This is My "Real" Blog: January 2009

Angie's Blog!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Need to Make Space on our Award Shelf

Mark & Angie. . .
Parents of the Year

For the last three weeks or so, we've known that Caroline had an upcoming field trip to Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies. Seriously. If you're in the area, it's a very nice aquarium--you should go!! We've been a couple of times. Really like it -- and the tax benefits to my fellow Sevier County residents is unbelieveable. Come spend money here -- we love you!!

Anywhoo, the date of her field trip was January 29. But, for some reason, Mark and I both (independently, mind you) decided that today was the 29th. That's right. We were all psyched about her going to the aquarium today -- I even woke up to tell her to "have a good time!" this morning as Mark was taking her out to the bus.

. . . she went yesterday.

When you hand us the "Parents of the Year" award, we'll put it on the shelf next to the one we got when Edison broke his collar bone at age 3, and we still don't know how it happened.

. . . Yep, we're that good!


Happy weekend, everyone! Enjoy the Super Bowl. We're getting together with our small group, and watching it. One friend is from P-burgh (Hey Barry & Kathy!) and I hate to say it, but I won't be cheering for the same team as them. I've got this thing about Kurt Warner. Maybe you've heard about it, too? (No, it's not because he's such a hottie -- although, he is easy on the eyes) You can read about it here. You may have read the email going around about Kurt -- I did. To me, it makes no difference whether his son has Down syndrome, or not. The fact that he (KW) is a loving, Christian father makes him someone for whom to cheer.

Bottom line: One team is gonna win. I'm going for the Cardinals this year!

Enjoy the Super Bowl. . .and just think, in two weeks? It's Daytona, baby!!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Coulda. . .Shoulda. Sigh.

Sorry it's been a few days. I've had a pretty insanely busy week -- complete with a DSAG board meeting, bread-making, and a "regular" week at work (complete with two meetings!)

I should have blogged, and could have told all sorts of stories. I didn't.
I could have blogged and shown pictures from our adventure in the snow. Oops.
I should have exercised this week, but have been too busy. Sad excuse.
I could have cleaned my shower this morning, but didn't. Maybe tomorrow.

But the real "coulda / shoulda" that I intended to write about is this:

On Tuesday, I borrowed the scale that our children's minister has in his office. Our church is doing a "Biggest Loser" program -- and families are coming together, working out and weighing in weekly. I opted not to participate in the program -- but have been very faithfully eating right, and exercising (well, most of the time). I borrowed his scale to get some idea how I was doing. Here's the part where I'm mentally and physically kicking myself. . . .

I didn't get a starting weight back in early January when I started eating healthy. Therefore, I have no earthly idea how much weight I've lost in the last three weeks. I can state pretty clearly that I have been well within my WW points. I even have the notebook to prove it. I haven't taken the extra points that WW gives you each week to "cheat" or enjoy a real meal. And, a couple times, I actually exercised and didn't give myself the extra points you earn for exercising.

I have been, like, Amish in my eating habits. Okay, maybe I mean orthodox in my eating habits. Whatever you want to call it? I've been it. . . .but I have no starting point from three weeks ago. Normally, this shouldn't bother a person that much. But, I knew that I'd put weight back on since last year when I'd lost so much.

Trust me -- reading the scale and knowing I've been "ortho" on WW -- I did put weight on. More than I had imagined. More than I wanted. And, now, although I have a starting point -- it's an "adjusted" starting point. It's further away from the goal than I'd originally thought. That, to some, might be kind of discouraging. I'm opting not to be discouraged -- and that's why I'm writing about it tonight.

This blog, as you know, serves many purposes. One of those purposes is my own self-accountability. When I go back and read my thoughts and words, I feel a responsiblity to live up to them -- to make sure that they're honest and accurate -- and to live out the things I pledge to do.

So, we'll see what next Tuesday holds. I know that I will be weighing myself in the same restroom, without my shoes . . .and I'll have some kind of idea how I'm doing.

I'm hoping for a loss.
I'm eating for a loss.
I'm living for a loss.

And I pledge to update you. Because that's one of this blog's purposes. And, if it's a good number, I'm going to want some "what what's" from my peeps.

. . .yeah, that's you!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

It IS Clean.....

My bestest buddy Beth left me a comment on yesterday's post asking if my house is clean. Man oh man, it really is.

Bathrooms? Check.
Windows? Check.
Kitchen countertops? Check.
Dusting done? Check.
Vacuuming? Check. (thanks to Edison)
Windows between garage & house? Check. (And they were gruesome)

Yeah, my house is clean, and it feels (felt) wonderful. As I type, Edison is playing guitar hero with his friend, Luke. Between two 14-year olds, the "clean" aspect has diminshed some.

And. . . .sigh. . .Caroline decided that the "blah" tan carpet wasn't for her. She decided to put some blue streaks of color (with a crayon) in the living room. I went through the ceiling. . . .I even did the "just wait until your daddy gets home," routine. Because, she had to tell Daddy that she was sorry, too.

Of course, in Caroline's world, as soon as you say you're "sorry," it's done. In fact, as she was wiping away the snot and the tears, and pushing the matted hair from her eyes, she said, "I'm happy."

And then it hit me. That's what forgiveness is all about. . . .we sang it this morning this way:

"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind but now I see.

My chains are gone; I've been set free...
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood, His mercy rains
Unending love, Amazing Grace. . . "

Seriously. When I tell Him I'm sorry, it's done. He's happy (to put it in Caroline's terminology)

. . . . .and, I guess I should be happy too, eh?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I'm Back, my Peeps

Ya'll certainly know how to make a girl feel like she's been missed. It's true. . . I'm back -- but there's a lot to do today. So this inaugural post will be brief. (See what I did there?)

Right now, Child #1 is doing homework at the kitchen table -- sulking all the while. The sulking is not undeserved. . .but neither is the reason for the banishment to the kitchen. (Sigh)

Child #2 is running through the house in pink PJs with moose socks (Thanks, Auntie Beth!) and singing along with the Wigggles, as they croon, "Waggsie loves to Shake Shake!"

I know. . . you envy the glamour that is my life.

Envy this. . . .Caroline had five consecutive snow days this week, and we only had snow on one day. That's right -- she was out of school last Friday because of cold weather, and didn't go back to school until yesterday.

I was never so happy to see a yellow school bus in my life. I love both my kids with every fiber of my being -- but I like my "ME" time -- even if it's just going to the office for a few hours without the worry of Edison babysitting at home. (He's actually gotten pretty good at it)

So, I'm back. I survived.

I cheated (a bit).

Confession time: Although I didn't blog, I did read blogs during my alloted 15 minutes of internet time (2x a day). I was online for work -- and watched FB (staying offline, of course) because some of my worship team members use it for communication. But, not commenting on blog entries, and not chasing down links online, and not looking for craft ideas on Etsy??

That was torture.

Steve -- your post on my behalf was hilarious. Mark and I both loved it.
Joni -- I love your new layouts
Melany -- seriously, who is your anonymous commenter?
Jeannette -- I need your new blog addy.
Judy -- your pictures (as always) are wonderful. I'm going to try the blueberry cake w/Splenda
Beth -- I want a full-size copy of that picture of Jenni and Leila. It's a beauty!!
Katherine -- I missed the Office, but we taped it. Hillary Swank IS hot!
Laura (c) -- the afghan is for Laura & Kweku (sorry!)
L & K -- Your baby is going to be GORGEOUS!!! Send me your reg. address, please?!?
Laura D. -- The only vinyl albums I think we still have are James Taylor's Greatest Hits and Elton John's "Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road" (And maybe a stray Patridge Family album).
Sylvie -- I'm proud of you making lots and lots of beads!! (And, I missed you, too!)

And to everyone else who blogs, or just reads, or Facebooks. . . I'll do this again, because it was good for me. But, I may just "fast" from one facet at a time.

I did, however, read TWO books!! In the first two days, I read the "Yada Yada Prayer Group" books (1 & 2) and I'm ready for volumes 3-6. Fun books. I've described them as "Desperate Housewives Goes to Women of Faith" (And having never seen Desperate Housewives, I'm just making a stab there!)

I also started a third book, "Eat, Pray, Love" which is a very interesting introspective look into one woman's search for serenity. I don't necessarily agree with all her viewpoints, but her insights are pretty good.

Okay -- I said it'd be short. I promise I'll write more later. I really do need to clean my house.

Does it show? I've missed you.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Signing Off. . . .

That's right.  
I'm pulling the plug on the blog.

. . . but it's just for seven days!

Our church is going to go "unplugged" for a week.  It's a chance for families to spend time together -- abandoning all electronic devices (mp3, TV, CD, computers, Wiis. . . .Facebooks -- I'm shuddering here -- blogs, etc.).  I'm trying to remain positive about it -- but right now, I'm already facing withdrawal symptoms like nobody's business.

Those of us who rely on electronics for work (computers/email) will not have to go cold turkey there -- but it's those opportunities for family togetherness that we're trying to encourage people to take advantage of this week.  And yes, we *do* have a school holiday on Monday.  There is no restriction on cameras. . . so as we *enjoy* all of this quality family time (said through clenched teeth) I'll be taking lots of pictures.  

(I'm actually hoping to scrapbook some of those pictures after the kids go to bed)  What else am I planning for my "amish" week?

--new baby afghan for one of my readers (Hi Laura!  Act surprised when it gets there)
--finish Mom's table runner
--finish quilting Caroline's quilt (big maybe, but I'll have time. . . sigh)
--sort out extra clothes/toys for Goodwill
--bake bread for friends & neighbors
--read a couple books
--whatever else we think of to pass the time.  

Hold on there. . . . .

Our children's ministry team is responsible for this idea -- and there's talk that it will be interesting to see how many new babies arrive in, say, OCTOBER?!?!?!   

There will be NO new babies in this house.  It would be a MIRACLE. . .or a malpractice suit!  :)

So, my friends (all 11 of you) I bid you a fond farewell for the week.  This also means that I won't be checking blogs and leaving comments.  (That's going to be harder than not blogging, if I'm honest)  Seriously.  This is gonna suck. . . .but on the other hand, it's gonna be a great experience (I think).

I'm just thankful that neither the Super Bowl nor Daytona 500 are taking place this week.  I'd have to go all rebel on them and sneak out to Hooters to watch.  I'm just saying. . . .

Like I said, I will be checking email during office hours -- but I'm even going to try and limit that to once or twice a day.  So, if you are desperate to talk to me, you can send me an email.  That address is:  shccangie(at)gmail(dot)com

Smooches until next Saturday!!

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Night at the Symphony

No, this is not some cliched reference to a Marx Brothers movie. Our night with other Knoxville Bloggers at the KSO concert was . . . awesome. (Such an pathetic adjective--but it fits nicely.)

We got to the Historic Tennessee Theater about an hour early. The theater was recently renovated, and this was our first time to experience the "new look." And, it's simply beautiful. We had received information from Stephanie Burdette, Communications Director of the KSO, about the concert. One of the things she mentioned in her email was the maestro's pre-concert talk. That was really quite nice. He explained some of the nuances of the pieces -- and played portions for the audience members who had come early for his lecture.

He brought out the featured artist, Navah Perlman. Mark wrote a hilarious post about Ms. Perlman last week. When he met Stephanie Burdette (who had seen the post -- and laughed) he reminded her that he had made the joke about Rhea Perlman and Ron Perlman. (You really need to see the post to understand)

Ms. Perlman talked about preparation for the piece she was going to play. She also talked about just having talked to her four children who were at home -- running around the kitchen, I believe -- and suddenly she became real to me. And yes, I have a degree in music. . .and piano was my major instrument. . .but the words "not even close" don't begin to describe....

After their talk, they left the stage to make final preparations for the concert. Musicians filtered onto the stage to tune. After a few minutes, Stephanie and Jason arrived. They were seated in the row in front of us, which was fun. (It was for us, at least) We shared in some idle chatter, and suddenly it was time for the concert to begin.

A small chamber group came out and played the first piece. It was very, very good. Maestro Richman had explained some of the "give and take" from the different sections of the ensemble -- and it was interesting to see that played out (literally) by the musicians. They used a continuo (harpsichord) and although it was tricky to hear it from time to time, when I did get a chance to hear it played, it was beautiful.

Following the first piece, the stage (using hydraulics) lowered, and the continuo was replaced by a beautiful Steinway grand piano. After Ms. Perlman came out (much applause) she readied herself for her piece with the symphony. The Mozart piano concerto was beautiful. Haunting at times. And, I was reminded why I like Mozart, but don't necessarily love everything he composes. I'm more of a romantic era girl (which will definitely show up in the next paragraph). Mozart's work was beautiful -- but some of the drama in this particular piece was lost on me. At least, that's my take on it.

And because this is being linked to other bloggers and some of the symphony members may be reading this, I'm going to shut up now. The last thing I want to sound like is a quasi-musician on the subject. I am, at best, minimally educated on the subject -- and my opinions about Mozart are no reflection on the performance last night -- it was amazing!

After the intermission, the final performance was the Italian Symphony by Mendelssohn. I was in Heaven!!! Masterfully executed. At one point, I closed my eyes -- and just let myself be sucked into this beautiful composition. You all have heard the first movement of this piece. . .

I wish the youtube video was of last night's performance. But alas, I can only do so much!

There were four movements in this piece. The second movement, I believe, was a piece where the basses never stopped moving the entire time. Even when all the other instruments had pauses, they kept the music moving along. That was fun. I would have enjoyed using that example in teaching. So many fun images that could have been taken from watching and listening to them.

The last movement was PHENOMENAL! As I listened, I tried to "map out" the rhythm and melody that the higher register instruments were playing. I couldn't. Ever watched a hummingbird's wings? That would be a perfect metaphor for their playing---moving so fast, you can hear, but cannot see it. It was amazing! And then, it was over.

Following the performance, there was a "bloggers" reception to meet each other, and some of the performers. Besides talking to a reporter from City View magazine, I got to meet Maestro Lucas Richman, Frank Murphy (Star 102.1), and Katie Gawne (principal violist) and she's also their blogger!

In this first picture, you see Stephanie and Jason talking to Frank Murphy. Our camera battery was running low, so we don't have nearly as many pictures as I would have liked.

As I said, Maestro Richman and Navah Perlman attended the "blogger reception" and spent quite a bit of time talking to us. Maestro Richman's definition of "bloggers" to the symphony audience was one of the most hilarious events of the night. (The majority remember the Great Depression. Get it?) He said that bloggers are ". . . people that, well, blog." 'Nuff said.

I really enjoyed meeting Katie Gawne. Katie and I share a couple common interests. . .she's also from Chicago!! We talked about the weather (really, we did) and how East Tennesseans don't know bad weather until they've experienced a real winter like we did growing up in No. Illinois. We also talked about our kids. I don't think I have the liberty to say anything more on here, but Katie and I have many shared experiences raising our daughters. Her daughter is just a few months younger than Caroline.

But the coolest part was feeling that immediate kinship with her as we talked. I've met other professional musicians in the past. And, no doubt, I will meet more in the future. It was a great reminder to me that, although they're living out a dream that I once had for myself, they're just as "normal" as I am. And yes, I'm using the term "normal" with some reservations. . .because I'm pretty far from normal, in my estimation.

It was a great evening. Beautiful music. Wonderful conversation. New acquaintances.

And, for those of you reading this because of the whole "blog" experience with the symphony? Welcome to my blog. It's pretty straightforward. I'm just a wife, mom, part-time church music director, scrapbooker, and aspiring quilter. I have this well-connected husband who put me in the right place at the right time.

For those of you (all nine of you) that read on a regular basis? I'll go back to my typical posts tomorrow. You know. . .recipes, anecdotes, and musings on raising two phenomenal kids and being married to a great guy who makes me laugh after 19 years.

Yep, back to the usual stuff.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sorry...Had to do it....

You now have to leave verification for comments. Stupid spammers.

Other than that, it's a beautiful (cold) day in the neighborhood. I'm at work -- and I'm supposed to be working. I'll get back to that in a minute.

Tonight, we're headed to the symphony to hear Navah Perlman (daughter of Issak Perlman) perform with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. Mark scored us free tickets because he's a blogger. He has to blog about it tomorrow (or in the next day or so)

We're gonna get to hang out with Stephanie and Jason (That Chick & her blog's namesake). Can't wait.

Until tomorrow.......

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I am COLD!

I am.
Really cold.
Almost shivering cold.

That's my wannabe winter haiku.
You're welcome.

And yes, I know there is actually a formula for haiku, and I didn't even come close.
Sue me.

It's cold here.

I was reminded, on Facebook tonight, that it is colder in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota (Hey Jules!!). But, for little Seymour, TN -- it's cold. Twenty-nine degrees. Other than that, there aren't a whole lot more exciting things to write about.

I did make a new whole wheat bread recipe last night. . . and this is 100% whole wheat (no white flour added). It's really good. Kinda dense. Kinda "hippie good" bread. I like it a lot.

I also made a pot of chili last night -- for tonight's supper. Totally awesome way to go. Giving it that night to sit and meld together was the best. And, because it's low in fat and high in fiber -- I can eat a good-size portion of it.

So, that's about it for this evening. Oh? Did you know that 9 Scooby Doo Graham Cracker Dog Bones only count for three (3) WW points? The crackers are good -- I just always feel like I'm feeding my children dog food (literally) when I give them the crackers. But, they are seriously good snacks.

Tomorrow is going to be one bizarre day. I am really grateful to be able to stay home tomorrow night. Here's why:

8:00 - Edison goes to school (Caroline is out tomorrow)
11:30 - Caroline's pacemaker call-in check
12:45 - Caroline's haircut appointment
1:00 - Staff meeting at church - Caroline's coming along (whoo hoo!)
3:00 - Pick Edison up from school
3:15 - Meeting to help our committee for his school's accreditation
5:00 - Mark gets off work

Now, add in there that I'll be making lunch for C & me, and dinner for the fam. I'll also work out, do some laundry, and (hopefully) clean our bathrooms. So, after all of that. . . I'm gonna crash. Big time.

So, in the spirit of preparing for tomorrow, and all its excitement -- I'm signing off and heading to bed. I will probably work a little more on the quilt. I'm getting close to finishing it.

Once it's done, I need to finish Mom & Dad's table runner. Then, I have a few other projects that I've begun that I want to finish. That's a goal for me this year -- to finish some of my unfinished projects. That, and catch up on my scrapbooking. (And since I'm two years behind in both the family book and Caroline's book -- the likelihood of that happening is quite small!)

See ya later!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Gosh, what have I done now???

I saw this on someone else's blog a while back, and didn't have the patience to reformat all the colors. However, my buddy Laura D. posted this on her blog, and it translated over to my blog easily. So, I'm doing it, too. And yes, I know my mother reads this blog. Hopefully nothing I've admitted to will get me excommunicated! :)

This little exercise is circulating on a few blogs by people I know. If you want to play along, just copy this list to your own blog and highlight the things you have done. (I used blue) Then, be sure to leave a comment here so I know you posted your list!

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars

3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo

11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Gotten flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox

89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby

95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

I will be interested in your answers, if you choose to do something this "revealing" about yourselves. I had to double-check my list, because I was sure I'd misrepresented myself. I think I'm allright. I'm sure if I've written something down wrong, one of my lovely family members will point it out! Ha!


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Things that make you go hmmmmmmm

You've heard me talk about these things before, and I promise you are going to hear me talk about them again. What things? Well, let's see. . .

1) Facebook
2) Healthy Lifestyle choices
3) 365 Club

I'm sure there are other things (my kids, Mark, Aurelio's Pizza, Buddy Walk. . .) but we don't need to cover everything today. By the way, if I haven't mentioned it -- Aurelio's Pizza is the best on the planet!!

Today, we're going to talk about the blessings of Facebook. And yes, I know it's not for everyone. But, I want you to consider a few things today as I ruminate on the virtues of a social networking community.

Since joining Facebook in. . .? I can't even remember when I joined. Since joining Facebook, I have reunited (virtually) with over 40 friends from high school and college. I am daily talking to people that I haven't talked to in nearly 30 years. (That hurts just typing it!)

I have thought about these people, and have wondered how life has treated them. Now? 20+ years later? I know how life is treating them. I hear them talk about it first-hand. And that, my friends. . .is cool beyond words.

A couple of my scrapbooking/blogging friends are also FB friends. (Talk about my world getting smaller) One of them, Stephanie (That Chick) has some really awesome things happening in her life. She has written a book. Her book is now available at and Barnes & Noble for advance orders. That's too cool.

My friend Michelle (High School & Facebook) has helped to launch this "365 Club" group on Facebook. There are now over 5,000 people in the group. By year's end, over two million acts of kindness potentially will be done. This is blowing my mind. And, even if you're not on Facebook, I encouage you (again) to think of ways that you can perform random acts of kindness for people, even strangers, each day of 2009.

The world has got to be a better place because of this. It just does. . . .

Today, while "dorking around" on Facebook, I wrote a note to an old friend, Ann. She had been leaving cryptic status updates and notes all over FB about needing her virtual boxing gloves, dealing with a radiologist, and being in the fight of her life.

I had heard, through the grapevine, that she had battled cancer a few years back. But, I didn't hear it from her. In response to my note about how I could help her (prayer support) she told me that in 2004, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer that had spread to her liver. she immediately went into "fight mode" and kicked its butt (she didn't say butt). Fast-forward to 2008-09. . . .she went on to say that because of a freakishly large snowfall in Chicago, and a back injury from shoveling the snow, an MRI had revealed that the cancer has now spread to her spine.

She is officially back in fight mode. She gave me a pair of virtual boxing gloves (see picture) for me to help her virtually fight her cancer. I accepted them, tearfully, and told her that I would pray for her. I told her that I would pray for strength, courage, and zeal.

I shared with her how I firmly believe that God is big enough to tackle ANYTHING. I shared my story from this time last year -- when we were anxiously awaiting test results from my own biopsy. And, I told her that I was going to ask my friends to pray for her, as well. And for anyone battling cancer in any form.

These are the virtual boxing gloves she sent to me. . .isn't the internet amazing? I am sharing them with you. If you are willing, take these virtual gloves, tie them on as you pray, (post them on your blog?) and join me in praying that God would miraculously kick cancer's butt one more time. (I did say "butt" this time!)

I am fighting today on behalf of Ann. I am celebrating the heavenly reward that Aunt Shirley received in September when cancer "won" the earthly round. I am celebrating a TKO on behalf of my mom, and my friend, Karson. . . and all the other lives that have been touched (devastated) by this dread disease. But more than that, I am celebrating the TKO that took place 2,000 years ago - -when death itself saw defeat up close and personal.

"Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses" (1 Timothy 6:12 - ESV)

And this one from 1 Corinthians 15. (I really like this one!)

"In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal. Then the saying will come true:

Death swallowed by triumphant Life!
Who got the last word, oh, Death?
Oh, Death, who's afraid of you now?

It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God!" (The Message translation)

You see that? We win!!
That's enough to make you go hmmmm, right?

Friday, January 09, 2009

Legitimate Baking

. . . as opposed to "illegitimate" baking? You'll have to read this one all the way through.

Last week, an interesting phenomenon took place on Facebook. (Please don't glaze over on this one) One of my oldest and dearest friends, Dave Ferguson, who is becoming known the world over for church planting, took Starbucks coffee into the local Kinko's that does some of their printing for them. The employees' reaction to his gift, and his sharing about it, started this phenomenon on Facebook called the "365 Club." Here's its description (directly from Facebook):

WELCOME!! Glad you're here.

This group is simple. It's a gathering place for all those who commit to doing 365 acts of random kindness throughout 2009.

Giving at Christmas is a good thing. It's also expected. What we need are people who make giving a part of their life... a part of their normal journey. Are you up for the challenge?

If so, join "365 Club". Keep us informed on how it goes. Put your experiences on the wall. Video your kindness. Let's see how many acts of kindness can change the world in 2009!

"Small things done with great love can change the world!"

BTW...this group began December31, 2008, after Dave Ferguson wrote on his FB status about giving Starbucks to the crew at Kinko's and said, "'d think they won the lottery! A little generosity goes a long way!" Out of that act of kindness of Dave, a group was formed to make giving a lifestyle all year long -- not just at Christmas.

Commit to your own personal, conscious 365 acts of kindness in 2009. Join this group! Enjoy the ride!

What impresses me the most is that the person who really encouraged this to start is another friend of mine from High School. She was one of the quietest people I've ever met -- and she's right here --helping start a phenomenon.

So, I joined the group. (I join a lot of groups on FB) But this group has a coordinator who is tough, man. I mean. . .he sends out messages on a daily basis reminding people to do their acts -- and be an active group on Facebook.

The cool part is? They've gotten so much attention, Dave has been interviewed on K-Love, and a couple other radio stations. As of today, there are enough group members (over 2,500) that if everyone does their act of kindness every day, there will be 1,000,000 acts of kindness done and given in 2009. That's pretty cool -- and I'm a part of it.

So what have I done? A couple of my acts of kindness have been more subtle -- you can read into that my forgetfulness. Some others have been more overt. And, they can be for family members, random strangers, acquaintances, friends. . . there is NO limit.

Today's was fun. . .and I was able to see the reaction. And it was COOL.

I baked bread today. My honey whole-wheat bread is really good. It's also something that I love to make. My recipe makes two (2) loaves, so I realized that this could be a "365 Club" project. And, sure enough, I was able to get my loaves done before Caroline's bus got here this afternoon.

When Mr. John pulled up in the driveway, I walked out to meet Caroline, and handed him a bag of freshly-baked bread (like just out of the oven 15 minutes) and a jar of apple butter. The delight on his face -- and the smile and thank-yous are still ringing in my head. It was FUN to do that. And, I think it will be even MORE fun to do things anonymously -- and just watch people get surprised.

So, there's today's 365 blessing. I've already got tomorrow's figured out -- although it may be delivered today. (hee hee)

If you're interested in getting involved, look for us under groups on Facebook. I am going to try and be as "biblical" as possible and not always announce my good deeds on a regular basis. But today, I thought the story might inspire you. I thought it would also keep some of you from getting on my case for baking bread when I'm trying to eat healthier.

The case can be made, however, for this bread in that it's healthier than store-bought bread. But then again. . . I know myself. Bread is a MAJOR downfall. So, maybe my goal this year should be anytime I bake, we keep one loaf, and give the other away.....?

Not a bad idea, eh?!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

I Guess I Had Forgotten (copied)

About six months ago, I joined a website called SparkPeople. Similar to Facebook -- it's a website for people that wish to lose weight. I have learned since joining that a few of my "real" friends are members there, too. (we've hooked up there!)

SparkPeople has all sorts of ways to encourage people to lose weight or adapt their current lifestyles to make life better. I really enjoy it -- and have learned some neat things -- even found a few great recipes I'm going to try.

I posted the following on my "mini blog" over there, and decided to post it here today -- rather than write something completely new and fresh. Call me lazy. Go ahead. I dare you.

Here you go -- enjoy!!

After nearly a week of trying to eat right, drink GALLONS of water, and adapt myself to an overall healthier lifestyle, I did the ultimate today.

That's right. I exercised.

Funny thing about exercise. You forget things. Things like:

*when you don't exercise for YEARS, you get out of shape
*when you don't exercise for YEARS, you can get winded
*when you don't exercise for YEARS, you find new muscles
*when you don't exercise for YEARS, you realize it's been years

Seriously. I had forgotten how it feels to really move around. And no, it's not been actual years. Up until about 8 months ago, I belonged to our local Curves salon. I enjoyed my days working out there -- probably enjoyed the friendships and fellow members more, if I'm honest. But, I enjoyed working out -- for real.

This morning, I was prodded to exercise by watching Regis & Kelly, of all things. Their last guest of the morning was Leslie Sansone -- from the infamous "Walk Away the Pounds" video series. I used to own the VHS tapes, and the blue balls that were "inflated" with water. Those went away a long time ago, but recently, I picked up DVD versions of her 1 and 2-mile walks.

When I saw her on R & K, I remembered how "easy" her workouts were. Heh heh. . .I remembered them being easy. My hips and muscles are remembering something different today.

But. I. Did. It.

I did the 1-mile walk. I only stopped for a second because I stepped on my shoestring, and accidentally untied my left shoe. But, other than that, I did it. My hip joints ached a little. I broke a sweat. I found my knees shaking during the cool down/stretch time.

But, I did it.

And what I really had forgotten? How GOOD you feel when you do something like exercise. I can't wait until tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Let's see. . . . yesterday was one of those days where I was very pleased at the progress I made on some of my continual projects.

As some of you may have noticed, I managed to blog
I got quite a bit of work done (including a planning meeting)
I drank eight (8) glasses of water, if not more
. . .and therefore made multiple trips to the restroom. (ahem)
I read a 53 pages in a book. . . and adult book. (No, not *that* kind of book!)
I finished the afghan I was crocheting
I watched the two new episodes of "Scrubs" on ABC (I cried during the 2nd episode)**
I got 4 or 5 blocks on this quilt hand-quilted

So, all in all, it was a good productive day. I would have liked to have gotten more done, but I'm thankful with what I accomplished.

Today? Not as productive.

I worked -- only a half-day because Caroline didn't have school. We've had torrential rains, and many roads were flooded in the county.
I shopped -- grocery shopping. Funny part is that we're under a winter weather advisory, so you cannot get bread, milk, or canned chili. (You can -- but the shelves were picked nearly clean!)

On my grocery quest, I actually used coupons I downloaded from the internet -- AND those coupons were for items that fall into my diet plan (Fiber One bars and Low-fat yogurt). So, that was good.

Then, I came home and made Paula Deen's Parmesan Chicken Sticks. They are good, y'all. And, for my chicken, I dipped them in fat-free italian dressing, rather than the melted butter of the other ones.

All in all, a good day. A cold day. But, a good day.

**Why did Scrubs make me cry? There was a story line on there about a man who was dying...alone. He had no family. His wife had died before him. They had no children. Turk & J.D., the main characters traded their favorite night together, "Steak Night" to sit with this man as he died. They answered his questions, asked him questions, and made sure that his last thought was a "good one" before he died.

I have had to come face-to-face with death in the past six weeks in a way that I never anticipated. In the past six weeks, I have learned about the death of four college friends (or acquaintances) that were all either my age, or younger. The most recent was a girl that attended Milligan during my senior year -- and then after I left. She was a beautiful, sweet, "sparkly" person that just made you glad to know her. She died very suddenly -- from a form a leukemia -- and leaves behind two precious kids (ages 16 and 14).

This hit me close to my heart. And, as I watched "Scrubs" last night, I wondered if DeeAnn had a good thought go through her mind before she died. I wondered if she knew that she was going to die -- or did this shock her as much as it has us. I have no doubt that she is with Jesus, even as I type these words I know she's sitting at the feet of the Savior. I have no doubt that Heaven is a better place -- because she's there.

But, last night, as I watched them depict someone face their final moments on earth, I couldn't help but think about my own mortality, and leaving my family and friends behind. None of us wants to think about it. Some of us don't get a chance to think about it when we should. And that, probably more than anything, is what made me cry during a sit-com last night.

. . .I just thought you might like to know why.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

This is the BOM

My friend Pat (see link) posted this on her blog. I've posted the link on the right column, and have downloaded the pattern and instructions. No idea how or when I'm going to get this done, but it's REALLY cute.

Here's what Pat had to say about the site. . .

While I was out and about in blogland today I saw the cutest snowman. I fell in love with him. Upon reading further I found that he was the first block of a new free BOM from Ellen. She gives the directions in both Dutch and English. She has pictures of him done in stitchery and in applique. Pop over say hi and get a fun new pattern. I am sure that everyone out there is caught up with all of your projects and needs a new pattern. Thanks Ellen!

So, if you're so inclined, hop over there and check it out!!!

Oh, and for you non-quilters, BOM means "block of the month!"

Have a lovely Tuesday. Stay warm. . .and dry. It's raining like cats & dogs here!


Monday, January 05, 2009

A Rainy Monday Means Bread Baking! You can do it, I promise!

It's one of those gray Monday afternoons. It's getting chillier as the afternoon progresses. And, from what the weather guys say, we'll be getting 2-4 inches of more rain tomorrow. Yeah, this is paradise!

There are few things that make rainy afternoons blissful. One thing that does? The delicious smell of bread baking. I know what you're thinking:

"Oh great, here she goes. She's going to launch into one of her blog posts where she brags about how much she's baked. And I canNOT bake bread."

Pish Posh. That's not my intention at all. I'm going to enrich your life with this recipe and show you just how easy it is to bake a couple loaves of really yummy bread.

This recipe is for English Muffin Bread -- thanks to the great folks at Gooseberry Patch.

Now, please don't think that you're going to make this bread and it will revolutionize your grocery store shopping. This is not a replacement for sandwich bread -- that is a much more tedious process. But, this bread *will* make great toast in the morning, and it goes great with a meal. It also can be sliced, and the slices halved to go with cheese balls. YUM.

English Muffin Bread

6 c. all purpose flour (divided)
2 pkg. instant yeast
1 T. sugar
2 t. salt (I use kosher salt)
1/4 t. baking soda
2 c. milk
1/2 c. water
2 T. cornmeal (divided)

Sift together 3 cups of flour and other dry ingredients (except for cornmeal). Heat milk & water in saucepan until it reaches 120 - 130 degrees. Add milk/water to dry mixture; beat well. Stir in remaining flour to make a stiff batter. (I usually switch from the paddle on my mixer to the dough hook in between these two steps)

Add a tablespoon of cornmeal into the bottom of two bread pans. (I usually give them a shot of cooking spray before adding the cornmeal). Divide dough in half and put into pans. You can press the dough out to fill out the pans, if you'd like. However, in the rising process, they usually fill out the pans.

Cover with plastic wrap sprayed lightly with cooking spray. Let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on a wire rack.

*I usually brush the top of the bread loaves with a little butter. Helps make a shiny crust on top.
*I also made this batch with skim milk -- so it's even more "legal" than ever!

Like I said, this bread is easy!!! If you've never experimented with yeast bread, you just about cannot fail with this recipe. Just be sure that your milk/water mixture isn't too hot, because it will kill the yeast. And, if you like the taste of english muffins, you cannot go wrong with this recipe.

Tonight, we are headed over to my mom & dad's house for dinner with some of their oldest friends. (years known them -- not age) Calvin & Joyce and their boys (Chris & Brian) have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

Chris was probably my first "boyfriend" if you count relationships at age two. Brian was the little brother I never had. Brian also just "happened" to have Down syndrome. He was, and still is, a very significant part of my life. Brian gave the toast at my wedding (as well as my sister's wedding) and would have been a very special "uncle" to both of my kids.

Sadly, Brian passed away when Edison was just 4 months old. The first chance I had to introduce Edison to the family was when Brian died in April, 1995.

I firmly believe that part of Brian's purpose during his short life on earth (28 years) was to teach me about the precious gift that someone with Down syndrome is to a family. He was never anything but a joy in our lives. He made us laugh. He made us cry. He taught us to imagine and pretend. He showed us unconditional love.

. . .and I believe he prepared us for Caroline.

So tonight, re-acquainting her with Brian's parents will be a joy and delight. It will also be another chance for me to learn from them. One thing they taught me by their example is that Caroline is to be treated just like any other kid. When Brian got into trouble -- buddy, he got into trouble. He wasn't spoiled. He wasn't coddled. He was Brian. He was part of the family. He had chores, responsibilities, and expectations.

And that example has meant more to me than I can express.

So tonight, while eating a delicious dinner made by my mom (which includes my English Muffin bread -- currently cooling on the counter), we will spend time with people that I love. People that love me. People that love my kids.

And that makes today a great (albeit gray & rainy) day!

Now, stop reading and go bake some bread!!

Sunday, January 04, 2009


I posted earlier today, and was going to add these pictures to that post and call it "edited" but I decided, instead, to have just a post with some Christmas shots. So, here we go. They are in the order that you see them. . .not necessarily chronological:

Here is Lori (my sister) opening the present that I made for she and Chris. It's a rag quilt. I made a similar one for Steve & Bettie (Mark's brother and sister in law).

Here are Steve and Bettie and their quilt:

Along with some very cute Santa PJs, Caroline received an indoor/outdoor trampoline. Here's her look of delight at "jumping" on it. . .

And, there's always time to re-decorate the tree, if necessary.

They really are cute pajamas, aren't they?

While Lori's family was visiting, we went to the Christmas show at Country Tonite theater. We got to see Mike Caldwell play his harmonica. (Caroline listens intently for him)

We got to hear Kevin Wilson sing, "Angels Among Us" while the kids were on stage. Yes, that *is* Caroline sitting with Mark to Kevin's left.

At another point in the show, he sang a song about a girl being his Mistletoe Sweetheart. And yes, he came to our row -- and sang directly to Caroline. It was precious.

No show at Country Tonite is complete without Bubba. Here we met Bubba Claus. And yes, Bubba Claus's reindeer are named after NASCAR drivers. I loved that part!

I encourage you, if you're in our area sometime, to see the Country Tonite show. Even if you're not a huge fan of country music, you will enjoy the singing, dancing, and really cool costumes. They usually do a patriotic set (makes me cry) and a religious set. It's a great show!

Now, some random pics of my family. . . beginning with my nephew, Andrew.

Most of you should recognize Thing 1 and Thing 2 (otherwise known as Edison and my nephew, Daniel)
My precious Caroline and niece Becca -- who had just finished up "building" some new friends at Build-a-Bear. Caroline's bunny is named Maria, and Becca's bear is named Felicity (because she's Fabulous!)

Then there's some of the rest of us. Here you see my sister Lori (left) and Daniel playing the "Office" trivia game that we gave Daniel for Christmas. I believe this was the round that I won. Not that I'm bragging. . . .

And this would be my brother in law, Chris, who was either weary from losing the game, or from me taking pictures. You decide.

And there you have, in about 11 pictures, some highlights from our holiday season!!

Keepin' it Real

John, our new Associate Minister, preached this morning from the book of Haggai. Not an oft-read book, but one rich with truths for us. It was a great sermon. The worship service was good. . . the greatest ever, but it was good. And, I came away with a renewed sense of how I want to live this year.

I mentioned the other day that I am striving to eat better. It's true. I've been back to counting WW points for the past 48 hours. And, lo and behold, it hasn't killed me. In fact, today's lunch was especially yummy. I simply stir-fried some broccoli, onion, peas & carrots with some brown rice, 1/2 of a baked pork chop, and an egg. It filled my dinner plate -- and my tummy. Works for me.

So, I'm back to Fiber One bars (thanks to the pointer from Stephanie) and drinking gallons of Crystal Light. And yes, Melany, I am on the lookout for strange digestive things that happen when you drink 2 liters of grape flavored drink in one day. (trust me, it's weird)

What have I re-learned in the past 48 hours? A couple things:

1) eating healthy feels better than eating crappily
2) drinking more water leads to more exercise (esp. after age 40 and 2 kids!)
3) sleeping comes more easily and readily when you eat healthy

And yes, to all of those, you can loudly, but politely say: "Well, duh."

So, no great weight losses to report, but I feel great! And yes, come to think of it, snack time is just around the corner. Hmmmm, what will it be today????

Last night, I actually sat down and read for an hour or so. It was reading for work. But, it was still good to read. I also picked up a copy of Beth Moore's daily devotional "Praying God's Word" which is what I'm going to use here at home. I'm taking my copy of "My Utmost for His Highest" into the office. It really is time to make some significant spiritual and physical changes around here.

I'm also going to try to make some real strides on finishing projects that have yet to be completed. I think that goes hand-in-hand with the whole "simplify" idea very well. By ridding myself of the stress of unfinished projects, and completing them, I will get to clean stuff out (which I LOVE) and give things away (which I love even MORE). So, I'll do my best to keep you posted as those things transpire.

Here's something fun. . . . .One thing I learned over our holiday break was that my nephew reads my blog. (Hi, Daniel! You know you're my favorite, right?)

This revelation has brought about a new sense of "Holy crap, what have I been saying on here?" I'm reminded of the Seinfeld episode where Kramer takes Elaine's Christmas picture and in the picture, part of her breast is exposed. One of the most hilarious moments is when she has to apologize to her sister for the card -- and for the fact that her nephew is "hiding" her card under his mattress.

I don't want to type or publish anything that would corrupt my nephew--or my kid, for that matter. Edison doesn't read the blog nearly as often as Daniel does, or so it appears. (Daniel corrected me on Facebook where I mistakenly credited his dad for winning Round #2 of our New Year's Eve Office game). Sorry Daniel. You won. There. . .now the six people that read my blog know that you won, too. I'm sure we all feel better.

Well, I'm sure there's more I could say. . .but it's 2:00 on a sunny Sunday afternoon. I am seriously considering sending the kids outside to play. . . it's in the 60s here. I have some newly washed quilting fabric that needs to be ironed, and I've still got some work to do on Mom's table runner, and an afghan that's begun, but not completed.

And to top it off, I need to go change someone's pants, and use the restroom myself. Yep, it's life as usual around here!!

Happy Back-To-School Day tomorrow!!

Friday, January 02, 2009

Simplify - Part 2

I am not going to change my word for the year. My reasons?

Well, first off -- I really didn't simplify my life this past year. Call it a New Year's Resolution gone bad. Call it my inability to live up to my word.

Call it me being too cheap to go out and buy a new decoration. Remember?

I actually like it. And, I don't think it's a bad way to live for the rest of my days, really. And, since I can be practical and cheap at the same time, I'm sticking with it.


We've had a fun couple of days since Christmas. Mark and I enjoyed a great mini-getaway. His blog has all the details. . . well, some of them.

We have pictures, too. But, as I pointed out to him -- our pictures are of other stuff and not each other. We don't take many pictures of each other, our of ourselves.

New Year's Eve was spent here at our house with Lori's family and my parents. We laughed until we hurt. Daniel seems to be enjoying his gift (from us) of "The Office" trivia game. I won the first time. HA!! I think Chris won the 2nd game -- but honestly, we laughed so hard through it, I don't remember. And yes, that IS what she said!

I can also say (now) that I made Lori & Chris AND Steve & Bettie rag quilts for their Christmas presents. I think I have pictures of both of them opening their gifts. When I find those pics, I'll post them.

I gave my mom a quilted table runner (nearly finished). I have to finish the machine quilting on the border, and attach the binding. Then, I'll give it to her to actually USE.

I'm sure there's more to say and share. But, for now, I'm going to try to enjoy this last day at home with both kids. The key word in that sentence is "TRY" because they're fighting, fussing, and generally bugging the crap out of each other. That's right, Monday will NOT be here soon enough.

So, there it is -- my first post of 2009. I promise more pictures in the future. I promise more consistent posts. And, most of all, I promise to continue to walk you through my insane life as I do my best to simplify it!

What more can a girl do?