Friday, October 31, 2008

Snippets

*His name indeed means "gift of God." Many thanks for your gracious comments on Tuesday's post. I deeply appreciate your encouragement and support. And for those who shared that they could relate to our struggles, I am so grateful that you were also willing to share. (Specifically, Heidi, your words moved me to tears, and I would love to correspond with you if you'd be willing to share an e-mail address--mine is on my profile page. And Christy, thank you for recommending this book--I've already placed an order and will post what I learn from it in the near future.)

*In other updates, I enjoyed hearing from so many other Scrabble fans, although I knew I was setting myself up with my dictionary admission! =) Wednesday was a pop comments post, so I'll be sending Michelle a cute and fun Scrabble memo board.

*Lastly, Gail requested sometime this summer that I write a post about my relationship with my sister, Monica, how we started our blogs, etc. I haven't quite known where to start with such a broad topic. So I'm putting the responsibility on you to start--if you have a question along those lines, please leave it in the comments. In addition, many of you have mentioned at various times that you would love it if our mom started a blog. (She does leave very thoughtful comments, that's for sure!) Though she won't be jumping on the blog bandwagon anytime soon, she has also agreed to receive questions from you. So there you have it. We of course reserve the right to not answer a question, but I look forward to seeing what you come up with. You can submit questions through Sunday night, and then we'll take a week or so to compose our responses.

Have a wonderful weekend, friends. Thank you for blessing me in a special way this week!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Scrabble!

I grew up playing Scrabble with my parents, who are both quite adept at the game (though, ahem, my father is known for taking an exceptionally long time on each of his turns!) Thankfully, I've found another worthy opponent in my husband. We even took the travel version (a wedding gift) on our honeymoon, and if my memory serves me correctly =), I scored my highest word total ever: CLOVERS with 108 points. I distinctly remember we were out on the beach when it happened, and I got up and ran a victory lap after that turn!

We played a couple weeks ago with our friend, Lisa, who is also quite the Scrabble player. Unfortunately, it was a very off night for me. Here, for example, is a picture of my tray at one point near the end of the game. Bleh. (I re-created the scene later so I could share it with you and vent my disgust!) What' s a girl to do?
Anyone else a Scrabble fan? And please tell, do you allow people to look up words in the dictionary before a turn (we always did at home; call us cheaters if you will), or are you adamant like Eric that the dictionary is only for challenges?!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My heart sings

I haven't really written about this topic here before--sometimes it's hardest with the things closest to us, don't you think?

Eric and I have been really challenged in the past nearly two years since becoming parents. Nathan was a very fussy baby from the start, and it really rocked our expectations--and our sanity. He was not very cuddly, and often cried long and loud for reasons we could not determine. It was a really draining time for us, and as a stay-at-home mom, it was particularly hard on me. Sure, we had some great moments as a family, and thanks be to God, Nathan has always been a good sleeper. But there were many times that Eric and I would feel our patience dwindling to fumes, and we wondered what we were doing and how we'd get through.

Earlier this year, I mentioned I was focusing on the word HOPE. Some of that had to do with our then-upcoming transitions of looking for a house and anticipating my husband's job switch. But some of it had to do with the fact that we were really struggling in parenting Nathan. He can be such a charming little boy, but he also has a temper that can flare with little warning, and we've had many difficult battles in regards to his disobedience and tantrums.

Thankfully, Nathan has been very perceptive and communicative, even from a young age. These "skills" are helpful as we've been talking to him a lot lately about his attitude and actions. Eric wanted to teach Nathan a biblical paraphrase: "Obey your parents." It's been amazing how that verse is taking root in this little guy's heart. Without explaining the word "parents," Eric asked Nathan who his parents were. Not missing a beat, Nathan said "Daddy." And when Eric asked who else, Nathan replied, "Mommy."

We use the word "obey" in lots of situations--when he does what we've asked and when he doesn't--as well as to prompt him before a situation that may elicit a negative response. It is clear to us that he understands what we are saying when we remind him to "obey your parents." This is such a gift to us, since we really needed a spark of encouragement as we train Nathan up in the Lord.

Lately, we've had some really neat moments together--moments that make my heart sing. Last weekend, we took a bike ride to a corn field, where our church plans to do some building over the course of the next few years. The location itself was really cool, and it was a nice fall afternoon. Eric and Nathan had so much fun running in and out of the corn stalks, and it made me so happy to observe them truly enjoying each other. I was happy to walk on the edge of the field, seeing this beautiful moment unfold (especially without having to bushwhack through the stalks myself!)

Another highlight happened last week. On a whim, I decided to take Nathan to our local pumpkin patch, as the weather was predicted (correctly!) to turn crummy the next day. We had a fun trip there, feeding and petting lots of different animals. However, when it was time to leave, Nathan threw an absolute fit. Once he was in the car, he refused to climb into his seat, making another issue. As I fastened his buckles, he continued whining and then in frustration, he hit me on the arm. I reprimanded him firmly, and told him I was very sad that he had hit Mommy, and that he had also disobeyed in not coming to the car when I asked.

On the drive home, I told him that Daddy would also be very sad when I told him what had happened. Nathan broke the silence by saying, unprompted,"No hit Mommy. Obey your parents." I was floored--though I am obviously not glad he responded initially the way he did, I felt very excited that he was able to have this second response. I told him that he was right, that he needs to obey his parents, and that it hurt Mommy that he had hit me. He then tearfully said, "I'm sorry, Mommy" and repeated that he should not hit and that he should obey his parents. It was a teachable moment for us both. Sometimes disciplining can be so discouraging. You talk and respond and it's hard to know if it's sinking in and making a real difference. So when a beautiful response like this happens, it's all the more sweet. Thank You, Lord, for this encouragement, and for drawing us ever closer to You.

Post-script: This was kind of scary for me to post, because it feels very vulnerable to share about our parenting experience thus far. In writing this entry, I wanted to process some of my own thoughts and feelings, to thank the Lord for giving us strength and hope, and maybe even to encourage another mom out there who struggles in nurturing a particularly strongwilled child.

And one more thing--I must share with you my current "repeat" song--these words speak to my heart and, in turn, allow my heart to speak. If you have a few minutes, I urge you to click over here and listen. It's a breathtakingly beautiful prayer . . .

photo credit: Flickr

Monday, October 27, 2008

Linkadoos and updates

Lots of randomness:
  • It was so much fun to read your comments about your various domestic influences--thanks for taking the time to share! I even learned a new tip from Gail, who cooks her chicken breasts in the crockpot. I tried it last week, and loved how easy it was. Plus, our dog appreciated the bonus broth created in the process!
  • You may recall my post about watching HSM2 with a lively 200 college women. Well, I couldn't resist seeing the newest release on opening night (the 9:30 pm showing--yikes!) with a sold-out college crowd. So much fun to watch this movie in such an energetic environment. Quite a few of the students chose to wear either prom dresses or graduation gowns to celebrate the "senior year" theme of the movie, which added to the festivities. (Anyone else go see it?!)
  • If you plan to order anything on-line in the near future, I strongly suggest you check out Ebates. You can open an account by clicking here, and you can then earn money for each purchase you make through the site. It's like a portal--you can still order from your favorite sites, you just start by clicking through Ebates so you can earn credit. And by signing up on the link listed above, you and I each earn $5 in our accounts--what a deal!
  • Take a minute to click over here and support breast cancer awareness by helping donate mammograms to women who need them--it costs no money--only a few seconds of your time!
  • Apparently, I've developed a reputation as the "campus sub." =) Before Nathan was born, I worked in public relations at the college, and the woman who took my position will be moving next month. So once again, I'll be stepping into an interim situation. I start the second week of November, and am unsure of the time frame, as it depends on when they can find a replacement.
  • I'm really appreciating singer songwriter Sara Groves right now. I recently saw her in concert--a unique night of music and challenge, and the following week she was our featured speaker at MOPS (via video). This particular song of Sara's sets a nice stage for tomorrow's post . . .

Friday, October 24, 2008

Treat jar re-mix

Last winter, I posted about a traveling treat jar that I started passing around among a group of our friends/colleagues. I've been thinking about getting it going again, but this time with a different circulation of women. Well, recently two blogging ladies came across the idea and put their own spin on it, so I wanted to share their inspiring creativity!

My blogging friend Katie started passing around a jar at her church. You can find photos of her jars and poem here. Starr, a pastor's wife in Michigan, also wanted to get this going at her church, and she also put together two jars! She even included a list of the names of each family in her church so people can keep track of who has received the jar. Her post can be found here.

Before I even had a chance to decorate a new jar (sadly, my first treat jar was never returned to me, though I know who has it!), our MOPS group decided to do a traveling treat plate. So the idea works the same way, except we'll write the name of each recipient in permanent marker on the bottom. But otherwise, it will get filled up with goodies!

I'm actually delivering the plate today to one of the moms in my group (pictured above). I decided to give her some yummy pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, and have included the recipe below. I confess when I heard the name of that combination, I didn't think I would like them. But they are delicious--and easy. And better yet, a batch makes two dozen, so there are plenty to both share and keep. Enjoy--and if you've started or received a traveling treat jar/plate, I'd love to hear about it!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

3 eggs
1 3/4 c. sugar
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
1 1/4 c vegetable oil
3 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
2 t. baking powder
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. salt
2 c. chocolate chips

In large mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oil until smooth. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; add to pumpkin mixture and mix well. Fold in chocolate chips. Fill greased or paper lined muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake at 400 for 16-18 minutes. Cool.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Domestic influences

Sometimes when I'm working around the house (especially the kitchen), I think about how and where I learned certain homemaking skills. It is interesting to me that in some tasks, I do things the way my mother always did. And for many other jobs, I've adopted someone else's habit or come up with my own method.

Here are a few examples of what I'm talking about:

*My mom always had one of those cool nut grinders with a hand crank, and I decided I wanted one, too. My mom often buys us whole pecans/walnuts for Christmas, so I keep the bags in the freezer and chop the nuts fresh.

*I don't really remember cooking chicken until I lived on my own, though perhaps I did. So I figured out my own method: I always set out the meat to thaw overnight in the fridge, then dice it up raw and cook it piecemeal over the stove. Until last year when my sister came to visit, I didn't realize that she and my mom have a completely different approach of cooking chicken by steaming it in a skillet with water!

*My mom told me the best way to cook rice is from the More with Less cookbook, a gem she gave me a few years ago.

*I had never heard of this little tool until I saw one at my mother-in-law's house. I now own one and think it's a handy invention.

*I've mentioned this before, but following my mom's example, I use crushed garlic from a jar. I do love the flavor of fresh, but this is one area that convenience is a real plus!

*I learned from my mom that carrots absolutely must be peeled to be eaten. I remember being at a family gathering a long time ago, and my mom was not a fan of the carrot sticks that still had the peel on them!

What about you--who/what have been some of your domestic influences? What skills and methods have you learned from someone else, and what have you figured out on your own?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

At home with Mitford

When the Mitford book series came out several years ago, I remember my mom, dad and sister all reading them. I can sometimes be snobbish about books that are trendy and opted to not jump on the bandwagon.

Fast forward to last fall when I won a copy of the first book, At Home in Mitford, from blogger Kathleen Marie. I expected the book to be cheesy but decided to read it anyway. Well, I was pleasantly surprised--and also hooked. The nice thing about waiting until a series is completely published is that I didn't have to wait for the next book to come out. =) Just a couple weeks ago, I finished the eighth and final book in the series, and I was sad to see it end.

I found myself engrossed in each story. The characters were very developed--and very real. I like that. I also like that the setting is a small town, with some similarities to my current residence. Though these books are not listed as "Christian fiction" (which I personally can be critical of), author Jan Karon shows no qualms about including Scripture and spiritual themes in her books. So refreshing!

What are your thoughts on this series? I'd love to hear if you've read any of these books or not--and whether you found them to be as delightful as I did, or if they weren't really your thing.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Putting one foot in front of the other

I've been pondering the baby steps post and your responses for a few weeks now. Here are some quotes that stood out to me from your comments:
  • My bigger focus at this season in my life is simplifying -- which sometimes means the "natural" choice is out (like the one you mention of soaking grains).

  • I am not alone in wondering if I am doing enough but doing the best I can. I do think it is all about baby steps.

  • I take some steps forward and sometimes I take some steps backward. I just try and do the best I can with my time & resources, but I hope that I will be able to do more and more each year.

  • I don't need to do it all at once, or all of it ever. I feel like it's more of a journey than a destination.

  • I'm definitely in the baby step club. I'm always thinking what else I could do, but focusing on one change at a time is a beautiful start to something great... a journey of change that is motivated by integrity and a teachable spirit.

  • I want to live mindfully. I love the idea of being more natural and getting away from chemicals and pollutants. But too often cost or convenience or just flat-out being overwhelmed by all the choices out there wins out. I often become paralyzed by too much information or too many choices.

Thanks for challenging and encouraging me with your comments and ideas. The funny thing about starting a "club" is that I didn't give that line much thought when I wrote the post. Ironically, when several people wanted to join, I felt paralyzed in the same way I do when approaching other aspects of this topic! So, it occurred to me that the best thing to do was something small to move forward--aka a baby step, which means finally writing this post as an initial response!

I was hung up on trying to think of a catchy name and all that jazz, and the thing is that I think we can just keep it a community, at least for now. Instead of having an official name or guidelines or trying to keep track of members, it can just be loose and flexible. I'll keep posting about my baby steps with natural living, and would love for you to do the same via comments here or on your own blog.

And by the way, over the weekend, I started reading the book Gorgeously Green, which was recently recommended to me by my friend Amy. It was also reviewed earlier this year by another blog friend named Amy! Some lines from the introduction of the book definitely related to this idea of making little changes that add up: "My motto is one change makes a difference, and if you can make two, that's even better!" The author admits that once she became more aware of the issues and research related to "green living," she felt really overwhelmed. "The most important thing," she says, "was the baby steps I took at the beginning. I had to realize that I couldn't change everything at once and that all I had to do was change one tiny thing a day."

That's great encouragement. I'll keep sharing what I'm learning from this book and other sources, and pointing you to posts I come across on this topic. I do hope you'll keep with me on this journey--you motivate me to stay with it!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Shoe confessions

I was really intrigued when I saw an article in the October issue of Real Simple on wardrobe makeovers, featuring items the women already owned. In particular, I was fascinated that each of the three subjects was willing to admit how many pairs of shoes they have, and how many of those pairs they actually wear.

Here is what the women said:

Andrea, age 41: owns 40 pairs, wears 8
Charissa, age 32: owns 50 pairs, wears 20
Danna, age 35: owns 25 pairs, wears 10

I was amazed by those numbers, in terms of the ratio of pairs owned to those actually used, so I decided to conduct my own shoe survey. I counted 19 pairs in my closet, 9 of which I wear regularly. I then had to evaluate the remaining 10 pairs. Four of them are formal (for weddings, etc.), and though they are worn infrequently, I consider them an investment worth storing. Of the six pairs left, I decided to part with 3 of them, and will keep the other 3 for awhile to see if they enter back into the rotation.

Personally, I consider it a stewardship issue to do these kinds of inventories. It opened my eyes that I own 19 pairs of shoes, but wear just a fraction of them regularly. I'd like to use this little exercise in some other areas of my closet and home so I can better evaluate if I am actually using stuff or if it could better be passed on to someone else who needs it.

How about you--anyone else willing to make a closet confession?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Still: life

Here are a few recent snapshots:

Gail requested that I share some examples of cards I've made recently. These all happen to be magazine clippings pasted on those wonderful cardstock scraps that you can buy in a bundle at the craft store. So simple, and I like having small cards on hand to tuck in with gifts and packages.
I am so excited to have finally found a source for local farm fresh eggs--even better, they're from a former student I worked with when I was a dorm director. Aren't they beautiful? My friend even dropped them off at my house--now that's service!Several months ago I hosted a photography giveaway by my talented friend, Lisa. As a thank you, she sent me a print of my favorite shot. I just found it in a pile of papers and immediately rummaged for a frame. I love how it looks it's in this spot, and it's even more perfect because that bathroom is full of prints and photos from my time in France.This is a common scene at our house: Nathan playing with Legos. I snagged a plastic bag full of them for just 50 cents--more than worth the time he's played with them already!
Lastly, Autumn tagged me in a photo game, so I need to post the 6th pic in my 6th photo folder. Thankfully, it's a cute one! Here's Nathan with his cousins Emily and Rachel at the park when they visited us in Iowa this past summer.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Harvest swap!

It’s time for another swap! Our theme is harvest, and we’re all about autumn and Thanksgiving with this fun swap. Please keep the theme in mind when selecting items for your partner, and as usual, please limit your gifts to what can fit in a shoebox.

Things went much better last time, so we’ve decided to continue our simplified approach. Please read the following details carefully.

1. In order to participate, you must either have swapped successfully with us before, or you must be a regular commenter on one of our blogs (The Homespun Heart/with all that I’ve been given). We had many people write last time and ask what qualifies a regular commenter. This does not mean you have to comment daily, or even weekly, but we need to recognize your name when you sign up.

Before you send us an e-mail, please consider if you have the time and resources to fulfill your swap. Every swap, we have at least one person who writes to say they’ll be late in sending their box because they can’t afford the shipping. We want to respect your financial situation, and ask that you consider joining in next time instead.

2. You need to fill out your questionnaire as part of the sign-up. In order to sign up for this swap, please e-mail sisterswaps@hotmail.com with the following info:

name
complete mailing address
e-mail address
blog site, if you have one

Please indicate if you would be willing to ship internationally.

Also, please answer the following questions in the e-mail. The more thorough your answers, the better we can match you with someone complementary.

What does the word “harvest” mean to you?What is your favorite thing about the fall season?These next questions are to indicate your preferences--feel free to elaborate on your choices:
Hot weather or cold
Tea or coffee
Cake or pie
Buy it or make it
Book or movie

Sign-up entries must be complete to be included. Even if you’ve swapped with us before, please send all of the information requested above.

Important dates to consider:

Sign-ups due by 8 a.m. (CST) Thursday, October 16, or when 40 people have signed up.
Partner info will be e-mailed to you by October 20.
Please send your shoebox by Friday, November 7.

If you have not received an e-mail from us by October 22, please check your “junk” folder.

Thanks, and happy swapping!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Down into bright October

The title is a favorite phrase of mine from a James Taylor song . . .

I have lots of little updates to share, so this post promises to be long and rambling. Hang on for the ride!

*Eric got quite the boost last week--thanks for all your birthday wishes and your fun comments about our engagement story. He had a wonderful b-day. I decided to surprise him big time by booking him on a flight to Chicago so he could in turn surprise his brother, who ran the big marathon yesterday. (BIG props to Ryan, who not only finished but did it in style--just 3 hours, 18 minutes!) Just so you know, this is a way bigger gift than usual, but I really wanted to do something special and we won't see his family at Christmas this year . . . Eric and I decided several years ago to give each other "experiential" birthday gifts, and I'd say this definitely fit that description!

* I haven't been able to get it together yet to write the Mitford book post, or to follow up with the natural living baby steps club idea. Still percolating . . .

* Tracy recently reminded me that I've been wanting to put in a plug for adjusting your blog settings so I can reply directly to your comments via e-mail. Many of you already have this feature, which is great. If you don't, and aren't sure how to set it up, my friend Leah explains how here.

*Lastly, a couple of you asked what a Scotcheroo bar is, including my own sister! So, here's the recipe. They are so not healthy, and I don't make them often, but what a special treat. Eric said if he had to pick his final meal, he would pick a pan of these bars. I wouldn't go that far =), but they really are delicious!

Scotcheroos

Bring to a boil: 1 c. sugar and 1 c. light corn syrup
Remove from heat and stir in 1 1/4 c. peanut butter
Fold in 6 c. Special K cereal
Spread in 9x13 pan.

For topping, melt 1 c. each of butterscotch and chocolate chips. Spread over top of cereal mixture.

Friday, October 10, 2008

All about Eric

Yesterday was Eric's birthday, and to celebrate, I thought I'd grab this meme I saw over at Jill's blog.

1. He's sitting in front of the TV, what is on the screen? baseball, basketball, or Survivor

2. You're out to eat; what kind of dressing does he get on his salad? Ranch or raspberry vinaigrette

3. What's one food he doesn't like? avocado (so sad, but at least I can hog the guacamole that way!)
4. You go out to the bar. What does he order? We don't go to the bar. Other than water, he drinks Coke or IBC Root Beer.

5. Where did he go to high school? Grand Rapids, Michigan
6. What size shoe does he wear? 10
7. If he was to collect anything, what would it be? Eric is not a collector, really. He does save all his pheasant feathers, though. Thankfully, he's gotten rid of most of his baseball cards.

8. What is his favorite type of sandwich? at home--PB+J; out and about--Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki from Subway

9. What would this person eat every day if he could? A Scotcheroo bar (or 2 or 3)
10. What is his favorite cereal? Fruit Harvest, Frosted Flakes, Frosted Mini Wheats
11. What would he never wear? pink, a V-neck shirt, or a tie =)

12. What is his favorite sports team? Being from Michigan, he's loyal to the U of M Wolverines and the Detroit Tigers.

13. Who will he vote for? We feel they're making it a tough decision.
14. Who is his best friend? Me (Right?!)
15. What is something you do that he wishes you wouldn't do? worry

16. How many states has he lived in? Three: Michigan, Indiana and Iowa
17. What is his heritage? Dutch and Swedish
18. You bake him a cake for his birthday; what kind of cake? Better-than-almost-anything cake =) (That's what the Betty Crocker box calls it!)

19. Did he play sports in high school? Yes, baseball, basketball, soccer and golf (Eric's dad is a gym teacher, and the whole family is incredibly athletic!)
20. What could he spend hours doing? Fishing and hunting

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Porch night, part 2

In case I piqued your interest yesterday, here's the story of the night Eric and I got engaged . .

Eric put a couple friends of ours, Ryan and Brian, up to the task of making me think I was helping them plan a surprise birthday for him (Eric). The whole time I thought I was the sneaky one, but I had no idea the masterminding that was at work!

Every Thursday night, as has been done for several years, our group of friends gets together to watch the reality show Survivor. On the night of October 7, 2004, we gathered in Eric's backyard to have our own version of the show, complete with team challenges like building a fire in the rain. At the end of the challenges, each of us "survivors" had to vote for one person to win a reward (as they often do on the show). Of course, it was rigged so that Eric would win, which all of our friends knew, but we all had to act surprised when Eric found out he was the big winner!
The prize was dinner for the two of us at the farm of close friends, a meal I thought I had secretly and strategically arranged. We had a lovely dinner with Dave and Jody, and then received the second part of the reward: a video of messages from our friends and family! (This happens nearly every season on the show since the survivors have been away from home for so long.)

Eric and I settled on to the porch swing (Dave and Jody stayed inside to 'clean up'), and Eric put my video in first. My friend Steph (who lived in Colorado at the time) was the first person on the screen, and I marveled that our buddy Ryan would have known how to contact her. But I was completely unsuspicious. Then my friend Mandi appeared on the video, followed by my dear sister Monica, then my parents, and then. . . Eric.

I was so confused as to why Eric would be on my "surprise" video, but I still didn't have a clue as to what was coming. Eric gave several analogies about how our relationship is like the show Survivor. And then he said, "With every show, there's a twist. (dramatic pause) Carrie, I knew tonight was supposed to be a surprise birthday party for me." My thoughts: "WHAT?!" (So articulate!) Eric: "What I want for my birthday is to form a permanent alliance with you."
Then he got down on his knee and asked me to marry him. I was so shocked that I didn't answer (!) for a couple minutes. I just couldn't wrap my head around the fact that this was not his surprise birthday party! Of course, I said yes, and Eric proceeded to reveal to me some of the many secrets leading up to the proposal. Pretty amazing stuff, and the surprise "birthday" party we returned to campus for ended up being our engagement party. So much fun--and very creative!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Porch night

Porch swings have played a significant role in Eric's and my relationship. First, we had our DTR ("defining the relationship" talk) on the porch swing of some dear friends (who were, of course, not around at the time!) We called that significant event "porch night." A year and a half later (and today being the anniversary of that date), we were engaged on the same swing (though this time it had been moved out to a beautiful farm, where we decided to have our rehearsal dinner). Then the night before our wedding, at the aforementioned farm, Eric gave me a porch swing of our own. In our first house, we really didn't have a great place to put it. So it sat in our basement, unfinished and neglected, until our move this summer.

Because our house is white with black trim, I really wanted to paint the swing black, a choice Eric reluctantly agreed to. It turned out great! (Due to the angle, the photo above does not show the striking color contrast, but I can tell you it looks very nice.)
By the way, any Survivor fans out there? Eric's proposal and that show have several connections--it was a very creative and thoughtful surprise! Perhaps I should share that story tomorrow . . .

Monday, October 6, 2008

Homecoming re-cap

Here are a couple photos from the big project I was working on: coordinating my alma mater's annual Homecoming kids' carnival. It went really well! The weather was gorgeous, and the details I'd been most anxious about worked out quite smoothly. Praise the Lord!


We had a country/farm theme, so I needed to dress the part. (You can see Baby #2 starting to make an appearance--an entire month earlier this second time around!)

What good is a farm theme with no animals? We brought in a small petting zoo, and kids were even allowed to give the animals little pellets of food. Nathan says "Baby goats, Mama!" multiple times a day.
I have mixed feelings about being done. I won't miss rushing around in the mornings, but it was fun, and I think it will be challenging adjusting back to being home full time. I'm grateful for the opportunity I had to work part-time, but I'm also grateful I can stay home with Nathan.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Linkadoos

  • Campbell Soup Co. just started a neat campaign called "Help Grow Your Soup." Stop by their site, and click on the red barn (you can do so once a day through June 2009!), and they'll donate a dollar to the National FFA Organization (an agricultural education group) "to help fuel the future of American farming."

  • Isn't Monica's hospitality inspiring? Though I don't anticipate hosting any Ugandans anytime soon, I would like to try this dinner of curried beans (sans tomato) and chapati. Yum!

  • One of my college roomies, Hayley (who I wrote about here), recently started a blog. Stop by and say hi, and while you're there, check out this cute centerpiece idea!

  • I just learned about an interesting site from my friend Amanda. I didn't know if I wanted to take the 20 minutes to watch the educational film, but I'm glad I did. It's an eye-opening look at U.S. consumption patterns. The video is full of facts and statistics--one of the statements that stood out to me is that the United States makes up 5% of the world's population, and yet we use 30% of the world's resources and produce the same percentage of the world's waste. Tragic! At the end of the video, there's a list of 10 practical ways we can help play address the issues from the film. Definitely gives us some things to think about . . .

Thanks for all your great comments on Monday's post. I wasn't sure what the reaction would be about my proposed "club," but quite a few of you were enthusiastic. I need to give it some more thought--for one thing, it needs a better name (any ideas?), so I'll post again soon when I've formulated some more details. Thanks for joining me on this journey!