Saturday, October 28, 2006

Poker Night

Last night my parents came over and the four of us played Marbles, a game his dad made that is similar to Aggravation, where each player moves 4 marbles around the board with the desired result being that your team (girls against guys) gets all of your marbles into "home" first. It's fun, and it gets pretty intense toward the end! The guys won, but Mom and I only had ONE measly marble left to make it into home. No fair!

Then we taught Mom how to play poker. That was fun, and she did really well, too! She was actually winning, but then Mike ran out of chips (a thing that almost never happens, as he is a very good poker player) and it was getting late (time really does fly when you're having fun!), so we stopped playing.

Mike loves to go play free poker at the local places. He's really good and usually ends up in the top few out of around 30 players. Of course, I think it is because I always support him with a "Go, Fight, Win!!" as he walks out the door, but who knows.

I'm debating whether to stay up an hour later tonight or get an extra hour of sleep. With as many good books as I'm reading and studying right now, I will probably use this opportunity to stay up later. We'll see!

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Week to Remember

Our week of fun and scary times is almost over! It has been a week filled with cozy moments, wild boys, a husband who I am learning more about every day, and a couple of pretty tense hours throughout the surgery of our precious little baby.

Mike took this week off of work knowing that Sammy would be having his surgery on Thursday. I am so very glad he did, because I needed the extra week of support he was able to give me leading up to the surgery time. And this was a very minor surgery! I can't imagine my children being in severe pain or having to go through major surgery. It makes me cry just to think about it, and to think about all of the parents I know whose children have gone through major health issues and some extremely scary times. I am so glad we have a God who loves us and is near to us even when hard times come and things happen that we don't think we can get through. I feel so blessed when I watch Oprah and see all of the suffering and heartache around the world and know that most of that I will never have to go through (unless I become a foreign missionary at some point in my life, but right now I know we're right where God wants us to be).

Sammy's surgery went very smoothly and we could not have asked for a better surgeon or nurses. The only time he was really in pain and mad was when he was in recovery, and they came to get me to see if I could calm him down. The only problem was that the bottle they were trying to feed him wasn't warm enough for him. Easily solved, and he was soon a happy little baby sucking down the first food he'd had in 8 hours. Mike was called back to the recovery room soon after, and good thing, because he was more anxious than I was to see our little boy get safely out of that hospital. Mike isn't comfortable in doctor's offices and hospitals, and he really just wanted to go home! Sammy was fine after a nice long nap at home, and he didn't even need any more of his pain medicine today. He was jumping and giggling in his crib this morning, and is acting like nothing ever happened to him. He's back to his normal little self!

Mike and I have baked 3 apple pies and an apple crisp this week. There is an apple tree close to our home that no one is picking apples from, so we've been taking advantage of its abundance of red, sweet, crunchy apples -- after getting permission from the owner, of course. We even gave him one of our pies. He mentioned that the apples would make great pies, so we felt it was only right! I got a good tip from my grandma, who said that her mother (who recently passed away shorty after her 100th birthday; she was born in 1905) would put the pie filling into a pie pan, then freeze it and store it until she was ready to make the crust, and then she could thaw out just the right amount. I'm not sure if Great-Grandma had apple trees, but I know she grew strawberries and lots of other yummy veggies, because she made the BEST strawberry jam I've ever tasted, and would make the world's yummiest chicken and noodles over mashed potatoes when we went to visit. And her green beans... yum! We always ate too much.

I had a day off on Wednesday, and went to some fun stores, including Old Time Pottery with a friend. We had so much fun, and they are beginning to put out their Christmas merchandise, so it was fun to talk and plan and dream. It's an absolutely enormous store, so it's easy to get overwhelmed, but the prices are awesome, and it's totally worth the drive.

Mike goes back to work next week, and then he gets the week after that off. I love vacation time!

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Yesterday was so great! I had a Fall Get-It-Together (kind of a get-organized-before-Christmas-comes thing) at my house. It was a lot of fun, and we got so much done!! I made some cards for some new "card customers" of mine (the ones in the picture), a friend got 3 scrapbook pages done (she only has 997 more to go! yay!), another friend made her Halloween cards (SO cute, I need pictures of them!!), and my aunt and cousin worked on some pretty Christmas bookmarks (I think they even finished them!) and will come back to make some cards later. It was a blast, and we all felt like we had accomplished a lot at the end of the day. It's fun to share supplies and ideas and creativity with other people, and there was a lot of that going on!

Griffin asked one of my friends if he could have one of her booglie eyes, and she found a good spot for it. We all got a good laugh out of that one! He kept asking her for more because that one had almost lost its "sticky", and he finally (after much begging, "pleeeeease???"ing, and maybe one episode of puppy dog eyes) wrangled another one out of her. The resulting picture was worth it.

Mike was a darling and watched the boys while we girls had our fun, and kept them out of our hair for the most part. It's impossible to tell little boys to completely stay away from their Mommy while she is still in the house, so I still got my snuggles in here and there.

I can't wait to do that again. I used to have monthly scrapbooking get-togethers, but those stopped when Sammy was born. It was hard for me to carry all of my supplies up room the basement after having my 2nd C-Section in 2 years. I can't wait until we have the basement fixed up so that we can have people just come down there! There really isn't much to it, but it's going to cost a little bit to get it done. More chairs (I'm not hauling my heavy dining room chairs down there, I'll get a hernia), more lights (it's a basement, it needs light), less kitty stink (Cleo couldn't figure out where the litter box was, it must have been too small), and less clutter (all of my scrapbooking and card-making supplies are spilling over from my office to the floor outside the room). Really, it shouldn't be that hard, it just takes time.

Mike and I were in the nursery this morning. We had to combine the Under 1's class with the 1 year old class, but once we got the music going and the criers stopped crying, it went great! We are finding out just how much work it takes to keep a church nursery going (especially a church that meets in a school). Every week, we have to have people to move the desks in 3 classrooms, set up all of the nursery supplies for each room, watch the children during church, and take down the rooms and set the desks back up after church. It sounds exhausting, and it would be without as many people helping as we have. We don't have quite enough volunteers just yet, but we're working on it! Everyone is very busy, so it's tough to mesh everyone's schedules together and come up with a volunteer schedule that works for everyone, but it's getting done, and everyone has been very cooperative and generous with their time.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Cleo and Miles

Miles and Cleo have a love-hate relationship. Most of the time, they chase each other around the house biting, scratching and generally just fighting with each other and stalking one another. Then there are rare occasions when I will catch them like this, all curled up on the couch together, with Miles giving Cleo a little tongue bath.

Sleeping Beauty or Beast?

Mike worked the "late shift" yesterday (10-7pm), and then he got a new project to work on (they call it a PMR, as opposed to a PMS, which is what I feel like I'm going into whenever he calls me to tell me he has to work late -- I love you, Babe!) at the last minute, so he didn't make it home until almost 8 last night. I feel for all of the women whose husbands work odd shifts or late hours, because we really treasure our evenings with Daddy.

I got some precious pictures of Sammy, who fell asleep (!!) while drinking his bottle in his high chair (he may not take many naps, but he holds his own bottle!). He slept for about 5 minutes, and jerked every time the camera flashed. maybe I should have taken advantage of the precious time I had with him falling asleep, but I couldn't resist taking these pictures.

Griffin loves his pumpkin, and he wants to hold it whenever he sees it. I gave it to him to hold for a while yesterday afternoon, and he snuggled up with it on the couch... too cute!

Sammy is upstairs in his room right now crying so loud I think the window in there might just crack soon. I am going to put him in his bed when he starts to act tired and just let him cry for an hour or so until he figures out that he feels better after sleeping for an hour than he does after crying for an hour. Anyone want to place bets on how well THAT will work?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Pumpkins and Cake

Today was my mom's birthday, so we went to my sister Christy's house to celebrate. She has 4 children (3 girls ages 7-4 and a baby boy) who love to get together with Griffin and Sammy and have fun. Christy's house is very close to ours, as is Mom and Dad's, so we can see each other as often as we want to, which is nice. I know some people don't have that luxury, and it makes me appreciate it even more!

The kids made "pumpkins" out of paper bags, and they all ended up with paint all over their faces because Jorge, Christy's husband, put a drop of paint on one of the girls' cheeks and then they all HAD to have paint put on their faces too.

While Mom and I helped the kids with their art project, "the guys" -- Dad, Jorge, Mike and Wesley (my 17-year-old brother) -- played pool. Then we went upstairs and played poker. Well, the guys and I did. I was the only interested female. I'm learning a lot about playing poker, and it's fun! I would never play with money, I don't like to gamble, but free poker is nice.

After poker, Christy and I started cooking. She made a delicious pot roast and I made some yummy sour cream and onion mashed potatoes. We also had veggies and dinner rolls. A very tasty meal! We had already had the cake and ice cream when we got there 3 hours earlier, so we were pretty full when we got done eating.

I had fun listening to Mike and my family banter about math-type problems. Okay, here's one. If you have 3 doors, and there is money behind one door, and you choose one door and then one of the wrong doors that you didn't choose is eliminated, is it better to switch doors or stay with the one you originally chose in order to end up with the money? The men said switch, the women said it didn't matter... Wesley is going to write a computer program to do a trial and see which one works more often. And Dad and Mike did their famous card tricks on each other. They both know one, so they did them on each other and then *gasp* explained how they did them for us! Now I know how it's done... at least until the next get-together, I tend to forget these things quickly.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Mama's Boy

I had to take a picture of myself since it seems I am always the one behind the camera!

Today was not like yesterday at all. Sammy slept for about 20 minutes while I held him, and then he was ready to get up and conquer the world (or at least his small part of it) for the rest of the day! The picture on top shows what I was looking at most of the day. Sammy followed me around the house and pulled himself up on my legs every time I stopped long enough for him to catch me. Well, what can I say? I wanted the second baby to be a snuggler, since Griffin just can't make too much time for it in his busy day, and I sure got one! I just wasn't expecting him to want to be held SO much. But he will outgrow it as soon as he is able to walk, I'm sure. He'll be chasing Griffin around the house and infringing on the little man's territory. Then I'll go from snuggly Mommy to referee.

I love watching them grow and change and learn new things every day! Sammy has been clapping now for a few days, and he just gets so tickled when we do it with him. Griffin touched his pointer fingers together and his thumbs together and said "Triangle, Mommy!" as we were walking up the stairs to put him to bed tonight. He must have picked that up from the older kids at Bible study. It's just fun to see what they will come up with next! I read somewhere that we spend the first two years of our childrens' lives teaching them to walk and talk, and the next 16 years trying to get them to sit down and be quiet. I got a good laugh out of that one! I'm sure I'll be finding out about all of that soon enough. For now, though, I'm going to enjoy my little boys as much as they enjoy me!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Restful Day

This post won't be too long since I already posted once today. I had a wonderful day, beginning with my Women's Life meeting this morning (I pay $10 for childcare for 2 hours, but it's worth it!) and then the boys napped after lunch until almost dinnertime! The meeting was really fun. We're discussing the book For Women Only -- what you need to know about the inner lives of men by Shaunti Feldhahn. Today we discussed Chapter 6, "Sex Changes Everything". Enough said!

I had mulling spices and cider on the stove almost all day today. After my rousing talk to myself about the "indulgences" I should indulge in more often, I decided to... well... indulge myself! It was wonderful. Now for the cleaning part...

I bought my mom's birthday present today! But just in case she reads this, I won't say what it is. Mike let me go out and take part of my weekly night off tonight. I also went to Children's Orchard this evening to get the boys some cold weather clothes and PJ's. I found some totally cute stuff! But I always do when I go there. I love consignment children's clothing stores! It's just not worth it to buy new clothes for growing boys. Griffin is 28 months old and still wearing 12 month pants (but then, so is Sammy, and he's only 8 months old!), so it is frustrating for me to try to find ones that are long enough for Griffin but don't fall down and reveal whatever cartoon character happens to be on his diaper. We used to tell him "Griffin, we can see Elmo!" or when he was dirty, "Let's go change your Elmo!" but we have recently switched diaper brands after discovering that Luvs (Blue's Clues) leak a whole lot less than Pampers (sorry, Elmo). Except for this morning. For some reason Griffin's diaper was really full this morning, and when he climbed into bed with us and laid down (which rarely happens, but it was too early for any of us to get up yet) he made a nice big wet spot on the sheet under him. The sheets are in the drier right now. Nothing like being short on sheets to make the laundry go more quickly!


So last night there was supposed to be a meeting of the weight loss life group I am leading at my house. I wasn't quite prepared for it, so when everyone called and said they couldn't make it, I was actually a bit relieved! I love our meetings though. We're reading Dr. Phil's book The Ultimate Weight Solution: Seven Keys to Weight Loss Success, and the book along with the support of my girlfriends in the group (combined with the fact that I am leading the group!) has been wonderful in helping me to get to a healthy weight, which I haven't been at since I was an adolescent. I have lost 12 pounds in 4 weeks, and I have 73 more to go. I don't know what I'm going to look like at my healthy weight (which is 160 lbs. considering my height and bone structure), but I'm going to find out, and I can't wait! It is a slow process, because I didn't want to lose it all really quickly with a diet that I couldn't stick to for the rest of my life. I really think it's all about lifestyle changes, eating better and exercising regularly (I know, everyone else on planet Earth knows this, but it is an epiphany for me.) and learning how to turn off my self-talk that tells me I am constantly hungry, even an hour after I've eaten a big meal. I am drinking much more water, and when I think I'm hungry I get a big glass of water and drink that, wait twenty minutes (or longer if I get interrupted by a little boy!) and if I'm still feeling hungry I get something to eat, usually a granola bar or a piece of fruit.

I took this picture because I wanted to capture the sensation of having a pumpkin spice candle burning and cider with mulling spices bubbling away on the stove. The scent is one of my favorites on earth, and is the reason I named this blog what I did. Every time I read the name of my blog, I am reminded of one of my favorite things, and it makes me happy. This is what my stovetop looked like last night, and since no one was around to enjoy it but us, I figured I'd try to capture it for others to enjoy. Isn't it strange that when it comes to enjoying things in life, we think we can't do them just by ourselves? I always wait until a special occasion (people coming to visit, etc.) before I will use the mulling spices, or my favorite candles, or even before I'll deep clean my house (shame on me!). But seriously, shouldn't we do these things for our families every day? This is a big lesson for myself, because I am one of the worst at keeping up on laundry and dishes and controlling clutter (Flylady would be ashamed of me!). It seems I am always making a "special effort" to do these things that most everyone else just does normally.

For instance, I pulled out the sponge mop and the hardwood floor cleaner and mopped the floor yesterday (well, at least the part of the floor that is blocked from little boys by the child gates, since they were both awake when I was doing this). I felt a great sense of accomplishment when I was done, and Mike must have said 5 times how nice the floor looked! Now, I am a Swiffer girl, so for me to have put forth this much effort to clean the floor was a big step for me, but the Swiffer just doesn't seem to clean as deeply as the sponge mop does, so I decided to "go the extra mile" to get the house clean for the guests we didn't end up having over. But just knowing how much my husband appreciates a clean home makes me really want to work harder on keeping it up! I think I'll go do my 27-Fling Boogie now, and make Flylady proud (visit, if you are brave).

Monday, October 09, 2006

Mama Got a Break

Sammy loves his vanilla teether biscuits! He enjoyed one today, as you can see! What you can't see is that he is also covered in sticky brown vanilla-scented cookie from his chest down to his knees. I had to hose him down in the sink after he chewed on it for 20 minutes. And what a glorious 20 minutes it was! I actually got to empty the dishwasher without him climbing inside of it or pulling out the bottom rack. Small blessings. Oh, and Sammy has a new habit. He sounds like a little Hispanic baby practicing rolling his r's all day. He used to only do it when he was extremely mad, but today he did it all day long, even when he was smiling and happy. I had fun doing it with him. I'm sure glad nobody is here to listen to us, we probably sounded pretty hysterical!

Griffin watched "Caillou" this morning, his favorite PBS show about a 4-year-old little boy, and today Caillou got to play ice hockey. So all during lunch Griffin was talking about hockey. "Caillou play hockey! Bippin want play hockey TOO!!" So I found a big paint mixer stick and another stick for me (one that Griffin "found" last week that looks like it might have been a vital part of a piece of furniture at one point) and I sat on the coffee table with my stick (I was goalie) and he stood across the room and whacked his little Chuck E. Cheese ball as hard as he could until he got it to go under the table (my legs served as a nice "goal"). This went on for about 45 minutes, which is the longest period of time this hyper little boy has played at one thing, I believe.

Mike and I got to go out to dinner tonight! We left the boys with a trusted friend whom they both adore and went to Granite City Food and Brewery, which has wonderful food and very good service. I had their artichoke and spinach (yes, they were serving spinach!) chicken sandwich. It was served on grilled whole wheat bread with waffle fries. SO yummy, but I really could not finish it all! This whole "eating better" thing is starting to affect me... I think my stomach has shrunk. Used to be, I would have eaten the whole thing so quickly I wouldn't have even registered that I was full, and then I would have gone home and had some kind of dessert on top of that! Sheesh.

We got done eating and still had the sitter for 2 hours longer, so we considered going to a movie but decided to go buy one at Wal-Mart instead. So instead of spending 17 dollars for the theater experience, we bought Little Women ( one of my favorite movies) and 3 pumpkins to decorate the front walk, all for $14.85. Can't beat that!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Getting Started

This is my first post on this blog, and I am so excited! I won't post names except for those of my immediate family because I know there are some people who don't want the world to know who they are and where they live! This is a place I will come to write about exciting things that have happened during the day or week, prayer requests that I have, cozy moments spent with my family, recipes I love that I want to share, and my personal journey of weight loss and building healthy eating habits. So, here goes...

I discovered yesterday that Griffin (2 years and 4 months old) knows more than I realized! I was curled up on the sofa and he brought me My First Truck Board Book and snuggled down in my lap and proceeded to tell me what all of the trucks were. "Roller (his favorite truck of all time), dump truck, scraper, fire truck, crane, pickup truck ("DADDY drive the pickup truck," he informed me, "and Bippin drive the van!!"), monster truck, car carrier, and on and on with me just sitting there with my mouth open. Normally we'd sit down and I would proceed to read through the book -- an event that occurs at least twice a day if he has his way -- with him repeating the truck names quietly, or not so quietly, after me. So I really didn't know just how much he really understood until I let him talk. I should do that more often!

My husband Mike and his friend cut down ten trees yesterday, and they will finish chopping them up and hauling them away next weekend. It is a huge amount of work, and they were both sore today. They worked from 9 am until almost 8 pm. No wonder they were worn out!

We had a leadership meeting after church this morning. The pastor and another leader in the church discussed how important the volunteers in the church are, and it got pretty emotional. Quite a few of us shed tears as he talked about the rewards that God has planned for those who serve Him and are good stewards of everything that He gives us. It is hard to see -- especially if you just live day to day and don't look at "the big picture" -- how what you do affects others' lives. Just this morning I talked to the father of a little boy whose family has been visiting the church for a few weeks. He told me that his son starts running to the nursery as soon as he sets him down inside the church (we meet at a local high school). He was just amazed and said he has never seen his little boy so excited to go anywhere. I almost cried, being the emotional person that I am. Mike and I were so blessed to be asked to take this position of leadership! We have been the coordinators for the Baby's Life program (0-3 year olds) for a month now, and it is a lot of work and stress and trying to find people to cover for other people in the nursery, but it is so worth it! Plus, we get to go to the Christmas dinner for free this year, and it normally costs $50 per couple. Yippee!!

Sammy (8 months old) is cutting his 7th tooth. He started teething when he was 4 months old, and I can't wait until he's done! Of course, by then he'll be 2, and that's a whole other set of difficulties. It seems like he has had a runny, stuffy nose for a solid 4 months now. And he has taken to burying his sweet little face in my shirt and wiping it on me! He is also quite mobile, not walking yet (unless he's holding on to my pant leg and I am tugging him along) but he can crawl so fast that he keeps up with me all day long. His 20 minute nap in the morning -- the only nap he takes all day -- just isn't quite long enough for me to get all of the cleaning and laundry and dishes done, so I have to sneak it in here and there when he is distracted. Really, though, he is the sweetest little baby in the world. He just wants to cuddle all day, and I am much too... something... to just sit there and let the world pass me by. Maybe I should slow down and smell the Johnson and Johnson's, but it is SO hard for me! That's something I'm sure I'll regret later in life. I'll probably wish I had sat and stroked his baby-soft skin and buried my nose in his fuzzy hair and let the laundry sit. On the other hand, there are those who would say that I usually let the laundry (and dishes!) sit far too often, and I need to put more effort into my homemaking skills. There is a balance there somewhere, perhaps I should try to find it! In the meantime I will just write about it.