Saturday, November 29, 2008

Checking in

Hope you're all having a wonderful weekend. I have been so glad for a nice balance of rest, recreation and productivity! I am sad we were unable to be with family for the holiday, but it has been nice to stay here and not travel.

Thank you again for your many prayers and comments in regards to my dad. My parents have both read the comments on my blog and Monica's and are also very appreciative of your support.

I am so excited for the Christmas series next week, and it was encouraging to me that many of you said you would have attended the class with me! The instructor friend I met with asked me during our session if I would be interested in teaching the course in the future. Preparing these posts has been a good way for me to interact with the material, and I will consider in the next year if teaching the class is something I would like to pursue. (Hopefully, people would sign up--ha!) It's been a challenge to condense the information into 4 brief posts, considering that it's normally a 4-hour workshop. So please bear with me, and I look forward to your comments and ideas.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Evaluating our Christmas celebrations

Each fall and winter, various educational community programs are offered in our area, and I was very intrigued when I read the following course description in the pamphlet that came in the mail:

"Have you ever found yourself in the midst of Christmas trees, parties, shopping and gift-wrapping and looking for something more? Do you find yourself wanting to be moved by the celebration of the spirit instead of being moved to hit a sale at the mall? This class is ideal for anyone who struggles to maintain a family-oriented Christmas. You will have an opportunity to explore your values around giving, family traditions, decorations, family time, and to explore what truly energizes you in your celebration."

When I noticed the instructor was an acquaintance I've admired, I wanted to attend even more and convinced my friend Jody to join me. Well, apparently we were the only ones interested--no one else registered for the class!

I was really disappointed the evening was canceled, but decided to ask the instructor if she would be willing to review the material with us privately. Jody was unable to come at the time we scheduled, so not only did I receive one-on-one guidance through the "class," I also didn't have to pay the $12 registration fee!

I am so excited to share with you what I learned that afternoon, and plan to do a series of posts on this topic next week. I hope you'll join me and look forward to your comments and ideas.

Until then, have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Outpouring

To each person who commented yesterday, I send a sincere thank you. Each thought and prayer are a much-appreciated acknowledgement and an offer of care and concern. I won't be able to reply to all your kind words individually, but please know how much you touched my heart--I know my parents are grateful for your encouragement as well. Blessings to you, friends!

Trying to make the better choice

A couple of weeks ago our insurance provider contacted me regarding a new pregnancy wellness program they're implementing. There is no cost to participate--it's just a resource the company created to encourage better health for pregnant women.

By opting to join, I had to complete a brief survey in which an OB nurse asked me a series of questions about my pregnancy and my overall health. I was cruising through with the "right" answers, until she asked if I eat 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day. Umm, well, not so much. When I confessed that I did not, she said she would send me some information on nutrition during pregnancy! Well, it's been interesting that I've been more motivated in this area since that phone call. I think I just needed a little push in the right direction.

I'm really trying to make better choices! For example, the other night I was craving a bowl of ice cream. Before indulging, I tried to convince myself to choose an apple instead, but that did not sound nearly as appealing. While wrestling with my decision, I then remembered a simple and healthy milk shake recipe from What to Expect that I'd made several times when pregnant with Nathan. So that felt like a good compromise. I've learned about myself that I like to eat healthy meals, but when it comes to snacking, I am way too likely to reach for carbs/unhealthy fats. I'm trying to make strides in getting to the 5/day goal, which is healthy for pregnancy and beyond!

What about you--where would you place yourself on a healthy eating continuum? And if you're currently pregnant, do you find yourself putting more emphasis on nutrition?

If you're interested, here's the recipe for the "double milk shake:"

1 c. milk
1/3 c. non-fat dry milk
1 frozen overripe banana, cut into chunks
1 t. vanilla (I omit this)
chocolate syrup to taste

Puree in blender--makes one tall glass.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Reeling

I'd been expecting the phone call this past Friday evening, but not the news I heard on the other end, hundreds of miles away. It was my dad, telling me he'd just been diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer that is infiltrating his bones. Treatment began immediately.

It sounds so cliche to say most of us think something like this will never happen in our own family. I understand that. Just a couple short weeks ago, I would never have predicted we'd be facing cancer square in the face. We were given a little warning, after all--though it was the kind I didn't think too much about because originally it was a pretty positive prognosis.

But now . . . I'm reeling--there's just no other way to say it. We'd greatly appreciate your prayers for our family at this time. And I can tell you, Thanksgiving will taste a little different this year.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Psalm 91:1-2

Friday, November 21, 2008

Giveaway winner!

The photography winner is angiec@yahoo! Thanks to all who entered. Don't forget that Lisa has a special holiday offer of free notecards ($12 value) with any purchase from her Etsy shop . . .

Some thoughts on marriage

I had heard from a few people that the movie Fireproof was worth seeing, but figured we'd just wait for the DVD to come out. When my mother-in-law offered to watch Nathan so we could go to a movie, I jumped at the chance.


I don't usually cry in movies, but the story and message touched my heart and I was in tears several times. I think we can all relate to aspects of the characters (whether married or not), and I strongly encourage you to go see the film. As we walked out of the theatre, Eric said the movie reminded him to not take anything for granted. Marriage is a sacred gift and covenant!


Also on the subject of marriage, I keep thinking about a statement I read on my friend Amanda's blog that "marriage is not supposed to be hard, it is supposed to be good, and we have the choice to make it that way, by being led by the Spirit . . . I've always heard that marriage is hard work, until I met this couple. Marriage does not have to be hard work, dying to self is the difficult part." Wow, that's pretty thought-provoking!

In addition, I am reminded of the Scripture passage Eric and I chose to have read at our wedding:

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:12-17
Have you seen Fireproof? What was your reaction?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Holiday giveaway!

This summer, I hosted a giveaway featuring my friend Lisa's photography. Well, she's back with some fun new stuff in her Etsy shop, so be sure to check it out.

One of you will win either a 5x7 print or a set of 5 notecards--your choice of image! (I personally love this cheerful mitten print.)

To enter, go to Lisa's shop, and look through the fabulous selections. Leave a comment with the title of your favorite(s) and indicate if you would like a 5x7 or the notecards. Comments will be open until Friday, November 21 at 12:00 pm CST. Make sure I have a way to contact you if you win, wither via a blog or an e-mail address--thanks.

*As a special holiday offer through December 10, Lisa's giving away 5 free notecards for readers of this blog when you make any purchase from her shop. Just enter "watibg" in the instruction section.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Random updates

*Thanks to Eric's mom for visiting us last week--she is always so helpful and energetic, and we appreciated her coming!
*Have been meaning to update my fall reading list--only a month to go!

-Shepherds Abiding by Jan Karon--loved it and reviewed the series here
-Cleaning Up the Clutter by Emilie Barnes--was interested in reading this because Monica found it so helpful. It wasn't my favorite, though I always enjoy reading about organization! =)
-The Girlfriends' Guide to Toddlers by Vicki Iovine--half-way through, though I've enjoyed her other books more than this one
-Gorgeously Green by Sophie Uliano--finished this one and hope to write some posts on it soon
-Hints on Child Training by H. Clay Trumbull--a few chapters into this one, which was recommended by a fellow blogger after this post
-Cheaper and Better by Nancy Birnes--not sure if I'll get to this one yet
-The Simple Living Guide by Janet Luhrs--am determined to read this and return it to my mom at Christmas because she loaned it to me in April!

*An overdue thanks to Gail for this award!

*This is the collection week for Operation Christmas Child--I strongly encourage you to participate! Here is my middle school small group, posing with our shoeboxes!
*I've just started my interim work at the college--in the job I had before Nathan was born. I'll be working until they're able to hire a replacement, so it could be 2 weeks or 2 months--so we're trying to find a new routine again!

*Be sure to stop by tomorrow, as I have a fun giveaway planned--think holidays!

Harvest swap show and tell

Well, it was another wonderful swap--thanks to all of you who joined the fun!

My partner, April, and her blog were unfamiliar to me before the swap, and it's always fun to "meet" someone new! She put all of my goodies together in a fall basket, which she wrapped with cellophane--it was a beautiful presentation!
Inside were lots of fun goodies: silk fall leaves and "pick," cinnamon vanilla candle, chocolate, mulling spices, journal and notepad with my initial, pretty homemade "harvest" print, comfort food recipes, and this book. I only have a couple fall decorations, so I was excited to add some new items to my collection. I also look forward to reading the book, as my middle school small group has been reading that author's series of books for young women. Thanks so much, April!
Here is what I put in my shoebox to April: Thanksgiving stickers, napkins, notepad and candles; fair trade tea and spoon rest; scrapbook journal, potpourri, devotional, and some of my homemade chai mix.
Last but not least, my mom wanted me to post a photo of the colorful goodies she received from her swap partner, Michelle. She especially liked the items that were tied to Little House on the Prairie.

Now it's your turn to show and tell--please link directly to your swap post!



Monday, November 17, 2008

Family matters

A couple of weeks ago Monica, my mom (Ruth) and I invited you to ask questions about our family. Here are our responses:

Wendi: I don't know if I have heard you or Monica mention your dad's family. I often hear mention of your mom's family and gather that you don't have extended family in Colorado. How did your parents come to settle in Colorado?

Monica: I think it is safe to say that we are closer to our mom's side of the family, largely because we haven't had as much opportunity to be with our dad's family over the years. Our dad worked professionally for the Boy Scouts for awhile and they used to move their directors around every few years. Before we moved to Colorado, we lived in Missouri and our dad was struggling with asthma. His doctor suggested a drier climate and it worked out with his job that Colorado Springs was an option. When it was time to move again, we were approaching high school and my parents made a decision to leave the Boy Scouts so that we could finish school without moving again.

barbara: I follow both of your blogs and really enjoy them, and your mother's sweet comments. I don't blog, but I do have a sister (and a brother). Unfortunately, we are not close and this is sad for me. How do you maintain your long-distance relationship? (I am in MI and my sister is in OH.) What is your age difference? (I am 7 years younger than my sister.) The only thing we have in common is being in the same family . . .

(Answered below.)

Michelle: Were you and Monica close as children? I'm wondering if your parents did anything in particular that helped you to cultivate a strong relationship, or if it was something that you grew into as adults?

Ruth: I don't remember intentionally working to foster a close relationship between Monica and Carrie, but we did do quite a few things together as a family (camping is an example). We also had a foster daughter in our home for 2 1/2 years (she was younger than M&C) -- I believe that experience created a bond between them as sisters as well.

Carrie: "Growing into our relationship as adults" is an accurate description. We've only gotten closer as we've become wives and moms, and also moved far away from one another.

gail: What is the age difference between you two? About two and a half years. Were you friends growing up?

Monica: Friends - yes, but not the way we are now. I remember our share of not getting along! I also remember that once I moved out of my parents house, our relationship changed and grew for the better.

Carrie: I think middle school/high school was probably the time we were most involved in our own activities. I have many fond memories of playing together when we were younger. We were very imaginative and loved playing things like store and even dry cleaners!

Did you and Monica always want children?

Monica: All I ever really wanted was to be a wife and mom. It would come up pretty often working full time as a single young woman - and I was always very open about desiring with all my heart to be a stay at home wife and mom. I love it!

Carrie: I definitely knew I wanted to be a mom, though I wouldn't say my desire was as strong as Monica's. Being a mother has definitely made me appreciate my own mom more!

What do you remember most about growing up in Colorado--would either of you move back?

Monica: I love the mountains. They represent comfort and strength - God's presence to me. Would I move back - yes, in a moment but only if it was truly God's will that I was not forcing and if David had come around to the idea of being cold! :)

Ruth: We'd love it if they moved back to Colorado!

Carrie: I have many dear friends who still live in the Springs, and I am so grateful to go back and visit them. The scenery doesn't hurt, either! I am very proud to be from Colorado, but I also love where I live now. I used to think I was a city girl, but small town life is a great fit for my husband and me.

Did you share clothes growing up?

Monica: I don't know that we did much sharing of clothes - Carrie always wanted to be independent and we had pretty different styles! Of course, as we grew - we didn't really wear the same size - Carrie's taller than me!

Carrie: I would like to accentuate the fact that I am taller than Monica--by 6 inches! I always liked that I had a height advantage even though I was younger. I know our mom dressed us in matching or coordinating outfits when we were little--we were the same size, and many people thought we were twins. But it's true that it was important for me to have my own style. I remember one family photo where I insisted on wearing the following colorful ensemble: pastel fruit-print sweatshirt, black leggings and my rainbow-striped legwarmers. Late 80s, oh yeah!

Did you share a bedroom?

Monica: We mostly did share a room - a couple of times we decided we wanted our own rooms and then our parents would move everything around, only for me to find I'd want to be back sharing again and not able to sleep in my own room.

How do you keep your relationships alive (sisters & mom) with living in all parts of the country?

Monica: Travel is difficult, but my mom is great at that part! I started my blog with the idea of keeping family and friends caught up with our lives. More of the daily stuff that we don't have time to talk about or forget on the phone. We are connected by our blogs, e-mail, letters and packages, and we each have a set time to talk on the phone. I talk to Carrie on Friday afternoons and my parents on Sunday afternoon. If there can be a favorite thing about living apart - mine would be that we anticipate and plan our times together with gratitude and excitement. We look forward to that time together and then make the most of it!

Ruth: Monica and Carrie's blogs have been a huge blessing to me in keeping in touch with what is going on in their daily lives! I am also grateful for the airlines and for enough flexibility in my job that I can travel fairly often. I share a magazine subscription with each of my dear daughters (Real Simple with Carrie and Country Home with Monica), which is fun to share from a distance--we'll often comment on an article or idea that we enjoyed in the magazine. I also buy three of the same calendars each Christmas so we are each looking at the same picture on the calendar each month of the year. And my Sunday afternoons are dedicated to phone calls to each of them (as well as my mother and mother-in-law). We often read the same books and share thoughts in them. These are some of the ways we try to bridge the miles!

What is it that makes you two so darn cute?

Monica: I think it is our wonderful mom! She has been a tremendous influence in our lives and with God's help has shaped us into who we are now.

Ruth: I'm glad you think my girls are cute -- I agree!

angie: Carrie and Monica-You are both so creative, and are articulate writers. What did both of you do before becoming mothers?

Monica: After graduating from high school, I was asked to continue working there - it was a small Christian school. I worked in the office for the next six years as registrar (grades and records), athletic director's secretary and cheerleading coach. After that, I worked at Glen Eyrie in several different positions - front desk, concierge, event planning, guest services manager, and the longest - executive assistant to the director of the property. I came to realize that my gifting and desire were to make a leader's job easier, and serving in the role of assistant was fun for me - now I get to do that in my home!

Carrie--I taught 8th grade reading and writing for a year, before deciding to return to my alma mater as a women's dorm director. I then worked at the college in student programming and public relations until Nathan was born.

What is your favorite tradition from childhood? I'm imagining that your parents planted the seeds for cherishing family time.

Monica: Our mom was great at traditions. She is the one who cultivated such a wonderful love for celebrating the every day and the simplest pleasures. I loved all our Christmas traditions. Playing charades on Christmas Eve by candlelight, programs that my sister and I would come up with and perform, homemade cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning and so much more.

Ruth: I was a stay-at-home mom and money was tight, so I tried hard to make things fun and memorable without spending a lot of money. I hope they have happy memories!
Carrie: My parents were also committed to us taking a family vacation every summer. We always drove, and either camped or stayed with relatives. We've covered a lot of territory in the U.S. together, and I'm thankful our parents valued seeing new places.

Friday, November 7, 2008

29 gifts

I first learned about the 29 Gifts Challenge on my friend Amy's blog. I thought the idea was intriguing and decided to check out the site. The gist is that for 29 days, you give something away each day--there are no rules, so it can be something tangible or intangible.

I joined the challenge and starting keeping a list in my journal of what I was giving, so I wanted to share some of the highlights with you. I also kept track of gifts I received during this time, so I'll list those as well. You can click here for more info on how this movement got started, and how to participate.

Here are some of things I gave:
*baked goods to friends and acquaintances
*small gifts and packages to loved ones
*cleaned and organized a friend's pantry, which I'll share more about soon
*prayers, a listening ear, and encouragement
*hospitality to several new people I've been wanting to have over

Here are some special things I received last month:
*surplus apples and tomatoes from friends
*a morning of watching Nathan, offered by a friend
*a plate of brownies
*the news of a healthy daughter!
*surprise care packages from my mom and my friend Rebecca

I don't plan to continue keeping track of my giving on a list, but I do think this month made me more mindful of giving to others. And that's a gift in itself.
An unrelated note to add: I don't plan to post next week. My mother-in-law will be visiting, I'm starting my interim work at the college, and I'm way behind on visiting your blogs. So I'll see you back here the following Monday! (And I just have to share--we woke up to our first snowfall of the season this morning!)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

And the verdict is . . .

Thanks to everyone who voted yesterday! At my last check, 53 votes were cast, with "girl" leading 33-20 over "boy." I enjoyed seeing your guesses and appreciated your comments as well. Here are a couple pictures from yesterday: a "half-way there" profile pic, and one of Eric and me sharing the results!

We rejoice in God's provision for our family. Thank you again for humoring me with your guesses--the popular vote was the right one! Now go out and vote on some really important issues!

*Before we went in for Nathan's ultrasound two years ago, I made a reversible sign so we'd be prepared to take a picture announcing our news right away. Now we've gotten to use both sides!
*Also, I switched my blog feeder setting to "short" just for today, so it would give a little more suspense and anticipation to our announcement! =)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Voting time!

Well, you might as well vote two days in a row (if you live in the U.S.) Today's issue is very important, so I encourage you to take a minute to give your opinion. Are you ready for the life-changing topic?

Is our baby a boy or a girl?
BOY
GIRL
pollcode.com free polls
I'd love to hear your guesses, and feel free to elaborate on your choice in the comments. If he/she cooperates, we'll know the news later today, and I'll be sure to post the results tomorrow! (Thanks to my sister-in-law, Kendra, for the cute poll idea.)

I would like for Nathan to note that the word "baby" is singular. He keeps pointing to my belly, and saying "Two babies!"