Friday, December 29, 2006

Water Park of America

Mitch promised the kids months ago that if they did something really hard (and they did, over several days), that he would give them a really BIG reward. He eventually revealed that it would be a trip to a waterpark. However, circumstances really prevented us from making good on the promise. Let me just make it clear that we do not actually fully PROMISE things to our kids very often...it is so important to keep your word with these little ones, and it is hard for me (the analytical one) to promise something so huge. Nevertheless, the promise had been made. Over Christmas God blessed us very richly with the opportunity to spend a full day at a waterpark, for half the price. It was incredibly fun! The kids will remember it, well, forever because you know it will be in my albums! (We didn't take Josh, though, since it would have cost the full price for him and we knew he would tire so quickly...many thanks to Mitch's sister and my sister for watching him for us).



Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Family Picture!

We needed to take a family photo for a special project for Mitch's grandma. Well, the deadline had passed, so I said let's just sit down and get it over with. We didn't worry about putting on nice clothes or anything. Wouldn't you know it, we only had to take 2 shots to get a great photo (and with that many kids, that's significant)...I know that the way we are dressed doesn't really matter, but still, couldn't we have been a little more coordinated? Too funny...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Pregnant Brain

Have you ever read the book, "The monster at the end of this book," starring Grover from Sesame Street? I love the last page of the book that has just Grover and in very small letters he says "Oh, I am so embarrassed." I find myself saying that every now and then and that is the image that comes to mind. I am so glad I am pregnant and so I can blame my latest mishap (at least partly) on that.

Last night I was leaving to go to church. I had all the kids in the van finally after running up and down the stairs literally a half dozen times trying to get everything together. I put the van in reverse and backed down the driveway. Just then I remembered the armload of packages sitting by the door...all but one of them already had postage on them, I needed to get postage on the last one done in town. I thought I would grab the packages and drop them off on my way back home. So I (thought) I threw the shift into park and hopped out of the van, leaving it running and leaving my door open, and ran to grab the packages. I came back out to find the van pushing gently but firmly and persistantly against the garage door. :( Man, did I ever feel stupid. The kids inside the van were quite curious why I would do such a (d.u.m.b. as Steph G would say) thing. Obviously I had put it down into drive instead of up into park.

It's allright however. The dent in the door is quite noticeable. A friend from church came out this morning to take a look at it. He reinforced the something-or-other for me and straightened out the panels. He will be looking in to finding a new door for us when the time is right. For the time being it will work well enough (good thing we don't park in the garage and so aren't relying on it that much--besides storage, we also use it for shop tools).

Yep...pregnant brain.

On a good note, I saw the doctor yesterday and the baby is growing fine. We heard the heartbeat, and that's about all we can check out at this point. We are not going to find out what we are having this time, and it's driving Micah crazy (hee, hee). It will be a lot more fun come June when I go into labor now, won't it? =)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Snow Day

My oldest son, Micah, today was talking with his sister, Eden. She was telling a story that her teacher had told her. Her teacher had had a "snow day" in college. It wasn't what I thought at first, it was a festival, but I bet my jaw hit the floor when Micah asked, "What's a snow day?"

Yeah, we live in Minnesota, and it's far north, but in all his school career the poor boy can't ever remember missing a day of school for snow. :P How's that for sad?

I hear that the rest of the country is getting some snow and a snow day tomorrow. I can't wait until it's our turn...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Day I Was Born

My mom called today to wish me a happy birthday. Everyone is having a good time rubbing in that I am now finally 30. I'm happy to be 30, although I often correct them and say, "Nope, I'm 29 again," borrowing the line from Jack Benny. And lucky me, it gets to be my "golden birthday" for the rest of my life. =)

I asked my mom to tell me again about the day I was born. It is, after all, my birthday and a story is a small request. ;) She groaned and said, "Oh, let's see, that was 30 years ago, I don't know if I can remember!" I challenged her with the fact that *most* mothers never forget the births of their babies. I have 5 and I can remember each of mine with quite a bit of detail. So she began...

It was just after Thanksgiving. I had "dropped" and had been riding on her pelvic bone for approximately 2 weeks (just like my daughter did to me!). She went in for a regular checkup. Her doctor was at the hospital in the next state, about a 30-minute drive over the mountain. The doctor was concerned because a snow storm was heading our way. I realize that in Minnesota that may not normally be a cause for concern, but in the south even a couple of inches can immobilize traffic. So he asked her to stay and be induced. She says that he broke her water, and massaged her belly to get contractions going. No pitocin, no pain meds. Just like that. I was born 2 and 1/2 hours later! She did have some pain meds when they stitched up the episiotomy. I was a big baby--close to 9 lbs. Good judgement call on the doctor's part, I was definitely ready to come. She did not have a "support person" there with her that day. My dad was on the road (he was a trucker), and her mom was at home watching my older sister. My paternal grandmother came up to the hospital soon after I was born...not sure but it must have been after the snowstorm. I have beautiful baby pictures after arriving home from the hospital, thanks to my mom's mom. She sent me a card this week that said, "We will never be to old to forget the day that you arrived during a snowstorm."

I love this time of year!

So now I know what to have Mitch do if for some reason my water breaks again and contractions do not start (I had to have pitocin with 3 of my 5 babies because of this). I'll have him massage my belly!!

p.s. Just in case my mom is shy, please don't tell her her story is posted on the www! What a blessing to have this conversation with my mom.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Look at the picture I found today. Isn't that cute?? It's me and my friend Steph Gonzalez. If you haven't done so lately, please stop by her blog: http://gonzalezsheart.blogspot.com to check up on her family and the progress of baby Jaden.

My birthday is tomorrow. I'm going to be 29....again! =) Well, actually 30 and proud of it--good to "finally" be out of the "immature" 20s. Mitch took me out tonight on a surprise date. I am so proud of his quick planning. We had a very good time and spent very little money.

Sorry I have not been blogging. Blogging while on dial-up is just not much fun. :( Oh well...some day we will be out of debt, and then we may get cable internet again. Something to look forward to!! We are all as healthy as can be during the winter months. The baby seems to be growing just fine, I am 12 weeks pregnant today and that is an exciting thought. I will see the doctor on Thursday. We may have even more news in the coming months...I will have to get more disciplined about blogging. Maybe I will type my entries in notepad then just copy and paste them here...hmmmm......

TTFN

Monday, November 06, 2006

Logically speaking...

Ok, I just can't resist a political rant...

I am frustrated with the political ads I've been hearing on my local "family friendly" Christian radio station. We are receiving conflicting ads from candidates that pretend to be "values based" yet are accepting donations from leftist groups such as moveon.org (very strongly pro-abortion, etc). The word is that according to the FCC, the radio station MUST allow air time to all candidates. Ptttttbbbbbbbbb =P That's what I think about that...tell them to go find their own radio station that truly has their "values." Geez...

So anyways, here's the ad I heard from a candidate today..."I have helped to create more jobs for Central Minnesota...blah blah blah." Then this revelation came to me:

Yeah, if we get rid of people (either via abortion or euthanasia), there will be more jobs available to the rest of us lucky enough to still be here!

Unfortunately, of course, there won't be as many consumers...but that's after the thought. Bring on more jobs, I guess!!

Arrrrrggggggggghhhhhhhhhhh........
I know I haven't posted in a while, and believe me it's not for lack of things to sound off about. With election day being tomorrow, I have had my fair share of rantings to the people around me (anyone I can get to listen!). What baffles me most is that people who are plenty able choose not to go vote. Now if they were to take that right away, there would be a revolt. But how is it that less than 50% of the population typically turns out to vote? This cannot be good!!!

I am pro life to my core. I care much less about taxes and government and all the other issues. Abortion stands as my number one decision maker of which direction to vote. When compared with the frailty of life, every thing else seems to just fade away.

We are struggling financially on the home front, and we are continuing to pray and lean on God and ask for His blessing. I am so happy to say that all of our bills are current and we have everything we need. He has blessed us with baby #6 due to arrive in June. This might seem a contradiction to some people, but trust me it only seems that way because of the paradigm we have been taught to believe.

We have been surrounded by many wonderful, giving people, and many new opportunities. I can't wait to see what the future may hold.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Statistics are just numbers...

Well, this has become my new motto. Statistics are just numbers and are subject to the bias of the interpreter!

What I mean is this--often we are given statistics to measure a level of risk. Risk of having a certain disease, risk of an accident, risk of winning the lottery (well, maybe you wouldn't use the word "risk" in that situation), and so on.

The problem is that we often use statistics (doctors included) to predict the future. Statistics do NOT predict the future. They only show something interesting--a correlation of data--about the past.

When you put your faith in numbers, the numbers will betray you. If you use numbers/statistics to predict the future, you will end up disappointed when the tides turn and in spite of "statistics" your chances of enduring a particular situation are 100%.

I have had 5 "perfect" pregnancies, and 5 healthy children. My mother has warned me that I should stop while I'm ahead. She has a belief that the numbers will catch up to me--that it will be my turn. I have heard recently that 1 in 4 or 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage. Well, I guess I have defied those odds. So does it mean that I am doomed to have a miscarriage soon if I continue to acheive pregnancy? No. Statistics do not predict the future. Remember? My mother also says something about "dipping too far into the gene pool." This is another topic, but I know what she means. She is basically warning me that eventually I will have a handicapped child.

From a Christian worldview, this faith in statistics is all wrong. We do live in a fallen sinful world. It is true that there are damaged genes, and when parents who have damaged genes conceive, they will give birth to children who have damaged genes or are at least carriers of the damaged genetic code, and will so keep multiplying the process. But somewhere along the way we forget what God says in his Word:

"Psalm 139
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."


Was this true only when there were less damaged genes? Of course not. God's Word is true throughout all generations. Are you hurting because of a loss? Are the doctors telling you there is something wrong with your baby? Lean on Jesus. He not only understands your pain, he is also caring for your little one. He is the great Physician, and he may not heal him/her here for this world, but he will heal him/her to be at home with him in heaven. His works are wonderful. "I know that full well."

I am not scared of statistics. They are subject to the bias of the interpreter. Sometimes the interpreter does not have a Christian worldview. Sometimes the interpreter does not believe the words of Psalm 139. Trust in your heavenly Father, who ordained you and wrote all of your days "before one of them came to be." As the old hymn goes, "He makes all things beautiful in His time."

Do I speak with authority? You betcha. I have had enough college math classes to make normal people quiver. =D My theology? Well, most of that comes from what I just feel in my heart, and my daily experience walking with God. He has blessed my life immensely. He truely has made all things beautiful in His time.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Problem Solved!

We have been having some tight financial times here in the Theis household, just as I imagined I would a few weeks ago when I made the tough decision to quit daycare. So now we are moving into the stage where we put our faith into action and trust God just like we said we would. It is sooooo hard, let me tell you. I want an easy answer. Mitch is working a second job, teaching behind the wheel training for a local driving school. This is how it works--he tells the school when he is available to work, and when students call in to schedule a class they put him down to work. Well last Saturday he had a class cancel (so no payment), then on Tuesday night both of his classes canceled. So we lost $60 on that. Then today (Saturday), he was available to teach 3 more lessons, but didn't get a single one scheduled. So another loss of $60...or $60 not made depending on how you want to look at it. I was thinking and praying about this. Honestly, I understand that God is in control. We can't put our trust in the job, we have to put our trust in Him.

In the meantime, my doorbell rang. It was only 9:30 on a Saturday, and I thought it was odd. I noticed a nicely dressed man waiting outside. I thought it was a politician (it's that time of year). :) It was my neighbor. He asked to speak to my husband, and explained that he needed some help. I hurried up and got Mitch. They ended up talking for 2 hours! This is someone we had never met before. I stood in awe that he knew enough about us in our comings and goings to guess that we go to church and that he could ask Mitch for help. He is having some marital problems. Mitch explained his problems to me later, and I just shook my head in disbelief. The sad thing is, this guy stressed that money is not an issue for them--they have more than enough. But the other problems were gut-wrenching. Suddenly my petty money "problem" didn't seem so bad. I wouldn't trade our marriage for all the money in the world. Mitch didn't have much to say to our neighbor, just sat and listened. He did try to positively encourage him and offered some resources (Love and Respect, plus the name of a favorite counselor).

Later in the day, I was quietly contemplating our "problems" once again, and silently praying that God would send an answer. Suddenly, the thought occurred to me that if God truely is in control, then He has already sent an answer. The problem has been solved. We may not know the answer yet, and it may not be the right time to be revealed, but it IS there--it will be there when the time is right. I will take care of what I can for today, and try to look at the future with a less self-centered perspective!

Philippians 3:12-14 "12 I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven." [New Living Translation]

Lord knows, I am just a beggar...but I am also His child (Galatians 4). That doesn't mean that I expect Him to "bail me out" but I know that He loves me and has already extended His grace towards us.

Problem Solved!!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

I'm back! Get me going...

Sorry it has been so long since I have updated. Just trying to focus my energies on other interests, I guess. It doesn't take long to blog, so I will try to update more often. That is, if I think I can come up with anything anyone wants to read! ;-)

So Mitch got me good today. He said, "I know how to get you going with just one sentence." I was thinking to myself...it probably has something to do with patents. He then follows with this sentence: "George Bush patented abortion." Dude, I stood there speechless for a good 3 minutes. He said, "Well, are you going to say anything?" I finally choked out, "I'm speechless." (And believe me, that is a hard thing to do!) Does this guy know me or what? I love George Bush. I believe the patent system is corrupt. And abortion is murder. Put those 3 together, and yeah, you got me. Ugh... Well, I was reduced to laughing so hard that I couldn't even squeak out a sound. I can't believe my hubby would say something so naughty!

Have a great day...and no, George Bush didn't patent abortion. He is against it just like me. That is why, with all his faults, I still love him. He may not always make the right decisions, but when it comes to unborn human life, he's doing the right thing. *thumbs up*

Friday, September 29, 2006

An update from Steph's friend Kristin :)

Steph has been busy as a bee with her diapering business. Check it about at her website, Pampered Cheek to see what she's been working on recently.

You can also look at Steph G's blog to see slide shows of the recent photo shoot for Pampered Cheeks. :)

~kjl

Friday, September 08, 2006

Monarch Caterpillars

I was blessed recently to observe these caterpillars go into their chrysali, not once but twice. On the second occasion, I was smart enough to grab my camera and get some up close pics. =)




















A caterpillar begins the process by first working on the web that will anchor his chrysalis to the branch (or in this case, the ceiling) that he will hang from. It looks like they are sleeping, they are so still during this time. One night I sat and watched a little guy for over an hour (and people wonder how I keep my sanity with 5 children!), and he barely moved the entire time. My eyes were nearly crossing, but eventually I was able to perceive his minute movements! After they have spun the web, they turn and grab on with their hind feet, check the web again, and after what seemed like forever for me--they finally let go and drop and hang in a "J" formation. This phase is even longer. I have observed caterpillars hanging in this format for nearly 24 hours before. During that time I have noticed a slight color change...They start to appear green beneath the skin.

















At an unannounced time, the caterpillar begins to wiggle (much more perceptible!) and squeeze its muscles--contracting and expanding, and slowly the "J" straightens out.





















During this time, literally faster than my digital camera can take a picture then get ready for the next picture, the skin at the back of the "head" splits open and as the caterpillar wriggles, the skin works its way free of the chrysalis underneath.





















This was so neat for me to actually observe. Before this, I wrongly believed that the caterpillar spun its chrysalis around it. And I also wrongly believed that it took hours. Once it started straightening out its "J", the whole process only took about 10 minutes.

As the skin wriggles to the top, the caterpillar has to do some mid-air acrobatics in order to not drop to the ground. You see, the feet that he is hanging on to the web with are attached to the skin that he is wriggling off! As the skin gets precariously close to the top, it exposes the chrysalid, which is the small stem-like black thing that you see at the top of the chrysalis in the photos next to the one that is forming. The chrysalid, when viewed under a microscope, has hundreds of barbed edges--reminds me of hook sided velcro. The caterpillar wiggles violently to simultaneously get that chrysalid permanently embedded in the web and to flick off the skin. If he were to fall, he would be killed as the caterpillar at this point is basically a fluid sac.


















Just think that the Awesome God that we serve also transforms us from the inside out! It is not always easy, but every monarch butterfly that I see is a great reminder for me that the end results of that process are worth it!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Monarch Butterflies

We love to watch the transformation of monarch caterpillars into beautiful butterflies. It is a great way to talk with the kids about concepts such as being "reborn" or "transformed" and also about God's protection and care for us. This year one of our chrysalis accidentally fell on the day that it was supposed to come out. We stared woefully at the chrysalis as it lay silent on the bottom of the cage. It had turned black (normal on the last day) and we could see the orange in the wings showing through the now-transparent outer shell. Had it been hanging, the butterfly would have emerged. Amazing that we felt a sadness for this tiny creature! We talked with the kids about that, and they were sad too. Imagine our joy and surprise when a few hours later Micah yelled and we all came running to see. He said, "There's a butterfly in there!" Sure enough, the butterfly had emerged and was triumphantly climbing to the top of the cage where it could hang and let its wings dry. The kids immediately were praising God that He cared for even this small insect. How great must be His love for us!!

Following are some pictures we got on a previous day of a monarch emerging from its chrysalis.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Fond Farewells

Well, a small thought began to creep up. I don't really know when it started. It could have even been there for years. But I wondered what my life would be like without daycare. For months I just rationalized, "there is no way we could make it." Without question, we make a lot of money with daycare. Though we still struggle, and can't seem to get out of debt, we are able to pay the bills.

The first part of the problem is the debt. We are not content. We live in a culture that says we should buy what we want. We don't wait for God to provide what we need, and we buy what we want on credit. I am so glad that He is a merciful God, for there are many times when He could have just left us to suffer! I know that we still have debt because we are unable to "cut back" our spending.

So we work extra jobs, and do what we can to try to increase our income. Here is the second problem. No matter how much (or how little) we make, we still end every month the same: paying the minimums and no cash left over.

Quitting daycare certainly wouldn't seem to improve this situation. So why was I considering it? (Well, if you have ever actually been in my home, you might know)

I gave Mitch a call on Monday, from down in the cities, and asked him if he thought I should quit daycare. I was on a "high" from the events at Showcase. We had just heard testimonies from leaders all day speaking of consultants who had used their businesses to make their dreams come true. And we had also heard stories about the customers that they helped--so this is not just a one-sided business. The company exec's had just announced some valuable motivating incentives for the next 5 months. I saw this as an opportunity to dream again, for the first time in 2 years. Like the ball team emerging from a pep rally, I was welled up, "I can DO this!" Mitch reinforced that question by answering in the affirmative: "Sure, you could quit daycare." Of course, he was in the middle of the "low" which would be filling in at daycare for me. =)

I hung up the phone, and was doing a little thinking...well, it would be really nice because _____, but it would be hard because of the loss of income, and CM wouldn't replace that immediately. I felt led to go stand near my friend Tracy and just listen to her for a while. She was manning the Scrapped booth and talking with other consultants. I wanted to listen to her "sell" the movie and learn from her. As I approached from behind, I saw that she was not talking, but listening. A brilliant woman was standing there with her Bible open, and Tracy pulled me into the conversation and introduced me. The woman was Lynn Johnson, a top leader in the company. I was honored (but didn't realize how much until later). She was reading from Deuteronomy chapter 11:

10 The land you are entering to take over is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you planted your seed and irrigated it by foot as in a vegetable garden. 11 But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. 12 It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end. 13 So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today--to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul-- 14 then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil. 15 I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.

Lynn explained, the land in Egypt was flat and easy to irrigate. They had some control over the amount of water in their vegetable gardens, but the promised land had mountains and valleys and they would not be able to irrigate, but would have to depend on God to water for them. She said in a word picture, sometimes we are happy inside our little gardens with the white picket fences, standing there with our hoses, happily watering our gardens. God calls us out of the gardens, to do His work or into some promised land, and so we will step out of the garden and go as far as our hose will reach. :) He wants us to DROP the hose! We need to trust Him to provide for us.

Wow. Now how about that timing, huh? I allowed myself the priviledge of doing a little dreaming. What would my life look like without daycare? I will only have Zeke and Josh home this fall. I could go to Mom's group at church again. I could volunteer at SCCS. I could pick my kids up from school so that Mitch could work in his classroom. Doctor's appointments, grocery shopping, even meeting a friend, would all re-enter my day to day life. And even more I could *gasp* learn to put my trust in God to water my garden.

Now, do I think that those verses are prompting me to choose a lazy solution? NO. When I think about the loss of income, I have to admit that I begin to panic. But I also remind myself that I could use a little hardship in order to learn contentment. Yep it scares the pants off of me. But I know that the best way to seize the promise is to trust God. The thing is, God has blessed my daycare business. He has held it in His hands from day 1, and I believe I was called to do it. But our financial situation has stayed the same. There must be a different answer.

I once read a biography about Hudson Taylor, a missionary to China. What made me so mad about this guy is he was pretty much starving, and needed money to continue his service in China, but he kept refusing money from people back home. He said he was trusting God to provide for him. I wanted to pull out my hair--wasn't this how God was providing?! But God did have another plan for Hudson, and he provided the money through a different avenue. It was amazing to see the miracle of God's provision in Hudson's life. Lynn told us the story of another man, George Muller, who started an orphanage in England. He refused to ask people for money. Instead he prayed and asked God to tell the people to give him money. They did, and the children never went without. George would travel to the neighbors and churches and tell of the wonderful things that God had provided. He was able to feed thousands of children.

I want to learn to live the kind of life where I am trusting God to meet my needs. I want Him to be the Lord of my life, so that I can experience the deep joy and lasting fulfillment that it brings. I do not want the empty "stuff" that our culture screams we need. I know I'm not always going to get it right. And we might get down right desperate. But I have to try. There is a better life out there, one that includes a deeper walk with Christ. Something that I have been longing for, for years. The answer to the challenges that I have faced and been unable to pass.

Daycare was not the problem, nor is quitting daycare the solution. The only relation is the surrendering of the income. Why would giving up income help me get out of debt? Because if I "drop my hose" and do not have that water source, I just might seek out the living water that Christ offers a little more often. And that can't be a bad thing. It IS the answer to my lack of contentment. John 4 says:

13 Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

August 25th marks the last day of daycare. If for some reason I have made a mistake, I can always go back. A wise friend counselled me not to say that I feel "burned out," because if I need to go back to daycare in a month or two, how is it that I'm all of a sudden not burned out? And it is true. I'm not burned out, I just want to focus on other things for a while. I want to give my other two businesses a fair shot, since that is where my passion lies currently. And most importantly, I want to be willing to drop the water hose and get some good water!

I beg you to pray for us.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Well, I have certainly been busy! We did well at the fair. We brought home many ribbons, and premium checks that totaled up more than $20! My carrot cake did not get a ribbon. :( But my photos got many second place ribbons, and the blanket that wasn't supposed to win anything also got a second place ribbon. The kids all got ribbons on their drawings, just by nature of how they do the judging. Micah's "I Love You" cookies won third place. It was a lot of fun. I think Micah was mildly disappointed, but the fact is he competed in the category that goes up to 16 years old, so we encouraged him that he did really well!

I spent 4 days down in the cities (but only stayed over 1 night) for scrapbooking related events. Three of the days were for the Creative Memories Showcase--the national convention. It was sooooooo awesome! I am jazzed about the new direction of the company and the new products that they are offering to help people tell their stories, without scrapbooking in the traditional sense.

Now that I am back home, I am back to the delicate balance of my hectic life. Mitch and I are making some changes on the home front, too, and I'm not just talking about how great my basement is looking. I am excited to embrace all that the future holds, in spite of how hard it looks right now I am certain that there are many blessings ahead.

Pictures of the basement are soon to come!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Lots of stuff, and my carrot cake too...yum!

Fair Entry Day

I should count up how many years I have been doing this. I remember that my Father-in-law, Paul, took me to the Benton County Fair for the first time ever back in 2000. Up until that point, I thought fairs were all about tractor pulls and midway rides. In fact, I didn't even know that they had a name for the midway. I thought that was just what the fair was to me.

Enter into thinking "open class exhibits." I was astounded as I walked through the open class barns. It was neat to see everyone's works on display. I knew that the next year I wanted to enter something. Fast forward to at least 2001, maybe 2002? I entered my first ever crocheted blanket in the fair. It was a granny square, and I did it in a style to make it look like a blue gingham print. It was Micah's blanket and I had just finished it, and I had to bribe him (he was only like 5 years old) to give it up for the week. I told him that if I won a ribbon, he could have the premium. Turkey. Wouldn't you know it, I won the blue ribbon and I had to hand over my $5 winnings to a 5-year-old. Needless to say, I was hooked. I have entered something in the fair every year since then, including a crocheted baby blanket every year. Last year our entries grew to include me, Mitch, Karen, Micah, Eden, and Caleb. We took our $17 earnings and enjoyed a night out at Cold Stone Creamery (in case you don't know, this is much better than Dairy Queen).

This year I didn't think I was going to make it. Or my blanket, rather. I had put off starting it, and I selected a pattern that I thought would be fast and easy and then it wasn't. :( So I was on row 56 with 18 to go, not including the border, and it was looking like my guage was way off, indicating I should have switched needles and started over back at, like, row 1. My blanket would either require more than 74 rows to be longer than it is wide, or I would have to turn it sideways. There was no way I could go any farther and get it done in time for today. So I turned it sideways, made a quick border, attached ribbon, and voila! it is done. Sort of. It is definitely not a ribbon winner, but I guess having a blanket in that is not a winner is better than no blanket at all--in my heart, anyways. Besides, after all the blankets that I've entered, and some of them were fantastic, I have only ever gotten one other ribbon. It was on Josh's baby blanket, another granny square...imagine that. And it was a second place ribbon.

Our entries grew this year to include baked items as well. Micah and I were in the kitchen yesterday. He learned how to make no-bake cookies. I made a carrot cake from scratch, which turned out perfect up until the point where I had to frost it...I sure hope the judge more on tastes than on looks, lol.

Wish us luck at the fair! Judging is tomorrow morning. We will try to go down there on Thursday to see how we did. :) The real reward is seeing our stuff on display among all the other great stuff there. I tell myself every year that I'm going to take pictures of the other blanket winners, but I never do. I guess it's because I'm not that competitive...

Blogger doesn't seem to like the pictures of our stuff that I want to upload. So maybe I will add those in later!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sound Off

Tree Huggers

I had a new door-knocker the other day. We are all accustomed to the door-to-door salesmen, the occasional religious group, or politicians coming to our door all with something to "sell." When I can, I send Mitch to the door. Often people are scared off when they see all the kids run to the top of the stairs to see who's there--they assume I'm really busy and let me go without the typical rejections. (Well, I will admit that I do like the politicians as long as I'm armed and ready for them...lol). But when my doorbell rang on Friday evening, Mitch was not home. I put down the knitted wool soaker I was working on, and reluctantly I drug myself to the door, observing as I passed by the window the two guys out there dressed in street clothes (usually the religious groups are suited) carrying clipboards.

As I opened the door, the heat came rushing in and I, unwilling to neither step outside nor invite them in, could think only of getting the door shut as quickly as possible. They were from some environmentalist group. I can be sympathetic to that. After all, I do use cloth diapers and I enjoy camping. But they couldn't have been more than 2 sentences into their "spiel" when they said, "But the Bush administration wants to drill for oil..."

My blood pressure shot up, my ears were ringing, and I swear I started to see those little stars in my eyes that you see when you are 9 months pregnant and stand up up too quickly. There was no stopping me...my hand flew up in the air. I said, "You can stop now. You will not find a sympathetic ear here." It was all I could do not to unload on those poor boys. I doubt that they hear many people defending President Bush these days, and I intended to make up for it!

What is it with the people in this country? When did trees become more important than human life? How many people really slept through their high school government classes only to be trained by the lying media? I wanted to grab those boys by the ears and shout, "What gives you the right to blame the Bush administration for the environmental problems that we are enduring?" It has a lot more to do with evolutionists and their theories about "let nature take its course" and a volitile mix with American materialism and selfishness than it does with one President's national policies.

President Bush vetoed his first bill ever this week. If you will remember the legacy that President Clinton left us with, he vetoed a bill that banned the partial birth abortion. President Bush's veto left us with a much stronger legacy--one that preserves human life. Embryonic stem cell research destroys embryos. Bush didn't say that researchers can't do this kind of research, he just said that they can't have my tax dollars in order to do it. I applaud him! Protect human life. That is much more important to me. And if it means that my President is not a tree-hugger, then that's ok. I would much rather have him drilling for oil than drilling into tiny human bodies in the name of research. *Shudder*

I did speak my mind to those boys. I spoke about Genesis, the sanctity of life, how God has given us dominion over the earth and it is here for us to use. How the earth has been cursed and we do have to move land and trees and weeds in order to plant fields. I stressed that it is not one man's fault. And I also bragged about my cloth diapers. =) They probably thought I was nuts.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Sound Off

Is there some unwritten rule somewhere that says "If you choose to stay up late, your children will wake up all the earlier the next morning!" There must be!

Kristin came over last night to work on diapers, and we did plan on staying up late, but I don't think 2:45 am was in the plan for either of us. We were running on a little caffeine and just "getting stuff done" kind of energy.

As if a little alarm had gone off, as soon as the house was dark and quite and my head hit the pillow--I leaned over to flip on the baby monitor and Josh sent out a call for me. Ok, this is ok timing--I mean he could have waited until I was asleep, I fully realize that. But why not 1/2 hour sooner while I was still awake and upstairs? Hmmm....

Back in bed by 3:09 am. Think to myself, "I can make it on 3 hours of sleep tomorrow, surely." The reality is that Mitch and I have slept in until at least 7:00 am about 90% of the time this summer. So odds are I was going to get 4 hours of sleep. Nope.

5:30 am. Mitch has to go to work in Alexandria today, so he is sleeping light and hears Josh wake up. So into my bed Josh goes. Unfortunately he is cute and bubbly and happy. Not the tired crying sort of baby that you know is going to nurse and fall back asleep.

Why??? Was it so bad that I have one night of fun? Perhaps. I'm just popping tylenol today, and reminding myself that my choice to have fun does not constitute a loss of control of mommy's anger on their part. lol. Here's hoping today is fun...

Being sluggish and tired meant that I completely missed getting a picture of Josh deciding to stand on his own for a solid minute. He was digging in a basket of apples and veggies, and had pulled out a green pepper and holding it with both hands while he proceeded to take a bite. I would have missed it all together if Caleb hadn't had the decency to try (for about 30 seconds) to get my attention! Hey Josh, can you do that again? I got the camera out now!

7:03 am. What was THAT? A yawn? It's as if Josh says, "Ok, I did my part. I saw to it that you got as little sleep as possible, now I'm going to go catch up on mine since I got you through to 7 am." LOL Thanks for doing your job, little man.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Where have you been??

I know, I know...I'm dragging myself back here with my tail between my legs! I wonder if everyone has given up on me and stopped checking my blog for updates? Since the launch of pamperedcheeks.com it seems that I have found a new love. lol. It's not true, of course, but my life does tend to flow in seasons!

Pampered Cheeks is off to a nice easy start. I have sold 2 diapers and 1 cover through my website, and another diaper and cover off site. It is so fun to be meeting people. I have had made some local contacts and really enjoy teaching or even just answering questions about cloth diapering. I love to see people even consider for a moment switching from disposables to cloth! One of my online sales just left me a message this morning saying that she loved her Pampered Cheeks diaper and wished she could buy more! Oh, how glad that made my heart! Thank you, Lord, for letting my serger spit out another cute diaper. =) We're hanging in there together, though I bend my loopers on just about every 3rd diaper it seems.

I am a princess now. I was "crowned" on Friday. Actually a couple weeks ago a toothache sent me in search of a dentist. I had been driving a good 50 miles (one way) to the dentist and really hated it. Steph G referred me to her dentist and I am soooooooo grateful!! Very nice people over there. A quick visit revealed a bad crack in a tooth that had already had extensive fillings. So I was crowned. There were some comments about my tooth being the biggest molar they had ever seen. Gee, thanks. I said we should put it in the fair. Lovely dentist says it would win the blue ribbon. Or would have...it's pretty much gone now. Not to worry, I have an identical one on the other side.

Our summer is packed full with busy events. In addition to daycare, sewing diapers, and my regular CM events, I am trying to have fun! Mitch too. We have gone to the lake a few times, once Mitch's dad took us out on the boat and that was lots of fun. We got to take our big camping trip up the north shore drive, too. We went with the Emersons and the Heinens. It was so much fun! We had been planning it since this winter when we did a Bible study together.


The drive was beautiful, and so was Lake Superior. For the record, though, it does not compare to the ocean. They are different and should not be compared. If you think that looking at Superior is just as good as looking at the ocean, then you need to go to the ocean! I think in my heart I am partial to the place where I grew up (in the Appalachian mountains of Virginia and Kentucky). It was hard to put my memories aside and recognize the beauty and richness of northern Minnesota. Why did I feel like they were competing for my heart?
We had an amazing trip. It was just about as perfect in every way as could be expected. I mean, we had chosen our week and reserved the campsite months ago. The weather turned out wonderfully, and the mishaps that did find us make our memories rich, funny, and exciting. Who doesn't want to add that kind of flavor to a trip? It could have rained the whole time, ya know!
The princess, signing off...

Monday, July 03, 2006

Pampered Cheeks

I did it. I finally took the plunge and purchased my domain name pampered cheeks dot com. I also purchased some web hosting from godaddy.com. I am sooooo excited! It is a start, anyways. I can't wait to see where this will go. =) www.pamperedcheeks.com I have learned more in the past 36 hours about the internet than I ever wanted to know. Wowee, it was hard to figure all that out! Maybe some day I will even get good at it. Now I need to get back to my sewing machine...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Sewing Projects

My sewing machine is keeping busy these days! I recently got some new fabric and made a new pattern for a one-size fitted diaper that I loved. So I was raring to go, and I cut out SIXTEEN diapers!! I have 8 of them nearly completed and another 8 close behind. It is definitely a tall order. The one-size diapers are nice because they will fit small, medium and large (I have a picture of 3 diapers that are the same size, but snapped for each of the different size ranges.) They will fit babies from 11 lbs to 35 lbs. They have two different snap-in soakers, making the absorbancy and thickness of the diaper adjustable based on the baby's needs.













Here is one of my favorites out of this lot...a fishy!














I also went through the kids clothes and selected pants with holes in the knees and have cut them off for shorts. They are cut and pinned, now I only need to stitch the hem and they're back in service!

I also have been teaching my friend Kristin to sew the diapers. It has been so much fun to help someone else get excited! And a store in town is going to let me teach a class there in August. Ohhhh, I hope people sign up for it!! :)

Monday, June 26, 2006

Creation v. Evolution

Q: Is the topic of origins important when witnessing to non-Christians?
A: It’s absolutely important to understand that evolution is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

When Ken Ham visited Edinburgh, Scotland, a number of university students came up after he had given a lecture on creation and said, “We suddenly realized something tonight. When we’re trying to witness to non-Christians at the university, they always bring up the same two questions.”

Ken stopped them and said, “I can tell you what those two questions are about: creation/evolution and death and suffering.”

“Yes,” they said, in surprise, “they’re the two that come up over and over again. But we’ve been told by our churches to ignore those questions and just tell them about Jesus dying for their sins on the Cross.”

Then they said, “What you’re telling us is that we need to deal with those questions to show that we can give answers for what we believe. We need to show them that evolution is not a proven fact, so they will listen when we talk about the gospel message.”

Precisely. We need to answer these “stumbling block” questions in order to witness effectively to non-Christians.


I got this in an email, and I sure wish I could post a reference, but it didn't have one. Answers in Genesis is the best source I can offer, and there you will find more by Ken Ham, who is, in my opinion, an excellent speaker/author.

Saturday, June 24, 2006



We had a wonderful time with the Bondy's here! They arrived at around 5 pm on Wednesday and stayed through Friday morning. We bummed around the house all day Thursday, and after lunch split into two groups--one went to the park, and the other went shopping. Both groups got to see old friends, that was really fun. We met back at the Munsinger gardens and took some pics. Thursday night we had a cookout and a nice reunion with friends from our days at Sauk Rapids Alliance Church. It was so fun to see everyone! It was fun to show off our basement too. =) We finished the evening with a special screening of the "Grace Under Fire" movie. (Yes, that will be out on DVD soon!) We were so blessed to have them come stay with us.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Trim Work & French Doors

After months... no, years, of dreaming about what our basement would look like finished, we are finally seeing it happen. For years we have given people the "tour" of the basement and explained our hopes and dreams. "And here we will have french doors opening in to the sitting room off of the master bedroom." It was a really neat moment on Friday night when Mitch called me down to look for the first time at the french doors hanging in their positions. We finished the painting weeks ago, and picked out trim. That meant more imagination. Some of the corners are really tricky, and Mitch is doing an AWESOME job of figuring it out. Today our friend Brian is over helping. Friday and Saturday his mom put in long hours helping get it all stained and finished. Thanks for the help everyone!!!

Friday, June 16, 2006



After hours of work by Mitch, and help from a few other people, the wood board is on all the walls and it has 2 coats of polyacrylic finish. We began the overwhelming task of finishing all the trim, but Mitch came up with a neat drying system (think: lincoln logs) that allowed us to take on the hundreds of feet of trim. It is all sanded, tacked, and stained. Tomorrow morning we will begin the work of adding 2 coats of polyacrylic, which may take most of the day. We are doing well! Trying to get ready for the Bondy's to come...also the sooner we get the staining and finishing done on everything, the sooner we can get carpet---yay!!!

God helps those who can't help themselves...

I was on the way home the other night and I heard the familiar music for "Insight for Living" play and then Chuck Swindoll's cheery voice. He said, have you ever chuckled as someone said, "my favorite Bible verse is 'God helps those who help themselves.'" Well, that's pretty much paraphrased, but I can't find the clip to link you to it anywhere. First of all, that's not a Bible verse, though it is commonly quoted as one. The reality is, Chuck continued, is that God helps those who can't help themselves. And what a wonderful blessing that is!!

What could you use some help with?

We have been trying for years to get out of credit card debt. It seems that for every thousand dollars that we pay off, two thousand more find us. What do we spend it on? Car repairs, home improvements, appliances, 'big ticket' items. Are they all necessary? no. But we keep plodding along, working and paying, and praying. We hope that at some point God will bring us relief, or that we will learn the lesson that we need to learn! We can't help ourselves with this enormous mountain in front of us. We have tried! Thank God for His wonderful grace and forgiveness. Is that a license to live in sin (or to go further into debt)? Of course not, but we do know that no matter what, no matter how long it takes us to learn the lesson, He will love us and forgive us. We try to do a little better each day. We know that He loves us, because in spite of our many faults we are surrounded by incredible blessings! Our lives are already such a testimony to His grace, and I can see that as we move forward in the future it will be even more so.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

I'm busy.

LOL...does that count as a blog entry? Well, perhaps not. It has been crazy busy here this week. I can hardly get anything done it seems for all the different directions I feel pulled. I wish I could lock myself in a room and just work on diapers, and so I think that is the biggest part of my trouble. There's much more to my life than diapers!! Mitch says he is going to be home tomorrow, so I asked him to hold me accountable to getting paperwork done for CM and Daycare. I'm getting too far behind, and we all know what a pib that can be later! I also need to catch up on emails and phone calls. Sad but true. I am not afraid of the phone, and we are not going to start all that over again, lol, it's just a matter of laziness...

Ok, I'm going away until I can think of something more interesting to write about...

Sunday, June 04, 2006


Steph, I hope you don't mind that I posted this on your blog. I saw it and loved it. I thought of you and your love for little babies. Plus, these feet look like Jaden's. Love you, Steph

Saturday, June 03, 2006


View of the Appalachias from Ewing, VA








Mom (Cindy) and Lee







Bobby (brother) and Jess











Jess (steph-sister), Janet (step-mom), and Julia (step-niece)











Dad (Jim)--everyone was impressed with the matching hairdos.









The Bondys:Lindsay, Deana, Josiah, Troy, Travis, Megan

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

We're Back

Thank you everyone for your prayers! We had a safe trip to TN and back. My sister will have to go back at the end of summer, but this bridge has been crossed for now. The highlight of our short, unannounced visit was getting to see family in Virginia and Tennessee. My sister has all the pictures, but when I get them from her I will post some. The weather was beautiful and the mountains were gorgeous, as always. I literally hung my head out the window and breathed the fresh air as we drove through the mountains. The honeysuckle was in full bloom and smelled absolutely delicious! It covered everything. The neat thing about honeysuckle is you can pluck a flower from the bush, and then pull the bottom and the stem comes out of the middle pulling along with it a delectable drop of golden nectar. You can eat it--yum!!! Unfortunately, it is a pesky plant. We were so blessed to visit with family members, however short it was, on such short notice. The trip back in our un-airconditioned car was hard and hot. We are glad to be home!! Josh cut one of his top teeth on the trip, and had diarrhea. Mitch worked hard at home to surprise me with quite a few projects. Hats off to my wonderful hubby!!
Pictures will come...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I have to make an unexpected trip to Tennessee with my sister for a court case.

Please pray for us for safe travel and for a resolution to this issue (not a reschedule!!! A trip this heavy and expensive is impossible enough, without having to repeat it).

I have to get to bed now, but hopefully will update more on Monday. We really need some prayers!!! My sister, I and my baby Josh will be traveling and will hopefully return late Sunday. Mitch and his mom have the rest of our kids.

Thanks!

Happy Happy Birthday, Baby!


Mitch is going to ValleyFair!!!
For weeks he has been bugging Mrs. Froemming, his principal. He says, "May 24th is my 30th birthday...that happens to coincide with the senior-high field trip to ValleyFair." She has done her best to ignore him. He would call down to the office and leave messages, leave messages on her desk and in her box, and even got friends/coworkers to petition on his behalf. :) The secondary principal, Mr. Castilleja, tried his best to persuade Mrs. Froemming. Some of the secondary staff offered their seats/tickets to Mitch. It was a lot of fun. She stood her ground and still said, "no." Mr. Castilleja even suggested that Mitch take a personal day or call in sick, "I've got a ticket for you," he laughed. Now Mrs. Froemming was not being unreasonable. You have to understand that my hubby is a bit of a jokester. They were all having a good round of laughs. Seriously. A couple days ago Mrs. Froemming asked Mitch, "Why would you want to go? Those rides just make me sick. You couldn't pay me to go!" Mitch said, "I would go even if I couldn't ride any rides. I really enjoy hanging out with the guys." That was when she knew he was serious. So I got a call yesterday morning. She asked me what my plans were and let me know that they were trying to get things to fall into place so that she could surprise Mitch if I was willing to let him go for the day and if it wouldn't interfere with my plans. (Plans, what plans??). I was on cloud nine. She told me to wait until this morning to tell him. So even going to bed last night Mitch was bumming around. I could tell he was feeling down. He mumbled something about wishing he could go on the trip. I could hardly contain myself. I told him to get over it. Hahaha. I was so excited to wake him up this morning and tell him, "Happy Birthday, and here's your present: you're going to ValleyFair!" Always needing to have the last word, he throws the blankets back over his head and says, "I'm not going." LOL. Once it sunk in, he got dressed in his shorts, etc, but put his "work" clothes on over top--dockers and a LONG SLEEVE dress shirt (never mind how hot it actually is in his 3rd-floor classroom). He wanted to walk in to morning devotions and pretend that he was not planning on going. Always the jokester...
I can't wait to hear how his day goes. The skies are threatening rain and thunderstorms, but I KNOW he'll have fun no matter what. He'll be "with the guys." :)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I am sooooo excited!
I finally have a birthday surprise for Mitch. Or I get to participate in one, rather. :)
You will all have to check back tomorrow to find out what it is.
Did I mention how excited I am? I am going to burst at the seams waiting until tomorrow!!! :))))

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Contentment

"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:11-13

Feeling content is the opposite of being "afraid of mediocrity." Seldom, if ever, have I felt truly hungry. Few times in my life have I really been in need. My former post, though straight from my heart, is looking more and more self-centered all the time. :)

With lots of kids and daycare kids, too, people frequently ask me "How do you do it all?" Well, to be honest, I don't do it all. I find it very easy to lay aside one project and focus on a different interest for a while. Could the phone calling be that possibly I am unwilling to invest the time necessary to practice getting better at social interactions?? *gasp* Must I admit that I don't fare well socially? This could mean that possibly I am avoiding making phone calls because I don't want to invest the time in it, not that I'm so uncomfortable doing it. But I become uncomfortable doing it because I don't do it often enough. And because I don't truly want to be doing it, no matter how much I tell myself I do want to. In the instance of the latter, no amount of practice will help me get better.
Whether my performance is mediocre or not is irrelevant. What does matter is if I'm doing the work that God has made me for. Maybe some day I will learn the secret of being content. Being content with mediocre or even worse.
Thanks Kristin for the elbow nudge about the women's ensemble. For years I have dreamed of joining the worship team at church (other churches before I came to Calvary). The closest I ever came was standing behind the piano and playing the tambourine. Well hidden. I loved singing in the choir in college, but there are so many other voices singing together. I did sing on a worship team once in college, and I hope it went well. I thought I did ok. :) Mitch knows this about me, and privately needles me about joining. Today I was seriously thinking about it, and I thought "I don't really think I can draw all that attention to myself." LOL So in a matter of just a few days I go from lamenting about being mediocre and just blending in, to not wanting to draw attention to myself. OH THE IRONY... I hope you will all forgive my self pity! I think I am going to try to find more important things to blog about from now on.
But if I don't, then oh well. That's why it's my blog. =P j/k
Today I am content. I am content to get done what I can. I am content to let some things go undone so that I can have a few moments of free time (to blog, to scrapbook, to do whatever). I don't care about mediocrity as much as I thought I did.
Maybe I should cancel that appointment with the therapist...

Friday, May 19, 2006

Zeke just woke up from his nap. He is a little disoriented, but in a great mood and ripe for chatting. He first asked where Caleb was. I told him he is sleeping in his bed. I gently suggested Zeke go pee in the potty so that his pants stay dry. He looked at me and smiled and looked at his pants. Then he said, "Got animal qwackers in my pocket, mom." I couldn't help but giggle. I said, "Yep." He said, "I gonna eat them." Then he came over to the box of animal crackers (a big box I buy at Sam's Club) and got a refill. =D
I just have to add, it's amazing how many animal crackers can fit into the pocket of a size 3T pair of pants...
Since I have been a downer for a couple days here, I think I'll try to show a little more of my dominant positive self today. =)

First of all, the best news is so far we are not throwing up at our house. So if Victory and Levi had anything to share while they were at my house on Wednesday it would seem that we have (so far) been spared. Breathe a sigh of relief, Kristin!

Second, I am so pleased at how well cute little Jaden is doing. I am confident that one of these days Mitch is going to give in to my nagging and watch the kids for a while so I can go over and finally get my turn holding him! We're just going to make sure that no one is vomiting here first. Oh yeah, and I'll probably have to call Steph (but we've already talked enough about how hard it is for me to do that...LOL...I'm just exaggerating!)

Third, did you know that blogger has spell check? It's really easy to use, and it helped me spell "exaggerating" properly. =) Although, it had to learn "Steph" and "Jaden." LOL

I have gained a couple pounds. Oops, I said positive didn't I? Ok, well Mitch has lost a few pounds. :) I can't wait until he stops starving himself and eats again. haha, just kidding. Actually I am now his "coach" and I have him on a strict regiment where I do not let him skip meals and he has to eat snacks in between times. It is his responsibility to control portion sizes, but hopefully this will raise his metabolism. Did you know that the FDA Food Pyramid says that he should eat more calories in a day than I should? Good thing I've always hated that stooopid pyramid. I'd be starving Josh if I only ate 1800 calories in a day. Forget the fact that I've gained a couple pounds. Did I really say that? Ok, it's the late night chocolate chip cookies. I confess. I guess Josh didn't really need them... but there should be a question on that mypryamid site for pregnant or nursing moms. Really.
Ok, on with the list. Let's see...we're up to fifth now. I'm having a scrapbooking workshop at my house tonight. Mitch is taking the kids out and letting me and my friends take over the house. Yay!!! I have the album pages for my mom and step-mom almost completely done. Just have to finish journaling. There are 95 pictures each and 11 sheets/22 album pages. They turned out beautiful and didn't really take that much time. It gave me hope for catching up with my own projects.
Sixth, the fabric store had a nice sale. I bought some more diapering fabric, and some fabric to make Eden another dress. It will be my first time sewing a knit garment on my serger. I'm soooo excited to try.
Seventh, whew these numbers are getting tacky...last night I made a really yummy supper--cubed steak baked in brown gravy, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob--my mom Janet would be so proud...she's the one who taught me! I even stayed up late after the kids were in bed, baking cookies. I think that should earn a couple of bonus points. :)
Oh boy, oh boy. I've gotta run for now. Things are getting sillier by the minute. Zeke thinks the animal crackers on the table are an all-you-can-eat buffet. In fact, he thinks Tom's shirt is a buffet by the looks of it (I just caught him trying to bite the shirt, not the kid, just the shirt)...
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Re: Mediocrity

Just wanted to let you know that I posted replies in the comments section of "Mediocrity" if you are looking for a little more of an explanation. =)

Mediocrity

It's quiet. The kids are either gone, sleeping, or just being quiet. Chores are done, or at least done enough, and Mitch doesn't need my help. I sit down at my computer with a list of 5 names in front of me. Five phone calls. That's all I have to make. My heart rate increases slightly. I know that calling these customers will be good for me and for them. They need to know that I care and want to follow up on promises to help. My business will grow, and I may even meet a goal. So I dial the first number. My hands shake slightly. I stumble over my words a bit, in spite of the script that I wrote and practiced. I am only talking to an answering machine. As I hang up the phone, I review my comments and shake my head. "I sound stupid." I mutter under my breath. Next name and then the next. Each call leaves me feeling more gloomy than before, now I just can't wait to be done. I'd rather be cleaning the toilet. The 5 calls takes me less than 15 min., and I only talk to one real person. I feel like a failure. Nothing sold, nothing scheduled, no one helped. Or so it seems. Will I do this again tomorrow? No way! What am I so afraid of??

A couple weeks later a bill collector started calling. Not for us, but for a relative who does not live here (and never has). I wondered how they even got our number. When they ask for the relative, "May I speak to so and so?" Mitch simply says, "No." Dumbfounded, the bill collector stumbles over his next words until the conversation ends with Mitch grinning and saying, "Have fun!" That looked like fun to me. Soon it was my turn. I knew that I should ask for our number to be removed from the list and that it should be. I also knew that if I got too excited or angry that the person would just hang up on me and call again tomorrow. The bill collector called, right in the middle of daycare. The kids were all playing nicely together. I was folding laundry, but I had to stop so that I could concentrate on what I said and how I said it. I calmly asked for our name to be removed from the list. He ignored me and continued on. Knowing that my voice was starting to sound "excited" I asked to speak to a supervisor. He gave an excuse and tried to ignore me. I insisted, now really pushing the line. I was sure he would hang up, but eventually a supervisor got on the line. Through my clinched teeth I explained that this was not so-and-so's number and never had been and that I could pick anybody's name out of the phone book to give to them without the owner's consent so what did it matter? Please stop harassing me! The kids are getting louder and I have to leave the room. My blood pressure must have shot through the roof, and my hands are shaking. Nay, my whole body is shaking. My eyes darken. Something inside me is saying this is insane! Finally she asks if this is such-and-such address. I say "No! Of course not!" She agrees to remove my number from their calling list. Relief...a little. It takes me a long, long time to calm down. How can I take care of kids like this? I am a wreck. I called Mitch to cry on his shoulder. Two weeks later I decided to call a therapist.

I love my life. I trust God that He will work everything out for good. I understand that trials will come, be they from Him or from the enemy, but that He will walk beside me and guide me when I ask. Iron sharpens iron. I do not get easily depressed. Sometimes I am quick-tempered, but I am also quick to grant grace. Mitch has learned his lessons well from the "Love and Respect" seminar, and does a good job of showing me love. My kids are healthy and beautiful, and I am so proud of them. I have a few close friends and many more wonderful acquaintances. I just can't call any of them on the phone. At least not without raising my heart rate. And reviewing my conversation both before and after the call. It took me a long time to call a therapist because I wasn't sure this was a valid reason for going to see one. I guess I thought they would turn me down too. I don't have major issues. I don't have an abusive past. I don't suppress memories. I guess maybe I am afraid of being rejected...but am I? I know that rejection is to the offer, not to me. I understand that God has never rejected me, but has accepted me and always will. I have understood that since I was very little. That's what really matters and I let it permeate my life.

I fear mediocrity. It dawned on me this morning like someone flipping the switch. I fear blending into the crowd, only being able to achieve what so many others have all ready achieved. I get jealous of other people's successes. I believe that is a sinful attitude. I wonder if a therapist will help me conquer that? I love making diapers and sharing my patterns. But what if my diapers and patterns are really no better than the hundreds of others that are out there? Will I be able to accept that and keep going? I love my other unnamed business, and I am close to promoting in the business. But will it matter? There are thousands of others who have achieved that level. Will I be able to be content with it, or will I feel the pressure to continue to scramble for a higher level where there is more recognition? My outstanding house is a cluttered mess. Will it ever be a showcase house? Why do I feel it needs to be? My daycare, as safe as it is, fails miserably when compared to many "professional" daycares out there. I will always remember the day when another daycare provider heard my plans to offer hourly drop-in care. She turned to me and commented, "That is so unprofessional." Well, I guess that's one way where I'm not mediocre. :) I compare the lives of my children to my own life as a child. In some ways my life was better (I had acres and acres of land to roam free on), but in so many other ways their lives are better (for one, I am still married to their dad, and I do not let them roam free and unsupervised as I got into lots and lots of trouble that way!). I guess it matters what your standard of comparison is. If I place my standard as Jesus Christ, where I should be, I realize I am not any better than the 12 disciples, who were arguing. In Matthew 18, they asked Jesus, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" Jesus said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." The whole chapter is good, of course, but I risk rabbit-trailing off of my original subject. I recognize that this fear of mediocrity, this desire to rise above everyone else, has been in me at least since high school. I ruthlessly competed for the Valedictorian spot (I was Salutatorian), I determined to win a full ride scholarship to a college (which I did). Achievement has always been a goal of mine. Proverbs 11:2 says "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom." I have understood the value of wisdom vs. knowledge for many years, and I thought that I desired wisdom above knowledge. :) I see that in my desire for achievement what I have really been cultivating is a prideful spirit. I need to refocus on becoming like a child. I should have plenty of children to learn from...they fill my house to the brim every day.

It still doesn't answer my question about the phone calls. It partially does. I do understand why I'm having trouble with goal-setting. I'm not setting the right goals. I think that the two are related. Mediocrity is not something to be feared. Good friends have told me "Steph, God does not give us the spirit of fear." Indeed, the only fear I need to have is the fear of the Lord. So I'd better get to practicing becoming like a little child and throw off the vain quest for recognition. The most important job I have in all of my life is sitting at my feet.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006



So this is why I haven't updated in a few days... not because of the hole, but because of the cut cable represented by the white line in the hole. Even though we had our yard marked (orange lines), and started digging our hole a "safe" distance away, we still managed to cut the line. :( That's Life!! I hope that they were a little more acurate marking our other utility lines! The website for gopher one claims that they are acurate within 2 feet. You can see from the picture that the white line is more than 24 inches away from the orange lines. The cable guy agreed with me. :) I'm back up and running!!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Crabby Baby!!

The past few days at our house with Josh have not been fun...he has been a real crab! Clingy, tired, just not himself. We have done everything we could just to get away from him for a few minutes. Carrie took Josh and Zeke for 3 hours yesterday afternoon and I got ALL of the rest of the boards stained in the basement! Mitch got a good number of them put on the walls, until he ran out of dry ones and we had to stop for a late afternoon lunch. Today we are supposed to work more.

I am sooooo tired! And I have two of my own BIG projects I am working on. (Here's a secret--I finally printed up pictures so that I can send updated album pages to my loving family members back home!! Mom and Dad, yours are coming! I wanted to have them done in time for Mother's Day, but I didn't make it. Bummer!)

I mentioned it was raining on Friday. It's still raining. How many straight days? Four at least, I can't remember. So we are doing all this staining, etc, in the basement with the windows closed. *choke* If you stop by, please don't worry, they're going to pack us up and send us to the funny farm later.

We got out last night, all seven of us. That usually only happens on Sunday mornings and special occasions! We took the kids to the thrift store to get some new clothes. We told them they could buy whatever they wanted with their allowance money and we would pay for 1/2 of it. Unfair that they would have to buy their own clothes? Not the way I see it. They were blowing their money on candy literally every week and then I noticed how cruddy Micah's teeth looked and that's when I did the "inspection" after brushing and discovered Eden's cavity a few weeks ago.

No, I don't think we're being unfair at all. Teaching our kids responsibility, that's much better. Micah got 7 items and Eden got 9 items, and both spent $16 of their own money. I teased Daddy and said that Eden did better because I was shopping with her, and had been well-trained by my grandmother. He complained that he didn't know that the green tags were 1/2 off. =P

Micah did score an excellent Columbia jacket. For some reason it was only priced $7.99 (many other jackets we saw were priced much higher, even up to $20 for a used coat!). It has two parts, so it can zip apart for two lighter/summer jackets. He was thrilled. Still think it's unfair? That only cost him $4. And the lesson that we all spent total $80 on lots and lots of clothes which is the cost of ONE new Columbia jacket was absolutely priceless.

At one point in the trip Micah said to me, "I don't really like buying these clothes." I asked him why. "Because they have been used already." I took that opportunity to pull a beautiful pair of pants off the rack and point out that the only difference between those and the new ones at Sears is the amazing price difference--they both look the same after 1 washing. You just have to look for the treasures, not all the clothes there are worth our money! He did great and picked out several shirts, which I know he had been needing.

Of course during this whole trip crabby baby cried and was passed back and forth between me and Daddy. I will say that Daddy did most of the watching of Zeke and Josh so that I could immerse myself in finding good deals---it's a good thing, too, because I think it takes a LOT of focus to do that kind of shopping. I can't even talk on the phone while bargain hunting!

The Columbia jacket was the cream of our trip. Mitch said Eden may have got more stuff for the same price, but "Micah wins." I did too. A couple weeks ago I was there and found 2 skirts that I liked. I got a phone call while I was there, and decided that I needed to leave immediately. I took one look at the VERY long line and sighed and put my skirts back on the rack...I don't really need them. I decided to check to see if they were still there, and to my amazement they were. And guess what? One of them had a green tag...so I got 1/2 off! =D

Well crabby baby had a bad night. He came into our bed sometime in the middle of the night...not sure when as I was exhausted and Mitch lovingly fetched him for me. Something must have given way, because he started to feel better overnight. He woke up in the middle of the night again, in our bed, but failed to let me know that he was awake and feeling better. LOL. That was short-lived. He soon crawled right off our bed and fell to the concrete floor wedged between the bed and the wall. Now, before you get worried, it's not as bad as it sounds. All of our kids have fallen at some point. Even Dr. Greene states it. Their little noggins are pretty sound. And I will take precautions so that it doesn't happen again. BUT even though he was pretty mad afterwards, a quick nursing took care of the attitude. He woke up in a GREAT mood and is finally crawling and happy and playing by himself. He's sporting a small bruise, but not even so much as a bump, on his forehead. He doesn't seem any worse for the wear!

It is Mother's Day today! I love both of my moms--my mother who gave me life and my wonderful step-mother who took me as her own and helped me through those hard teen years! I know that God had a special plan for my life because he took a bad situation (divorce) and worked it out for good in me. I am who I am because of both of these women and the intricate way our lives are woven together. My step-mom will always be my "mom" too and has fully earned that right, even though she never had to! I honor both of them on this day and every day!!

Well, I'd better quit rambling. As I sat here typing, everyone around me is waking up and getting ready for church. I sent Caleb downstairs to wake up Daddy and he did and came back. Just now as Daddy came up the stairs I heard a "Whoa!" I turned to see him just stopping Josh from taking a tumble down the stairs...Caleb had left the gate open when he came back up. Whew...it makes ordinary life seem dull!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Rainy Days

My house is sparkling!!

Mitch took Thursday and Friday (today) off from work to try to get some work done on the basement. My neice, Beth, is on break from her school and she is helping. This morning we got lots cleaned up in the house and it looks great! Beth and Mitch are back at it, working on the basement, and I made sure to get pictures. It is looking soooooo nice!!!! How do you like my blue walls now?? =)
Micah is on a field trip today at St. John's Abbey. It is cold (43 degrees) and rainy...poor kiddos! Where oh where did the warm April days go? Our spring was off to such a great start... At least the rain is keeping things green.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

They are so cute!

Why are kids so cute?
I hope this keeps up!!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Sound Off

I don't know if I've said it or not, but I'm working through reading the Lord of the Rings books again. I'm a little over half-way through. The truth is, I loved the movies before I loved the books. The first time I picked up the books, I was quickly overwhelmed and got bored as I had a hard time following along. The next time I decided to plow through them, and I mainly focused on getting the basics down...skipping the geographical details which I found hard to follow. This time I have found it much much easier to follow along, and I read with my thumb holding the place to the map so that I can flip back and forth trying to navigate my way through Middle Earth. What's the use you say?? Well for one, I feel like I'm getting smarter. =) No, really! It makes me sad that 11 year olds can read this and comprehend better than I can, so if nothing else I am stretching my reading comprehension!!

Ok, so now I want to sound off for a bit. I loved the movies first, I really did. But I had some unanswered questions and I wanted to read the books to find the answers...that's a redeeming point--the movies led me to discover the books. The first time I read the books, I decided that PJ had changed very little in making the movies. So much for reading comprehension! On my second journey through the books, I've realized that MUCH has been changed. Anyone who would speak otherwise probably comprehends as much of the books as I did the first time I went through them. So what is a person to do? If you enjoy the movies, then I recommend you find time to read the books because if you don't you are truly missing out. It is possible to enjoy both. But I don't have the same love for the movies that I did before.  It is still quite possible to find some amount of depth in the movies. In spite of the limitations, they are a helpful visual aid if you do go on to read the books...just don't let the movies be a hindrance. I never understood that when my high school lit teachers would tell me that, but now I think I do!

More quotes to come!!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Well Water


Look what Mitch did to our pond! He used this small sump pump to pump the water out and put it back on the lawn. =) He likes to say, "My lawn is 'well' watered." I didn't get a picture yesterday, but I should have--there were hundreds of mosquitoes swarming the pond, and it's not a very large area!

Eden's Teeth...or lack of!


Eden pulled 3 of her teeth in 2 days. I had been encouraging her to really give them a good wiggle for weeks now. Her top front teeth had been purposefully filed down by the dentist to help correct her bite, and they had significantly worn down fairly small. I just couldn't wait for them to finally come out! During a regular "inspection" after brushing a couple weeks ago, I discovered a small cavity in one of her molars. I took her in to the dentist, who was giving me high-fives as he filled it. =) Ah, but he made no suggestions as to the wiggly teeth that did not come out. Well, Eden finally found some brave motivation somewhere deep inside her (I think it was the promise of $1 per tooth, or maybe it was the opportunity to have a space she could fit a straw through), and she pulled out the first one on my instruction of which way to bend and pull. That really got things rolling, and she pulled out the next one. Then the next day she came home and said she'd really like to get her other bottom lateral incisor out, so I encouraged her again. It didn't fall out quite as easily, and she started to get discouraged. I told her it really wasn't a big deal, but I think she wanted to impress her teacher. I'm looking at my baby girl's beautiful smile and pondering many things. Mostly now I understand why my mom called us "snaggle puss" when we were little! The picture is right after she lost the top two teeth. Now she is saying she can't wait for her new teeth to come in...sheesh

Friday, May 05, 2006

Still nothing exciting...

Josh got his first tooth almost 2 weeks ago, and I'm pretty sure he's working on the second one. His sleep schedule has been all out of whack, and I want to blame teething, but then I don't want to either. Night before last was looooong and terrible with him waking up several times. Last night was much better, we went for a walk at 7 and he fell asleep in the stroller. He slept until 9:30, then woke up and nursed and went back to sleep within an hour. He slept in his bed all night until almost 5 am, then he decided he was up to play. :( I let him play on the floor while I dozed on the couch, and eventually he crawled over to me and we cuddled up and fell back asleep until the alarm clock woke up the big kids. It wasn't long enough!

My auctions ended well. Mitch and I are trying to decide if we should do more. We are praying for an answer. I could easily sew more diapers, or I could just as easily push my CM business to the next level. (Got a little anxiety problem holding me back). Mitch is looking for a summer job, but so far nothing seems to be jumping out at us. I hate to give him up for the summer. It's always fun to have him around, and to be able to plan trips, or just days off, without worrying.

Josh is officially "cruising." I caught him walking around the dining room table holding on the to the backs of the chairs the other night. There are a few toys that he will pull up on and "push" around the room now, too. I am so amazed and his motivation!

Mitch worked mostly alone on the painting this week, as it seemed that I didn't have as much time to pull away from watching the kids. We still have a tiny closet to go and the ceiling in the bathroom. We are painting it white, so he stopped by the waste place and got some more free paint. =) Next we will finish the pine boards for the walls and then it's on to trim! He says that the pine boards will be easy--I sure hope so. We usually work as a team, one person spreading glue and the other (preferably Mitch) with the air nailer--what a blessing that we have that! Mitch always works better with someone at his side. It has taken me a long time to get this, but it's the way he is made and I should be honored that he wants me to be there with him!

That's enough for today, I have a lot of end of the month stuff that I still need to finish up if I do anything else productive today!