Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Biggest Night of the Year

While I will personally be spending New Year's Eve in a drug-induced coma after traveling with my family for 2 weeks, I wanted to offer a bit of New Year's Eve advice for those of you with young children. I recently discovered a writer's website called Helium, and a debate topic offered was "Should Young Children Stay up for the New Year's Countdown?" Now, foolishly, I voted for the Yes side right away because, of course, children should be allowed to do whatever they flippin' want to from December 25 until January 1! But then I came up with a more compelling argument for the NO side, and I wasn't allowed to write from that perspective since I had already voted Yes. Apparently, they don't allow mind changes. But seriously, Helium is an awesome site with tons of opportunities to write, to earn money, and to get yourself noticed by publishers. Now, forget I said that because I don't want any competition.

Here is my opinion about whether children should be allowed to stay up for the New Year's Celebration.

Should Young Children Stay up for the New Year's Countdown?

The obvious answer to this question is that parents must decide what is best for their own children. That is not even remotely debatable since no parent wants another person – whether expert or well-meaning mother-in-law – to tell them how to raise their children!

Ultimately, however, my stance on this topic is that, unless you are a fan of screaming-toddler-induced torture, you will want to put your young ones to sleep at a reasonable hour, which is around 3 PM for my young ones. Sometimes it's 6 PM and a glass of wine. Very rarely it's 9 PM and a 5th of vodka.

Young children simply cannot appreciate the New Year's celebration. They will have very little concept of what the celebration means in the first place. The only reason to let them stay up is so that aunts and uncles and other inebriated guests can coo about how cute they are and then let them suck on empty beer bottles, in which case, your precious little angel will most likely not remain conscious until midnight anyway. You'll find your sweet baby passed out in a nice pile of laundry somewhere.

But even if your munchkin does survive until midnight, there will certainly be tears and tantrums along the way since it is simply too late for a young child to be awake. And your child might do some crying too. And no matter how late your little child goes to bed on New Year's Eve (well, I guess it's actually New Year's Day at that point) don't fool yourself into thinking she'll just sleep in the next morning– if she wakes up at 6 AM every other day of the week, she will most definitely be awake at 6 AM on New Year's Day, if not before. She will have no mercy on you, the exhausted, partied-too-much-the-night-before-and-would-die-for-a-gallon-of-coffee parents. This is just a cruel truth about raising children.

Yet another argument for not letting your young child stay up for the ringing in of the New Year: it is a well-known fact that people usually experience more fatigue after completing the second sleep cycle after a late night. (If this is not a well-known fact, then you may call it a little-known fact.) This means that if you ignore my advice and you do let your child stay up until midnight on New Year's Eve and your child seems to do well (or even so-so) on New Year's Day, do not be lulled into a false sense of accomplishment such as, “Ahh, we made it through New Year's Eve and we're not much worse for the wear.” Be on guard: you will indeed have a toddler tyrant on January 2.

Finally, since young children have not yet been gifted with the power of reason, you will not be able to use the Santa Claus trick on them: “If you do a good job on New Year's Eve, Santa will be extra good to you next year.” Since they have just made a fresh killing on a hoard of toys from Santa, this reasoning might possibly work with older children, but not on the younger na├»ve ones. In any case, you and I both know very well that young children haven't got a clue what it means to be good and that they will still get gobs and gobs of toys next year, no matter what we say.

So, you see, there really is no viable reason to let young children stay up for the big New Year's moment.

Unless you enjoy being punished by a 3-year-old.

Vote in my poll in the right-hand column, and have a Wonderful New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

On the Road Again

I've taken the liberty of paraphrasing Willie Nelson's classic to describe our journeys from Florida to Michigan and back.

On the road again
Can't believe we're on the road again
I think I must have been smoking somethin' with my friends

Can't believe we're on the road again

On the road again
Trying to stay sane on the road again

Wishing my doctor would have prescribed some Valium
Oh, it really sucks to be on the road again

On the road again -
Like a a bunch of psychos we go down the highway
The kids won't make amends
Insisting that the world keep turning their way
And their way
is giving me a migraine
Can't believe we're on the road again

The life I love is blogging with my friends
And I can't wait to get off the road again.

On the road again
Like deranged madmen, we go down the highway
I wish we'd worn Depends

So the rest stops would quickly fade away
Oh, I can't believe we're on the road again.
Oh, I can't believe we're on the road again.

Michigan, here we come.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

SnoreFest 2009

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! This will be the biggest snoring competition in the history of the world, or at least Florida! Six members of one family will come down with a cold which will result in snoring the likes of which has never been heard in all of history!

In one corner, we have the older sisters, who are breathing heavily and deeply, with no real log-sawing taking place just yet. However, their younger brother seems to have this corner covered with his large gasping breaths and zzzzipping exhales.

In the other corner is Dad, who is operating in the decibel range of a chainsaw, while little sister is growling like a mother bear, a surprising feat for someone of her petite size. And finally, there's Mom, who has chosen not to compete in this snoring competition and would simply like to get some sleep.

Will Mom triumph in her quest for sleep, or will the snorers remain victorious yet again?

Tune in tomorrow for the final results of this epic battle.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Relaxing in Florida. . . FINALLY!

If you follow my blog or you are a friend on Facebook, you probably know that it took us
f-o-r-e-v-e-r to get to Florida, due to snowstorms in the mountains, multiple potty stops, and a van malfunction which resulted in my husband driving 5 MPH below the speed limit at all times (or maybe that's just a husband malfunction. . . .love you, honey!)

We first stayed in a darling condo in New Smyrna Beach. (However, I am not able to upload photos to Blogger right now, so I will have to try to do it when I get home.) It was very beachy in theme and in reality as the condo sat on a gorgeous stretch of beach right on the Atlantic. There was also a pool and a hot tub. There was no end of activity - the children always wanted to be playing in some form of water. We went to Sea World for a day (an item I checked off my bucket list). We went shopping in the cutesy shopping area of New Smyrna Beach. We celebrated Christmas with steak on the charcoal grill instead of the traditional ham dinner.

It was fun, but also exhausting. After driving a gazillion hours, there was no rest for the weary since we had to buy groceries, unpack, cook, clean, take out trash and do laundry, just like at home. And guess who did most of the work? Perhaps you read my Open Letter a few months back? It is an absolute truth that a woman's work is never done. I whined casually mentioned to my husband more than once that I found this fact frustrating. I kept telling myself that I should be more grateful for this wonderful trip. I AM thankful for this trip, but why does everyone else get to relax while I still work???

Today, however, we are being spoiled and I am humbled by my mother-in-law's hospitality. She will hardly let me lift a finger to help her - which was a welcome blessing as we arrived in our depleted state yesterday afternoon. Nana had made a gigantic day-after-Christmas dinner, complete with savory hors d'oeuvres, turkey, stuffing, potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls, yams, and too many desserts to mention. (She did let me stir the gravy.) I had tons of laundry to do, and my wonderful mother-in-law did it all for me! After our delicious dinner and the opening of many gifts, our whole family hit the hay at 7 PM - and the kids didn't even put up a fight!

Now, the real relaxing begins.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Restroom Horror

Traveling 1200 miles, you pretty much play Restroom Roulette, and we fared quite well up until now. Somewhere in Hickville, Florida, we struck out. We pulled up to a Mobil gas station, thinking since it was a national chain, we should be able to get decent service. The hubby got out and started pumping gas while the kiddos and I got out to use the restroom (for hopefully the very last time until we reach our destination). On the outside of the crooked door was a hand-painted sign saying, "No public restroom. Paying customers only." Apparently, if you're a paying customer, you become instant family and you're no longer considered the general public. We proceeded inside, hoping that they would clearly see that Pa was outside pumping gas so that we would be qualified to use the facilities. We stepped inside and were greeted by grunts from the gas station personnel, who were dressed in coordinating motorcycle gang outfits.

We looked around and found the door marked "Ladies" (wonder if they've ever seen a real lady in these parts. . . .). All 5 of us crammed inside the tiny bathroom (no way was I going to let Evan into the "gentlemen" bathroom by himself.) Once inside, I was greeted by vibrant colors that looked like someone had barfed a bottle of Pepto Bismol all over the walls. And the smell? It probably would have smelled better if someone had barfed. I told everyone to control their gag reflexes and use the bathroom as quickly as possible. I let all the kids go first and when it was finally my turn, I was greeted by the lovely sight of a vending machine, the contents of which I had hoped and prayed my children would never ask me about. Blessed be God, they hadn't taken notice of it because of the rust & dust covering the machine.

Whew, all finished, we headed toward the door when a rough looking fellow walked in from the repair shop with a rather large pitbull-looking dog who was not on a leash or restrained in any fashion. I tried to step between the dog and my children just as Evan caught sight of the mongrel, who was bigger than he is. He stepped up his pace and hurried out the door. The dog followed and I rushed everyone into the van, which was now waiting just outside the door, with my husband at the wheel.

He told me of his own adventure, during which Cooter had approached him and told him, "You got steam comin' from under yer hood. Why dontcha pop it and I'll take a look?" "No, thanks," my husband replied as he spied the repair shop sign which read, "Cash Only." You have to wonder about cash only establishments in the middle of nowhere, run by Hell's Angels, targeting out-of-state cars.

Thankfully, we made it out of there with empty bladders and a full tank of gas.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Longest Trip of My Life

Even longer than the 20-hour flight to Philippines with only a quick fuel stop in Honolulu. I can't believe how flippin' long it is taking to drive to Florida. And I'm not stupid - I was prepared for a LONGGGG drive because we do LLOONNGG drives to Northern Michigan all the time. But this time it is exceedingly long because of some insidious travel time warp that we have entered. Every mile seems to be taking twice as long. Sure, we've had our potty stops and fast food stops and even our overnight stay 250 miles before our scheduled hotel stop (because of the snowstorm that seemed to be the worst along our exact route). Oh, yeah, and don't forget the malicious meltdowns that have occurred. I do believe at least one of our children will be returning to her psychiatrist when we return to Michigan.

The bright side (literally) is that we have finally exited the mountains and the snow, and we see sunshine, and the mercury is rising! We're still 500 miles from our destination, but it will be a sunny, snowless 500 miles!!! (I hope.)

I think I may see a shrink when we get home, too.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Trip Begins

6:51 AM

And we've been on the road for close to an hour. We're doing it - we're really doing it! We're going to Florida! But, of course, we're not even close. From our home in Michigan to our Florida destination, it's a good 20+ hour drive. We're stopping in North Carolina for the night, which seems so far away from now. About 30 minutes into the trip, our 5-year-old asked, "Are we there yet?" Oh, my heavens, he has no idea what lay in front of him.

I was awake at 3:30, probably because I was excited, nervous, anxious. . . whatever. Got up and showered around 4. Monkeyed around on my computer until 5. Then we crammed our family and belongings into every available space in our Chrysler Town and Country. It's amazing how much you can cram into a mini-van.

I only panicked once. I say that as if I panic about road trips often. I never panic about road trips - I panic about everyday life. The only other time I felt fear like that was when I hopped a plane and flew literally half-way around the world to the Philippines, and it suddenly dawned on me that I had just committed one year of my life to serving in a third world country.

Strange that I would have the same reaction to driving to Florida with me family, to see more family, and we're returning in 2 short weeks. Nonetheless, as we were pulling out of our neighborhood, I had this sick feeling of "Oh, my gosh, what are we doing???" But the panic faded once I had the coffee IV hooked up.

When I had first looked out the window this morning, I was greeted by a fresh snowfall. . .and it was still falling. It was a lovely snowfall - the kind that lights up the entire sky. I could hear it softly landing on the ground as I went out to put out the trash and the last piece of Christmas mail. Beautiful. Except for the fact that we have to drive in it. And the radar is showing snow from here to our layover in North Carolina. But I didn't tell my husband that. I'll just sit next to him and look pretty and tell him how well he's doing and hand him the occasional sugar-laced vat of Mountain Dew to keep him alert.

Since I am writing this at 6, 7 and 8 AM, I am not working too hard on this post. I just felt like writing. I hope you are all having a great day!

Friday, December 18, 2009


There are 2 kinds of pride that I wish to discuss in this post.

One is the kind of pride that I feel when my children excel in something, like this morning when my children won several awards at school. My two oldest children had participated in an essay contest on the topic "Why Kids Need Great Schools". Hope won an award for good sentence structure and Joy - the one who hated writing when I was homeschooling her - won first place in the entire competition! They were awarded with certificates and McDonald's gift cards. And, Hope also won an award for exemplifying the school's monthly moral focus of "self-control."

This is in addition to the other awards they, along with the other children, have won this year for the moral focus themes of wisdom and respect (I think - see, I can't even remember because they're winning so darn much!) And I have to brag that their teachers had nothing but good things to say about all of them at parent-teacher conferences a few weeks back. And they have good friendships and kids who want to hang out with them at recess "just because they're nice." And children keep calling our house to speak to them and invite them over, etc.

Yes, indeed, I am a proud mama!

Here's the other kind of pride: the kind that says, "I can do it all. I can provide everything my children need. I can homeschool them even if my health and mental sanity are falling apart!" Read back in my blog a few months and you will see that I had a tough time letting go of homeschooling. I really wanted to be good at it and I wanted to be the one to teach my children everything. But God is so good that He gave me the grace to let go of my children so that other people could educate them better than I was capable of doing.

And God gave me the grace to do as much with them as I did when they were homeschooled. He brought them much farther than I thought possible.

I'm so thankful that the Lord doesn't let us decide what's best for ourselves! I'm very grateful for the awesome school my children atttend and for the new lessons they're learning in school and in life. I'm thankful that I have the time to rest and to address my health issues. I'm thankful that now I can just be Mom.

I'm quite certain that, when I'm ready, God will have a new way for me to serve Him (in addition to the daunting task of being a parent). Once the word was out that I was done homeschooling, I got about 5 requests to serve in different capacities - in the campus outreach, serving as a spiritual advisor for college women, serving in the high school youth group. . . . to all of which my husband gave a resounding "no"! That is, until my health issues are under control. Then I will be ready for what God wants to do in my life!

Posting While Sleeping

Wow, I'm amazed! I actually wrote something intelligible in my previous post, even though I was sleeping. Well, I was actually under the influence. . . . of a sleeping pill. You know anxiety must be getting pretty bad when you take a sleeping pill and you still can't sleep. I take Ambien, which is fairly gentle, and my doctor did say I could take a second dose if I didn't fall asleep right away. So, the last post was written while I was waiting for the second dose to kick in. Apparently, the first dose had some effect on me because, when I woke up this morning, I had some very vague recollection of writing something on my blog in the night. Oh, my heavens! I hoped I hadn't written anything scandalous.

There are some seasons of my life when I need sleep aids more than others. When life is intense and stressful, I really need something to relax and to shut my mind down. Ambien is doing the trick, I guess, because I actually feel rested today.

Still, I think I might ask for some Xanax for Christmas.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Well, it wasn't pretty

If you had read my earlier post, you know I'm feeling "stressed" (major understatement) about getting last-minute things done. At one point, I thought it might be reasonable for the kids to help with the mundane chores of the house for a bit so I could continue to focus on the Florida flurry. They weren't having any of it. I asked them to clean the living room and they walked in and announced, "It IS clean." So I slipped into spazz-Mom mode and I quickly walked around the living room and grabbed whatever I could get my hands on and proclaimed that it was all going to the trash. Panic ensued. Screaming of a kind that I have never heard coming out of a live human being before (except my daughter). I knew my husband would soon put an end to my spazz out, so I just stopped. Then my daughter said, "Well I was in the mood to clean before you did that." My husband came on the scene and he said, "You just need to go to bed.". . . to me. I agreed to this because it was my idea 10 minutes earlier. But I kept fighting like a 10-year-old all the way to my bedroom: "Well, I'm the only one who ever does anything around here and no one else even cares that we live in a pig-sty, and there's no gratitude for all the preparations I'm making, waah, waah, wahh." All the way up to my room. I would have slammed the door, but I was too tired.

Sheesh, I just acted like a kid. You think they'll buy it tomorrow when I tell them I was modeling the wrong kind of behavior?

I hope so.

In Transition

Yes, that's what it feels like. It feels like that part of labor when you think, "There's no way I can do this - it's too hard!"

Luckily, I'm not actually in labor, but I still have that sense of overwhelmed-ness. That's because I'm trying to pack for 6 people to vacation in a different climate for 2 weeks. And I'm trying to prepare for the actual trip, which will take something like 83 million hours. I'm trying to pull every trick out of my hat so the children will not kill each other and so that Al and I will hopefully emerge with only a few flesh wounds. (Thank goodness we have a DVD player for the car, but even videos get boring after about 82.5 million hours on the road.)

But not only am I pulling shorts and sandals out of storage and trying to remember what fit whom as of 4 or 5 months ago, I'm also preparing all the Christmas merriment that has to happen on this side of the trip. Like the ton of sweets that I made for the children's teachers. And the gifts for godparents. And sending out Christmas cards. And oh, yeah, there's a cookie exchange for the girls on Friday night. . . .a mere 8 hours before we pack ourselves into the car for the trek to Florida (and guess who's making the cookies?)

Don't get me wrong - I really do enjoy the Christmas merrymaking - I just wish it could be spread out over a few months instead of crammed into 7 short days.

Yes, it is kind of like labor, because as much as I plan ahead, I'm never as prepared as I think I am for what lies ahead. It's always a ton of exhausting work to get ready for a trip. And no one can really help me. The kids help a little. The hubby helps a little. But the bulk of the work is mine.

Ok, so it's not that hard. And you're probably thinking, "Sheesh, Jen, quit complaining! You get to spend 2 weeks in sunny Florida instead of cold, snowy Michigan." Yeah, you're right. I'm just so ready for the labor to be done!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fashion Fuddy Duddy

How do you teach your children the fine art of matching their clothes when they are getting themselves dressed? Not just matching colors, but matching fabrics, textures, styles, and SEASONS, for heaven's sake! I haven't yet figured out how to do it without offending my children. The child development experts would probably advise that I let my children wear whatever they want - within reason - and develop their own style. The problem is that many of the young'uns in these parts choose clothing that doesn't fit the "within reason" guideline.

Scenario #1: The strong-willed, spoiled 5-year-old boy was wearing a long-sleeved casual striped shirt with casual, lightweight pants that have elastic around the ankles. He chose ankle socks, which were fine, since he had that sporty look going. And then he chose black. dress. shoes. I stood there and pondered whether this was a fight I wanted to engage, because my little man is tough when he wants something done his way, which is pretty much 105% percent of the time. So I appealed to my husband to try to talk some sense into him. The hubby said, "Oh, he's fine. Don't worry about it." This, from the man who also wears white athletic socks with black dress shoes. Why did I even bother?

And here's the thing: I know that probably just about everyone who has children, has ever had children, has ever known children, or has ever come into the general vicinity of children, will know that when children start dressing themselves and choosing their own clothing, it's never pretty.

But I couldn't let it go. My son looked like a dork. The entire time we were out, I was trying to read people's faces. What were they thinking about me, the mom who let her kid go out looking like a buffoon? That I'm so self-absorbed that I didn't even notice what he was wearing? That I'm a total slacker mom who would let her kid wear a Spongebob Squarepants costume, complete with talking Patrick sidekick doll, to a wedding, if the mood struck him? Or were they just feeling sorry for us because we're obviously so poor that we can only afford one pair of shoes for our son?

Scenario #2: There was a certain daughter who wanted to wear a casual, fall-print corduroy skirt with a white satin blouse and casual white socks (with a colored stripe around the top) with her dress shoes. . . .all in the same outfit.

Scenario #3: Another daughter who wanted to wear (and did wear) a pair of shoes - that was at least 4 sizes too big for her, although she contended that they were just her size - into several shopping venues, much to her mother's embarrassment.

Scenario #4: You won't believe this one. One kid wanted to wear her Easter dress for Christmas! Oh, the horror!

Am I an overly controlling mother whose children will end up in therapy because I pushed them too hard to conform to my own freakish standards? Or will they end up in therapy anyway because their friends ridiculed them for their bizarre apparel choices?

Or am I just overreacting?

Parenting is hard.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Having a Scrooge Moment

I love Christmas. It's my favorite time of year: snow, shimmering lights, crackling fires, festive foods, pretty gifts. I enjoy Christmas music as well, and it doesn't really bother me if it starts in November. . . .September is pushing it, though. But one thing annoys me. Sorry if I sound like a scrooge, but I'm really not impressed by the vast variety of renditions of all the traditional Christmas songs. I mean, how many ways can we possibly perform "Silent Night"? Every possible singer in singerdom has a Christmas album, and every single one has to do every single song. OK, so I'm exaggerating. . . . just a little.

I can be walking through the mall and hear 72 versions of "Jingle Bells" including pop, hip-hop, rap, acid rock, blues, celtic, jazz, soul, funk, punk, bluegrass, latin, mambo, merengue, classical, polka, salsa, and reggae. And those are just the music styles, not to mention the singing styles. Gee, let's try this song with the emphasis on "Jingle"; next we'll try it with the emphasis on "bells." Oh, and don't forget, we have to construct 87 different harmonies and inflections for this line right here.

Sorry I'm such a downer about this, but it seems slightly arrogant for every musician known to man to try to improve on the classics. I'd like to see some new material out there. Maybe I'll come up with some interesting song lyrics if any of you would like to put them to music.

I have a poll in my right-hand column if you'd like to vote - do you prefer the traditional renditions of old favorites, or do you enjoy the modernized versions?

Yes, I'm Still Here

My goal is to post on my blog every day. Please believe me. It's just that. . . .well, I don't know. I have tons of ideas and many happenings about which to write. It just takes a lot of brain power to make that happen in a coherent way. So, I end up not posting at all.

This is how winter is for me. I love the changing of the seasons. I love the beauty of the fall and the thrill of the first snow. And from what I hear, the first snow was a lot more thrilling for some than for others - most people got blizzards. We got a pathetic dusting of snow and a Winter Weather Advisory, which basically means, "Don't forget how to drive in the snow, you moron."
But I still enjoy winter for the snow and Christmas and the festivity of it all. What really stinks is that I'm usually depressed for much of it.

How can that be? Well, I "enjoy" winter. But I haven't much energy. Because I am a delicate flower that needs sunlight and warmth to survive. But the sunlight has gone away and may not return until sometime next July. So, despite my love for the season, my body rebels by going into hibernation mode and all I want to do is sleep all the time. And my brain shuts down, too. I mean, who needs higher brain functions when they're hibernating, right? And so it goes: my desires and my actual level of functioning are in conflict with one another.

So, please understand that it's nothing personal. I'm just hibernating.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Lavish Love

Ok, so I might not be all sarcastic & goofy today. That's because I'm in love. Well, I am in love with a sarcastic & goofy man, but I won't aim any sarcasm at him. He doesn't deserve it. My kids, on the other hand. . . .Ok, well maybe I'll be sarcastic about my kids and my hubby some other day, but not today.

Monday was our 13th anniversary. It's a good thing I don't have triskaidekaphobia (that is, fear of the number 13). Otherwise, I might have done something drastic, like erasing the date from our calendar because the number 13 is bad luck, and then today would be December 3, in which case, I would be one day closer to Christmas-induced insanity. As it is, it's still only December 2, because I am not a triskaidekaphobiac. And I have just laid around in the post-Thanksgiving stupor for 5 days or so, which means I really do have to get cracking on Christmas preparations.

But I digress. Thirteen years of marriage. Wedded bliss. Matrimonial harmony. Seriously. I have never regretted being married to my husband. Some people struggle with marriage, but I just don't. I love Al and I always will. Period. If you are interested in our "Love Story", click this link: HERE. And I know you are very interested in our love story!

To make a long story short, Al was a great friend for 6 years. No feelings on my side of things, though. He was just a really good friend. But Al finally won me over. Not sure how, but I think it had something to do with his lavish love. He loves me and I have never doubted it. Al's love is and always has been acted out in service. In college, he was always the guy first to arrive and last to leave at our campus ministry meetings and parties - because he helped do the set up and clean up. He was always the one who would help stranded girls with their dying cars and he was the computer-glitch-fixing guru. He even drove me the 350 miles from East Lansing, Michigan to Random Lake, Wisconsin (a teeny burb north of Milwaukee, I think - I wasn't really paying attention) so that I could surprise my mom, who was visiting my aunt in Random Lake, for a birthday or something. That's just the kind of guy Al was / is. Although, I think he might have some vested interest in the Random Lake trip, in retrospect (man, was I thick-headed!)

Al is a servant. And when he finally won me over with his friendship, his service to me (and my car), and his love for me, I realized that God was using him in my life. I experienced the love of God through Al. I was a naive, selfish, broken young woman, and Al showed me Christ-like, selfless love. He loved me for me. And throughout the 13 years of our marriage, he has put up with a lot of emotional junk that I've had to sort through. I mean, the average person might have just enough emotional garbage to fill a 2-gallon trash can. Al received a temperamental, manic-depressive, borderline suicidal landfill the size of Lake Michigan. Well, OK, maybe that's a little bit exaggerated, but he has definitely had infinitely more patience for me than the average man would have had.

And not only has Al gifted me with supreme patience (another definition for patience is long-suffering. . . .definitely a very suitable word for what he has had to deal with), but he is very affectionate, which I need. He is funny, which I thoroughly enjoy. He is my best friend.

AND he gives me great gifts. I mean, not to sound materialistic, but Al is really good at giving me awesome presents - for anniversaries, Christmases, birthdays, even random days in between. Remember a few months ago when he came home with a kick-ass vacuum cleaner the very day I found out that I had severe allergies to dust and mold. No, he didn't wait until he had thoroughly researched every possible vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter - he went directly to Sears and bought me the best one with 2 HEPA filters. Yeah, so a vacuum cleaner is not very romantic, but it was definitely love in action to me.

Over the years, Al has bought me: a freezer, central air conditioning, all my favorite Sims, Sims 2, and Sims 3 video games and expansion packs, a new van, and countless other "little" surprises.

On our anniversary, he came home with this: a totally kick-butt laptop! with capability to play all my Sims games (which require lots of memory & amazing video capability), wireless, of course, and even a built-in webcam. Hmm, not sure if I'll start v-logging, though, so don't hold your breath. Oh, AND the newest expansion pack for Sims 3. Yeah, and we weren't even going to buy each other presents for the next 19 years because we're dirt poor, sort of. But Al always has a plan. And this was his plan, to floor me with a rockin' computer. Yes, I love my laptop, I love my blog time, I love my connection to the outside world! There is no way I can tell you how much I experienced Al's love by his gifting me this laptop. I mean, read this post, and you'll see how much I loved my old laptop.

Anyway, before you all get jealous of my electronically gifted husband, I will tell you the major thing that hit me when Al came home with this outstanding present. When he walked in, testosterone racing over the pure, unadulterated power of this magnificent machine, all I had to give him in return was a cookie. Granted, it was a large, heart-shaped cookie that I had baked all by myself, using his favorite recipe. But still, it was a cookie. Oh yeah, and a card that I had printed from the computer and it wasn't even glued together or anything so it was just like 2 sheets of paper folded together, kind of like a little kid would make for her daddy. I felt a little sheepish. But that's when it hit me. I had once again experienced God's love through Al.

God's love is so lavish that he wants us to have the best of everything. He wants us to be filled with pure joy at all He has given us. He loved us so much that He even took on the form of a man and allowed Himself to be crucified for our sins. And He did it freely, willingly, lovingly. And every day, He has great and amazing gifts for us. And all I have to give Him is a homemade chocolate chip cookie. And that's OK. He loves the cookie, and He still loves me.

And so does Al.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Friend Makin' Monday

Today, I'm joining Amber for Friend Makin' Monday. I like doing these posts because then I don't have to think of something to write about. :) Visit Amber at aefilkins because her blog is so stinkin' cute, and there will be many others posting on this topic too, if you're looking for other bloggers to stalk read.

So, this week's Friend Makin' Monday's topic is a simple survey, which is great because I love to talk and blog about myself. I'm a closet narcissist.

OK, here goes.

1. Favorite Website: Facebook

2. Favorite color: Turquoise

3. Facebook? Yes, I love having FB friends! Jennifer Rivard Yarrington

4. Favorite Christmas song? Let it Snow

5. Christmas tree: Real or fake? Fake, much to my chagrin, but the hubby thinks real ones are too much of a pain to put up.

6. Hottest celebrity? Patrick Stewart and Patrick Dempsey (hee hee - got a thing for the Patricks I guess.) I don't know whether I should admit that I think Zac Efron is hot because I am old enough to be his mother older sister.

7. Favorite restaurant? Mountain Jack's, although there hasn't been one in my town for about 10 years. :(

8. Favorite magazine? Reader's Digest

9. Favorite thing to drink around the holidays? Eggnog, of course, usually with a little something "extra".

10. Favorite Christmas movie? National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Personal Space

When you're a mom, it becomes essential to have personal space. And often I go into the bathroom to get it. But I will say, in all honesty, that even though the locked door creates some physical distance, there is no separation between me and the rest of my family.


I say this because every single time (you think I'm exaggerating, but I'm not) I go into the bathroom to either take care of business or to take a shower, someone magically appears outside the bathroom door and begins to knock, yell, or otherwise interrupt my little mini vacation. Yes, I do look forward to those little visits. Hmm, maybe there's something subconscious about that incontinence thing.

I haven't had a quiet trip to the bathroom in over 10 years. Even in utero, my children were dictating my bathroom trips. Then, the babies in my bed always sensed the moment that I had strategically chosen to sneak away and would consequently start screaming just as I was getting comfortable. Toddlers would always accompany me into the bathroom attempt to pull themselves up on my knees or peek into the shower and giggle (and what the heck were they laughing at anyway???)

Even 9- and 10-year-olds don't seem to quite grasp the fact that bathroom time should be sacred. No sacrilege intended. One dictionary definition of sacred says this: "secured against violation or infringement as by reverence or sense of right." Absolutely. Shouldn't my bathroom time be secured against violation? Shouldn't my children have reverence for my right to use the bathroom, uninterrupted???

But even the oldest of my children violate my privacy by shouting, "Mom, I need you!" When I respond that I'm in the bathroom, they continue, "But I really NEED you." Um, as if that will make me jump up and attend to their needs in my current state.

I can't imagine that high-powered executives have this problem. They settle in for a mid-morning break, and their secretary comes pounding wildly on the door, "Mr. Jones!!!! There's a call for you on line 2!", to which they politely respond, "Thanks, Alice, I'll take it as soon as I'm finished with this Field and Stream article." I think not.

You may argue that now that my children are in school, I should have some quiet time in the restroom. Not so, because even as they are several miles away, they are still sending me subconscious messages so that I can't even relax and enjoy the time that they are not pounding on the door. And if it's not them, it's the cats.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mean Mama

OK, I did not mean to frighten my children. But I did what had to be done.

I was sitting at my computer the other night when my oldest came to me and said she was very tired and would I come up to say good-night to her? I told her I'd come up in just a few minutes, so she sat and waited next to me.

The second oldest then came in and said she had the hiccups and wouldn't be able to sleep.

What did I do then? What any sane, rational mother would do.

I turned around suddenly and let out a huge, scary, growly yell!

Joy was quite ticked at me for scaring her so, and Hope. . . .well, Hope, being overly tired, buried her face in her chair and started crying. Ooops, I think my plan backfired.

But guess what? The hiccups were gone.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Rude Awakening

Some time ago, my husband bought an intercom system for our children to use in the middle of the night to contact us, instead of having to come into our room. It is a rare night indeed when I am not awakened by at least one of my children - human or feline - between the hours of 10 PM and 6 AM. So now instead of our children coming in to bug me in the night, they can simply stay in their beds and beep us to death.

Well, we didn't actually try this method until last night, although we've had the darned intercom units for about 6 months. We're kind of procrastinators. Anyway, my husband thought last night would be a good time to start since I was feeling sickly. And we need to permanently banish the cats from our room as well, according to my allergist. So, the hubby locked the door and turned on the intercom.

Annoyingly, even after taking a sleeping pill, I woke up around 4 AM and tossed and turned for about an hour. Finally I drifted back into a nice deep sleep, until. . . .


"Honey", I said, "One of the kids is beeping you." No response.


Still he didn't budge. The one problem with his plan is that he sleeps about 10 times more heavily than I do. I wake up when his breathing pattern shifts from "distant thunder" to "dog whistle." He might possibly wake up with an ambulance siren in the room, but it's iffy.


Finally, he rolled over, hit the button, and mumbled, "What?"

From the other end came this adorable little 5-year-old voice, "Daddy, Faith and I are going to go downstairs and watch TV", followed by a little giggle which signified that he thought this process was pretty cool.

"Roger, roger", said my husband, in an official tone.

Ahh, very nice. I started drifting off again.


The hubby rolls over again, "What?"

Same cute voice responds, "Hi!"


Drifting. 2 more minutes go by.



Only giggling and snickering come from the other end now. But my husband is not sufficiently peeved to get out of bed and tell them to knock it off. Meanwhile, I am stifling laughter under the covers.

3 more minutes.


Mumbling hubby: "Yes, now go downstairs."

Milliseconds later. BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP! "Dad, do you read me?"

Dad: "Not any more!" Click.

With the unit turned off, he rolled over to resume his Saturday morning sleep-in.

I, on the other hand, had been laughing so hard that I almost fell out of bed. Kind of hard to go back to sleep after that. So I got up, started my coffee and discovered the 2 little rascals in the living room, still trying to contact Dad, as they had unplugged the unit and brought it downstairs with them so they could continue their little chat-fest with Daddy at dawn.

I think they missed the point.

Friday, November 20, 2009


At least one of my kids has the flu. I am diagnosing it as the Swine Flu, err "H1N1" to be politically correct, because as of last report, my doctor said that the seasonal flu had not surfaced in Michigan yet. So-o-o-o, 102-degree fevers, body aches, chills, sore throat, headache. . . . what does that sound like to you? Yep. It started on Sunday. She stayed home on Monday. I sent her on Tuesday because she had no fever in the AM. The fever came back Tuesday night, so she stayed home Wednesday. I sent her back to school Thursday. She called me at 10:30 AM and asked to come home because she was feeling faint. I made her stay home today just because.

Kid #2 had a temp of 101 last night, and so she also stayed home from school today, against her will, I might add, because she loves school.

The past few days, I've been dragging. This is not unusual. I often get fatigued when I've done too much and the past 2 weeks have been pretty busy. But today. . . .oh, today something else is obviously going on. I may not be swiney, but something is going on. I got 2 kids up for school, and then came back and slept until 10:45. I had to pry myself out of bed simply because I had to pee so badly. I decided to get something to eat. Went downstairs, grabbed a chocolate chip muffin and a little coffee. Hmm, that didn't sit right. But I still had to get groceries. I mean, like I really had to get groceries since the only thing to eat in our house was that chocolate chip muffin and a few well preserved pretzels from inside the sofa cushions. Luckily, the hubs was home, so I was free to go.

As I backed out of the driveway, the thought crossed my mind, "I really don't want to do this", and a few minutes later, "I really don't feel good". But I was driven by the fact that my children were going to have to eat lint for dinner if I didn't do something drastic. Luckily I only had to go to Aldi, which is a very small store where I happen to do a very large amount of my shopping. I got my cart and stepped inside, greeted by the sight of many, many people doing their pre-Thanksgiving shopping as well. Grrr. Get out of my way, people! I'm trying to get this trip done before I hurl! Occasionally, I breathed in through my nose and out through my mouth, the way I did in early labor, before the contractions got really bad. I prayed that I wouldn't contaminate anyone else. More importantly, I prayed that I wouldn't vomit on the canned soup. You know the old adage, "Never shop when you're hungry." Well, that wasn't a problem for me, as I had to force myself to put things into my cart because almost everything seemed repulsive to me. But I had to buy a lot of food - remember lint is on the menu at my house and Thanksgiving dinner is coming up. So I shoved food into the cart as I shoved down the urge to spew.

Finally I got done and tore open a bag of pita chips in the van. I thought maybe I was hungry. And I grabbed some sprite at a drivethrough. Ahhh, crisis averted, at least temporarily. Maybe it was just low blood sugar.

But there's something still going on with me, which is to be expected since I was taking care of a sick kiddo all week. I mean, it takes a lot out of you to sit down and play computer games while your kid lies on the sofa and occasionally barks out commands for you to meet their comfort needs. I took another nap when I got home from shopping. And now I'm sitting with a blanket over my knees because although my face is on fire, my feet are still freezing.

We were going to go to the annual Christmas Tree Lighting in downtown Lansing tonight, "Silver Bells in the City". But that doesn't seem prudent now. So we're going to stay home and put up our own Christmas tree.

I hope I don't puke on the ornaments.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Birthday Boy

I'm writing this post out of obligation to myself. My son probably couldn't care less if I decided not to devot a post to his birthday. He's too busy playing with his bazillion new Legos and recovering from his sugar-induced manic-depressive episodes. But since I wrote about 2 other children's birthdays this year, it wouldn't be fair to leave him out, I guess.

So here's the 5-year-old, as of November 13. I can't believe my BABY is 5. Time definitely flew by the fastest with him.

Here he is with one of the many new Lego toys. Obviously, he's quite thrilled with them. He became less enthusiastic when he actually tried to put one together, a task which was soon delegated to mom & dad, because it required following the tedious directions. And he, of course, being the birthday boy and all, had no time for following directions. I really wanted him to have a basic Lego building set. Do you know how hard it is to find a Lego set that contains JUST LEGO BRICKS??? There are all these specialty sets that require too much thought and effort to have any fun with them. What ever happened to just building? I did find one set of bricks, but even that has a bunch of obscure pieces.
In any case, he definitely has enough Legos to have some fun now. In fact, in his opinion, he may have too many because one of the guests at his birthday party gave him yet another Lego set (after parents & sibs gave him a total of 4 Lego packages). Much to my horror, my son's response to the offensive Lego set was, "More Legos? Lame!" AAAgghh! Luckily, the gift-giver was a 4-year-old who seemed pretty clueless about the comment, but I still corrected my son sharply and insisted that he say thank you AND hug his friend AND play with that darn Lego set before any of his other toys.

Oh, and just for laughs, I'm including pictures of the birthday cake. I've never made an aesthetically pleasing birthday cake. Oh, sure, they all taste scrumptious, but I surely would never win any cake decorating contests. Let's start with the slant, shall we? It doesn't matter where in my oven I place the cake pans, the baked products are always uneven. Always! And on this particular occasion, the finished cake layers refused to come out of the pan in one piece, even though I'm absolutely sure that I greased and floured the pans. So, this sucker is literally glued together with chocolate frosting. GLUED, I tell you!
And this is just to show you that even though I managed to frost practically the entire cake, there were still some portions left uncovered. I'm tellin' ya, cake decorating is not my thing.
But did anyone care? Did it stop my family from inhaling the entire cake in 24 hours? Nope, not at all.
Anyway, happy bloggy birthday to my little dude!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Looking For Christmas Advice

We have an awesome plan for Christmas this year! My whole entire family (including parents & 2 siblings + 1 nephew) is going to Florida for Christmas. We live in Michigan, so the transition to Florida in late December will be fabulous! My parents lived in Cocoa Beach for a few years after they were first married (mid-1960's) while my dad was stationed at Cape Canaveral. My older brother and sister were born in Cocoa Beach. My parents haven't been back in 45 years, so this is their dream - to return to their old stomping grounds. I think it's a "Bucket List" thing for my mom. In addition, my husband's parents, who live in Florida, will be joining us for the week, and then we'll continue on to their house after Christmas.

Sounds like a dream, right? Two weeks in sunny Florida during the snowiest season in Michigan? Yes, I am very excited to get some sunshine and vacation with family for almost 2 weeks.

But there are 2 problems. One is that our children, although they are also thrilled about this trip, are very disappointed that we won't be having a White Christmas. There is something magical about waking up to a snowy Christmas morning. I plan to bring along some Christmas decorations, since we'll be driving, but obviously I can't duplicate the snow.

The 2nd problem is that we have NO money. Zip. Zero. Zilch. We are scraping the bottom of the barrel to make this trip happen, for the sake of family. We've told the kids that this trip IS their Christmas gift. Sounds lame, maybe, but that's the reality. We will have no money to buy gifts for the kids. And of course, we all know that Christmas isn't about the material things, but it's extremely hard, as a parent, to not be able to give my kids presents at Christmas.

I hope that this will be a good chance for us to experience that we don't need all the "stuff" to make Christmas happen. But I'm afraid it will bomb and my kids will be really sad.

Any ideas on how to make this a memorable Christmas???

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Trampoline Incontinence

Yes, you read that right: TRAMP-O-LINE IN-CON-TIN-ENCE! It's just one of the many maladies that I suffer as I begin to age. My children like to jump on the neighbor's trampoline, but I need to be there to supervise them. And who can stand by a trampoline with giggling, squealing children flying through the air and not want to participate? So, on rare occasion, I hop on for some good old-fashioned airborne fun. But much to my chagrin, with every jump, there's a *leak*, *dribble*, *squirt*. I could have just emptied my bladder with every available muscle, and still some tags along for the ride.

It's sad enough that I can't jump on a trampoline without wearing a women's hygiene item, but now the problem has leaked into other areas of my life (ha ha, get it? Leaked!), such as:

Carrying the laundry up the stairs

Carrying the laundry down the stairs

Picking up a child

Sneezing and coughing

Grocery shopping

Watching TV


Sitting at the computer, writing on my blog. . . .oops - gotta go!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

An Open Letter

To the person who first uttered the phrase: "A woman's work is never done".

I hate you.

Why would I harbor such venom toward someone I've never met? Because your stupid saying reverberates through my mind every time I walk through my house and behold the chaos. It renders me hopeless that my work will indeed ever be done and is often verified by the fact that I have literally just finished laundering the entire family's wardrobe, and yet there are piles of dirty laundry growing like mold in every hidden corner. I can never see where it comes from, it just appears.

I hate you because you are right. And I wish you weren't. But the truth remains: for every day I spend scrubbing the house until it is spotless, there will be 3 more days worth of grocery list-writing, appointment-making, and cookie-baking. For every hour I use for a quick tidy of the bathroom, the rest of the house will have been used as a substitute and will require many more hours to disinfect and deodorize. For every moment I simply sit down and rest, alas, it is not only a moment's worth of dirt that accumulates. Somehow, there's a hidden force responsible for the constant dirtying of my environment that has nothing whatsoever to do with my children's actions, since they are never messy and they always pick up their things.

Dear sayer of the clever quotation above: I still hate you.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Annabelle and Payton

Be forewarned: You may find this post boring if you are not an animal lover.

I have written about my birth children a number of times before. But I haven't really written about my 2 adopted feline children. I got to thinking about them the other day. Our family had cats when I was growing up, but I don't think I was nearly as attached to them as I am to these kitties. I didn't have the kind of mother-love that I have for Payton and Annabelle.

This is Annabelle. She was our first cat. Before that, we had only owned 3 fish and an African dwarf frog, all of whom suffered an untimely demise. Annabelle was a gift for Faith's 5th birthday. Faith had a fear of cats and dogs, so we got her a cat - isn't that nice of us??? We figured if we got a kitten for her, she would not be afraid and grow to love the cat over time. I mean, who couldn't love a cuddly little thing like this:

It turned out that Faith couldn't! Well, at least not for the first week. Faith finally warmed up to her new kitty after several days of being carried around, hopping from one piece of furniture to another so the kitten wouldn't "get" her, and asking if we could take Annabelle back to the pet shop. Sounds pretty traumatic for a 5th birthday present, huh? Well, she finally grew to love Annabelle, after the phobia had worn off.

The first night Annabelle spent with us - as a teeny, tiny kitten - she went into Evan's room and he started screaming, "Get her out of here!" Imagine! Children being terrorized by a miniature creature. But we thought it best not to make him suffer through it, so we shut her out of the kids' rooms. So, Annabelle struggled up the side of our bed (she could barely make it) and planted herself firmly between mine and Al's pillows, and there she slept all night long.

Here's Annabelle now - she grew into quite a tank!

Eventually we felt that Annabelle needed a playmate. So Hope asked for a kitten for her birthday this past spring. We went to a few pet shops in search of a kitten, and all we found were 2 $600 Persians. That wasn't gonna happen! So, we went to Petco and they had some cats from the local animal shelter up for adoption. Well, to be exact, they had one cat left up for adoption - Payton. Hope ran to her and begged, "This is the one I want!" Payton was a 2-year-old, mangy stray. She had all her shots, etc. but still. . . she wasn't a cute, cuddly kitten. But Hope insisted, so we adopted Payton. As soon as we got her home, she ran under our bed and didn't come out for the rest of the day. Poor thing was probably terrified. My husband had to coax her out with cat treats.

The first night she was with us, she began exploring the house. I got up to use the bathroom and stopped to pet her in the hallway. She flopped over on her side and tried to grab my hands, but her muscles were so atrophied that she couldn't even play. And her hair was so coarse and would fall out in clumps. She could be sitting entirely still, and you would see tufts of hair wafting through the air.
Now she is a very full, soft, furry and playful cat. Very healthy and still very kitten-like, despite the fact that she's about 2 1/2. I think maybe she's a little "slow". But it doesn't matter, we love her the way she is. She's the one who will now climb in our beds in the early morning and nibble on our fingers and toes, if they're exposed. She loves to play and chase anything that moves. She has been known to pick up small toys in her mouth, toss them around, and chase after them!
You may wonder how Payton and Annabelle got along. Well, there was a bit of hissing and growling at first. But they've grown accustomed to each other and now play quite well together. They have even become cohorts in crime as you will see in this video. Annabelle figured out that her treats were kept in this cupboard, and then she figured out how to open it. Time to find a new hiding place!

And those are my two feline babies. Hope you liked meeting them!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Why Should Kids Have All The Fun?

It occurred to me while accompanying my squealing children on their Halloween quest for candy: Kids have all the fun! They get to dress up and beg for thousands of pounds of candy from complete strangers once a year. (What's up with that anyway? We're always telling them not to take candy from strangers, and then once a year, we buy them cute costumes, bring them to strangers' houses and encourage our children to take candy from them!) They also get to go to birthday parties and play silly games and gorge themselves on cake & ice cream. They get to pretend that an old, fat man in a red suit comes down their chimney and brings them scads of toys, while us parents get thrilling gifts like socks and toasters. Then at Easter, a big fat bunny (Here, I think Santa is actually moonlighting - I mean, who on this planet works only once a year???) brings them another installation of candy, enough to last them until the 4th of July. And of course, on the 4th, they have candy thrown at them (from more strangers, I might add) during the parade. They get their faces painted, play games and win prizes (more candy!) You get the picture.

So, here's my idea: I'm going to invent a new holiday. On this day, moms will go door to door, carrying large decorative wicker baskets. At each home that participates (which will be signified by the burning of scented candles on the porch), we will ring the doorbell and politely ask, "Please pamper me." Then the hostess will drop goodies into our basket. We will squeal with delight as we receive bubble bath, coffee shop gift cards, potpourri, and free passes day spas. And of course, being well-mannered women, our hostesses will invite us in and we'll indulge in chocolate, fine wine, and intelligent conversation. Yes, this will be a holiday that all women will savor. I haven't exactly worked out the fine details yet. I mean, I guess we'll have to figure out a rotation of who plays the hostess and who goes door to door. Maybe we'll take turns according to age or alphabetical order or something like that. (I would involve the men to do the pampering, but they really haven't got a clue, do they? No, no, no. We women have to stick together for things like this. And I, for one, would enjoy being the hostess as much as being the guest.)

And what will the men and children do while we have this special day of pampering? I don't really care! They can get together and eat leftover tuna casserole and play endless games of Chutes and Ladders for all I care.

I am not entirely cold-hearted. I guess we could invent a men's holiday too. They could show up at each other's houses with power tools, a 6-pack, and a working television, and it wouldn't really matter what happened after that. They would have the making for a great day.

Back to the issue at hand: All in favor of a women's pampering holiday, say "I".

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Observing the World Around Me

As I was driving to pick up my children from school, it suddenly occurred to me that I don't pay enough attention to the world around me. I typically keep my eyes glued on the road while I'm driving - I really should look up and notice other important things like traffic lights, pedestrians, etc. But that kind of alertness only comes with about 11 cups of coffee.

What got me thinking was a chopper flying overhead. I don't know why, but we regularly have military choppers buzz our house, even though there isn't a military base anywhere nearby. I usually ignore them, but once in a while, I give in to the very realistic fear that World War III has actually started here in the strategic location of Lansing, Michigan. (Don't laugh - Lansing happens to be very important city. Just drive through it and you will see the Capitol building. Well, I guess that's about all there is, but I'm fairly certain we're due for a terrorist strike sometime soon because no one would ever suspect it would happen here. They've got the element of surprise on their side.)

Back to my story. I happened to notice this particular helicopter was traveling the same route as I was, due East on Michigan Avenue. Then it dawned on me that it was a medical helicopter, headed for Sparrow Hospital, which is the other big thing to see in Lansing. I believe it is bigger than the capitol building and I also believe it houses hundreds more competent employees than the capitol building. This is true, even of the valets at the Sparrow Professional Building, across the street, who are very Johnny-on-the-spot. Especially when you don't want to pay for Sparrow's parking garage, so you have the valets across the street park your car and you just take the skywalk over to the hospital. (Just kidding, I don't do that. . . .but, hey it's a good idea, right?)

I have always been curious about where the landing pad at Sparrow is, so I tried to slow down enough to see where the helicopter went down. Alas, traffic was too fast, and I didn't want to risk becoming the next Sparrow Hospital client, so I missed the final descent. It was kind of cool for about 30 seconds until it dawned on me that there was probably a very critical patient in that helicopter. Still cool because it may have saved someone's life.

Wow, so I spent a lot of time on that one thing that I noticed. I can't really remember the rest since I just used all my alert brain cells retrieving the previous information.

This just in: yes, Sparrow Hospital is indeed far bigger than the State Capitol building -exactly 10 times larger, in fact. Sparrow Hospital is 1.2 million square feet, whereas the Capitol building is 120,000 square feet. I just included those little factoids in case any of you locals want an opportunity to dazzle someone with that piece of trivia. And also, I didn't want you to think I was a total moron, because it's obvious to anyone who has seen both that Sparrow Hospital is indeed much larger than the Capitol building.

Oh, my. I think I have too much time on my hands.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Here it comes again

OK, so any of you who follow this blog because you're interested in knowing more about depression, you are welcome to watch me throughout the next few months. I've probably struggled with chemical depression my whole life (which would explain the manic-depressive mood swings I experienced as a teenager). That is fairly well under control with the help of 2 anti-depressants. Thank God for mind-altering drugs! (Oops, did I say that out loud???) BUT, to compound my symptoms, the stinkin' sun has to play hide & seek for about 6 months out of the year. And it affects me greatly, even while taking my happy pills.

One good thing about all of this is that I finally know what's happening to me. I used to think I was just a failure, a loser, or not trying hard enough. As a Christian, I thought I just wasn't praying enough. These are mild signs, by the way, in case you suspect that you or someone you know might be depressed. I would think it's not necessarily normal for people to think they're losers, but I called myself that on a daily basis, many times out loud, in front of my kids. (And I wonder why they have issues. . . .) I finally have learned that what is happening to me is not my fault. I don't like it, and I can't just muster up enough happiness to get out of it, but it does allow me to change the way I think about myself. Instead of thinking, "I'm a loser because I'm always so tired that I can't get anything done. I must really be a lazy, good-for-nothing. . . .", I now choose to think, "Here's this dumb-ass SAD again! Why can't it just leave me alone???" (FYI, SAD stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder). So, my tone in speaking to myself isn't much more positive, but now I can blame something else instead of myself!

But it also presents before me the task of doing everything I can possibly do to keep the blues at bay:

1. PRAY! Worship, rejoice, and give thanks because gratitude increases my joy

2. Take my meds (duh!)

3. Get enough sleep, which I can finally do, hallelujah! This is because of the wonderfully wise decision my husband initiated to send our kids out to school. They are tired enough at the end of the day to sleep all night AND I can catch up on lost sleep while they're at school, if need be.

4. Eat right and exercise. (Yeah, this makes me laugh, too, but I'm working on it.)

5. Take supplements: Optivite, a power-packed women's vitamin, Vitamin D, and Flax Seed or Fish Oil capsules.

So, there you have it. Too bad you didn't catch me at my worst, a few years back. Then you would have really had a case study in depression. I'm expecting to fare better these days, but I can definitely sense the change in my mood and energy now that the sunny days are fewer and farther between. But, to be honest, when I am in the deepest throes of depression, I probably wouldn't post anyway. So, if you notice that I go missing for a few weeks, feel free to give me a nudge.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I Guess Mommies ALWAYS Spoil Their Babies

My mom has been here for the past week, visiting from the wilds of Northern Michigan. And while she was here, she spoiled me rotten. (It could be that she was in such a good mood from staying in a house with central heating and indoor plumbing.)

We went shopping almost every day. Teensy weensy little problem: We ain't got no money! Never fear - super mommy was here! Actually, I did manage to squeeze a little bit out of our tighter-than-a-fat-guy-wearing-spandex-shorts budget to find some really good bargains at 2nd hand stores (like a winter coat for $1.25 for one daughter who seems to outgrow her clothing weekly). Other than that, my mommy treated me to breakfasts, lunches, and bras. Yup, you read that right - BRAS!

Mom knows money is pretty tight because my hubby is employed in the auto industry ('nuff said). So, I guess she felt the urge to spoil me. It's hard not to feel like a mooch, but I really am very grateful, especially for the new bras. I think she got the idea to treat me to some new undergarments when she was helping me fold laundry and came across my old bras, which had no remaining elasticity whatsoever, and strangely made me think of The Saggy Baggy Elephant every time I put them onh.

Mommy also spoiled my kids with treats and cold hard cash, the way all grandmas do.

I love being the spoiled kid once in a while.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Language Barrier

I stopped to fill up my van with gas the other day. I pulled up to see this annoying sign: "Please pay first." That really irks me because, really - how many people know how much gas they are going to pump before they pump it? Unless you happen to be seriously obsessive compulsive and fill your car with gas when it gets to the exact same level on the gauge every single time, and you pay attention to the gas prices with perfect accuracy, then it's really impossible to predict how much you're going to spend, right? So, my choices would be A) walk in with a $100 bill, hand it to the cashier and tell him I'll be back for the change after I pump, because it always takes more than $50 to fill that sucker up or B) give him my credit card and trust that he will keep it in a good, safe place and not overcharge me, etc. etc. etc. Sorry, neither one of these options sits well with me.

I walked inside, brow furrowed and muttering under my breath - did I mention I hadn't had my coffee yet? I told the attendant that I didn't know how much I was going to spend on gas. His reply sounded something like, "Wot bum?"

Huh? Is this guy calling me a bum because I don't want to pay first???

Growing a little defensive, I said, "Excuse me?"

Again, he said, "Wot bum?"

Ohhh, "What pump!" I motioned to the pump where my van was sitting since I had forgotten to look at the pump number. He kindly turned it on for me.

Before walking out to pump my gas, I asked, "Do you have batteries?" (I thought it might help him to know that I was planning to come back in. . . .) He responded, "Wot sis?"

Again, I was stumped. Was he saying, "What's this?" Good heavens, man, you don't know what batteries are?

"BATTERIES", I said, enunciating the word very clearly. "FOR ELECTRONICS . . . ." Meanwhile, I was making bizarre shapes in the air that didn't resemble any kind of battery-operated device I've ever seen.

He looked at me like the moron I was and repeated, "Wot sis?"

Ohhhhh, "What size?"

"Uhh. . . .uhh, 9Volt," I said, sheepishly.

After filling my van, I made sure to be very friendly and cheerful since this guy had put up with my idiocy.

Public service announcement: If I ever encounter you and don't understand what you are saying because you are from any place outside of the Mid-Michigan area and have a non-Ingham-county accent, please be patient with me. I am not trying to insult you, nor am I culturally insensitive. I probably just haven't had my coffee yet.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

VIP week

My 4th grader is the VIP for "VIP Week" in her class. Each week a different student gets to plan a week's worth of activities, which include sharing some information about themselves and planning fun activities for the class. Cool idea, especially for this particular child, who has no qualms whatsoever about getting up in front of a crowd and spouting off songs, poetry, or her musings on life. I guess she takes after her mama. I'm somewhat ashamed (well, not really) to say that I do enjoy attention. I have no problem getting up in front of crowds. (Sure, I get nervous, shaky, nauseous, I perspire, break out in a rash, and my voice quivers, but it's still fun.)

See? I have already commandeered this post to make it about me instead of my daughter. Back to VIP week. The first day, she got to put up a bulletin board about her life. I, of course, got very involved in this and became like the dad who does his kid's science experiment for him instead of offering helpful advice. Or my dad, who built a fully functioning scale model of a paper mill for my sister's elementary school science project. I'm sure it was very believable for a 3rd grader. Her teachers still think she was a child genius. (A comical side note to this story: in the process of "helping" my sister with this project, my father inadvertently drilled a hole through our new dining room table. To put it mildly, my mother was extremely unhappy about this, but it does make for quite a amusing anecdote 20 years later. . . .now that my mother finally has a new dining room table.)

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed looking through the thousands of pictures from my daughter's lifetime (yes, thousands - this is the blessing and the curse of having a digital camera). I. . . .uh, I mean *we* chose several photos and arranged them nicely on posters and gave them cool borders with my card-making program. I was actually having quite a bit of fun when Joy discovered what I was doing and she demanded that she be allowed to position the photos and choose clip art, etc. Whatever. The final result was definitely her own work since she went through and captioned every photo in her own words. Very cute.

Today, I went to Joy's class to watch her give a presentation about homeschooling during her VIP sharing time. I had coached her on just the right things to say so that her classmates would be enthralled by her tales of homeschooling. Homeschoolers do come up with some fairly impressive work. However, that wasn't necessarily the case with our homeschool. I just wanted to make sure it sounded like she actually learned something from me in the first 4 years of her education. What I forgot to coach her on was not making me sound like a bum. So at one point during her presentation, she said something to the effect of "We took A LOT of days off from homeschooling because my mom was always sleeping." Maybe those weren't her exact words, but I'm expecting a call from the social worker, or that her teacher will refer me to Narcoleptics Anonymous.

Those were only the first 2 days of VIP week. Three days to go: Wednesday is "show and tell" with her art work, on Thursday, she will play hangman with her classmates, and on Friday, she will bring a special snack. How much damage could she do with those themes? Only time will tell.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Worst Tantrum I've Ever Witnessed

Tantrum: a violent demonstration of rage or frustration.

You know. . . kicking, screeching, banging fists, growling, writhing, spewing pea soup (oh, wait, that's demonic possession, but some tantrums do leave me wondering whether an exorcism is in order).

Yes, we had a complete meltdown in our family today. I won't mention the name of this child - I will just call her "Daughter X". And when I say meltdown, I mean a tantrum of cataclysmic proportions, which left Daughter X a shuddering, sobbing mess and left her whimpering for a good half-hour after the torrent of tears had subsided.

I will give you some time to guess what caused this horrendous outburst. So just keep guessing while you scroll on down. . . .

(I love doing this. . . .)

(Making you wait. . . . )

(Have you guessed yet?)

OK, here it is: Daughter had a thermonuclear meltdown because:

Yes, you read that right. She pierced my eardrums and gave herself a hoarse voice because, I repeat: WE DIDN'T GET FLU SHOTS TODAY.

Is my daughter mentally ill? (Sometimes I do wonder.) No, I had promised the kids we would get Frosties from Wendy's after we got flu shots. You know, a little bribery to help them put on a brave face. It totally backfired. See if I ever try to bribe my children again.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Adventures in Couponing

I've been trying my hand at "couponing" (notice this is now a verb). I've always used coupons, but now I'm getting more serious about it. I want to experience what it's like to get $150 worth of groceries and only pay $4.23. Yes, some people claim that this is possible. Frankly, I think their brains have been turned to mush by visiting a bazillion coupon websites and reading the fine print. Nevertheless, I am trying to find the best deals using coupons and rebates so that I can save big money AT MENARDS on groceries and household items. I would like to do my part to help my hubby by being a wise steward of the hard-earned money he brings home for our family. That, and I don't want to have to go out and get a job.

So, let me give you a picture of week 1: I went to Kroger. They had an incredible sale on cheese! (Yes, I get really excited about good sales.) Buy 10 Kraft Cheese bricks (which were on sale for $1.99 each) and get $5 off your order. AND if one of those was Kraft 2% cheddar, I had a rebate form for the purchase price! YAHOO!!! (yes, there was feverish excitement going on here!) So, I made the trip to Kroger and made sure I counted 10 bricks of cheese, and made absolute sure one was Kraft 2% cheddar. When I got home, the 2% cheddar was nowhere to be found! Grrr. I checked the receipt - sure enough, the cheddar had somehow not made it onto the conveyor and I had not received my $5 off! So I sent my husband back to get the cheese and to get my $5, and he returned faithfully with both. But I had forgotten to tell him I actually needed the receipt for the cheese as well so I could submit the rebate. Rebate gone. . . .oh well, at least I got the $5.

Then I went to Meijer. I had a few significant savings coupons on Scrubbing Bubbles toilet cleaners (yes, excitement). And once I got home, I realized I had forgotten to submit the coupons. Dang it! (Can you go back and ask them to take the coupons off after you've checked out?)

But I DID get some awesome savings at Rite Aid. Without going into the gory details and boring you much further, I spent a total of $5 at Rite Aid and got 10 bottles of VO5 shampoo & conditioner, a bottle of clean & clear acne treatment and a tube of Nivea lip balm. Yeah for me!

Couponing has also led me to buy things I wouldn't normally buy. But when there's a store coupon, manufacturer coupon AND a sale, I can't resist. Such was the case with Bird's Eye Steamfresh "Lightly Sauced" vegetables. Imagine my dismay when I got them home and found out that they did not actually contain any booze whatsoever. False advertising, I'd say.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Blog Thoughts

I don't get to my blog every day. But I should. I really enjoy writing. I consider it a craft that I want to practice and perfect. I also blog as a way to let out some of my thoughts and frustrations. And I like to make people laugh. I don't want to write about boring old everyday life. But sometimes I just don't feel inspired to blog about anything insightful or funny. But I should do it every day so that that I stay in the groove, right? So, this is where it becomes like my diary - just putting my thoughts down on "paper" (or in cyberspace, actually). Boring? Yeah, probably. Just wanted my poor blog to know I hadn't forgotten about it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

No Compassion

I no longer have compassion on my children when their beloved stuff gets wrecked or lost because of their negligence.

I DID feel bad when my daughter's bike got stolen out of the front yard.

I DID sympathize when my other daughter's bike got run over in the neighbor's driveway. To be honest, I actually had to stifle laughter at some point because it was actually quite comical the way the bike bent completely in half. But I did comfort her because she was obviously very upset about it.

But now, the compassion is gone. My children's scooters have been lying in the front yard for many days. Many, many days. And they would occasionally (once every 8 days or so, maybe) pick up a scooter, scoot somewhere, and then return the scooter to it's exact location on the grass.

Yesterday, it dawned on them: the scooters were gone.

With no concern whatsoever, I simply said "ha ha". (Imagine Nelson from the Simpsons.) Well, no I didn't say that because it would have been a little too heartless (but I did think it). I told them that it was a natural consequence for leaving their stuff lying around and not putting it away properly.

They got the scooters from a neighbor's yard sale. They were very well used scooters. My wonderful neighbor let the kids talk her down to $5 each. They paid for them with their own money.

I might have been more "compassionate" if it had been my money.

Did You Notice?

Did you see the drastic new improvement to my blog??? I'll give you a few minutes and see if you notice it on your own.


That annoying empty box (with the occasional message "internet explorer cannot open this page") is GONE! Yeah! I actually commissioned my friend Maryellen to get rid of the dumb thing for me because she knows HTML and I don't (which is no doubt how it got there in the first place - I experimented with one too many ad designs, most of which are now not appearing on my blog the way they should either. . .but that's a task for another day.) I'm sure for all the months of agony it caused me by simply being there, she was able to get rid of it in 2 minutes.

You might have noticed by now that I don't invest a lot in the appearance of my blog. No cutesy bells and whistles. No fun little gadgets. I like to simply draw people in with my words.

That, and I haven't the foggiest stinkin' idea how to do those things.

Some day, I may actually investigate how to add some fun and eye-popping gizmos to my blog. But for now, you're stuck with my words.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I Will Never Feel Young Again

I was very young-looking for a long time. Come to think of it, that was probably when I was young. But, really, it felt like I was in my 20's for around 20 years.

But, alas, the fantasy had to end. I could no longer remain young-looking. Somewhere along the way, the gray hair started taking over. I used to say it looked like highlights. But I'm not fooling anyone. I am not fooling myself. I'm getting old. Half of my head is gray now, which I guess isn't immediately obvious since my hair is what is affectionately called "dishwater blonde." I used to think my skin was still so youthful. But I'm starting to notice that it's getting more baggy and a few more wrinkles have found their home. My daughter tells me I have a double chin. (I know I did not have that in my 20's!) People were often surprised that I was in my 30's, or that I had 4 kids, or that I had been married over a decade already. But now, I don't even get carded. I once told a cashier at Meijer that she would make my day if she asked to see my i.d. because I was buying alcohol. She took one look at me and said, in a very flat and uninterested voice, "No". (See if I ever get in her checkout lane again.)

Ahhh, Youth, where have you gone?

What prompted this reflection on aging, you may ask?

I stopped by my daughter's classroom today and one of her classmates asked me, "Are you Faith's grandma?"

I feel so violated.

I will never feel young again.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Can I Please Hibernate?

It's that time of year. Squirrels are stuffing their cheeks full of nuts to bring back to their nests. Bear are busy growing fat layers to keep them warm. And people - stupid people - decide to continue being productive, some even more so now that the vacation season is over. Instead of giving in to our natural instinct to hibernate, we ignore it. I'm telling you, if ever a company decides to give their employees time off for hibernation, I will be the first to take the job.

It's happening to me. I'm getting more tired as the sunlight goes away. I want to stay asleep in my nice warm bed, tucked inside my cozy cave of a bedroom. I want to wake up periodically only to eat and then go back to my nice warm nest. And I want to eat. I want to eat all the time. I'm tellin' ya - it's the hibernation instinct that has sabotaged any weight loss effort.

My hearty thanks to the brilliant woman out there who originally wrote this beautiful piece of prose. If I ever find out who you are, I will think of something really cool to do to thank you, but I can't think of anything right now because I'm too tired. I'm sure many of you have read this, but it resonates with everything I'm feeling right now:

In this life, I’m a woman. In my next life, I’d like to come back as a bear. When you’re a bear, you get to hibernate. You do nothing but sleep for six months. I could deal with that. Before you hibernate, you’re supposed to eat yourself stupid. I could deal with that too. When you’re a girl bear, you birth your children (who are the size of walnuts) while you’re sleeping and wake to partially grown, cute, cuddly cubs. I could definitely deal with that. If you’re mama bear, everyone knows you mean business. You swat anyone who bothers your cubs. If your cubs get out of line, you swat them too. I could deal with that. If you’re a bear, your mate EXPECTS you to wake up growling. He EXPECTS that you will have hairy legs and excess body fat. Yup, gonna be a bear!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Extreme Makeover: Me Edition

{ae filkins}
Amber hosts this weekly encouragement session for those of us who want to make healthier choices for our lives. Go on over and check out her adorable blog!

Amber's question today is "What is your biggest obstacle right now?" That's easy - myself! I have spent much time and effort and prayer in changing old habits and creating new ones, and my heart is slowly changing. I needed a major heart change because I was in love with food. Every once in a while, that old romance resurfaces and I start to flirt with the chocolate again, but God has brought me a long way in helping me to let go of anything that gets in the way of my relationship with Him. How can food get in the way of my relationship with God, you may ask. When I've been tired, stressed, lonely, down, or bored, all of my life, I have turned to food for comfort and fulfillment, instead of turning to God, who alone has the ability to fill my heart. But the reason that I am my own biggest obstacle is that I always try to take on too much at once. My kids are at school, so I have a hundred projects in the wings:

I am trying to get the house clean and dust-free because of my allergies

I want to clean, sort, organize and purge junk from my house

In the midst of purging, I'm trying to find stuff to sell on eBay

I'm trying my hand at couponing so that I can help my hubby make ends meet

I picked apples last week and I want to make applesauce (I guess I shouldn't be in too much of a rush - my dear friend and neighbor told me that one year, she didn't get to canning her applesauce until February!!!)

Oh, and here's another good and worthwhile distraction: I am going to a Christian women's conference the weekend after next where I am giving a workshop entitled "Creating a Christ-Centered Approach to Weight Loss," so I'm spending a good amount of time preparing for that. The funny part is that I haven't lost any weight yet!!! But there are some ladies helping me out who are in various stages of their journey - I'll be the one who's still laying the foundation for lifelong weight management! Talk about humility training. . .

And the list goes on and on and on. So I end up sabotaging my efforts to eat healthy and get exercise in - I push these things to the back burner, even though I know I have to keep them on the front. I keep thinking, "after this one big project is done, then I'll have time to exercise." But NO, it has to be now. And I need someone to kick my butt to keep doing it. Anyone? Kick my butt and I'll be forever grateful.

Mga Kababayan Ko

My thoughts today are with "my countrymen" (this is what "mga kababayan ko" means in Tagalog, the language in the Philippines.) No, the Philippines isn't my home country, but I did live there for 15 months. It feels a little bit like this catastrophic flooding has happened in my hometown. I walked those streets that were under several feet of water and are now laden with thick mud. Many of my Filipino friends' Facebook pages are devoted to recruiting help for the cleanup effort: requests for money, supplies, even rubber life rafts.

I think God gave me an extremely strong sense of empathy. It's very hard for me to separate myself from the tragedies that other people endure. Especially when I see pictures on the web, like the one I saw yesterday, of a man carrying the lifeless body of a child out of the mud. Absolutely gut-wrenching, especially for a mom.

There are other catastrophes from years past that have stayed with me as well. September 11, of course. Who will ever forget September 11? For many years, I had dreams that I was witnessing another terrorist attack, watching another plane smash into a building full of people. I cannot go into a crowded area without thinking, "What would happen if we all had to make a quick escape?" I especially had to beat down feelings of claustrophobia when I was in downtown Chicago: "If something bad happened, how would I get out of here?"

I still have occasional dreams about the December 26, 2004 tsunami in Indonesia. In my dreams, I can see the flood waters fast approaching and I'm thinking ahead to my best plan of escape. That horrible event claimed an unthinkable 160,000 lives.

Every day, I drive over a bridge on the way to and from school. After I drop my kids off, the bridge is usually a little more congested with traffic going toward downtown for the workday. I am usually at a stand-still on the bridge at some point. And every single day, I think of the bridge collapse in Minnesota.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm excessively fearful or morbid in my thoughts, but then I think, I'm probably just human.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


All right, so I have allergies. Nothing really exciting though. I thought it would be cool to be allergic to rice cakes or something so no one could ever try to make me eat one of those vile things again.

Mold, dust, and pet dander. Yup, those are the little devils that have been giving me sinus headaches (and probably migraines). That doesn't explain physical fatigue, but it does explain sleepiness and my head feeling like it's stuffed with fluff (yes, just like Winnie the Pooh).

So, the doc shoved several medications at me AND told me to come back weekly for allergy shots AND told me to try to minimize dust and mold in the house (ha ha, that's a good one) AND especially to eliminate dust from our bedroom (and I literally laughed out loud when he told me that).

This is supposed to be my semi-retirement, a time to take it easy, rest up and relax until all my health issues are resolved. Instead I have to CLEAN MY HOUSE FROM TOP TO BOTTOM AND ELIMINATE ALL DUST AND MOLD. (No, I'm not getting rid of the cats - I may just varnish them.) Wow, there go my slow-paced, coffee-drinking days.

Time to fire up the vacuum cleaner!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Extreme Makeover: Me Edition - I'm Back!

{ae filkins}
Hi everyone - I'm back!

And not much to report. There is definitely progress, but not the kind I hoped for, which is loads of fat falling off me. I battled with major fatigue all summer. And I am still fighting it, but here are a few significant changes in my life that I hope will help:

1. My kids are in school! Hallelujah! I have time to myself and peace during the day.

2. It turned out the CPAP wasn't really helping me because I had extremely mild sleep apnea, so no more CPAP. I'm going to see my dentist about a dental device for mild sleep apnea. The sleep specialist prescribed a ton of sleep meds for me, but I decided to wait it out a little bit. After trying the CPAP and some sleep aids all summer, I thought I would go "au naturel" for a little while. With more down time, more time to exercise, and a better routine, I thought maybe I could get back into a good sleep pattern. I still have some bad nights, but last night was awesome! I think God is at work here!

3. My doctor discovered I have a Vitamin D and Vitamin B deficiency (rather, they're on the very LOW end of normal), so he gave me a B12 shot and I'm taking Vitamin D supplements. Also, I'm seeing an allergist tomorrow and hopefully that will be productive.

As I mentioned, I have more structure and more routine, which translates to more time to plan healthy foods, more time to do The Lord's Table devotional, and more time to exercise. So, good things are in place, and for a few weeks now, I have been consistently eating well and avoiding lots of junk food - LAST NIGHT, my hubby brought home DONUTS, and I simply said, "I shouldn't", and that was the end of it. God is really taking away my obsession with food and it's AWESOME!!!

I've been doing a 30-40 minute power walk most days.

As far as my goals to lose 40 lbs. by the time I turn 40, I'm thinking it's not so realistic any more because now I only have 4 months left, instead of the 8 months I had when I started, and I'm still battling the first 5 lbs. that keep yo-yo-ing! But I'm going to get healthy no matter what, and God is at work in my life, so I should be happy with that.