Saturday, May 31, 2008

Yes -- I'm Going There...

Because as of Friday afternoon, I haven't seen anyone else going there.

There are few topics I won't normally discuss on this blog -- and politics is one of them, but I'm SOOOOO going there right now. Actually, no. I'll be setting the whole political rhetoric aside, if that's at all possible, and I'm going to try to play nice.

Okay -- so I'm sure by now you have all heard the audio (either on TV or radio) of Father Michael Pfleger speaking about Hillary Clinton at Obama's church (delivering a Sunday morning SERMON, no less). If not, you can read about it HERE, or go see it on You Tube HERE. Stop rolling your eyes. I'll repeat -- this will not be a political discussion.

I'd like to focus specifically on what Father Pfleger said (you can read it in paragraph 7 of this blog) because I will not repeat what he said on this blog.

Have you caught what has me in an uproar??? Yes, an UPROAR?!?

No? Then let me share the one question, that in my humble opinion, BEGS TO BE ASKED. Apart from the whole inappropriateness of any and ALL of his remarks ... apart from the whole political overtone ... apart from the cruel and mean spirited, mocking and pompous tone (coming from a priest, for crying out loud) ... apart from the fact that I'm a really conservative republican and this man is a blazing liberal ... does anyone have a PROBLEM with a PRIEST saying the "D" word from the PULPIT??? In a CHURCH??? HELLO!!!??? And he wasn't saying it to refer to condemnation in hell -- and NO, I'm not typing the word out for you -- after all, this is a family friendly blog.

Seriously -- when did that become OK? Acceptable? Is no one but me shocked?

I know that a building does NOT make a church, but when I walk into our sanctuary, I consider it to be Holy Ground, where I will be worshiping the Creator, the Healer, Abba Father, the Almighty. WORSHIPING. And LEARNING. And PRAYING.

Furthermore ... and, YES, I'm getting testy right now ... why were the members of the congregation standing up and lifting their arms in the air as if they were in worship and raising their Bibles in the air in agreement? What is that? Who or what exactly are they worshiping? And then, the the person that introduced him said, "we thank God for the messenger, we thank God for the message..." What message? What "Sunday Sermon?"

Put aside that he ripped into Hillary. Put aside all political feelings. As a Christian, I am insulted that a priest -- a person who publicly claims to be a man of God -- would speak like that from the pulpit, and not see anything wrong whatsoever with what he said.

Obama's response? He is "...deeply disappointed in Father Pfleger's divisive, backward-looking rhetoric..." HELLO?! Who CARES about divisive, backward-looking rhetoric? Father Pfleger claims to be a part of the "faith community" and a priest in a Catholic Church. There is more to be disappointed about than just divisive, backward-looking rhetoric.

What is wrong with this picture?

Ick. I need a shower.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Finding a new doctor and fun stuff we're doing over the summer...

I received an excellent comment from Jen at A Good Cup of Coffee on my post about Hand-Foot-Mouth, and I thought I'd share it, because it dawned on me that if Jen had these questions, then maybe MORE OF YOU did too!

"You know I have had a disappointing 2 years with Miller and Madison's pediatrician. Actually his staff too. But I'm chicken to change. His group is some of the best in Western Ky and it scares me to venture out. How did you do it? So what do you have planned with Hunter this summer for fun? I need ideas....I so hope he feels better by the weekend."

Oh, this will be a doozy of a post. Sorry for the length. Okay -- the way I see it... this is a three-part question.

The first question is one that I also wondered about, struggled with, and dragged my feet on, despite my husband's "ready for action" attitude. You see, I also felt scared to "venture out" because I am a first-time mom, and didn't have the first clue about picking a good pediatrician. So, I asked a neighbor (who is a nurse, but in a different county), and she recommended Ped #1 because she had a "good experience" with one of the doctors on staff 6 years ago (that should have been my warning bell -- too long of a time frame had passed). We went there for two years, and in those two years, they "missed" countless ear infections, PNEUMONIA, and misdiagnosed his cystic hygroma, which was ultimately removed by the chief surgeon at Children's Hospital.

Needless to say, this was very frustrating, because as a parent, you only want the best for your child! And of course, that would include the doctor that will be treating your child in both emergent and non-emergent situations!

Now, you should probably understand that I have severe "loyalty issues," meaning that I will stay loyal to someone/something, almost to a point of obsession ... er, I mean ... even if I've been burned. Which is precisely what was happening here. But folks, you DO NOT mess with my kid. All loyalties fly OUT THE WINDOW when you mess with his health. Can I get an AMEN?

So, I began asking around again. I spoke with my sweet friend (her husband is "A Wretched Sinner" - Dude, you GOTTA post again, okay?). As I've mentioned before, they have three children, and one of them has down's syndrome. He has had numerous emergent needs, including heart surgery. Both parents are devoted to their children, and wonderful parents, and I respected their opinion, because I knew they loved their kids just as much as I love Hunter, and have had major "experiences" with pediatricians and specialists. She told me about Ped #2.

Then, I asked my Pastorman's wife -- not because I felt she had a direct line to God or anything like that (ehem), but because she works in the Pediatric Ward at the hospital in our city, and is familiar with numerous pediatrician's "bed-side manners" as well as clinical expertise, she recommended the same pediatrician my sweet friend recommended.

Finally, in a casual conversation with another friend of mine at church over one of Hunter's ear infections (and my frustration over the doctors), she mentioned that her sister-in-law used a GREAT doctor in my city, and I should check them out... the doctor was... are you ready for this? The same as the last two friends suggested. AND, as if that isn't enough confirmation, I was talking about this with a co-worker of mine, and she said that she used to be in that very practice until they changed their insurances, and she LOVED them. That confirmed it in my heart that I HAD to change over. Seriously. I need a brick to hit me upside my head as confirmation.

With my mind fully loaded with information (which in itself can be a very dangerous weapon), I set off to change doctors, only to run smack dab into a cement wall. They didn't accept our insurance. This was a problem. But thankfully, my husband's open enrollment was in November, so we went ahead with Hunter's surgery under the old insurance, and changed insurances so that we could get in with the new pediatricians in January.

And then... I did it. I made the phone call in February (after I received my new cards) to our insurance company and made the change. Then, I called the old ped office and asked them to make copies of all his charts (which, shamefully, I haven't picked up yet). He is now seeing new doctors, and so far, I've had good experiences with them. They and their staff have great bedside manners.

So, Jen -- and everyone else frustrated with your pediatrician -- it doesn't matter if they are the best in Western KY, or in the biggest metropolitan city. If you are unhappy with the care your children are getting, then you need to change. That is, in a sense, your "momma flag" going up. LISTEN TO IT... it "KNOWS!"

My suggestion for anyone that is looking for a change in any medical practice is that you begin by asking your friends that actually work in the medical field. Radiologists, nurses, even receptionists at a medical practice -- they will have an idea of the good and bad things with local doctors. Then, I recommend calling the appropriate department at the hospital or emergency clinic closest to you (or just visit) and ask for suggestions from the nurses. They work closely with doctors, and will be able to tell you who has the best bed-side manner, who has good staff, and will be able to recommend someone to you.

Or you can call my Pastorman's wife.

No, don't do that.

I hope those tips help.

The next question Jen asked was, "So what do you have planned with Hunter this summer for fun?" Oh, my ... this is a HARD question. We both have boys in the same age range, but Jen has a daughter who is several years older, so the age span is far greater, and a bit more difficult to work with.

First of all, I am not a stay-at-home mom. This actually makes it a lot easier for me, because I only have to fill weekends, whereas a SAHM has 7 days a week to fill. Ugh.

Anyway, some of the things that I have planned to do (not all of them have been cleared by my husband yet) are as follows:

1) Visit the local Aquatic Garden -- they have cool fountains that Hunter is enamored with, a lot of wild life, birds, turtles, and such -- and they have tanks and tanks of beautiful fish. He can run wild and work off a lot of energy, and we can enjoy a picnic lunch.
2) Visit the local Zoo -- we have a small zoo close to us, but we are fortunate to have the National Zoo within driving (or metro) distance. This will be saved for a cooler weekend.
3) Visit the local Railroad Museum. I can't wait to do this. Hunter LOVES trains, so I think he'll really enjoy this road trip.
4) Go for long walks on the toe path along the canal (Potomac River). Pull out a fishing pole and have at it. Picnic lunch would be most appropriate.
5) Go for a long weekend (or two) to the beach.
6) Visit the local Amish Market and Farmer's Markets.
8) Visit a local Children's Museum that has a manor house, gardens, a blacksmith shop, carriage collection, log cabin, and an ice house.
9) Go to a concert at our outdoor theater, and enjoy a fun picnic dinner.
10) Visit the Renaissance Festival.
11) Attend the local Fair (ours comes in the fall).
12) Take Hunter to a place close to my in-laws house that has buildings in miniature for children to tour (can't remember the name) -- they have a miniature hospital, fire station, police station, etc.
13) Visit the Science Center (not free)
14) Visit the Aquarium (not free)
15) Visit the local hobby shop. They have an indoor race track for remote control cars, and have races on weekends. They also have a great area set up with three large tables for toy trains, and Hunter loves to sit there and play.
16) Go fishing and for boat rides with Daddy
17) Visit some large Museums, monuments and parks in Washington, D.C. (mostly free)
18) Visit Lancaster and walk around the big Amish market
19) Bake with Hunter
20) Pick fruit at a pick-your-own farm, and make and can jams, freeze fruits, and make yummy desserts and popsicles.

That should keep us very busy for the most part. Many states (like Kentucky) have awesome state parks -- seriously awesome state parks with a lot of fun things to do. You can even stay at their on-site lodging or cabins for very little, which would make for a nice and long weekend vacation. Try googling your city and/or state to see what you can do for free or cheaply.

ALSO ... you can go to Rocks in my Dryer next Wednesday. Shannon is hosting a "Mom, I'm Bored" edition of Works for me Wednesday, and will have a lot of participation. Guaranteed.

The last "question" was... "I so hope he feels better by the weekend." Me too, Jen... me too!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Can I get an Amen?

Oh, wait. Sorry -- that was out of context.

Usually, if someone were playing a word-association game with me, and presented me with the words Hand-Foot-Mouth, the first things that would come to mind would be: Praise God in worship and honor him with our mouths shouting out his glory, with our hands lifted up in praise, and our feet dancing in his presence.

But today? I would say: Blisters in mouth and down throat, bumps on hands, and on feet too. Some red bumps creeping up legs and arms, and some on f@nny, too. And THAT'S not FUNNY. Bumps turn into blisters. High fevers, long naps, interrupted sleep at night, screams from pain in mouth.

It has been a long weekend. Over the last two weeks, Hunter hadn't been "acting right" and in the last week he had some odd bumps pop up on his face. He has pretty smooth, white skin, and to see bumps that turn into blisters concerned me. My first thoughts were chicken pocks. I took him to the doctor Thursday evening, and two more times in a ROW before we finally got a diagnosis... Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease. And sadly, there's NOTHING more they can do about it than Tylenol or Motrin. It just has to run its course.

Poor baby! He complained that his head hurt, his ears hurt, his neck hurt, his mouth hurt, his f@nny hurt... he was "sick and hurtling." But praise God, he's feeling better today. 3-1/2 days of high fevers, and they finally broke on Monday. The doctor said he wouldn't be contagious any more after going 24 hours without a fever, but he's still not himself so he stayed home yesterday and today. Tomorrow, he goes to day care, and I know he'll have a great time with all the kids, but I'll miss not being at home cuddling with him.

On another note, its kind of nice to know Hunter's pediatrician's office has 4 locations, and is open every day of the year except for Christmas. Sunday's too (which is one of the days we took him in)! We just changed over to them after a disappointing 2 years with another pediatrician, so its nice to know I can get him in at almost any time.

Well, hope you all had a better Memorial Day than I did. My parents were here visiting from North Carolina, and my Dad rode in the Rolling Thunder parade in D.C. -- I was so proud of him.

I'll be catching up with your blogs and my emails in the next few days.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Yard Sale Help...

Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie has a great post on Monday about Yard Sales (she's getting a lot of link love over here!)... she shared two other links that I found helpful: Sandy's post on Yard Sales, and Lynnae's post on 10 Tips to a Wildly Successful Garage Sale. Which has me thinking...

We're currently enrolled in the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University, and have funded baby step #1 ($1,000 emergency fund), have knocked out most of baby step 2 (pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball method), and are now working on baby step #3 (three to six months of expenses in savings). One of the things he recommends we do is have a yard sale. Now, this has been a really hard decision for me to make. I hate yard sales. HATE them. Not the sales themselves, but the work leading up to it. Sorting, folding, hanging, pricing -- ooooohhhh, the pricing!!! And usually, I like to pass Hunters clothing down -- sort of like paying it forward, which now, I wont be able to do.

But, needless to say... we're having a yard sale in the next few weeks with the goal of having cold, hard cash in hand (or rather, in bank account for baby step three!).

So, I have a couple questions for all of the experienced yard sale shoppers out there, so please... come out of lurkdome and leave me a comment about your experiences and tips for yard sales.

1) How should I price kids clothing? I have a TON of clothing (6 full bins, 2 trash bags, and 2 space bags FULL of clothes anywhere from new born to 24 months). Should I price everything at $1 or $2? Or should I price accordingly??

2) How do you prefer to go through baby clothing? Hanging on a hanger, or folded nicely and flat on a table? (NO BINS -- my sister-in-law told me clothes wont sell if they are in bins, so that's out)

3) How do you price baby equipment that is virtually new? Fisher Price Baby Swing that cost over $100, Fisher Price High Chair that was over $100 too (or should I keep that???), an Baby Einstein exersaucer that was about $80, bouncies, push toys, and so much more...

4) Any other tips?

C'mon -- share all your secrets, peeves, and successes!!!

WFMW: CHEAP Allergy Medicine

Thanks to Shannon from Rocks in my Dryer for hosting the weekly Works for me Wednesday Carnival! Head on over for a lot of useful tips!

Sometimes, I just can't figure out what is WRONG with me. I should know better by now, really I should ... but I DON'T. Hardheaded sunshine girl that I am, I thought I would share with you what I've learned about allergy medicine ... and maybe I can save you some money, honey! Of course, you probably already know about it...

I use Zyrtec -- year round. When I could get it as a prescription, it wasn't too bad, because I only paid $5 through our prescription plan -- so, $5 x 12 months = $60 per year. Now that Zyrtec is an over the counter drug, it can run up to $20/bottle of 45 tablets... meaning, I would need 8 bottles for the whole year which works out to $160 per year.

Now ... I know some of you are saying: "GET GENERIC you silly goose!" Well, I could get CVS brand (which at first I did), but it runs anywhere from $12 for 14 tablets up to $35 for 120 tablets. I thought that was a great savings, and I was all proud of myself for being clever and what not ... but then ... I found this (and if you use allergy medicine year round, you should really find this, too!): Kirkland Signature Aller-Tec Cetirizine HCL / Antihistamine Tablets. DUDE!! THIS PRODUCT RULES!!!

Get this: 300 tablets for $15.99. HOLA! I don't think I even need to do the math for you, but basically, I can feed my annual Zyrtec habit for a mere sixteen bucks. Can you totally dig it???

You might also want to check into the other Kirkland-brand MAMMOTH sized bottle-o'-pillages because they pretty much have it all in generic: Benadryl, Tylenol, Advil, Aleve, on and on and on and on and on.

Gotta love a deal... and THAT'S a deal!

Costco? My new hero. UHHH-gain! (that's "AGAIN" for you grammatically correct folk)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I am SOOOO real... it HURTS!

I'm getting ready to be totally real with you -- lest you think I'm perfect, organized, and ... well ... perfect.

This past Sunday, a friend of mine confessed to me after church that she felt so much pressure to be a superduperdeeorganized mom like many of the blogs portray. She felt like she wasn't being all she could be and basically, measured short.

I'll take a few seconds to allow you to get passed the fact that I actually do have friends in real-life.

Anyway, I empathized with her, because I know of what she complaineth (I mean... confesseth), because I've been there too. Let me give you some background on her life ...

She is a SAHM with three kids (one is a special needs child) all under the age of 5. She homeschools her oldest. Her home is clean and organized, her children are well loved and cared for, and she is involved in church. Folks, as you can see... her hands are full!! She is indeed, superwoman.

Now -- admittedly, there ARE people that have the gift of organization, have the same or similar type of family life, and are able to stay on top of everything. I know there are. My mom is a great example -- she has always had the gift of organization, and she can take chaos and turn it into order. Laura is another great example of that. And while she is super organized, she's a very encouraging, and supportive person, and she is so helpful in motivating people to tackle tough jobs. She does it with a spirit of love and gentleness and is TOTALLY non judgmental and completely Christ-like. Her skill of organization is a gift... and I'm willing to bet she has areas of weakness she would readily share.

I, however, am NOT one of those organized people that can look at a pile of mess and make a wall of organization out of it. I would LOVE to be, and my friend admitted the same thing, but sadly, I doubt I'll ever be. I look at a mess, and get totally overwhelmed. TOTALLY. I don't even know how to begin tackling stuff like that -- it takes me a while to work up to it and to come up with a game plan. Just so you know -- Laura has personally been a great help in this front. She always has awesome tips on her blog, and she's just an email away. It is so good to know that there is support and encouragement out there.

But it dawned on me that if two of us were voicing our desire to be something we're not, then there must be many out there! So, here's my advice to you (which I shared with my friend):

"God desires us to be orderly, clean people. When there is chaos in our lives, it becomes more difficult for us to focus ourselves on Him, or even to HEAR Him or communicate with Him. Its true. Chaos equals distraction. Trust me. So, while I wish I had an organizational chromosome,
I don't, and many other women don't either.

It is important that we strive to be the women God made us, honing our gifts for HIS glory, but maintaining a semblance of order in our homes."

And you can quote me on this!!

Now, I'm not giving you a green light to be filthy people -- heaven's no -- but there are some common sense things we need in our homes that I've learned by both my parents, and organizing friends like Laura and Barbara (praise God for women like them!!!):
  1. A place for everything, and everything in its place
  2. Cleanliness
  3. Orderly living
  4. LESS is more
Notice, I did not say perfectly organized, and I'm sure Laura would agree. Further, I told my friend that what gifts God has given some, he hasn't given all (if that makes any sense with my poor grammatical structure). I truly think God has given some people the gift of being super organized to help motivate people like me -- and in turn, God has given me gifts that they lack in that allows me to compliment them. Sadly, though -- despite Laura's best efforts to encourage me, I did not get this done in time for her Monthly Organizing Roundup. I just couldn't bring myself to take pictures of my room and closet, let alone ... SHARE them with anyone! Oh, the shame.

Having said that... my parents are on their way from North Carolina for a week-long visit... can you guess where I'm going with this?

RIGHT!! I cleaned and organized! It took me 5 hours to clean out and organize my closet. And, NO, I did NOT take pictures -- war are totally NOT doing a tour of homes right now! My bedroom was so disgusting, my bathroom even worse. My husband scrubbed our bathroom while I waded through hip-high piles of clothing, etc. I took out all my winter stuff, put in my spring and summer clothes, got rid of two bags worth of old clothing and shoes, and everything is beautifully folded, color coded and lined up. There's a place for everything. My room is tidy and the carpet was steam cleaned by my father-in-law. My mother-in-law helped by folding laundry for me, and watched Hunter for us. We spent about 5 more hours cleaning and putting in order the rest of the house with the exception of two rooms -- my living room, which has all my yard sale stuff, and our den, which is pretty much a storage room right now. My father-in-law steam cleaned our family room carpet too. Oh, how the black water did flow. Who knew apple juice and a dog could cause so many stains?

When we finally collapsed in bed late last night, I sighed heavily and said, "well, at least we've got another year." To which he said, "another year for what?" And I replied, "another year before we have to clean again." OH I JEST. Actually, I told him that even though my back was killllllling me, it felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my chest. My home is clean, my room is clean-ish, and I feel much better now. There was just no excuse for the chaotic state I had allowed our home to get into. I'm on a roll now, ladies! My next goals: removing clutter, simplifying our lives, getting rid of knick-knacks. I'm half way there.

The moral of this whole convoluted story? If I have a place for things, and put things away where they belong, I won't have this massive headache of a deep clean to do, and I wont have to sacrifice over 10 hours of my life to cleaning in one crazy marathon. Of course, this is the fourth time in 10 months that we've steam cleaned our carpet...

You can go HERE to see other people's messy closets...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Bike Day

Today is Ride Your Bike to Work day... I don't own a bike, although I would really love to... anyway, I had polished my son's battery-operated John Deere Front-end Loader to drive to work today, but it was raining cats and dogs, and I'm pretty sure Hunter wouldn't want his "tracky" to get wet... AT ALL. So I had to climb into my big-ol SUV and have at it. Fortunately, I only live 8 miles from my job, so I only burned about $3.80 in gas ... but along with that, I failed to do my part to support healthy alternatives to drive-alone commutes, but rather ... contributed to traffic congestion and poor air quality.


In other news, Hunter almost choked last week on ... are you ready for this??? HIS PACIFIER.

Yes, he's 2yr-7mo old... and YES he still took a pacifier at nap and bed time -- so sue me. Evidently he was seriously sucking his pacifier during nap time at the day care provider's home, and bit off the very tip of it. It lodged in his throat and he began choking. Praise God she noticed, and having worked as a geriatric nurse for numerous years prior to becoming a mom, and having been a daycare provider for over 30 years, she knew what to do, acted quickly, and turned him face down on her knee and pounded him on the back two times.

The piece of pacifier dislodged, and all was well. A sleepy Hunter looked up at her, bewildered and "injured" and said (sadly with puppy-dog eyes): "Hey! You hit me!" To which she replied: "You're daggone right I hit you, and I'll hit you again if you choke on me like that again!" Needless to say, he was pretty traumatized, and didn't want to talk about it for days ... poor thing.

So, of course, being the stellar parents that we are, we decided to take advantage of this frightening situation and prey on our child's emotions by telling him that he couldn't have his pacifier any more because we loved him so much, and we didn't want him to choke again. Folks -- THAT'S effective parenting, in fact, it is parenting at its very finest... but hey -- it worked! He only asked for it a couple times over the weekend, and not much throughout the week, but trauma really does wean a child off of something you don't want them to have ... although, I don't recommend you "cause" a child to go through trauma -- just take advantage of it.

Next up: Self-combustible Pampers -- Diapers that self-combust when child urinates in them -- a new tool that aids a parent in potty training.

Trauma, I tell you -- trauma.

Finally, I'm furiously working on a special project -- a ministry that we're starting off at church, and I'm reading books, creating a blog, organizing my thoughts, coming up with a structure, starting lessons ... there's a whole lot of excitement going on over here as I begin forming my 'game plan' and God has certainly been busy sending confirmations my way! He is so good!! Now, if my wonderful sister-in-law would just break down and accept the fact that God has spoken to me about her being a co-leader ... and just GET ON WITH IT... sheesh! then we could really get rolling!

Okay -- I'm off to get busy at work (read: look busy while fiddle-f@rting around) -- oh, stop -- I know as a Christian I'm supposed to give my job my all, and when I actually have work, I do -- but right now, we don't have any work -- I'm an estimator and there are no jobs to estimate yet (June is going to be busy, though) -- so I'm fully and perfectly within an acceptable mode of operation -- internet surfing and ministry planning -- and if you really want to get right down to it, you should probably be cleaning toilets or scrubbing floors, or doing laundry instead of reading blogs-- wink, wink! -- but I'd rather have you here).

Y'all have a WONDERFUL weekend! Hugs and smooches!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Happy Birthday, Honey!!!

"Happy To You" -- as Hunter would say!

Thank you for striving to be a Godly man, father and husband!

I love you honey!

Monday, May 12, 2008


Does anyone else feel like they are drowning out there? SERIOUSLY -- there is just so much water falling from the heavens and raising on the ground that I feel like a drowned rat... but while the rain keeps falling, I have much to celebrate, because we have... are you ready for this...


I'm going to be transparent here, and my husband is probably rolling around saying, "NO, honey -- don't go there" but I just HAVE to share ... I know six credit cards sounds like a lot of debt, but it wasn't ... it was only $2,500 worth of debt, but it held us in bondage -- literally. We were slave of the lender no matter how much it was.

Not only did we pay those small credit cards off, but we have our $1,000 emergency fund fully funded, AND we have almost $1,000 to put against our final credit card debt! Praise God for the Stimulus Rebate and Tax refunds, and the discipline to put it towards our debt rather than vacation!

It feels great. It feels amazing. It feels ... LIBERATING.

And still, we move onward to obliterate all our debt -- it's small, but still -- it's debt, and needs to be wiped out, and I can't wait to get it all OBLITERATED -- that's a pretty awesome word! How about ... eliminate, eradicate, annihilate, reduce to nothing... Yeah, I'm feeling pretty motivated. We're on the attack!!! We're on the way to Financial Peace.

So step by step, we're working towards it... and it feels good!

Please -- if the Duggar's -- a family of 19 (soon to be) 20 can live totally debt free, with a newly built 7,000 square foot home, and a monthly grocery bill of $2,000 -- certainly WE can too!

God is good!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's day to each and every woman out there.

If you are a woman that has lost her mother, has lost a child, or struggles with infertility, please allow me to be the first today to wish you a Happy Mother's Day. I know the ache is very real, but you are still a woman with real feelings, and I honor you today.

To the women that especially struggle with infertility, you are very dear and close to my heart ... please, allow me to tip my hat, and wish all the women who continue to struggle with infertility, and reconciling with not having a child, a wonderful, blessed, and peaceful day. You are brave. You are loved. You are precious to many. Especially Our Lord. Please know that I am honored to have such wonderful and strong women in my presence. And, my son will be a better man through sharing your love with him.

And for all the moms who stand at the front lines, struggling through, praying through, and living a mom's life -- Happy Mother's Day. It's all well worth it!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Be a Little Jesus...

This past week ... really past few weeks ... has been a bit quiet here at Kisses of Sunshine. There have been numerous posts around the blogosphere that have really tugged at my heart and mind, and have left me in deep thought and prayer as to what my ministry at my own church should be. I thought I'd share with you some of the things that I've been thinking and praying about, because as I have silently read various blogs over the past few weeks (especially comments that women have left), I find that many women are in the same boat as I am. Struggling to find your place in ministry.

When I first became a Christian, I was a teenager, and I became very involved in my youth ministry and the youth leadership. I have fond memories of leading worship or devotions for the youth. I was also a part of the worship team in our church. As I graduated from High School, I began attending church at my husband-then-boy-friend's church, and began teaching middle-school youth Sunday School.

As the years progressed, and my ministries changed, they always focused around the same type of things: children, pre-youth, youth, and women. As the concentration of the children in our church began moving into middle school, the Pastor approached my husband and another friend in our church and asked if they would start a youth ministry. They each committed two years towards starting the youth ministry. I became a youth worker -- not leader, just a worker supporting my husband ... but soon after, it became clear that my husband did not feel called to youth ministry, and after his two years ended, I strongly felt God calling me into the ministry.

The other youth leader and myself were commissioned as youth pastors -- he for the middle school youth, and I was for the senior high youth. To be honest, I felt totally intimidated by the youth, and thought for sure that I wouldn't be accepted. After all, they were all athletic, and I was ... well ... NOT. But they embraced me with open arms, as did the parents, and I fell in love with a ministry I never, ever dreamed I would be called into. We developed relationships I cherish to this day.

Six years later, I found myself in a place in life where I new I had to step down. We were starting our first IUI cycles for infertility, and I felt as though all my attention had shifted and was keenly focused on starting a family of our own. I felt God calling me to step down from the responsibilities of Youth Ministry and pastoring the kids, but I slipped into leading the Children's Ministry for a short time, because they had no one to fill those shoes. At the same time, our church brought in a new Pastor and his family. I found that I was stepping out of ministry all together as he was beginning his new ministry at our church, and it saddened me, but it was also the time when Hunter was born, and my attentions needed to be focused elsewhere.

For two and a half years, I have focused on my family. It has been a bit of a relief to not have to juggle my time between a ministry and my family. I have still remained active in church (that will never change), and have helped plan functions such as retreats and celebrations, but haven't had a ministry outside of my family that I could embrace, pull close to my heart, and pour my energies and prayer into. For the most part, I can honestly say that I have felt content and am confident that I have been where God and my husband wanted me to be... but now -- now, I feel God calling me into ministry again. I just am not sure as to what it is.

I do have some ideas in my heart and mind ... and that alone adds a new sense of excitement to my emotions that are whirling around in my brain. Over the years, I have learned many valuable lessons about ministry. The first and most important lesson is: Be where God calls you to be because if you don't, you won't be happy and your ministry will suffer.

The next one would be: Don't spread yourself across the board (1 Corinthians 12). Only focus in on the ministry you're called into, and hone it. Perfect it. Give it your best and never any less. This was a hard lesson for me, because I am a member of a small church where a small group of people are the ones that step up to the plate time and time again. Also, I love to be involved... overly involved. And I hate to see anything (as in - other ministries) fail because I want our church to be successful. I want it to grow. I want it to be a beautiful place for many, many people -- a place where they can fall into and find comfort, love, support, healing. But over the years, I've learned that ministries are not successful when you only give a part of yourself, that's why it is important to not spread yourself thin with numerous ministries. We all need to play roles in building the church and developing healthy ministries -- we are all dependent on each other, and when one ministry is successful, the other ministries celebrate along side them.

The final one -- well, not final, but for the purpose of this post we'll call it the final lesson I've learned -- is that we shouldn't make a decision about ministry without prayer -- and a lot of it. I also think it is important to discuss your thoughts with someone else -- definitely your spouse, but also someone else -- possibly someone that you consider wiser than you.

Since I have brought some ideas to my pastor for his thoughts, and since I haven't even discussed all my thoughts and feelings with my husband, whom I look to for spiritual wisdom, I don't feel as though I can discuss what's going on in my mind with regards to where I feel like God is calling me specifically. But there will come a moment where I will share my excitement with you.

In the mean time, I'd like to point you to several other ladies who know where God wants them to be, and are pouring their hearts into their ministries. Donnetta, Sandy, and Amy, to name three. They have each written posts that have left me thinking, praying, and doing some soul searching, and I encourage you to read them:

Sandy wrote: Combat Loneliness, where she encouraged us to open our doors to the lonely. Sandy's focus is opening her home to people and offering hospitality as a gift to them. She also wrote: I Found My Niche where she highlights an email from a reader that has been moved into action with regards to a ministry in her own home. By the way, Sandy's entire blog is focused on hospitality and entertaining, and offering encouragement to the one who feels discouraged about entertaining. You should check it out.

Donnetta wrote: I Almost Missed It, where she highlights one of her many ministries... she opens her home to a group of moms that need "adult time" with no agenda -- just a time where the women can get together, chat about jobs, kids, family, etc.

Amy wrote: We Don’t Need No Stinking Pulpit -- She describes her own quiet ministry to the children of their neighborhood, and gives you tips on how you can start one also. She also gives some tips on how you can help out someone who already has this ministry.

Often times, when I talk to people about being involved in ministry, they freak. They think they aren't equipped, they don't know the Bible well enough (ummmm ... that COULD CHANGE!), they can't do it, and surely God couldn't be calling THEM into ministry. But you can do it, and God DOES call YOU into ministry. The examples that each of the ladies above shared were simple. One was as simple as opening her home to the neighborhood children; another was opening her home to moms who need some adult time; and the third was opening her home to other people, providing meals and hospitality to them. While those are just a few ideas of how God can use you ... YES, YOU ... they all have two common threads -- opening your home and hearts!! So simple!

And trust me ... you don't need to be a great spiritual leader to open your home up to a hand full of people and serve them a great meal. You don't need to be a great spiritual leader to provide a safe and comforting place for kids to play. You don't need to be a great spiritual leader to open your home to moms that need a child-free breather to chat or pray.

You just need to know Jesus, and in turn, be a little Jesus to others. That's all.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

What DOESN'T Work For Me: Homemade Bread

UPDATED TO ADD: I just realized that my husband will KILL me when he realizes how much money I wasted on my hair-brained experiment. Especially since I told y'all first, and not him. Sorry, honey... I choked good and hard too when I added it all up from the receipt... hope that helps calm you down! Love you! Make the girl happy!! (inside joke y'all)

Thanks to Shannon from Rocks in my Dryer for hosting the weekly Works for me Wednesday Carnival. This week, she's hosting "What DOESN'T Work for Me"! Head on over for a lot of useful tips and stuff to stay away from!

I'd like to say that no human was injured for the purpose of this post ... but our stomachs would argue. Loudly. So, for this blogging chick ... making homemade bread without a bread making machine SERIOUSLY does NOT work for me for the following reasons:

Reason number 5: I spent a whopping $12.77 on organic wheat, gluten (which wasn't easy to find), yeast, etc. oh, YES I DID. TWELVE DOLLARS AND SEVENTY SEVEN CENTS. It took me FOREVER to find the gluten -- almost two weeks. I had to search high and low in numerous stores. The total does not include my pain and suffering. I'm suing the maker of the bread for that. Oh, wait. That was me. Never mind.

Reason number four: The dough did not yield as much as the directions claimed after I let it raise. And ... when I put it in the oven, the top raised high -- very nicely, in fact -- then dropped back down like a bomb went of in it, leaving a hole in the middle -- as if it were a souffle. See picture for a nice visual.

Reason number 3: The finished product was so chewy and rubbery that it vaguely resembled was exactly like chewing on a sea sponge (I think it was the gluten that made it so chewy and spongy, but the recipe called for it!). It was so gross that my husband took one bite, chewed slowly, then proceeded to spit it out in his hand. At the table. Then, he threw the whole piece of bread away. And I followed him with the remaining loaf. Don't worry -- there's no picture so you can visualize it in your mind's eye. Suffice it to say... it was DEEEEES-GUSTING.

Reason number 2: I wasted my "homegrown" organic honey on this stuff. My friend gave me that honey, and it's like a precious commodity! The recipe called for 1/3 cup, and I now consider it 1/3 cup of gold that went down the drain. Or in the trash. Whatever.

And the number ONE reason why I won't make homemade bread anymore (without the aid of pre-frozen dough or a bread machine)... I can buy bread just as good at the market or the Amish market, or even the local Mennonite bakery for $2.50. Enough said.

With a full-time job (at LEAST 40 hours per week, sometimes WAY more), a husband, an active toddler, a home to clean, laundry to be washed, stuff to be sorted and un-cluttered and un-piled ... this chicky does NOT have time to find the "right recipe" for me and my family, nor do I have the time for trial and error.

Now ... if you'd like to make a delicious homemade loaf for me ... I'll take it. I'm not THAT dumb!!!

Monday, May 05, 2008

BloggedIn Bounty ($100 Target Card) and Menu Plan Monday

Did you say you need a new purse? Or those cute capri's you looked at the other day while you were strolling through Target? Oh, you know the ones.... well, the lovely people from Blogged-In Network are offering us all a chance to win, win, WIN! A! Free! Gift! Card! From Target! For $100!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So what are you waiting for? Click on the box and start earning points by following a few easy instructions! Momma needs a NEW PAIR OF SHOES!!! (oh, okay -- baby and daddy do too.)

Moving on to Menu Plan Monday , Laura fromI'm an Organizing Junkie hosts the weekly edition of Menu Plan Monday -- make sure you check out her website! She's incredibly encouraging...

So, this week's menu is kind of loosey-goosey ... kind of ... and then again, kind of NOT. But I reserve the right to change it if I don't feel like cooking, because I'm BEAT, y'all, and I don't even know why. Darn hormones! Anyhoooo ... onto the food part:

  1. Monday: Grilled Burgers with Chipotle (mmmmmmmmmmmm!!!!!) Rub with potato salad and baked beans
  2. Tuesday:Creamy Sherry Chicken over Rice with Broccoli (never quite got to it last week)
  3. Wednesday: Dinner for a dollar at church
  4. Thursday: Penne with Meat Sauce and Caesar Salad
  5. Friday: Grilled Chicken Legs with Moroccan rub with Jasmine Rice and Salad
  6. Saturday: Unknown at this time.
  7. Sunday: Japanese Steak House -- Woot!!!!
So... what's on your menu???

On another note, my husband and I have taken a young couple in our church "under our wing," per say. She doesn't know how to cook, and I told her I would teach her how. So, I'm asking YOU for some ideas for meals that picky eaters can eat that fall within the following categories: easy, inexpensive, not exotic, child-friendly, crock pot ideas, casserole ideas.

Please... any ideas would be awesome, since right now, she only knows how to burn things, and her husband ends up cooking for the three of them (they have a 4 year old). I'd like to put together a simple cook book for her!! Thanks for your input.

Also -- is anyone interested in doing a recipe exchange via Mr. Linky for meals you can fix for shut-ins, sick friends and family, new moms, or someone that just needs a fresh meal prepared for them? You would post the ideas on your own blog on one particular day, and then sign up on the Mr. Linky. Give me your thoughts on this!!

Have an awesome day!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

No Mother's Day Contest

I feel like I need to make a small announcement -- just to clarify --

While I did host a Mother's Day writing contest last year (2007), I will not be hosting one again this year. I hadn't advertised that I am, but yet, I have received many, many emails with entries. They are all beautiful and well written, but unfortunately, I am in the middle of a heavy work schedule, and am unable to provide the time and attention required for such a contest.

If anyone else is planning on hosting a Mother's Day writing contest, please let me know, as I would be happy to make an announcement for you!

Sorry for any miss-understandings, and I hope you have an enjoyable Mother's Day.