Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fun in the Fall

I am a summer girl at heart; it will always be my first love. But as I've grown older I've been practicing being content at all times and learning to find the good in all situations. Fall is a beautiful time of year. I love to see the leaves changing colors and falling to the ground. I love to spend time outdoors, and fall is still a great time for exploring. I just throw on a light jacket, get myself a steaming hot cup of tea, and I can bask in the beauty that surrounds me.

This past weekend, we hosted a fall party for our Friendship Group. Right now our group is rather small, but we really love spending time in each others company. We had a wonderful time celebrating the season together. It was a very simple, inexpensive evening where we relaxed, played a few games, and just worked on our friendships.

We had some hot apple cider simmering on the stove, giving off a very inviting smell. This is the only time of year that I regularly drink apple juice. In fact, as I sit and write this blog post, I have a cup of hot apple cider in my hand.

If you've never tried this brand of mulling spices, you should! You can make as much as a gallon with the box, or you can just add a few teaspoons to your cup. It tastes wonderful!

Aspen mulling cider spices
We started off our evening by heading to the backyard to break open a piñata. Lately I've been spending a great deal of time playing around with paper mache. This is an acorn, if you couldn't tell from the picture. We took turns starting with the youngest in the crowd, trying to break it open.

Notice the bat bending backwards... Titus took quite a swing!
We filled our acorn piñata up with ACORNS. How appropriate! The kids helped me gather them at their school. I had a surprise for them too by adding a package of Hershey candy bars inside.

Our next game was rather fun. We had a relay race between boys and girls to see who could get dressed the fastest. I had some old clothes so we could take turns dressing up like a scarecrow. You had to run, get dressed, take a picture, undress, then tag the next person in line to go.

We said you had to make sure to button all the buttons on the shirt. It was really quite funny because Gabe doesn't know how to button, and then Ariel's shirt we didn't notice it only had one top button. So neither of them could do that part very well!


Pretty amazing that we could have the same smile, huh?
scarecrow relay race fall party games
The kids really enjoyed this game. We filled a bucket up with corn cob (bird litter) and hid a rolls worth of pennies inside. There was a surprise quarter inside that we called the jackpot. Ariel ended up finding it. They loved this! They felt so rich by the end with each of them finding about 20 pennies.

fall party game hide pennies in corn cob filled bucket
After our games were done, we all headed back upstairs and out to the backyard for some very yummy smores. The kids each had a Hershey bar from earlier that they saved just for this. There is nothing like a hot fire outside in the cool weather!


roasting marshmallows on firepit
We all brought out our cups of hot apple cider to enjoy by the fire. A perfect snack for me because I LOVE marshmallows. I don't need the chocolate or graham crackers, just give me a marshmallow and I'm in heaven.


I made some caramel popcorn to snack on too. Delicious! It tastes so good when it's hot out of the oven. It sticks together a little bit, but that just helps you pick it up all the easier!

caramel corn recipe

Just in case you've never tried making homemade caramel popcorn. It's the best!

Caramel Popcorn
Make 3 batches of popcorn. I only do 2 in my Whirley Pop.
Bring to boil for 5 minutes: 2 cups brown sugar, 1 cup corn syrup, 2 sticks margarine
Add 1/2 tsp. baking soda
Pour over popcorn.
Bake in 250° oven for 1 hour. Stir every 15 minutes.
Enjoy!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pencil Vs. Permanent

Last night I was having a deep discussion with God... in the shower. The shower is my place that I have the most intimate discussions with God. It is in these times that I can be most open because I'm in my most vulnerable state. Nobody can see me, and nobody can hear me. I can cry, down on my knees, and nobody but God can know about it, because honestly, nobody but God can take care of it. He is where my strength comes from.

This time, we were discussing "Friendship", a topic that reaches down right into the core of my being. I was at a loss and I needed to cry out to God for help, wanting to just understand better. Like He always does, God spoke to me, and gave me a picture that I believe was really powerful. The answer was this, "Do you pencil people into your life or do you write them in there permanently?"

Imagine your life to be a piece of paper, when you make a friend do you write that new friend down with a pencil? When you are writing with a pencil, it can easily be erased. You can change your mind. There is not much of a commitment with a pencil. You can just focus on yourself and what you want. You don't have to worry about what the other person wants or needs, because it's all about you. If you don't like something, you just erase. Sometimes that erasing might leave a little smudge, a little hard feelings, but that's okay, you can easily write over the top of it with someone new. But the problem with a pencil is the more and more that you erase, the paper eventually tears, and you're left with nothing.

Do you pencil people into your life, or do you write them in there permanently?


Now imagine that same piece of paper, what if you were to write your friend down with a permanent marker? Permanent marker lasts a long time, and it doesn't fade away. This type of writing is much more difficult, but I believe it's what God has called us to do. When we have someone in our life, they need to be there for good. There is no changing your mind, or forgetting about them because their name is always there. There is a lot more responsibility when you write it in there permanently. It takes commitment, and it takes doing something even when you don't feel like it. It takes stability, and knowing how to keep your word. You might be a little inconvenienced at times, but it would be necessary. There are times when it can get a little messy too. When someone hurts your feelings, or you hurt theirs, you have to fix it. You can't just erase away the problems, you have to deal with it. It's not always easy, but imagine the rewards you will get from having a permanent friend. You won't have to worry about your paper ripping, it will always be there.

I've been on both sides of the paper, being a penciled in friend, or penciling in a friend of mine. Both ways are painful, and can hurt both of the friends that are involved. I know that God has been calling me to make sure my friends are written into my life with a permanent marker. I need to work at it, and keep on trying even when I don't feel like we're both writing with the same thing. You cannot change the way your friends are, but you can change the way you think about them. I would challenge you right now to take a look at the way you treat your friends, and see how you've been writing them into your life. Are you using a pencil most of the time, or are you taking the extra time and effort that it takes to write with that permanent marker? Sometimes you may get a little extra ink on your hands, but you will have a beautiful, lasting piece of artwork in the end. Take some time today and reflect on what you're doing. If you need to make some changes in your writing style, do it. Tell your friends just how much they mean to you, and make sure you can back up what you're saying. God has called us to love others, let's make sure we're doing it to the best of our ability.


"This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." John 15:12-13 (NLT)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Yesterday we stayed a little late after church because Titus had a band meeting. The kids and I kept busy talking with our friends. When Titus was finally ready to leave, Gabe was trying to help a friend of his find his ball he had lost. I was more than ready to leave and told Gabe the boy's dad was perfectly capable of finding the toy for his son. Gabe seemed very disgusted with me as he said, "Mom, I want to help others." I told him that was nice but we really needed to be leaving. So he says to me, "Do you think I just care about the people in this family? I care about others too!"

I laughed a little and said, "I'm so glad you like to help people, Gabe." So he responds to me by saying, "You know when I sing the song I really mean it." And he started to sing to me, "'I can give because God gave. That is why I'm smiling. ' See, I really mean it when I say I want to give. I don't just sing the words."

He is absolutely right! Gabriel is probably the most giving child I have ever seen, and he always does it with a smile on his face like he's just done the most exciting thing in the world. He sings those words at least once a day as he gives something away. I actually have a hard time getting him to keep the money that he earns, and gifts that he's given. Just last week he earned a dollar from selling one of his "maze books". He bought some candy from the book store at church and immediately gave it ALL to his sister including the quarter that was left over. Two weeks ago he got a dollar from the tooth fairy and tried to give it to at least 3 different people before someone would finally take it from him. You will never catch him being stingy!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory

"There's plenty of money out there. They print more every day. But this ticket, there's only five of them in the whole world, and that's all there's ever going to be. Only a dummy would give this up for something as common as money. Are you a dummy?" some very wise words from an aging man in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

There's plenty of money out there. They print more every day. charlie and the chocolate factory

Life sometimes gets the best of me, and can start to overwhelm me. It's in those times that I have found I need God's perspective the most. Lately it has seemed like our lives have revolved around the dollar. How much do we have? And when are we going to get more? The last two months have been a very trying time for our family and we have been stretching our money as far as we can get it to go. This time of year is always a little bit harder on us as 3 out of 5 family member's have birthdays. That's two kid birthday parties in just 1 month. Then Christmas is fastly approaching and the money in our savings starts to dwindle down.

It seems like we have just been going from one crisis to the next, and I've been praying that we can make it out on top. We've had so many unexpected "emergencies" and things requiring our time and money. Starting with my wisdom teeth needing to be pulled it has gone on from there... From a flat tire on my car and then the engine coolant light coming on, to Titus' car completely dying, to my car's air conditioning going out. We've had a garbage disposal switch go bad, a ceiling fan stop working, our tub drain started backing up, and the library tried to charge me for a book I didn't damage. On Monday we found out Titus has a wisdom tooth that has abscessed and it needs to be pulled.

Through it all I would love to say that every time one of those things happened, my first response was always, "God is going to take care of us." Unfortunately, that would be a lie if I said it. So often my first thought has been, "Come on! Why are you letting this happen to me? Don't you even care?" I am so quick to draw the conclusion that God is not there, and that's He's left me.

If it wasn't for my "3 things God has done for me" that I write down each night before bed, I think my perspective would be totally gone out the window. I have been having a harder time seeing God in everything as things haven't gone the way I've wanted. It's amazing how easy it is to see God at work when your life is going perfectly and everything just works out. It's very easy to give the credit to God and say thanks. But when life starts to get tough, we start to wonder, is God really there? Does He really care about me?

The truth is, God has been at work in all areas of my life, I have just been too stubborn to see Him. Sometimes I want to be mad and feel like it's unfair. Sometimes I just don't feel like looking for the good in everything. But I know I need to. The "God perspective" can totally change your life. We may be down to one car, but twice already God has provided a car for Titus to use, even if it's only for a few days at a time. Our bathtub drain may have backed up, but we were saved a visit from the plumber by borrowing some drain cleaner from my parents. The air conditioning in the car may have gone out, but we've had much cooler days since and haven't really needed to use it. The tires on our car did cost quite a bit of money to replace, but they ended up making a mistake and gave us really nice tires and were forced to refund us money because we asked for cheaper ones. The coolant light did come on, but after some time spent my mom and I were able to fix it by adding a cup of water. The library did charge me for that book, but after I went and explained that I did not damage it, they dropped the charges. Both Titus and I may have had to get our wisdom teeth removed, but Thank God we have good dental insurance. God always comes through for us!

Yesterday we got a letter in the mail, and I just couldn't take it anymore. After I got on my knees and cried out to God, "Help!" He answered me. My little three year old saw my tears, and said, "Mommy, I kiss you?" Then he says, "Mommy, I hug you?" They may have been the arms of a little boy but they had the power of a great big God.

I had sudden clarity that brings me back to the quote from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. "There's plenty of money out there. They print more every day." Money is really just a piece of paper. It has no real power. You may choose to give it all away, or someone may ask for all of it from you. You may work all of your life to get some of it. But it's not what really matters. "This ticket, there's only five of them in the whole world, and that's all there's ever going to be." The five people in my family are the ones that really matter. That's what this life is about. The people that God created. My children and my husband are irreplaceable. There never will be more exactly like them. Who care's about a little thing called money, when you have the love of a family? Someone could take away your house, someone could take away your car, your things, your clothes, but they can never take away the love you have for each other, or that God has for you.


"No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:37-39 (NLT)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Kids Say the Darndest Things

This morning we were all getting ready for school, when out walks Gabriel in some khaki pants and a sleeveless tie-dye shirt. I tried to explain to him the outfit just didn't work. You don't wear dress pants and then put a tie-dye shirt with no sleeves. They just don't belong together. He needed to choose which item he wanted to wear more.

Titus being so helpful, informed Gabe, "maybe you're from California. You would fit in perfectly there."

And Gabe responds, "NO, I am not from there. I don't even speak the language!!"

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Italian Beef Bake

"The way to a man's heart is through his stomach." At least that is the case for my husband when I make this recipe. Titus will always request this meal, but I tend to save it for more special occasions. I like to have something I can make for him that he doesn't normally get, to make him feel that extra special feeling. It's usually cooked on days when I'm feeling like surprising him or when I'm just LOVING him. It's not difficult at all, it just takes a little planning ahead. I normally am a procrastinator when it comes to dinner preparation. My kids will come home from school and always ask me the dreaded question, "What's for dinner?" I usually respond to them by saying, "I DON'T KNOW! Ask me when you smell something cooking." I love to eat, however I do not like to cook. So this meal takes some planning ahead for me because you have to bake it in the oven for 2 hours.

Italian Beef Bake

2lbs beef, cut into strips
1 envelope onion soup mix
1/2 tsp salt
dash of pepper
1 green pepper, cut into strips
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 can whole tomatoes
1 tbs. steak sauce
1 tbs. corn starch


Italian beef bake recipe
Arrange meat in pan, slightly overlapping. Sprinkle with onion soup mix, salt & pepper. Top with green pepper and onion. Chop tomatoes, set aside liquid to use later, place tomatoes in pan. In small bowl combine tomato juice, steak sauce & cornstarch. I usually add another cup of water to it too. Pour liquid over meat and vegetables. Cook in 350° oven for 2 hours. Serve hot over white rice.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Zech's 3rd Birthday

Another year has flown by and my little baby Zech, is no longer two. Three years old sounds so much more grown up. I no longer feel like I can say, "Well, he's only two." Giving him the excuse that he's young. Now being three, he should know better than to do certain things or act certain ways. I feel like we have officially said goodbye to babyhood. He's now a big boy, and that brings tears to my eyes.

I really enjoyed looking back over my time with Ariel, and have decided that for Zech I was going to remember all the times God has been there for him. Zechariah has not lived a long life yet, however God has done some very significant things in the few years that we've had with him.

I remember wanting to have a baby so badly and crying every month when I knew it wasn't going to be the month. I cried out to God, and He heard my prayer. In nine months we were going to have a son.

I remember being 10 weeks pregnant, coming home from church on a Wednesday night to find out that I was bleeding heavily. I called and talked with a doctor at the hospital who told me, if I was going to miscarry it was going to happen. There was nothing they could do about it. I prayed to God that night and begged Him, please give me my baby. I want to see his sweet little face. After 7 hours in the ER, and a sonogram I was sent home from the hospital because they couldn't find a reason for the bleeding.

I remember being 12 weeks pregnant and the bleeding came back. This time I went into my doctor's office for another sonogram and found out that the placenta was showing some minor separation. I was told to rest, until the bleeding stopped. God gave me a scripture for Zechariah that I've held onto since then. “You must serve only the Lord your God. If you do, I will bless you with food and water, and I will protect you from illness. There will be no miscarriages or infertility in your land, and I will give you long, full lives." Exodus 23:25-26 It wasn't the part about miscarriages that stood out to me, God said he would give my baby a long, full life.

I remember being 36 weeks pregnant and the doctor saw a sonogram of the baby and said to me, "This is not good." The baby was measuring at the 4th percentile and seemed to have stopped growing. The doctor sent me over to the hospital for another sonogram and possible induction with a NICU stay. God said, "I will give you a long, full life." The baby seemed to have gained two pounds and we were just required to come in for nonstress test twice a week.

I remember at the hospital when I was in labor, the baby's heart rate started to drop. He wasn't handling the contractions and the doctor talked about a emergency C-section. At only 8cm dilated, I pushed the baby out because God said, "I will give you a long, full life." I've never been so relieved to hold my new little baby.

I remember when Zechariah was 8 months old, he got sick. In 10 days time, with a fever staying around 103°-104°, I brought him for a doctor visit once, and to the ER 3 times before they finally ran some tests for me. On that last trip in, he had a fever of 105.1°. I cried the entire way there, and sobbed when I walked in the door telling them they needed to do something for my baby. I felt like he was dying in my arms. I knew he did not have a virus, something was seriously wrong. After several tests, the ER doctor said he was hesitant to call it pneumonia and finally called him out some antibiotics. Two days later Zechariah's pediatrician called with the blood results and said he had a very serious blood infection Streptococcus Pneumonia and needed to be hospitalized. God said, "I will give you a long, full life." I told the doctor, "no, he's doing much better. I think he'll be okay." The doctor said he could stay at home if we agreed to see him that day and get a shot of antibiotics.

I remember for several months after that Zech had to get his blood checked. His platelet count was too high. A normal range of platelets is 150,000 to 450,000 in each micro liter of blood, Zechariah's was 1.3 million, the highest his pediatrician had ever seen. A high or low platelet count can be a disorder of the bone marrow. Zech had his blood checked a couple times a month and each time it would decrease a little. The last time we went in to have it checked the doctor mentioned that next time we would need to talk about testing his bone marrow. It was taking too long for the numbers to return to normal. God said, "I will give you a long, full life." The next visit, his platelet count was in the normal range!

I remember shortly after Zech's 1st birthday, he got pneumonia again. The doctor took it very seriously this time when I came in, and immediately put my little baby in the xray machine, ran blood tests and put him on antibiotics. God said, "I will give you a long, full life." Zech recovered in just two weeks.

I remember when Zechariah was 15 months old he went in for a checkup and the doctor said he was 30% underweight. He was worried if Zech didn't start eating more and gaining weight his brain wouldn't develop right. God said, "I will give you a long, full life." He has slowly gained weight and today is at the 16th percentile. He's on the chart!!


I remember in April of this year, Zech fell off the couch, and hurt his head. I can remember holding him on my lap when he just started throwing up all over the place. I knew something was wrong. He threw up on the way to the hospital and several times when we were in the room and walking in the hallway. The doctor said he got a very severe concussion, and did a CT scan on his head. He was worried that Zech might have had some brain swelling. I remember standing outside the door of the room, listening to my little baby cry, and hearing him hold his head saying"Oww.. head hurts. Owie, head hurts." The couple of hours I had to wait for the results were some of the longest in my life. The doctor came back and said, "I was certain he was going to have swelling. He's a very lucky little boy." God said, "I will give you a long, full life." I clung to that statement that night in the hospital as the tears kept spilling off of my face. But God was there, He promised me.

I remember just last week, as Zech fell off the couch again. His dad held the towel to his head to keep the blood clotting. God said, "I will give you a long, full life." This time I was not overwhelmed, and I knew right away that Zech was going to be okay. However, that didn't keep me from crying as I saw the pain he was in. The doctor held his head down on the bed as she put the 4 staples in. I had to talk to him and show him that he was okay, and it was all going to be over soon.

God has done miracles for my son, and my family. In every situation where we thought something serious was wrong, God was in control. He was never surprised when something would happen, or Zech would get sick, or Zech would fall down. He was always there right next to us, many times just holding me up. I like to think of Zech as my miracle child, that whenever Zech is with me, God is even closer to me. The name Zechariah means, "God has remembered."


As you can see, Zechariah has no fear!

Zechariah's 3rd Birthday Party
Curious George birthday cake
Zech had a Curious George party, one of his very favorite characters.

We had planned a fun party out at the Museum playground, one of Zech's favorite places to visit. However, the rain decided to pour, and the party was quickly changed, the house cleaned, and the guests came to our house instead.

We had the movie playing in the background, and had some George coloring sheets for the kids to color.
banana pinata My friend Cynthia helped me make an AWESOME George piñata. But when he was all done, around 15 hours or so later, and we had painted him, I just couldn't bear the thought of kids beating him with a bat. I quickly threw this banana piñata together.






Aunt Stefanie was the one who finally got to break the piñata. Not in the way you would think though. It was tough enough that it didn't crack, it actually broke off of the string that it was hanging from.
Titus just tore into the top and spilled the candy onto the ground.


Who needs a handful of candy? Zech was really excited because he got 3 smarties!

Before we headed back into the house, our wonderfully dressed "Ted" informed us all that he had purchased some bananas for all of us to eat. But unfortunately George was a little too curious, and found them. He hid them all in the basement, and Ted needed us all to go downstairs and find them. We had 30 bananas hiding!!

banana hunt
Zech was hilarious with his birthday cake. We could not keep him from licking the icing on the side that was facing him. I made sure to cut him that piece later.



Zech was pretty funny with his gifts too. He was only interested in the "wrapped" gifts. He didn't want to have anything to do with the gift bags. I think Zander actually pulled the presents out of a few for him, or I forced his hand at opening them. Talk about a funny kid! I remember that happening at a 1st birthday, but not a 3rd birthday!


The boys are great friends, at least as good as they can be at this age. I loved how all three boys were wearing red shirts. Unfortunately Zana had already left the party and didn't get to sit on the step with the boys.


Saying Goodbye! Mark was leaving the next day for 3 1/2 weeks in Mexico. We made sure to plan the party on a day that Mark could come. Zech is already missing him too, and it's only been 1 week. Every morning he asks me, "Mark's house?"




The kids were off of school on Zech's birthday and Titus took the day off of work so we could spend all day together as a family. Our first fun activity was taking Zech to the mall to do the Bungee Jump. He loved it! You couldn't actually say he jumped though. He just hung there and the lady would pull the straps hanging on the bottom of him.


After a nice nap, we took our party to the Museum grounds. The rain wasn't going to ruin Zech's real birthday!

curious George costume Zech is not always the most cooperative child when it comes to taking photos. You kind of have to con him into it, or bribe him with things.



I love my husband all the more for dressing up like Ted, the man in the yellow hat. He is always such a good sport and has dressed up for several parties in the past.



Curious George Man with yellow hat costume It was very difficult to get a smile out of Zech for a photo. He usually will say, "No pictures!" I was pleased to get his many different faces.

Curious George Man with yellow hat costume







Zech has got such a great daddy!!

And he says, "yay, I'm finally out of that ridiculous costume my mother made me wear!"










I love you so much, Zechy!!

Linkwithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...