For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows grace and favor and glory - honor, splendor and heavenly bliss! No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

Psalms 84:11

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Post Thanksgiving Family Update

Well folks, I don't even know where to begin. We're all a bit stressed this year, and it's starting to show. I've tried to leave all that crap off of here because I'm not sure anyone really wants to read about it, but then again, this is MY outlet, and as a result I feel like I'm not coping that well because I'm refraining from using it.

My husband's shoulder is still not well. Yes, it's been about 9 months since he got injured. At this point workman's comp is protesting his case. Makes me glad we hired a lawyer several months back. Hubs' primary doctor is now siding with the insurance company doctors. We don't really know what that will fully mean, but what we do know is that Hubs is running out of pain medication and he hasn't attempted to go back for refills thinking that the doctor won't prescribe him more anyway. So Hubs is in crazy pain, and he's now going through withdrawals. On Tuesday he has an appointment with our chiropractor which usually helps with some of the pain, and he plans to ask her for advice. We'll see how that goes. We're running out of next steps & next options and so far Hubs hasn't even received a diagnosis. It's pretty grim.

On top of that there is some really serious family drama going on in my extended family. Certain family members did not attend Thanksgiving dinner due to what's going on. I don't feel like it would be right to share the details here, it's not my story to tell. But I will say this, there have been MANY phone conversations flying around every day since last Sunday, and many prayers being said, and many discussions about what should be done. It's really really ugly stuff. So ugly that it's really surpassed what's going on with Hubs on my personal stress meter. And there's really not much any of us can do about it besides listening and praying. Which is hard to do when people you love are hurting.

All of the above stuff has somewhat overshadowed the joy that this season brings. I'm trying REALLY hard to stay positive. To be Thankful. To find peace in the worship of our Lord Jesus Christ who is the reason for celebration. To trust that everything WILL work itself out in time. That God is in control of all of this and more. But it's not easy. And I often find myself wrapped up in the here and now and all the stress and worry that goes along with it.

So if you think about it, pray for me. Most days my life is stressful enough all on it's own without all these other things going on.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Advent Conspiracy & Black Friday

You may remember when I talked back in October about my family's plans for Christmas this year. In a nutshell, we plan to Give More and Spend Less by making homemade gifts for each other. Gifts with meaning, not monetary value. And take the money we would normally have spent and give it to charity. This decision was made after a few of us were introduced to The Advent Conspiracy, a non-profit Christian group that promotes the idea of less consumerism and more Jesus during the Christmas season.

Today on their blog they posted an EXCELLENT article on Black Friday. What they had to say surprised me in a good way, and made me feel even better about decision. So of course I just had to share it here! Please click over HERE to check it out! The basic jest is that Christmas should be about Jesus and family & friends. Everything else is secondary. And that it's ok to shop Black Friday and get great deals as long as your priorities are straight and you aren't making it the whole point of the holiday. Truly worth reading, so get over there and read it!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Things I Am Thankful For

1) God's provision for our family this year.

2) My husband and his love for his family. He's becoming proficient at demonstrating that love, and it makes me all warm and fuzzy.

3) Our children! The one's we thought we'd never have are HERE and 2.5 and WILD! It's crazy, but crazy in a very good way (most of the time!).

4) Our family. Our brothers and sisters and parents and grandparents and cousins and aunts & uncles who have given us their love and encouragement! We love you too, and we thank God every day for you!

5) Modern conveniences. Refrigeration. Indoor plumbing with clean drinking water. Laundry facilities. Hot water (and for us, instant hot water tap). Electricity. Food in the pantry and a full fridge. Things we take for granted, but make our lifestyle possible.

6) Cars that are paid for in full. And a mortgage with a 30-year fixed interest rate.

7) Hubs' job. We complain about it a lot. It's not fun what he does, it's not fancy, he doesn't get to use many of his skills. It's boring, quite frankly, until it's not. But his job also fully supports our family and makes our lifestyle possible. Because of his job, I can stay home with our children. And that is a major blessing that we do not take for granted.

8) On a lighter note... our dogs. I guess I'm thankful for them. lol Ok FINE, I AM thankful for them. They keep my feet warm when I sit still for 5 minutes. They make me feel safe when Hubs is at work at night. They're getting to be pretty good babysitters, alerting me when the girls are doing something unusual. Dingo is very affectionate and sweet. And Rocky... well... he's just ROCKY!

9) Awesome neighbors! If you've ever lived somewhere with awful neighbors it really makes you appreciate the good ones! At our old house the people across the street would get drunk and yell at each other IN THEIR FRONT YARD at 3AM, so having neighbors that are actually NICE and actually talk to each other and look out for each other! Love it!

10) My Friends. It's been hard lately to meet new people and get out to spend time with old buddies, so I've become more appreciative of the time I DO get to get out and be with friends. I've made a few new friends through book club and getting to know one of my neighbors and it's just been such a blessing!

So that's it! What are you thankful for this year?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tales of a Good Christian Girl

I talk a lot about food, and babies, and life as a housewife trying to stay mentally stimulated in between Wiggles episodes. And that's all fun and good, but today I thought I'd do something a little different and share a story about my past.

Before I met Hubs I spent quite a bit of time trying to find Mr. Right. Between my college boyfriend and Hubs I developed a strategy. I had a list of all the things I wanted in my Husband-To-Be, and then I determined to meet as many eligible bachelors as possible until I found the right one. I was very scientific about it. In order to reel in as many suckers as possible (ha ha) I placed an ad on a popular dating website (which no longer exists, that's how old I am!). In my ad I mentioned that I was a GOOD Christian girl, with MORALS, and RULES, and MODESTY, and that I was interested in MISSIONS. And then I purposefully did not post a picture of myself. "THERE!" I thought, "that oughta rule out about 99.9% of the males on this planet!"

Very next day I had 35 emails and counting. Holy crap!!! Now what do I do? So since I was such a nice sweet young thang I started replying to each and every one of them. Some of them with a polite, "No thanks, not what I'm looking for. But thanks for responding to my ad and I hope you find true love!" Others with questions, gotta ask lots of questions, like a JOB INTERVIEW! For the position of a LIFE TIME! Some never responded back (wonder WHY?), which was fine by me, weed those losers out. And over the course of the next several months I would meet a lot of them in person in public locations.

Most of the guys I met were nice, nothing scary or horrible about them, just not for me. One guy was very nice, we had a lot of common interests, but he was so unattractive that I could barely make eye contact with him. I kept praying about him, telling myself that looks weren't that important, that even ugly guys deserved a nice woman to love... but I just couldn't! Made me feel crazy guilty about asking him to be just friends, but it had to be done.

Another guy was young and sweet. He had his own fledgling business and was sharing a rented house with a roommate. We showed each other our photo albums, because that's the best way to get to know someone, right? We ate in at my place because we couldn't afford to go anywhere. And then we kissed, and ummm... I think I lost my chin! Dude was the WORST KISSER EVER!!! I could probably live a very long time on hamburger helper, but I simply couldn't imagine a lifetime of needing a towel after every kiss. So I broke it off.

And then there was the Model. Yup, I'm dead serious ladies. He was 6'4", worked out 3 hours a day 5 days a week, and did some substitute high school teaching on the side. YIKES! When I agreed to meet him I was terrified. Because let's face it, I was a pretty girl back then, but certainly NOT a super model! I rushed out and bought a new dress that I could barely afford along with some slinky new sandals and hoped that would be good enough. It was probably one of the most nerve wracking dates ever for me. We met at a restaurant, and I can't even remember what we talked about because the entire time I was thinking, "This guy is NOT going to like me. I am SO not his type..."

The only thing we had in common was that we were Christians, and even that was a bit sketchy! True to form I asked him a lot of questions, past relationships, family dynamics, doctrinal issues, the whole nine yards. It turned out that this fellow had recently broken off an engagement with a girl from his church. Why? Well because the pastor of his church had told him that he had a vision for Model Guy's life. And in this prophetic vision Model Guy married Cutie Blonde Girl From Church and the two of them started this amazing ministry together and brought all these people to Jesus. So naturally, even though he had no feelings for Cutie Blonde Girl, he went ahead and proposed to her, and because she ALSO believed in their pastor's vision, she said yes. I remember trying to focus really hard to not stare at him with my jaw hanging open as he told me this story!! Or say something like, "You did WHAT?!" Although, maybe I did say that... it sounds like something I'd say. And then he informed me that even though all this drama went down, and even though he doesn't believe his pastor's prophetic vision was correct, he was STILL attending this so-called "church"!

It took me a few more dates with him to let all that info sink in. I felt like I had some sort of mystery to solve with this guy, and it intrigued me! So... WHY was he still going to this church again? And does this chick still go there too? And most importantly, why in the WORLD does this guy want to go out with ME? I mean, really?! I'm nearly a foot shorter than him, I'm a pleasant conversationalist sure, but I'm not really that exceptional in any way. Just your average Amy, that's me! There was one date specifically that I recall when we went for a walk to get ice cream at a local shop and on our way back he said, "I think something very special is going to happen for us this summer." I'm really not sure how I responded, but I remember being downright baffled! Something special?! Are you kidding me?! You're the dude who proposed to a girl based on some quack pastor! You went to Bible College, shouldn't you KNOW better?! And how exactly am I supposed to follow THAT parade?!

So I was pretty much determined to break it off with him. I had convinced myself that he was basically a Man Bimbo, which would explain quite a bit. But since I didn't really trust my own judgment I decided to have a little get together with some of my friends at my apartment and invite Model Guy and see how things went. It was a fun evening, with food and drinks and lots of joking around. Funny thing was, Male Model didn't understand half of our jokes, and they weren't inside jokes! Finally my dear friend Christina pulled me into the kitchen and said, "WHAT are you doing with this guy?!" And then I had to face the facts, I had no clue what I was doing with him. Probably the only reason I kept going out with him was to try and wrap my mind around the whole thing... until I realized, there was NOTHING THERE TO WRAP!!!

So after the party was over and all my friends had gone home I had a little heart to heart with Model Dude. I explained that the whole pastor/church/Blonde Cutie thing freaked me out a bit and that I thought he really needed to get his spiritual life in order if he wanted to have a relationship with me. I said, "Figure it out, and get back to me." Assuming of course that he never would and that'd be the last I'd hear of him. Doh! Stupid Good Christian Girl!!! Of course he called me back 2 weeks later notifying me that he was now "on the right path".

Luckily for me I had already met Mr. Right. Hubs makes a GREAT scape goat!

Monday, November 16, 2009

What's for Dinner? - My E-Mealz Review

Here's a big surprise for some of you, I have ADD. Now some of you right now are smacking your hand to your head and saying, "Nawww.. REALLY?!" Yeah, really. Bright shinny objects distract me, my house would be total chaos were it not for my husband, and I'm habitually late to every appointment I make. Yup, I'm one of THOSE people. When I met my husband one of the reasons I knew he was the right man for me was because our first date was planned down to every last detail. Somehow I just KNEW that I needed someone like him in my life! WONDER WHY?!

One of the things that I really hate doing each week is planning out our meals for the week and make the grocery shopping list. It's one of my most dreaded tasks. Why? Because in my brain it goes something like this: *while looking in a cookbook* "Ooooh, that looks like a yummy recipe! I just HAVE to make it this week! Let's see... it says I need fresh ginger... check. Garlic... check. Carrots... check... chicken... got it... OH LOOK! My neighbor across the street is getting her newspaper! Aw, she doesn't look like she feels very well. I wonder if I should make her some soup. Hm, does this cook book have chicken soup? *checks the index* Yup, it does! *flips to the soup recipe* Ok, it says I need chicken... check... noodles... check... carrots... check... onions... check... Ok I think that's everything. Oh wait, did I finish putting everything from that first recipe on my list? *flips around* Where was that recipe?! Freakin' A!!!

That above scenario took me about 20 minutes... and I haven't even gotten past meal #1!!!

So as much as I love to cook, and have control over my own culinary destiny, I've decided to move on to a meal planning service. Because let's face it, I need less stress in my life and paying $1.25 per week seems like a small price to pay for less stress. I decided to go with E-Mealz because it's endorsed by Dave Ramsey. I've never listened to Dave Ramsey in my life but certainly can't stop hearing about him from practically everyone I know and he seems like an upstanding citizen who wouldn't lead me astray.

The point of E-Mealz is saving money on your grocery bill via planning meals according to store sales. Now, obviously that's WAY beyond my organizational skills which is why I hadn't even considered doing such a thing. But it sounds like a good idea, so I thought I'd give it a whirl.

I've been using E-Mealz for about 3 weeks now, and I've got to say it works out pretty well for us. I was a bit skeptical because Hubs is the pickiest eater alive, but knowing that I could always just cross out a meal he wouldn't eat, and knowing it wouldn't reappear on my meal plan for at least 6 months, makes it worth it. All of the meals are super easy to make, which has been a nice break for me. Especially during this time of year when I am busier than usual.

There are lots of meal plan options to choose from. You select which grocery store you usually shop at, or a generic "Any Store" list. Obviously you save more money if you can choose a store, but the meals themselves are very economical so I imagine you'd still save money no matter where you shop. You can also choose between low-carb, low-fat, or "normal" dietary options. I went with the low-fat option, and so far the meals have seemed healthy and balanced. Plus we're no longer running out for fast food because I've forgotten an ingredient, which naturally has helped my waistline.

The shopping lists are also very user friendly. They're organized by produce, dairy, meat, pantry items, so it's really easy to find what you need at the store. There is also room on the list to write in additional items you might need to pick up that wouldn't be included on the meal plan. The meals are numbered on the meal plan, and then the ingredients used for each meal have the same number. So if you decide not to make a particular meal it's very easy to go to the list and cross off ingredients you don't need to buy.

Obviously I'm very pleased with how the past 3 weeks have gone in my kitchen. E-Mealz has given me back a small bit of my sanity, especially around 3:30 pm when I start to think "what's for dinner?" Instead of scrambling around to defrost meat or search my pantry for ideas or picking up the phone to dial the local Thai take out joint, I calmly look at my meal plan and in 20-30 minutes I can have dinner on the table. What a relief!!

For More Things to Love visit The Diaper Diaries!

If you're interested in E-Mealz I've placed a button on my header & sidebar. I do receive a small commission for anyone who signs up, but as I've stated elsewhere on this site all money I make goes towards charities in my area.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Poetry Saturday

Ok, I'm not declaring a new Meme. Honest! My friend John has recently started a new poetry blog. I had never read any of his poetry before, and WOW! I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that he's such an excellent poet because I already knew he was a genius.

So I started thinking, who else is a poet (and I didn't even know it)?

Are you?

Care to share your genius?

I'll show you mine if you show me yours.... :P

Ok, I'll just show you mine... it's not particularly pretty but here goes nothin'.



Night comes quickly this time of year.
Held in a wintery embrace of time
We creep along, ever so slowly.
Our blood is thicker now, our chill more bearable.
We've walked on water - every day we do
And it doesn't surprise us at all.
Merry merry, all the way. No time to be depressed.
Then January comes, and the bare tree limbs point to the sky.
They show us things we denied back when we made our Santa lists.
Our resolutions were broken five days ago
And after all the excitement, what do we do?
Huddle down and wait out the cold, that's what.
We reassure ourselves. Everything Will be alright.
Spring will come eventually; it's only a matter of time.
And the sun sets again, promptly at 4:30 in the afternoon.
Let the night be still, and may our hearts do likewise.
For winter is not really a time of sorrow, but rather a time of peace.
And peace is something all of us need more of.
Especially today.

These Poems Contained on this page remain the property of the owner of this site.
Any Copying, Editing or Reproduction in whole or in part for personal gain is strictly prohibited. Copyright ©1999.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Turkey Tips - Aloha Friday!

From An Island Life

In Hawaii, Aloha Friday is the day that we take it easy and look forward to the weekend. So I thought that on Fridays I would take it easy on posting, too. Therefore, I’ll ask a simple question for you to answer. Nothing that requires a lengthy response.

If you'd like to participate with your own question on your own blog, head on over to An Island Life to link up and join the fun!

So I'm hosting Thanksgiving for the very first time this year, and as a result I'm roasting my very first turkey. Anyone have any great turkey tips for me?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Three Kansas Restaurant Reviews - Things I Love Thursday

Three Rave Reviews from my parents trip to the mid-west back in September! These are all from the great state of Kansas!

This review is really on the road but worth doing a review about. In the Wichita, Kansas Airport while waiting for a delay in Atlanta to clear up (low cloud ceiling so spacing planes every 7 miles for landing instead of their usual 3 miles that is a piece of information...), I order a grilled chicken pesto sandwich on a baguette. This was around $10 with taxes. Even fast food at an airport is high I've found. The sandwich is big enough to split with my hubby. Let me tell you, the pesto sauce is great as was the nice size piece of chicken breast. The bread is baked on site (yes I like and notice bread). This sandwich even has sun dried tomatoes! It comes with an exceptionally good spicy dill pickle which I didn't have to share as hubby doesn't like them :) . Anyone guess which fast food place? The Great American Bagel Bakery. I would certainly order again if given the opportunity.

Montana Mike's adjoins the Best Western off I 35 in McPherson, Kansas (home of the great pumpkin catapulting contest --- honest, I saw on national news!). The decor is "outdoorsy" complete with a buffalo head mounted in the foyer. We take a picture! Such tourists! Other hunting and fishing decor are tastefully arranged throughout. I tend to cheer for the animals, but this is tastefully done. And we order the special of a 12 oz. rib eye steak, steamed veggies, cinnamon cooked apple slices, and a huge roll ( the size of 1/2 a sub sandwich! ). The steak flavor is great without any sauces added. I suggest ordering medium, which is like medium rare elsewhere. The mountainberry ice tea is great and a nice contrast to the meal. The servers give us their name on a stand up card to put on our table for reference. The service is great with friendly smiling staff. We stay all evening chatting with cousins and we are not pushed by the staff to order more or to leave. All this for $12.99!

I highly recommend Cindy's Copper Kettle on East River Street in Eureka, Kansas ( Cindy's looks like a family style restaurant in a small town. There are locals eating here and that is always a good sign. It is very clean and smells really good when you walk in the door. I get excited when I see bierocks on the menu! I was introduced to bierocks by my mother in law as part of her German Mennonite background (my father in law's family being Dutch Mennonite and they make this too). Anyway, bierocks is part of this wonderful cooking tradition. The baker (who also makes heavenly huge cinnamon rolls for $1.50!) includes hamburger, cabbage, onion, and swiss cheese (a new twist for me), baked in homemade bread. (First you lightly brown & cook the first three ingredients). Cindy's serves this with ranch dressing or ketchup! I have never tried with any dip but I try the ranch. The size is huge- a good 6 inches round! I am accustomed to a rectangular shape of about 3 inches x 5 inches. It was divine!!! The swiss cheese is light and does not overpower the other flavors so I am really pleased. I eat half and save the other half for another day. Most I eat without any dip. It really is good. At Cindy's this comes with salad bar which is surprisingly good. The coleslaw, 3 bean salad, cucumber and tomato salad are all above average. The fresh toss salad add-ons include many choices and really good croutons. The crinkle cut carrot sticks are exceptional. The crisp garlic toast is a nice addition to the salad bar. And the service is good. Worth every penny at $6.95! Thank you Cindy and staff!!!

And thanks again Mom for helping me out and writing such excellent reviews!

For more great Things to Love check out The Diaper Diaries!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Duel Play - Way Back When-endsday

When: July 2009
Where: Our living room
Title: What one must do, the other must do also.

You don't have to have twins to play along with Cheryl's Way Back Whenendsday at Twinfatuation! :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Monday, November 2, 2009

Easy Apple Cider - Mystery Spice Monday

I've got a secret.

I know the easiest "recipe" in the world for spiced apple cider.

Don't believe me? Check this out!

Yup, spices don't always come in jars with labels. They also can be purchased inside of tea bags.

In just two minutes, you could be holding a hot steaming cup of hot apple cider.

Or if you're "cooking" for a crowd you could pour a gallon of cider into a crock pot and throw in 6 tea bags.

PS: If you can see through a jug of what's labeled as apple cider, then it isn't really cider. It's juice. Go for the good stuff that is more opaque, it will make your life that much better. Trust me. :)

Would you like to share your own Mystery Spice Monday recipe? Link up below!

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