And We're Still Here

We are so exhausted, but we want to stay to see The Illuminations here at Epcot. We got here at around 8:00 this morning. Just so you know our family does not do anything half way. :)

Tomorrow may come too early.:). Enough whining for me though. Gretel was doing that when we were visiting "Germany" today and we called her our little "whineyschnitzel.".

Last of the Disney updates coming tomorrow. I promise and then I will not be standing in line blogging anymore. I will be cleaning out closets and doing laundry. That's not blog worthy! :)

Fun with a capital F!

Prince Charming and I are enjoying watching all of our hard earned money being spent at Disney. It has definitely been a great family bonding experience.

You can absolutely have fun doing many other inexpensive things, but now I feel like I know what people are talking about when they talk about Disney.

We looked at a lot of options before we decided, but the Big Kahoona (Prince Charming) made the final call.

We have one more day. Tomorrow we are visiting Hollywood Studios. I am excited about going home though because I have one more week off. Now if I can only hire Cinderella or even Goofy to come back and clean the house for me. I AM in a fairyland!


Ready or not here we come!

I Phone Recovery Miracle

A guy answered Prince Charming's phone this morning. When he answered he said it was his phone. I talked with him all day and until he showed up at our hotel this afternoon I was not sure he was coming. Isn't that amazing that this guy went out of his way to get it back to us. Thank you Lord for the I Phone Miracle!

I phone tragedy

Prince Charming after he realized he lost his phone :(

Disney World so close I could scream

GeoTagged, [N28.65823, E81.81995]

Yes, we are on the road to Disney, but much to our dismay we are stuck in crawling traffic outside of Orlando. Ok, let's think about this, almost 8:00 at night and we are stuck in traffic. We left at 2:00 am this morning.

My kids have been awesome through it all. Me, not so good. I stink and my hair has so much oil in it we could fry some chicken. I hope that my next blog post is with Mickey Mouse and me smiling. Until then, who wants some chicken?

New friends

GeoTagged, [N36.16058, E86.77862]

This is a picture of my new friends that I am working with in ARVA. We are at a math conference in Nashville, TN. Yes, it is a new season. This is a place I never thought I would be. Isn't that just like the Lord? Exciting times.

Fall fun

My kids have been dreaming of doing this for weeks. They raked the leaves themself for the sole purpose of jumping in them. I love it and they are growing up too fast!

The Friendships of Women

This weekend our church is having a Retreat on "The Friendships of Women". Our speakers are speaking on the saying "Friends are for a Reason, a Season, or a Lifetime!" I would love your input on your own friendships. Please fill out this 6 question survey (link below) for your friend, Desiree'

Survey on Lifelong Friendships

Dust Angels

My kids said, "Hey look mom, we are making dust angels!" Nice! :)

Menu Planning for the Week

pic from google images

This menu planning is for the sole purpose of my own sanity. I do not think I would have made it through these last few weeks without eating out every night had I not learned how to plan ahead with my menu. At least I know what I haven't made when everyone is starving!

Monday - Small Group - taking meatballs in some kind of sauce - not sure what kind-maybe ketchup :)
Tuesday - Realistic expectation - Subway footlongs (2 for $10) - have an away soccer game
Wednesday - Roast in the crockpot, potatoes and carrots, French Bread
Thursday - Pancakes, Sausage or Turkey Bacon, Fruit (Soak beans)
Friday - Beans and cornbread
Saturday - we have a big Harvest Festival Party for the kids at church (Hotdogs and smores) - very fun!
Sunday - leftovers

The Story of a Young Girl in Iraq

I was searching for a blog that I used to read to get craft ideas and I ran across this much more important blog. I have wondered a lot about what is going on in Iraq from an Iraqi's point of view, but I really did not seek it out. This is it! I emailed my mom and husband and said, this blog should be a must read for every American high school kid. It is appalling what our kids complain about after reading her blog, isn't it?

Let me know your thoughts on her blog.

Hansel practicing with his teacher

Piano Lessons

How long will my kids be excited about piano lessons? They started two weeks ago and they will not stay off of the piano.

Prince Charming and I decided that we would let them play during dinner and pretend that we are in a fancy restaurant. That's one way to get a date in!

Creating Fresh Blog Posts

I wanted to let you know that I am working on new material for my blog. That is why I have not been blogging. I am collecting exciting family events, crazy work stories and many many soap boxes that are soon to be written about.

These are a few of the titles that will be featured some day when I get finished experiencing them first hand! :)

Exciting Family Events
  • Son Turns a Decade Old
  • Daughter's Picture of the Tooth Fairy Destroyed Forever
  • Clappy Shoes Goes to Memphis With The Gals and Her Momma
  • The Light at the End of the Building Project

Crazy Work Stories
  • Losing Sleep
  • A Blessing and A Curse
  • Is the Money Really Worth It?
  • I Need to Defragment in the New Whirlpool Tub
  • Exercise or Sleep, I Choose Sleep
Soap Boxes
  • Treat Others the Way You Want To Be Treated, Including Your Husband
  • What the World Thinks of Us
I really do have hope that I will be able to come back to my blog, a part of my life that I love. Beading would be nice too, but let's be reasonable.

Menu Planning for the Week

Ok, so last week definitely was better than the week before. I am not sure if it was the lighter load or the advance attack menu planning. I thought I might give it a whirl again to see if we can stay on menu task. :)

Monday - small group, hoping I can make some monkey bread! YUMMO! Oh, we're not supposed to have just that for dinner? Well, hopefully our small group will bring something healthy.

lunch: leftover french onion soup - very yummy

Tuesday - Chicken marinated in teriyaki on the grill, broccoli marinated with soy sauce on the grill, and brown rice (steaming that right now so I do not have to think ahead).

lunch: grilled cheese and chicken noodle for lunch for the girls,

Wednesday - Chicken Pot Pie - going to Little Rock for my job

lunch: leftovers or grilled cheese again

Thursday - Soft Tacos with salad fixins (forgot tomatoes need to pick up), vegetarian refried beans ( I know that is an oxy-moron) but I can't stand the thought of lard in refried beans! :),

lunch: hopefully leftovers or cheese pizzas on the sandwich thins

Friday - I am realizing that I really have a full time job. My friends are taking their kids to the pumpkin patch and it will probably will not happen for me. I can't stand the thought of not taking her or her going without me. What to do? Ok, sorry I got sidetracked thinking about Friday and lunch and all that.

Dinner - I know this is lame, but I think we will have spaghetti with whole wheat pasta, salad and french bread. It is definitely a simple kind of week for cooking. No new recipes for me, I need old stand-bys.

Saturday - I still have not made beans and I had good intentions. Hopefully I will remember to soak them overnight and then I can let them simmer on the stove for awhile. I think we are in luck this week for some good fall weather. A pot of beans and cornbread on the side sounds really good right now.

Sunday - taco salad or taco soup or leftovers - whatever suits my fancy that afternoon; they are all about the same to warm up or to make!

Menu Planning for the Week

Ok, so last week was a disaster in my meal planning. It was my first week working full time and juggling most of my life (minus Gretel who had to be shipped to grandma's). I think we either ate out or Prince Charming cooked every night. So I determined to make improvements this week, maybe not perfect, but improve!

Monday - Small Group, making brownies and dip/veggies if they are lucky! :) Desiree or John Mark to put on beans for the next day to let them soak overnight.
Tuesday - beans with ham, jiffy corn muffins
Wednesday - Prince Charming has elder's meeting; breakfast for dinner; pancakes, turkey bacon and fruit
Thursday - Turkey Burgers on New Thin Sandwich Bread that I love (100 calories and healthy) and Sweet Potatoes
Friday - Mushroom and Chicken Bake - yummy, I bought boneless skinless chicken thighs and they are really good; salad
Saturday - Ladies' Night Out at Church. . .mi familia you are on your own! :) Mini-Pizza's with the Thin Sandwich Bread perhaps?
Sunday - Chicken Pot Pie or Leftovers

I think having a game plan will help my week when I blankly stare into the fridge with not a clue what to make. Plus, I know that I have all of the ingredients to make these things so no excuses not to eat at home this week!

Here's to a better week!

Intervention and an Interception
Last night, my mom came to rescue me. I was buried under the ash from what seemed like Mount Vesuvius. My desk had erupted, my patience had spewed and I just needed a break from my new job.

She was taking Gretel back with her and so my Prince Charming decided it would be fun to go to dinner about an hour away to a restaurant we had never tried, but had heard was yummy. It would get my mom an hour closer to home and me away from the computer.

We got seated and Hansel quickly asked the waitress if they had a trash can. I thought this was odd because usually you only need a trash can at take-out restaurants to dump your uneaten food. As soon as I could turn around the waitress stuck out her hand and said, "this is the trash." Before I could bat an eyelash, my son pulled his gum out of his mouth and was about to put his chewing gum in her hand. I squealed and quickly pushed his hand back and yelled, "Nooooooo!" The waitress jerked her hand back before the patty of gum could stick to her thumb. My husband and my mom just rolled laughing. I think it was probably the last time that this waitress volunteered her hand for "the trash."

We had a great time coming out of the dust of the volcanic eruption (at least for me). Now back to climbing out of the ash. Have a great day!

Job Change

For the last four years I have been working for a non-profit organization called Apartment Life. My husband and I joined them as a CARES Team six years ago when he started seminary in Dallas. In the last year that we were there, I started working on their staff as well as being a CARES Team. After that last year at seminary, we moved to take a job in Arkansas. I was fortunate enough and thoroughly blessed that the Apartment Life staff allowed me to continue to work for them part time, just remotely doing more admin type stuff. I have loved it! I have been able to stay at home with my kids, school them from home and be a pastor's wife.

I have sensed God leading me elsewhere though. I have my BS in Elementary and Special Education. My son started going to school at a local public school this year, while my daughter is still at home; schooling with the Arkansas Virtual Academy. I have felt for awhile that my giftings were only being partly utilized through Apartment Life and I basically live in a bubble. I am around Christians through work, church and friends. I really needed to get out of the bubble and start utilizing some of my other gifts and abilities that the Lord has given me.

I joined the Arkansas Virtual Academy at the beginning of the month as a Virtual Math Coach. I am "coaching" the 3rd and 4th grade. Basically, our nation, as well as, the Arkansas Virtual Academy's scores have fallen in math. They are bringing me on as well as other teachers through the eighth grade to get those kids math skills up to par . . . hopefully better than par.

It is so cool to see how the Lord has brought me to this point. Basically, I could not have done my Apartment Life job had I not had my own home business selling jewelry for Premier Designs. My Premier job helped me to be self-motivated, help my work ethic and to stay scheduled at home. My Apartment Life job was at home as well. With that job I was exposed to a lot of technology. Telecommuting made it where I had conference calls regularly. I spent a lot of time on excel, outlook, and working in Apartment Life's data banks. Now, with my ARVA job I need all of that to stay motivated as well as be familiar with the technology. We have been with ARVA going on my third year and that helped me to be familiar with the systems that they use. ARVA is a high technology job as well. We "virtually" teach children.

It has been like a stair step. I could not have skipped from Premier to ARVA because I would not have been equipped. I am always amazed at our God who has the big picture. He knows our future . . . He has it all figured out. Wow, this is the God we serve.

If you think of me, pray for me. I am working with Apartment Life and ARVA until the end of September. Until then I have a full time and a part time job, as well as, teaching Gretel at home. I hate to neglect my church this month, but something's gotta give. Isn't that a movie?

Anyway, I hope you are not giving up on me. It is a season called busyness, right now, but I promise to keep you as up to date as possible. I hope that you are doing well. I know that this is a busy time for everyone. I am so thankful that I can draw upon the Lord's strength. Blessings!

Home Depot

We are at home depot to celebrate my birthday! Yay! My daughter just requested to go to see the lighting. She is eight. What eight year old do you know that cares about lighting?

By the way, I was excited about going to Home Depot and it was actually my idea.

FYI: I am learning to blog from my phone and so if you have been seeing weird posts on my blog, it is because I have been experimenting and messing up a lot! Sorry about that! I think I am getting it though.

Notification of Offense

When the kids started school, I gave them the list of things to do before school each morning. It included: eating breakfast, getting dressed (including shoes), brushing teeth and making bed . . . if they got all of that done they could watch cartoons.

Today, I walked into their room after they left for school (one child to my friend's who we trade days homeschooling on Thursdays and the other child off to public school). As I partied mourned their leaving, I realized they had committed the first morning offense of the year. Both of their beds were left unmade. I thought for a second and realized that they need a consequence to remind them other than nagging. Nagging only works for awhile. :) They needed a semi-natural consequence. I pondered putting fake bugs and snakes in their bed like they like to do to me, but I decided it needed to hurt their "pocketbook."

I decided to "fine" them. We use a penny jar system that we invented over a year ago to help implement some desired behaviors and ward off negative behaviors. It has really worked! It works as allowance as well as positive reinforcement. We love it. Anyway, they came home from school and I told them that I fined them today and the notice was on both of their doors. They were confused at first when observing the notice on Hansel's door, but I could tell after they realized what happened they were disturbed. Hansel, got a slight smile on his face and I like to think it is because he thinks I am pretty witty. :) Gretel, was quite perturbed and stomped off to her room to locate her fine on her door.

I have great hope that this is going to work to help them remember the details of our morning. What do you think? Have you done something similar that has worked for warding off bad habits in your home? I would love to hear.

Small Update

This week has been a long week. I have felt that God is allowing me to use that thing called, "patience" in a lot of areas of my life. I know that He has the best plans in mind for me though. It is just when we get our earthly minds made up about something, He has to show us who's the boss!

I'm excited about today though. Gretel is having her 8th birthday party with her friends this morning. She has planned pretty much all of it. I have just given her my credit card and my servant spirit! :) It will be fun though. We are having a luau. Her birthday isn't until the 31st, but this was a good weekend to do a friend party since school is just now kicking off.

I will make sure to update you with pictures in the next day or so. Have a great weekend!

Mom's Head Explodes

Well, that is pretty descriptive, huh? That is what I would put as the headline at our house this week and last. I just feel this immense pressure! I think it has to do with the post I am putting up at 5 Minutes for Faith tomorrow. By the way, my computer is on the blink so I am on a borrowed one so no little cute button to follow to my post. :)

I can't imagine what all of the moms in America are doing right now. Possibly, putting these "brown nosing teacher pails" together? Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do our husbands not stay up late wondering what we are going to give the teacher the first day of school or what our kids will wear? I imagine because they have bigger fish to fry, like where will the money come from to fund all of the sporting events our kids are a part of this year.

So what are you doing at your home? Are you calm, cool and collected in the before the school rush or are our head's exploding together? I sure hope that you are the calm one!

Many blessings!

Who Let the Dog Out?

Last night, I woke up with the image of this dog that I had to chase out of the yard on Sunday stuck in my mind. I saw the dog as I was returning from the grocery store with a ton of groceries. The dog was in the middle of the road and he looked a little bit like a pit bull. I am not a dog person so I haven’t really studied different kinds. I pulled into my driveway and gathered all of the groceries that I could possibly carry (for fewer trips to the car, can you identify?). I was walking up to the door when I realized that that dog was after one of my cats. I had three of the four cats in the yard at the time and the dog had cornered two of them. If you know me at all, I am as protective of my cats as I am of my kids. Some would say that is sad! It’s ok. J

My older Persian cat was a ball of fur sticking straight up in the air. The dog was on her tail and I did not even drop my groceries, but immediately started chasing the dog. He was not giving up. I was swinging my twenty grocery bags at his face. I chased him around the tree several times while the cat could climb up it. Then the dog went after my other cat. That cat, not being so bright, just hid behind a bush. I finally threw down my groceries (oops on the eggs) and picked up a rock and chugged it at the dog. I started swatting at it with my hands and screaming at it. My husband heard the entire ruckus and came rushing out of the house to see what I was up to now. He helped me get the dog out of the yard and let me tell you . . . . that dog was persistent. Prince Charming had to pepper the dog with rocks to get him to get away. At first, the dog thought he was playing a game and he started going after the rocks until he got nailed a couple of times.

The dog came back one other time to scare my youngest cat up a tree. The whole thing was pretty crazy. The other thing is there were several people walking down the street watching the whole scene. I am sure that they thought I was one crazy woman. And they would be right. J

As my family struggles with the flu right now I started wondering if it was an attack on my family. We were supposed to go to a family reunion in Missouri the day that our family started getting sick. Whether or not it is it reminded me that we have a very real enemy. He is much like that dog . . . persistent, focused and knows what he wants.

The Bible says that the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10), but Jesus came to give us life and life abundantly. I am reminded by the realness of the enemy today. We need to be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour as it says in 1 Peter 5:8.

Not to leave you on a devastated and defeated note. Here are some verses that show who is victorious at the end of the day.

Psalm 60:12
With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.

Hebrews 2:14

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—

In our relationship with Christ, we will have victory over that “dog” who is determined to kill, steal and destroy. He will be locked up for a thousand years and eventually he will be overcome. We are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:37)

Much Love and Victory in Christ!

2 Cor 5:17

Menu Plan Monday - Calorie Counting Ready!

A little update on my family. We are fighting the flu. So far I am the only survivor. I am stating that this nice menu just might change. :)

The other thing about this menu is that I am trying to lose weight. So far, in two weeks I have lost seven pounds. I have been counting my calories. I have a hard time with "portion distortion" so counting my calories has helped a lot.

Some of my resources have been my "Lose It" App on my iphone, and a Calorie, Fat and Carbohydrate Counter book that I bought from Wal Mart. All of these recipes should please everyone. . .hopefully! :) Also, Sparkpeople has been a source of encouragement to me in giving me lots of information on watching what you eat.

Monday - Whole Chicken cooked in the crockpot all day/brown rice
Tuesday - Turkey Burgers, black beans with lime juice and cilantro
Wednesday - Prince Charming's Birthday - hmmm. still pondering
Thursday - Bratwurst and Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage for me
Friday - Apricot Glazed Chicken, fresh broccoli, brown rice
1 cup Smucker's sugar free apricot preserves
1/3 cup orange juice
1/4 cup Smart Start
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
1/4 tsp black pepper
Combine preserves, oj and Smart Start. Rub chicken breasts with marinade combination. Sprinkle pepper on top. Place chicken in a roasting pan. Cook for 20 minutes, basting the chicken with excess glaze every 5 minutes.

I have been reading Jillian Michaels (Biggest Loser coach), Master the Metabolism and Making the Cut. This was one of the many recipes in Making the Cut.
Saturday - Leftovers
Sunday - taco salad (Turkey taco salad for me)

comparison of calories that I have recently discovered:
80/20 ground beef 290 calories per 4 ounce servings
85% lean ground turkey 170 calories per 4 ounce servings (3 ounce cooked weight)

When you are on a 1174 calorie diet, every calorie counts! :) Sorry for all of the extra information, but I have had to brainwash myself to count my calories.

Have a great and blessed day!

Menu Plan Monday

I am on a diet and my menu reflects that, minus the cream cheese I will need to lick off the beaters today when I make the pumpkin roll. :) I am watching my calories and using my iphone to track my calories. The app is called Lose It and it is really helpful.

Monday - Small Group - making a pumpkin roll to take; eat a salad before I go!
Tuesday - Frozen Chicken Teriyaki Stir Fry with Brown Rice
Wednesday - Caribbean Baked Chicken with Mango
Thursday - Breakfast for Supper - my pancakes

Banana Bread Pancakes

Higher in Protein & Fiber and lower in Fat and Carbs than regular pancakes!

2 pouches - Quaker Instant Oatmeal, Weight Control, Banana Bread (or any type/flavor you like)
1/2 cup - Egg Beaters (or 2 eggs)
2/3 cup - Breakstone's Fat Free Cottage Cheese

Blend in blender and then cook in a non-stick skillet sprayed with Pam over medium-medium high heat. Makes 8 medium pancakes (about 6") Turn carefully because these pancakes are very tender. May need to cook longer than 'regular' pancakes.

If not using flavored oatmeal you may wish to add a little cinnamon, sweetner and vanilla extract or other flavorings to taste. The nutritional information is based on using Egg Beaters, any substitutions will change the nutritional content.

*This recipe was originally posted by another SparkMember on the message boards.

Number of Servings: 4

Recipe submitted by SparkPeople user ELAINEHN.

and kids pancakes and turkey sausage

Friday - Sandwiches - Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato
Saturday - Leftovers or spaghetti
Sunday - In Missouri

An Obsession With Paint

I told you a week or so ago about this new obsession I have. I have a friend who owns an antique store named Judith Lee's in the little town in which I live. It is ridiculously amazing to go to. If you come to these parts, I will take you!!! They even have an adorable restaurant that is decorated in a way that makes you want to eat the tablecloth. Pretty bad, huh?

Anyway, she is awesome and I was salivating leisurely walking around in her garage where she was working on several projects for her store. I begged happened to mention that I was interested in learning how to scuff things up to make them look antiqued. She whipped out her magic sander and invested in my life! :) Did I mention that I love that gal???

Basically, this is the scoop. You can sand anything. . . even laminate. . .although I have not tried, but I am chomping at the bit to start. You get a palm sander. Carefully tear strips of sandpaper (around 220 grit). I say carefully because I got put in the naughty corner by my prince charming because I wasted sandpaper. Also, note to not let the bottom of the sander be exposed to the table with sandpaper not between them. Let's just say I have stayed in the naughty corner a lot lately.

Ok, so you got your sander and sandpaper. Basically you need a non-shiny, roughed up surface. After you have sanded every nook and cranny you need to go to the store for a diet coke and a can of paint. Again, my amazing antiquey friend told me to go to Sherwin Williams and buy their samples paint. It is a small can, but it will cover most regular sized furniture with lots leftover. The cool thing about the samples cans is that they are just under $5.00! Amazing. Use a combination of a roller for the tops of your furniture and a paint brush for all the nooks and crannies. The roller does not leave paint streaks on the top, but sometimes that is a cool look. I have a piece that my friend painted and it has paint brush strokes on it and it looks very cool.

After you drink your diet coke or choice drink then admire your painting. You are pretty amazing, you know. Crank that sander up for the last time and start going around all of the edges. You can give this any look you want if you want it roughed up. My friend told me to give the corners a rounded edge. It's pretty easy. I also took some of the paint off the top of my dresser to expose the wood. Another hint is around where your knees might normally hit make it roughed up around in that area. It will look a lot more natural.

Isn't that cool. Now that you know how easy it is you can start experimenting like me. Prince Charming says that he is scared that he is going to come home sometime soon and every bit of furniture we own is going to be painted! Hmm. . . there's a thought! Gotta run to Sherwin Williams, see you later.

When's the Baby Due?

No, I am not having a baby! But I feel like I am! Not because I have gained weight either. Which I have! :) Working on that. . .that update is for another blog post!

The baby is the addition that we have been adding on since last May. A "simple" addition of a two car garage, a laundry room, a guest bedroom, another living space and last, but definitely not least, a master bath! Basically, we built a house this year.

I feel like I am about 42 months pregnant(normal gestation for a baby is 40 weeks) and everyone is asking when my baby is due. In my mind, I am screaming. . .stop asking me that, the baby will come when the baby comes! On the other side, I have already decorated the baby's room, packed my bags and cannot wait for the baby to come. In fact, I am getting a bit impatient. I am ready for that baby to sleep in it's bed (not that they really do, but it is dreamy to think of).

I feel a little past due. I am starting to get irritable. Ok, I am irritable. I will admit. Really, we are only about 35 weeks pregnant in house terms. We are finishing the tile in the bathroom around the shower and tub. None of the floors are finished. We have two out of four rooms left to paint. We are having trouble with the air conditioning of the addition. It sounds like we may need to buy a whole new unit for that side. Also, we discovered the duct work underneath the house is not the best. Go figure! :)

We also have to move the door that used to go outside that attaches the old house to the new part. We need to do all the trim work. I really should not say we on that though. I am inept on trim work. I am very good at "buttering" tile though . . . when I show up to work. :(

Really, it's not that much more, but the thought of starting another school year in a construction zone is making me crazy(er). Hansel is going to be in 4th grade public school this year and Gretel will be homeschooling for her 3rd grade year. Don't ask me why we do the things we do. I just go by what I feel is the best option for them each year. I guess I could say, I go with my gut.

Ok, so now I feel better getting all of my ranting out. The "baby" will be born soon. My gut says so.

Tooting My Own Horn!

If I don't toot it, who's going to toot it for me?

Just kidding, but I did want to tell you that I just started writing for 5 Minutes for Faith as a guest contributor. It was sort of a dare I gave myself back in May to have some pressure to write. Last week I wrote on "The Lost Art of Letter Writing." It was Writing Wednesday at my house and that was what was sitting on my brain at the time. Check out the blog sometime, I think you will be encouraged not just by me, but the other writers as well.

Have a great day and thanks for visiting Clappy Shoes!

Pajama 5K and the Girls

Yesterday, I was talking with one of my friends and she reminded me that there was a 5K at 8:30 that night. The 5 K was to help a group of runners raise $25,000 for Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Awareness. I had been running again some, but was not 100% I could do very well. I'm pretty sure I had mentioned on my blog that I have had problems with shin splints since late last year. I was training for a half marathon and my shin splints got so bad that I had to take the time to stop and rest. I even took the time to go to a physical therapist.
So we met up at 7:45 last night for a group picture and a "little before my bedtime run" and it was super fun. It was not what I would have naturally chosen to spend my time doing on a Friday night. I told them when we started running that my body was screaming, "What are you doing. Don't you know that it is Friday night and you are supposed to be on the couch watching a movie with a bag of Cheetos." Obviously, I would not have done it without my friends encouraging me to go though. Also, I probably would have walked half of it if I did not have a little positive peer pressure as I was running. They basically said, "We're not leaving you so you better run." It's great to have mean friends! :)

Seriously, I cannot imagine doing life without a group of friends like this. As a pastor's wife, it is sometimes a lonely business. You feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders and that there are very few people you can trust. I have a very unique and wonderful situation in which the Lord has brought a lot of people into my life who are trustworthy and are very special to me. God has orchestrated this time and He is definitely worthy to be praised.

I pray that you too have a group of special friends who are positively encouraging you to try things you would have never done otherwise.

Ecclesiastes 4:10 (New International Version)

10 If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!

Incredible Bible Study

For sixteen years I have been a Christian. In that time, I have done probably done maybe 30 Bible studies. I think this current Bible Study is topping them all. Don't get me wrong, I loved Beth Moore's "Breaking Free". I loved every part of Henry Blackaby's "Experiencing God". But, "For Women Only" by Shaunti Feldhahn has put some tools in my tool belt that I have needed for a long time.

This should be a must read for anyone who is thinking of getting married or has even been married for 1 minute - 50 years. There are a few things that are generalizations, but most everything has given me a fresh perspective on my marriage with Prince Charming. If you are looking for a good Women's Study, this is a great one to invest in. Our church bought the video series and we have given out over 50 books to women in our church and a few in the community to do. To put this into perspective, there are only about 150 people who go to our church (counting kids). So about a 1/3 of the people in our church were interested in doing this study!

It is very well rounded as far as being a good book, good video series as well as providing great discussion and fellowship. Honestly, I can't recommend it enough. If you don't have a group to do it with, do it on your own or with one other person. It is so worth the time. (and it does not take very much time either. . . maybe 30 minutes 5 days a week).

There is also a young women's version. Too bad Gretel is only 7 or she would have to do the study with me. I think 13 or 14 would be a more appropriate age to start her on the study.

Point being, buy it, you won't regret it! It will make your marriage and your man make sense! :)

You Shold Be Concerned!

Yes, you should be concerned about world peace and yes about our economy, but I am helping both of those crises with my new obsession. Check it out.

Helping slave labor. :) She is a cute slave. :)
The unveiling begins.
Who is the "woman in the mirror?" I think it's obsessagirl! :)Don't you love it? You should be concerned though, because today I bought yellow paint. I think it is only the beginning of a whole new world.

Works for Me Wednesday - Yummy Dips

It has been FOREVER since I posted on Works for Me Wednesday, but I am trying to get back into the swing of that. At our small group the other night we had this really yummy dip. The hostess with the mostess, Danielle, made this yummy pizza dip. Here goes the recipe:

Yummy Pizza Dip for a lot of people
4 pkg cream cheese
2 jars pizza sauce 14 oz jars
2/3 chopped scallions
3-4 cups of mozzarella cheese (depending on how much you eat before it gets in the dish ;0)
2 T Italian Seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic salt
Pkg of pepperoni

Mix the cream cheese, italian seasoning, garlic salt and scallions. Spread on the bottom of 11 X 13 (she had a really pretty red dish that really made a difference in taste :)). Spread pizza sauce on top of the mozzarella cheese and complete by placing pepperoni on top! Bake at 350 until bubbly and melted through . . . probably about 20 minutes.

Another Dip - Black Bean aka Texas Trash
The both healthy and tasty ingredients are as follows (from Southern Living Ultimate Cookbook- a few ingredients we always add ourselves)

1 can rotel (tomatoes and green chilis)
1 avocado (chopped)
1 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds (toasted)
2 cans black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can whole kernel corn (drained)
1 red onion (minced, 1 c)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup parsley (optional, really)
1/3 cup lime juice (have substituted with lemon or without)
1/4 lime juice
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper

Combine all ingredients. Cover and store tight in fridge for up to 1 week.

Now this dip is the best with chips or on chicken quesadillas or even egg burritos! Yummo!

Google 411

Have you been out and about in town and realized that you did not have the phone number for the doctor's office that you needed to call? Especially, when you live in Dallas you really don't want to carry the yellow pages with you!

Recently, I discovered and love GOOG 411. Basically, you can call any business in any town (even my little one) and find the phone number to where you are calling. You just say the business name and the city and state. The only thing that is weird about it is that sometimes it does not pick up my Arkansas accent. It says funny stuff back to me. Could that be how I sound? Nah! :) There have only been a couple of times that it could not find the place for me.

It also connects you automatically and the best thing about it is free. I made it one of my favorites on my phone so I don't even have to dial the number. The phone number is 1-800-466-4411.

Enjoy and never call information for a business again! Yay!


She is hilarious. It seems that this year Hansel has really gotten gregarious. She makes us laugh all of the time.

We were driving home from our friend's house the other night when she screeched,"Agh!" We were really concerned and said, "What's the matter." She said and I quote, "I forgot my imaginary cat at Mrs. Shanna's house! Oh, well I am so glad that we are coming back tomorrow so I can get her!"

We laughed so hard. Only in the mind of a seven year old is this appropriate.

Summer Reading

My husband and I finally figured out how to get our kids to read without too much whining or nagging by me during the summer. We bribe them with electronic time. That goes for the tv, the Wii, and the computer. . . basically anything that plugs in. There is a "15 minute increment only" rule. That means they cannot read for 1 minute, run in the living room and play on the Wii for 1 minute and then start the process over again. Believe me, we made the rule for a reason! :)

It has been great. Every morning they have a cutely decorated clip board of chores and it reminds them to read for electronic time. They have to do chores and then they can read for the electronic time. Wow! So far, this is the fourth week in the month of June and it is going well. I think we have found a winning idea. We were at the doctor's office yesterday (for Hansel's ear infection) and an older lady commented to me that she was so glad to see boys reading like mine.

The added bonus, they usually read at the same time and the house is quiet during those fifteen minute intervals. Rare, I tell you, rare! It is definitely worth a try if you haven't bribed your kids recently!

Living Life

Do you want to live in authentic community with your neighbors? How does that play out? We live in a culture that does not naturally make us able to live in community with people. We don't hang out on our front porches sipping lemonade together. In fact, our culture pulls us away by keeping us slaves to our work, our media and even our hobbies.

God used a book called, “Making Room For Life” by Randy Frazee (now pastor at Max Lucado's church in San Antonio, TX) to change my mindset and help me to see how I could practically make community a priority. I realized that the reason community was not happening in my life was because I did not leave room for it in my schedule. My schedule was dictated in the evenings by my children’s sporting events, the need for a little brain defragmenting in front of the tv, as well as, chores that got put off until the last minute.

What is driving you away from true community spent hanging out in each others yards and homes with your neighbors? Check out, “Making Room For Life” and make living life in community a priority today.

The Eleven Year Itch

You may have heard of the seven year itch. Well, I have the eleven year itch. I know this is quite a confession on a blog that all the world can see. You know, the seven year itch is where you become quite discontent with everything to do with your spouse. You don't find him attractive anymore, you start daydreaming about other more hunky guys and all that they could do for you. You begin to think that you have made a mistake and the only thing that could remedy that is the big D. And I am not talking about a trip to Dallas.

This itch that I have is a tad bit different though. It is an itch to make this marriage stuff better than ever before. I search the web and the Word (two of the world's best resources :) ) each day trying to find answers to all of our tough questions. I listen to Christian podcasts on how to get on the same page in our finances and how to improve our love life. These are two of the most critical areas to be on the same team.

We are so far from perfect, but I refuse to paint a perfect Mona Lisa picture in my mind for us to live up to. While all the world and it's crazy statistics about pastor's and their weekend lives surround us, I will not allow Satan in this marriage only to destroy it. I am closing the gates of our home to the evil one and even if I stray for awhile (which is undoubtedly going to happen in this imperfect body) I will not give into the world's answers . . . to give up and pay the money to the courts to get out.

I will seek each day to be a wife that is pleasing in Christ's sight. I will lean on the only one who can completely make me content. He is the only one who can fill the areas in my heart where my husband has not learned to touch. Christ will be my center. May angels guard the doors of our home so that we can never leave angry at one another with intent to never come back. May Christ tenderize our hearts with meat mallets if He has to to get our attention when we are losing sight of His plan for our marriage and family.

John Mark Rutter, I pledge my love to you all over again. You are precious to me. When your heart is broken over something, my heart aches to remedy it. Believe me, I know my shortcomings. God will not let me stop learning and growing. Every time I am wanchy to you, He prods me with His disapproval. I know that I am not easy to love. In the earliest years of our marriage, when most were on the mountaintop, we were in the trenches. We basically had to grow up together. We had to figure out how to not blow a gasket when the other was a complete moron. We figured out how to build a budget, a house and a family together. I guess you can say we are still figuring those out, especially building the house! :) In the last year, we have spent time together on the rooftop shingling the house, in Morrilton, AR at a retreat center and in church praising our Lord together.

I have seen you grow in the Lord and your faith more this year than any other year of our marriage. I am in awe of the way you pull those sermons together. I have learned so much from you not only as my husband, but as a my pastor. You have shepherded my heart to a good place. I long for you not only to touch me as my husband, but to touch me with a Word from the Lord our God. Thank you for all of the times you have prayed for me over the phone, in person and even the times that you have rained on my parade. You keep me sensible! I love you. You mean the world to me. You are God's gift to me. You have treated me like a princess . . . especially in those early days when I still did not feel like a princess or child of the King. You are my Prince until the King's return. I love you, John Mark, and I have loved cruisin' with you.
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Finger Food Friday

As soon as I told my kids, Hansel 9 and Gretel 7, that Fridays were going to be the day that they got to try their hand at cooking, they begged me to let them cook today. I bought a cook book last year for the kids that are 2 or 3 ingredient recipes. I told the kids that they had to do it all by themselves. I went into the other room to work on a really important project . . . beading. I knew the recipe they chose had to do with kool-aid and it did not seem to difficult. They were going to make slushies and that sounded great to me.

I knew that this might not be working when Gretel came in to tell me that Hansel was using a very sharp knife to break up the contents of the Kool - Aid. It came in a big plastic jug and had solidified. I asked him, calmly, to get a spoon. The next thing I heard, not 2 minutes later was "Help mom! Oh no, come quick!" Of course my mind began racing and beat my legs down the hall! I envisioned smoke, fire and blood.

Well, it looked a lot like blood when I got there. It was red Kool Aid, permanently staining my laminate countertops. They forgot to put the blade component in the blender and when they poured the water, Kool Aid, large amount of sugar, as well as the ice, it all dripped down the blender, down the counter and onto the floors. I am sitting here with red stained hands, lips and tongue with a big smile permanently stained on my face at the fun times I am having with my kids. God love em!

P.S. I would have provided pictures, but they blocked my picture when I went to take it saying they were too embarassed to see it on the blog! :) They know me well.

Funny Stuff

Last Sunday, we were sitting around the kitchen table discussing what we learned that morning at church . My husband is a pastor and I told my kids that daddy talked about spiritual gifts in his sermon. The kids were excited to learn that because they had talked about spiritual gifts in their class too.

Hansel, very matter of factually stated that he knew what his spiritual gift was. I was so excited that he finally knew because I have always really wanted my kids to discover who they are in Christ and how God made them. I was sad though when he stated that his spiritual gift was "eating." Being given that tidbit of information does give me a whole lot more perspective on where all the food has been going! :)

This joke makes a lot of sense too given that his spiritual gift is eating.

Hansel came outside the other day when I was working in the garden and told me this joke. I thought he had been eating and reading Laffy Taffy's, but he swears he made it up.

Q: What happens when a lightning bug grows too quickly?
A: It has glowing pains!!!

That's pretty good, huh! :)

My Favorite I Phone Apps

I am fortunate enough to work for a company that values technology. That is why I have an I Phone. I did not know much about it when I got it. . .all of its capabilities and I still probably don't. What I knew is that I could get my email on my phone and I really liked that. It freed me up to be away from home and still hammer away at the emails that I receive at work.

In all of its little 2 X 4 body, I have the capability to talk on the phone, check my email, listen to my ipod or a podcast, map where I am on GPS and to top if off take a picture with it's camera. Ok, I am beginning to sound like a commercial, so I will stop!

Here are the FREE Apps that I have on my phone:

Pandora - listen to music
K Love - listen to a Christian radio station
Whitenoise Lite - listen to background noise while you are going to sleep or while you are laying out, pretending to be on the beach with waves crashing in the background ( who me. . .do I sound like I have ever done that! :))
Pac Man - yeah, it's for the kids, right? :)
Galaga - again for the kids
Shazam - this has to be my favorite right now! You can hold your phone up to any radio and it will tell you what is playing, what album it is on and to top it off you can buy the song from that page. I am thinking it will let you do movie quotes too, but I am not sure. - you can compare prices when you are out shopping
Reqall - you record your voice and it helps you remember things you need to remember such as hamburger buns which I am out of right now for our hamburgers tonight because I forgot to use ReQall! :)
Quicken - keeps up with all of the preformulated categories in your budget to tell you how much you have in each area; such as groceries, dining out, etc.
Lose It! - Keeps track of all of your food for the day, including how many calories you have eaten. I hesitated to include this one since I am not doing so hot in that area of my life right now. Maybe I should set up my ReQall app to remind me to keep track of my Lose It App! :)

I have a lot of other apps that I will update you on later. Right now, you just need to know that the I Phone is cool. Let me know if you have other apps that you have enjoyed.

Am I Paranoid or Are We Not Getting Our Mail?

My greatest fear has happened. The mail man blocked our postal services. The reason you ask? Because our mailbox is too low.

A month ago our flooding street was "remedied" by the Independence County Road Department. Well, sort of. Ever since we have lived in this neighborhood our streets flood when we have heavy rain. Honestly, our house and our yard is not affected by this. Our house is a little higher than the rest of the neighborhood's houses and so basically the flooding stops right in our drainage ditch and yard.

This is the second time the County Road Department has "remedied" the problem of flooding in our neighborhood. The first time our mailbox became too low for our mailman to reach from his truck, we were left with the task of raising it. My husband had to build a new post that was longer for our mailman to reach the box. It not only costs us money, it costs us time.

Well, I am done with fixing the county's problems. If they are going to make my mailbox too low, they are going to have to raise it. I called the county judge and he was out to lunch. HMMM! Maybe he could stop by on his way to Sonic and build us a new mailbox.

My bills and packages are now in our mailman's truck. Maybe the mailman would like to pay our bills when they are late?

I will let you know how this turns out. As of now, I am not hopeful.

Update: Not even five minutes later, my husband comes to the rescue of our mail. He is digging a post hole. Sorry, county you missed out on serving your residents. :(

County Update: I called to let them know my awesome hubs took care of it. The lady said that she would make sure to let the judge know that this is a problem when the road department is altering the roads and they need to do something about it. I think it helped that I was nice both times when I spoke to her.

I guess I should also add that I think it is important to let the county know your needs. That is what we pay taxes for right? :)

3,000 Bottles of Excel Rows on the Wall

I love work! I love my boss! But not today! I have a spreadsheet of over 3,000 rows of information that I have to press delete, cut and paste over and over again to get the right information on there. It is 50 sheets of printed out information. I am sitting here listening to Pandora Radio - Love Songs, drinking Coke Zero and working on my office chair posture. All the while singing 3,000 Bottles of Excel Spreadsheet Rows on the Wall. I am truly losing my mind! Help! Can anyone identify?

I really should not complain. I am sure someone who lost their job recently would appreciate my 3,000 rows on an excel spreadsheet. Truly, I am thankful for my job. I work for an awesome ministry that really tries hard to please God and to follow His plan. My work/ministry is not perfect, but individually each of my co-workers has a personal relationship with Christ and they want to do what the Lord has for them. You cannot ask for much better than that. Now, back to the rows and rows and rows!

Did I Just Say That?

Mom talking to Seven Year Old Gretel: After you finish all of your chores then I will let you clean the toilet.

Gretel: Yay!

There's No Place Like Home

I am officially back from my vacation and already feel the effects of being away from the beach. . . and the TV. We do not have extended cable at our home in Arkansas for various reasons. When I want to watch extended cable, mainly HGTV, I go to the gym to get my fix. Yes, that helps two issues in one. :)

When I was not at the beach, I was on the couch eating a bowl of ice cream and watching HGTV. I redecorated my house in my mind at least 30 times, as well as gained 30 pounds. I had major "Curb Appeal" as well as "Decorating Cents." Also, at the beach we had four TV's . . . one in each room so my kids could watch cartoons, my aunt could watch the news and I could watch HGTV. Now wasn't that convenient? Who thought of that? A very smart condo realtor.

Now I am home, Clifford is on the TV and my walls are unpainted the optimal color to make the room appear larger and cheery! Wow, I am all messed up. What will I do with all my spare time? Work? Do dishes? Sweep the floor? Work in the garden? Paint the already primed walls of our addition?

There's no place like home and I am actually glad to be home. I was beginning to feel purposeless.