Friday, November 9, 2012

"Break Free"

With drop in temperatures combined with the rain from Hurricane Sandy, it is really difficult to type today.  While my hands have fortunately been doing a little better lately, it has still been a challenge to do all my normal stuff thanks to my fibromyalgia.  I find it really ironic that it has decided to settle into my hands making it almost impossible to move my fingers some days, especially when I want to write.  And yet, I feel so thankful since I have nothing worse to deal with unlike so many others.

Despite the pain and difficulty, I really wanted to write today (or more accurately, these several days since it has taken me that long to type out this post since my fingers will only let me do a few lines at a time).  The past few weeks have been hugely encouraging for me in regards to my fibro.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Halloween: Angry Birds Style

Last year, we decided it would be really fun to dress up thematically for Halloween.  At least, I decided that would be fun while the boys would still go for it and Brian would humor me.  I've been looking back nostalgically this year since the boys thought it was so fun dressing up as a group that they want to do it again this year just this time Avengers style.  This means, however, that being the only girl, I automatically get to be Black Widow with the cat suit as I accompany a miniature Hulk, Captain America and Thor around the neighborhood.  I'm somewhat doubtful that would be as cute as last year's white angry bird costume on me!

So many people asked me though how I made last year's costumes that I thought I would share it since it was really easy, and as I usually strive for, really economical. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

"Funny" Fish Tacos

As many of my friends and family have heard me bemoan, Mexican food is pretty hard to come by were we live in the South.  And by Mexican food, I mean things that actually resemble what I ate when I was in Mexico and when we used to live in Southern California.  We've had to explain what a tamale is ("no, you don't eat the corn husk"), fish is actually normal in a taco, and chile rellanos are not smothered in velveeta.  We've found a couple good places, but I have been attempting to create healthy versions of some of our favorites.

I cook a lot since it so much cheaper to feed our three ravenous boys healthily.  I've been working on healthy and quick recipes that I can easily make in about half an hour since between homework, soccer and bath time with our crew, nights are pretty busy!  So last night I came up with a new recipe for healthy fish tacos:

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Remember to Back Up!

Not too long ago, I wrote about how my computer crashed and refused to be resuscitated back to life.  What I didn't write about was how I had forgotten to back up my hard drive.  For a very long time.

Did I mention that I have been writing two books?

As it appears, my hard drive was messed up with whatever happened with the computer and all my data is now inaccessible with almost no hope of recovery.  Fortunately, I had most of the kids' pictures backed up on (thanks, Shutterfly!) but my books are gone.  One of them, a book on theology, I have been working on for several years.  The other one, a fictional story, was newer but represented hours and hours of work nonetheless.

It is easy to say that the immediate lesson from this is to always back up your data.  I can guarantee that I will not be making this mistake again, but I think my pain in this episode of my stupidity has a deeper root. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pear Decorating Fail

My parents have been doing some really fun renovations to their home lately which has gotten me thinking about mine.  Maybe it is a combination of wanting to decorate for fall or feeling like I'm living in the Star Wars and Lego aisles at a toy store, but whatever the reason, I have felt inspired to see what I can do to freshen up the house and make it look like a girl actually lives here.  With our food budget skyrocketing as all three of my boys have decided to go on a growth spurt at the same time, I clearly needed to be cheap about it too.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Technical Difficulties

I really have to apologize since it may well appear that I have dropped off the face of the planet since it has been several weeks since I last posted.  Despite my intentions of posting at least once I week, I have failed.  Shortly after I wrote the last post, my computer decided to stage a grand rebellion by way of turning off unexpectedly when my husband was trying to sync iTunes with my iPod for me.  For his kind gesture, he was  rewarded with a very long ordeal of trying to get the thing to turn on again.  It did not want to.  After several diagnostic attempts (which are very tricky when the computer won't even turn on, might I add), we lost all hope for its recovery when we realized the motherboard was fried.  Rest in Peace, cute blue Dell laptop!

However, this has left me computerless and a bit posting-challenged.  My post tonight comes courtesy of a borrowed computer (thanks, Brian!).  In the meantime, I have realized that I am far too dependent on my computer.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

An Answer to Prayer

Not too long ago, I wrote about all the struggles I have been having in parenting our second son, Luke in my post, Courageous Parenting.  Since then, I've been praying like mad for him.  We've had some good days and some not so good ones (which are, sad to say, usually very funny given his mischievous personality!)  But yesterday, everything changed; it was the best day!

Luke decided to ask for forgiveness from God and has chosen to follow Jesus with his life!

There's not much better than that in this world!  After weeks of saying he doesn't care about rules and that he wants to be bad and do things his way, he made the best choice of his life.  I'm not saying all is said and done with him now since my precious Luke still has a lot of growing to do (as we all do, though) but he is now on the right track.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A New Title!

Upon some reflection, I realized that I started writing this blog more than two years ago and I now have done over 100 posts.  Absolutely crazy how time has flown!  I've been getting a little annoyed with my title though since I haven't felt like it really describes what I am writing about as much anymore since I started out writing about the funny stuff that happens in my life and the lessons I've learned from it.  While I still do this at times and with three boys, how could I not?!  (And as a side note, about five seconds after I wrote that line, Luke kicked Ethan in the face and gave him a black eye.  Why?  Because he wanted to play with him.  Makes perfect sense, right?)  I've realized a lot of what I write about is really all encompassed in my desire to be the Proverbs 31 woman.  I want to be a good wife, mom, friend and manage our household well all for the glory of God.  My struggles with fibromyalgia are a huge part of it too as I want to try to do all I can given this and in spite of this disease.  So many ideas I have are related to trying to stretch our money as far as possible and trying to creatively make our home for our family which is right in line with Proverbs 31.  So, I decided that it was time for a new title!  The Proverbs 31 Project is going to be the authentic story of my adventures of pursing the ideal of who I should be, as God created me to be.  But, maybe I should say "misadventures" since I probably need to go check on that black eye again...  Think it is time for the next round of ice...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

In The Jungle Part 1

Back in January, I was reading some old stories looking for some fun ones to read aloud to my boys when I came accross The Princess and The Goblin by George MacDonald.  While I haven't read it to the boys yet, I was really excited about an idea in it:  the main character's bedroom ceiling is painted like the night sky.  Such a fun idea!  Add this to the fact that while I was mulling the idea over, I saw a magazine with a bunch of "inspiring" nursery ideas and wasn't too thrilled over any of them so I felt challenged to do better.

Baby Jack Jack's nursery was exactly the same from when Luke was in there.  When we moved in to the house, the bedroom was pink and all the trim, including the window mullions, was a really bright teal very similar to our house color.  After that, I just wanted something really soothing to go with the jungle bedding that we had.  Hence the gender-neutral creamy wall color that is probably the biggest clue that I was still hoping for a daughter one day.  I think I have been secretly dying to inject a huge does of personality and creativity into our house (thank, you pinterest!).  When Ethan was born, Brian and I still lived in our small one bedroom apartment in SoCal and so the poor kiddo's crib was squished into a corner of the living room in an effort to keep our expenses down since I had just finished college.  Pretty uninspiring.  Our next place was much better since we actually had two bedrooms but the nursery was white and still fairly bland.  So now, since we actually own our house now, I can do whatever I want (or more accurately, whatever I can sell to Brian...)

He took the idea fairly well.  There was a lot of silence until I promised that he wouldn't have to do any of it and if it came out badly, I would repaint the ceiling white again.  He did like the fact that I would be repainting the damage from where the previous owners had just painted over the wall paper and liked the idea that one day, the ceiling would transition well to the Star Wars room that seems inevitable with three boys.

I stared at blue paint for a couple weeks to make sure that the blue would go well with the creamy walls and would work with the jungle theme. 

And after finding a good one, I got started.  I usually don't tape since I can hold a really steady line when cutting in but painting upside down is a whole different ball game.  Tape is important!

I used Valspar's Indigo Steamer in an eggshell finish so when I did the wash, it would be easier as well as have a little bit of a sheen that would look good with the stars on it.  The paint I used was low VOC which is awesome for the nursery since no one wants to gas out their baby.  Not good.  The paint also had primer already mixed in so it only took two coats which is huge since it was just builder paint up there and so it was really thirsty.  It was a little more pricey, about $32, than regular paint but worth it since it smelled less and covered better. 

I bought a gallon and used two thirds of it for the just under 11' by 11' room's ceiling. 

A little trick when closing the paint can so it doesn't splatter: put a plastic bag over it when hammering the lid closed.  It catches it all!  Because my white countertop does not need blue polka dots.

I still had some leftover of the creamy color, milestone, by Valspar from the walls to mix into the blue to do the wash.  By using the wall color, it makes it pretty much a given that the tone of the wash will work with both colors.  White would also work but it would have been a little more stark and not as easy to blend.  Note: I made waaaaay to much paint for the wash; a cup would have been generous.  I forgot how far it goes!  I didn't mix the two colors completely; just swirled them to get some variation in the wash for added depth. 

My mom and I did some fun paint techniques when we were decorating my parents' house and she taught me how to do a faux finish with a really wet washcloth.  I found an old washcloth willing to take one for the team, soaked it with water (but not dripping) and dipped in the paint and then started having fun on the ceiling. 

The great thing is that if you get too much paint on, you can just wipe it off and work it around until you like it.  As you can tell, I am a huge Vincent Van Gogh Starry Night fan!

I looked like a smurf!  Mom would have been proud ;-)

I know a lot of people really like the stick on glow in the dark stars but it made me kind of uncomfortable putting them on the ceiling of my everything-I-touch-goes-immediately-in-my-mouth baby.  I thought painting them on would look a whole lot more finished too.  I found glow in the dark paint at A.C. Moore for $2.50 to use instead so it will be so fun for Baby Jack Jack to stare at in the middle of the night!

In the middle of the swirls, I painted a diamond star and a six pointed one at the ends to create shooting stars.  I used the wrong end of the paintbrush dipped in paint to put on all the little dotted stars following the pattern of the wash.

I can't wait to finish it off by painting the words to the song In The Jungle on the wall:  "In the Jungle, The Mighty Jungle, The Lion Sleeps Tonight" to pull it all together.  It seems so appropriate since I grew up singing that song at Mount Herman, a camp in Northern California, with my siblings that will always hold a special place in my heart!  I sing the song all the time to my boys and have adapted it to make it a little longer and fun.  The boys are confused though that everyone else "forgets" the verses about the squirrel and the camel! 

When I get it finished, I'll post more pics!  Sadly, it is taking more time than I would like since the last time I tried to get it done, I think I broke my toe (which still hurts, by the way ;-) ) But, as an update, Luke is doing much better!

If this inspires you at all, I'd love to hear what you are doing too!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Courageous Parenting

Things have been interesting lately.  Monday night, I think I might have broken my toe.  I slipped in a puddle (of water, thankfully!) Luke made in the bathroom while I was trying in vain to clean up the blue paint he dumped on the carpet. He "spilled" because he was mad at me for fussing at him for biting his brother, whom he was taking out his aggression on after I lectured him.  This said lecture was for my feisty four year old screaming, "I DON'T LOVE YOU!!!".  That outburst was in response to me asking him to clean his room. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Architect's Wife

Brian and I have been married now for almost nine years and as his wife, I have become immersed in the world of architecture.  Here are some lay person's architectural observations, or if you are like me, how you know you are married to an architect:

-There is a profound difference between flashing and streaking... If you do one, your building is water-repellent.  If you do the other one, you get arrested and your video ends up on you-tube.

-Architects don't do math contrary to public opinion.  That is why there are structural engineers.

-Some days, architects do nothing but color.

-Architects all have stories about themselves or someone else they knew in school who suffered some egregious injury with some cutting tool that happened because they were sleep deprived.  Like the guy who tried to cut a small two inch chunk of wood with a huge power saw.  Let's just say that didn't end well.  In Brian's case, cut his finger with an x-acto blade down to the bone and went around showing all his friends his bone before realizing he probably shouldn't see his bone and promptly passed out.

-Architects always look up when walking into a new building, or as they say, space.  It is really funny to see when there is a large group gathered for some event.

-It is perfectly okay in architectural circles to call up a mechanical engineer and as how big his "unit" is. 

-A required uniform in architecture is the ubiquitous turtleneck with sport coat.  If you ever see anyone wearing this, they are almost certainly an architect.

-Architects don't get paid nearly what you think they do.  I did some sociological research on high school students once and those that wanted to become architects expected to be making in the $100,00 to $200,000 range right out of school.  Brian and his coworkers laughed for a week. 

-If there is a deadline coinciding with an incoming snowstorm, the majority of people on the project will opt to be snowed in at the office rather than their homes even going so far as bringing sleeping bags and camping gear.  Hence the term architecture widows.

-There is a right way to put on shutters.  This is not it:

-Concrete and cement are not synonymous. 

-People assume we live in some amazing architectural spectacle of a home.  No, our house looks just like the other ones in the tract.  This is typical.  And yes, living in tract homes does annoy them.

-Architects laugh when they see commercials with architects in them with actual blue drawings.  Blue prints have not been widely used for 15 years.  In fact, paper sets of drawings are starting to be phased out on big projects.   Our kids love the printouts, though, since they make really fun and huge coloring sheets!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Weekly Menu Planning Fun

I have had a long running problem that has somehow turned into a running joke.  I, extremely frequently, forget to take food out of the freezer to defrost in time for dinner.  It is to the point that when I call Brian at work with the "I messed up" tone, he immediately asks me if I did it again which the answer is most often "yes".  Cheap take out is the answer to feeding our ravenous family on those nights which is neither very healthy or very economical.  As Brian and I have been working on our budget, I have been trying to stretch our money as far as possible so these unexpected (relatively though, since it happens all the time!) trips out for food was adding up and something I decided needed to end.  I have committed to being a better meal planner, or more accurately, more advanced meal planner!  To help keep it all straight and to help keep people from eating things that are part of an upcoming dinner, I made a menu board for really cheap since that is also a huge value.

I wanted something really cute rather than just a plain whiteboard or piece of note paper since, as girls know, if something is cute, we will use it more.  So, I headed to Walmart since they have the cheapest frames around that still look nice.  I picked up two for $3 apiece and a package of three dry erase markers for $3.50 and walked out for $10 for two projects.  When I finish the other one, I'll post it too!  I used a few craft supplies that I already had but I think most people have some extra glue sticks and scrapbook/construction paper saved somewhere.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Teal One

The last couple of weeks have been incredibly busy for us and I have neglected a good part of what I usually do around the house.  I got sick twice (thank you very much, fibromyalgia) and we went with Brian's family on a trip to the beach so now that we are home and I am feeling a bit better today, I began to notice everything that has to be done.  Hence today, after church, when we were coming into our house this afternoon I saw how bad the siding is by our front door.

 I love our house but the siding has been a source of stress for us; it is really shoddy and basically rotting all over even though it isn't that old.  We really wish we could have a contractor replace it all with some new fiber cement board but that runs about $12,000. This is about 99% more than we have in our house repairs fund since we just had to replace our air conditioning unit.  Oh, the joys of home ownership.  Our alternative to replacing it all at once is for Brian and me to do it ourselves one section at a time. 

So, when I saw how bad the siding looked, I decided to inspect it to see how rotten it is and if this is going to be the section we start with.  I started pushing on it to see how soft it was...

Ooooops...  My finger went right through it thus in my attempt to figure out how much damage there is, I inadvertently created more damage.  And yes, that is an accurate representation of how teal my house is.

I think that because Brian is an architect, I tend to feel somewhat empowered when it comes home maintenance.  He knows very well how stuff is put together and how to fix it.  I have absorbed a lot of information over the years from him and now it seems that this has created a sense of overconfidence hence the hole in the siding.  We will see how this plays out as we attempt to fix it ourselves or rather, Brian fixes it and I attempt to help.

As silly as it sounds, my main reason for wanting to do all the siding at once was so that we could repaint the house (hopefully the photo explains my intense desire to do this).  It is an enormous amount of teal!  It had just been painted when we bought it a few years ago and so repainting would have just been vanity.   I had hoped for a nice, really light creamy green-gray color but it looks like it will be staying teal.  I am pretty sure that the association would frown upon painting individual sections of it my desired color while the rest of it remains teal over the weeks and months we replace the siding.  I also came to realize that God has provided an amazing house for us to live in and it is really demanding of me to insist that it should be a different color when it is really expensive to change it and there are so many better uses for that money, even if I had it to spend on this.  That being said, the color has definitely grown on me since I first exclaimed, "The TEAL one!" when Brian told me that he had found the house we were going to buy and it does fit in well with our neighborhood.  The biggest benefit, though, is when I am giving directions to people coming over for the first time.  Nobody has ever missed the "teal house on the right"!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mommy Guilt

This morning, I accidentally slammed Luke's fingers in the car door.  Ironically, we were in the parking lot for the doctors' office for Baby Jack Jack's nine month check up. 

The poor little thing had slipped his fingers into the driver's side door frame as he climbed down out of the car and was not expecting me to close my door at the instant; he now says that was his first and last time for using that method of getting out of the car.  Fortunately, his fingers just were trapped in the gasket so even though it really hurt, there was little damage done according to the "can you wiggle your fingers?" test and his fingers (thought not my ego) stopped hurting by the time we walked into the office. 

It was one of those stupid moments that I am sure that all parents have but I felt HORRIBLE over it.  So, of course, we went to McDonald's after Jack Jack's appointment to make it up to him or, more accurately, to assuage my mommy guilt. 

Then Luke told me that I needed to call my mom and tell her what I had done to him albeit accidentally.  This kid has a very strong sense of justice I realized given that he decided that my mom would "get me in trouble" and he thought this was hilarious.  We left a message for my mom detailing our mishap.  Don't know if she has listened to it yet so I haven't been able to ask if she was able to hear the profound giggling coming from her grandson in the background. 

He also asked me to call his grandpa, three uncles and an aunt and let them know what he had been though since he is apparently very proud of it. 

It reminds me how thankful I am for Grace.  In a moment when I think I have it all together and am being a good mom taking my nine month old, freshly scrubbed and in a cute outfit to the doctor to report on all his milestones, I am reminded about how, in a lot of ways, being a "good" mommy is just an illusion because it can melt away as quickly as a car door shuts. 

I care so much about being a good mom and loving on my three musketeers that it is particularly painful when I don't do the best job much less be responsible for actually hurting one of them.  Hence my appreciate of Grace.  God has given us a tremendous gift of Grace through Jesus's death on the cross and if He can forgive me, I need to be able to do the same.  I realized in our incident today that being able to say I'm sorry is a huge example to the boys and gives them a chance to understand and give grace.  Funny how good can come from a parenting mistake.

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

It seems hard to believe that we have been living in our house now for four years.  Brian and I moved from Southern California to the South.  There were some big adjustments to make like when ordering iced tea, "regular" is actually syrupy sweet and I had to learn that flip flops are not year round attire (people tend to laugh if they see you wearing them in January here).  Aside from the funny cultural differences and missing my family like crazy, one huge adventure has been owning a home for the first time. 

When we moved in, we embarked on some house projects and finally, I finished the most long running one this past weekend.  I had to share since I am incredibly pleased with the result though sadly, I have no before pictures to compare the finished product with so sorry!

Our downstairs powder room was in need of some attention when we bought the place owing to some dark forest green striped wall paper with a wood grain pattern over the stripe.  It had the shortest vanity that I had ever seen which was comical when 6'2 Brian tried to wash his hands.  We were in process of refinishing the floors and so, in true "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie..." style, I thought we should rip out the vanity too so the floor guys could fill in the wood flooring so I could put the pedestal sink I have always wanted. 

With that done, I moved on to peeling wall paper and, like all projects, discovered it wasn't as clear cut as it looked since the builder many years previously had glued the paper directly to the drywall and thus peeling paper meant peeling drywall.  Painting the walls my beloved red Plan A went out the window since the walls were going to be so damaged that we decided the only thing to do was to re-paper.  We have never been big wall paper people so I was thrilled when we found a red paper that I actually loved.  The powder room is crazy tiny so papering it was really funny since both Brian and I could barely fit in there at the same time.  We put in a new set of bronze fixtures (my other love besides red!) which were sorely needed since when we bought the house, there were no towel bars or toilet paper holders... am still trying to figure out how that worked with the previous owners...  We switched out the toilet too later to a water saving one (all the while carefully measuring so the door would still have clearance- yes, the room is that tiny) and replaced the rusty mini blinds with a roman shade.  I found a inexpensive black framed mirror at Target to replace the huge builder one and I love that it looks just as good as the $70 dollar ones at Lowe's but was only $25. 

All of this sounds crazy expensive but it wasn't since we all the work ourselves with the exception of the floor and Target and the Lowe's brand fixtures was pretty much all we used although when it came together, you would never know they were the basic brands. 

We finished this all a long time ago and I have been trying to figure out what should go over the toilet since that looked bare.  This spot has really been the crux of why we haven't finished yet since we just couldn't figure what should go there for the longest time.  We toyed with the idea of a family picture but thought that might be weird having people "watching" in the bathroom and I never found any artwork that I really loved that didn't just seem like a generic print.  I've been really enjoying photography lately and decided this would be a good chance to showcase a photo that I've actually taken so with some planning, I was able to shoot the restaurant, Angelo and Vinci's, which was the place Brian and I went to on our first date and where he proposed in downtown Fullerton, California.  One of the things I love most about decorating and homes is how it reflects the people who live there hence my desire to make sure that anything I put up was personal and made me happy anytime I look at it.  Since I am at home with our three boys, I definitely need calm and happy pictures!  I love how the red of the building ties in with the red and the old theater behind stands out against the sky; it reminds me of home and good times.  I was able to print it out as an 11 by 14 from Shutterfly with a coupon and then, armed with another coupon, picked up a frame at A.C. Moore this past weekend.  It took a long time to actually get it done but I am so glad that I didn't just stick any thing up there to call it done because it is so personal and so fun. 

One of my goals is to try to do as much as I can, as economically as I can in taking care of our family and making it homey.  I think some of my favorite projects have actually been some of the cheapest and have thus required the most creativity.  I love how opportunities to be creative let me make our home personal by telling our story through our photos and let me be crafty in a practical sense.  Thanks for listening about my foray into photography and decorating and my you have opportunities to be just as creative! 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Why My Kids Eat Salad

My six year old Ethan loves salad and has been known to beg me to make it for dinner.  There is a spring green salad with feta and a vinaigrette dressing that is his favorite that we pick up when we go to BJ's and the few times that they didn't have it, he was seriously disappointed.  Sometimes Ethan and I will split a salad when we go out and my husband and I notice the servers' surprised and disbelieving looks when we order it.  I get the feeling that they think we are being really optimistic about what he will eat.  After watching Ethan polish of the last bites of lettuce, one server said that was amazing and asked how we get our boys to eat like this.  In fact, I get asked that fairly frequently quite understandably since having picky kids is really tricky...

My kids didn't always eat like this.  Mac 'n cheese, chicken nuggets, PB&J's, buttered noodles and string cheese were typical kid fare when I was making "real" food for Brian and myself.  This lasted for awhile until Matthew started demanding these foods all the time and started turning down stuff that he would have liked or that he had previously liked.  At mealtimes, he started trying to put in his "order". 

I know that most of us resurrect some phrases that our parents used with us when we were growing up and I have to publicly tell my mom thanks for "I am not a restaurant!".  I grew up as the oldest of four kids all two years apart; my mom definitely had her hands full and wisely taught us to eat what was offered.  Her phrase became my go-to saying since when our second son, Luke, came along, I decided that I did not want to make multiple meals nor did I want to eat kid food on a regular basis.  This was the part that became interesting since when I quite making separate meals and started giving him healthy home-cooked meals, he decided to do what any other self-respecting two year old would do: stage a hunger strike.

After a couple days of struggling with it and begging him to eat only to have him wait until the next meal when he could get something he wanted and hence making no real progress, I realized that I would have to be a little more creative (I am so incredibly thankful for my behavioral/ clinical psychology degree now!). The next dinner, Ethan didn't touch his plate so I covered it with plastic wrap and stuck it in the fridge.  It came for breakfast the next morning and I asked him if he wanted it hot or cold.  He still didn't touch the food (it was barbecued chicken and veggies so I didn't feel like I was trying to make him eat something weird).  Any time that day he started whining that he was hungry, I offered him that food again and, as hard as it was, didn't give it and give him any other snacks.  Ethan finally ate it the following morning (score for me, since it wasn't going to be good another meal and I wasn't sure what to do since he would think that he could just outlast the food!).  Since then, he tries everything and is one of the naturally healthiest eaters that I have ever seen.  Luke tried to do the same thing later, but quickly realized that it always tastes the best the first time it appears at mealtimes and loves some of my favorite things as I wrote about here a while ago. 

They sometimes still try to put in their orders for different meals and complaining about what is for dinner so I revert back to "I'm not a restaurant!"  They giggle at my answer and that is the end of the conversation.  I still can't believe myself when they ask me to make eggplant or fish for dinner.  Hurray for peaceful family mealtimes!  Thanks again, Mom!

Thursday, February 23, 2012


I have a terrible track record with gifts for my husband.  It isn't that he doesn't like them, it's just that he is rarely surprised by them.  He has an uncanny ability to stumble upon things that I have hidden around the house (it would probably be smarter if I wrapped them first before hiding them...) or my kids have been known to go pull the gifts out to show him what he is getting (probably shouldn't put them places that they know about...) or he sees an advertisement left out with my planned purchase on the front page (I need to be more discrete when shopping sales...). 

I thought I had turned a corner when I actually accomplished the near impossible this past Christmas when I managed to keep his leather jacket a secret until he ripped the paper off the package and I was hoping to build upon my success with Valentines Day. 

In order to be stealthy, I went shopping while Brian was at work so he wouldn't ask where I was going.  In order to do this, I had to take Luke and Baby Jack Jack.  Mistake #1. 

Brian has been crazy busy at work lately and so I thought it would be fun to get him some of his favorite products to help him de-stress; something just fun that I hoped would say "I was thinking of you and trying to take care of you".  Luke apparently shares my love of aromatherapy and wanted to help pick out some things for Daddy so I let him help me.  Mistake #2.

The store lady noticed us smelling everything and tried to upsale us on some of their new, insanely good smelling body sprays.  Their new way of giving samples of the body spray is to spritz a ribbon so you can smell multiple fragrances.  Of course, Luke wanted to smell one and wanted to keep the ribbon.  I've been trying demystify the feminine world a little bit since, with no sisters, girls could be a big source of confusion later in life for them and I'm trying to do my sons' future wives a favor.  I tied the ribbon around his wrist as a bracelet just like he wanted.  Mistake #3.

With one ribbon bracelet, he decided his other hand needed one too.  So, the lady and I let him have another.  Mistake #4.

Luke saw the hand sanitizer display and wanted some more for his backpack and begged for more "hanitizer" as he calls it.  I let him pick a bottle and of course he picked the one with the picture of the soccer ball and football on the front.  As we left the store, I explained that this is all a huge surprise for Daddy and that we needed to keep it a secret and not say anything about it to him and so he couldn't show or tell Daddy anything about even the hand sanitizer because he would figure it out.  We got home, I made Luke hide his sanitizer and I hid Brian's present.  However, I failed to confiscate one of the ribbons.  Mistake #5.

I also assumed that my four year old could keep a secret.  Mistake #6.

The moment Brian walked in the door from work that night, Luke ran up to him, showed him the remaining un-confiscated ribbon and proceeded to tell him all about our trip to "Body Lotion" and how he got the ribbon and how we smelled lots of things trying to pick out something for him.

I was surprised.  To his credit though, Luke never mentioned his hand sanitizer.

So, I will try again for Brian's birthday in a couple weeks.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

On True Character


My fibromyalgia has unfortunately taken a turn for the worse over the past few weeks for some unknown reason and amongst other things, has settled in my hands.  For the first time in the course of this disease, I have felt stripped bare, reduced to simply who I am and not at all defined by anything that I do since, with the loss of use of my hands, my ability to do anything has been greatly compromised.  I can no longer play my guitar, turn the pages in a book and typing is now incredibly difficult with this post an incredibly long time in the making.  I have struggled with this deeply since I love doing these things and have had many conversations with God over if not these things, then what does he want me to be doing?

Ironically, it is this being stripped bare of all pretense that has made me see more how what I do has absolutely no bearing on who I actually am.  Rather, it is my character that determines what I do and it is my character that He is most concerned with.  The verse in 1 Samuel 16:7 when Samuel was sent to find the next appointed king of Israel says, "But the LORD said to Samuel, 'Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.' ” (ESV translation)  I think it is really easy to find our self worth in these outward things but our lives innately are valuable and we can't do anything to make us more so.  In this humble position, we find peace and hope and ultimately, grace. 

It is tempting to dwell on what I used to be or more accurately, what I used to do instead of who I am and what I need to be.  Believe me, it has not been easy but I've realized, who I am impacts and influences my kids, family, friends and everyone I come into contact profoundly more than what I do.  My actions, as much as I can do, flow from who I am and ultimately, who God is as I try to follow Him.

My fibro has definitely taught me so much as I've wrestled with it.  Despite it and probably even because of it, I feel the grace of God in my life as I learn these lessons.  Hopefully though, there will be an easier way to learn these in the future that lets me use my hands more!