Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Power of a Father's Voice

I experienced something so incredible today that I just have to share it with you!  My friends, Dan and Corina, have been fostering a tiny little, beautiful newborn girl since the end of September.  This precious little girl is just now starting to be more alert and active when she's awake and is just captivating to look at!

Well, this morning Corina was working with the Junior Choir in the Sunday School department, and Dan, being a minister, was helping with the morning worship services and I, yes I, got to take care of Baby A!!  (Have I mentioned how cute this little one is?!)

Anyway, since Baby A has always been quite content and quiet, I decided to take her into the sanctuary and we sat a few rows up from the back.  She started to get fussy, so I took her out of her car seat and was holding her, trying to get her to settle and get back into her contented position.  That wasn't happening.  She was squirming and squeaking and was NOT a happy camper at all ....

Until Dan started to pray.

Oh, how I wish I could have captured that moment so that I could show it to Dan now!  Within a few words of his prayer, little Baby A stopped her squirming and squeaking and began to relax, just looking up at the bright lights and not moving a muscle!  I'm so very convinced that she recognized his voice and his voice brought peace to her little mind and body!

When I shared this with Dan and Corina after the services, I found out that Dan is usually the one who does the night feedings and that he often talks to her during this time.  How precious!  Baby A heard her "father's" voice and it immediately brought peace and security to her! 

How many times am I squirming and squeaking and trying to find a comfortable position in my life, but can't find it ... until I hear my Father's voice ... and He soothes me and gives me security and provides peace again.  Knowing that He is near, even when I can't see Him or feel Him, but just hear His voice, I am able to calm down and relax and trust that He is near enough to protect me...and then I can fall asleep in peace and assurance.

I feel so honored to have been part of this display of trust between Baby A and her "father" this morning.  This is one of those life lessons that won't be forgotten for me!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Look Was Priceless!

The boys have been begging for a pet.  Our answer has been NO!  If they can't even take care of their Webkinz pets, how could they ever take care of a LIVE animal?!  So, no.  No pets.

Until now.

It started out as a simple trip into Big Al's Aquarium.  WRONG MOVE, MOM!!  We were just going to LOOK.  Yeah, right.  How can you just "look" in an aquarium store when there are tons of beautiful fish swimming in tank after tank after tank?!  After seeing the price tag on some of the fish that were on wish lists, the boys decided that maybe they didn't want to spend their hard earned money on a fish after all, at least not those beautiful clown fish. 

But hey!  "Mommy, look!  These goldfish are only .39 each if you buy ten or more!  It's a better deal to buy ten than to buy one for each of us!"  So, Mommy caved.  Ten gold fish (that were really orange, white, black, grey and reddish orange) came home in a plastic bag.

We put the three favorites in a bowl on the kitchen table and the other seven went into a larger bowl on display on the island.  All was well...until we got home from church tonight and found two floaties.  Uh oh.  The emotions of pet-loss were beginning to emerge.  Question after question arose about why they died, how they died, what did we do wrong, what will happen if the rest die, etc.  We've been talking fish non-stop ever since.

When the boys were getting ready for bed, I was on their bed and we were talking about fish, again, and I realized that I had made another HUGE mistake in this whole fish business.  I served fish for supper tonight!  Oops.  The look on Christopher's face when he realized that the fish we ate for supper was a REAL fish, like one that used to swim, like one that used to be alive, like one that was bigger than the goldfish down on the kitchen table in the clear fishbowl, was absolutely priceless!  Shock, horror, disbelief and repulsiveness all at the same time!

I tried so hard not to laugh at the expression on my son's face when he realized that the fish he had just eaten used to be a live, swimming fish.  It was so very hard to keep from laughing out loud, but sweet Stephen gently explained to him that the fish we had for supper was NOT a goldfish, but a bigger fish that swam in the ocean and had to be caught with nets and not even a fishing pole because it was so big (perch?!), and that Christopher didn't have to worry because it wasn't really the same thing at all, and it certainly was never anyone's pet!  Whew!  He did a great job of calming his little brother down, I have to say, but the look on his face is one I will remember for a long time.  The shock that he had just eaten a real fish!  Oh my.

So, we had ten fish.  We now have seven (another one has been discovered lying on the bottom of the bowl, unmoving).  It's anyone's guess how many we will have when we wake up in the morning.

And guess what I had already packed in their lunches for tomorrow?  Yep.  Goldfish.  Yet another MomFail.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Yikes # 2 - Another September 15, 2012 Birthday

Since Timothy and Christopher share a birthday, we usually combine activities to make it easier on Mommy.  We also have a tradition in our family that on your 8th birthday, you get to have a "real" party.  The birthday boy picks the theme, invites his friends and we do a birthday here at home.  This year it was Timothy's 8th birthday, so he got to have his "real" party...but what about Christopher?  Well, we didn't want to just ignore his special day, so we invited Grace, Rachel and Josh to share Christopher's day with an Eric Carle themed birthday.  (Aunt Darlene was very pregnant with the twins at this point, so it was really a day of giving her a break and letting Christopher have some friends share his birthday.)  Fun, fun, FUN!! first attempt at chocolate brownie cupcakes for Christopher's cake.  BOMB!  These looked PATHETIC, but have no fear!  Martha is NOT going to waste all this work!  I figured out a way to still use these reject cupcakes to make a cute little cake for the party.

We played Pin the Tail on the Elephant...

... got excited over gifts ...

loved opening gifts ...

... and had the cutest Very Hungry Caterpillar cake ever!

What a happy little 6 year old we have now!

Happy Birthday, Christopher!  We love you!

YIKES! September 15, 2012

Well, with Stephen's birthday coming up so quickly here, I realized that I never did share Timothy's 8th birthday party on here - from September 15, 2012!  Blogging just hasn't been a priority these days, but in the back of my mind I think about this birthday post often because his party was * so * much * fun * !!!!!  Timothy is one creative dude and he pretty much planned his entire party, including his cake.
Guess what the theme of the party was?
Several days before the party we worked on making the pinata - a pig!

For our snacks we had broken eggs...

... sticks for nests ...

... pigs in a blanket ...

... berries for birds ...

Timothy is thrilled with his new Angry Bird stuffies!

And a new shirt.

Timothy's masterpiece cake.  It was totally workable, too!  He used a simple fondant type of candy to make his birds and pigs and created his towers out of chocolate wafer cookies.  The pretzel rod sling shot with black licorice was carefully crafted so that it could actually throw the birds at the pigs!

What a cool cake!

See all the blue fluffy birds and a few red ones made out of yarn?  We made Angry Bird pompoms for a craft and the kids got to use them for games out in the yard and then took them home as part of their party favors.

The pinata was a hit!  (har har har)

What a special 8th birthday this was for Timothy!  So thankful that the day was beautiful enough that they could create all their Angry Bird towers and games outside.  He definitely had a memorable bithday!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Valentine's Day Soup

I know it's a little early for Valentine's Day, but I had to show you our latest favorite soup BEFORE February 14 so that you can try this at home, too!

First, boil a few carrots in your chicken broth until almost tender.  They will be easier to work with if they are still a bit firm, and if you cut them into two halves before you put them into the pot (which I didn't do this time, so do as I say and not as I did).
Remove them from the broth and allow to cool.  (I was in a hurry so I ran cold water over these until they were comfortable to touch.)
Cut a small "v" shape down the entire length of the carrot and give that long strip to the kid standing closest to you who is dying to taste the carrot!

Carefully slice the sides of the carrot on an angle to shape the bottom half of your heart.

Slice into pieces thick enough that they won't fall apart when you put them back into the soup.

Try not to break any hearts!

Add your remaining soup noodles or other vegetables and serve!

 Dish out the Valentine's Day Soup! 
We always add frozen peas to cool off the hot soup (and --- shhhhhh!--- to add extra veggies).
 Make sure you hunt out the biggest Valentine carrot ....
 and save it for last!  

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's Eves

On Monday, Stephen and I were making a double batch of Chex Mix for our New Year's Eve party that night.  As we were measuring out our ingredients (and he was snitching), it reminded me so much of my New Year's Eves growing up in East Akron.  We had the BEST New Year's parties ever!  We'd all go to the Aunts', Aunt Irene and Aunt Mary Kozy, who really weren't our aunts at all, but because of our close relationship in church with everyone, they were our "aunts" and that's that.  So anyway, we'd go to the Aunts' and there would be food and games and laughing and teasing and little kids and teenagers and adults and parents and senior citizens and everyone else, too!  We'd play Dutch Blitz and Uno and eat Chex Mix and sing and pray in the new year and eat some more and play some more and then finally in the wee hours of the morning, we'd all pack up and head to Country Kitchen for breakfast before we headed home around 7:00am to crash.  I can't believe my parents did this for us because if it were ME right now at this stage in my life, I'd tell my kids "No way, buckaroos!  You want to go to Country Kitchen for breakfast?  Then you find your own ride!"  But my parents didn't do that.  They stuck it out with us and THAT was New Year's Eve. 

Things are different these days.  Our family belongs to a church ten times the size of East Akron and there is no such thing as a church wide New Year's Eve party.  It's kind of sad because I loved sitting with Olga and Aunt Helen and Aunt Mary and Aunt Irene and Uncle Paul and Marcie (why did I never call her Aunt Marcie?), and Ruth and Arthur, Paul and Esther all the way down to Mark and Shirley!  We were ALL there, and we all ate and played and made memories together.

This year we had some friends over for the evening.  It was definitely a BOYS' party this year!  Only two girls in the mix, along with us moms, that is.  After we got the boys going on their snacks and games, the women disappeared to the basement so that we could have a little peace and quiet and some "girl time" together.  We were having a great time telling stories and laughing so hard when sweet Priscila came downstairs and so gently interrupted us to say, "Uh, I think there might be something burning in the oven."  Whooooaaaa!  I ran upstairs to find, sure enough, something burning in the oven!  We had forgotten Terri's baked brie was in there, and while the pastry was the perfect crispy tinge, the oil from the brie had leaked out and spilled out of the cookie sheet onto the bottom of the oven, taking some of the pastry with it.  It was a mess, but also very clean-up-able, so I wiped it down and promised myself that I would self-clean the oven in the morning.  It was high time for that maintenance anyway! 

It was soon close to midnight so we all gathered in the living room to have a prayer to welcome in the new year.  Glow sticks were passed out to the kids first and I went back into the kitchen to quickly deal with something when all of a sudden Timothy started whimpering and then screaming!  His glow stick had somehow exploded IN HIS FACE!  It had sprayed into his eyes and was burning.  I was finally able to convince him to have me lead him to the bathroom to try to flush out his eyes.  By that point, he was screaming that his face was on fire - his eyes, his forehead, his cheeks, his lips!  It was quite scary, to be honest, but I'll also admit that I was very tempted to turn off the light and force him to open his eyes so that I could see if they were glowing purple!  I know, I know.  Bad mommy.  But I WAS curious!  Anyway, in the meantime, in the other room, everyone was shouting Happy New Year already and then Timothy felt bad that he missed it.  The tears started all over again, but I think it helped to flush the stuff out of his eyes because Daddy came in and asked if Timothy wanted to come out so we could "do New Year's" all over again and he readily agreed.  Daddy was the hero!

Fast forward to this morning.  Timothy is now fine and has no issues whatsoever with his accident the night before.  Thank God!!  It could have been much worse!  I finished cleaning up the kitchen, including setting the oven to the self-cleaning cycle and went on to deal with the mounds of laundry.  I had just finished up an e-mail to Terri, which ironically included a post script saying that the oven was cleaning and the smoke alarm just went off.  Ha ha ha, blah, blah, blah, hit SEND and turn around to see smoke billowing out of the stove part and flames engulfing the interior of the oven!  I shouted for Fred to come help, to turn off the gas line or something!  Smoke, BLACK smoke, LOTS of BLACK smoke pouring into the kitchen!!  Smoke alarm screeching at me.  Kids running in to see what's going on.  Fred frantically scrambling to turn off the oven and the gas line.  I'm waving my new 2013 calendar at the smoke alarm to try to get it to stop screeching at me!  Oh my!  So thankful that none of you witnessed this flurry of activity in here this morning because you'd never let me live it down!

Once the oven was turned off, the fire subsided, while the smoke continued to billow a while longer.  The stove had turned a lovely smokey grey color instead of its usual glistening white.  (Yeah, right.  When's the last time my stove was 'glistening' white?!)   The exhaust fan couldn't keep up with the amount of smoke, so most of it was just wafting through the kitchen and on into the rest of the house.  I haven't checked yet to see what the snow looks like on the outside of the house where the exhaust fan blows.  Not sure I want to do that, really.  After a few hours, the oven was cooled enough that the auto-lock was released and we opened the door.  What * A * Mess!!!!  It took me the rest of the morning (and we were up early, thanks to the boys' internal alarm clocks) to clean up the mess and feel confident enough to re-engage the self-cleaning feature. 

I am happy to report that my oven and stove are now cleaned and back to their original hues - for the most part.  The lustrous white cabinets are another story, but whatever.  I had to think today as I observed the fine-ash coated cabinets and the dingy ceiling, discolored by previous cooking episodes, that this is a kitchen of use!  All of it's dings and discolorations and broken apparatus are all proof that this kitchen is used and lived in and enjoyed.  If I had a pristine kitchen, would I still feel welcomed and comfortable in it?  Probably not.  I would be afraid to use it for fear of doing damage to it's beauty.  I'm so grateful for my REAL kitchen, smoke damage and scent and all!  You are all welcome to come enjoy my real kitchen at any time and I won't fault you at all if you break my special glasses, spill honey into the cracks between the floor boards, break the knobs off the drawers or smoke up my kitchen with your baked brie!  Spending time in my kitchen is rarely a dull experience, so come enjoy!  I can provide you with a good laugh or two, I'm sure!

And that is our Happy New Year's Eve for 2013!  Always a thrill to start off the year with a bang, isn't it?  And how was YOUR New Year's Eve this year?  Happy New Year to you all!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Family Reunions

When I was a kid, we used to go to the Steiner Center in Wadsworth for a Pavkov family reunion every year in December.  Grandpa and Grandma Pavkov's kids and grandkids would all be there and we would have an unforgettable day swimming with our cousins, then getting out of the pool to play with the foosball tables, pool tables, maybe even sometimes play a little ball in the gym.  There were always games, a pinata and, of course, FOOD! 

It's funny how you can remember specific things from your childhood as if it were yesterday.  My memories of Steiner Center Christmases are at least 30 years old, and yet they are so very clear in my mind, right down to the sting of the chlorine in the pool to the smell of coffee brewing in our big gathering room to the taste of Aunt Janet's Saurkraut Balls!

When my cousin, Traci, e-mailed all of us to see if we would be interested in a family reunion, we all jumped on that idea!  What fun to introduce OUR kids to the fun we had at our reunions! 

So, today was that day.  We met in Mansfield at the Comfort Inn where we rented a conference room and had the use of their Splash Harbor mini-water park for six hours.  Oh my!  What fun we had!  The cousins enjoyed playing together in the water while the parents and grandparents enjoyed being splashed as the kids came down the slide.  The parents also enjoyed the adult-only hot tub, too!  We had games and gifts and FOOD!  Hot food, yummy food, and way too much food, but that's what Christmas family reunions are all about.  Aunt Janet's cheese balls and crackers and her saurkraut balls showed up, too!  We told stories about Grandma and Grandpa and Aunt Janet.  We talked about all the cousins who weren't there.  We caught up on each other's lives and promised that we would do this again soon. 

The day was far too short, with our measly six hours together, but we're taking advantage of the time we had together and are showing our love like we never have before.  Unfortunately this week, a young man, known to many of us (and mostly my young adult nephews and niece) was tragically killed and the brevity of life has been staring us in the face.  We took time today to hug, to voice words of appreciation, to look each other in the eyes and to love each other as if it was our last day together.  The range of emotions today went from the lows of mourning a dear friend to the heights of enjoying family time. 

It was a beautiful day here and I'm so thankful that our family knows and acts upon the love of Jesus.  My memories of today will be cut deeply and I will cherish them. 

Family reunions.  There's nothing like them!