Wednesday, December 31, 2008

More Salt, More Flavor

I have been seeing a recurring theme in my life the past couple of days...salt. I like to make soups in winter and I end up always needing to add more salt to bring out the flavors of the ingredients within. I am amazed at the amount of salt it takes to make soup taste really yummy.

Then in my devotions this morning, I was reading about Lot's wife and how she looked back on her way out of town and was turned into a pillar of salt. There was a commentary that talked about the difference in a block of salt and granulated salt. The block is fairly useless whereas the granulated salt is useful for a variety of things, including bringing out the flavor.

Then I thought about how the Bible says that we ARE the salt the light...not that we can be, or we should be, or we might be, but we ARE!

So what you might say? I need to be saltier. I need to be what the Bible says I already am. I need to bring out the flavor and aroma of Jesus. I will be thinking more about this as the new year arrives and the slate is wiped clean, ready for me to take full advantage of the time God is giving me.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Fun Foods

My kids love mac & cheese with hot dogs cut up in it for lunch. Though I am perfectly willing to make that for them, sometimes I want to punch it up a bit and make them smile. Here is what I did today.
Start with the hot dogs.
About 1 1/2 inches from an end, cut eight strips.

Can you see what is happening? Put that in the microwave and nuke it for a little bit.

The longer you heat it up, the more the legs begin to curl. My kids don't like theirs so hot, so I only had it in the microwave for about 20 seconds for this look.
I took a knife and made two small slits for eyes and then took two chocolate sprinkles and placed one in each slit for eyes.
There you have it! An octopus on a sea of macaroni. It worked! My kids smiled, giggled, laughed, and then proceeded to eat it all up!

Monday, December 29, 2008

The 13 Weeks of Christmas

This year I tried, with much success, I might add, to start organizing my Christmas activities early so that as Christmas got closer, I didn't go crazier. It worked really well this year. So well, that on Christmas Eve, both Ben and I commented several times how relaxing it was.

So since we are just coming out of the hectic season, I thought that I would make my revised "to do" list now, while I am still thinking about it and things are fresh on my mind. I will probably tweak it again after next Christmas, but here is something for me to begin with:

1. Week of 10/2 make cookie dough
2. Week of 10/9 make cookie dough and other doughs (breads, etc...)
3. Week of 10/16 decide on and find the right wrapping paper, make basic meals to freeze for the hectic days as Christmas gets closer
4. Week of 10/23 research and decide on inexpensive yet meaningful gifts for
5. Week of 10/30 SS teachers, AWANA leaders, etc...
6. Week of 11/6 Christmas cards
7. Week of 11/13 Christmas cards
8. Week of 11/20 research fun free or mostly free things for the family to do
9. Week of 11/27 decorate house, send Christmas cards day after Thanksgiving, shop after Thanksgiving sales for great deals
10. Week of 12/4 final buying of gifts, including stocking stuffers
11. Week of 12/11 put together the teacher gifts and deliver
12. Week of 12/18 wrap gifts
13. Week of 12/25 Have Fun! Then shop after Christmas sales to begin getting a jump on next year's needs.

Cookie doughs this year: gingersnap, sugar, chocolate chip, gingerbread, white chocolate macadamia nut, peanut butter

Fun free things to do this year: La Cantera Resort Cowboy Christmas, decorating gingerbread houses, making gingerbread men cookies and decorating them, driving around looking at lights, Santa's Ranch, watching all the 25 Days of Christmas movies on ABC Family, using free Redbox codes and renting movies

I shop all year around for Christmas, birthdays, unexpected needs of presents, other kids' birthdays, etc...After Thanksgiving and after Christmas are great days to gather a good amount of those things. Very inexpensive games, toys, DVDs, etc..are to be had.
I don't know if this list helps you, but I know it will help me out next year, when I have promptly forgotten the needs of this year. I'd love to hear what you do or what you see that I have missed. I can use all the input I can get!

What a Deal!

I have to tell you about the deal I just got! Walgreens had their Christmas candy at 75% off, which in and of itself is a good deal. But, I had coupons for $1.50 off of three bags of Hershey candy. So I bought six bags, used two coupons, and the candy came to $.12 (yes, that is 12 cents!) a bag! Hershey Kisses and Hershey Miniatures, which store nicely in the freezer for 12 cents a bag!

Now that's a good deal.

Am I a Lucky Gal or What?

This is the image I get to see every morning around 9 when I walk into our bedroom, Ben praying. So am I a lucky gal or what?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

I took my girls to see The Tale of Desperaux this afternoon. As a movie, all by itself, it was wonderful! The mouse, the rat, mouseworld, ratworld, Princess Pea...all beautiful.

If you read the book first, then went to the movie...what an extreme disappointment! The basic story line was like the book, but the details were completely different. Why? Why take a perfectly good, dare I say, great, book and then change all the details for the movie?

Then it hit me...I've read the "book" of my life and I want my life to be the best version of the Book it can be. I don't want people to have read the Bible and then see my life to know that they are connected. I don't want the disconnect to happen in their minds when I say that I am a Christian.

Just my thought for the day.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Could I Be A Bigger Baby?

In my attempt to change my blog look a bit, I deleted a bunch of stuff...eventually found most of it...but in the meantime, I found myself crying. Really? Crying? What is wrong with me?

I am forever trying to give perspective to my kids. I want them to know that usually what they are going through is really little in comparison to others in the world. They have little to complain about, little to whine about, and everything in the world to smile and rejoice over!

So, here I was crying because of supposedly deleting all my blogs, pictures, responses from friends, etc...

The perspective hit me: Jesus lost his life for me. That's all it took to shake me out of my earthly pity party.

I ended up not losing all my stuff, but did lose a little bit and am now having a difficult time getting if figured out, but, in the end, so what? I have everything that really matters and LOTS, LOTS more!

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Sun (Son) is Here!

It was ridiculously warm here today! I mean stupid crazy warm...not that I don't like warm, but if you know me, I run marathons twice a year...the day after Thanksgiving and the day after Christmas. I don't train much throughout the year as I need all the rest and cash I can get! I shop on those two days...and I mean shop! Actually, I am famous for it around these parts.

So when I shop, I want the perfect temperature that hovers somewhere around cool to chilly. I normally am a 90 degree kind of gal, but on these two shopping days, I need the cool! The sprints, the adrenaline, the getting the cart between two women to grab what they wanted without them even knowing it is gone...takes some energy and quick thinking, let me tell you.

So after I get home today, the three little munchkins want time with me and we go outside to ride scooters, trikes, and bikes. I am standing out in the middle of the street so I can yell "Car!" and hopefully watch my munchkins get out of the street quickly. (It doesn't always happen that way.) As I am standing there, I realize that I am very warm, and that the sun is shining on me. Though it had been warm all day, it had been overcast and almost dark. I stood there with the sun on my face and it was as though God was speaking to me saying, "Jesus is here. The son is here. I am shining His light on you."

Then I thought, let it shine! Let it get as warm as God wants...Jesus is here!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Today is "Next"!

Several years ago, I heard a comedian saying that he thought that "next" is the best place to be. I didn't get what he said until he explained. It went something like this: being next in line is the next place to be, because the potential for anything you want to happen, can still happen. Once you get to be "it", then the reality overtakes the situation and your hopes and dreams can be dashed. For example, being next in line at the still have every teller as a potential helper for you, you still have the potential of being the 1,000,000th customer and being given money, you can still have the potential of having more money in your account than you thought. Get it? Then when you become "it", the selection of your teller has been made, you find out you aren't the 1,000,000th customer, or you are and they don't give you anything, and you discover that you have exactly what you thought was in your account! sigh...

So after pondering that, I must say that I agree with the comedian!

Today, Christmas Eve, is "next"! The potential is still there for anything to be under the tree! Anything can happen tomorrow! Not that tomorrow isn't wonderful, but with tomorrow comes reality. The pony isn't there, the bb gun didn't appear...But can all still happen! I have been thinking for many years now, that Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the year.

Then I thought yesterday that I should change my thinking. As I understand it, there is nothing left to happen biblically for Jesus to return. So that makes today, next! The potential is there for Him to come tomorrow! I could be living in Heaven tomorrow for eternity! He could come back and wipe every tear and I could remain in a state of eternal worship! So, I am switching my thoughts...turning over a new leaf...making a 180. Today is "next" in an earthly sense, but everyday is "next" as a believer! And I am a believer! How about you?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Still Counting...2!

Gingerbread house day! We made two, one the boys got to do and one the girls got to do. They had a lot of fun working on them. Above is a picture of the girls' house in process.
Here is the boys' house.

Girls' house. My battery ran out before I could get a final picture of the completed house, but this is pretty close.
Final boys' house. It turned out so great!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Two Boys Singing

My kids would have this breakfast every day of the week, if they could! They like it so much because they can each have what they like the best and they feel as though they have "ordered" breakfast. (Since normally it's an "eat what's been fixed or don't eat till the next meal" rule.)
What you need: freezer ziploc bags (sandwich size), eggs, meat, cheese, any other things you like in an omelet...mushrooms, peppers, etc.
Break open eggs in the bag, put in cut up meat, I use sandwich meat and slice it up in little pieces, pieces of cheese, and whatever else you want. Close up the bag.
Using your hands, mix the ingredients until all mixed together. Keeping bag closed.
Place bags in a pot of water on the stove. It takes about 8-10 minutes to cook. We put 4-6 bags in one pot.
When they are done, take out the bag.
Cut open the bag with scissors.
Slide the omelet out on a plate.

This is what it looks like! You can make these up the night before and write the name on the bag for who it belongs to and then cook them up in the morning. They are great! My kids have asked for them for Christmas morning. So on Christmas Eve, we will all gather in the kitchen and I will have all the ingredients out and everyone will make their own. It will certainly make breakfast on Christmas morning so much easier and everyone gets exactly what they like! I have used these before when the girls have sleepovers and all the girls get to make theirs up the night before. They love it! Enjoy.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Still Counting...6!

What a difference a day makes! Today was pretty calm and boring compared to yesterday. Boring was nice.

Ben and I are beginning to wrap presents tonight! We have to do this over several days as it gets completely overwhelming to do it all in one setting. We have done that in the past and, let me tell ya, at our age it is really difficult to sit on the floor for a long time since the circulation goes away rather quickly...but trying to get up is no picnic either! Back problems, again with the circulation problems, joints ache! Did you know that when the feeling goes away from your feet, the ankles, and then the lower and upper legs, you don't stand up well? You pretty much fall back into a heap as though you were Rawley's "ent"! His "ent" is his elephant that has stuffing only in the far reaches of his four extremities and I do mean only the far reaches!

That should be all for the Chronicles of the Aged and Infirmed, for now. But we also made up two batches of snickerdoodles! I love that name for a cookie...snickerdoodle. Trying to use it in a sentence with a straight face is almost impossible. If any of you are Gilmore Girls fans, and I know I am..., you can add the word "snickerdoodle" to the list of funny sayings like "oy with the poodles already!"
(Bailey I hope you are reading this and are so proud of your old ma!)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Life Got in the Way of my Plans!

Several days ago, Dec.4, I wrote about a day where everything went right, perfect, just as planned. Ahhh! To remember what that felt like...

Fast forward to today...It started out as a normal day.

To Do List:
1. get new driver's license
2. go to Wal-Mart--oil change, groceries
3. make gingerbread cookies
4. work on homeschool co-op things
5. Bible study

Pretty normal day. Not too out of the ordinary. But then life happened!

1. Got to driver's license place with all paperwork, I think. Then am told that I have to go back home and get my passport. Only added an hour to the errand.

2. Get to Wal-Mart--take car in for oil change, new windshield wipers, and tire balance and rotation. When I go to pick up car am told that I need two brand new tires because two of my tires are about to blow at any minute! Only added $240 that we hadn't planned on.

3. Didn't get home in time to make gingerbread cookies. Only broke a promise to the kids.

4. Got to where I was going to work on the homeschool co-op things late because I wrote down the directions wrong. Only added 20 minutes to the whole process.

5. Had to make quick same-day appointment for Kally because we are worried that she might be exhibiting Type 1 diabetes symptoms. Only added an extra errand and an hour to the list.

6. Got home in time to stir the soup that I had, fortunately, started in the crock pot earlier in the day. Served up the soup to the family. Got a couple of things ready to take to Bible study. Only made it so that I was running around not enjoying my kids before leaving again.

7. Did make it to Bible study with Ben and on time! Only thing on the list that went as planned!

8. Had Ben take the movies back to Redbox before the due time of 9pm and our closest Redbox was not working. Only added a wasted trip and $2 on our credit card.

9. Had to continually tell Rawley to get to sleep and then realized that, once again, he had taken his pjs off and had to find them and put them back on. Only added frustration to my day.

10. Tried to start this blog twice and the computer kept wanting to shut off. Only added more frustration and whining on my part.

So as I get to the very end of this day, I realize that my plan was way too neat and tidy! God has already given me the day, recently, where everything went my way. It was time for life to interrupt my agenda. So $242 extra dollars, several hours added to my plan, and a broken promise later --- how did I do? How did I handle it? Did God smile because of the strength of my character or weep because of my childlike whining and groaning? I must say that I handled it better than I have in the past, and still not as well as I'd like. Growth and yet so far to go! How did you do?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Still Counting...8!

Kally and Rainey decorating cookies!
These are the final jars we are bringing to AWANA tonight for leaders. They have the mix for my gingersnaps and hanging on the outside are the directions to make them and one of the glass ornaments the kids made the other day. They look really great and I hope the recipients enjoy them.
Have I already said how much I love everything about Christmas?

Give Me Your Eyes

This is how I want to be! I want the heart of Christ. Watch this video.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hey! That was the Gospel!

We are in the kitchen yesterday making our creations for Christmas and just being together as mom and kids. I am working at one counter and Two Boys are at the island, sneaking some cookies. Here is the conversation:

Little Guy: Hey, Rainey! I am not going to call anyone "stupid" today.
Big Bro: That's good. You really want to make sure you don't call God that because it will make Him sad.
Little Guy: You mean if I call God "stupid", then I can't go to live in Heaven?
Big Bro: No. To live in Heaven you only have to believe that Jesus was born, died, and rose on the third day in the tomb. You don't HAVE to be nice or anything.

Did I just hear what I thought I heard? My Big Guy just shared the Gospel with Little Guy! How thrilling is that for a mom to hear? Of course, though Big Guy was right about being nice not being part of the Gospel, it certainly is one way that we live out our faith, so I will continue to teach Two Boys that part as well. It's cool...and sad...that Two Boys understand the very essence of the Gospel message and there are "grown ups", "knowledgeable" people who never seem to be able to grasp the simplicity of Jesus' message.

At this point, I am more concerned with my own area of children.,.and am thrilled that they get it!

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Countdown to Christmas Begins! 10 ....!

Today the kids and I worked on making some really pretty ornaments to give as gifts. To make them you need: ribbon, paint, glass ornament, small cup.
You start by taking the loop part of the ornament off. Then pour at least two colors of the paint in the ornament.
Now you have a glob of paint in the bottom. Swirl it around. Place your finger over the opening and shake if you need to.

Then turn the ornament upside down in the small cup so that the excess paint can drain out.

So, I couldn't get the orientation of this pic right, but you get the idea...You put the loop part back on the ornament and then tie a bow around. It is really pretty when you are done.

These are the ornaments my kids made today. They did a beautiful job and had a great time doing it! They are going to give one to each of their AWANA leaders and I am going to give one to the choir leaders.

Then we baked up the 13 dozen or so cookies from the dough that I made and froze in September!
Tomorrow it's gingerbread men and making some of the jar mixes I have been thinking about. We are giving the cookies and the jars to our neighbors on our street.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Challenge of Being Frugal

I have been trying since our move to become more and more frugal. It's not been easy and I am not super great at it...yet! My friends Amy and Ellen have challenged me to be better all the time. At first it was frustrating because I was only seeing a few dollars of savings. But then I thought, Hey, I wouldn't roll down the car window and throw out that money, would I? So, I began to feel better about even a few dollars. I have had some real deals over the months, but today was probably the best so far for the amount I bought! (Amy and Ellen, if you read this, don't laugh at my pathetic attempt!)

There are sites out there that describe how to feed your family for $40 a week. I am not that good yet, but thought that for a family of 7, I would like to try going for $100 a week. We have been averaging between $150-$190 a week, so $100 would be quite a feat for me!

The picture above is most of what I bought today. You don't see the 13 lb. turkey, or the whole chickens, the Capri Suns, or the cans of soup. I find that meat is pretty expensive for our family so I try to save money there, but it's very hard. The meat in today's purchase included turkey, chickens, deli ham, ground beef.

So here were my best deals of the day:

*frozen 13lb. turkey $9.71 then had a $1 off coupon total...$8.71 (this will be several meals for our family!)

*three bags of Green Valley Steamers broccoli $3.00 then had 2 $1 off coupons and a $.50 coupon total...$.50 (for THREE bags!)

*eight bags of different flavors of LifeSavers hard candy $10.64 then had 8 $1 off coupons total...$2.64

*3 boxes of Reynold's aluminum foil $4.26 then had 3 $1 off coupons total...$1.26

*4 boxes of Stove Top stuffing on clearance for $.84 each

These were some of the best deals, but I did really well overall. The original total came to $128 and then I used $23 worth of coupons and it came to a grand total of $105! Most everything I bought was either on sale, or I used a coupon, or in some cases, a combination of both.

So, overall I think I accomplished my goal! I am quite proud of myself and next week, will see if I can do even a few dollars better...these days I think a lot about those "few dollars"

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Today I was driving to a doctor's appt. for Rawley to get his flu shot...I know..a bit late. But the old adage "Better late than never" is actually in my vocabulary, so...

Anyway, I pull up to the stoplight going out of our neighborhood and wait at the red light. My attention is drawn behind the signal light to a large American flag (next to an equally large Texas flag, I must add). The wind is really howling and the flag is really waving...a picture perfect moment IF I had my camera with me, and IF I weren't the one driving the van...

Instantly, and without warning, I get a bit choked up and emotional. (I'd love to tell you that that is really abnormal for me, but alas...I can't). But this was different...I hadn't just heard a great song on Christian radio that made me glad to know Jesus and I hadn't been thinking about what I will do when my children start leaving the nest. I had only been looking at the beautiful, large, billowing flag. Seven red stripes, six white stripes. Fifty stars. Red, white, and blue.

And it hit me...I love this country.

I love the fact that, though I didn't vote for Obama, there will be a peaceful transfer of power in one month.

I love that we are so diverse, yet one people.

I love that I can drive down the road and see so many churches.

I love the fact that, though I am not Mormon, the two who were in my neighborhood going door-to-door yesterday can go door-to-door.

I love that I can wear a shirt with the word JESUS on it and know that I have the freedom to do that.

I love the variety of cultures, food, languages, and customs we have. (Not that I also wouldn't love having a national language!)

Though I hate that cashiers must say Happy Holidays, I love that I can respond Merry Christmas!

All of these feelings and thoughts came rushing to me in the few seconds I had at that is the quickest light I have ever seen! :) Within seconds, I was off turning onto the road that takes me to the pediatrician for Rawley's visit. I was thinking of other things, having other conversations, and busy with Little Guy. But for a little bit, I was in love all over again, as happens periodically.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


I have had a couple of people ask me for my gingersnap recipe lately. I want to say that I received this recipe 21 years ago from my neighbor, Kris Tibbs. It is so delicious! I really hesitate to call them "snaps" because they are really more like "chews". Anyhow, here it is, enjoy!

You need:
2 c. flour
1/4 t. salt
1 t. each of cinnamon, cloves, ginger
2 t. baking soda
1 c. sugar
3/4 c. butter
1 egg
1/4 c. molasses

In one bowl, mix the flour, salt, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, soda. Set aside.

In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Then add the egg and molasses. Add the dry mixture just until mixed.

Roll into balls and dip them into sugar. (I use raw sugar, but granulated sugar works also.)

Bake for about 9-11 minutes at 350 degrees.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Two boys after their "manly" haircut from Ben! They are really looking like boys now...Rawley was dangerously close to having "girl hair", similar to his "girl nails" he gets periodically. They are quite handsome, if I do say so...and that's not showing any bias on my part...truth is truth!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Do you ever have days where you feel as though you got it right? Days where what you envisioned long ago has come to fruition? Days where at the end of the day, you flop into bed satisfied with your job?

I haven't either! :)...

Just is close to being one of those days for me. I actually did do a bit of school with the girls, which was icing on the cake. But I was certainly Li'l Miss Suzie Homemaker today! The girls and I baked about 8 dozen ginger snaps, made the Pioneer Woman's yogurt marmalade cake, and made white chocolate covered (with sprinkles) pretzel sticks! In between, I cleaned up all my mess, washed the dishes, and delivered warm cookies and milk to Ben for a snack break from work. Now is that being a great wife or what?

I am teaching the Bible study tonight, so I certainly made time to bone up on the lesson. Some of you will remember my excitement at Jewish weddings, and that is what is being spoken about tonight. You can imagine my anticipation!

I will fall into bed tonight feeling like I accomplished much. Shared the love of Jesus with my family. Remained patient and loving the whole day. Didn't raise my voice at all. Didn't have to do too much disciplining. The only other better end of the day I can think of would be if Jesus came back!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Bullying or Disciplining?

We frequently have discussions in our house about bullies. There are times when our children exhibit bully-like behavior, always to siblings, mind you, not to outsiders....go figure....So with that in mind:

Rawley was acting inappropriately and needed disciplining...a spanking to tell you the truth. Bailey had to administer this since I was busy elsewhere. She sent him to his room and he was really crying. When I was able to complete my task, I called Rawley into my room to talk to him about what was wrong. He said, "Bailey spanked me." I said, "Did you do anything to need a spanking?" He said, "No! Can you talk to Bailey, she was being a bully to me!"

Remember that Rawley is only two!

Trying to Teach our Kids the Meaning of Christmas

For many years now, we have been doing this tradition trying to help our children learn about self-sacrifice, love, kindness, and humility. We get out our daughter's baby bed and buy raffia (to resemble hay). Starting on Dec. 1 (usually, but a bit late this year), we explain the plan. Every time you do something nice for someone, you can tell Ben or me and then we will put a piece of raffia in the baby bed. (This is merely logistics because of the small ones who would love to just throw the stuff around! As they get older there is no need to share with us, they can place the hay in on their own! The goal would be to get where they could and would do kind things without others knowing.) On Christmas morning, before we open presents and after we read the Christmas story in Luke, we check the bed to see if there is enough "hay" for baby Jesus to be comfortable. Then we place one of the girls' dolls in the bed. The hope is that it is overflowing with hay! It's interesting every year to see how much the kids want to do this and even point out when one of their siblings has done something worthy of a piece of hay. I love when they do nice things for is sweet as a mom to see your kids understanding the needs of others and be willing to give up a bit of what they would want to do for others.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Since Christmas is my very favorite time of year, you can only imagine how excited I am right now! Not for any particular reason except that it's Christmas time and we get to celebrate the birth of my Savior. How thrilling is that? I love everything about Christmas...the baking, the presents, the wrapping, the crowds, the smell in the air...every single thing.

Ben and I closed ourselves up in my closet the other day to divide out the gifts purchased to see if there are any obvious gaps for anyone. I was loving the whole thing! Remembering the gifts purchased months ago in preparation and thinking how much my kids are going to love everything.

One of my favorite things is having nativity sets all over the house. Over the years, I have purchased plastic, or kid-friendly sets for all my kids so that they can play all they want with them. It has always seemed wrong to me to yell at kids to not play with the baby Jesus! Does anyone else see the irony of that? Everyday I get out one of the sets and we go through the Christmas story. By the time Christmas day rolls around, my family is well-versed in the meaning of the day and then we can have fun with the presents they have under the tree.

Last night we did another one of our favorite pasttimes for this time of year. On ABC Family, they do the 25 days of Christmas, showing different movies. We snuggled all together to watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas (even though we own it, they get a kick out of watching it on TV, go figure!). We made popcorn, had our blankets, water, other candies, and we were set! I could only smile watching all seven of us all together watching a fun movie.

We have set the tone for Christmas this year and I couldn't be happier! Tomorrow I will tell you about what we are starting tonight...another great tradition to help our family get the real meaning of Christmas. Tune in tomorrow!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Decorating for Christmas!

When we got home from Little Rock, all the kids wanted to do was to decorate for Christmas! I kept telling them that just because we decorate doesn't mean that Christmas will come any faster, but they didn't believe me...insisting that we decorate as quickly as possible. So, we came home from church and began the fun! (We all thought it was fun, except for Ben, who napped during the whole process...he thinks that little elves came while he was sleeping and invaded!)

Our tree cracks me up because in there are about 40 ornaments from Lenox, beautiful, glass, lovely...but all you can see are the handmade ornaments from our kids! I love that! I love in the evenings when we turn all the lights out except for the tree special! Maybe Christmas really does come faster once you decorate.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

50 Things I Am Thankful For Today

1. God's grace and salvation
2. Ben
3. Bailey
4. Darby'
5. Kally
6. Rainey
7. Rawley
8. Friends
9. Family
10. our house
11. Bible study
12. Being at our friends' house for Thanksgiving
13. Safe travel
14. Darby is better
15. Rainey can read
16. Fun trip up to Little Rock
17. All the help we have received from friends
18. Amy Childs being so encouraging
19. Lisa Alsop being so caring
20. The love of so many people
21. Our old SS class
22. God's provision in so many ways
23. Shopping the day after Thanksgiving
24. Our health
25. Stephen's RV
26. Generosity of others
27. Bailey growing into such a beautiful woman
28. Darby helping Kally with Bible study
29. Rawley being so entertaining
30. So much food daily
31. How much Ben loves me
32. How much Ben loves the kids'
33. How kind Ben is to my family
34. How much my Daddy loves me
35. The great friendship of my mom
36. Older women in my life who mentor me
37. Younger women in my life who challenge me to be closer to Christ
38. Laughter
39. Dates with Ben
40. Ice Cream Nights!
41. Being fulltime missionaries
42. Janie Cole's love and acceptance
43. Karen Fergason's challenging me to be better
44. Being American
45. Being able to travel in my life
46. Seeing friends' children maturing
47. Extended family who believe in Christ
48. Seeing people live out their faith
49. Seeing spiritual growth in myself over the year
50. The political ads are over

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

As I sit and type, we are in Little Rock visiting our dear friends and taking life easy. What a gift to us! My boys are playing the game of LIFE with Nick, Ben is listening to Christmas songs downloaded free from (free for the next 48 hours only!), Bailey is visiting a friend and probably at Starbucks. Darby and Kally are playing, and I am loving the whole thing!

God is so great to allow us this time of refreshment. This Thanksgiving I am so grateful for the way He cares about our littlest concerns!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Headed Out of Town!

We are packing as we speak to head to Little Rock for Thanksgiving! We always underestimate the time it takes to get seven people packed for a trip...why do we do that? You'd think we'd have it down to a science by now....but, noooo!

We will inevitably forget something-hopefully not something really big like Darby's diabetes supplies, but maybe something easy like a toothbrush or socks.

The two oldest girls both have ear infections with ruptured eardrums, so medicine is coming with us and we are leaving bright and early...about 5am! We are thrilled to be heading up to see friends once again.

Hopefully we will see some of you while we are there. We love you dearly and miss all of you so much. Your smiling faces and warm embraces will be a welcomed respite from life here. So, until tomorrow, may God reveal Himself to you so very clearly!

Story of the Lost Sheep

I had the scare of my life the other night.

Bailey was at a retreat for church and she was going to come home on Saturday night to be able to be at work on Sunday morning. At about 3:45am I woke up and looked out the window and didn't see her car! Where was she? I went downstairs, cried, prayed, tried to get her on the cell phone...She wasn't answering...again, where was she?

For several hours, I was praying, crying out to God. What I found myself not doing was bargaining with God. I was pleading, but He seemed to place a bit of a peace in me at the same time. Not a peace that said she is ok and will come home safely, but a peace that said, whatever happens she will be ok...I (God), will take care of her one way or the other.

About 6:30, I finally felt like I could wake some people up to help me in my search for Bailey. Ben and I called several people from church to get cell phone numbers for others attending the retreat. Within several minutes, we heard back that Bailey was safe and sound. She had decided to stay at camp and not risk driving home late at night. The cell phone service was spotty, hence, no phone call telling us.

Relief, joy, overwhelming amount of gratitude set in! It happened, this time, that the peace that God provided me was just the peace that I wanted to have. What I realized, though, was that as hard as it would be, I was ok with whatever God allowed knowing that He was watching the whole situation and would turn all things for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose. Ben, Bailey, and I certainly all fit in that category!

Praise God, our lost sheep had come home! She was restored with our other sheep and we have one more thing for which to praise God this Thanksgiving week.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Once again, Rawley has come up with something only a two year old could say with a straight face.

He was on the couch and I was changing his diaper. He has been very congested lately, so as any good mother would do, I leaned over and got what he lovingly refers to a "guckers" out of his nose. Being so very proud that he made something, he insists on seeing what I pulled out of his nose and then says, quite loudly, "You may NOT eat that guckers, Mom!"

So that's it...I have been told! (Was there REALLY a question?)
Q: What's better than having your child having read his first book all by himself?
A: Knowing that you taught him to read that book!

Our Rainey, age 5, just sat down on my lap yesterday and read his first book! He didn't even need to sound out any of the words...he just knew how to read them! It's amazing to know that I taught him how to do that. To think that I helped his world open up and that he is beginning the process of being a life-long learner...astounding!

Q: Why would I want to give that privilege to someone else?
A: I don't know...I wouldn't!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Another Funny

Rainey is sitting on my lap and we are watching Rawley running all over the house...I do mean, literally, all over the house! (In my head I call Rawley, Dennis, as in Menace.) So Rainey says, "Mom, do you see Rawley running all over?" and I say, "Yes, I do." Rainey says, "God sure made him crazy, didn't he Mom?"

Monday, November 17, 2008

Ben and I spent the weekend representing Military Ministry at the FamilyLife Marriage Conference. We met many military couples, gave them lots of gifts, heard their stories, and tried to honor them and give them the best weekend possible.

There is a saying that we are a military at war and a nation at peace.

We found that to be true as we held a special session for the military couples and spoke on PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. One soldier spoke on how he has served a total of 26 months in Iraq. He has a wife and two daughters. He talked about how on the transition home, he was in Iraq with a weapon one day, in Kuwait with the weapon taken away the next day, the home with his family the next day. There was little training in the transition from being in a war zone with a weapon, looking all around you, being on high alert, to being home driving his family to go out to eat.

It was difficult for him to be in large crowds. It was hard for him to drive the car without always trying to find the enemy. He didn't like loud noises.

We, here at home, hear on the news that we are at war, but don't really see the ramifications of it. We are a nation at peace.

But our troops are at war. They are having a difficult time adjusting to being back "at peace". They, and their families, have a new normal and it is hard to get used to it.

Ben goes out to a local military hospital to visit with the chaplains there and there he sees more of the results of war...burned victims, missing limbs, bandages, and wheelchairs, etc.

It was sobering to hear the stories and an honor to be able to listen to them.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Funny Of The Day!

Rawley, who still sucks his thumb, was sitting on my lap. He had his "ent" (his understuffed, almost flat elephant) and his right thumb in his mouth. I asked him if I could have it to suck on and he said, "NO!" So I asked if he liked his other thumb and he said, "no". So, I asked if I could have that one and he said firmly, "NO!" Then he turned around and looked at me and said with his thumb still in his mouth, " Suck your own thumb!"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Picture this: my family is seated in the living room, not seated really...but lounging, lying down, slouched, you get the idea. I began reading what we are reading as a family right now: The Tale of Desperaux. I am reading and they are all listening. It's one of those Dickens-type moments.

The story ends for tonight and everyone hangs around for a bit. This is where the "funny" happens. Two kids are playing the Nintendo DS and another one is playing a game on my cell phone. Another one is watching a dvd in close by. I am watching these kids with so much technology at their fingertips and then it happens! One child says, "Hey! Why did the chicken cross the road?"

The answers go something like this, while still playing the tech toys, never looking up!:

"Because his friend was over there!" "No, that's not why."
"Because he is goofy!" "No, that's not why."
"So why did the chicken cross the road, then?"
"Do you really want to know why the chicken crossed the road?"
"To get to the other side!"

Complete hysterics break out! Laughing, smiling, groans...! Funny that with all that modern day stuff in their hands, and they still got the biggest kick out of the chicken joke.

I'm resting easy that I know now that they still like the simple things!
As I was looking back at a few of my much earlier posts, I realized that I was in a difficult spot having just moved here, wanting to move here, but wanting to stay back in Little Rock also! I was torn in two. I have felt that since the move, but last night I realized that I am becoming more and more entrenched here! How did God sneak up on me like that?

I tend to believe that if my life is not working in some sort of three-ring circus type atmosphere, then what's the point in living? I love getting involved, being part of things, and feeling like I am much as any left-handed, scatterbrained person can contribute anyway.

So, I now realize that the moment we got here, God has been getting me involved and filling this need of mine...sneaky, sneaky...

I was asked to join a Bible study even before we actually moved and it started within days of our arrival...about 18 women, some I had known and others new (I suppose that was God's sneaky way of beginning to provide friends for me .... hmmm...).

Then our homeschool co-op started and there were more people to meet, begin to grow to love, and laugh with. Friends for my kids, and support for me.

Church...we found one! Many of the same people from Bible study and co-op and spiritual food as well.

Then came the two things that really made me realize that I was getting deeper and deeper...Ben and I were asked to teach a Sunday school class similar to what we did back in Little Rock-young married couples..we love that! Then I received an email asking me to consider being the co-director of the co-op next semester. So, of course, I said yes! It feeds directly into my need to be needed, and maybe wield a bit of power at the same time! (OK...I don't know where that power thing came from, maybe a freudian slip?)

Back to last night...I was at a meeting for the co-op and the director and I were there along with several other women. (there are 75 families involved in this co-op) At one point I looked around the room and BAM! it hit me...God has been answering my prayers all along!

He sure is good at this shock and awe attack of the blessings!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Who Are You Sucking Down With You?

Do you ever wonder what God is up to? Does it ever baffle you as to what God allows in our lives?

These are the questions that I ponder normally and lately even more so. I am burdened for people I know, pondering the effects and devastation of sin in our lives, and, in some cases, encouraged to see friends run to Christ as their only hope.

I don't know why lately God has allowed four situations to occur. "Why?" has been on my lips a lot recently, yet knowing that, as God told Job, I was not there at the foundation of the world. Who am I?

Two of the situations involve our personal sinful natures. Ben and I have told our kids forever that we don't sin in a vacuum and these two things have been the epitome of that very concept! People have been hurt, relationships broken, trust gone, love lost. I am so sad for all the people involved...the sinners and the ones sucked into it, the innocents.

The other two situations involve more of the innocents and the results of larger, corporate decisions, which also happen to be sinful. The effects of these decisions are so devastating to so many! The fall out is enormous! The ripples left behind when the "stone" was thrown have yet to settle.

I know we live in a sinful world, but I am blissfully unaware of so many things that happen in day-to-day life. I say "blissfully" in the most wonderful definition of the word. There is a joy in not seeing such ramifications often! God is really showing me, once again, the lesson about sinning. We don't sin in a vacuum, and we always suck innocent people in with us. How sad that is.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Gap Theory

I have recently been asked how Ben and I raise our kids so that they turn out the way they have, so far...fingers crossed, actually every part of my body is crossed...

So I have been pondering what we do and don't do that leads to the results we have gotten.

I could wax poetic about how much we love our kids...all true. :)
I could go on and on about how we listen intently to our kids and all they have to say to us...not always so true. :(
I could say it is all in the wrist..the discipline "wrist" I mean...partially true.
I could tell you it is in our total consistency 100% of the time...not even close to true.

So I guess I need to tell you it's all about God and how He has grace, mercy, and favor on us. How He has given us the raw materials for five awesome people.
How He has filled in each of our gaps (is anyone hearing Rocky talk about how "I have gaps and she has gaps and we fill each other's gaps"?).
How His love for us has extended down even to helping us raise our children even when we "miss" more than we "hit" in that "hit-and-miss" theory.

I must say, though, that we do our best and then that philosophical Rocky comes into play again with that ever-needed gap theory to fill our many shortfalls! And at the end of the day, I have to admit that we do have five of the best kids ever! Thanks be to God!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

An Oasis in a Dry and Weary Land

The move here has been really pretty good. We have gotten settled quickly, made some new friends, and rekindled old friendships. We have found a church and get to see my family most every day. Though all these things have has still been like being in a dry and weary land. It is exhausting to make new friendships. It is tiring to be the "new" person. It can be lonely to be in a room full of people who don't know you, but seem to know each other.

God provided just the right oasis for me the past few days. He allowed two of our girls and me to go back to Little Rock for a couple of days. I felt it the moment we walked off of the plane! The air was calling to me, so it seemed. The breeze blowing by me whispered in my ear to relax and let go. The leaves on the trees were in full blaze color just for my arrival! How awesome was that?

Then my friend drove up to pick us up. I knew right away that this was going to be a fabulous trip! The hug I received was one of total acceptance even though she knows me better than almost anyone. The advise from the breeze was sinking in.

Church was terrific also! What a joy to see women who have touched my life in some of the most meaningful ways. What a pleasure to hold their newly born babies knowing that Jesus was being spoken to them everyday.

I think I smiled the whole time, especially while sharing meals with good friends, sharing our lives, the ups and the downs and encouraging each other along the way.

So while I was being driven to the airport to come back, I bid farewell to the breeze and the trees, and then I really had to say goodbye to friends.

I came back feeling refreshed and rejuvenated...ready to begin life again in the desert. I know that this desert will soon bloom into its full beauty. But for now, I am satisfied that I know where the oasis is and I think if I am really still, I can hear the breeze calling me back.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Funny

In school today, daughter #3 (2nd grade) had a riddle as part of spelling. The riddle went something like this:

I clean your clothes.
I clean your body.
What am I?
(the answer is supposed to be "soap")

Son #1 (kindergarten) quickly answers: "I know...the answer is Mom!"

I couldn't argue with that!

On another note, daughters #1 and #2 are headed with me to Little Rock tomorrow! We are all so thrilled! On the other hand, Ben is not as thrilled to be here with the three youngest all by himself. I think he has proven many times over that he is perfectly capable...even more so than I am. I am remembering when daughter #2 and I went to Europe for three weeks last year and when I came back, it was evident that he didn't need me at all! He is remarkable and highly resourceful. I have complete faith in his abilities.

I can't wait to see many of you tomorrow! It is the highlight of our fall season.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Expectations, Rights, and Cinderella

This is the new question that Ben and I are asking each other lately..."were you expecting something?" or "did you have an expectation of something?" or even, "do you feel as though your rights were violated?"

Part of why we are asking these questions is a joke. I have been doing this Bible study and this was the topic of one week's work...yielding my rights, and not having expectations. The jist was that our anger and frustration over situations comes from feeling like I have rights and expectations of things happening a certain way.

Ben and I have discovered over the years that when God is trying to teach us something we really need to learn, it keeps coming up and then we discuss it ad nauseum, ad infinitum and then we incorporate it as jokes into our discussions.

The funny thing is that that is when we know that we are really embracing a point God wants to make with us.

So...Ben is driving down the road and begins to get angry that the car in front of us is going slower than the speed can actually see the smoke beginning to curl out from his ears, then his nostrils. The eyes are beginning to go red and it seems as though all the drops of blood in his whole body has rushed to his face. I don't know how he even has enough blood left in his hands to feel the steering wheel! Then, I pop up and say, with a smile on my face, and a voice like Cinderella's..."Is that person violating your rights? Did you expect him to behave differently?" Then, like magic, he is actually a white man again, back from his red man status! The fire has gone out of his belly because the smoke has disappeared from view, and oh my goodess, I think I see him really breathing again!

I could share a similar, but uglier, story from my life, but I think that sharing one of Ben's is more least for me! And I have always wanted to be Cinderella anyway...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

What's Up With The Difference Between Boys and Girls?

So you know that we have a grand total of three boys and four girls in our house. This, in itself, is cause for much tribulation and gnashing of teeth! The world tells us that boys and girls are the same...our Christian friends tell us that boys and girls are very who is telling the truth?

After we had three daughters, we had a son and all of our Christian friends asked the very minute he was born if we saw a difference. Well, to be honest, no we didn't see a difference. They both were sweet, cried, dirtied lots of diapers, and believed that the world revolved around them! And they were both right...for a time the world did revolve around them.

Then our son hit about 13 months! The activity level was not just upped a notch, but exponentially...the food consumed was enormous...his ideas of "gentle" and "fun" were completely foreign to us...except Ben somehow understood. hmmm.....

We have a large four-poster bed that the kids have played on forever. The girls would wait for us to hold them up as they held the top rail and we stood there while they swung on the bar, pretending it was gymnastics class. Our boys climb up on their own, swing from the top bar with no "spotter" and then swing out and land on our loveseat at the end of our bed! It's wild to watch them do this!

Just tonight one of our girls was sitting on our couch when all of a sudden she woke the dead with her scream! She jumped up from where she was sitting landing in my lap half a room away and began crying! "Why?" you might ask? A bug had apparently come inside on her shirt and she had just realized it. Ben, being the man that he is, was really startled by her scream...didn't I say earlier that she woke the dead? He instantly got a bit angry since he was so startled. She cried..he fought the urge to what's with the difference between the boys and the girls?

I think all of the troubles in our house are because of the differences between the boys and the girls...the way we think...the things we think are funny, scary, weird...our reactions to things.

All I can figure out is God. We have decided that our Christian friends are correct and the world is dead wrong!

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Homeschooling Adventure

For 14 years or so, we have been on this wild ride in our family called "homeschooling"! And boy has it been wild! When we first started, we told people, and ourselves that we were taking it a year at a time. And we meant it...sort of. I think it was more like, if God provided money for private Christian school, we might consider homeschooling the rest of the year, and then placing

our kids in Christian school after that. But as the years kept building up, and we were still homeschooling, and God hadn't provided money for private school, we stopped saying that we'd take it year by year. It just became who we are.

So the first three or four years of our adventure, we only had one child. Sadly, she became our "test child". We heard comments over the years about whether we were making the right decision. All the focus was on our first child and how she was doing. If she knew something that was beyond what "normal" kids her age knew, then it was great...if she didn't know something that others thought she should have known, we heard the "tsk, tsk, tsk" of naysayers.

I must say that the naysayers have been much more absent lately as our oldest, who was homeschooled all the way through, has begun college and is now in her second year! Others view her as a success. We view her as a success also, but not always for the same reasons as others do! She is a woman of God and is following what He tells her to do and how to live her life! We are very proud of her.

There are four others involved in our adventure these days, and we are having a ball! They sit at the kitchen table and laugh, argue, tease, play, and oh yeah, they learn to read, do math, read maps, and create all sorts of things! Yesterday we learned about the four layers of the rainforest, and then for lunch they were Brazilian rainforest Indians eating rice and meat with no utensils! It was great! They won't forget it.

I will never regret spending all the time I have with my kids! I know them well and love them individually and certainly know their quirks, strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles. I have been the one to teach them to read! I have been the one to teach them their math facts! I have been the one to teach them how to write a story and poetry. I am the one who gets to teach my children our faith and who God is. Why on earth would I want to give that privilege to someone else who might like my child but doesn't love them like I do? It is the greatest honor I have had in my life.

I might hear from God one day that He wants me to put a child of mine, or even all my children in school...and I will obey...but until I hear from Him, I will keep on teaching my children and loving it.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Columbus Day

In my never-ending quest to live up to my mentor's goals for me, I decided we would really celebrate Columbus Day today in homeschool. Now, you'd think this wouldn't be such a huge task for me having been a for-pay honest-to-goodness teacher in some real schools, and now having homeschooled for at least a kazillion years (ok maybe just 14, but who's counting?)! The idea of celebrating a "day" is always more elaborate and wonderful than the reality.
This year I was determined to change that!

I thought of several things to do and even was prepared ahead of time with most everything I needed.

I had planned for all but my oldest to participate, since she was at school herself. Then my girls got a better offer: to go to lunch and a movie! (Come to find out the movie was sold out and they got to go shopping!) Who could say no to that. So it was just Two Boys and me.

Well, we had a big time! We started out by reading a book about Columbus.
Then we had lunch and ate all Italian food, since Columbus was born in Italy. Two Boys ate, and scarfed up, I might add, fried ravioli and gelato! They thought this was a real treat since we only have ice cream, or it's appropriate substitute on Saturday nights!

After lunch, Rawley went for a nap and Rainey and I drew a picture of Columbus' three ships and he memorized the very short poem about Columbus sailing the ocean blue. He drew the holes for the cannons, thinking that any great sailor would have really BIG cannons to fight off the pirates!

You can't see it, but Columbus is actually manning the wheel on the Santa Maria, the largest of the ships and the one he really was on! There is also a shark making his way toward all the fish under the water.

After the expert drawing, we went outside and taped it onto our garage door for all to see. He loved that I put it out there! I made him just a little bit happy! (referencing a post a couple of days ago)

Then we realized that Columbus needed binoculars to see the land after all those days of sailing, his crew getting really grumpy, and the food going rotten. So we made a set out of toilet paper rolls and Rainey spent the rest of the day peering through them!
Rainey had a ball and Rawley loved the part he was up for! It was a great day. It made me think of the bravery of Columbus and all the explorers to go against the common thought of the day to sail out in faith. Tonight we watched the movie Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium and in it Mr. Magorium made a comment I will always remember: You need to face tomorrow with determination, joy, and bravery. That is just what Christopher Columbus did! And I am going to try to do that tomorrow as well...determination to do what's right, have joy in the Lord, and display bravery to face whatever God allows in my life with dignity and integrity.

Get There Before They are All Gone!

I just wanted to let all of you with children know that Talbots Kids is going out of business. They are selling their clothes for an extremely ridiculous price! You could even stock up on bigger sizes and hardly notice it in your wallet. Go to and click on "outlet", then on "kids" and you'll see the great deals!

Thought you might want to know.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Two of my kids said things today that made me was more of a grimace, wince, but a deep down chuckle...the other was a broad smile that made me thrilled to be a mom!

The grimace-like smile first...picture this-after eating dinner outside, I am over at the swing set pushing two boys on the swings...Darby is inside putting the dishes in the dishwasher and out runs Kally yelling, "Darby is doing her chores and we are out playing on the playscape! I love this world!" Now the question is: where have I gone wrong that one of my kids gets really excited at the sight of one of her siblings working diligently, while she has nothing to do but swing?!

Now for the proud-moment smile...we were at co-op today and Rainey's class, made up of 4-5 year olds, was studying the fruits of the spirit. They made cookies and delivered them to various older classes to demonstrate kindness. Rainey delivered his cookies and then told his teacher, "That makes me a little bit happy because I like doing good things for other people." Now how awesome is that? Just hearing that made me a little bit happy too!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Creatively Inspired

We all felt creative today apparently...The day was, once again, beautiful, albeit a bit on the warm side. The kids were playing well with others, which doesn't always happen, and at least, in the morning, there was the hint of crisp fall quickly vanished into the dog days of summer, but it was there, I promise!

Several weeks ago, I bought many pumpkins for kitchen decorations. As the weeks have gone by, I have had to sniff out various heinous smells coming from some obscure corner...each time, the pumpkins have been the culprit. Great looking from my vantage point, but picking them up unearthed the rot that was happening right under our noses! So we have three left and the girls decided to give them a bit of class. Not that giving a pumpkin class would take much, but you see the results here. They do look great...don't they? Soon, they too will be part of the trash heap, but we are thrilled with them for today.

Our second creative endeavor...last week I was asked to provide a dessert for a charity golf tournament as part of a raffle give-away thingee...I am not thinking too clearly at this hour. But you get my point...So I decided to make a pumpkin out of bundt cakes. At this point, I could recite the lines from My Big Fat Greek Wedding about bundt cakes, but I won't.

I baked two bundt cakes from box cakes. Then I leveled off the bottoms to make them flat.

I "glued" the two halves together to make the pumpkin with icing.

Then Ben made orange-colored icing and we drizzled over the cake. The color is more orange than it seems in this picture, but trust me, it's really cute. I only have to put some greenery in the middle to complete the pumpkin theme. At this point, I could once again say some lines from the previously mentioned movie about "fixing the hole". I am going to pretend that it will go for lots of money in the raffle...don't burst my bubble and tell me when you see it in the trashcan! Let me have my great creative day!