Friday, December 25, 2009

Emmanuel.....a Merrick update

Who is Emma Nuel?
that was the question on everyone's mind as they entered our cozy house for Christmas dinner.
The simple slip of my glittered letters had changed the whole meaning of our message.
Emma Nuel?  I asked.
What are you TALKING about?
Then they'd point and a 'light bulb' would go off for all of us.....

I have been dragging my feet to update you here about Merrick's condition.  Part of the reason was the second opinion we are still waiting on....
and the other part is plain ol exhaustion.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas Jarrod has been out of town, and it's been all I can do to keep up with Christmas things.  I KNOW I sound like such a whiner...but I'm just trying to keep it real here. 
I've said it before and I'll say it again.  I SO do not enjoy being a single momma.  I thank God for sendung me a partner-in-crime to run beside on this race.   He backs me up when I fall behind, he keeps me from giving up and he reminds me to cancel the pity parties....
without him I drop my eyes and forget that Christ will use ALL of this for our future....
we HAVE a hope and a future now!

Back to Merrick.  I overnighted his medical records to a Dr at UCSF.  Unfortunately, this Dr. was on his way out of the country and did not return until today.  He has been in constant email contact with me, but did not have the records to review while we was away.  On top of that he said his schedule is not open for an ablation until the end of January.

In the meantime I took all of our concerns to our current Ped. Ortho Specialist....and he answered every question  I had and set my mind at ease about the surgery.
At the time of our first meeting, I think Jarrod and I were in SUCH a fog listening to the diagnosis.  We failed to hear many of the details.  One of them being that this case has already gone before a board of doctors and they could not agree if this is definitely a tumor.  The mass may also be a bacteria infection, that if ablated could return again requiring further treatment.
Our current doctor wants to be sure that he can go in, remove ALL of the tumor and then be able to test it to be sure of what he is dealing with.  If it is an Osteoid Ostema as we suspect, then no further treatment will be necessary.  But if it is something else, he does not want to destroy it without being able to identify it first.
Clear as mud?

It comes down to being certain.  Yes, there may be another course of action for an Osteoid Osteoma....but if we cannot be 100% certain that that is what this is....then we are confident in taking the most cautious route.
And if that means 4 weeks in a body cast, so be it.
We can do this. 

So our surgery date is set for January 7th.
And I have SUCH a peace about this procedure.
We may still hear from UCSF in time, but unless he has something entirely new which we can consider, we're walking into this surgery thankful that this is treatable.

So back to Emma Nuel.....
Everytime I see that sign I:
a) laugh at the separation of the letters
b) remember the meaning of Emmanuel- God With Us!

He has never left Merrick, and we were never alone in making these decisions.  Whether His voice is audible, or his presence palpable......I know we are not taking this journey blindly.
1 John 4:16
I can know and depend on the love that God has for us!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A diagnosis: Osteoid Osteoma...Oh my!

I have to say....I told you so......
from the moment that Merrick started having leg pain.  I told you so.
Even if you didn't have an opinion, I did.
I knew it was a tumor.  And I didn't feel like I was overreacting.
I just knew.  I think God gives mommas that discernment.  It's what helped us push through three doctors, numerous tests and two months of waiting. 
I wasn't going to let them send us home with a 'growing pains' diagnosis.
The look on his face when he's in pain....
it's heartwrenching.

And now we know why.  Osteoid Osteoma
The Dr. described the pain as being close to drilling into your tooth....straight down to the nerve....without anesthetics....
....and it's constant. 
The diagnosis fits his symptoms perfectly. 
The tumor is benign....meaning it will not keep branching out and growing.  It will not metastasize outside of the there is no fear of it spreading.  It's just a tidy bundle of nerves and tissue deep inside Merrick's femur.  The pain worsens at night....which explains why Merrick will get up in the middle of the night and draw himself a blazing hot bath.  He just sits there half asleep with the hot water pouring over his leg.  Then he calls to me for medicine.  That's our routine for the past 9 weeks.

After SO much prayer support and encouragement, we confidently walked into his appointment today, knowing that we could handle any diagnosis. 
So we were neither alarmed nor deeply saddened by this long as it is treatable.
And it is! 
This pediatric orthopaedic specialist would like to operate after the first of the year.  The recovery period would include a month in a half or full body cast for Merrick, but the relief from his pain would be immediate.
This all sounded like good news.....

However, there is another option.  An option this specialist brushed aside.  He COULD do a Radio Frequency Ablation which would have Merrick up and walking the same day.  No casts, less invasive, outpatient.  We did not have questions while we were in the office today, but the more I research, the more I wonder why he wouldn't opt for the simpler procedure. 

I currently am in contact with the Radiology Dept of UCSF Medical Center.  It looks like we'll be seeking a second opinion before we authorize this surgery.  Unfortunately, this means Merrick waits longer for relief.

Throughout this process we've taken the journey one step at a time.  I just keep marvelling how Merrick is being shaped by this process.  Does God want him to become especially compasionate to others, more patient, or more prayerful?  This ordeal has brought that out in all of us!

I revel in the end that we will see how God's mighty hand worked through this situation.   Already I can point to so many people who love this little boy and are on their knees for him.  It's such a beautiful thing to be lifted up in prayer and we feel it.

So thank you for walking this journey with us. 
We're getting there......and in the end Merrick will walk (and RUN again) pain free!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


What a TERRIBLE Giveaway host I am!
Though I do have several valid and heartwrenching excuses for my delay in ending this contest.....
but we'll save those for subsequent posts......gotta leave you wanting more right?

I must enter a contest two or three times a week......and I have won twice.  Nothing like a $500 Amazon card or a Nikon from Pioneer Woman......but a Chore booklet from a family website and a Pay it Forward gift that never arrived in the mail....Needless to say, I'm here to tell you, your chances were MUCH better to win this sweet little anniversary prize.
No it's NOT a dinner at Wienerschnitzel....though that may be appropriate for a Weiner Dog Blog such as ours.
And it Won't be homemade since I'm up to my EYEBALLS in Christmas crafts.
But it IS meant to pamper you a bit at this time of year.....
And I wish I had more.
And I MAY have entered Cindy more than once JUST since she asked so nicely.
(Unfortunately it didn't put her in the winning circle- good could I have handled all the mail about a rigged contest?!?! ;)
is that enough suspense for you?
The actual prize is.....a Spa Pedicure, YAY!
and now.

The winner of my FIRST EVER GIVEAWAY on WEDOGSBARKING is......

Leslie P. of Leslie's Lilypad

and I gotta couldn't have happened to a nicer gal!
She's probably one of my most faithful supporters, and a creative inspiration to So many of us busy mommas!

Leslie, email me your new address and I'll get your prize in the mail faster than Dash wags his tail!

Thank you all for playing along! 

Friday, December 4, 2009

My 100th Post! Giveaway!!

Welcome to my 1st EVER Giveaway on this blog!! I have been dawdling on the posts because I knew this one was coming...and I SO wanted to do something to celebrate!  But between my sweet baby's leg and the absence of my hubby at this time of year, and school, and Christmas prep, etc....etc...ETC!......I haven't had any time to put together a good write up!

That being said.....leave me a comment and let me know why you stop by this lil ol blog.  And I'll enter you in a drawing for a SURPRISE!.......and I promise it will be better than chocolate :D
Well, to me it's better than chocolate...but I don't really like chocolate...unless it's wrapped around a Snicker's bar....or is made from the finest DARK chocolate......but I digress. 
Maybe it'll be a Starbuck's card.....or some Itunes credit.....whatever it is.....I know I'D like to keep it. 
Who really can afford 'treats' for ourselves at this time of year???

And you guys have really been a support for me.  Whether you comment or not, I know you are here.....
Reading, praying, and genuinely just showing up!
So LEAVE A COMMENT so I can enter you in my little drawing.
I'll close the giveaway Sunday night at 10pm....and post the winner on Monday...

*****and for those who are following our Merrick drama.  It's NOT a TUMOR!  Praise God....and we'll visit a Pediatic Ortho Specialist next week and a second opinon. 

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Too Blessed to be Stressed?

This little phrase kept running through my mind tonight as I pondered, "What in the world???"
Did I mention what I was doing?
See for yourself:

Still have no clue??
Well those aren't lampshades baby! I was hanging clothes on light fixtures, dining room chairs, bunk beds, etc.
This is not a new probably read about our dryer needing repair.....
but all of this high-maintenance laundry came at the end of SUCH a long day!

This morning I took Merrick to the hospital for a bone scan.
The procedure required an injection of dye and then almost two hours of waiting before he would need to lay still for forty minutes!

That's quite a test for a 5 year old! Just walking into the hospital was an adventure as we each had to wear a face mask to protect ourselves from the H1N1 virus.

Just the day before I met the aunt who lost her 6 year-old niece to this horrible flu strain. So I was more than happy to be protected while we walked around the hospital. Not to mention that I looked at each of the workers like they were a saint!  Like I said, I was already emotional, but I couldn't help but think that these hospital workers daily put their lives at risk to care for those who are sick or in need of medical attention. It takes a lot of compassion and quite a bit of bravery if you ask me! (and you're you have no choice but to ASK me!)

Well, both Merrick and I arrived at the hospital under duress. His motrin had worn off and he was weeping and fidgety from his leg pain. And I was a mess, because my boy was hurting and I could not help him! (We had rushed out of the house to drop off Ian and Natalia, and make it to the hospital in W.C. asap! This being the day before a holiday, a super-kind nurse had pulled some strings to get us in for the scan. I was TRULY grateful, but also unprepared to get moving when she called!)

Tears clouded my thoughts as we drove to the hospital and I contemplated what was ahead. The point of this scan was to check for any abnormalities on his femur. My mind reeled with the images of further treatment and testing if this scan showed anything bad.  As it is Merrick has had the absolute WORST time with needles in his short life. 

So I knew that I was walking into a battle zone where I would need to stay composed if we were going to get through this test. I challenge any momma to stay composed when your child is screaming in pain. The nurse who came in bragging about how great she was with a needle was thrown of with his blood-curling pleas. Then she took more than one try to get that needle was awful. We cried together as I tried to distract him.  Thankfully, the injection proved to be the worst part.

Merrick was a trooper for the 20-minute virus scan (doesn't that sound like he's a PC??)
And then we ran to a dear friend's house for Motrin and to grab lunch during the wait time.
Their company was such a great distraction....we almost forgot about what lay ahead.

We showed up to the hospital just a few minutes past our two hour wait time.  The techs strapped him down to the machine and started the procedure.
I hummed our favorite lullabies and rubbed his head as the machine hovered barely an inch above his nose for 5 full minutes.  Then as it worked it's way down his body Merrick was able to relax.  He had to remain still, but we talked and laughed and made it through.

And now we wait. 
The doctors at the hospital need to write their report and then the next time they could fit us in at the orthopaedic specialist is in 2 weeks.
So be it. 

That's what I was thinking while I hung underwear on the furniture in my house.

We can do nothing to change this experience.  We cannot walk through this FOR Merrick, but we can walk with him every step of the way.
Everything in us would like to take away his pain, to shorten this ordeal, but there is a reason he must go through this. We're all being shaped.
And I can tell you that nothing has brought us to our knees quite like this. 
We find ourselves constantly praying. 
Not just pleading with a deaf idol.  We're talking to our Savior.  The redeemer of our lives.  The giver of only good gifts.  This may not be a trial He would choose for us, but He will see us through it....and He will use for good what the enemy longs to use for evil.

So as corny as it sounds.  I DO feel too blessed to be stressed.
I cannot change my circumstances, I cannot alter Merrick's path, but we can choose how we react while we're walking it. 

And even as I wake up to find laundry sprawled around the room....I find joy in putting away all these clothes....and for the arms we have to put into each sleeve....and for the ability to be here with our boy, not having to leave him  in pain and under someone else's care.  

God's words in 1 John chapter 3 have been talking straight to my heart:

Starting in verse 18 it says:
Dear children, let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions.
It is by our actions that we know we are living in the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before the Lord, even if our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our conscience is clear, we can come to God with bold confidence. And we will receive whatever we request because we obey him and do the things that please him. And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. Those who obey God's commandments live in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Holy Spirit lives in us.

God is not a magician or a genie I am asking to make this better.
He's our Daddy, and we're here asking Him to walk it with us.
And we're confident we're not alone.
So we are blessed.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Flies part Deux

You know when you're in the middle of a's hard to see beyond the swirling flies....

Well, when I blogged about our fly plague....I received quite a few helpful comments.
So a friend pointed out that we should check our gutters for maggots. Ick, I KNOW!

But worse things have been known to happen....things die. Flies feast. Eggs are laid.
And poof we have an ugly 'flying' cycle!

So, Saturday my hubby went into the yard and cleaned out the gutters.
(Check that nasty chore off the honey-do list! Yahoo!)

Unfortunately, he didn't find anything of great significance in the gutters.......
Then as he was coming off a ladder, he caught a whiff of death near our garage door. And sure enough...he found a decaying mouse carcass....full of....well, ya know!

Now lest you worry and call the exterminator for us....we don't seem to have a varmit problem. However, our 'Bug Guy' left a mouse/roach hotel with bait inside that he checks on his monthly route. So apparently this little mouse took the bait then checked out of the hotel to die. He didn't make it far, but managed to hide underneath the clutter in our garage.
To be honest...I didn't even smell anything strange.....just call ME observant!

Well, much like the initial flies in our house that lead to a crack in my windshield...this was only the beginning.

After disposing of the mouse and the 'baby flies'........
Jarrod decided to clean out our garage. YAY!

Well in his zeal he made sure to vaccum all around our dryer....leaving spic and span lint traps, etc!
Sounds good still, right?
Unfortunately, he OVER did it......and tightened up a vent that needed to have some 'give'.....causing a short out in our dryer!

Boo to that!

The funny part is how he tells the story.....he says it was all de ja vu! You see he had done this before.....overfixing this vent....causing a fuse to blow in our dryer....(mind you our washer/dryer set is less than 5 yrs old...the front loading/pretty pedestal of the ONLY areas of our life that SHOULD NOT need repair! Nevertheless, a dismantling of our dryer ensued.......and an order was placed for a new part. Meanwhile, my laundry 'routine' is disrupted for atleast two weeks. Thank God we've learned that a sense of humor is vital to survival around these parts!

Admist all the fun and games....I was left hanging loads of laundry onto ANY willing surface in our nice clean garage. And as you can this hasn't been a quick process to get clean laundry!

And really.....though I love a stiff pair of jeans as much as the next gal. I don't do scratchy towels! So I resorted to lugging our linens and towels over to my mom's. Bless their hearts.....Papi even folded a load for me :D
The moral of the story? Um, I'll leave that one up to you ;)

I'm done for now.....

**This series of events is brought to you by an over eager mouse....and a resulting plague of flies.
Did I mention it's been a long two weeks?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Oh my, how do I, hate flies....

I have been killing flies all morning. Seriously, it's like a plague around here.

My hubby says it's always like this....around this time of year. I think not. I think I'm being tested.

And it all came to a head on Wednesday. My hubby had been gone 3 days and the night before the kids had managed to leave the van door open. In the couple hours before dusk settled, a herd? a gaggle? a SWARM of flies decided to nest inside!
So the next day as we set out to run errands I was the victim of frequent fly-bys....
and these weren't casual flies. They were persistent. They were ruthless. They'd settle on my face, be swatted away and then come right back before the next downbeat!
I'm driving with the windows down and shooing them out at every chance I get.
Till finally, I'm at a stop sign and I just lose it! I go beserk! I waved my arms emphatically all around.....anything to get those things out of the van!
Then with one good swat of my right hand I hit this innocent little medal hanging from my mirror. Ian won it at a science fair. And it's solid, not a plastic little thing. It's well, metal.
....and it is here that my mind started spinning........that medal has been there for over a year. An innocuous memento....a reminder of a great event...nothing more. Or was it? Could it be an emblem of disaster? A symbol of my disorganized life.....(why was this still hanging there after a year?!?!? Shouldn't it be filed away with Ian's school memories?)
Whatever the reason, it was there for a reason. So with one great swat I sent it flying into my windshield. And with a pop and a crackle I hung my head in despair......for there before me were two flies taunting my aim, lingering below the star shaped pattern on my windshield.
Yes, in my quest to rid the van of flies, and stop the nagging insects from landing on me.....I managed to break a window. *sigh*
I hate flies. And the medal is now filed away safely where it belongs. Thanks for asking.

Monday, November 9, 2009

...And the sun shining on my face.....

That skirt captures movement. You can't see how quickly our life is flying by in most pictures. But here it's all around her.....the speed of our life.
And the grace that flows around our day-to-day activities. Sure you can see it in a smile. But that tulle shows what's in the air when these kids play.
It's the giggles............the rush of the wind as they run past. It's the sound of the sand as they slide down that hill......the clank of the swing as they jump off it in mid-flight.
Yes, that skirt reminds me of the fantasy that goes on all around me, outside of the chores and the have-tos.
The kids know how to live. To laugh at the inappropriate sounds. They pile up the display pillows into forts. They're just living. Enjoying. Breathing.
I want to let that joy be contagious.
So today we ran, we walked, we biked. And we were alive.
Without weight or responsibility, just soaking in the brisk air before it rains.
Before the sun goes down, as it's so accustomed to doing too quickly at this time of year.
It's barely past lunch and then poof! it's dusk.
But for today our clothes were caught by a breeze. And the laundry went undone a little longer.
And I'm glad.
Now tomorrow, what will I wear?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Rainy Day Playtime


Where've you been lately?? Well, it's been a little busy around here...thanks for asking. We've been making so many 'family' memories....that I haven't had as much to post publicly ;)
So here's one...a smattering of crafty ideas for a rainy day:

A couple of weeks ago we had some friends over on THE wettest day of the year.
I prepped some crafts to keep us busy. Though these nine kids tend to entertain themselves when they're's always nice to have something organized to do as well!
A handful of craft items and painted cups turned into a crowd of crows.
Then we read a book about making an apple pie.....which lead to whipping up THE EASIEST apple pie EVER!

And if you don't know this about me yet. I Sooooo don't like to bake.....
but when you have a handful of the world's greatest stirrers, the job comes together quickly!
The key to this recipe was to use a store bought crust....and then Microwave the apple filling before placing it in the crust.
This cut down on the cooking time dramatically! And it was warm and yummy this side of 15 minutes!
We enjoyed Apple Pie.......crow crafts.......tortilla soup.....girlie convos.....and this last craft is my favorite.
The kids drew a barren tree......then we placed a bunch of leafy confetti under a clear plate and hot glued it down.
Poof! A 'snowglobe' effect complete with 'falling' leaves when you shake the picture.....
or is it a TreeGlobe?
It's as adorable as that lady bug crawling up the trunk, if you ask me.
I say, let it rain, we'll chat and play again til my hubby comes home.
Besides I love the way the earth smells after a good washing!
Kinda like kids after a bath....when they've played hard all day.......
Mmmmmm......happy smells.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Are you Salty?

The drive to Salt Lake City is BOR-ING.....
.....and they know it too.....check out these signs:
Drowsy drivers are warned all along the way....and even encouraged to pull over!
Well for us Northern's a 10.5 hour drive on paper....but we did it in 12 hours with pit stops and coffee runs.

As a family, we LOVE road trips so that wasn't a problem. But I certainly wasn't prepared for the strange sights.....good Ol Maggie (our Magellan) showed us driving through a Lake for like 60 miles!

And all around us appeared to be either water or very moist ground. Doesn't it feel lunar...with just a touch more color?
Welcome to the Salt Flats.
Toward the end we just had to pull over and check out the texture.
Would we sink? Was it pure salt?
Many other curious folks had left their marks.....daring to drive out onto the smooth surfaces....or to make rock formations.
Our marks were primitive but personal.
....and the texture? Like stiff, wet sand. But dustier. It coated our shoes and you can see how my heels sunk in when I lost my balance.
We didn't see actual water for miles.
It was SO interesting! Those crazy Utonians....they're surrounded by this stuff.
Can you imagine all this salted earth...landlocked.
Simply odd.
And so began our journey into Salt Lake City. But you'll have to go to our family blog to read more about that.
PS- they obviously don't have a problem with Mark 9:50....."Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? You must have the qualities of salt among yourselves and live in peace with each other."
God likes's in you, it's in me....and He put it ALL over the earth.
To my detriment. I love to eat it.......
and I even walked on it!
.....I just can't stop pondering the stuff.
Hmm...I feel a Bible Study/History Lesson coming on :)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The entry hall

Our house has been called eclectic.

And it's true....

We aren't ones for matchy-matchy furniture and buying complete sets of anything.

If we own it, it's probably been refurbished, recovered, painted, or otherwise reinvented (ie., the three tupperware drawers that hold dog food and double as a lampstand)
So tonight while we were at our first concert of the weekend (yes, there will be more than one....)
I saw this background and fell instantly in love.
I'll go with the artist title, in that I feel like I have a creative mind, but as far as technique...well I'm a bit of a novice. Thus the eclectic house. I may have a wide variety of styles I like, but I have a hard time pulling them together. But if our house felt like a piece of art, with little pockets of unique beauty at every turn, then I'd be a happy woman :D
Thus the picture of the tree above. I'm going to paint that on the wall that faces our front door. I've tried SO many wall hangings, frame arrangements, pictures, and art pieces without being satisfied. And I have a thing for swirls. Like the plaster ones we made on our ceiling when I was pregnant with our firstborn.
So, I'm posting my intentions here with the hope that I will jump to it and 'get 'er done' as I've heard it said. :)
Because I have absolutely NOTHING on my plate right now. That's when I especially like to start a project. Oh yes indeedy.
So stayed tuned. So far Jarrod likes the idea. He's such a good sport about my experiments....
but we'll see how long I can draw out this project and annoy us both!
Ack, pray for a steely resolve and an extra hitch in my 'giddyap.'
Who knew those phrases were even in my vocabulary ;)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Plastic fundraising

Some have asked what we've been up to lately.....well thanks for asking!
A lot of it is school...I've been alternately out of steam over organizational things in our education dept ;) and just plain uninspired in the picture taking department.

It must've been my run in with Picture Gal. Did I tell you about her?
Well, I'll have to keep you in suspense....maybe another time.

For now I'll let you see a glimpse of one of the projects I spearheaded for our co-op. This picture will make sense in a minute....
I decided to lead a program called Push the Pedal -it's an offshoot of Gospel for Asia.

GFA is a fantastic organization that trains native missionaries to bring the good news to countries in the 10/40 window. Something like 500,000 villages in India alone, have never heard of the salvation that comes through Jesus Christ.

So GFA has set up Bible Colleges, and training facilities to help eager new believers dive into the Word, and then helps send them out to unreached people in remote villages. These missionaries usually carry Bibles, literature, and video equipment on foot. At that rate they reach one or two villages a day.
Push the Pedal is a fundraising program where kids can take the initiative to raise monies to buy a bike for a native missionary. They treat their bicycles like gold....for with this one simple piece of equipment their outreach multiplies to several villages a day, not to mention the added safety of not having to walk home in the dark.

So I've headed up the fundraising for our co-op....and the kids are having a blast!

GFA put together such an informative packet, so atleast once a week the kids get to hear a story of how a missionary would use their new bike, as well as take home crossword puzzles and coloring pages to keep the cause fresh in their minds.

This week the various classes collected cans and bottles for recycling.
Don't ask me why we didn't take the truck....but it was quite humorous piling the bags in with the kids.
It's the little things in life that keep me entertained.
And it's all for a good cause.
So now you know....we're fundraising over here. And riding around covered in garbage. It's never a dull moment.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Baby Boy is Brewing

....but not for me....I PROMISE!
Our dear friend Jenn is busy brewing up a new addition to their family.....
so off we headed to a Livermore tearoom to celebrate!

So first I ask you.....
How Southern can one gal get?
To know Cindy is to LOVE her Suuuthernn sass and charming accent-
top it off with THAT hat and we have a scene from Steel Magnolias!

Now to the lady of the hour....Ms. Jenn, looking lovely as ever in black...all signs of her 7+ month project hidden by the table....she is a stunning second time mommy!

Miss Alicia was our hostess with the mostess....dressing up the table and favors in a beautiful mint green and chocolate theme. So sweet!

I have to say, delightful company exluded, I was surprised at what a great time I I'm not really a 'tea' I figured that I'd feel like a bull in a china shop....BUT at Ms. August's Tearoom EVERYONE feels right at home!
Such hospitality! I highly recommend frequenting her place of business!

I even relaxed a little on the picture taking, as Cindy took over the paparazzi post....snapping creative little shots like this....
hmmm....I may have discovered my future assistant ;)
sorry, it's an 'after' shot of all the lemon curd, and frou frou cream we slathered on our scones. YUM! But I DO like the perspective Cindy!

We had such a beautiful and relaxing time being waited on....sans kids....laughing with the girls....

oooo, and I love spending time in prayer over new babies.....
it was an extra gift be able to bless Jenn and her family!
There was also an abundance of wrapped up blessings.....I think we covered all the itty bitty necessities a momma could need. And some that are NOT so necessary...but just for fun:
So after 3 rounds of tea, gifts, and favors, and more gifts....we got ready to pack it up.
And then the hats came out....and something about old fashioned hats brings out our serious side.
Or not!
There, that's more like it:
Amazing treats, fab conversation

and good friends....

Welcoming babies is SUCH a joy! Especially when we feel as pampered as the momma-to-be!
Thanks Alicia for a beautiful afternoon, we love you Jenn......and we can't wait to meet you Cash!

Monday, September 28, 2009

DIY: Baby Blocks

A dear friend is having a baby boy....and for her shower I broke out the creativity....
it's not an original idea...but the execution was one of a kind!
My saw wielding Papa chopped up a 2x4:

I gathered my paints.....

I applied one coat of baby blue before running to the Scrapbook store for the decor:

I cut the paper into semi-even squares.....each block needed 6 sides of course!
Though don't look too closely...even with a paper-cutter, my square sizes varied....BUT I'm not perfect, so why should my crafts be??

I chose the paper to go in the nursery which has light blue walls, dark blue curtains, and vibrant red accents. Another factor is the family's interest in boating. Of course, I couldn't go wrong with the standard boy theme of sports.

I spelled the baby's four letter name out on one side of each block.......
then I decided to add two more blocks for endcaps/and extra spelling fun!

See teaching/learning is NEVER far from a homeschooling momma's mind.......

You see, this little bundle of joy has a brother 5 years old than I figured the eldest son can practice reading/spelling while he plays with his brother.
The blocks will spell everything from dish, dash, cash, hits, kits, jacks, tacks, ticks, sick, and well, you get the idea.
The toughest part about this project was letting the Modge Podge dry before applying the next side...I'd glue four sides of the paper on.....then wait to do the other two sides. It turned into an all day project but those babies were ready withing 12 hours for their big debut! Oh, and that shower was beautiful!

Just a little something on top of the super cute outfit I was able to shop for.....brown cords, striped sweater and matching shoes of course <3>

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Proof is in the Pictures

I am impatient....aren't we all? Well, answer me darn it!
heh heh
And I make myself laugh....and to add to those lame attributes I REALLY don't bake.
In general, when I cook it's a dash here and a bit more there. That type of measuring doesn't tend to jive well with baking. Baking requires precise temperatures and exact amounts of ingredients.

So I surprised myself with the urge to make an old-fashioned apple cake that I found at PW's site. The Pioneer Woman is an adorable city girl-turned rancher's wife who keeps up a six-pronged blog that covers everything from photography to cooking, homeschooling and gardening. Attempting to do ANYTHING 'like' her is intimidating.
Especially when it's something that I lack any proper training in.
But I had the equipment and the ingredients make me I jumped on in!
This Apple Cake in an Iron Skillet is NOT for the faint of heart.

With 3 sticks of butter and sour cream to boot, it'll make your love handles shimmy just thinking about it! But chubby chasing thoughts aside, I had to try it. So over the course of 2 days I made it three times. Yes, I BAKED THREE TIMES in two days. I'll give you a second to close your mouths now. Thus, why I'm posting these pics, because I'm not sure I'll ever do it again ;)

The process isn't hard, but I never quite perfected it. The problem with my following a recipe numerous times, is that I start to get relaxed, or even lazy with the directions.
For instance, in my first attempt I carmelized those apples with precision. The kids loved the end product so I bought more ingredients and settled in to make two more for an upcoming dinner party. (I only bake out of I prefer dough and mushy sweets to cakey or bread goodies....sigh)
The second cake I let the apples cook too high for too long. I was rushing it.....knowing I had TWO to make that night. Ugh, that one went straight into the garbage....Boo to that!

Well, the last one, survived, but was a bit lighter than I was hoping, due to my cautious attempt at carmelizing those apples. There were no complaints when a sweet, dense slice was placed next to a creamy scoop of vanilla ice cream, but I knew I had done better.

It's a tricky process for me. Carmelizing the apples, pouring on the batter, baking it in the oven, and then inverting it onto a platter.
It was touch and go there a couple of times!
You can see where a smidge of the apple topping stuck in the pan. Bummer.

Then of course, the whole darn thing fell over on the ride to dinner. Nothing spilled thankfully, because those 3 sticks of butter held EVERYTHING in place.
Bah! Kinda like your thighs would stick in a swing at the park if you ate too much of this delicious cake!
Bad analogy. Sorry. But good cake. Don't forget to try it for yourself. Go here for the recipe....and for step-by-step pictures of how this SHOULD turn out.
I'm satisfied with my efforts. And now I'll go back to prepping my fool-proof Fried Rice, or Chili Verde Pork. They never take 3 attempts to get mediocre coloring!
Bless you mommas who actually enjoy baking.
Share the love, that's all I'm saying. Share the love!

Friday, September 18, 2009


Today is the day, our knight returns.

He keeps getting shipped off for 5-6 day stretches...and it's exhausting in every.way.possible.

Physically, mentally, spiritually, etc.

For him as well ;) we'll be happy to see him pour himself through that door today.
An exhausted, huggable, tower of a man.

We survived and mostly in one productive piece.
But we all need a break. Our brains hurt.
So my prayer is for a relaxing weekend. To enjoy the essence of having everyone together.
Ah, yes, together.
Like this brain, before we dissected it.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I did not want to go to church today.

Have I started a post like that before? It's been awhile since I even wrote a Sunday Service Snippet....

I felt unworthy. I felt frustrated. I felt unloved. And struggling with all of those feelings, I didn't feel able to help lead worship. (It's much easier to NOT show up for church when you're not accountable to a ministry.....but today I was)

The facts were these, I was afraid. Afraid to represent someone I'm not. Afraid to come across as having it together when I don't.

It's so funny to me to be called to such a public ministry...where expectations are high, because you are 'seen' are expected to be friendly, and loving, outgoing and humble, pious and prayful....and rarely am I ANY of those things at the same time. And don't think I'm making this stuff up....I've had those things laid before me from one person or another over the year. Yes, I remember your words so distinctly....."You think you're perfect," "You don't really like to reach out do you?" "You are not genuine," "Your voice isn't that great." Etc. The 'voices' may have been human, but the effort was much to damaging to put on a person.

It's easy to point the finger at those who stand on stages. That light shines on both the good and the in general you try to hide the bad and make the good show first.

But today I felt ugly. Not in appearance, for those things are easy to spitshine....
but in form and substance. I wanted the congregation, to see me as I am; broken down, confused, hurt by words, jaded and mislead, on the verge of becoming a hermit. I didn't want the shoeshined version of me, if we can't be real then why show up? But how do you do that? I'm still human, and trust is hard to come by.

Then my hubby prayed over me.....I dutifully closed my eyes and carried on with our routine. still afraid of perceptions, but willing to be used.

Then I saw their faces, the faces of those whom I'm called to serve beside. Some of them I KNEW had uglies going on as well. Others hide their's behind smiles. Irregardless, we stood on that stage to use the various talents we have been given.

And the congregation sang. I could picture God showing up for each and every one of them....standing before us to be honored. Yes, we were ugly, but He saw through a veil of crimson, and we stood forgiven, and blameless. If He can forgive me of so much, then I can let go of the words that have marred my heart. I can look past the cynicism and trust again.

Pastor John taught from Matthew 8:23-26....focusing on the disciples in the midst of a huge storm. He made a great point. Sometimes those storms are caused on our own. Other times it is purely natural for those waves to rise. But either way, how do we respond?

With fear? Or with expectation? Jesus was asleep...staying out of it....possibly to see how the disciples would react. They panicked. Instead of just asking for help they commanded...."Lord, save us! We're going to drown!"

Which doesn't sound bad.....but Jesus said, "O you of Little Faith...Why are you so afraid?"

He rebuked them for Their FEAR. He KNOWS the ugliness we live with....He know the hurt that has been done to each of us. But He still expects us to turn to Him first. He will call us out for not resting in the knowledge that WE walk with the Creator of the universe.
The disciples had not acknowledged the possibility that this was in God's plan. They assumed the worst and gave up hope.

It's funny, as I type this I'm thinking about all of the others who lead ministry...and how often they may feel the same way I did today. I think discouragement is one of the enemy's greatest tools. It's not that I did anything amazing today. But I would have missed hearing God's truth. I would have missed the miracle that is pure worship. Unfettered by our plans, modulations, song order, etc. Today was as it should be.

I served not out of my own understanding. And God delivered as only He can, with purity of Spirit, and with more rewards than I could imagine.

I promise not to hole up in a ball and become a hermit. I will not let the words of other paralyze me into ineffectiveness. If God has a work to be done, and He can use me, then so be it.

I am grateful.....knowing that I showed up broken, sad, lonely, and confused, and God multiplied my reasons for rejoicing! I am loved. So are you by the way...

For our Savior had written in 1 John 4:18: "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

And it was also said, "The only thing we have to fear, is Fear Itself."

Friday, September 11, 2009

One of my worst nightmares....

Sometimes I sleep in later than my kids....
Don't be jealous, it's a luxury I have homeschooling.
But if that happens, I'm not far behind them, and they dive right into their chores while I jump in the shower.

Well, such was the case this morning. When I awoke to blood-curling SCREAMS!
I truly know the definition of that word now!!

Natalia was screaming, a new scream, one I had never heard before, and she has an arsenal. Her 'give me back my toy' scream, her 'you just left me alone in this room' scream, her 'you hurt my feelings' scream, etc......
So normally I wouldn't jump and run just because she screamed, but this was different.

Her scream was punctuated by Ian yelling MOM!
That would have been bad enough. Waking to screams. Really, stop there and my heart is beating fast.
But as I arrived in the kitchen .5 seconds later, I realized my situation was worse. Now you may be thinking, there must be blood, who got hurt? No, I would probably handle that better.
This was a SPIDER!!
I'd hold a snake, a rat, gut a fish, many other things before I'd elect to touch a spider. And it was big, black, and ON MY 3 year-old!
She had old-fashioned pink pjs on....buttoned down the front, like a man's night shirt, with matching pants. The spider was on her pj shirt, and started racing around her body as she screamed!
Herein lies my issues with spiders....I know they are supposed to be MORE afraid of us, because we're bigger, but they outnumber me in the leg department. This makes them likely to run faster than I move when I'm frozen in fear. I further loathe the ones that have mastered the long jump! But this one, whose size rivaled a half-dollar coin.....didn't seem to want to jump off of her!

As my boys stood staring in amazement, and our doofish Weiner dog kept jumping on her to see what was wrong......I analyzed the situation. Where WAS the nearest shoe??
I found the SMALLEST flip flop...and tried smacking it OFF of her tummy, to which it proceeded to run down her leg.....and UP under her shirt! Aaaaaaah!!!

It took me two more swipes to get it onto the floor, and smashed onto the back of that purple shoe. Sweet girl, she is our dog lover, and I guess she had been hugging Dash, our Weiner Dog. So we think he brought the spider in from outside!

My oldest's analysis of the situation is that it was a female, because it's tummy was HUGE.....
Male, female, I don't care, I just want to put it's body outside as a warning......

"Beyond this threshold.....all eight legged creatures WILL be squished!"

I so want to go back to bed and start this day over again. My skin won't stop crawling!
Alas, we will jump back into school after this break......the boys have a book about Tarantulas they want to study!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Wedog Chronicles- Simple Joys....

A vast expanse

of park to explore

A picnic lunch

cotton candy galore

Rolling hills and

itchy grass

Mossy logs,

memories to last

Spinning 'round

animals found

Another ride

then back inside

Ecclesiastes 3:13-14
For every man, moreover, to eat and drink and enjoy the fruit of all his labor is a gift of God.
I recognized that whatever God does will endure forever; there is no adding to it, or taking from it. Thus has God done that he may be revered.
Praise God for simple family days to enjoy his creation...and the work of master 93 year old merry-go-rounds.