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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Honor Got the Baking Genes

Honor, that's my sister. She got the cool name. Anyway, I just want to show you how fantastically creative she is! This is just a side thing she does....just for fun. No one taught her. No classes. Just a vivid imagination and a genuine gift!  

To my knowledge, this is the only cake she did for a fee. A friend was hosting a baby shower for a mom of twins and this is what she requested.  (I didn't want to say anything about how these babies could pass for Arnold's with those big, round heads.)

Several she's done for friends in her Sunday school class.  This guy was a drummer.  


Her husband, Adam, worked at DHL for a long time and this was for an employee's birthday.


The sweet cake above would be great for Valentine's, wouldn't it?  And the one below doesn't have enough ketchup on it for me, but looks good enough to eat, doncha think?



I wish the photos did more justice...the above is a waterfall with animals all around.  How precious!



This is one of my favorites. Christmas mice who've found their Christmas cheese.  I'm thinking of ordering one for a cheesy neighbor of mine.

She asked her son what he wanted a few weeks ago for his 6th birthday.  Kung Fu Panda?  Sure!


Cars the year before and Care Bears for sweet Marie who turned four a few weeks ago.  The balloons are actually decorated sugar cookies.

Hey, Sis.  My birthday's coming up, you know.


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Sunday, January 25, 2009

One for the Road

Brian's traveling and since the internet is sporadic overseas and his cell phone doesn't work internationally, he said he'll check the blog when he can.  I haven't written anything for him to check! So, most of this is just for him.  

A few notes about what we've done while Brian is working hard in Rome: 

I've hired a sitter twice, so far.  Once to have fun with a girlfriend.  (Grandaddy said, "While the cat's away, the mice will play, huh?"  Yes, yes we will!)  And once to take him to two doctor visits and to have a rash checked on Ava's leg.

I was having the prescription filled at our pharmacy and the clerk looked so confused for the longest time.  Finally she said there was no record of Ava.  Then it occurred to me that in her 2 1/2-year-short life, she's never had a prescription.  Now THAT should go in the baby book!  And, for similar books, Sam and Chase have only had a prescriptions for one ear infection and burn cream, respectively.  I find that amazing and am SO thankful!

I did another VERY exciting thing while paying a babysitter...grocery shopping.  There's this freaky lady (I say that with the GREATEST love since she's a good friend of one of my good friends) who shoots for spending $60 a week on groceries.  Isn't that amazing? Since I've been working on a new budget for '09, I've learned that we spend $100 a week on produce alone. Hhhhmmmm....  I need to think about that one.

I let the kids camp out on the floor in my room Friday night for a special treat while Daddy's away.  Sammie wanted to watch "The Sound of Music".  (That's my girl!)  I fell asleep when I turned out the lights for them at 9 and we all slept until after 7 the next morning.  These are tiny miracles in my life.  (The sleeping, I mean, not the children.)

I pulled the van out of the garage for a while, so they could ride their bikes and skates in there.  At one point, Ava came in first and asked for a drink and both the other kids came in and just grabbed it from her to take a drink.  We had a little lesson on asking permission, thinking of others and not taking advantage of babies.  Their consequence was that they had to serve her for the next day or two.  They've cleared her place at the table, retrieved her cup when she wanted a drink, shared their snacks and helped her dry off and get dressed after bath.  (This consequence actually helps Mom a LOT!)

Everyone was a bit stir-crazy and tired by about 5:30 on Saturday, so we had a long bathtime where new bath paints were introduced.  (Despite my best efforts, I still had to take down the cloth shower curtain for a good washing, too!)  Little activities like this have done wonders for teaching Chase his colors!  He's finally got at least red, blue and yellow down.  

Then, our Saturday night ritual of watching "The Lawrence Welk  Show" on PBS with Grandaddy ensued.  Chase was begging to go to bed by 7:30.  Truly I think it was because he was exhausted and not because the music bored him.  Brian's probably glad to be out of town when it comes to Saturday night.  

Somehow we actually got to church a few minutes early this morning.  I love that Chase and Ava go in the same classroom together!  Their teacher said Ava gets to come over because she's so well behaved.  I laughed a little, since she's our rebel at home.

It was baby/family dedication day and I cried as they showed all the new babies and the little siblings traipsed up on stage in their finest.  Our family minister spoke briefly to the parents.  I found it so interesting that he didn't mention Sunday School, or a daily Bible lesson or Christian schools to keep the kids on the right path.  He reminded the parents, including me, that he hoped our own love for the Lord and each other would so over flow in us, that our children would learn the truth of who Christ is simply by how we act in our daily lives.  I'm glad I went to church today.

So, "leftover night" at some friends' planned for later today. (I have GREAT memories of these when we lived in New Albany...anyone else?) 

And, who knows what tomorrow and Tuesday will bring as we countdown to Daddy's return. Sorry to bore my other two readers with a blow by blow of family life when hubby's away.

One last thing:  Every morning (it's still dark here at 7 a.m., so they can't see) at least one of the kids' comes in our bedroom and says, "Daddy?"  They just expect him to be there.  What a great expectation.

Come home soon, Papa Bear.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What Color is My Heart?

I've been glued to the TV all day watching the inaugural festivities.  I've had an interesting time trying to explain to a six-year old why it's so important.  Not only that our country enjoys a peaceful transition of power when much of the world endures hostile takeovers in bulletproof suits, but of course that Mr. Obama is America's first black president.

It seems foreign to her, and I'm glad, that there was a time in our country when women and people who had any skin color other than white were considered inferior -- who were considered ignorant and unworthy of an opinion.

She just kept looking at me trying to understand, but not really getting it.  May it ever be so.

I remember a time when my grandfather had the most disgusted look on his face when he saw a mixed race couple together and he asked me what I would do if Sammie came home with "one of those."  I waited until I could look in his eyes and speak slowly and clearly, so he could understand what I was saying and understand a little more about what I believe.

Here's the gist of what I said:

In my sheltered life I've mostly been around white people.  And, some of them have been real jerks. Some have been treasures that I wanted to box up and take with me forever.  In high school and college, I met quite a few black people and some of them were real jerks.  And, some were so sweet, I wondered how they got through life without sticking to things as they walked by.  When I moved to Bloomington, I met Asians and Indians.  Some of them, you guessed it, were real jerks.  And some seemed to wake up with a smile on their face and made it their job to put one on mine.  

I shutter to add that my skin is white and sometimes I'm disgusted with how I act, the things I think and the things I say.  I know there are people who think I'm a real jerk. If only the color of our skin DID dictate our behavior in a way that helped us always do the right thing.

I told Grandaddy that in any friend that Samantha brings home, I hope I will look past the color of their skin and look at what's on the inside. How does he treat my daughter?  Is he kind? Does he smile a lot? Is he sweet in front of people and in private? Is he loving? Is he respectful of her?  How does he treat his own momma? Is he a man of integrity?  To whom does he turn for strength and endurance? Is he honest? A man of character?  Humble?

Skin color simply does not reveal what really matters.  Can this little girl also add that neither does hairstyle, jewelry, brand of clothes, job title nor height (thank goodness) reveal depth of character.  

"The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."  I Samuel 16:7

What color is your heart?

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Great Cantaloupe Chase

My dad, two of my four brothers, Chris and Derek, and Chris' girlfriend,  Rachel, came into town Friday night for a visit. Since I'm new to the Blu-ray world, and Dad is a veteran, I asked him to bring a bunch of Blu-ray discs.

Late Saturday morning we needed a video that would appeal to both the kiddos and the adults in the room. Planet Earth – a visually stunning nature documentary series – fit the bill. A few of us started watching, but one by one the others left the room leaving Ava and me. It wasn't enough for me to just let her watch, though. I gave her a running commentary throughout. The best part is that she was actually listening to me.

One of the first sequences we watched together showed African hunting dogs chasing what I thought were antelope (moments later I learned that the antelope were actually Impalas, but that's beside the point). Great stuff for a father to show his two-year old daughter, huh?

The most intense sequence was filmed in northern Canada. It showed a portion of the longest overland migration of any animal: a 2,000-mile trek by three million caribou. 

The caribou encounter hungry wolves along the way. One of these wolf-caribou encounters is actually caught on film. As we watched the gut-wrenching sequence, which shows a young caribou getting separated from its mother and caught by a wolf, little Ava looked up at me and said something along the lines of, "Look at the doggy chasing the cantaloupe, Daddy."

Brian Signature copy

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Apple, The Beatles and Our Beloved Honey Pie

We own a few Apple computers, an iPod Shuffle and a bunch of their software. iTunes, for those on the back end of the technology adoption curve, is the software they developed for organizing and playing digital music. It’s the piece of Apple software that both Kristin and I use the most.

iTunes has a function called sharing. If you’re on a computer network with other iTunes users, you can play their music if they give you access. As you might expect, I love the music that I have in my iTunes library. But, from time to time, I get sick of my music, and I’m ready to browse through someone else’s.

Most of the shared music I listen to comes from my friend Jon Hancuff’s library. And, most of the time I spend listening to his music is spent listening to one of his Beatles albums…Meet the Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night, Help, Magical Mystery Tour or The Beatles (A.K.A., The White Album).

Between John’s albums and my albums (Abbey Road, Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, Beatles 1, John Lennon’s Imagine, The Best of George Harrison and The Concert for George), I’ve listened to a lot of Beatles music of late. I’ve also spent a fair amount of time reading about them and watching a few different documentaries. I’m sure some of what I’ve learned will surface in later posts.

Kristin picked up on my growing interest. So, when Grandaddy asked what I wanted for Christmas, she knew just the right gift…The White Album – a double album filled with a legendarily eclectic mix of songs from arguably the greatest songwriting team of our time.

I opened what amounts to a near perfect gift for me on Christmas morning, and I streamed it from Kristin’s computer to our wireless speakers in the kitchen so we could listen to the album as we opened presents and, later, ate a breakfast fit for a king. I might add that it was a nice break from the Christmas music we had been listening to for the entire month of December.

It’s at this point that our youngest daughter, Ava, enters the picture. Ava is quintessentially two in almost every way. She’s a handful pretty much every minute she’s awake. That’s why a line from a song on the album called “Honey Pie” (not to be confused with “Wild Honey Pie,” which is also on the album) hit close to home: “Honey Pie … you are making me crazy.” We laughed for a minute and decided that Honey Pie would become the next in a long line of expressive nicknames we have for our wee little Ava.

By the way, I think the song is really about a young man who longs for his love to come back home. If you know Ava, though, and want the full effect of this blog entry, watch this video and think of our Honey Pie as Paul McCartney sings the line above. If you’re interested, here’s some more info on the song, too.

Brian Signature copy

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Not So Gender-Neutral Anymore

When Baby Ava came along, she and still-a-Baby Chase shared the gender-neutral nursery. Ladybugs and dragonflies in soft blues, reds and greens.  (It was the same theme Samantha had since we didn't want to find out her gender before she was born.) Just before Chase turned 2, we bought a bunk bed so that he and Samantha could share another gender-neutral room.

A few Wall Pops helped to link pink and blue together on a yellow background. (Though I heard a guy in a movie a couple weeks ago say, "Why does everyone say yellow is gender-neutral? Ask any guy in America and none of them will tell you they would pick yellow paint for a room.") Wall Pops are repositionable circle and square stickers.  We got blue dots and pink squares matching their blue and pink comforters.

What really pulled them together were these precious canvases made by some crafty friends of mine.  I thought the sentiments were so sweet and I do hope they will adore each other for life, like my sister and I do.  (Well, I adore her...you'd have to ask her if it's mutual.)



Anyway, we went through another transition a month or so ago that, hopefully, will last a while.   Now the girls share a girly room and Chase is all by himself in the bluest room!

Here's a bad corner shot of the way the bunk room was:


A few different colored dots and squares and relocation of the canvases and voila!  Just for the girls...



The comforters are reversible from orange to pink, so each can switch whenever they want.

Chase's Big Boy Room...
(Click here for the before shot)





I found some blue and white striped fabric on clearance at Jo Ann's and a couple of straight stitches later, said goodbye to the ladybugs and dragonflies.  So manly, isn't it? 

They love their new rooms and they look so big in them!  At least until they fall asleep.  Then, their baby faces come out of hiding.  One of my favorite times of the day.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

UNdecking the Halls

I hear there are some of you crazies who haven't taken down your Christmas decorations yet! Actually, I don't think you're crazy at all.  But, in case you're hanging onto them because you're trying to hold off the post-holiday let down, let me tell you a story.

I have this book that helps turn everyday objects into Bible lessons.  As you might imagine, there's a page on how to use the Christmas tree to tell biblical truths.  Experienced Sunday school teachers can write this lesson in their sleep.

Things such as the star reminding of us of the bright star that led the wise men to the baby Jesus.  Or, the evergreen boughs reminding us of new life and constant growth in our Christian walk.  And, the tree trunk of wood like that of the cross Jesus died on. Even the gifts below make us think of God's gift of His Son.  There are about a dozen examples listed.  

I get so caught up in what is happening TODAY, that I'm not sure my mind would've come to the final and most powerful illustration. The lesson closes like this: "The whole tree can point us to Christ, and when it is taken down, we are reminded that we too will be taken from this world some day."  

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 
I Thessalonians 4:16-17

I just LOVE Christmas, don't you?  An infant come to save lil' ol' me.  I'll never look at taking down our tree the same way again. 

Here's hoping I'll see you in the air!


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Monday, January 5, 2009

Secrets of the Mystery Revealed

For you veteran mommas out there, I'm sure you guessed Ava as the culprit in The Great Hair Mystery from the get-go. And you would be spot on.  Poor Chaser.  It's sad how many people thought it was YOU!

I called my friend Pam (of whom I'm jealous for many reasons) confessing that I shouldn't use "hair" and "emergency" in the same sentence, but I just felt it necessary.  She popped over with her scissors and did a little shaping to cover the bald spot.  Check it out.  It almost looks like it was supposed to be that way, doesn't it?


And big brother said, even though he didn't do it, he loves it.


Next time, leave it to the pros, huh, sis?




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