To all my blogging friends - I pray you all have a very Merry Christmas, filled with love, laughter, family, and friends. May the joy of Jesus live in your heart, not only through this holiday season, but throughout the entire year. We will be celebrating with the kids tonight, and, weather permitting, with Brad's family tomorrow evening. We will get together with my family next weekend.

Blessings to all of you this holiday season!
I've had this button on my sidebar for a couple of months and have tried very hard to keep this family in my prayers. Andrew joined the Lord yesterday and lost a courageous fight against cancer. But his victory is in Jesus.

His life has touched me profoundly as I have a soon to be 12 year-old. Days are short, my friends. Love on your family as much as you can.

In Him,

Yesterday, our beloved dog, Baxter, passed away. He had been failing slowly over the past months, but took a big turn on Saturday and before we could stop the downhill slide, he died Sunday afternoon. Thankfully, he was in our house, in a nice warm environment, and we don't feel he suffered too much. He was a beloved fixture for the past 11 years, and I already miss him more than I thought I would. I told my sister that it is the "familiar" and "routine" things that I miss...him scratching on the door to come in the house, his happy greeting when we drive up the driveway, even his howling when he wants to make his presence known. Most of all, it is sad to see your kids grieving the loss of a friend. While they are handling it well, they question if they gave him enough love and attention over the years - a great lesson for us all that time is fleeing and we need to love our loved ones in the here and now.

We are still figuring out how we will lay him to rest, but today we are looking at old pictures and reminiscing on our fun times together.

Thank you, Baxter, for the eleven years of joy and fun you brought into our lives!

I just can't believe how time is flying by. In less than three weeks, TJ will be Gladys Herdman in six performances of The Best Little Christmas Pageant Ever. In four weeks, it will be Christmas. In six weeks, it will be JD's birthday. In ten weeks, we will be going on vacation. From my experience, those ten weeks are going to FLY by. My goodness, it takes my breath away just thinking about it! It's going to be hairy! (Sorry, I couldn't resist)

Kind of like this past week! Here's a summary:
-Enjoyed time and work with my mom, who came out for Thanksgiving
-Hosted 14 people from Brad's family for Thanksgiving dinner - yummy!
-Played, ate, and relished the company of my sister and her family from Friday until Sunday
-Eased my sore muscles after flag football with my mean old nieces and nephew
-Took two walks as the weather was gorgeous
-Put up the tree, decorated outside and in
-Watched the Vikings win
-Thought about Christmas shopping
-Contemplated Christmas lists

Seems like more, but that is the nutshell. Now, we are in the push to Christmas. I don't want it to be a push. I want it to be a gentle stroll with lots to look at, enjoy, and ponder along the way. It's going to be a challenge with all that we have going on, but I'm bound and determined to not let Christmas pass us by. We're still going to have school, but I'm going to significantly limit my computer time. As much as I like to blog and write to have an outlet, I will PLAN on having it be intermittent over the next few weeks. That way, if I plan to be intermittent, I won't have an expectation to get 'er done, kwim?

So, I'll be hopping back on here now and again, so don't completely forget about me. :) In the meantime, I pray you can focus on the true meaning of Christmas and take time to enjoy the season.

Until next time...

(Oh, and I didn't forget about my promised Proverbs 31 follow up...thanks to all of you who responded! I will definitely be posting my thoughts someday soon)

In our Living by the Book session today, I was to read and digest Proverbs 31: 10-31. Have you read this? Have you pondered how this section of scripture fits into your life as a woman? Do you think it is still relevant, or that, since it is Old Testament, it is no longer meaningful to our day and age? I'm interested to know what perspectives are out there. I know what I think, but I'll reserve my post on that for a bit. I am posting it here for your convenience to review:

10 [c] A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.

11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.

12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.

13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.

14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.

15 She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls.

16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.

18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.

19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.

21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.

26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.

28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:

29 "Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all."

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

31 Give her the reward she has earned,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

With that, for today, I am thankful for my life, that I can wear many hats, even if they are all not on straight. Thank you, Lord, for the opportunites of the day. Each and every one.
Life has been more than expected the past week or so, and I am trying to process and survive. Priorities have been reassessed, and my blog or getting on the computer is not necessarily at the top of the list, which is good. But, I want to continue my thankfulness posts, even if they are sporadic for the remainder of the month. So, today...

Sunshine has filled my soul this week - God has created a beautiful world, and too often I am caught up in my day to day life that I fail to enjoy and relish the gifts around me. What a different sight it would be if my front window looked upon gray and gloomy colors and shapes. God has created variety in all things.

26 Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing. Isaiah 40:26

Special thanks to Sandra for hosting!

The weather in my neck of the woods:
Cool, but sunny. I'll take it.

One of my simple pleasures:
Reading a good book. Without interruptions. :)

On my bedside table:
Just finished my last Kristin Billerbeck novel. Loved the carefree reading.

On my TV:
Too many DWTS to catch up. Looking forward to Top Chef finishing up...

On the menu for tonight:
Not sure. Need to find something quick and easy.

On my To Do List:
Trying to get my room clean today. That's it...just that.

New Recipe I tried last week:
I tried these lazy chili rellenos from Pioneer Woman..they were pretty good...but a bit watery...don't think I drained our chilies enough.

In the craft basket:
Still buttons. Still.

Looking forward to:
Getting some issues resolved
Coffee later today at Caribou

Homemaking Tip for this week:
Always go to bed with your dishes done. It helps the perspective in the morning.

Favorite Blog Post of the week (mine or other):
Too many to pick just one

Favorite photo from last week:My birthday girl

Lesson learned the past few days:
If you don't deal with it, it just festers and grows

On my Prayer List:
My pastor
My church leaders
My spouse and kiddos
Our military

Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses:
Love chapter 12 in Hebrews which speaks to discipline. So encouraging for us as parents - and as Christians.
1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
4In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:
"My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."[a]

7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

12Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13"Make level paths for your feet,"[b] so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
Today, I rest in the Lord. I have been blessed beyond measure as I am able to wrap myself in God's Word. We attend a church where the bible truth is spoken without apology. I am transfixed and transformed in the Lord. I have been convicted to study my bible with an indepth eye, looking both at the details along with the big picture. May I never stray from your Word, Oh Lord, and may I continue to seek you out throughout all my days. Guide me as we raise our children, that they may know the truth of you.

105 Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105

Well, today's entry is about the easiest one to write...It's TJ's birthday, and I am eternally grateful for the blessing of having her in our family. This little pumpkin came into the world almost 4 weeks early at a tiny little 4lbs 15 ozs. She has grown and changed and evolved to a beautiful girl of seven, and we love her even more today that we did when we saw her for the first time. TJ, your exciting sense of adventure, love of candy, creative mind, and kind heart draw people to you each and every day. You take on the world and are ready for anything, but you are sensitive to know that you always want to do your best. You love Jesus and talk to him as your best friend. Never lose that love, dear one, and trust him with everything you have. He gave you life, and he loves you even more than we possibly can. May he bless and keep you now and forevermore. We love you!

I am finally getting to my computer while supper is cooking and my children are sitting in front of the tv. :) Can I be thankful for that??? Actually, they are watching a kids movie and I feel fine about them tuning out for a bit. TJ has been busy with play practice, and she is a bit keyed up about it, so some down time is good for her. They are blocking multiple scenes right now so she is trying to take it all in and keep up with where they are in the script. It has been nice being able to attend with her and help out. I applaud the directors for keeping these kids on task and getting as much done as they can. Wow.

The week has flown by so fast that TJ's bday has snuck up on us, despite the fact that she has been doing the countdown since the beginning of November. It is Saturday, and, had I been prepared, it would have been the perfect day for a party. But, as it goes, we are most likely just going to have a few of her friends over, let them play, and then eat some cake. Real exciting. But, playing will be fine with her, and if we end at a local pizza joint with some games, she'll probably be pretty excited about the day. But, somewhere between now and Saturday, I have to shop... egads.

I've been thinking about my thankfulness post all day, and that is also part of the reason why I haven't taken the time to sit down and write. I have been feeling kind of chippy today, and haven't felt much like giving thanks for anything. Then, I felt guilty for not wanting to change my attitude, which then made me mad that I had to feel guilty, and so on and so forth. Bottom line, I was fighting my pride and ego, and feeling like I just didn't want to have to do something I didn't want to do. Talk about being a stubborn child - child of the King, that is. It goes back to a day or two ago when I was feeling hurt about something, and I just wanted to hold on and harbor those feelings. Heck, I think it is safe to say that I am still gripping them in my hand, because letting them go "sounds" to me like I am saying I wasn't "right" in the situation. I want to stomp my feet and yell that I was justified to feel like I did (do) and that I am entitled to hold a grudge.

Guess the feelings are still a bit fresh.

I suppose that's where the rubber hits the road, so to speak. Do I do as I should, or do as my human nature begs me to do? Do I release it all, and give it over to God? Do I harbor my foolish pride and keep feeling wronged? Well, I know the answer, but sometimes knowing and doing are two different ends of the spectrum. I need to let it go, suck it up, and move forward. And, doggone it, that probably means I have to apologize as well - for my down in the dumps, poor me attitude. Ugh. That's not fun. Interesting how, when something doesn't go your way, there's a reactionary response, isn't there? As a result, I'm just as "guilty" as the offending party. So, I guess I have to ponder this awhile and look to what I need to do to repent and change. Sounds like I have my thankfulness post for today:

I am thankful that my God loves me, despite my shortcomings, my failures, my sinfulness. Thank the Lord that he does not judge me on my attitude, or lack of consideration for others. I am grateful that he is a God of second (and third, and fourth...) chances.

Psalm 51

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.

4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.

5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts [a] ;
you teach [b] me wisdom in the inmost place.

7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
We have school today, much to the chagrin of my children. I told them that there is no better way to honor the veterans than to study them in our real life history class today. :) They don't need a day off to realize how important these people are in our history, and in present day America. But, they do need to be taught the importance of looking at the past to help guide us in the future. The past does not need to be rewritten to make it "look better" or to erase mistakes. We don't need to dwell on the past and wring our hands at the problems we have faced. No, instead, the past helps us see how far we've come, how we need to continue to change, and how we are not perfect. Only through our living God can we be made whole and perfect - in Him. That is our future.

I am thankful today for all the veterans. I am thankful for those who have gone before, without thought for the life they may lose, but only for the freedom in which they believe. I pray for all those who willingly sacrificed their hopes and dreams in order to bring hope to others. I am thankful for the families that have parted from their loved ones as they travel to fight the good fight. Thank you for putting others first. You are an example to us all!

I read this today with your selflessness in mind...

6Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9As it is written:
"He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever."[a]
10Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 2 Cor. 9:6-11
This morning, my husband needs me to run an errand for him across town. So, I'm heading out, all three kids in tow. The beauty of this morning is that we have our backpacks all filled up with school subjects so we can stop at a coffee shop and get some work done. Making memories while helping them learn!

Today, I am thankful for the opportunity to school my kids at home. I realize this choice is not for everyone, but it is the choice for us. We are blessed to have a curriculum which provides a solid and comprehensive education, and I have such gratitude for my husband for working so hard to allow me the chance to teach my kids in our home environment (or, at the coffee shop, like this morning!).

11 Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

12 Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,

13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking lies.

14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
Psalm 34:11-14

Today, since it is Monday, I am thankful for coffee. Now, that may sound petty and small, but coffee represents so much more than a warm drink to me. It is comfort, it is tradition, it is a ritual, it is my daily life. You see, I am blessed to be able to fill my coffee cup, and my counter, at my own coffeepot, any time of the day, whenever I please. That is because I am blessed to be home, with my family. I am wrapped in the cocoon of my home, nestled within the joy of my family. This is a gift that I constantly take for granted, so I try to think of it often - as often as I fill my coffee cup.
18give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Want to join along? Post a daily thankfulness post from now until the end of November to share with others the blessings that God has poured upon you!
Special thanks to Sandra for hosting!

The weather in my neck of the woods:
Gorgeous weather - love Indian Summer...not as warm today, but at this point, we'll take any day without snow we can get.

One of my simple pleasures:
Reading, uninterrupted, with a cup of coffee in hand. Have I said that already? Probably. Oh, well.

On my bedside table:
Anything and everything Kristin Billerback. She makes me laugh with the way she writes. It is just fun writing. No brainer reading. Also on my bedside, Living by the Book. Love that bible study.

On my TV:
I think we're going to ditch all the recorded DWTS. Otherwise it's the same ol' same ol'...Top Chef date with my dh on Wednesday. I look forward to that all week.

On the menu for tonight:
I don't know. I plan to get to the store while JD is working on the set for TJ's play.

On my To Do List:
Laundry - tons of it! Oh, my. Colder temps make so much more laundry due to the jeans and sweatshirts!

New Recipe I tried last week:
I always plan to write them down, then never do! I made TOH's Seafood Enchiladas

In the craft basket:
Buttons, still

Looking forward to:
TJ's bday at the end of the week - need to get planning on what we're going to do to celebrate

Homemaking Tip for this week:
You know, I just got nothin' on this today. All I see is dust right now, which is clouding my tip knowledge

Favorite Blog Post of the week (mine or other):
Tiffany tipped me off to this great post about yelling...

Favorite photo from last week:
It's not from last week, but one I haven't posted boys at Grandma's. They love all her books.

Lesson learned the past few days:
Everyone needs a friend. It's just harder to be one to some people than others.

On my Prayer List:
My pastor
The military and their families
My spouse and my kids

Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses:Sometimes, an attitude of gratitude is not natural - at least for me. But, by focusing on it each and every day, and looking for God's blessings daily in my life, I see his glory and outpouring more clearly, and appreciate it even more!
thankful thoughts
Special thanks to Mom of One for the great button link! She is onboard with the daily attitude of gratitude and made a wonderful button to link it all together. Won't you join us in the daily affirmation of all the things we are thankful for? Please make sure to let me know so I can read about your blessings as well!

Today, I am thankful for the freedom to worship my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I was able to get up this morning, pray in the comfort of my own home, drive to our church, and openly and freely sing and praise my God. We did not have to be secretive about our meeting place, quiet about our praises, but instead, we could shout it to the rooftops that we are saved by God's grace and through the death and resurrection of his son, Jesus. I take for granted this right that we have here in the United States of America, and I am truly blessed to be able to say I am free -

1 It is good to praise the LORD
and make music to your name, O Most High,
2 to proclaim your love in the morning
and your faithfulness at night,
Psalm 92:1-2

God's blessings to each of you today!
It is a gorgeous day! Wow - I love it when the temps creep up and surprise us with extra days of warmth. It does bring out the boxelder and beetle bugs, but that is a small price to pay for the beautiful sunshine and warmth that is streaming into my house. We may just get the Christmas lights up in temps above freezing!

I've already whittled away part of the day, but enjoyed some time just relaxin' with my hubby. Which brings me to my gratitude post of the day:

I am humbly and blessedly aware of the amazingness of God in his selection for my mate. I am truly, truly blessed to have been led to Brad as my husband. God's divine hand has been apparent throughout our life. From high school to present day, this man has grown to love me more and more despite my insecurities, my failures, and my inadequacies. He has done this through deepening his relationship with Christ, and he is such a godly man and an example to me. God has shown me unconditional love, and my husband has worked hard to do the same. He is my soul mate, my confidant, my best friend. May I take the time to thank God for him EACH and EVERY day!!!
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12

Have a great day!
My friend, Karen, is trying to blog each day about something she is thankful for. I love that challenge as we gear up for the Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas season. So, from now until the end of November, I am going to post something each day that I am thankful for...and, if I am truly inspired, I plan to attach a bible verse along with it to keep my focus where it should be. Won't you join me this month in listing daily your countless blessings? It can be a simple two line post, or attached at the end to an unrelated posting. Just take the time from now until November 30th to share the thoughts on your heart. If I knew how, I'd design a cute little bloggie button to post, but, instead, just let me know you are up for the challenge so I can check in with you and see your blessings!

An attitude of gratitude - November 6th, 2009
Today, I am thankful for my children. God has given me three wonderful blessings who now, amazingly, sit at the ages of 11, 9, and almost 7. Many times over I wonder at the thought that I am not only a mom, but have been for almost 12 years. The time has flown quickly, and it seems like only yesterday that I found out I was pregnant with my first. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for showering the blessing of children upon my husband and me. May we never take our responsibilities lightly, but raise them as you would instruct us to do. Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

God's blessings to each of you this month!
I can't believe it is Friday already. The week has flown by, as they usually do. Today, we are supposed to be having temperatures in the mid 60's, so we have our Indian Summer groove on. We're hopefully going to complete our schooling by noon, and head out for an afternoon of fun at the park. However, if my sleepyheads don't get out of bed, there won't be much time for anything!

I am excited for the weekend - it sounds like it is going to be nice, and hopefully we can get the Christmas lights up on the house. Last year, we did it in frigid temps, so maybe we can be a bit more proactive this year! Don't worry, there's no chance they will be turned on until after Thanksgiving.

JT made Brad and I breakfast in bed this week. We were technically awake, doing our bible study in the warmth of our blankets. JT came up with a tray of scrambled eggs, two washed apples, a knife, and toast. Such a sweetheart and love how he has uch a caring heart. (I also love how they think they are surprising us, despite the clanging of pots in the kitchen! :)) As I write this now, I am hearing him unload the dishwasher, unprompted. I am so proud and honored to be his mom!

Since I love fall, I wanted to share with you a great, easy recipe for my favorite bread. I love any and all breads, and have found such joy in baking all of our bread from scratch over the past months. Here is a fall favorite of ours!

Pumpkin Gingerbread

3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2/3 cup water
1 (16oz) can pumpkin
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp.
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. nutmeg
3 ½ cups
2 tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 (5 x 9 inch) loaf pans, or 6 (5 ¾
x 3 ¼ inch) loaf pans. In large mixing bowl, combine sugar, oil and eggs. Beat
until smooth. Add water and beat until well blended. Beat in pumpkin and spices.
In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder. Add dry
ingredients to pumpkin mixture and blend just until all ingredients are
incorporated. Divide batter between 2 large or 5 small prepared pans. Bake until
toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour for large pans, or 45
minutes for small pans.
Yield: 2 large or 6 small gingerbreads

**Make it fast and furious tips…Skip combining the dry ingredients
separate – put directly in with the pumpkin mixture.

* Can, most likely,
do ½ cup applesauce and ½ cup oil with same results
* If using whole wheat
flour, reduce to 3 ¼ cups flour

And, finally, you know my fascination with is one from last Saturday. Have a great day!

Special thanks to Sandra for hosting!

The weather in my neck of the woods:
Beautiful...we're finally getting our fall season...I was afraid we had jumped to winter to stay!

One of my simple pleasures:
Sneaking my kids' Halloween candy. Just kidding. Reading in bed with my electric blanket. That's my pleasure.

On my bedside table:
A bunch of Kristin Billerback books. A bunch. I've got a whole passel of them and have to figure out which one to read when, in what order. I'm in the mindless reading phase right now.

Except that I have the ultimate contrast to the mindless reading also on my bedside table...Living by the Book. A long overdue promised post about that coming soon.

On my TV:
DWTS, Top Chef, Survivor - that's all we watch, well, except for Viking football...Go Vikes!

On the menu for tonight:
Just like last week, I am thinking we need to grill due to the weather. Did I say GORGEOUS???

On my To Do List:
Baking bars and cookies for church on Wednesday
Menu planning
Volunteer meeting tonight for TJ's play

New Recipe I tried last week:
Tried two new breads with good success - paired them both with chili yesterday.

In the craft basket:
Nada, nothing...well, buttons to put on a coat, mending, hemming, hmmm. I guess I do have stuff in the craft basket

Looking forward to:
Is it too early to look forward to our vacation in January? We're heading to California! Yeah! We've got car and airline tickets booked, along with our second week of accomodations. Still need to finalize the first week.

Homemaking Tip for this week:
Make sure your towels get all the way dry or they will smell sour. Yep, they are on their second trip through the washer as we speak.

Favorite Blog Post of the week (mine or other):
None - but lots of good reads out there - can't pick a favorite!

Favorite photo from last week:
Need to download some more so I'm sure you'll see some new ones soon

Lesson learned the past few days:
  1. I can't believe how much work it is to get our house clean before company comes over. I never think it is that bad until I think of someone coming ;)
  2. If I don't get my bible study done first thing in the morning, the chances of it getting done significantly decrease
  3. Having Halloween candy in the house greatly increases the odds of me getting fat

On my Prayer List:
My family
My pastor as he shepherds the flock
Our country
Our military

Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses:
16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3: 16-19

Have a great week!

This is NOT how our days have looked recently!

It's one of those days - again. The one where I don't want to teach my kids, but I just want to curl up with a cup of coffee, in my bed, and read the day away. While this may be a good idea, and one which homeschoolers can afford to take periodically, I have the dreaded GUILT hanging over my head that I can't take an entire day just to read. Maybe I could give my kids the time, but, in my head, that would only free me up to work on some projects, clean, or do other things that need to be done. Good heavens. It's difficult to relax around here without the guilt train speeding in at full steam.

Couple of items to share:

TJ got a part in The Best Little Christmas Pageant Ever and will be playing Gladys Hermdan. We're starting to work on memorizing her lines. There will be six performances the week before Christmas, so the schedule around here will jack up in intensity, particularly after Thanksgiving. I will be a parent volunteer, doing some backstage supervision and possibly some costume sewing.

We got our airline tickets (thanks for the Southwest tip, Amy!) booked for our trip to San Diego area in January and early February. Now we just have to finalize our car rental and our first week of accommodations. We're going to be ready to leave the frozen tundra at that time, and it will be here lickety split.

I think we will be hosting Thanksgiving dinner, so it's already time to start planning our menu for that. We will be making many traditional items, but hope to make everything from scratch as that is the path we have been following the past 6 months. I hope to post on that journey soon.

Our bible study, Living by the Book, has really prompted me to take a look at scripture in a more indepth way. I am really enjoying going through different parts of scripture, and dissecting and learning more than I ever have. I have found, that when I am able to do it first thing in the morning, I really do ponder it in my heart and ruminate over it for the whole day. It has been a fun challenge and a great time of learning for both Brad and I. Our early mornings are inconsistent due to other commitments, but we're working on doing it together in the AM as much as we can.
We've been working on improving the different Fruit of the Spirit around here - We have some room for improvement, but for the most part, it has been fun to recognize and "catch" the kids in acts of kindness, love, etc. However, it hasn't stopped the personality clashes between the youngest and the oldest. My, how those two are the same in temperament. It is amazing how stubborn they both are and how easily they can fly off the handle at each other. We need to continue to foster kindness and respect for each other - not an easy task, but if we don't nip this now...

One last thing - I haven't tried this Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe yet, but goodness knows I will be soon! Wanted to share it with you as well.

Well, there obviously haven't been any huge insights in this post, and I do need to get my children motivated for school. I promise to post something of interest sometime soon! :)

Special thanks to Sandra for hosting!

The weather in my neck of the woods:
Beautiful. Crisp, cool, sunny morning. Should be getting up to 50+ degrees and it is sunny - first time in a LONG time!

One of my simple pleasures:
Reading blogs with a cup of coffee and not feeling guilty or getting interrupted. (Rarely happens, but that makes it even more of a pleasure!)

On my bedside table:
Living By the Book bible study
Kristin Billerbeck - Ashley Stockingdale series

On my TV:
Lots of DWTS that I believe we will delete as we are so far behind
We'll watch Top Chef and Survivor this week

On the menu for tonight:
Still planning, but I am thinking we should grill as it should be up to 54 degrees

On my To Do List:
Menu planning
Cleaning off my desk
Finish going through TJ's clothes
Organize pantry cupboard and kitchen

New Recipe I tried last week:
Whenever I use them, I should write them down, b/c I tried a couple this week - I'll have to get back to you!

In the craft basket:
Ugh. Nothing right now...

Looking forward to:
Seeing how TJ's play practice goes - She got the part of Gladys Hermdon in The Best Little Christmas Pageant Ever at our local theatre...they have 6 performances before Christmas so the schedule will be intense. She starts practice today!

Homemaking Tip for this week:
Play games with your children to make cleaning fun. We used a job jar this week with a reward at the end, when the jobs were finished.

Favorite Blog Post of the week (mine or other):
Too many to choose from this week.

Favorite photo from last week:We were sorting through some clothes this week and came across some leather pants and a jacket that had been given to TJ. Funny how the persona changes as soon as she put them on...

Lesson learned the past few days:
These middle school years are a roller coaster of emotions - changing multiple times within the hour at times. Patience as parents is so important right now!

On my Prayer List:
My family
My pastor
Friends who have lost loved ones
The military

Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses:
We studied one of my favorites this week again, from Romans 5... 1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Have a great week!
I know, I know...deep in the heart of harvest season, I complain about how there is so little time, how I can't get it all done, how there's buckets of beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, and beets all waiting for attention in my hot garage. I've run out of jars, I've switched over to freezing, the freezer bags are gone, I've got to run to the dreaded Stuffmart, I need to buy more jars, where's the lids, it's about time I bought myself a doggone funnel...yada, yada, yada.???
But, thanks for listening to me moan and groan - I do it every year, and then a couple of months later, when it has silently been declared (in my own mind) the official "we're late enough in the fall to feel justified to pop the much anticipated seal of our blessed canning jar" day, the chorus belts out their resounding rendition of the "Hallelujah Chorus" as I pull the can opener out of the drawer and hover for a moment over the Bell (or is it Mason this time?) label. Is it too soon? Am I tapping into the reserves earlier than I should? Will we run short if I start opening the jars aimlessly now rather than tomorrow, or next week? Is this truly the time and the place? Have I run out of fresh options from the garage? Are the sweet potatoes and squash not fitting for tonight's meal

As I obsess over this heart wrenching decision, my husband comes up behind me, grabs the can opener and pops it open himself. Well, not really, because he can't figure the Pampered Chef thing out, so he ruminates for a bit on a real can opener, never stopping once to think that this is only the type of lid that has to be popped off, not actually cut open. But, I digress.

Whhoooootttt. Ahhh, the lovely sound of a sealed jar being released from the inner sanctum. Who can resists the alter ego of the "ping" you hear as your reflect back to a hotter time of restlessly standing at attention, waiting for your precious little babies to seal themselves off from the outside world? Like a new mother, the release of the seal brings you full circle to the realization that you, yes you, preserved these fruits of your labor, in love (yes, that was love in August and September - however warped it looked at the time!), for your precious family. Like the labor process, you have forgotten the pain of planting, weeding, feeding, nurturing, harvesting, washing, peeling, prepping, heating, and sterilizing these precious commodities...the energy, crabbiness, and pruney fingers were all worth every ounce of effort as you stare into the jar of joy. And, now, you are going to create a masterpiece, based around this special little don't need corn! (Good, because you don't have any right now...) Beans, yes, beans are rising to the top of the ingredient list tonight as you create (wait for it...) Shepherd's pie! Nothing will feature your canned beans better than a down home, comforting casserole such as this! And, wait, what did you say? You're opening another??? Yes, pickles. The perfect side dish, and, once again, you swell with pride as you remember how coddled those little seedlings were in the beginning, only to grow to a size that were too big to handle in any other setting but a sliced pickle. A tear forms as you reminisce on how quickly they grow. How quickly.
You open. You taste. You pucker. You spit. HOLY COW! Did we over do the vinegar just a tad? Wowza! These are some sour pickles. Are they all going to be like this? Relief washes over you as you realize you did them in two batches with a different recipe for each. Jars are going to quickly become available for the pantry cupboard at this rate. (A whole different post awaits about that!) There won't be lingering over the opening process going forward - if future jars are this sour, your compost pile will quickly be transformed. The disappoint rages, and you question your technique, your skill, but realize your success and canning don't always go hand in hand...the taste can only be as good as the recipe you used, and you were worried about this one from the get go. Oh, joy is fleeting, and you thank the Lord that you were blessed with the foresight to make refrigerator pickles, even if most of them are housed in the fridge at your husband's work, because fridge pickles use fridge space, of which yours is a precious commodity. Your confidence, however, is compromised, and you will now question on a yearly basis the desire and efforts to pickle cucumbers in a fashion which will be pleasing to self and others.

But, I digress. I must get supper on the table, and time is slipping by as I sit and ponder the wonders of the food preservation process. Canning may be slipping by the way as an art form, but I, for one, will continue to do my part in preserving the past...and preserving - for the future.
Until next time, when I may choose to exercise my vision of freezing foods for fun, not foolishly, but with fresh fervor...

Happy eating!
I figured since I posted some good girly girl pictures of my daughter lately - seriously, how much more girly can you get than being dressed in a wedding dress? - it was time to share a little bit about the boys. The boys have been enduring cold temperatures, WELL out of the normal range for fall around here, to play flag football through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Both boys have previously been involved in the tackle football program, but this year we made the switch to flag for a number of reasons. The tackle program was quite intense for practice and game schedule, which was doubly intensive due to having boys in two separate age groups. Plus, we wanted to give them a chance to experience a variety of positions rather than be locked into one. Finally, the devotions and comradarie with other Christian athletes naturally drew us in, so we jumped in and made the switch.

It's been an interesting season, and fraught with rain and snow delays and changes. Overall, I think both boys have enjoyed the process, and they will finish their season this coming Sunday afternoon with make up games and awards. In anticipation, I thought I would post a few pics of the action...

We're off to church activities and a great father-in-law! Hope you all have a great rest of the day!

Special thanks to Sandra for hosting!

The weather in my neck of the woods:
Cool and crisp's been much colder than normal here but today should be perfect - in the low 60's.

One of my simple pleasures:
Dark chocolate - GOOD dark chocolate...AND taking the time to enjoy it

On my bedside table:
What a Girl Wants by Kristin Billerbeck = funny!

On my TV:
Way behind on Dancing with the Stars so we will most likely delete
We have only been able to keep up with Survivor and Top Chef - that's all we've been watching

On the menu for tonight:
Football games tonight so I have to figure out something quick and easy - suppose I'll put some soup in the crockpot

On my To Do List:
So much on this list - Brad was a tremendous help this weekend even though he wasn't feeling good. I have had back spasms for three days and they are finally better today. So, the grandiose ideas for the nice weekend kind of went down the drain. Need to prioritize and get some things done today, but still take it easy

New Recipe I tried last week:
I tried a polenta lasagna last night from a magazine - okay, but not enough to make again
Also made the pioneer woman's red potatoes
Homemade fajita mix

In the craft basket:
Buttons to sew on some pants

Looking forward to:
Get together for women at church tomorrow night
Also, looking forward to having my back be at 100% - pain is so mind consuming

Homemaking Tip for this week:
I discovered that my dishwasher, which is next to my sink, kicks off a lot of heat during the drying cycle - enough heat that it may affect the flavor of my extra items that I store under the sink - olive oil in particular. I had never thought of how warm it would get under there, so now I have to find a new spot for those items!

Favorite Blog Post of the week (mine or other):
I didn't get as many read this week as I usually do

Favorite photo from last week:

Lesson learned the past few days:
Middle school years are rocked with changes in mood and behavior. Many times, you just have to sit and listen and wait for the rant to end.

On my Prayer List:
My family
My pastor
The military

Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses:
Brad and I are facilitating a very powerful class this year called Living by the Book. It shows how to really get into God's Word and study it. The bible is really coming alive. I was particularly moved this week by Isaiah 55 as it speaks to joy and hope beyond our current every day circumstances. God has a plan for us, and whether it is involving joy, or pain, he is faithful and true.

Have a great day!
When we were at my mom's this past weekend, my daughter came up from the basement all decked out in this beautiful wedding dress:

I about had a fit, thinking she had rummaged through my mom's heirloom items to pull out this dress. But, my mom, in true giving fashion, stated that she had pulled it out for the kids to wear as dress up since it wasn't doing anybody any good being stored in a bag in the back of a closet.

I was pondering that today, as I think about the things I don't use - saving them for a special occasion, or for a later date. How many candles do I have that are mere decoration, but have scents that would warm the house if I just lit them? Why do special dishes get stored away to use but once or twice a year? Is my family not special enough to periodically pull them out and make a memory just for the fun of it?

I like my mom's attitude. She brought such joy to my daughter and all her other granddaughters as well. Sharing such a special piece of her past, and seeing the joy of her grandkids as they "ooo" and "aahhh" over such a beautiful dress...what a blessing.

It seems I do this with God's love as well. I store it internally, keeping it to myself, pondering and thinking about how I can share it with others, but never quite taking that step out of my comfort zone. Thoughts of "there will be a better time", "I'm not quite ready", or "I might be rejected" all take center stage. I can justify it quite easily...I have hopes of people just seeing the joy radiating from me and then THEY'LL ask ME about what makes me tick...rather than me taking the first step.

I like my comfort zone. I like the boundaries that I have set up - the comfortableness of this lackadaisical attitude. But, that's not what I've been called to do. God didn't accept me into his kingdom only to have me take up space and sit idly by. He commissioned me to get my bum in gear and reach out to others. He's challenging me today to do that.

And every day.

I want to make my baby steps into giant leaps. I pray he gives me springs on my shoes.
And they sure fly by...

We had a whirlwind trip to Minneapolis last weekend, filled with family and fun. We experienced snow...
Sweeping views of downtown Minneapolis...
And a silly game called Hammerschlagen...
Yes, this is a silly little German game which involves hitting a nail into a piece of wood - with the wrong edge of the hammer. It ends up being quite humorous, and we were entertained for multiple rounds.

Upon our return back to the frozen ground we call home, we scrambled to get back into the swing of things in our 48 degree house. We did turn the heat on once we got home (doggone it) and are living life high on the hog at 65 degrees throughout the day. :) We're hoping for temps to head back into the 50's this weekend so I can get out and take a few kid photos on the rare chance that I find colored leaves still on the trees as opposed to the ground.

As always, life continues to fly by and we have to make a choice to sit back and enjoy it. I pray I can share with you all soon some of the many things floating around in my mind. Until then, have a great day!
We're taking a real quick break and heading up to see my family in Minneapolis this weekend...we're going to leave tonight after Brad gets done at the office, and then venture back early Monday morning. I'm looking forward to it, despite the fact that it will fly by.

Prepping to go has involved getting all the plants in, pulling the last of the pepper plants, and getting as many of the apples processed as I could since it is going to be below freezing most of the weekend with a chance of snow on two different days! I don't remember it ever snowing earlier than the end of October, so we are definitely not prepared for it to happen!

So, in the meantime, while I am gone, I leave you with these fall images. Have a great weekend, everyone!