April 29, 2011

What Procrastination Will Get You

I have a confession.

We are a little slow around here when it comes to getting the outside Christmas decorations down. Not as in end-of-January or even mid-February...but usually around March sometime. So embarrassing...

And this year, with the winter-that-never-ends, we were even slower. In fact, the last string of garland and lights did not come down off of the front deck until about 3 weeks ago. *blush* And even after that came down, we still missed something.  Don't ask me how - it is right outside the door we go in and out of about 20 times a day and it looks like this:

Yes, that is a very sad remnant of an artificial Christmas wreath. A wreath I was going to take down yesterday, until I saw this:

Well, Hello There...

Hello, there.  Remember me?  It's been so long since I've blogged that I think I may have forgotten how. Geesh.

What have I been up to?  So glad you asked!  The last week has been weird and crazy and busy and sad and good.

We did some of this:

And it rained.  Some more.  So since we could not work outside in the yard, we did this:

April 24, 2011

He Died. We Live.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, 
in that while we were still sinners, 
Christ died for us. 

Much more then,
having now been justified by His blood, 
we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

- Romans 5:8-9

Happy Resurrection Day!  
Be blessed...

April 23, 2011

Donuts, Tang & Grandma

Easter week brings us so many reasons to celebrate but this year my family's celebration was tempered by my Grandma Dorothy's death on Tuesday. Grandma was 91. And the past couple of years were tough ones, as family has watched dementia slowly take over her mind and wear down her body. Not an easy thing to see happen to someone you love. I remember what Grandma was like before the dementia and for that I am thankful. And those are memories that I will treasure.

So Grandma, you may be gone from this earth but you are in my heart. And I thank you for the many great memories, such as these:

April 20, 2011

An Easter Tradition

Easter is so late this year that it has completely snuck up on me (weird, I know.)  I still need to get to the store to buy eggs for coloring - hopefully there are some left!

And even though our kids will find a 'bunny trail' of treats leading out of their bedroom doors on Sunday morning, we never really talk about the Easter Bunny.  He's kind of a 'non-issue' at our house - just like that guy in the red suit at Christmas.  We try to focus on what Easter really means to us:  the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

So one of our favorite Easter traditions is breaking out the 'Resurrection Eggs'.  Resurrection Eggs are a set of a dozen plastic eggs, each with a special surprise inside that corresponds to scripture and the resurrection story.  The eggs come with a small book that walks you through the eggs.  If you have younger kids, you can just read the scripture and talk about what is in the egg.  If you have older kids, there is a longer story for each egg.

You can get these eggs at many different places online (like HERE) or at your local Christian bookstore.  We've probably had our set about 8-9 years and they look like this.

April 19, 2011

Best Pork Chops...Ever.

We had the best pork chops for supper tonight. The best pork chops...ever. Even the kids raved about them. Maybe it was that they were deliciously moist. Maybe it was that they were perfectly browned. Maybe it was that they were cooked in root beer.

Yes, you read that correctly: root beer.

I don't know who ever thought to cook pork chops in root beer, but it was brilliant. And we will be making these pork chops again...and again. In fact, we would serve them to guests. And if they don't want to finish their chop, I will unashamedly offer to clean their plate.

Yeah, they are that good. And, yes, I am going to share the recipe.

1 cup root beer
1 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
4 bone-in pork loin chops (7 oz. each)
2 Tbsp olive oil

In a small bowl, combine the root beer, ketchup, brown sugar, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce and garlic powder. Set aside.

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the flour, pepper and salt. Add pork chops, one at a time, and shake to coat.

In a large skillet, brown chops in oil.

Add root beer mixture. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or until meat is tender, turning once. Remove chops.

Bring sauce to a boil; cook until liquid is reduced by half. Serve with pork chops.

Get cooking and enjoy!

I got this recipe from the April/May 2011 issue of Simple & Delicious.  And I am linked up to Beauty & Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday.

April 18, 2011

Looking Back So You Can Move Forward

Last Friday, I did a bad thing.

I looked ahead.

At my training schedule that is.  And it completely Freaked. Me. Out.

Let me explain. Right now, this is where we are at:

5 minute walk - 11 minute run - 5 minute walk.  It doesn't sound like a lot but it is - for an inexperienced, couch potato runner like me - and it is stretching me...Big Time.  So how do you think I felt when I made the mistake of looking at day 63 of our schedule and saw this:

Get me a paper bag now and let the hyperventilating begin...

Geesh.  Once again, what have I gotten myself into.  As I was reminding myself that this "will not kill me" and that I am "not a quitter", I felt the panic over take every part of my being.

But then I did this -  I looked back: 

Where I started, Week one: 5 minute walk, 2 minute run, 5 minute walk - a measly .56 miles that just about killed me.

Today, Week five: 5 minute walk, 11 minute run, 5 minute walk - 1.55 miles!

In 5 weeks, I have increased my running time by 5X and tripled my distance.  Woo-hoo!!  Get me some chocolate to celebrate!  Then I realized one more very important thing: 1.55 miles is exactly half of 3.1 miles. 

I am half way there.  Half way!

5 weeks ago I could barely run 2 minutes without feeling like my lungs were going to explode.  Today I can run 11+ and feel good about it. 

Looking back, I can see clearly how far I have come.  I can remember how out of shape I was - how bad off I was.  And I can see where I am now.  Healthier, stronger, faster...

Now that I've looked back and seen how far I have come, I can move forward - knowing that I can make it the rest of the way.  I won't look too far ahead but I will focus on running this race one day ... one minute ... one song on my iPod ... and one prayer ... at a time.

We are not supposed to live in the past - that is unhealthy.  But sometimes we need to look back just for a moment to see how far we really have come.  Be encouraged!  We are making progress - sometimes it is just baby steps - but progress is progress!

Be blessed...

April 15, 2011

The Real To-Do List

I looked up from my busy-ness and chaos today to see this.

Simply put. Simple truth.

Epic Fail Friday

This week started with a couple of epic fails:

Fail #1:  Spending the longest 60 seconds ev-er in the grocery story parking lot trying to figure out why my key wouldn't open my van door.  I was in a panic, freaking out, until I realized it was not my van.  It would not have been as embarrassing, if it hadn't been for the lady sitting in the next car watching me the whole time. It would not have been as much of an epic fail, if not for the fact that my van has big purple Wahpeton Huskie paw prints - all over it. *sigh*

Fail #2:  Wednesday, we had an over-lunch department meeting.  We always order in for these, which can be tricky when trying to eat healthy but I was proud of myself for ordering a Half Chef Salad (dressing on the side, of course) and a V-8 instead of pop.  When I called over to order my meal, the lady said she didn't know what kinds of V-8's they had on hand and I told her to send "whatever, I didn't care."  I got my meal, opened my V-8 Strawberry Fruit Splash and was just about to take a big swig when I noticed this:

Yes, that says 38 grams of sugar.

Yes, that is only one gram less than my co-worker's can of Coke. 

And only 3 grams less than one of my precious Pepsi's.

Yes, I was annoyed.  Sometime you can't win for trying.  Ugh.

I could've had ... a Pepsi.  Next time, I will.

How is your week going?  Any epic fails to report? Comment below and let me know. (Hey, that even rhymes!)

I had a couple of people try to encourage me by saying the 'sugars' in this came from real fruit and not from corn syrup, etc.  I wish they were right.  However, after rechecking this is what I found: 

V-8 'Fusion' is mostly natural (if you don't count food dye and other 'added ingredients') but I had the 'Splash'.  Ingredients list: 10% Fruit Juice, High Fructose Corn Syrup... it pays to read labels.  Which is hard to do when you're ordering your lunch over a phone. *sigh*

April 13, 2011

Dads Being Daddies

This Sunday I was sitting in the back of the church, running video, and I saw the most beautiful thing.

In fact, I had to look away because I got all choked up and teary eyed.

Like I am now, just thinking about it.

I saw three men - standing in back holding babies. Their babies.

Rocking and humming, whispering sweet nothings and kissing the tops of soft baby heads.

Dads being daddies.

Imagine that. According to some people, that is a rare occurrence. According to some others, it is simply impossible. Men simply do not know how, or even care, to be dads.

Not my husband - but another
really awesome dad!

But I disagree.  I know so many men that are wonderful dads.  They may not change diapers or get up at night for feedings (although many do) but they are there for their kids.  While mom is worried about keeping little Suzie looking all prim and proper and Jimmy Jr. out of the mud; Dad is wrestling and fishing and sledding down icy snow hills and playing games with them - past bed-time even (shhh...don't tell mom!)  Dad is reading stories and having diving contests and playing tennis and going for bike rides (and hiding the pair of good pants that got ripped when Jimmy Jr. fell during said bike ride - oops.)

Dad rocks as a parent.  He may do it differently - but that's why he's 'dad' and not 'mom'.

My husband is one of them.  He has played endless... countless... games of Monopoly.  He is the one who goes to the park, or swimming in the lake (eww) or tromps through the mud in search of worms.   In fact, if you want to get his ire up when he is  with the kids, just ask him if he is "babysitting."  He'll respond right back in his fiercest tone (which really isn't very fierce at all) that "No, he is not 'babysitting', he is 'fathering' - because that's what dads do."

I know there are men out there who are failures as parents.  I know there are men out there who are jerks.  And I know that there are lots of men out there who are neither.

Today, those are the men that I want to recognize - whether they are rocking their babies in the back of the church or sloshing through the mud on a worm hunt.  And maybe if we start giving the good dads a little more attention - and  maybe if we could turn the TV on once in a while and see more dads like Bill Cosby and less like Al Bundy  - and maybe if us women quit sleeping around with boys and start waiting a little longer for the right man - the other "dads" will get the point.

Just saying...

For some more good stuff from another really great dad, check out this post from Single Dad Laughing.

April 10, 2011

Cooking, Cleaning & Castanets

This was a weird week. I had so much I wanted to get done this week but most of it didn't happen because I kept getting distracted by other things. Or because other people just don't understand the world revolves around me. *rolling eyes* Or because I have yet to learn, measure twice and cut once. *sigh* I was also having some "keeping-up-with-the-Jones' " issues, which I think needs to be a whole separate post, so I won't elaborate on it now. But even with all that going on, I did make some progress starting with this:

This is the after picture of my clean desk - can I get a "Woo-hoo!"  I cannot believe I didn't take a before picture but to give you an idea of what it may have looked like, take a look at this:

April 9, 2011

What's Missing?

I love the grace of God. It truly is amazing, awe-inspiring and mind-boggling.
I would be lost with out the grace of God. And hopeless.

But I heard someone mention something recently that got my attention. They said the message of the gospel has radically changed in the last 50 years - that it is presented almost completely different than it has been preached the previous 1950 years.

Wow. That is quite the statement.

I am no theologian but I feel I have a fairly good grasp of the main ideas of what the bible teaches - at least as far as my salvation & Christian walk is concerned.  (That does NOT mean I live them perfectly, it just means I know what they are.  Uff-da.)  We are to obey the 10 Commandments, produce the fruit of the Spirit, put on the Armour of God, pray daily with thanks and praise, provide for widows and orphans.  We are to walk in the love and grace of Jesus Christ and know that we are special, created with detailed purpose and craftsmanship.  We should love God with all our heart, soul and mind and our neighbors as ourselves.  We are to forgive as we have been forgiven.

It all sounds wonderful.  So what is missing?

April 6, 2011

Inspire, Answer & Reward

My running inspiration today was this: Il Divo.

Yes, you read that correctly:  Il Divo's "Nella Fantasia."  When it popped up on my iPod, I almost skipped it but then decided to take a chance.  So glad I did - it really relaxed me and by the time it was over I noticed I was breathing easier and running smoother.  I learned something today that I will definitely keep in mind for future runs..

A few days ago, we had a music quiz on what had inspired me during one of last week's runs - I wrote out a few of the lyrics from 3 songs and challenged you to figure who the artist/song was.  For those of you who have been waiting on the edge of your seats for the answers (and didn't bother to  google them), here they are:

(If you can not see the videos, click HERE.)

April 5, 2011

The Meal Time Blahs

I swear by meal planning - in my opinion it is one of the easiest and fastest ways to get control over your budget. But there are weeks that whipping up anything more interesting than a PB&J just seems impossible.

This week was one of those weeks. After staring at my pantry, freezer and this week's grocery ads for over an hour I still had nothing written down. So I did what every mature techno-savvy person would do: I whined about it on Facebook. Before I knew it, I had all kinds of suggestions to work with and, a half an hour later, my menu for the week was done. Here's what I came with:
  • Tuesday: Chicken Veggie Pitas & Strawberries
  • Wednesday: Eat Out (Kids eat at Awanas, we eat wherever we want!)
  • Thursday: Teriyaki Beef & Rice
  • Friday:  Grilled Fish and Veggies
  • Saturday Lunch: French Dip Sandwiches
  • Saturday Supper: Pizza!
  • Sunday: Crock-pot BBQ Chicken & Potatoes

Tonight's meal was kind of made up on the fly, a fusion of a couple of recipe suggestions I received.  It started like this (don't worry that's steam, not smoke):

Spring Is Here & I've Got Proof!

It has been such a crazy, long winter here in ND this year. While most of the country has been talking about Spring for over a month, we've still been looking at 3-4 foot snow drifts. But over the last few days the snow has been melting quickly. In fact, today I looked outside my front window, marveling at how much of the snow was gone. I could see sidewalks and grass and tree bottoms...and then "Bam!", I saw it.

I could not believe my eyes but I was as giddy as a school girl. I grabbed a camera, threw on my shoes and ran outside - and this is what I found:

Spring was here! It had not forgotten about us, after all. 
Everywhere I looked, Spring was peeking it's nose out in delicate glory.

April 4, 2011

Spring in ND: Got A Boat?

We've been anxiously waiting for Spring here in ND but with a bit of trepidation. We have had major flooding problems in the Red River Valley area for several of the last few years. Communities have been devastated by the powerful waters that seem to come from no where.

Today, I went to take son #3 to guitar lessons. But only after receiving a phone call from his teacher telling me we'd have to take an alternate route because some of their roads were already under water.

(please click on any of the following pictures to view them larger)

Two days ago, I took this road and everything, as far as you could see, was still covered in snow.
Today, everything was lakefront property.

The American Patriot's Almanac by William J Bennett

I love books. In fact, one of the top 10 reasons for clutter in our home would be because of books. They are everywhere. And I'm really not complaining because one of the things that truly makes me happy is seeing that all 3 of my boys love to read.

So when I found out that BookSneeze.com would send me a FREE book, just for reading it and offering to review it, I was doing a dance of joy.

My dance turned into a joyful jive when I saw that one of books I could choose to review was "The American Patriot's Almanac" by William J Bennett.

April 1, 2011

Who's It For?

I was kind of dreading reading Proverbs 31. I mean what is there to say about the Proverbs woman that has not already been said? But since I'm slowly learning to finish what I started, I knew I could not quit at chapter 30!

So on I read, and low and behold I learned something (i-ma-gine that!)

Read with me:
Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life...
She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy...
She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, praises her...
(Proverbs 31:11-12, 27-28)

We always talk about everything the Proverbs woman does - and often we are intimidated by that.  How does she do it all? But then I re-read those passages and I think I may have found a clue. It is not so much how and what she does, as much as it is who she does it for?

There is nothing in the passages that suggests she does anything for herself but that her actions are completely self-less.  She is not worried about the next promotion or impressing the neighbors or improving her lifestyle.  Instead, what she did was out of love and duty for her husband, her children and even her community.  They are her motivation - the reason she gets up each day and does everything that she does.

There is so much that I can learn from that.  I have often struggled and striven to "do it all" - but way too often I have forgotten the reason why, or for who, I do it.  What good is it to "do", when all your "doing" is shutting out and pushing away those for who you are doing it!  


I do it for them:

Aren't they just gor-geous!  I love them so much and would do just about anything for them.  But there are times when it is less about doing and more about being...with them.

Lord, help to remember my duty without ever forgetting my purpose!


Amen! Be blessed...

Musical Inspiration... and A Giveaway?

Amidst this crazy what-was-I-thinking running journey that I am on, I've come face to face with what we often refer to as "the power of music". And it's reminded me of something that happened several years ago.

I was having severe pain in my left hip and my physician scheduled an MRI to check things out. I was fine with this until I showed up for the test to find out that having an MRI requires laying on a table and being slowly sucked into a very small tunnel-like space. The fact that I have issues with being in very small tunnel-like spaces made this very awkward for me.

I felt like a turkey on a conveyor belt headed for slaughter.

More Conquered Clutter

Wednesday was supposed to be a work day for me but about 10:30 Tuesday night, son #3 started rejecting everything he had eaten in the last 24 hours.  The stomach flu had made its arrival at our house.  Yeah. *sarcasm*

So Wednesday, I stayed home with Bubba James as he overdosed on cartoons in between naps.  I wisely decided not to participate in the overindulgence and, instead, found a couple of projects to work on.  Namely this:

Blech.  The first spot was full of stuff we pulled out of Isaac's new room when we painted a few weekends ago.  The second spot is a dangerous catchall.  You know - that spot you set things "just for now", promising yourself you'll "take it upstairs with you next time and put it away."  Except "next time" never comes. *sigh*  Well, anyhow, I plunged in and 15 minutes later the spots looked like this: