for everything

Well, for the first time in 10 years of Sundays, I took a voluntary sick day.
I had to take a couple of involuntary sick days when I was on bed-rest with Annalivia and again when we were in the big car accident when I was pregnant with Daniel. This one I took because I got sick last night after dinner and tried divesting myself of dinner. I called the board chair and told him I was sick and told him that I would try my darndest to get there this morning, but I was giving him the heads up.
This morning, it was clear I was going nowhere. So since the board chair had his head already up, church went on without me.
And it apparently went really well.
And I stayed home and slept in while Dennis took care of the kids and now, I'm feeling better, though my head is killing me.
I'm hoping that the whole thing was just a 24 hour flu. It started with me having a REALLY puffy face though on Sat. morning. So what would that be about?

25 January 2008

Friday Five: Deep Freeze Edition

From the RevGals:
1. What is the thermometer reading at your house this morning?
This morning when I looked at it, it was -7. I'm assuming it's warmer now. Probaby -3.

2. Snow—love it or hate it?
Um, if those are the only two options... love it. Especially in theory. In actuality, I begin to tire of it in mid-January. By February, I loathe it. Aren't I a typical midwesterner that way?

3. What is winter like where you are?
This winter is snowy and cold and much like a proper midwest winter. Most other winters lately have been mild with not much snow, ice or any kind of precipitation. I like the snow. We'll actually deserve spring this year.

4. Do you like winter sports? Any good stories?
In my life, avoiding the Epiphany blahs at church is a winter sport. Which makes for lots of good stories, none of which are printable.

5. What is your favorite season, and why?
I think I like spring best, especially the spring thaw around St. Patrick's Day when the earth greens and the it is still cold and it seems like the promise of color and blooms is just around the corner...

Bonus: Share a favorite winter pick-me-up. A recipe, an activity, or whatever.
Well, the bed is large, has flannel sheets and a down comforter and my husband is nice and warm... :)

24 January 2008

The day I ruined dinner... again

Last night I ruined dinner. I was making beef and noodles which is a perfect meal for cold weather like we've had. I had a great chuck roast in the pressure cooker. It had cooked for about an hour and smelled just amazingly wonderful. Dennis came home and I released the pressure on the cooker, opened it up and saw a perfectly cooked roast...
on top of a melted plastic pad that butchers stick in the bottom of a styrofoam meat tray.
I really hate to throw away food, but I especially hate to throw away food when it would have been perfectly fine had I not screwed it up.
Tonight I'll have to try to redeem myself.

23 January 2008

Toddler Wobbler

It is fun to watch Daniel walk. He walks everywhere now and is getting faster and more enthusiastic.
What has been hilarious, though, is to watch Annalivia watch Daniel walking. Most of the time she is very encouraging. She smiles at him and laughs and says, "Here he comes!!" like we do.
But occasionally, she looks at him for a second with this little secret smile and then she will just reach out and give him a little tap, whether from the front or the back, and down he'll go.
I don't know that she's being particularly malicious because it's always a very gentle little push; I think that he just looks so ... unbalanced. He has his little arms out in front of him and is up on his tiptoes and has kind of a maniacal excitement on his face... I think he just kind of screams out "Big sister! I'm knockable!!"

So, although she is spending lots of time on the couch after such events, there is part of me that thinks -- what kind of big sister would she be if she didn't answer such an obvious call? :)

22 January 2008

Humiliating confession

I am in love with this movie. The sisters, the lovely theme, the dancing, the music, the non-prince. It's so sweet.

And I'm a dork.

The day ahead

It snowed a lot last night. It is one of those days that I would like to stay inside and read blogs, listen to podcasts and play with kiddos. But we need to go to church because, though I prefer not to recognize it most days, I am gainfully employed elsewhere. So I suppose I should get on with it.
More important than this being a snow day, it is my sistah Lil's birthday! Happy birthday, Lillia! I love you!

19 January 2008

The walker

Today little big Daniel took his first steps! I was holding his arms and Dennis was sitting in front of him on the floor. Annalivia was right there too and I let go of his arms and Daniel just walked to Daddy. We all clapped and cheered and he did it about three more times. Then Annalivia wanted to do it too. So she walked for us. We gave her hugs, too, but it was slightly less celebratory. :)
We called the family to let them know. My grandparents passed the news on to Freespirit Uncle who sent us this hilarious note.

Glad to hear DaBob is getting up and around. Please inform him when he feels up to it his great uncle would like to speak to him of a place called the “Horizon”.

Yours in mobility without fear,

Very sweet. But next time I see him coming, I may have to pick up Daniel and head in the other direction.
I can hardly handle seeing my baby boy walking towards Daddy. Walking towards the horizon may put this momma over the edge.

17 January 2008

Memes galore

I've been tagged by Angela and Mrs. Wibbs to do two memes. Since Angela tagged me first -- a long, long time ago -- sorry, Angela -- here is this one.

Book Meme
1. One book that changed your life.
Traveling Mercies -- I read it in seminary when everything was shifting. I was just so darn grateful to Anne Lamott for being just completely real.

2. One book that you have read more than once.
All of the Madeleine L'Engle juvenile books, Little House on the Prairie (except Farmer Boy), all of the Harry Potters, all of the Narnia books, The Witch of Blackbird Pond -- pretty much any book I love, I've read more than twice because I never read them well enough the first time to catch everything.

3. One book that you would want on a desert island.
The Bible

4. One book that made you laugh.
Any Dave Barry book.

9. One book you have been meaning to read.
Oh my goodness, this list could be interminable. How about Unbinding the Gospel?

I'm tagging Roo and Amy who loves books and Jill-who-seldom-blogs-anymore. That's right, Jill! Hah!

Love/ Hate Meme
I love to eat: tiramisu, Mom's corned beef, Grammy's pretty-much-anything
I hate to eat: well-done steak, most canned vegetables
I love to go: driving at dusk in the summer
I hate to go: to Super Wal-Mart during the day
I love it when: Daniel and Annalivia laugh at each other
I hate it when: I know that I've screwed something up
I love to see: a straightened up house
I hate to see: messes everywhere
I love to hear: my loves laugh
I hate to hear: the Harleys ruin a lovely day or the moron in the next block revving his hot rod engine during naptime

I'm tagging Donna (have you already done this, Donna?) and Liz.

Of course, y'all who have been tagged can just ignore me. Or do it in a few months. :)

Oh how I love podcasts

I have an iPod now. I got it by giving it to my husband for his birthday. Only it wasn't really what he wanted/needed, so he passed it on to me and bought his own iPod. Which was sort of my plan anyway after agonizing for days over which iPod to get for him. I figured if he didn't want the one he got, I could take it.
Et, voila! I have an iPod.
And although I used to be a "music person" with the latest album from my favorite bands, I feel as though I have little to no space in my head for popular music since I had kids. Why is that, I wonder? I do enjoy my classical and standards, but I just don't ever really listen to my music anymore. What I really like these days is intelligent talk radio. Our NPR station here has talk from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. I love it. And if the NPR stuff is too violent or contentious or whatever, I will listen to Moody Bible talk radio (unless it also is too violent or contentious or whatever). I only ever listen to it in the car or after the kids go to sleep at home (because when they aren't asleep the last thing we need is more talking), but I do love me some good talk radio.
Which is why I am absolutely in love with the whole free-podcast concept. For some reason, my iTunes store is the UK version, so I first had access to all the BBC podcasts. They are wonderful. BBC Scotland has some great ones. And, of course, there's the NPR/PRI podcasts; I love getting The Splendid Table because we don't have that show on my current NPR station.
But my favorite so far is Pray As You Go, a podcast put together by the Jesuits in Britain. (These are the Sacred Space folks. ish.) It is such a great podcast -- scripture, gentle reflection, gorgeous music. Absolutely lovely.
I highly recommend it. And I would love to check out others that bloggy friends have found. Anyone else got any good ones to share?

16 January 2008

Be prepared

If you have not heard about the boy scout who foiled an attempt to assassinate a president, click here. What an incredible feat, eh? Brave, brave kid. Be prepared, indeed.

15 January 2008

Recipe: They aren't lyin' -- Best Banana Muffins ever

On Sunday, in the midst of getting to church with potluck food and taking breakfast to eat there and getting home about 10 minutes before Dennis had to leave and go to class, we left a few bananas in the car, where they froze solid.

Because the kiddos and I are trying to be at the church office at least three days a week, I knew we'd need to-go food today, so I made the frozen bananas into muffins following a recipe I found online titled, "Best Banana Muffins." I did not expect them to be fabulous because of their simplicity, but, oh my goodness, are they good! Good enough, in fact, to record for posterity's sake.

Banana Muffins
3 lg. bananas
3/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1/3 c. melted butter
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4-1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
Mash bananas; add sugar and slightly beaten egg, then melted butter. Add soda, baking powder, salt and flour. Mix and spoon into greased muffin cups (it does not rise very much) and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Yields 1 dozen (or so -- mine also made 7 mini-muffins).

14 January 2008

The crawling tube

One of the Christmas presents from us to the kids was this nylon crawling tube.
I got it on clearance at Target for $7 at the end of the summer last year. I was worried it might be a waste of money.But, it has proved to be a great gift. The kids love playing in it.

They crawl through one side.

And back again.
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13 January 2008

And lo, it came to pass...

that in Year Seven the annual meeting did not suck.

Thank you, Jesus.

12 January 2008

Deal of the year... thus far

I found this Lord and Taylor wool jon-jon at a thrift store last week. It looked almost new, but was 75 cents.

I'm pretty sure it was so cheap because it had this monogram on it. RES doesn't really work for Daniel Robert de los Stews... but I bought it anyway.

I determined that the whole monogram would rip out pretty easily, but first I ripped out part of the R and the bottom of the E. It looked pretty good.
So, I handed it over to a person far-more-skilled-than-I-and-with-a-much-cooler-sewing-machine-than-I-and-infinitely-greater-levels-of-patience-than-I -- my mother-in-law, Alice.

Who made it into this.

I'm so pleased. Parents with little boys will tell you how difficult it is to find nice dress clothing. Let alone nice dress clothing on a budget.
My internet research leads me to believe that this was $38 new. I think we'll be able to use it for Easter with a nicer shirt than this polo.
And though, probably, the D of the monogram should be a little more diamond-shaped...
for 75 cents -- I'll take it.
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11 January 2008

Big boy hair

Daniel got his first big-boy haircut at the barbershop ("haircut store" in Annalivia-speak) yesterday. He did so well. No fussing at all.

He looks so old.

WHERE HAS MY BABY GONE?!?!? :( :( :(
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09 January 2008


Tonight, the neice of one of my congregants is delivering her still-born baby. She has lost two babies at 20 weeks, also.
She is a very young woman, unmarried. She and her family do not have a church home. I am lined-up to do a funeral and on call this evening when she delivers.
I cannot imagine this grief.
Please pray for her and her family that they know whatever comfort they can receive.

Good for her!!

Have you heard about the meanest mom on the planet? Love it.

I love this woman's blog

Amalee turned me on to Tongue in Cheek, a gorgeous look at a woman's life in France. Today her post was just amazing. Go look and browse the archives for some real beauty.

Let me start by saying, I really love PBS

PBS and I have a long relationship. When we were growing up, we were only allowed to watch two hours of tv a day and it had to be PBS. (Unless Mom was out gardening, in which case we managed to sneak in one of the other four stations.) We never saw Little House on the Prairie or Father Murphy or whatever else all the other kids talked about. But Ye Olde PBS was great. Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street were young favorites. And Captain Kangeroo, of course. After school was Square One and 3-2-1 Contact! Tuesday was Nova and Thursday was Mystery (which we didn't watch until high school when Poirot was on). American Masters and Great Performances and Nature and Wild America rounded out our PBS experiences.
And it's still the only channel we watch.
But, but, but...
I really, really, really dislike some of the kids programming. Really.
Big, Big World is my least favorite. I don't know why, but I just hate it. SuperWhy is a close second. Curious George is annoying. WordWorld is a creative concept, but grating, at best.
The older kids' lineup is not great either. I don't mind Arthur or Postcards from Buster. But that's about it. And for the littlers, I still like Caillou. And Sesame Street, most of the time. Even Teletubbies.
But, there's more I dislike than I like. And it's yet another good reason to not watch tv.
But I'm still disappointed.

08 January 2008

Year 7

This Sunday is our annual meeting. As I prepare for it, I can't help but get butterflies in my stomach. Historically, it is not among our finest moments as a congregation. I'm praying for a different experience this year. This IS year 7, after all.
And isn't year 7 when it's all supposed to turn around?

07 January 2008

My favorite face

Whenever little Daniel is excited or frustrated or impatient, he crinkles up his little nose and breathes really quickly out of it.

I'm a goner. Everytime.

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06 January 2008

King of the cake

This morning, we celebrated Epiphany with a delicious and super-easy version of a King Cake (recipe follows). Dennis is found the nut, so he got to wear the crown (left over from our wedding, actually!) After church we went to our favorite bookstore and got a great book on clearance that we read this afternoon. Tonight we are having meatball subs with three meatballs on them and then we'll put the nativity set and Christmas cd's away. Does anyone else feel like these 12 days just flew?
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Recipe: Super easy King Cake. Sorta.

I wanted to make King Cake for Epiphany this year, but with a funeral yesterday and a secretary in the hospital all week, when we came down to it all last evening, it was almost a no-go. Then I remembered these rolls and came up with this variation. It worked great! And we had a very easy, tasty King Cake-ish for breakfast this morning!

King Cake. Sorta
1 package frozen dinner rolls
1 small package vanilla pudding mix
1 cup white sugar
1 stick butter, cut into thirds
orange extract
food coloring

The night before, grease a bundt pan or tube pan of some sort.Throw rolls into it.
Sprinkle vanilla pudding on top.
Then sprinkle sugar on the rolls.
Melt butter in batches, mixing the butter with food coloring (yellow, green and purple are traditional representing both the kings and power, faith and justice, respectively). Also add 1/4 -1/2 teaspoon orange extract (more if you love it).
Pour the butter over 1/3 of the rolls so that when finished you have a pan of rolls with three different sections of three different colorings.
Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit at room temp overnight.
The next morning, insert a nut such as a pecan (or a coin or a baby Jesus charm if you want to be more authentic) before cooking.
Cook at 325 for 25-30 minutes.
Cool slightly and invert.
The person who gets the nut gets a crown. And maybe in the future, they'll get the rest of the family to wait on them for meals.

05 January 2008

The singing nativity

As Christmas draws to a close...

"We are the song of the universe. We sing with the angelic host. We are the musicians...the stars are the singers. Our song orders the rhythm of creation."
- Madeleine L'Engle

Sing on, friends! Sing on!

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03 January 2008

In the words of Kermit the Frog

"It's ok. Life is made up of meetings and partings. That is the way of it." ~Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit in The Muppets' Christmas Carol

One of my dearests passed away yesterday. She had been dealing with congestive heart failure for a long while, but it was a surprise when she actually passed away. I think my congregation is just in shock.

She had long told me that she was looking forward to going to heaven. She always said it with a huge smile on her face. And most everyone I've talked to talks about her return Home. But her family and friends and her church family will just ACHE with her loss. She was one of the kindest, sweetest, most selfless people ever and such a gift to all of us. It's always difficult to part with such dear ones.

And today I started this post in the wee hours of the morning waiting for my godson to arrive to spend a few days with us while his little sister (and our goddaughter) made her way into the world. This evening she arrived safely. And tomorrow we will meet little Caitlin Elyse and welcome this little gift into the world.

Partings. Meetings. Meetings. Partings.

That is, indeed, the way of it.

02 January 2008

Fast away the old year passes

Well, it's 2008.

Lord, I'm old.

We had a very nice New Year's celebration. It was Dennis and the kids and I on New Year's Eve. And on New Year's Day friends came over for dinner and to watch Illinois lose. :(

This morning, Annalivia woke up and announced that she needed to go pee-pee in the potty. Which she did all morning and afternoon until naptime. She must have run into the bathroom and hopped on the toilet about 50 times this morning. At least. But she kept those undies dry. I'm so proud of her.

I'm thinking about making some gentle resolutions this year. Is Jan. 2 or Jan. 3 too late to make resolutions? How 'bout Jan. 4 or 5?

And in other news, for the first time since Oct. 14, we have a tv plugged in at our house and in our main living area, no less. Right now I have it on while the kiddos are napping and I realized that, had I asked Dennis to move it in tomorrow evening instead of this weekend, I might have missed every single political ad for the Iowa primaries. Oh well.