Faith, Family, Friends, Fellowship, Food, and Fun

Friday, October 31, 2008

An Unbelievable Statement

While reading an article about "Mommy Wars", I ran across this video of Barak Obama and I was shocked and extremely disturbed by his statement about if his daughters ever got pregnant by accident. I have watched a lot of CNN and FOX News these passed few months but I have never seen this clip before. It turned my stomach.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Little Bit OCD

So, in case you don't know me personally, let me tell you, I'm an OCD list maker. That's right, I make lists of everything: vacation ideas, party ideas, menus, holiday activities, all the recipes I love to prepare for the family, and so on. I have a family binder to keep track of all my lists, I guess you could say it's a family planner. There are several tabs including a tab for each child. That's where I have been organizing their records from our trips to the doctor. Whenever I have an idea and think to myself that I'll have to try it next year, I put it in my trusty little binder.

There is one list that I must say I'm awfully proud of. It is a list of all the groceries I buy at a particular store in town. It's in spreadsheet format and I have organized it according to how I travel through the store. For example, as you enter the store, you are in the produce section so I have all my produce listed first. Then I pass the deli so I list anything that I might buy from the deli. We go through the meats to get to the aisles so those are next and so it goes all the way to frozen foods. Why did I do such a thing? For many reasons.

I don't know about you but I DO NOT enjoy grocery shopping, especially at HEB. It is a nightmare. I'd rather go to the ob/gyn for my annual. I'd rather get my teeth pulled with no feel good medicine. It's awful I tell you! The parking lot is like a rat race and inside the store is even worse. It doesn't matter what time of day you go, it's crowded and no one cares if their cart is blocking the entire aisle. The only reason we shop there is that the prices are significantly lower than my favorite store, Kroger.

So back to the list. One reason I came up with the list is because I get so tired of fighting my way through the store, getting to the end of the store and realizing I have missed something or I just didn't know what aisle it was on. With my OCD list, everything is organized by aisles. I know exactly where it is. Another reason I did this was to eliminate grocery lists. I print several copies of this grocery planner and I highlight the groceries I need as I run out or as I think of them. The main reason I did this is because I plan enough meals to last us a month (except the usual milk, bread, and juice that we get more often). On the back of the planner, I write down all the meals I want to cook and then I highlight the groceries we need to buy on the front. I even make a note as to which meals have ingredients that will go bad if I wait too long to make them. Another advantage to this system is that I can cut the list in half and give it to Stephen if we want to save time. He can do half the shopping and I can do half the shopping.

To make it even more OCD, I used to use the receipt to write down the prices of each item and for awhile I used that list to compare prices at other grocery chains. It works beautifully and we only go to the main store once a month, seriously!

See? OCD! That's me!

So, do you have any grocery tips you'd like to share?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Gather your family round the TV, make some popcorn, and enjoy!

Monday, October 27, 2008

What a weekend!

Last Friday we went up to Fort Worth to pick up our dog and Stephen's laptop. Our dog went up with my mom last Thanksgiving because we were trying to sell our house and Chipper could stay inside at my parents' house. Plus I had a new baby on the way and Chipper would get more attention from my mom. In April, when my mom died, we still hadn't sold our house but we just knew my dad would want us to take Chipper when we left. We were wrong. He felt secure with her there and she was a part of my mom I guess. So he asked us if Chipper could stay with him a little longer. When we went back in May he wanted to keep her longer. The same in June and in August he asked if he could just keep her and give us the money to buy a new dog. Chipper was born at his house and I took her back to college with me when she was just 5 weeks old. I have had her for 13 years. I told my dad he could keep her a little longer but we wanted her back. I don't have the time to train a new dog with 3 small children.

So we drove to his house Friday night. When we passed through Waco, we could not believe the gas prices. At one place it was $2.16. I really couldn't believe what I was seeing. I can not remember the last time gas was $2.16. We passed Wal-Mart and it was $2.11. It is still $2.40 in Aggieland, how can it be so much cheaper just 90 miles down the road? And that night we saw on the news how gas was $1.96 in Burleson. So yesterday we took a 3 mile detour to get gas in Burleson and it wasn't $1.96. It was $1.94! And if you had the card from Wal-mart, it was $1.91. We filled the van for less than $30.00!

Saturday was a very busy but fun day. We started out finding a place to get Chipper groomed. Did you know that you really do have to have appointments? As soon as Stephen got back from dropping her off, we went for a quick lunch with my dad and then rushed to watch our nephew march in the UIL band competition. Wow how UIL has changed. Some of the bands had fancy backdrops and synthesizers. Back in our day it was just the band and the instruments. After Corey's performance was over, we visited with family for a short time and rushed the kids home for a short nap. We had to wake Caleb up to get to the zoo before it opened.

Boo at the Zoo was fun for all. It is definitely something I want to do often with the kids. Maybe every other year. It was a busy, but fun weekend!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

We are like pumpkins

Every year I get an email from at least one person with the following comparison of a pumpkin and humans. A friend posted this on her blog as well as the amazing Pumpkin Prayer I've posted at the end.

Being a Christian is just like a pumpkin!

First, God picks you from the pumpkin patch and brings you in from the field. The Bible says He selects us out of the world. We are in the world, but no longer of the world.
He then washes all the "dirt" off the outside that we received from being around all the other pumpkins. All the outside influences of our former life must be cleaned up. Old things are passed away and all things are become new.Then, He carefully removes all the "yucky stuff" called "sin" out from the inside. Look at this! Yuk! Sin will not have such internal power. He then changes us from the inside out by the Power of His Word. That's why it is important to go the church and learn about God's Word. He carefully removes all those seeds of doubt, hate, greed, and fear. He replaces them with the seeds of faith, hope and love. After Jesus is invited inside, you begin to experience the changing power of God's love in your life.
Then He carves a new smiling face. Our countenance is changed by the power of His presence in our life. We then become so grateful. It can even show on our face! Now we are going to light this candle inside. Look! This pumpkin now reflects the light from inside out. So too, when Jesus, who is called the Son of Light, lives inside of us, He shines through our life for all to see. We can let His light reflect through us to reveal His presence.

"Let your light so shine before men that they may be able to see your good works and glorify your Father, who is in heaven."

So you see, we Christians are really like this pumpkin! We will never be the same with Jesus inside of us. We can say like this jack-o-lantern, "Thy presence, my light!"

The Pumpkin Prayer
{cut off top of pumpkin}Lord, open my mind so I can learn new things about you.
{remove innards}Remove the things in my life that don’t please you. Forgive the wrong things I do and help me to forgive others.
{cut open eyes}Open my eyes to see the beauty you’ve made in the world around me.
{cut out nose}I’m sorry for the times I’ve turned my nose at the good food you provide.
{cut out mouth}Let everything I say please You.
{light the candle}Lord, help me show your light to others through the things I do.
By: Liz Curtis Higgs

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Halloween part 2

If you haven't read my rant about Halloween being for satan worshipers, scroll on down the page and read that first. Here is something sent to me by one of the moms in the Mom's Group from church. It is very interesting. Feel free to leave a comment (a nice one), I'd like to hear your thoughts.

The Real Story!
Father Augustine Thompson, O.P.,

We’ve all heard the allegations. Halloween is a pagan rite dating back to some pre-Christian festival among the Celtic Druids that escaped Church suppression. Even today modern pagans and witches continue to celebrate this ancient festival. If you let your kids go trick-or-treating, they will be worshiping the devil and pagan gods.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The origins of Halloween are, in fact, very Christian and rather American. Halloween falls on October 31 because of a pope, and its observances are the result of medieval Catholic piety.

It’s true that the ancient Celts of Ireland and Britain celebrated a minor festival on Oct. 31 — as they did on the last day of most other months of the year. However, Halloween falls on the last day of October because the Feast of All Saints or "All Hallows" falls on Nov. 1. The feast in honor of all the saints in heaven used to be celebrated on May 13, but Pope Gregory III (d. 741) moved it to Nov. 1, the dedication day of All Saints Chapel in St. Peter’s at Rome . Later, in the 840s, Pope Gregory IV commanded that All Saints be observed everywhere. And so the holy day spread to Ireland . The day before was the feast’s evening vigil, "All Hallows Even" or "Hallowe’en." In those days, Halloween didn’t have any special significance for Christians or for long-dead Celtic pagans.

In 998, St. Odilo, the abbot of the powerful monastery of Cluny in Southern France, added a celebration on Nov. 2. This was a day of prayer for the souls of all the faithful departed. This feast, called All Souls Day, spread from France to the rest of Europe.

So now the Church had feasts for all those in heaven and all those in purgatory? What about those in the other place? It seems Irish Catholic peasants wondered about the unfortunate souls in hell. After all, if the souls in hell are left out when we celebrate those in heaven and purgatory, they might be unhappy enough to cause trouble. So it became customary to bang pots and pans on All Hallows Even to let the damned know they were not forgotten. Thus, in Ireland, at least, all the dead came to be remembered — even if the clergy were not terribly sympathetic to Halloween and never allowed All Damned Day into the Church calendar.

But that still isn’t our celebration of Halloween. Our traditions on this holiday centers around dressing up in fanciful costumes, which isn’t Irish at all. Rather, this custom arose in France during the 14th and 15th centuries. Late medieval Europe was hit by repeated outbreaks of the bubonic plague — the Black Death — and she lost about half her population. It is not surprising that Catholics became more concerned about the afterlife. More Masses were said on All Souls’ Day, and artistic representations were devised to remind everyone of their own mortality.

We know these representations as the "Dance Macabre" or "Dance of Death," which was commonly painted on the walls of cemeteries and shows the devil leading a daisy chain of people — popes, kings, ladies, knights, monks, peasants, lepers, etc. — into the tomb. Sometimes the dance was presented on All Souls’ Day itself as a living tableau with people dressed up in the garb of various states of life. But the French dressed up on All Souls, not Halloween; and the Irish, who had Halloween, did not dress up. How the two became mingled probably happened first in the British colonies of North America during the 1700s when Irish and French Catholics began to intermarry. The Irish focus on hell gave the French masquerades and even more macabre twist.

But, as every young ghoul knows, dressing up isn’t the point; the point is getting as many goodies as possible. Where on earth did "trick or treat" come in?

"Treat or treat" is perhaps the oddest and most American addition to Halloween, and is the unwilling contribution of English Catholics.

During the penal period of the 1500s to the 1700s in England, Catholics had no legal rights. They could not hold office and were subject to fines, jail and heavy taxes. It was a capital offense to say Mass, and hundreds of priests were martyred.

Occasionally, English Catholics resisted, sometimes foolishly. One of the most foolish acts of resistance was a plot to blow up the Protestant King James I and his Parliament with gunpowder. This was supposed to trigger a Catholic uprising against their oppressors. The ill-conceived Gunpowder Plot was foiled on Nov. 5, 1605, when the man guarding the gunpowder, a reckless convert named Guy Fawkes, was captured and arrested. He was hanged; the plot fizzled.

Nov. 5, Guy Fawkes’ Day, became a great celebration in England, and so it remains. During the penal periods, bands of revelers would put on masks and visit local Catholics in the dead of night, demanding beer and cakes for their celebration: trick or treat!

Guy Fawkes’ Day arrived in the American colonies with the first English settlers. But, buy the time of the American Revolution, old King James and Guy Fawkes had pretty much been forgotten. Trick or treat, though, was too much fun to give up, so eventually it moved to Oct. 31, the day of the Irish-French masquerade. And in America, trick or treat wasn’t limited to Catholics.

The mixture of various immigrant traditions we know as Halloween had become a fixture in the Unites States by the early 1800s. To this day, it remains unknown in Europe, even in the countries from which some of the customs originated.

But what about witches? Well, they are one of the last additions. The greeting card industry added them in the late 1800s. Halloween was already "ghoulish," so why not give witches a place on greeting cards? The Halloween card failed (although it has seen a recent resurgence in popularity), but the witches stayed. So, too, in the late 1800s, ill-informed folklorists introduced the jack-o’-lantern. They thought that Halloween was druidic and pagan in origin. Lamps made from turnips (not pumpkins) had been part of ancient Celtic harvest festivals, so they were translated to the American Halloween celebration.

The next time someone claims that Halloween is a cruel trick to lure your children into devil worship, I suggest you tell them the real origin of All Hallows Even and invite them to discover its Christian significance, along with the two greater and more important Catholic festivals that follow it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Adults think it's fun too

Last night Stephen and I joined 3 other couples for our regular "Supper Club." When all of us were discussing what to bring, someone joked about a Halloween theme. I said, "Why not?" So our meal started off with Bat Wing Soup over green worms (green pasta). Then we moved on to spider meatballs, a wonderful salad, and delicious homemade pizza with an amazing assortment of toppings such as rosemary, red onion, carrots, red potatoes, ricotta cheese, sweet potatoes, and mozzarella cheese (is that right, Julia?). It was delicious. For dessert, we had a no-bake Oreo dessert which had extra crushed Oreos on top (like a fresh grave). If you looked closely, you could see bones of a skeleton coming through the "dirt." I forgot to take a picture though, sorry! We drank a little blood (pomegranite martinis), Vampire wine, and we tried Jack's Pumpkin Ale-a bit stout for most of us.

The home was decorated for the occassion as well. Spider web was all around us, there were crooked pictures on the walls, and a candleabra set upon a black, netted tablecloth. It was a perfect evening.

The Toy Monster

Have you ever heard of The Toy Monster? He is not a scary monster, as a matter of fact, my children are not afraid when they hear the word, "monster" because we have always made it fun, sorta like the movie Monsters, Inc.

I LOVE the toy monster. You will too.

About 8 months ago the kids started having a hard time picking up their toys before bed. We tried the whole, "they'll go in the trash" thing but it was a bit traumatizing to Lauren and when I was a kid, my mom threw tons of my toys into a trash bag and tossed the bag into the garage without telling my dad. Those toys got put on the curb, never to be seen again. My brand new Minnie Mouse doll, my precious new key chain from the Fort Worth Zoo, gone! I will not do that to my kids. So, I told my kids that whatever toys were left out when they went to bed would get eaten by the toy monster. He sneaks into the house while we're sleeping and feasts on all the toys that were left behind. We think of him as the reverse Santa Claus who sneaks into your house to leave toys. This whole toy monster thing works like a charm. Sometimes the toy monster rings the doorbell if the kids are being slow about picking up toys. Then Lauren will shout out, "Go away Toy Monster! We are not ready for you yet." Sometimes the kids hear him ride on his motorcycle....the one the neighbor's kids left outside overnight! Sometimes we have toy monster spottings through the window or if we are driving home after dark, we have toy monster sightings at the neighbors' houses.

Yes, we love the toy monster at our house.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Halloween is for satan worshipers

Seriously, I have heard this before and it makes me cringe. So, what is Halloween? Whatever you make it in your own family. When I was a child, Halloween was about fun papers to color in school, fun projects to make in art, Halloween parties, and neat songs being sung by my Kindergarten teacher who was dressed like a witch. She had the long black hair for full effects. Were we scared? Heck no. Did someone tell us it was demonic? No! Did Mrs. Byrd put us in a trance? No, even though I'm sure she wished she could have.

Halloween was about cool decorations, candy, stories being read, and costumes. We spent the whole month talking about our costumes and we even wore them to school. You remember those paper-like plastic overalls with the pictures printed on them? And the horrible synthetic masks with tiny slits cut out for seeing, smelling, and breathing? Oh yes, the good ol' days! For 2nd-4th grade I went to a Catholic school and we still had "regular" Halloween parties with no limitations on what we could dress up as. I remember my brother's kindergarten class dressing up and getting to parade around. The kindergarteners where I teach still get to. Our neighborhood was THE COOLEST! We had 6 girls all the same age and our brothers were about the same age as well. The parents and bigger kids would put on a neighborhood haunted house. They dressed as mummies, vampires, witches, etc... and we had a blast. They blindfolded us and led us through to feel "eyeballs" (grapes), "guts" (pasta noodles), etc.... I have years and years of pictures of all us in our costumes.

I love to decorate the house with cute candleholders and figurines of teddy bears dressed in costumes. We love to hang orange lights and bring out the pumpkins and Jack-O-Lanterns. We love to bake and decorate Halloween cookies and my children love to plan out their costumes (Tinkerbell and Thomas of course). We will take them trick-or-treating as well as to a festival in town. On All Saints' Day we will participate in whatever festivities we can find around town. And as they get older, we will share with them more and more about the true history as our church teaches. I a satan worshiper? Uh-No! Am I a pagan? No! Is Halloween a satanic holiday? If you make it out to be one it is.

My husband did not carve a Jack-O-Lantern until we were married. He never got costumes and he never trick-or-treated. So it saddens me to hear about children (in safe neighborhoods) who don't go trick-or-treating. Trick-or-treating is the climax of October 31. It is about seeing your neighbors and possibly getting tricked. It is about getting home and counting to see how many pieces of candy you got.

Now as an adult, I realize that Halloween means so much more. There are plenty of sites out there with the history of Halloween- All Hallows' Eve. It is the preparation for All Saints' Day the next day. So I am going to continue doing as I did as a child and I will also incorporate the religious teachings into the date as well- in an age-appropriate manner. But for goodness sake, it is NOT a satanic holiday!

Think about it, Valentine's Day began because of St. Valentine and I choose to teach my children that, but really, what is Valentine's Day to a child? A day of love, hearts, flowers, exchanging Valentines with classmates, parties, and cards for Mommy and Daddy, etc... St. Patrick's Day is about St. Patrick, but to a child, it is about wearing green so you don't get pinched. Easter is about the Resurrection of our Lord and we treach our children that but they still love the Easter Bunny, what he brings, and Easter egg hunts. Thanksgiving is about lots of food, Indians, pilgrims, turkeys, and The Mayflower. Christmas-a season, not a day. A season of preparation for the coming of our Lord, but in a child's eyes, a time of Santa Claus and presents. Again, we will teach our children the true meaning of all of these holidays, but while they are young, let them have fun!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Gotta brag

I know, I know, I've done a lot of bragging lately but I'm gonna brag again. Since Lauren was very little, we have always sung the ABC song and played with giant magnetic letters and blocks just like they were a toy. We had time to teach her to identify each letter and we taught her how to write most of them, but not lowercase. We make sure the kids watch mostly educational programs on TV like Between the Lions, Sesame Street, Super Why, and Word World. I am a teacher and I want my children to have a great foundation when they start school (just like most parents do). Now we haven't had as much time to work with Caleb, especially after Abby was born, but he still has managed to learn the letters AND SOUNDS just by watching his sister or TV.

The other day I took a phonics game for the computer home because I have no student computers in my class and the program is FABULOUS! It is Edmark's Let's Go Read- An Island Adventure.

So I popped it in the computer, wondering if Lauren would be interested and if she could understand all the different activities. The first activity introduces a letter (T) and tells what sound it makes. Then it asks the player to repeat the sound. Next, there is a sorting game where she looks at a letter and puts it in the "t" basket or the other basket. It progresses on to words that start with "t" and their pictures. She has to choose the words that start with "t". There is a book for each letter and even a puzzle where they make the capital and lowercase letters. She has done a super job. She identifies all the letters, uppercase and lowercase, tells what sounds they make, can find words that begin with that sound, finds words with the sound in the middle, and last night got to a level where the game told her to make the words by dragging the letters, and she could do it! I hate to admit it but she was mesmerized for 2 hours and we had to peel her away to put her jammies on.

Then, to add to my surprise, Caleb was sitting there telling Lauren what the letters were (even most of the lowercase) as they popped up and telling her where to put the letters. He is 2 1/2.
You can call it bragging if you want to, I am one proud Mama!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Abby is a fast learner

Friday, Abby started pulling up to her feet with a little assistance from Mommy and Daddy. Saturday, she started pulling up to her feet all by herself. Then the little stinker would let go with one hand and reach for other objects as she picked up a foot like she knew what to do next. Sunday I got out the walker for her and she had no problems standing all by herself. I inched it forward and she just put one foot in front of the other. Last night, Stephen found her doing this.
So I went upstairs to encourage her and see how far she could get on her own.

Do you see that knee on the step? Stephen was at the bottom and he said she got her other foot off the ground. All in one day!

Yep, it's time for the baby gate at the bottom of the stairs.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Our church's Fall Festival

September 28- Aquinasfest
Last year was fun but considering that Lauren was 3, Caleb was 19 months old and spent most of the time in a stroller, and I was pregnant, this year was so much more fun. I even made a cake for the cake wheel. The kids started off in the bouncy houses. It was early so they got to jump without a time limit.Lauren got her face painted and it was on to some games.
Lauren takes a turn at T-ball.
After several attempts, Caleb decides the rules were not made for him and he figures out his own way to get the ball in! That's my problem solver.

And this is how he finished off the milk jugs when all his balls were used up.

Lauren is definitely getting the hang of carnival games.

The coolest obstacle course.

Lauren and Caleb did great.

Last year Lauren would not ride this train. Caleb was too little. This year Lauren still would not ride but Caleb couldn't wait. When the ride was over he wanted to go again. We told him we would after we ate. He cried and refused to eat. He pouted the whole time the rest of us ate.

When we went back, we asked Lauren if she was sure she didn't want to ride. She was SURE! Until her friends Caleb, Kyle, and Ann Marie came along. She said she would ride if they did. We had a playdate with them over the summer and Caleb is in her Sunday School class. Their mom is one of the teachers too. It was a beautiful day and so much fun running into some of the moms in the mom's group.

Just plain cuteness!

September 26
Here is Caleb's pouty face. He has had it since the day he was born. Isn't it just pitiful?

Abby is 9 months old now. She weighs 15 lbs. and besides saying, " Mama" and "Dada," she can say, "Bye-bye" while waving. She also loves to clap and she is pulling up. She would much rather be on her feet than sitting. Every where we go people comment on how happy she is. She is such a joy to be around. Lauren in the same dress April 2005...8 months old.

What are they up to?

September 16- My children were doing this. My first question was what are they trying to cover up?

But then I realized they just love this sweeper as much as I do. And when kids love to let them clean.