This Is Me

Jessie Bee
I am a seeker of God, a help-meet to my husband and a mother to my 3 children. I love hot lattes, good books, cold weather and anything that inspires me to be creative. I desire simplicity and authenticity, but often have to remind myself to seek those .
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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Judgement day.

Err...week...

One of my biggest pet peeves is premature judgement.  Not that I haven't been found guilty because I would readily admit that one of my biggest weaknesses is judging others.  Not you, of course.  Just others.

=P

Needless to say, I have felt the sting of being judged more times than seems normal this past week and I don't know if it really is me or if it's something in the water.

Example #1:
On Thursday I needed a newspaper.  Conveniently there is a newspaper stand right in front of our local post office, which is less than a mile away.  So I went and pulled up in front of the newspaper dispenser, stuck on my hazards, and grabbed my change.  As I did that, a car pulled in behind me, apparently thinking I was moving forward...?  Not sure her thoughts, but she wasn't too pleased that I was stopped and getting out of my car in front of the newspaper dispenser so she sped her car around mine and yelled at me:  "THAT'S NOT A PARKING SPOT!!!"  I looked around to be sure it was me she was yelling at.  Apparently it was.  So she whipped her car in front of mine, stopped it and got out to drop mail in the mailbox.  Well, you know me, I'm just so sweet so I let her know, "that's not a parking spot."

"I'M JUST MAILING SOME PACKAGES"  


"Well, I'm just buying a newspaper."   So there.  And ironically we took the same amount of time, including me getting more change from my car because - FYI folks - newspapers cost a $1.  Of course, as fate would have it, I had to follow her the mile back to my house because she happened to be going the exact same direction as myself.  Awkward.

Example #2:
I had to go to the store today.  Fine. Great  Wonderful.  Fantastic.  I also had to take all three of my kids with me.  Fine. Great  Wonderful.  Fantastic.  And it's a Saturday in December.  Yeah...not so fine, great, wonderful OR fantastic.  Parking is ridiculous, friends, ridiculous.  So I grabbed a spot over yonder and trekked it towards the store.  With all three kids.  On a Saturday in December.  Oy.  Shopping was actually fine, except for one child spilling a water bottle all over the floor and another peeing their pants a stone's throw away from the bathroom, for which I had to tear off a jacket from another child to clean it up.  Fine, great, wonderful...really guys, just fantastic.  Not anything a super mom can't handle.  Although I do give myself props for thinking of the jacket-turned-towel.  Brilliant.

But then came the time to load the car with the groceries.  Fine.  And get the children in their seats and settled.  Great.  I was then stuck with a cart, and don't you forget that we parked "over yonder" so my options on what to do with the cart were limited.  Wonnnnderful.  I could park it behind the car next to me or jump it onto a nearby curb.  I sweetly (because that's how I do things) put it up on the curb and out of the way of traffic.  Fantastic.

Wouldn't you know that at that exact time the Honorable Judge was destined to walk past.  With a disgusted look on his face he blurted out  "Reeeally??"  Again, I did the look around to be sure it was me he was accusing.  Yep, definitely me.  This time I was exhausted and just let it go.  Of course he couldn't have seen me load three kids into my car.  And he definitely wasn't a mom, so he couldn't understand my fear of walking away from my car with such precious cargo inside, especially on a Saturday in December.  But to make his point even more brutally clear, he grabbed my cart and stared me down as he took it to its rightful place.  Umm, thank you?

I just sunk into my car seat and drove home feeling defeated and tried to encourage myself that I had done nothing wrong.  It's been a rough week.

What's the point of this particular blog?  I guess it's this:
-If you're being prematurely judged, consider the reality that they don't know your whole story and, in their minds, they think they're right.
-If you're prematurely judging, consider the reality that you don't know the whole story and you may very well be wrong.
-Don't give your child a water bottle in the grocery store.
-Visit the bathroom frequently.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

For the love of cake...

When I found out I was pregnant with my son, I was a wee bit bummed that his due date was in the middle of November.  You see, my birthday is in November.  And so is my twin sister's.  And my husband's, my uncle's, and my grandpa's.  So I was disappointed that his birthday would have to be shared with so much family.  Surprisingly, my son came 3 weeks early - in late October - and we avoided the whole November birthday conflict.

However, four months later I found out I was pregnant again.  And due in November.  My daughter came 5 days after my husband's birthday, and 5 days before mine.  Oh well, we could still have fun with that.  Then the next year I gave birth to my third child.  In November.  Ironically, I now wish my son's birthday was November just for the sake of unity.

Needless to say, November is a busy month for us given that our birthday's tend to hug Thanksgiving like a long-lost relative and we spend a solid two weeks eating and celebrating...and baking.  

So last week, in a matter of four days, I made four cakes (and some cake pops) and had a blast doing it!  Here are some pics:


French Vanilla (box mix) with Swiss Meringue Buttercream

"Autumn Delight" cake (sweet potato cake) with Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue


Raspberry Chocolate Ganache
(I noticed the cute little finger swipe after I took the pic)


 My fourth cake was a carrot cake order that I didn't get a pic of before it was picked up.  

However, here is a pic of me holding my birthday cake, made by my amazing Dad.  
Who knew he could make cakes?!?  I was hugely impressed.



Now it is time to recoup before Christmas.  =)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I'm Thankful.

1. I'm thankful for my family.  We have had some great highs and some extreme lows.  But God is sovereign and loves to bless.  What a gift.
2. I'm thankful for the unbelievable freedom of going into this season 100% debt free.  It hasn't been easy, we've had to make sacrifices, but it's been worth it.  What a gift.
3. I'm thankful for my husband's job.  There are so many people facing the reality of unemployment, and yet my husband was blessed with a career where, not only does his company continue to grow, but he is able to provide jobs for others.  What a gift.
4. I'm thankful for my friends.  Never before have I realized the treasure chest of friends I have been blessed with.  Through even our low times and our efforts to pursue adoption, we have not just been surrounded, but we have been picked up and carried by these people.  What a gift.
5. I am thankful for the fulfillment of wants.  Not only have needs been met in abundance, but I have been blessed with so many of my wants as well.  A cutting board set, hot coffee on cold mornings, a new outfit, great books to read, and several date nights with my husband are just a few of them.  What a gift.  
6. A God who continues to love, forgive, and bless me.  Just the other night I read about how awesome it is to give praise to a God whom we cannot exaggerate.  What a gift.

I know people say we should be thankful for these things everyday.  I am.  Nonetheless I still appreciate being given a day to meditate on all the blessings in my life, and to spend that day with friends and family doing the same.  

What a gift.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Day I Was An Awful Mommy

A few days ago my children went insane.

A typical day with them includes a handful of interventions, but three days ago that "handful" amounted to at least twenty before lunchtime.  I was losing both discipline options and my patience very quickly.  So when I heard a curdling scream from my bedroom, I ran back there and grabbed the offending party (my middle daughter), gave her a swat on the bottom, and plopped her on my bed.  "You stay here and DO NOT MOVE."

I grabbed the younger, injured party and started for the girls room, with the intention of separating them for the next hour.  However, on my way out the door I heard the sobbing scream from my bed, "Bu-ut Mommy!!  I di-didn't d-d-d-do it!!!!"


I looked at my youngest whom was still crying due to her injury, then looked at the accused questioningly.  I knelt down and asked my daughter how she got hurt.  "Fr-from the cl-cl-closet."  *sniff*sniff*

My stomach dropped.  I had done what no parent ever wants to do - I'd punished in frustration.  But worse than that, I had punished unfairly.  I had sent a message to my children that the judge and jury they depend on for daily mediation can be unfair and unjust.  Talk about brutal humbling.

So I did the only thing I could think of.  I cried.  I cried and I asked her to forgive me because I, her mommy, had completely wronged her.  Her own teary eyes stared at me for a split second until she realized that she was no longer in trouble, then broke into a huge grin and let out the sound of perfection: a giggle.  I had been forgiven.

Why did I write this?  Because I want to make it clear that I am not a perfect parent.  My dear child was the victim of a a faulty justice system, and it was my fault. But I've learned that honesty in this area usually begets improvement, and improvement in this area is what I crave.

So thanks for reading my confession.  Tomorrow I expect to be perfect.



Monday, October 24, 2011

Birthday Party Success!

Today is my son's 6th birthday.  They're not lying when they say they grow up too fast.  This morning I watched him making pancakes for breakfast.  He asked me to come over and pour some into shapes so I tried, but they kept coming out funny.  "That one looks like a pickle."  "That one looks like the moon."  At least he was positive about it.  Apparently I even made one that looked like a chrysalis.  Props to me for that.

Since his birthday fell on a Monday, we decided to have his birthday party on Saturday.  And MAN did we have fun!!  We asked the boys to come at 9am, still dressed in their p.j.'s.  We fed them cereal, watched Saturday morning cartoons and had a rockin' pillow fight.

Here are some pics of the event!


The invitation.  Funny story about Noah.  My son said he wanted to invite this little boy to the party, but I found out later that he was no longer in C's AWANA group...and hadn't been since LAST YEAR.  With no way to contact him, we had to forfeit the attempt.


We had gobs of cereal waiting for them!

Coloring pages of Phineas and Ferb - C's cartoon of choice.


Can't forget the vitamins!
The favors, their own cereal spoon and some magic milk straws.
(They also took home a box of their own cereal concoction.)

Pillows are fluffed and ready for the pillow fight.
My blue couch joined in the festivities.  Can you see why I love it so much?  : )
The pillow fight!
The Birthday (pan)Cake!  Layered with chocolate chips, this was a huge hit!


Overall, this party was absolutely perfect.  I would totally recommend it to anyone looking for an easy (and affordable) birthday option!  

(For more ideas on the event, take a look at the blog where I stole this idea from here.)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My thoughts on occupying ANY street.

First of all, Occupy Wall Street confuses me.  Can some tell me EXACTLY what the goal of the movement is?

I read on the Occupy Wall Street website that this movement is"fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations."


Huh?  


How much power can major banks, multinational corps and the so-called "Wall Street" possess if not first granted by our friend, Mr. Government?  None.  


Let's consider, for instance, the housing market crash.  Thanks to my real estate classes, I've learned quite a bit on the subject:


In 1977, Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act which required lending companies to quit discriminating against credit requests from people in low-income neighborhoods.  Up until the year 2000, the percentage of lending devoted to low-income living was at or around 30%.  


In 2000, during the Clinton Administration, that percentage was raised to a whopping 55%, and in 2007 (during Bush's administration), was raised again to 55%.  


So herein lies Problem #1:  Subprime mortgages.  More than half of all mortgages being given out by financial institutions were what we call "subprime", which literally means "less than prime." 


Problem #2:  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were busy buying up these loans.  Banks lend buyers the money, then turn around and sell those loans (more specifically the interest) to larger companies (e.g. Freddie Mae, et al) so that they have the cash to keep giving mortgages to borrowers.  That's fine and dandy, and it worked great, unless it's the government insuring most of these mortgages, and most of these mortgages are subprime.


Problem #3: Investors stopped investing.  How is it that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could keep buying up these mortgages from the banks?  It's because investors would invest their money for what are known as Mortgage -Backed Securities (MBS).  I'm not going to go into the details of those.  When the interest rates jumped up on the subprime mortgages, the borrowers could no longer afford them so they stopped paying them, which obviously made investors worry about their investments and stop investing.  With no more money coming into Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and no money being paid on the mortgages, it only makes sense that the entire system crashed.  


But wait.  Who started the problem?  (Answer:  the government)


In a study regarding lottery winners, published in The Review of Economics and Statistics, results showed that more money does not solve a spending crisis.  Essentially people who cannot handle a budget rarely do any better when more money is handed over to them.  So while I am in 100% agreement with the OWS movement in that large corporations (big banks, etc) should not be bailed out of financial hardships as a result of stupidity, I also don't believe they should be paying more in taxes than is already required.  Teach the government to work on a budget, and then reevaluate the tax percentages.  


I suppose watching my husband run a business gives me a bias in this situation.  He is incredibly fiscally responsible when it comes to running his business and our family willingly takes a smaller income just so he can pay off his business debts faster (e.g. truck leases). 
My husband and I pay for our own health insurance, we are funding our own retirement (and don't anticipate taking in Social Security, although we pay it dutifully), my husband lowers the unemployment rate via his business, and we give to charities monthly.  We are definitely part of the 99% who work hard.  However, I refuse to see the economical problems we're facing originating from the (much too stereotyped) 1%.  I'd argue that it's a two-fold problem resulting from a) the lack of morals we are seeing throughout our country's leadership, both government and corporate and b) yes, I'll say it - our government is too big.



Sunday, October 16, 2011

Curious...

I have two siblings and five cousins in my generation of the family tree.  The kicker here is that, of the 8 of us, we are ALL FEMALE.  So I missed out on some seemingly necessary information regarding the opposite sex.  Some of it was easy to understand and accept:  they like dirt, and trucks, and blowing things up.  And if they can't participate in it themselves, they like to watch shows about it.  But after being married to a man for the past 7 years, one thing still puzzles me.

Why do men believe they have the power to change the color of a traffic light?




Friday, October 7, 2011

Goodbye.

Last ride in my Dad's jeep.  


Yesterday my family said goodbye to our puppy.

No, she wasn't really a puppy - she lived a full and happy life - but she was the youngest in the line of our childhood dogs and therefore always the baby.  I realize some people may mock the relationship a person can have with a dog, but until you experience the transformation of an animal becoming a family member, it's difficult to comprehend the the reality of the loss.

Reba was our first childhood dog.  We brought her home because she managed to run circles around my little sister (who was a mere toddler at the time) without knocking her over.  Win.  She became the Lassie of the neighborhood, roaming the block playing with the kids and barking at the strangers.  At one point we had to quarantine her because we found out the neighbor boy had jumped on her back and injured it.  She didn't do a thing to him.

Sarah, our second dog, was my personal dog.  My mom insisted "NO BLACK LABS" because we had a friend with a black lab who left dreadful amounts of black hair all over their house, but it was because of that black lab that I wanted a black lab.  Catch-22, ugh.  So I decided I'd go for a Siberian Husky.  "NO SIBERIAN HUSKIES BECAUSE THEY'RE TOO BIG."  Seriously mom?  What CAN I have?  =)  I finally settled on trying to find a Siberian Husky mix because they'd likely be white with light eyes, and if mixed with the right breed, would be smaller.  Besides, our family has always been a sucker for mutts.  Whatever the dog, I was going to call her Honey because I thought it was the perfect name for a dog.  One afternoon we walked into the Humane Society and - lo and behold - the angels were singing and shining down on this one dog.  She was a medium-sized Siberian Husky mix named Honey.  I kid you not.  I called my mom over, absolutely thrilled that God would answer my request so perfectly...until my mom pointed out the reason she was there: "Does not get along with other dogs."  Seriously?  I'm sure I looked for a candid camera at that point.  Or suggested that some animals were meant to be wild and we should go ahead and set Reba free.  Yeah, that didn't work.  So we kept looking.  Long story short...we came home with Sarah - a black lab/dalmation mix.  I'd like to say my mom ate her words, but since she was the one who let me get Sarah, I won't.

Penny came very soon after.  She was the runt in a pack of misfit pups - part coyote/part German Shepherd.  Little did we know what we were in for.  A snapshot of her life includes electrocution (her own fault), eating a couple pounds of chocolate and sprinting through the house for. several. hours., trying to escape the lawn chair she was tied to while down at Fiesta Island, and keeping all the airplanes out of the yard for the many years we were blessed to call her ours.  And to this day we've never had a plane land there.  In honor of her service, I made this:


I put it on her little grave in my parents backyard.

Last night I went to bed just fine.  I was thinking a lot about my younger sister, to whom Penny belonged, because I realized this was her first night without her dog.  Those first nights are always the hardest.  But I was fine...until this morning.  Because I have to go to my parents house today.

I haven't lived with Penny since I moved out of my parents house several years ago, but I go to their house quite regularly (can anyone say "free babysitting", haha).  I have no doubt I was secretly Penny's favorite visitor (don't worry Penny, I won't tell anyone) if only because I would come in feeding her handfuls of treats.  Actually, the treats were a ploy to get my mom's puppies to like me and, to this day, have STILL not made a dent in our relationship.  But if chunky ol' Penny was going to go wriggle and squirm to stand up and trot over to me, of course she was going to get some.  Of course.

But not today.  Yesterday she joined our two other childhood dogs wherever dogs go when they die.  There are some arguments that animals make it to heaven, and I'll be okay believing that if only because it makes me smile to think that she's running with her canine sisters and probably keeping the angels from landing.

 Rest in peace, Penny.  We love you.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Something to Think About...

There's an old adage among Christians which generally comes up in the face of catastrophe and essentially says there is no reason to fear because we know how the story ends and God wins.  


Amen to that, right?


Well, yes. 


 And no. 


I've started to realize that not many Christians (including myself) really know how it's going to end.  We simply know that God wins.  However, I've felt compelled to learn more than that and while, in reality, I know so little about prophecy and the end times, the more I learn, the more I want to know.  Thankfully I have a good friend who wants to learn about this too and we often have conversations about what is going on.  And from conversations with her, listening to online sermons by Pastor Ray Bentley, reading books by Chuck Smith and Joel Rosenberg, and reading through numerous websites, here is what I know and why I am SO EXCITED to be living in this generation:


Signs and Seasons:
Genesis 1:14 - "And God said, 'Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years. ' "


That word signs means "signals" and the word seasons literally means "appointed time."  So let the lights in the sky be for signals and for appointed times.  


The Lunar Zodiac contains 12 constellations which most of us are very familiar with.  If I asked you your zodiac sign, you could probably tell me.  However, this mindset is a warped interpretation of what these stars are actually telling us.  


In Psalm 19:1, David says that "the heavens declare the glory of God and the skies proclaim the works of His hands."  And he's not lying.  The Lunar Zodiac gives a wonderful depiction of God's story, starting with Virgo, the virgin, and ending with Leo, the lion of Judah.  


Feasts:
Leviticus 23:4 says "These are the appointed feasts of the LORD...which you shall proclaim at the time appointed for them."  


That reference to "time appointed for them" is the same word used in Genesis 1:14 for seasons.  Basically, each feast has been given a season, an appointed time, to happen.  The other key element in this verse is that these feasts belong to the LORD - not necessarily to Israel, despite the fact that they are often referred to as the Feasts of Israel.  If we belong to the Lord, these feasts should mean something to us as well.


Now, if you know nothing about these Feasts, here is a basic summary:


There are 7 feasts: 4 spring and 3 fall.  These feasts are celebrated every year on specific days, however they also represent major prophecy fulfillments and, so far, those prophecies have happened on actual feast days.


1. Passover - fulfilled, by Jesus at His death
2. Unleavened Bread - fulfilled, by Jesus at His burial
3. First Fruits - fulfilled, by Jesus at His resurrection
4. Pentacost - fulfilled, by the Holy Spirit at the Day of Pentacost


Summer Harvest


5. Trumpets - unfulfilled
6. Day of Atonement - unfulfilled
7. Tabernacles - unfulfilled


Now, before I go into this next part, I must pause and say I do not know when Jesus is going to return.  It could be tomorrow, it could be 50 years from now.  However, I do believe it is soon - if not within my lifetime, then very possibly within my childrens'.  


Like I said, all feasts are given appointed times.  However there is one feast - the Feast of Trumpets - where a precise date could not be given because it was determined by the new moon.  To solve this problem, this feast was (and currently still is) celebrated over the course of two days.  In other words, while we know the feast is coming, we don't know the exact day or hour of this Feast.  Verses to keep in mind regarding this feast:


About the day of Christ's return, Matthew 24:36 says "No one knows about that day or hour."
I don't necessarily think this implies Jesus will be returning during the Feast of Trumpets (though, hey, He could!), but 1 Thessalonians 4:16 tells us that Jesus will return with the sound of a trumpet so I do believe there is some sort of a connection here.   


Miscellaneous


There is a lot more I could go into, such as Palestine's attempt to separate out from Israel, the return of many Jews to Israel (including Russian and Ethiopian Jews), South Sudan becoming its own state, the massive size of China's army, etc.  There is just SO MUCH going on right now and I only know a small percent of it.  But MAN is it exciting to hear about!  




(Note:  I apologize if this post seems to come out of left field.  I know it doesn't fit in the context of anything else I've written, but as a Christian, I cannot help but take notice of all that is happening right now and that excitement found its way here.)
















Thursday, September 15, 2011

In Case of Emergency

In case you weren't around, Southern California had a power outage a week ago.  This meant we didn't have electricity in our home for SEVEN HOURS.  I thought we were going to die.  Yet leave it to the loss of our indoor lighting to motivate us enough to go outside and meet our next door neighbors.

Aaand, yes, also purchase some necessary equipment in case of an actual emergency.  Here is some of our loot:

 Non-perishable food.  Okay, technically it is perishable.  But not for quite awhile.

Honey, on the other hand, NEVER EXPIRES.  So I bought these little puppies.

Tools and basic essentials, including flashlights and batteries, a tarp and bungie cords, lighters, markers (not sure what these are for, but the list said I had to have them), and of course duck tape.

First aid kit, iodine tablets (for water purification), emergency blankets, and hand sanitizer.

A large blanket (we need more, I know) and basic toiletries, including toilet paper, chapstick, toothbrushes, feminine products, etc.

Here is Stuart's favorite part:  the crank radio.  This awesome thing will also charge our smart phones!!  

Water!!!  I read that water should be kept in sturdy containers (preferably not the one gallon jugs as those can easily get punctured) so how happy was I to find these 5 gallon jugs.  I bought 2, but will probably grab a couple more as its recommended to store at least a weeks worth of water, 1-gallon per person per day.

And a rolling trash can to store everything in.  This makes for easy transport and keeps it out of the way.  Of course the water won't go in here, but everything else will.  How clever is that?

Not pictured:  Yes, I also ordered some potassium iodide in 2 different doses (for the kids and for us).  Not that there will be another radiation scare but if there is, we won't be panicking and spending hundreds on a couple tablets. Which did happen after Japan's earthquake.   Also, I only pictured a portion of the food.  I have duplicates of nearly everything, plus some instant soup.  All in all, I'd say a solid weeks worth of food for our family of 5.

You know, as I was walking around the store piling my cart high with food, first aid stuff, and camping gear, I know I must have looked a wee bit insane.  I have no doubt my cart was a tell-all for what my intentions were.  But so what.  There is something remarkably comforting in knowing you've made preparations to safeguard your loved ones in the event of a disaster.  I kept talking about making an emergency kit, but never made it further than an extra jug of water housed in our garage.  But talking and doing are not the same thing.  So I'd encourage you to print out a basic emergency kit list and buy one or two things on your next shopping trip.  Keep it in a box either in a closet, a garage, or in the trunk of your car.  I guarantee if an emergency ever happens, you won't regret a cent of what you put into that kit.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Fork

I dislike forks.

And spoons.  Knives are okay, ice cream cones even better, but I really really dislike forks.

On the other hand, I love good-tasting food.  And in my personal opinion, forks taste like metal.  I would never consider metal an ingredient in any gourmet dish, yet somehow we've democratically approved sticking it into our mouths and calling it normal.  Isn't that the exact same thing we discipline children for?  No wait, somehow it's different because this particular metal has been molded into pointy spikes and holds food, right?

I call it weird.

So if you wonder why carne asada burritos, fish tacos, and sushi are so stinking delicious, don't blame it on the ingredients.  Instead let's give credit where credit is due: no forks.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Walk

The more "organic" time I spend with my children, the more I start to worry about them.

Today we went on a walk.  Nothing sophisticated.  Just a walk.  On this walk my son questioned me about a warning sign.  You see, several months ago he learned how to read "Warning."  So now he asks what the warning is on anything that says warning -the mattress tag, the refrigerator, the seat belt, the dryer...everything.  Including the neighbors sign:

Umm....picture not to scale.  =)


Typically, he asked what the warning was.  So I explained:  well, it lets people know that the house has an alarm.  So that way if someone thinks about going inside when the people aren't home and taking their stuff, they won't because they know an alarm will go off.

To this he replied:  "OR the secret spies can just go in."

I wrinkled my forehead and the walk continued.  Whenever we go on walks, my two daughters collect a bouquet of gorgeous weeds and pass them on to me, to which I take proper action and diligently position them in my hair.  By the end of these walks I generally look like an upside-down pomander.  But whatever - it's for the children.

I wasn't sure if my hair was too full or if she just wanted to secretly keep a flower for herself, but I glanced back at my youngest stuffing a flower into her pocket.
(Fine, I admit it, these pictures are fakes.)

Sweetie, the flower's gunna get smooshed.  (Yes, my word usage is atrocious when I'm speaking to my 3 year old.)

"That's okay Mommy - we can just water it."  

Sheesh.  That is seriously the LAST time I let a tv show teach my children.  

Friday, August 19, 2011

Catching up.

Four score and 7 years ago I started Project Pizza.  Then I never finished.  So here is Project Pizza Attempt #2 in 5 seconds or less:






Looks great, but I have a little secret.  The bottom is black.  Project Pizza Attempts #3-6 involved Digiorno.  I figure since I didn't order them and I rearranged the pepperoni, it counts as semi-homemade.  Well, with a little bit of this...semi-homemade...I can take full  credit and qualify them as total successes.  Yay me.

As for my hundred push-up challenge (I know, you thought I forgot about this), I'm doing semi-amazing.  I actually haven't given up yet, however, I manage to forget to push myself up on the days I'm supposed to, so instead of doing it every other day 3x a week, I'm doing it every 3 days, period.  My max so far has been 20 push-ups.  TWENTY!  And I've had several people ask if I'm doing them on my knees.  No way!  I've been doing these puppies on my toes.  And hands.  I'd be pretty crazy good just doing them on my toes, huh?

Oh, P.S. I just got a phone call from the company we're applying for life insurance from.  They're required to ask 2 million questions so they know how much to charge you for insuring your life.

Her: "Have you gained or lost any weight in the past 2 years?"
Me: "Umm...gained some."
Her: "And what caused this weight gain?"
Me: Paused to think about this then "laziness, I guess."

She just laughed.  Hard.  She laughed so hard, she had to pause the interview.  Then the next 10 questions contained more laughter.

Next time I'm blaming it on the kids.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Learning the Art of Budgeting.

Ever since we paid off all our debt, my husband and I have been learning to live on a budget.  While we've managed to stay out of debt, not wasting money is still a learning process for us.  Here are a few lessons I've learned along the way:

1. My husband and I found out we prefer dates that don't include movie theaters.
2. Pizza or spaghetti once a week is NOT going to kill us.  
3. Oatmeal is about the cheapest breakfast option there is.  
4. Kids grow out of clothes (or stain them) TOO fast to buy them all new.  
5. I won't buy used underwear, but I still can't buy my daughters princess underwear.  Why?  Six pairs for $9 or nine pairs for $6? Hmmm.
6. There is an AWESOME play structure Downtown....and it's free.  
7. There are killer finds to be found at the thrift store.  Such as a Camelbak filter cleaner:  spent $1.20.  Sold it on ebay for $14.  Sweet.
8. I can make some pretty decent iced coffee (thanks Jenny for the help!) that costs pennies to make.
9. New bestsellers:  $14.  Used bestsellers: $1  
10. My kids don't mind not being in every activity.  They don't notice that they're not wearing Baby Gap.  They don't need the latest toys or the fanciest bike (in fact, two of my kids don't even HAVE bikes).  They just want me and Daddy to notice them.  And play with them.  Read to them, and talk with them.  And all of that is 100% free.  

See, I'm learning.  =)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Because. That's Why.

So, you already know we had a very very busy two weeks.  Very busy.  One could almost say they were Massively busy.

And when life becomes that busy, one stops cooking.  Yet one must not stop eating.  So we didn't.  Instead we ate things like pizza, pasta, burgers (In-N-Out, of course), and frozen yogurt.  All delicious, but they all have one thing in common:  they should be consumed in moderation.

Oops.

No worries, friends, because a couple weeks back my husband and I watched an intriguing documentary about an unhealthy guy who went on a juice fast and became healthy.  My husband promptly suggested we do this, which of course we promptly didn't.  (Hey - life got busy then.)

Anyhow, when the couple weeks were over and our extra flab was extra flabbier, we decided to go for it.  Only we've modified it slightly.  Instead of drinking solely juice for all our meals, we drink some form of this twice a day:



....then follow it up with some CRAZY DELICIOUS (but healthy) dinner - because by that time I want FOOD!

For those of you who just freaked out because you thought we were drinking creamed spinach, it actually started out looking like this:


That's some orange juice, a banana (natural sweetener, yaya!), a whole carrot, red chard, and some kale.  Talk about food coloring, eh?  I thought this looked pretty.  My husband actually goes lighter on the banana (as in NO banana), lighter on the kale and chard (which I think might actually mean NO kale or chard) and a lot heavier on the frozen fruit.


P.S.  Why did I decide to do the hundred push up challenge?!?  I ache all over and have to go at it again tomorrow.  AGH!  So, who's going to join me?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Expensive Paper and Push-ups



The Most Expensive Butcher Paper in the World
Once upon a time a girl went to the local store and bought some butcher paper.  The girl put the paper in the cart and walked to her car.  Where she promptly left her butcher paper in the cart.  And got in the car.
Brilliant.
So when she got home and realized she did not have her butcher paper, she returned to the store.
She looked in the carts for her butcher paper.
She looked at Customer Service for her butcher paper.
She looked at the register for her butcher paper.
The butcher paper was not found.  
So she bought more.
Yes, she paid twice for one roll of butcher paper.
Expensive.


That was a bit frustrating.  Especially since it was needed to ship a HUGE amount of ebay items, donated by an amazing women in an effort to support our adoption fundraising.  But it's hard to complain when I spent WAY less on the roll (err..rolls) of paper than I've made selling the donations.  

Shortly after arriving home with my Expensive Paper, I discovered my daughter was helping me out by applying "glue" to the envelopes.  She's such a...sweetie.




With all that's been going on these past two weeks, I did what any sane person would do:  

I think its pretty comical when it says,
 "Once you've collapsed in a sweaty heap on the floor and your arms have stopped trembling from the exertion, make a note (mental or otherwise) of how many, or how few, push ups you were able to perform."

I'm curious if they honestly thought that 16 seconds of exercise would turn me into a "sweaty heap."  But yes, it did make my arms tremble.  And I supposed I just assumed it took about one second to do a push-up when I said 16 seconds, because I pulled off 16.  Okay, I guess the last 3 took me slightly longer.  Hehe.
But hey - that's more than I expected!

Assuming I do as well blogging about this as I did my Project Pizza, you'll never hear about this again.   Actually, I'm just waiting for my sister ('ahem') to email over pictures of my last attempt at pizza.
So maybe you will hear about the push-up challenge again. 
 
Hopefully I'll be able to do 17 by then.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

What day is it again?

If someone told me it was 2013, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be phased.  Life has been a blur these past two weeks and I've barely managed to keep up.  At one point I was pretty sure I hadn't.  Like, I was still hanging out on Wednesday and the whole wide world plus the slow growing mold on my dirty dishes had already made it to Thursday.  Just kidding - my husband washed those dishes.  Probably while I was still on Tuesday.

So what made me so busy??  Okay, remember this:


Well, he got replaced by this:



This is Nika, an ADORABLE shih tzu whom we've been watching for almost 2 weeks now.  I have never ever considered owning a small dog.  But she has most definitely made me reconsider - she's THAT perfect.

There were also these 3 boys:
 (Well, not the one on the right.  He's the one who washed my dishes on Tuesday.  Or was it Wednesday?)

Then these 3 girls:

And then these two boys:
(Sorry.  No actual picture means you get a rare glimpse into the overflow of my creative juices.  Feel free to pause and enjoy.  Oh, and P.S.  That little grey thing in the boy's hand is not dust on your screen or a syringe.  Anyone who can guess what it actually is receives a hypothetical gold star.)   

All three sets of kids required pick-up and drop-off at their school every day.  It's hard to put into words what kind of work this is.  Maybe like having teenagers?  No, that can't be it.

In addition to hosting students, we also had to sort through piles and piles (and piles) of stuff.  Did I mention piles?  Massive piles.  For a Massive sale.  

I know its difficult to comprehend right now, but some day, somewhere, you will see a massive pile and it'll make sense.  If not, consider stopping by our next Massive sale, coming this September to a street corner near you (well, actually not.  For my readers in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Canada...heck, for anyone outside of my mom's zip code, its really not that close to you, so don't bother).

Then there was a Massive Yard Sale, hence the need for Massive piles.  (Please note the capitalization of the word Massive.  There is a point trying to be made.)  


So WHY did I allow my life to become so busy?  Because of this.....


Wait, wait, WAIT.  Before you click on it, do a little drum roll.  Just a little one.  It'll be fun.


Why did I allow my life to become so busy?  (Drum roll!!!)  Because. of. THIS!


Awesome, huh?


Friday, July 15, 2011

We have dogs!!

(for the week).

I'll explain:

In an attempt to build up our savings, my husband and I have been thinking outside the box on ways to make additional money.   We both love dogs and have seriously thought about getting one of our own, but when we put ourselves on a budget, we realized there was no money for dog food.  Or a dog, for that matter.

Not too long ago we dog sat for a good friend of my mom's and had a blast doing it.  And then it was as though the cosmic puzzle pieces aligned themselves (or rather, I saw an ad on craigslist.  Same thing though, right?) and a brilliant idea was born: we'll advertise ourselves as dog sitters.

So far we've been asked to do daycare for a toy poodle while her owner goes to beauty school.  Umm...no.
We've also been asked to watch a dog...for a year.   =|  I'm glad they didn't ask that in person.

We've also had some successful responses.  Like these two dogs:


Here's Flounder, the 2 year old basset hound who is the sweetest thing EVER. Not to mention she loves the kids to death.  Well, not to death.  We do have some restrictions on the types of dogs we watch and "loving to death" is expressly forbidden.  But every morning she runs straight to the kids' rooms and licks them (nearly to) death, and cries if the doors aren't open.  Could there be anything more adorable?  Methinksnot.


Then there's Rodeo, the 6 month old Australian Cattle Dog.  What you're seeing is generally what we see all. day. long.  




Seriously, how could this not be fun?  And we get paid to participate.   =)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

I Want to Talk About Me.

Usually I wait until I'm hit by lightening to post something new because it takes about that long to come up with a brilliant idea.  With all of this Southern California heat making itself comfortable here, I've been getting worried that the lightening is a long way off.  So I stressed and then the idea came:  this is my blog, let's talk about me.  

Me
I am a twin.  I am 3 minutes younger than my twin sister, and no, we don't know if we are identical or fraternal. It's been theorized that we could possibly be "semi-identical" (aka polar body) twins, though this is rare.



I am a mother. I have 3 children.  Do I love them more than I love your children?  Yes.  Do I think the world revolves around them?  No.  They are perfectly imperfect and it's an honor to teach them to love others as Christ does.  Yes, my husband and I want more.  Yes, our additional child(ren) will mostly likely come to us via adoption.  No, that shouldn't be regarded as weird or crazy or ambitious.  Don't forget, God Himself is constantly adopting children of His own.

I am crafty.  I love to be crafty.  But I get overwhelmed when my house is messy.  Since I have 3 kids, my house is always messy.  So unfortunately I spend more time cleaning than I do being crafty.  Poor, poor pitiful me.

I love learning, but I don't retain knowledge well.  So if I read a book that taught me something fascinating, I could only reiterate about 5% of it back to you, and it would be sprinkled with "I think it said" and "I don't remember exactly."  Still, I would be a college student my whole life if I could do it debt-free.

I absolutely love:  soap bars, snowman, cookbooks, calla lilies, the smell of old books, and my blue couch.

I can't stand when there is hair stuck on my soap bars.  It grosses me out.  But what grosses me out more than anything?  People brushing their teeth in their car.  *gag*

I'm a horrible hostess.  So if you come to my house, grab yourself a drink and make yourself comfortable.  I'll invite you over more often.

I don't understand why they don't make whole wheat bagels with blueberries in them.  Or cinnamon and raisins.  Or any dried fruit.  I'd totally buy them.  Well, maybe not whole wheat bagels with prunes.

My husband and I do not have a perfect marriage.  We've had some awesome highs, and we've had some pretty bad lows.  But we're still together, we love each other, and we feel overwhelmingly blessed to be on the same journey.

I am not a perfect person.  I get grumpy, I question my worth daily, and I lose my patience with my kids.  But I love my family, I love my friends, and I love that I have everything I need, not to mention tons of stuff that I don't need but love.  Like my blue couch.  And especially now that it's topped with these folks:

Friday, July 1, 2011

Six Months

Unbelievable.  It's been a whopping 6 months since I wrote my Thimble List and approximately 6 months since I even thought to look at it.

Oops.

So I assume now would be a good time to evaluate said list and laugh at my progress.

It's okay, you can laugh too.

Personal:
1. Start a blog I'm awesome.   Just glad that I didn't require it to be an excellent one.
2. Complete 5 paintings - I have completed one, and it currently resides in the dark recesses of the garage. 
3. Read 24 books, minimum -  Actually doing decent here.  Well, so long as I can count "Go, Dog, Go" and "Green Eggs and Ham."  If you're going to be picky about this, then harumph (in an attempt to own another word) - I'm not even half done.
4. Walk 3 times a week, minimum - Not doing too bad.  In fact, at my last blood appointment, the guy taking my stats was pretty impressed by my numbers.  "Do you do a lot of cardio?" he asked.   =)
5. Finish Quickbooks class - Uuuuhhhh.  Well I never actually paid the college so they dropped me from the class before it even started.  So no.

Home-making:
1. Plant 5 vegetables successfully - Right.  Remember this cute craft?  Total failure.  And my neighbor's cat is using my raised bed as it's personal litter box, which I'm thinking is bad for the carrot seeds I planted in there.  My onions are doing awesome, but that's about it. 
2. Cook 1 new recipe a week - blog about it - Seriously??  I wrote this??  Big harumph.  
3. Put $x per month into savings - Never actually defined "x" so let's just assume it's zero = total success.  
4. Start a monthly budget - STICK TO IT! - Got the monthly budget part down.  Just really wish I hadn't added that qualifier.  

Spiritual:
1. Read the Bible daily (finish O.T. by years end, minimum) - Wow, that's convicting.
2. Personal Ministry Goal - Actually....YES!!!!
3. Study 6 topics in-depth - Don't even remember what I was thinking when I wrote this, but I'm pretty sure it was brilliant.  
4. Memorize 2 Timothy 4 - "Preach the word.  Be ready in season and out of season."  That's all I have and I'm thinking that's not even the first verse, and obviously done in my own translation.  I'll get to work on that.

Family:
1. Pray earnestly about adoption: timing, location, funds  Since this is a constant burden on our hearts, I'm happy to say I have done this, and will continue to do this.  Feel free to join me.  =)
2. Family ministry goal - Harumph.  
3. Be consistent with family Bible time.  Double harumph.
4. Take more pictures of the kids - Aaaaand triple harumph.  (I totally own it now. Woot.)
5. Organize all my digital pictures! - I've taken about 22 pictures this year.  Not terribly hard to organize.  But I did say "all", didn't I?  Probably should change this to "Find all my digital pictures" instead.  Now THAT would be an accomplishment.

So, with six months over, I'm going to adjust my list.


Personal:
1. Continue blog
2. Complete panel painting 
3. Read 24 books, minimum
4. Walk 3 times a week, minimum
5. Learn something new - What?  Not specific enough for you?  At least I'll be able to cross it off in 6 months.  

Home-making:
1. Plant 2 more vegetables successfully
2. Perfect my pizza skills
3. Build half of FFEF by end of year 
4. Organize my garage whilst keeping painting hidden

Spiritual:
1. Read the Bible daily 
2. Continue personal ministry
3. Finish studying Daniel; study Ezekiel
4. Memorize 2 Timothy 4 - like, the whole thing, and not just verse 2

Family:
1. Continue to pray earnestly about adoption: timing, location, funds
2. Family ministry goal*
3. Be consistent with family Bible time
4. Develop homeschool schedule for fall (Can somebody say "aaaggghhhh!")

I'm sure I'll forget to do some of this, but at least its written down to be laughed at later.  So here's to the next 6 months...



.   

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I'm a bad blogger.

Not kidding.  Just google "How to write a good blog" and I promise I'll show up under the section "examples of bad ones."  I break all the rules.

1. I don't blog consistently.  I lead a rather mundane life of raising kids, cooking dinner, and cleaning toilets.  Therefore, I don't have a consistent repertoire of suspenseful anecdotes to share.    


2. I'm a pathetic photographer.  No, seriously.  Most of the authors of my favorite blogs use "THEBESTCAMERAEVER 3000" or a similar model.  My pictures come from a smorgasbord of ridiculous snapshots taken from such mediums as my awful camera phone, my yogurt-crusted pink point-and-shoot, and my husband's iphone (when I can manage to sneak away with it).  And I have no motivation to change.  Sorry folks.

3. I use too many commas.  But honestly, nothing is as cool as possessing the power to make a reader pause, if only for a second.  =)  But for grammar fanatics, I'm sure its just annoying.

4. I don't stick to a common theme.  You know, I really don't even want to discuss this one.  If I ever get around to Project Pizza: Attempt #2, then at least I'll have two blogs in common.

5. I call posts "blogs".

6. I don't link, I don't archive, I don't copyright and you can't subscribe. In fact, I JUST learned what an RSS feed is tonight.  All my favorite blogs have links to previous posts right on the page, they have easy access to their archives organized by theme (snobbish, I agree), and they include the ability to subscribe via a little RSS feed.  And I'm so clueless, I don't even know if I explained that right.

With all that said, I'm stunned I have any readers at all.  (a quick aside:  does anybody else find it creepy that blog readers are called "followers"?)  But if General MacArthur is correct then, when the internet becomes obsolete and blogging is an extinct form of art, my blog will be one of the few people will talk about.  Well, at least the 20 of you on the right hand side of my computer screen.  =)


“You are remembered for the rules you break.”

-George MacArthur

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Project Pizza


When I began a relationship with my [now] husband 9 years ago, I knew how to cook two things:  apple pie and pancakes.

About a year into our courtship, my husband went to a friend's house to have a sleepover.  

Sleepover?  Do guys even call it that?  

In the morning, my husband's friend's mother made some pancakes.  Apparently they were good pancakes.  As in, better than my pancakes.  The next time I saw her, she was wearing a crown and he kept referring to her as the "Pancake Queen." 

You see my dilemma.  

Since apple pie wasn't going to carry me through a marriage, my mom began a mad rush to teach me cooking essentials like searing meat, making a good roux, sauteing vegetables, roasting chicken, using a crock pot.  Everything...except pizza.  She left that up to Papa John, and all I learned from him was that pick up was $3 cheaper than delivery.  

Eight years after the dreaded pancake episode, I feel I can probably succeed at almost any recipe I attempt.  However pizza is to me what garlic bread is to my mom:  a complete joke.  

And that is what has brought me here, to Project Pizza.  I am going on a journey in an attempt to make the PERFECT pizza, but with one caveat:  it must be from scratch.  No premade pizza sauce or packaged dough.  Obviously I can't be expected to make my own cheese, and my tomato plant hasn't produced a single tomato since last November.  Yes, obviously I expect a little grace.

With all that said, here is attempt #1.  Okay, technically not attempt #1 or else I wouldn't know how truly pathetic my skills are.  Like, have you ever had one half of your pizza rise 3 inches and the other half stay flat as a pancake?  Not sure if that was my subconscious attempt to outperform the Pancake Queen by simultaneously cooking two dishes at once, but it'd probably be safe to say I failed.  At least I don't remember getting a crown for it.

Okay, I know.  At first glance it doesn't look too bad.  Well, if you like pineapple on your pizza.  If not, just squint and pretend its yellow peppers.

Then look closer....


Is it just me or did all my pizza dough somehow manage to scoot to the outer edges and form a tumor?

Oh, and you know that magic trick where they put someone in a box and pretend to saw someone in half.  Pretty sure I did it wrong.


Or maybe I was just trying to extricate the tumor?  And no matter how great (or odd) a pizza looks, perfection includes the taste.  This one tasted slightly too yeasty.  

If this were a throwdown, then Bobby Flay won.  Stay tuned for round 2.




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