Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Taking root...

We need winds and tempests to exercise our faith,
to tear off the rotten bough of self-dependence,
and to root us more firmly in Christ.

Taken from C.H. Spurgeon's Morning and Evening.
To read the entire devotional, go here.

**Image hosted by allposters.com

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Saturday randomness

Do any of you fellow allergy sufferers ever have those times when your allergies hit you like a ton of bricks? That's how I felt when I awoke this morning. Sneezing like crazy, scratchy throat, watery eyes and even a headache. I knew it was my allergies because it started yesterday with a tightness in my chest every time I took a breath. It's been a bit windy here the past few days, and of course, that means all that lovely pollen is just blowing all over the place. Not fun!

I took Zach to a church function this morning and he ended up staying longer and going with two of our bible college students--Casey and Thomas--to do bus visitation. Zach helps with our church's Wednesday night program, King's Kids and many of the children who participate are picked up each Wednesday night by our church's bus ministry. Visitation is a time where someone from our church can connect with the children's parents and family, since it is usually just the children who come on the bus--although their parents are welcome too!

Rande is working at the fire station today, so with Zach gone and the fact that I wasn't feeling the greatest, I took some allergy medication and settled in for a quiet day at home--something that doesn't happen often around here!

I've talked to Ashleigh a few times (now that is something that happens often around here ::smile::), called my mom and started to read a few blogs. But then I decided I really should try to finish the book I'm reading, Living with Less--the Upside of Downsizing Your Life, by Mark Tabb. I love to read and I've always tried to make time to read each day, but I've found that since I started blogging, most of my reading time is spent online. And while I love reading blogs and such, I really miss holding a book in my hand and turning actual pages! So, I think I'm going to have to work on that one. : )

On a more somber note: a year ago today, my father-in-law passed away after months of being very ill with esophageal cancer. It's hard to believe a whole year has gone by. Actually, when I look back to our life a year ago--whew! It was by far, one of the hardest seasons we have faced as a family. My husband was flying back and forth to northern California to be with his dying father. My mother was hospitalized in Alabama with a serious case of pneumonia--and two days after being released from the hospital myself, I flew to Alabama with my pregnant daughter and infant grandson, to be with my mom. I ended up being too sick to make it home and had to have surgery in Alabama before flying back to California. Craziness!

But when I look back on that time, I don't just see the difficulties and hardships. I also see the amazing sufficiency of God's grace and His faithfulness in seeing our family through such a difficult trial. And it's this truth--that God's grace is sufficient and that He is good all the time--that I cling to when the trials come. He has never failed me--even when I'm weak and can hardly see through my own despair. (2 Corinthians 12:8-10, Romans 8:28)

So with that, I will end this totally random and disjointed post. Zach is home now and his friend Brock is over. And guess what? It's dinnertime and they are hungry! No surprise there! : ) Dinner is easy tonight--chicken sandwiches on whole wheat buns, with garlic and rosemary french fries.

May you all have a blessed Lord's Day tomorrow!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Being a Grammie means...

Instead of looking at the clock and thinking, "Oh please, just sleep a little longer..." You look at the clock and think, "Oh please, hurry and wake up!".

I know those of you who are grandmothers know exactly what I'm talking about.

I have so enjoyed Troy's little visit this week. We'll be heading out this afternoon to meet up with his mama and baby brother, who have been missing him very much.

I sure love my little guys...yes I do!

Blessings to you all, on this lovely Friday! : )

Thursday, April 24, 2008

We don't have to wonder where he gets it from...

Rande and Zach got up this morning and headed to chapel at our church's school, as we do most Thursday mornings. Troy and I played outside--digging in the dirt, blowing bubbles and playing fetch with the dogs.

But as soon as Zach got home, the whole atmosphere changed from plain ol' fun with Grammie, to wild and crazy times with Uncle Zach. They were singing and jumping around on the bed with their wacky hats, of course!

And this is why, when I saw two-year-old Troy playing by himself and wearing his Uncle Zach's silly hat from Disneyland--I was not surprised. Not. at. all. I know the picture is fuzzy, but it was just too cute. : )

Happy Thursday everyone!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Come take a look see...

Becky over at The Butler's Wife hosted a give-a-way last week...and I was one of the winners!

She's been making knitted dishcloths while watching American Idol each week. Isn't she smart? I think so! Because unlike me, who only eats popcorn while watching American Idol, Becky has been doing something productive. : )

And I am now a blessed recipient of one of her dishcloths! Isn't it so pretty?

Thank you, Becky! I received yesterday and I love it!

The happenings around here and a remodel update...

Are y'all having a good week? I hope so!

I'm busy here doing some cleaning, finishing up the laundry, correcting some of Zach's school work and finishing up a project I started over the weekend.

We have a "smallish" closet, so we can't keep all of our clothes and shoes in it year round. As the seasons change (winter/summer) I switch everything out, storing the off-season clothes. I'm careful to fold everything and store it nicely, but creases and fold lines need to be pressed out of some items, which makes this a project that takes a few days. Especially when we realized we had way more boxes of clothes than we thought, due to storing much of our belongings over the past few years of our remodel. We actually have too much and I've spent extra time weeding out what we don't need--and I'm sure I'll even get rid of more clothes. One of the positive things about our remodeling ordeal has been we realize we can live with less stuff--and that it's ok! But that's a whole 'nother post. : )

So I'm working hard to get all this stuff done today, in anticipation of our oldest grandson's arrival tomorrow. He was supposed to come last week, but due to him being sick, we postponed his visit to this week. We are so excited to have Troy--but when I reminded his Grandpa Dule what Troy had done during a few of his nap times last week, he promptly replied, "Well...he's not allowed to do that at our house." No. No he's not. Because I've already been there, done that. With his mama when she was his age. I don't want to relive that again thankyouverymuch!

Anyway, speaking of our remodel, it's been a long time since I've given an update and that's because there isn't a lot to say. I was hoping that by now I'd be able to post some before and after pictures, but we ran into a little problem and those before pictures are still packed away, with a lot of our other belongings. But trust me--I am not complaining. Our house is completely livable now and we aren't embarrassed if someone stops by for a visit. It's a hundred times better than it was even 6 months ago. I'm not complaining, no sir! : )

So here's the update: After going all gung-ho in December to get things back in order after the flooring was in, everything came to a halt again when it was time to do the baseboards and door trim. Because of his time schedule and lack of proper tools, Rande really wanted to pay someone to come in and just do it. But that proved to be easier said than done. We had a very hard time finding someone, anyone, who would do the job. Then in January a good friend who happens to be a carpenter, was going to do it and Rande would help him--but then Rande had his little snowboarding accident, got sick, had to work, ect...and by the time he was ready, our friend was tied up in another job. Bummer!

After realizing he was going to have to do it himself, Rande headed to Home Depot, bought one of the saws he needed (our friend is letting him use the other one as he needs it) and started the trim for the doors.
On his days off he sets up a little work station out on the patio and goes to it! It's a little slow going because he has such an erratic and busy schedule being a Fire Captain and teaching at the fire academy, but it's worth it because he's actually having fun! : ) Zach and I are really proud of him too!

And as for my part in all of this? I'm just hanging tight right now. I purchased new bedroom furniture back in December and a few other items (like the chair and pottery below--and curtains for our family room) to get our house looking like a home again, but I've held off on purchasing anything else (or bringing in any more of our stored items) until the baseboards are finished. We didn't like the idea of having to move more furniture around than necessary--and without all of the furniture in it's "place", it's hard to think of the details that pull everything together like window coverings and wall decorations. At least that's how it is with me. Some of you might be able to do it without baseboards and door trim, but not me. Nope. Too stressful. : )

So that's the haps around here. Good stuff. I hope there's good stuff happening in your neck of the woods. Happy Tuesday!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Blast from the past...

Ok. So I use Google Maps all the time for directions--because you know, I'm always driving. : ) I've also done the see my house from the satellite view thingy, which is actually pretty cool.

But-did you know that you can also type in an address, click Street View and right there before your eyes is an actual--get this--street view! It's as if you are standing in the street, looking toward the house (or school, park, ect...). It is the coolest thing! I found my two childhood homes, my schools and my grandparents home. So with the help of Google Maps, I relived my entire childhood last night!

The neatest thing is that the view is panoramic, so not only did I see my house, but I saw Chris and Jeremy's house next door (resident neighborhood bullies), Little Michelle's house (dubbed Little Michelle because she was three years younger than me) and Debbie's house across the street (good buddy and faithful ally during the many "wars" we had with Chris and Jeremy).

I clicked on the little directional arrows and it was as if I were walking down my street. So I kept "walking" and followed the path I took to school each day and ended up at my elementary school. Then I went around the block and found my best friend Robin's house. How cool is that?!

Now I have to tell you. I wasn't doing all this reliving by myself. Rande had fallen asleep during my little blast from the past, but Zach was still awake. : ) So I dragged him along with me. He was such a good sport as I reminisced about my childhood. I think it was actually fun for him to see the places that go along with the stories he's heard his entire life. But the funniest thing--for both of us--was when we found what has always been known in the stories from my childhood as "The Big, Steep Hill Where Mom Sprained Her Ankle While Skateboarding Down At Lightening Speed".

As I started following the arrows up the hill, Zach started laughing. I told him to just wait until we got to the top. He'd see then that it really is a big, steep hill. He looked at me and just smiled. Such a good boy, huh?! Anyway, we got to the top and because the view is panoramic, we were able to look down the hill. Zach started laughing again and said, "Wow, Mom! That is quite the incline!". Whatever. All I know is that something must have happened to that hill, because it was big and it was steep. At least it was 30 years ago. : )

Who would have thought you could have so much fun at Google Maps? I will say this, if you lived or live in a more rural area, as we do now, the street view option might not be available yet. But Ashleigh and Zach saw the Google Maps car driving around here a few months ago, so it will probably be available soon. Keep trying--and have your own blast from the past!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The resident blog hacker/designer/daughter strikes again!

If you're looking for the real most recent post, scroll down.

This is just Mishel's daughter, Ashleigh, hacking in to tell you all that I'm freaking out about the look of this blog at the moment.

I realized last night that unless you've been viewing this blog in only Internet Explorer since January, you are seeing something much different than what it's supposed to look like.

This is the way I designed it to look:

And then, when you scroll down:


Um, if you are in Firefox or Opera or on a Mac or anything else, you see that we clearly have a problem here.

I'm going to be making some slight major adjustments over the next couple days and hopefully soon, you'll ALL be seeing the correct look.

This is clearly not my finest designing moment. Ahem.

Resident hacker and blog messer-upper, signing off!

What about you?

I paid $3.73 for gas yesterday.

It's the second time this week I've had to pay that price. I'm just thankful it wasn't in the $3.80-3.89 range I saw elsewhere.

We do a lot of driving. My husband drives 35 miles one way to the fire station, then when he's teaching at the fire academy he drives another 130 miles. All of our doctors, dentist, orthodontist and any real shopping we need to do are down the hill--and that's another 80+ miles round trip. Zach's fiddle lessons are a 240 mile round trip, which we are doing every week right now because of an upcoming fiddle contest. And driving to Ashleigh's is almost the same distance as fiddle lessons. See? I told you we do a lot of driving! : )

The money we are spending on gas is ridiculous and has definitely affected our budget. It's caused us to think twice about going anywhere unless we absolutely have to, and when we do go, I try to do other errands at the same time. And even though we live in a small town where everything is, at the most, a 10 minute drive away--I try to only go out when I need to and have more than one place to go.

This is why we are thinking about replacing my 8 year old Jeep Cherokee (which has 145,000+ miles on it) with a hybrid vehicle this year. We are doing the research and so far, it's looking like it would save us money. We aren't planning on moving any time soon, which means we will always have to drive quite a distance to get anywhere besides church, Walmart or the grocery store. (Oh yeah, and Home Depot! How could I forget about our new Home Depot?!)

So my question to you is: What are you paying for gas right now? And how have the rising gas prices affected your life?

I know for us, it's meant tightening our belts in other areas which has actually been a good thing. I'm not happy about spending nearly $4 a gallon for gas, but it's been good to pay more attention to how and where we spend our money--and it's made us see where we can definitely be more frugal.

And guess what? Today I don't have to go anywhere! Woohoo!

But tomorrow is Zach's fiddle lesson and I'll be right back at the pump. Great.

Happy Thursday! : )

Monday, April 14, 2008

Jammin' at the coffee house

Our little desert town has a reputation for being a bit eclectic. There is something about the desert landscape that draws creative-type people here. One of those people is Zach's first fiddle teacher, Bob. We like Bob. He's a funny guy and great musician. Zach misses listening to and discussing Bob's insights regarding life--even though Zach didn't usually agree with those insights. Still, in the two years Zach took lessons from Bob, they developed a neat teacher-student relationship.

So yesterday afternoon, Bob held a little recital. And even though Zach hasn't been a student of his for a few years, he invited Zach to participate. It was totally a "Bob" kind of event, which meant it was nothing like the formal, well planned piano recitals Ashleigh used to participate in when she was a teenager. Not that this wasn't planned--it's just that nobody really knew what the plan was until right before they got up to play. : )

This recital was held at a coffee house here in town. We have a Starbucks, which is nice, but this coffee house is very cool, very eclectic, very hip. Just the place where someone like Bob would hold a recital. Because he's cool, a little eclectic and very hip. : )

There were students of all ages--this little girl was the youngest. She played a teeny-tiny violin. Too cute! And that's her mama looking on--also a student and just two weeks away from giving birth to her fourth child!

Zach got up and played few tunes, ending with my favorite--an old timey version of Amazing Grace.

It was so neat when Bob and Zach got up at the end and played a few songs together. I know they look very serious, but they really were having a great time!

Everyone did a great job--and the patrons of the coffee house were treated to a little show. : ) It turned out to be the perfect place for a recital. But the best part of the afternoon, was when I was able to spend some time talking to an old friend. She's not old in age--she's only 20, but I've known her since she was about 7 or 8. Our families were once very close, but because of some sad and difficult circumstances, we don't talk much anymore.

I knew my young friend worked at the coffee house and I had been praying all week that she would be there on Sunday afternoon. Wouldn't you know, she was actually not working on Sunday but she was there anyway--just hanging out. Coincidence? I don't think so.

It was really good to see her. And after the recital we just sat and talked for a long time. Her life is very hard right now--partly because of things that have taken place in her family, but also because of her own choices. She wants to believe these choices will lead her to find acceptance, happiness and peace. But it was obvious from what she was telling me that this is not what she's finding on the path she's walking right now. The Lord used our time together for me to listen and then to remind her of what I know she knows in her heart--that He loves her so much and is waiting for her to turn back to Him. She knows.

I wish we could have talked longer, but we needed to get Zach and his friend Brock back to church for choir practice. I promised my young friend I would be praying for her, that I loved her and we'd talk again soon. Please be praying for her--the Lord knows her name. Thank you.

I thought we were just going to listen to a little jammin' at the coffee house--but God had other plans. : )

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Saturday...in full swing

Saturday chores...
laundering towels and bath rugs
meal plans for the upcoming week

Zach washing screens and windows (to earn some extra $$)

Firefighter hubby left early this morning to work his 24 hour shift...
with a warm fried egg sandwich to keep him company on his commute. : )

Hoping you are having a blessed day as well!

**Image by allposters.com

Friday, April 11, 2008

My lips shall praise thee...

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;
To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.
Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.
Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:
When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.
Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.
My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.

Psalm 63:1-8

Blessings to you on this lovely Friday...

**Image by allposters.com

Thursday, April 10, 2008

It was a hit...

The broccoli slaw, that is. It was the perfect accompaniment to the Sloppy Joes I made last night for dinner--and the best part is there are leftovers!

I've made broccoli slaw before (it's just pre-packaged shredded broccoli stalks and shredded carrots) with mayo, a dash of Splenda or sugar, salt and pepper. But last night I made an actual coleslaw "dressing" (mayo, sugar and vinegar), cut up some Fuji apples and threw in some dried cranberries--as per the suggestions on the back of the slaw bag. It was delicious!! I wanted to add some chopped pecans, but Zach can't have nuts because of his braces. Bummer, huh?! Next time I may just have to set some slaw aside for him and then add the pecans for the rest of us.

So yeah. Dinner last night was really good. And really easy. And there are leftovers. Perfect! : )

Blessings to you!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

These are a few of my favorite things...

Hormone free chicken
whole wheat hamburger buns--for our Sloppy Joe dinner tonight
organic milk
organic produce
english muffins made only with ingredients you would use at home
whole wheat pasta--for chicken fettuccine alfredo tomorrow night
fat-free carmel popcorn

Ok, so I know that last one should go into the "which one doesn't belong here?" category. : ) But it is one of my favorite things to purchase when I go to one of my favorite stores--Trader Joe's. And yesterday I made a stop at TJ's to pick up a few things.

I love Trader Joe's. I just wish I lived closer to one because if so, I'd be there every week. The closest store is almost an hour away, so I don't get there often unless I'm already down in what we high-desert folks call the lower desert or down-the-hill. Which is where I found myself yesterday. And the day before, but that's a whole 'nother story. : )

Cooking my family healthy and nutritious meals is important to me. Having good food in the house is important to all of us (with some treats of course!). And it's something that because of our remodel, was very challenging to do over the past few years. We ate a lot of take-out and convenience foods because of the upheaval going on in our home and I didn't realize how much I missed actually being able to cook good meals for my family, until I couldn't do it.

Like most people, we have to watch what we spend (especially with gas prices here in CA creeping up towards $4 a gallon) but there are ways to eat healthy and have it not break your budget. I think the key is to do what you can, when you can. You can read a very good and balanced post at Biblical Womanhood regarding eating healthy on a budget. Many of the tips she shares are the very same ones we implemented when we had a young family. I made my own bread, belonged to a co-op, ect... If you are interested, you can read the article here. Another good resource that I gleaned a lot of help from were the Sue Gregg cookbooks. They are very user friendly and have a ton of information on cooking healthy meals.

So now I'm off to make Sloppy Joes and broccoli slaw. I know it's not the healthiest of meals, but you can improvise to make it healthier (like using ground turkey instead of ground beef and whole wheat buns) and if you want a quick and very easy Wednesday-before-church meal--then this is a good one and it's better than fast food. The Sloppy Joe recipe comes from my Southern Living Homestyle Cooking cookbook which is still packed away with all of our other books--but I actually found it on another blog here. Enjoy!

Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sweet rest...

This was me this afternoon...
After church and lunch.
Magazine in hand (Good Housekeeping, June 1959, picked up from an antique store)
drooping lids, until my eyes finally gave in and closed.

It has been a good week, but long.
With lots of driving to and fro.
How good of the Lord to give me today...
sweet fellowship at church, sweet fellowship with my family
and sweet rest.

It was a wonderful Lord's Day.
I hope yours was too!

*Image by allposters.com

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Welcome to Birthday Central!

That's what it feels like around here.

Between the end of February until now, we've celebrated (in one way or another) no less than ten birthdays. Yes, ten. Isn't that crazy?! It's been a lot of fun though!

Last weekend we made the journey to northern California to surprise my sister-in-law on her 50th birthday. (She occasionally reads my blog, so I couldn't tell y'all where we were going.) Kathe was *very* surprised by all the family and friends that came in to celebrate this special birthday and her daughters did a great job planning the whole event.

Then on Tuesday we took Ashleigh to Seaworld for her birthday celebration. We had a great time as we touched the dolphins, fed the bat-rays, saw sea lions do crazy stunts and had lunch with Shamu. It was hard not having John there to enjoy the celebration (or Rande because he was working), but I think we succeeded in helping Ashleigh have a fun day.

Our final celebration will be Troy's birthday party this Saturday. Last year for his 1st birthday, his great-grandpa Richard was very ill and we weren't able to do much celebrating. This year his birthday fell in between Easter and his Aunt Kathe's surprise party--so this Saturday is his day. At this point Troy thinks every day is someone's birthday! He walks around constantly saying, "Happy Birthday!".

So after this weekend, I think Birthday Central will close down for a while. At least until June when it all starts up again. : )

Blessings to you all...and have a GREAT weekend!

Comfort food...

Warm egg salad...on white bread. Dee-lish! : )

(Surely I'm not the only person whose family thinks it hilarious that she takes pictures of their food before it can be eaten?LOL It's my hubby's fault that he bought me such a great/fun camera for my b-day last year.)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Happy Birthday Ashleigh!

Yep, it's true. She's an April Fool's Day baby--but she was no joke! I went into labor on March 31st and thought for sure Ashleigh would be born that day. But as the evening wore on, it became more apparent that she would indeed be born on April Fool's Day.

She made her entrance at 12:32 am and was the most beautiful little baby I'd ever seen. I just could not get over the fact that she was mine. This baby belonged to me. Oh yeah--and her daddy! : ) And so began one of the most wonderful, exciting, blessed and exhausting (believe me, she's laughing at that adjective) relationships I've ever known. I couldn't ask for a sweeter and more precious daughter. She is truly a gift and joy to her daddy and I and we love her more and more with each passing day. We are proud of her and the woman she has become and thank the Lord for giving to us such a precious gift.

Happy Birthday Baby Girl!
We love you!!

and because I thought you'd love to see one of her many talents...

Blessings to you!