Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas, New Year's and All That

We've been on the go during our Christmas break and now here we are heading into a new year tomorrow! We had a wonderful time in Ohio with all our family and friends. Starting our week in Ohio, we found out that Stephen is allergic to cats! Walt and Ruthie have a new little kitten that was just too cute to leave alone and Stephen woke up the next morning with red and swollen eyes! For the rest of our visit, our wise little son kept his distance.

We really enjoyed our visit with my friend from, what is it, Katie? About 35 years?! (Ouch. That is hard to admit!) Katie has three of the cutest little boys in Ohio, and all of our kids had a blast together! It was great to send them off to play while Katie and I caught up in person, for a change, instead of communicating only over e-mail or Facebook or blog comments. What a blessing it was to be with her. I wish we lived closer.

We moved on to the Schley side of the family after a visit with Richard and Margie. We had our annual Schley family Christmas Dinner Contest. This year we did chili. We had nine entries and only three winners. That was hard to judge, but we loved the chili and we loved the fun and visiting!

Spending the rest of the week with my family was a blessing. Sometimes I just need that Schley fix and then I'm back on track again. It was nice to just sit and laugh with Liz and Laurel and Taylor about wee boxers, or was it Wii boxes, or was it Diet Dr. Pepper? I had fun shopping with Liz and Dianne and getting and giving those suggestions and comments that only sisters can give to each other. I enjoyed watching Mom and Dad interact with the kids and the kids sure enjoyed being at Grandpa's house where there are trucks. (I'm not sure where those trucks are, but Christopher always talks about Grandpa's house and trucks in the same sentences.)

Yes, Christmas this year was wonderful. It was not about gifts and glitter. It was not about commercialism or perfection. Sometimes it was about food. It had to be because we had Bocka's Buckey Bars, salmon (Timothy's favorite), the all-important Chex Party Mix, the handcrafted gingerbread houses and everything else that was available. I have to say that this was a wonderful Christmas because we were together because we were family, and we were celebrating the birth of Jesus. This is what made Christmas beautiful this year.

Now we're at the brink of a new year. We're going to brave the snow tonight and go to a family New Year's Eve party for a white elephant gift exchange. The boys are all excited to stay up late. I'm not as thrilled with that, I'm getting older, but I catch their excitement and then I'm ok about it again. What are you guys doing tonight to celebrate New Year's? How have the celebrations changed for you over the years? Who's going to bed early tonight?! (Lucky you!)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel ...or Bowl

Today is the final day of The Cookie Kitchen's baking for this Christmas season. Whew! We thought we were done, but this morning I got a desperate call from a repeat customer who always places large orders. How could I say no??? After I hung up with her, I frantically called Connie and we both scrambled to count our remaining cookies (that we had already divided up between our families because we thought we were done with orders this year) in the freezer and were thrilled to discover that we had JUST ENOUGH to fill this customer's order!

Well, almost enough to fill her order. I just finished baking 81 more shortbread cutouts and I'm passing them on to Connie to finish decorating since we're leaving in the morning for Ohio! We have two or three leftovers of all the other cookies, but this customer wanted a special platter of the cutouts, soooo ..... that's how I spent my evening tonight after the boys were in bed.

The Cookie Kitchen is temporarily closed as we both celebrate Christmas with our families. Once again, we thank God for the customers that trusted us with their Christmas cookies this year. We're also thankful for the wise ones who came late last night to pick up their cookies before the blizzard hit, and we're thankful for the brave ones who ventured out today in the middle of it all to pick up the rest. Ok, so today's were all neighbors who just had to walk a few houses down, but hey! It was cold and blustery and snowy today!

Since we'll be spending Christmas with our family in Ohio, I don't know how much time I'll have to blog while we're there, so I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas as you celebrate JESUS!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cookie Party!

Today was the day of our annual Cookie Party, as the boys like to call it. A few friends and I get together each year to do a Cookie Exchange before Christmas. We have a great time! We gush over each other's creations. We sample the goodies. We tell funny stories. We enjoy our time together. Today was no different. Our group was smaller this year as several of the regulars weren't able to make it, but we still enjoyed our time and are thankful for the variety of cookies that we have to share.
This is just a smattering of the goodies that we were all able to walk away with today. And all I had to do was bake one type of cookie and package several dozen to share.
A beautiful day. A delicious morning. Sweet fellowship. What a perfect Cookie Party!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Programs

Sunday night was our Sunday School Christmas program at church. Boy, were those kids fantastic! This is a picture of the Tiny Tot Choir on Saturday at their practice. Zippy B. was practicing her solo. To the left of her, Stephen is practicing his stone face. To her right, Evan and Braden are more interested in my camera than Zippy's singing. On the far left we see Silas wondering if she'll do ok and Thaddeus, in the red shirt, seems to be singing his own song. Next to him, Max must have thought someone behind him was singing the solo. Theo, Silas' brother, is also wondering if Zippy will do ok. Or maybe he's just playing with his loose tooth. Who knows. As disorganized as this picture looks, the children did an absolutely marvelous job with their program. I wish that I could have had a video clip to post so that I could share Stephen's enthusiasm with you all. He bellowed from the bottom of his heart, and thankfully on key, for the entire program, drowning out most of the other kids! While part of me was praying that he would tone it down just a bit, I was also thrilled to see that he had no reservations while he was singing "Come and Praise the Lord Our King, Alleluia" and "Do You Hear What I Hear" and "O Come All Ye Faithful." What a moment as a mother to be watching him sing with his whole being!

The only glitch in the program was when Victoria and Ashley T. were playing their flute and violin duet and the breeze in the sanctuary blew their music right off the stand! Those troopers kept right on going even after several attempts by others to get that music back up there!

The boys' school program was last week. For some reason my camera wasn't working too well and this is the least blurry shot that I have. Timothy is the only one with no Santa hat on. He was so pleased with himself standing up there singing away! He kept looking out at us and smiling and giving us a wave every once in awhile.

Watching my kids in their Christmas programs made me think about all the programs I had been in as a child. I have such specific memories from a few of them that it amazes me that I can still remember them. What do you remember about your Christmas programs as a child?

Sunday, December 14, 2008


I know. It's been a while since I've posted, but I can give excuses. Note the word "excuses" and not "reasons". I'm in a slump. I feel like I have nothing blog-worthy going on right now so I just haven't been here. Granted, I am busy, too, but when I want to, I can always make the time to blog. This past week has been different. Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it's too much mental stuff going on. Maybe it's not enough time spent with the Lord. (Uh, what do you think?! :)

I do know that there is a devotional I read this past week that I can't seem to get out of my head, so I will share it on here. Our Christian book store is going out of business, so when I was there last week, I picked up a mother's devotional, you know, the short one-pager type because that's the extent of our time most days. I eagerly picked it up to start reading it and had a few laughs and a few insightful thoughts as I read the words of the author talking about Proverbs 31 and how different perspectives on women's lives could cause individual responses to this "wonder woman" that is talked about. She commented that her mom's description of her would be totally different because of the perspective of her mother as opposed to her own description of herself. This description of a woman in Proverbs 31 is from God's perspective, and that's why there are so many positive attributes mentioned.

Well, here I was, enjoying this little devotional and the author's humorous comments, and then I turned the page to the application question and it stopped me in my tracks. I mean, it not only stopped me in my tracks, but it made my heart race and my eyes start to tear up. I had to close the book because I couldn't answer the question: "Write at least a dozen nice things about yourself from your heavenly Father's persepctive." I couldn't do it. I couldn't even think of one thing that I could write. When I'm feeling overwhelmed with life, I can't always see the good that may be in me. All I could think of were the unkind things I had said to the boys that day and the fact that I was impatient with some of the tasks I wanted Fred to do. I could think of the mess that the house has gotten into, the cookie orders that I was behind with, the Christmas letters that still weren't done. I thought of the judgement I had cast on someone because of a comment made (even if it was only in my mind), and the guilt I felt because of ignoring the prompting of the Spirit in another area because it was more convenient (read: selfish) for me.

My page is still blank. I can't answer this question right now. I know that there are nice things that God says about me, but for some reason, I'm struggling with actually identifying them and claiming them as encouragement from the Lord. Maybe if I could hear some of your comments, it would help me to be able to hear the same from God. You don't have to write a dozen nice things God would say about you, but tell me one nice thing that God would say about YOU from His perspective. How do you think God brags about you? It's not YOU bragging about you, but GOD bragging about you! Please share!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Make and Take

I don't know if I'm allowed to post stuff like this, but for those of you who need fun craft and activity ideas for kids, I stumbled upon this website this week and have spent too much time checking things out. Warning!! You may, too!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


I don't do well with change. I like predictability. Stability. Security. Change rarely sits well with me. Back in September I experienced a weekend that was so full of change I could hardly bear it.

The first change came on Saturday afternoon when we stopped at Grandpa's house on our way home from the Wayne County Fair. Driving into Grandpa and Grandma's driveway always had a touch of anticipation that came along with it because you could almost count on Grandma being in the kitchen and Grandpa was either sitting at the table looking out the window at you, toothpick in mouth, or else he would holler to you from his garage or the garden if he were outside. This time driving into the driveway didn't have that anticipation at all, but almost a fearful dread. After picking blueberries in Grandpa's patch without him, I wandered through his barn, his garage, and the empty, empty, empty house. I could hardly stand being in there because it was soooo very empty. It was change, and it just wasn't right. I almost half expected him to walk out of the bottom part of the barn and call me in to see his racks of onions drying, but when I walked in there, it was empty. No Grandpa. No onions. Just empty shelves and drying racks. I had a hard time driving away from that house because I knew I would never go back in there again.

Sunday morning was the second change that tore me apart emotionally. We went to East Akron that morning and saw this sign. I knew it would be there. I was expecting it, but when I saw it in person, I knew the morning would be a rough one for me. The East Akron Apostolic Christian Church at 844 East Archwood Avenue was up for sale. This is the church that I grew up in from my birth.
I played Red Light, Green Light and Mother May I on this sidewalk and these stairs. I mowed this lawn and shoveled these walks.
I was taught in this Sunday School room and I also taught in this Sunday School room. I ate many lunches and family night suppers in here. I just hung out with my friends writing on the chalkboards in this room.
I also spent a lot of time in this room as a little girl, reading "One towel is all you need" on the paper towel dispenser and wondering who's mother had that printed on there. We would be fascinated by that little dial on the water meter that would spin around like crazy when we flushed the toilets, never realizing that we were wasting water as we entertained ourselves. Shhhh. Don't tell Mom and Dad this, but we also kept ourselves entertained by wadding up sopping wet pieces of toilet paper and throwing them up so that they would stick on the ceiling. Sometimes they'd fall down on the old ladies that would innocently walk in on our fun.
This is the sanctuary where many, many memories originated in this building, from Sunday School Christmas programs to rushing to sit next to Aunt Irene during afternoons (because she would pull out her Halls cough drops, already unwrapped and placed in a kleenex for us) to the unthinkable teenage game of Truth or Dare. There is the precious memory of me giving my testimony to the church and then being baptized behind those heavy, red velvet drapes. There are memories of weddings and Big Sings and Girls Group practices and baptisms and Arthur and Ben and Paul and John and a host of other ministers. Yes, there were some sad and troubling times in here as well, but my memories right now want to linger on the good.
Good-by, East Akron. You are now sold to another group of people who want to make this their house of worship. You have been a building that brought the Light to a dark world. God has blessed your walls and the souls that came and left from this place. Each person has their own set of memories from within your doors; some good, some bad. But I know that for 57 years, children of God have been able to worship Him in a building that had been dedicated for this purpose. I will probably never walk through your doors again, but the real Church, to which East Akron belonged, can never be sold! One day I will be able to worship my God in a Place that far surpasses what East Akron has offered me, and I know that this is one change that I am looking forward to! When I enter Heaven, that change will be worth all the struggles of earthly change that I've ever experienced. Good-by, East Akron. I will never forget you.

My Watkins Gift to You!

To all of you local people (Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, etc.) out there reading this, I want to give you a Watkins Christmas gift this year! Take a peek at my online catalog, place your order with me before December 10, and I will give you FREE SHIPPING!! No limits on the amount of your order, just email me your selections and I will place your order for you and pay for your shipping! It's a great deal! Don't miss out!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanks on the Weekend

As a final "thanks" post for November, I need to say that I am thankful for God's grace. This weekend at church we heard six testimonies of six different people with six different personal paths that God took them down, but all with the same beginning and ending. The youngest one just turned 15 two days earlier and the oldest was 91. Each one of the six grew up in a Christian home where they were taught from the Bible and whose parents prayed for them faithfully, yet each one also did their own thing, wandered away from God (some more than others), but all came to the conclusion that God's grace and forgiveness was what they needed in their lives. Although all the testimonies were very touching to hear, I think I was impacted the most by the 91 year old man who told us that all through his childhood, his parents taught him the Words of Life, but he never applied them to his life. Even though he left his parents and any connection with any church, he said that he could never get out of his head the prayer of blessing that his father prayed on his deathbed for his son. Ivan said that the only thing he could remember from that prayer was that his father asked God to keep the words that Ivan had been taught in his heart so that he would see his need for a Savior. For SEVENTY years Ivan remembered that prayer, but did nothing about it. It wasn't until he was around 90 years old that he decided that he'd better find a church that would be willing to bury him some day. Through this decision of his, he started attending our church and speaking with some of the other Serbian speaking members of the church and "found out" (as he put it) that God didn't think he was too old to accept him! Amazing! We witnessed his baptism the next day, as he stood next the 15 year old, and rejoiced that God's grace was still available to him after all these years!

I'm also thankful for the sweet little teenage girl who babysat for us this weekend because she not only played with the boys, but she cleaned up my house, too!!! I was almost dreading coming home because I know how the boys can be with a babysitter, but I was shocked and impressed and thrilled beyond words when I walked in the door! You can be sure that I'll be asking for her services again ... the only problem is that she lives an hour away and is only in town on special occassions like the baptism weekend we had at church. Bummer. She's GOOD!!!!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanks on Friday

I'm thankful that my cousin, Ron, married someone from Cambridge, Ontario because I get to see them at least once or twice a year when they journey north to visit Tammy's family. Our families spent the morning together playing, talking, crying (the kids ... not us adults). It was really nice. We shared what's happened since the last time we saw each other. We exchanged prayer requests. We complimented each other's kids. We laughed at how our little reunions are going to be for our kids what the Pamer reunions at the Rural Life Center in Mansfield were to us! Yes, I'm thankful that Ron and I both married Canadians because we do enjoy our little family get togethers!

I'm thankful for personal mail. I got a piece today! Well, it wasn't exactly "personal", but it was addressed to me in inked handwriting and the card inside had wonderful and crazy pictures of my family on the front, so I guess it was personal mail! I got an official invitation to the annual Schley Family Christmas Celebration and Allyson put a little thumbnail photo of everyone who came last year to our Mashed Potato Contest Christmas Celebration. This year we're doing CHILI!!! I'm a little afraid to compete because I've heard of some of the concoctions that Gabe has made, and I think there have been rumblings that Chad is pretty good at combining ingredients for a chili. I know that the Bockas love to try new and unusual things, too. I'm afraid my chili will be bland and without anything fancy because I'll need to make sure that my family has at least one option of something that they would be willing to eat. It may end up looking and tasting like plain old tomato soup in the end, but at least I'll know they won't go hungry.

I'm also thankful that so far the weather reports are saying that our huge storm isn't supposed to hit until Sunday night. We have a busy weekend coming up. We're having a baptism at our church this weekend and we're expecting a lot of people to come! Many of them will be travelling from out of town, so if this storm could hold off until Sunday night like they're predicting, I would really, really be thankful!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanks on Thanksgiving

I'm thankful for my family that called to wish me a Happy Thanksgiving today, knowing full well that it wasn't going to be celebrated here like it would be with them. It was fun to talk to see Christopher talking with Grandpa on the phone. He was trying soooo hard to see him in that phone as he checked it out over and over again. He knew it was Grandpa, but where was he? I'm thankful I could hear Mom in the background making her potatoes to take to Liz's because it made me feel a little bit more a part of the celebrations today.

I know I've mentioned this one on and off in various ways, but I am so very thankful for my husband and my boys. Today while I was at school visiting Timothy's classroom, Fred not only gave Christopher his lunch, but he also cleaned it all up, changed his diaper AND had him down for his nap - all in the short hour that I was gone! Was that a blessing or what?! And my boys ... I am so thankful for them! I had a conversation recently with another mom of all boys and she was saying things like, "Having all boys is such a hard job, but God knew! His plan is divine and He has a reason for this and just hang in there" etc, etc. She made it sound as if it is a sorry lot in life to have all boys. I disagree!! I prayed that each one of my babies would be a boy and God did allow that for our family! I LOVE having all boys! This isn't meant to start a debate on whether or not all girls are better than all boys or having a mix is the ultimate. No, I'm just stating the fact that I am so thankful that OUR family has been given three boys! It's noisy. It's rough at times. It's definitely NOT feminine around here. But I am thankful for this house of men!

And now as I write this late at night, I am also thankful for a quiet house. Everyone is in bed and there is only the hum of the appliances (and this old, scratchy computer) to be heard. Ahhhhh. Another day is put to rest and I can say from my heart that my children saw and heard Jesus in me today. Some days that's a little fuzzy because of ME, but today was a good day and I'm thankful for the peace in our home and in our hearts. When my day starts out with Him, we do really well walking together through our day!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankful on Wednesday

I'm thankful for my clean kitchen floor. My socks aren't sticking to it any more. Christopher isn't stopping to poke his fingers in an unidentifiable blob. Fred's not pausing to look around to see what crunched when he walked through. Stephen and Timothy aren't running up to the rug under the table to wipe the crumbs off their feet. I know. This is all so pathetic to post on here so publickly, but come on! Don't try to pretend that you've NEVER had your kitchen floor this bad either! No need to confess here. I'm just commenting that I'm very thankful for my clean kitchen floor. It should be clean for about nine consecutive hours before it gets trashed again.

I'm thankful that our school has such an open door policy for parents' involvement. Tomorrow I am going to Timothy's class and he is thrilled beyond words that I'm coming to watch him work and play and eat, he said. Timothy's teacher is a sweet, super-organized woman that LOVES teaching kindergarten! I never, ever have to wonder what's going on in that classroom because she communicates with us parents so thoroughly. I am thankful for her and for our school.

I'm thankful for the prayers of others. We really do appreciate the prayers of everyone this past week. We have been in a lot of turmoil because of the work situation and some of the events that have come up in the past few weeks. It's been difficult to separate worry and trust because of the complexity of events that have taken place, but the prayers of other brothers and sisters are felt so clearly in our lives this week with another wave of peace and I am so thankful for those prayers! How can I pray for you, now?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanks on Tuesday

I'm thankful for deals. Any kind of deals. I got quite a few the past few days and I'm so thankful for them! Yesterday I got an almost brand new pair of sneakers (running shoes for you Canadians) for Timothy FOR FREE! I belong to the local FullCircles Yahoo group (used to be Freecycle ... look it up!) and someone posted an almost new pair of shoes in Timothy's size. I stopped by her house and picked up a wonderful pair that Timothy can leave at school, now that he has to wear boots every day (how did winter get here so fast?!).

Today I got another deal. In the weekend paper there was a coupon for the Second Cup coffee shop at the mall. "Treat A Friend" it said. So I did. A friend and I met with our kids at the mall this morning for a buy-one-get-one-free specialty coffee. Mmmmmm. I think I liked the visit with my friend much more than the coffee, but without that coupon, I'm sure we never would have met for coffee this morning. I don't go to the mall. I'm a bit repulsed by the commercialism that is out there, so it was quite fascinating for Christopher and me as we also lapped the mall several times to get in a little bit of a workout together as well.

And my last deal of the day: the 50% off products in the bakery at Zehrs, our grocery store! I had a meeting at school tonight, so afterwards I zipped over to Zehrs to grab few items before heading home. I always check out the 50% off rack and sure enough, because it was already past prime shopping time (10:00pm), they were clearing out all the items that are dated for tomorrow and sticking 50% off tags on them! Woohoo!! I got a few loaves of Fred's favorite sourdough bread and I stuck them in the freezer! I really wanted to pick up the box of cinnamon rolls that was there, too, but you know, the bought ones are never as good as homemade anyway, so even if they were 50% off, they'd be a disappointment.

Today I am thankful for deals of any kind! Have you had any good ones lately?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanks on Monday

Today I'm thankful for my dental hygenist and my dentist. They did a wonderful job of cleaning my teeth and talking to me while their hands were in my mouth. Why do they ask me questions when they KNOW I can't answer them?! It drives me nuts because I really do want to respond, but by the time I have my mouth back under my control, they've already moved on to another subject! I feel so unfinished when I leave the dentist, but oh, so clean and fresh and ready to go! Our dentist office has a very laid back staff and atmosphere. The ladies behind the desk know us all by first name and comment on how much the boys have grown and ask how things are going with my mother-in-law taking so much care of my father-in-law now. It's kind of nice. So I'm thankful for our dentist.

I'm thankful that we still have dental insurance, too! Unfortunately, I have to have another filling replaced because my old ones have loosened. I'm NOT thankful for that, but I'm thankful that our insurance is still intact for me to be able to fix this now!

I'm thankful for Hebrews 12:1-3. "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, (2) Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (3) For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds." These verses have been ringing in my mind all day. What an encouragement that there are so many brothers and sisters out there surrounding us, encouraging us to run our races without any extra baggage, encouraging us to keep our eyes on Jesus because His race was much more difficult than ours could ever be! He endured the cross! But look where He is now! He's at the right hand of the throne of God! What encouragement! Look to Jesus. Look to Jesus. Look to Jesus.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thankful Saturday

I am thankful for a 5 year-old's reasoning. Stephen told us last night as we were shivering in the cold van, "I know what the perfect season is for the middle of winter! SUMMER!" How brilliant is that?!

I'm thankful that Fred realizes the importance of spending time one on one with his kids. This morning Timothy and I went out to the store together and this afternoon Fred took Stephen. They went all over the place, but the highlight of Stephen's day with Daddy was definitely the surprise trip to the glow-in-the-dark indoor (obviously!) mini golf place! Stephen has been telling us for weeks that his favorite sport is golf and now he finally got to play on a real, authentic mini golf course with Daddy! We have pictures ... but they're on the camera. Some day I might post them. Fred is a wonderful father to his sons and I'm very thankful for him!

I'm thankful that even though some of this week's meetings with the company that purchased our business did not go well, actually, they were almost the opposite of what we were hoping for, we still know that God is in control of the whole situation! God has plans for us. He's been fine tuning them all along. All of these changes are scary and exciting at the same time. I'm thankful that most of the time we are able to just sit back and watch what God is doing and the times that we get a little scared about what's happening are not too intense. Sure, they are there! No question about that, but God has filled His Word with so many precious promises and words to strengthen us. We cling to those and I'm thankful that those strongholds are there for us!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thankful Thursday

1. I'm thankful today for my neighbor, Lisa. Lisa and I have a standing agreement that if one of us can't be at the bus stop for whatever reason, the other one will take our boys (she has two) home until we can get there. Fred and I had a meeting today to go over some of the business related issues that are still swarming around and I was supposed to be done at 3:00...PLENTY of time to meet the boys at 3:48! Well, thankfully, I was able to call Lisa in the middle of the meeting and ask her if she could please help me out today! We weren't able to pick up the boys until 5:20!! I am sooo thankful for Lisa today! In two weeks she's going to be thankful for me because she'll be in the same boat and I'll have her boys for several hours after school as well.

2. I've probably mentioned this in one form or another before, but I'm thankful for the internet and the immediate information that is available. Last night I had to scramble to find a recipe for butternut squash. BAM! There it was! Tonight Fred is sitting in his big, black chair referencing some legalities regarding our company's sale. BAM! The information is right there! During the day I want to see how my family is doing, or what they're doing. I get on the internet and BAM! They are right there! I love the internet for the positive reasons that it exists!

3. I am thankful that Fred's company has offered him his "old" computer from work when he leaves next week. His "old" computer is so fast that it's going to knock my socks off! Don't ask me what kind it is (because all I know is that it's black), or what the speed is or any other details. All I know is that I am thankful that they think that this "old" computer isn't really worth anything to them, so Fred may as well take it off their hands! WOWEE!!! I'm actually going to be able to get some productive work done on that computer for a change! Unless my hubby decides that he is going to keep it for himself.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thankful Wednesday

1. I'm thankful for my dishwasher. Mom always said we didn't need one growing up because we had five of them already (hardy har har), but I bet if she would have had one back then, she would have been just as thankful as I am right now!

2. I'm thankful for safe and conscientious drivers. The short drive to church tonight was quite slippery and I'm thankful for all those cautious people out there who took things slow and gave everyone a lot of space. I love snow from inside the house, but I don't like driving in it at all!

3. I'm thankful for Stephen's cooperative spirit today. He's not always cooperative, but likes to push his limits. Today he helped clean up the mess that Christopher made without complaining. He ran around the house this morning looking for things to do, although I am SURE that had something to do with earning his little teddy bear pieces that he turns in for time on the computer. He helped me get the table ready for lunch. Yes, he was quite cooperative. Life is so much more peaceful when even one boy is behaving this way!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thankful Tuesday

1. I'm thankful for kids' CDs that have scripture put to music. We have been listening to Steve Green's Hide 'Em In Your Heart CD in the van lately and I just love listening to the boys belt out the words "A joyful heart is good medicine" or "Keep your tongue from evil, keep your tongue." But the one I love hearing them sing the most is "Children obey your parents in the Lord!" Stephen is so cute because he's getting to the age where he's catching on to the words that he's singing so he'll be blasting that song at the top of his lungs until he catches my eye in the mirror and then he just grins a sheepish grin at me ... but keeps on singing, just not as loudly.

2. I'm thankful for the Holy Spirit's conviction in other people's lives as well as mine. Linda, a dear friend of mine from ages past, called me out of the blue today! I think that the last time I saw her was at my wedding reception in Ohio almost ten years ago. She said that I have been on her mind so much in the past few weeks so she had been praying for me and finally tracked down my telephone number so that she could call to see how I was doing. What a wonderful, but brief, phone conversation we had today, all because she followed through on her conviction from the Holy Spirit.

3. I'm thankful that today was Kindergarten Observation Day at school. I was invited in to observe Stephen at school today for a half hour. This is in preparation for our first parent/teacher conference, or parent/teacher interview as it's called here. Stephen was a bit disappointed when I got there because he said, "You came just when we started our work! Now you'll only be able to watch me work and not play!" That's quite alright with me since I usually see him play and not work! It thrilled my heart to watch him work diligently on his task, and how he wanted to please his teacher by doing a good job. I also saw some perfectionistic tendancies showing, but I'm just going to pray that God will use those and direct him toward "thoroughness" instead of perfection! Stephen and I bonded a bit more today as I spent time with him in his classroom watching him. I could tell that he was thrilled that I was there, and I was just as thrilled to watch this little man interacting in a different environment. Call me a proud mama if you want, because that's what I was today!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thankful Monday

I'm thankful for the beautiful snow we woke up to this morning. Once again around 7:05am, Timothy was fully dressed and ready to go shovel the driveway. I made him wait until after breakfast, but he was out there and shoveling and sledding for most of the morning. I wish I had a video clip of him blazing his tobogganing trail down the hill and then his squeals of laughter and enjoyment when he'd get to the bottom! It was so much fun to watch him!

I am thankful that a missionary family canceled out on going to Claudia's house this past weekend because that meant that she had a ton of food that she needed to share with someone else. WE were the chosen family and we had a wonderful time there tonight with Oma, Opa, Evelyn, Esther, Wolfgang, Kelly, Henry and all the little cousins. It was so nice not to have to think about cooking tonight!

I'm thankful for Christopher's two-year-old pronunciation because it always brings a smile to our faces (and sometimes some real belly laughs, too)! On the way home from Claudia's tonight, we were counting "ki-mis vites." Know what that is? Here's a hint: people put them on their houses around Christmas time and it just brightens up a house with beautiful colors! No matter how many times the boys would repeat, "No, Christopher! It's CHRISTMAS LIGHTS!" he'd still say, "ki-mis vites?" with that little voice inflection that indicates a question. What a cutie!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Weekend of Thanksgivings

We've been gone this weekend and thus my silence the past few days. This has not stopped me from being thankful because, actually, I am very thankful for this past weekend! It was almost, ALMOST a mini-vacation!

This weekend we were in Windsor for several reasons. Last year, Violet went to Paraguay on a work team and met Karen. Karen sent back some mandioca flour and some authentic Paraguayan Farmer's Cheese with the work team to give to me. Somehow this stinky cheese ended up in Violet's possession and the dear woman MAILED, by ExpressPost, this stinky cheese so that I could make real chipa! What a thoughtful act that was! The next thing I knew, I was inviting her and her family to spend the weekend at our house a few weeks later and that was the beginning of a friendship for all of us! I am thankful that Violet went to Paraguay and met Karen because it caused us to connect with each other!

I am also thankful for Levi, Violet and Tim's oldest son. He is Stephen's age and the boys just love him and his little brother, Jaden. They talk about Levi all - the- time!! This weekend was such a joy to watch them play together and form a friendship as only little five-year-old boys can do!

I'm thankful for Violet's husband, Tim, who's sense of humor really helped to dispel the mounting frustrations of an over-tired four-year-old boy who just lost it royally at the lunch table. While Fred was in the other room trying to help our Timothy gain control, Violet's Timothy was keeping us all in stitches with his comments. Thanks, Tim, for the comic relief that we needed!

I'm also very thankful that we had a three hour drive there and back this weekend because it gave Fred and me SIX whole hours to talk to each other, and mostly uninterrupted as the boys napped or kept themselves entertained most of the way. We had a lot to talk about, and the theme that came up over and over again was that no matter what happens, we want our trust to be in the Lord and we want to be thankful for His care.

Let me explain a bit ... Fred has been working for the company that purchased our computer business this past spring. He was the only salesperson, working to keep six technicians busy. This company has decided to restructure and model themselves after their Calgary office and that meant that they were going to eliminate the sales position and just have the techs do their own sales. Fred has tried to negotiate with them and help them to see the danger in adding one more responsibility to already-overloaded technicians, but this structure works in Calgary, so they are bound and determined to try it here as well. So ... Fred's last day is December 5. We don't know what God has in store for us after that because there doesn't really seem to be anything opening up at this time, but we are trusting that God will provide. We both have a peculiar sense of peace that is carrying us right now, and I'm thankful that our trust is pushing out the worry. That's not to say that there is no concern whatsoever and that we're just living happy-go-lucky while the "day of unemployment" looms closer and closer. No, there is concern, especially on Fred's part, but still, we have a peace that God is very much in control. And that's a good thing because we have NO control, so we may as well submit to that ultimate Authority and let Him have that control!

How am I thankful in this situation? Oh, for more reasons than I can list here right now! For one thing, God loves us and has a plan for us. He will provide. I'm thankful that both of us watched our parents struggle with these very issues when we were children. I never knew that my parents struggled until much later in life because they always made it seem like we had everything in the world that we needed! Now I am much more aware of what my parents went through when we were younger, but at the time, we never felt we lacked one thing! I wish I would have understood this all back then because maybe I would have appreciated it even more But then maybe not. I was probably still an egocentric child who wouldn't have cared. But now I do, Mom and Dad, and I appreciate all that you did for us back then when you had nothing! You've taught me contentment and how to live off of nothing. Our family will be just fine because of your example.

Ok. I'm going to stop for tonight. It's late and I feel I'm getting wordy so it's probably best that I just go to bed now and stop rambling. Just to summarize though, we had a wonderful weekend visiting Tim and Violet, Levi and Jaden in Windsor and I am thankful for our very real conversations and discussions and the sweet fellowship and encouragement that we shared. I'm also thankful for six whole hours that I spent talking with my husband, praying together about our future, and the fact that we are both determined to praise the Lord and trust in Him no matter what! I'm also thankful for my bed that is calling me now. Good night.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thursday's Thankfulness

I'm thankful for other people's blogs. I really enjoy reading about my sisters' lives and my aunt and my cousins and my childhood friend and others. What a great time in history that we live in! Could you imagine how much closer our forefathers would have been if they had been exposed to email and blogs and Facebook and IM and texting and all that stuff? I just love it, and I'm thankful that I can communicate with my family on such a regular and inexpensive basis this way! I miss being with them all personally, but I love catching up on here!

This morning, Timothy reminded me that we can be thankful for the pouring rain because that means that we get to use our umbrellas. Hmmm. Good point. What's the use of having an umbrella if we can't use it?

I'm thankful for my neighbor, Kelly. I am expecting a large Watkins order and I had hoped it would be here today as I will be gone for the next few days. I didn't want to leave the boxes sitting on my porch, so Kelly offered to stop by and take them home with her if she sees them here tomorrow after we leave. She's so sweet. She has three little girls, so our households are completely different, but we get along great and don't let those opposite-gendered offspring keep us from spending time together. I believe God has brought Kelly into my life because she is going through a lot of difficult times and she is searching for something. She doesn't know yet that it's God, but I can tell, and I'm thankful for all the hard questions that she throws my way, and I'm even more thankful for the answers the Holy Spirit gives to me at just the right time! Pray for Kelly. She is asking and seeking, and she needs to come all the way to the knocking stage because the door will be opened if she does!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday's Thankfulness

I'm thankful for memories. Tonight as I was working on another batch of cookies for an order we have tomorrow, I was thinking about Grandma. I have such vivid memories of me kneeling on her vinyl covered kitchen chair, leaning up over the counter in the kitchen while she cut out cookie after cookie after cookie at Christmas time. I never thought about it when I was a little girl, but there were only two people living in her home at that time, yet she was always making huge Tupperware containers full of cookies! Who in the world were all those cookies for?! (That was a rhetorical question! We know who they were for! They were for absolutely anyone who walked throught that door ... especially all the children that knew exactly where those cookies were kept!)

I am thankful for songs that pop into my head that are perfectly appropriate for whatever I'm thinking about or going through at any particular moment. And I love that when I burst into song (as off-key as it may be at times), sometimes my kids will join me with a load of enthusiasm! Usually they're wonderful, uplifting songs, but then some days are like yesterday when I couldn't stop singing, "Five green and speckled frogs sat on a speckled log, eating some most delicious bugs. Yum! Yum!" Anyone know that song? I sang it almost non-stop yesterday until Stephen ran into the kitchen clutching his ears yelling, "Mommy, please stop singing that!!" Despite those odd ones thrown in there, I really am thankful for the songs that God puts into my heart that make me just burst into singing!

I'm thankful for my sister-in-law, Evelyn, who is here visiting from Salt Lake City right now. Whenever Evelyn comes for a visit, all the sisters and sisters-in-law try to get together for a breakfast with Mom Weinhardt. Tomorrow we're going to go to The Fireside Restaurant in Kitchener and I think that all of us are going to be able to make it this time. I love listening to the servers' questions when they are at our table, "Are you all related?" "Yes, sisters and sisters-in-law, and our mom." "Wow. How many of you are there?" "Well, four of us are sisters and the rest are our brothers' wives." "Wow. Oh. Wow. There are eleven kids?! Wow." At Henry and Jo's wedding we even just went by "Brother #6" and "I'm the wife of #6." It got too confusing to say names any more. Anyway, I digressed. I am thankful for Evelyn and for the rest of Fred's family because they love to get together as much as my family does, and I'm thankful that sometimes it's just the sisters that get to visit. It cuts way down on the crowd.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday's Thankfulness

I'm thankful for little boys' naptimes. I was able to cut out about 350-400 little holly leaf shortbread cookies this afternoon while Stephen and Timothy were at school and Christopher was sleeping! Whew! The orders are starting and I need to stay on top of things here. (ohio_mom ... I had lots of scraps today and contemplated saving them for your tummies - er- house, but some other little tummies got here first. Sorry.)

I'm thankful for lurkers. I got to hear from one of my lurking friends this week and found out what's been going on in her family lately. She's a busy woman, yet she took the time to write to me and tell me a bit of what's going on in her life. I wish she would take the time to blog, too, because I LOVE her style of writing ... it's just like the way she talks. There's lots of honesty sprinkled with dry humor and a hint of sarcasm at times. I've missed talking with her and I'm so glad she wrote to let me know she's still alive!! :) Enjoy your busy weekend, Lurker! You'll be fine! You always are.

I'm thankful that the boys love bran muffins. We've had a bit of a "problem" as of late that has required some additional bran to be incorporated into our diets, so I'm glad that when I make bran muffins for them, they gobble them up. They have no clue that it's for their own good. There is a down side of eating lots of fiber, though, and little boys think it's terribly hilarious. For some reason, when one of them had their little gaseous reaction today, the other shouted, "Attention students!" at the same time and they both cracked up. For the rest of the evening we would hear little toots and then someone shouting, "Attention students!" and then gales of laughter. Sigh. I thought I could teach them to not make this an issue, but I'm not sure anymore. I'm still thankful that they like bran muffins, though, because we have them often and I like them, too!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday's Thankfulness

This morning I was woken up by an excited four-year-old voice saying, "Mommy! Snow is coming out of the sky! Can I eat breakfast and go shovel the driveway?" Thankfully, it was almost time to get up anyway, and how could I have been upset with him with such enthusiasm coming out of his whole being?! I was thankful for the childlike excitement that a simple snowfall can bring. It got me all excited about the day, too!

I'm also thankful that guardian angels protected that same little four-year-old boy a few hours later as he tumbled head first down the basement stairs! I heard the bumping and banging and ran over just in time to see him skid down the last two stairs, down onto the concrete floor at the bottom. Of course there were tears and hugs and prayers, and I'm thankful that a little neon-green Diego band-aid fixed a tiny scrape on Timothy's hip bone.

Today I am also thankful for humility and forgiveness. Last week a dear Christian friend of mine accused me of something that I did not do. She was quite adament about it, yet if I wanted to, I could have forwarded an email that proved my innocence, but I didn't. It wasn't worth the fight. I apologized that I had caused confusion and pain for her, but also stated that I believed that I was innocent. The Lord gave me the grace to forgive her there on the spot and to even forget the whole incident, and that's why this morning I was surprised by a phone call from her. She called to apologize for her accusations last week and said that she realized she was wrong and asked for my forgiveness. Wow. Her humility in coming back to me humbled me!! I assured her that I had already forgiven her, and our relationship is restored! Asking for forgiveness and the act of actually forgiving someone is NOT an easy thing! Many times relationships are sorely bruised and damaged beyond repair because there is not a complete attempt to reconcile and forgive. I am so thankful to say that this situation seems to have played out exactly how God wants us to react. I can't take credit for it. I know it was the Holy Spirit working in both of us and I am so thankful to have been a part of such a humbling experience. I'm also thankful for my sister in Christ who also allowed the Holy Spirit to work in her heart and make things right. I have a greater respect for her today because of this, and a greater thankfulness for healed relationships!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday's Thanksgivings

I am thankful for our church's Sunday School program. Because I am involved as a teacher and a parent, I am very aware of what goes on behind the scenes and in the classrooms. Many years ago, a few Sunday School teachers were convicted that our children need to be memorizing scripture at a very young age, when it is easy to be implanted into the hearts! Every week the children ages 4 and up receive a new verse printed out that is their verse of the week. Our boys are currently going through the 10 Commandments and this year we have been putting their verse cards into a little pocket photo album that we keep on our kitchen table to read every day. Stephen said the other day, with such excitement I might add, "Pretty soon we're going to have our own whole book of commandments right here!" I teach the Grades 3/4 class and our verses are a bit more difficult, but it just warms my heart every Sunday when the kids are so excited to recite the verse that they learned that week. I always make sure that I teach my class the entire meaning of the verse so that while they are learning it throughout the week, they can understand every word and why it is such a powerful verse for their lives. I am so thankful that at such an early age our children are hiding God's Word in their hearts! We don't know what the future holds for them, but if they have this Word in their hearts now, they will be able to draw from a Source that will guide them every step of the way!

I'm thankful for competent leaders in the church. Bear with me, I'm on a Sunday School kick here tonight. This afternoon I had a Sunday School teachers' meeting and our superintendent is such an excellent administrator and I am truly thankful for him! He and his wife make an excellent team as they are on the ball and on top of everything! When you see Brian outside of a Sunday School meeting, you see a meek and quiet man who loves the Lord and his family. When you see Brian at work inside a teachers' meeting, you see a man who takes his responsibilities seriously and is able to be diplomatic and patient with awkward situations and firm, yet full of grace, when direction needs to be clarified. He knows how to run a meeting efficiently, bringing us back on topic when we start to wander. He addresses sensitive issues with such a strong gentleness that I sit in amazement at how he handles these situations. He is also very convicted that our jobs as Sunday School teachers have been given to us by God and we must make sure that our walks with HIM are as close as possible, because that is the way that we will be provided with the wisdom that we need as teachers. I am very thankful for Brian and for the many hours of work and love that he puts into his position of leadership in the Sunday School!

Lastly, since I really am on this Sunday School kick, I must say that I am very thankful for my Sunday School class that I teach. Today our lesson was about Saul's conversion on the road to Damascus. Wow. I just love teaching new words and concepts to children! We started out by talking about the word conversion and how this is simply something that changes from one form to another like a raw egg going through a cooking process, converting into something that is edible. We talked about people we knew who have been converted from a sinful life into a Christ-filled life. They look the same on the outside, but on the inside, they've gone through a heart-changing process that converted them into a new creature. The kids were so into the lesson that when I saw that we only had two minutes left to wrap everything up, I wanted so badly to ignore the time and keep going! My prayer for these third and fourth graders is that God would use my words to teach them lessons that they will remember in the future. I pray that something that I am able to explain will click with them, either now or in years to come, that will help them draw closer to the Lord. I love these kids and I'm so thankful that God has chosen me to be a privileged teacher of this class!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Saturday's Thanksgivings

Today I am thankful for my wonderful husband! He has been wonderful about taking care of the boys last night and today while I was busy with my Watkins events. Last night he took them to Oma's house for supper and then stayed to let them play until it was time to come home for bed. Whew! I don't know if he'll ever realize what a blessing that was for me to have them occupied somewhere else for a few hours last night! Today I had a Watkins table set up at Cambridge Christian School's bazaar and he brought the boys (AND a bunch of things that I had forgotten since I had to leave the house at 7:30 this morning in a brain fog!) and let them play some of the games and eat a hot dog and french fries and run around with their cousins for a bit. By the time I got home this afternoon, Christopher was down for his nap, the other boys were playing quietly and the house was in pretty good shape!! My husband was wonderful this weekend! (Now, I forgot to tell him that I have a Sunday School teacher's meeting tomorrow afternoon and he'll have to entertain the kids alone again.)

I am also thankful for the example that my parents and grandparents were to me. Ok, you all think this is going to be super serious and mushy, but I have to be honest and say that the example that I am thankful for today is the example of their gift of conversation!! Yes, my mom, the WalMart greeter and my grandpa, the man everyone knew, were great examples to me! This morning as I was talking with customers at my table, I realized how freely I could just chat about anything with anyone! This is definitely because of the example of those influential people in my life.

I'm also thankful for our fireplace tonight. We haven't wanted to turn on the furnace just yet (it's ONLY November 8!!), but it's cold in here tonight! Our fireplace is burning beautifully and it's so cozy and warm. It's especially comforting because it's been rainy and drizzly all afternoon.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday Thanksgiving

I'm thankful tonight that our Open House is done! It was a lot of work. It was fun. It's now over! I have exactly 9 hours to sleep and gear up again for tomorrow's Bazaar at Cambridge Christian School where I'll have my Watkins table set up. Despite the rainy weather tonight, we had a nice and busy turn out at the Open House and we now have lots of Cookie Kitchen orders for Christmas as well as Watkins orders that I need to place! Thank you, Lord, for providing customers when they are needed!

I am thankful again for my friends and neighbors who helped set up and tear down everything for the Open House tonight. They provided me with artistic flair and fun and encouragement and I had a wonderful time with them.

I'm also thankful for the sleep that I hope to be getting soon here because I'm exhausted and I have another long day ahead of me!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thursday's Thanksgiving

1. I'm thankful for my friends and neighbors who are helping me get ready for my Watkins/Cookie Kitchen open house tomorrow night! We've invited the neighborhood and friends, and friend's friends, etc, etc. Sounds like we'll have a nice crowd here tomorrow night, and for that reason, I'm thankful for the help! We're also having a table for my friends' business, postScript. They custom design address labels that are super classy! I also have another friend who will be setting up a Tupperware table, so you see that I needed help to get things ready! It seems like I just get one area of the house cleaned and ready and one of the three anti-helpers (as my cousin, Mark, calls his son) comes in to do his thing. Tomorrow is also a PD day (professional development) for the teachers so there is no school. The open house starts at 4:00 and that means the boys will be here allllll day! Normally I wouldn't mind that except that there are a lot of things already set up for tomorrow night. My wonderful neighbor has invited the big boys over for a play date during Christopher's nap time so that I can put everything back into order again before 4:00. She's wonderful!

2. I love the sounds of a train-loving two-year-old. Woooohoooo! Choochoochoochoochoo! Ding Ding Ding Ding! Where's Thomif? Where's Thomif? Oh. There is! Woooohooo! (Now, picture a little boy also running around with a big Thomas face made out of cardboard and elastic around his waist. You now see what I am thankful for!)

3. I'm thankful for being physically able to have fun with my kids. This afternoon after school we had a great time in the living room. I had moved out a lot of the furniture in preparation of the open house so we had LOTS of room to play! We played London Bridge and Ring Around the Rosie and Pickle Pops (remember that, Mom and Dad?), Log Roll where one person lays on the floor and everyone else has to roll over them. We just did a bunch of playing and laughing and having fun! I'm thankful that even at my age I can get down on the floor and have a blast physically with my kids!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wednesday's Thanksgiving

1. I'm so thankful for the beautiful weather we had yet again today! The boys decided that we needed to take the long-cut up to the park today. Whew! I wish I would have been wearing shorts and a tank top by the time we got there! The long-cut, as Stephen calls it, is going on a dirt path straight up a steep hillside pushing a close-to-30-pound two year old in a stroller (because I wanted to get there faster????). It may be a long-cut, but it's also the workout path! I guess, in that regards, I'm thankful for the warm weather and for the workout path that we took to the park!

2. I'm thankful that Roger and Amy are finally in Papua where they've wanted to be for quite some time!

3. I'm thankful that when I'm at my wit's end with the boys, God will give me another unique idea to try with them and it always amazes me how well it works! (Did you know that it's much more fun to pick up Legos when you pick up all the green ones first, and then the blue, and then the yellow and of course you always save the red for last? Try it the next time YOU have to pick up Legos!)

4. One more for today ... I'm thankful for the cuteness of fresh hair cuts on little boys. Even though they were squirming like crazy through the whole thing, I don't think I did too bad of a job! I'm also thankful for my RubbaScrubba brush that whisked those little irriating pieces of hair right off of their necks! The boys look so nice and clean and fresh again!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tuesday's Thanksgiving

1. Today I am thankful again for my sister-in-law, Jo. Jo told me several weeks ago that her birthday present to me was a night of babysitting so that Fred and I could go out to celebrate my birthday. We finally coordinated things for tonight and I am so thankful for Jo and her love for our kids!

2. Because of Jo's birthday gift to me, I am also thankful for taste buds. Fred and I enjoyed a delicious meal at the Mongolian Grill tonight. Yummmmm! This is one of those places where you get to create your own stir fry with your choice of ingredients and your own concoction of sauces to make the perfect stir fry! The guys manning the huge grill were feeling a bit burned tonight I think because my stir fry had hints of being over done, but it was still absolutely delicious! I'm thankful for taste!

3. I'm thankful for peace. Tonight when Fred and I walked back in the door after our evening out, it was very peaceful in the house. Jo said that she thought one of the boys was still awake, but I didn't hear anything except peace. Peacefulness in a home is one thing, but peacefulness in your heart is another. With the way world events are unfolding these days, it's easy for people to have the opposite of peace in their hearts because of all the uncertainty, but if you have Christ in your heart, controlling your life, you can have peace even in the middle of the worst storm! I'm thankful for peace in our home, in our hearts and in our lives because of Jesus!

PS I'm also thankful that today is Election Day so that this circus of campaigning can finally end!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Monday's Thanksgiving

1. I am thankful that I had 30 minutes to run to the store today BY MYSELF!!! Liz just posted on her blog that she was thankful her kids went along grocery shopping with her ... NOT ME! I'm thankful that they all stayed home with Daddy! It's sheer torture at this stage to take them all out in public when only Christopher can ride in the cart and he loudly protests about that the entire time when he sees his brothers running free. I can't stand taking them all to the store at the same time. If you ever want people to notice you, no need to wear flashy clothes or dye your hair a weird color. Just take three little boys to the grocery store, especially when they're tired, hungry and bored! Oh yes! I was thankful for that quick, solo shopping trip today!

2. I'm thankful for the boys' cooperation today at home. They were so much more pleasant and obedient today than normal. They would put away the toy/game they were playing with before getting out another one. They asked for things politely. They didn't fight too much. They did complain about supper, but I was kind of expecting that since I made split pea soup. They were a true joy to have around the house today ... and that's why I let them stay at home instead of taking them shopping with me! No need to ruin a good thing!

3. I'm thankful for my grocery list. I use a template that breaks my list down into categories of veggies/fruit, meat, dairy, household items and miscellaneous items. I also have a spot at the bottom of the list that shows my menu for the week so that I can buy accordingly. I love my list, but since the file is on the hard drive that I don't always have access to, depending on how Fred has adjusted my computer at any given time, I am not always able to print out the blank sheets to take with me. I am so used to "my" grocery list that when I just write things down on a plain piece (or scrap) of paper, I usually end up forgetting a ton of things because they're not in the right order. Oh my. Am I a perfectionist or what?!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Month of Thanksgiving

For us Americans, November is the month of Thanksgiving. I'm a bit out of sorts here in Canada because our Thanksgiving is already over when in reality, it hasn't even begun! (Sorry, Canadian readers.) My cousin Allyson, Aunt Heidi and sister Liz are all posting things they are thankful for in the month of November. I am joining them, and I encourage you to also share your thanksgivings this month and all through the year.

1. I'm thankful that prayer is not limited. My brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world can be praying for the same thing and God is delighted to hear us! Because of our tumultuous week, we have been reassured by the Body of Christ all over that we are being lifted up to the Father through prayer. I am soooo thankful for that!

2. I'm thankful for the nap I had this afternoon. I don't often have the pleasure of being able to nap, but with a crippling migraine this morning (compounded by the fact that I was teaching the 3rd and 4th graders in Sunday School today), I knew I couldn't function without one today. After some Extra-Strength Tylenol (for which I am also thankful!) and a two hour nap this afternoon, my migraine is gone and I am back to normal!

3. I'm thankful for honesty between friends. A friend shared a struggle with me this morning at church that left us both in tears (good tears), but the honesty that was shared opened our eyes to the need of encouragement in so many people. I appreciate that my friend can share her struggles with me and vice versa. I think everyone needs at least one of those people in their lives!

Thus starts my month of thankfulness!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

According In My Lations

Last night we were driving home from a family swim and we passed a Burger King. Fred and I listened in on the boys conversation in the back seat.

Stephen: Is that the Burger King with the playground?
Timothy: I don't know. I can't see.
Stephen: Do you think Daddy will stop and get some french fries?
Timothy: Wait! I'm looking! I can't see. Is there a playground?
Stephen: When we stop at the traffic light, then I can see.
Timothy: Well, according in my lations, I see no playground.
Stephen: Then I guess we're not going to stop.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Trust and Obey

This old hymn by John Sammis has been constantly on my mind and heart this week. Please read the words. I know you've sung it a thousand times or more, but read the words.
TRUST and OBEY, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus!!! But to trust and obey! God is really delighting in our family's need to trust and obey Him this week. We've had some serious times of trusting come up this week and Fred and I have an unusual calm that God is in control, which is comforting ... because we're not in control!


When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.

But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Happy Birthday, Roger!

Today is my brother Roger's birthday. Well, actually it was yesterday. Wait. No. It really is today, but for him it was yesterday. What I mean is that today, October 28, it is his birthday, but he celebrated it yesterday when it was October 28 for him. Grrrr. This time zone stuff can really throw you off if you're not careful! Whatever the case, we celebrated Roger's birthday today!

Roger was born in 1970 which makes him ... under 40. Older, but still under 40! He's a young man with a beautiful wife and two adorable little boys. I would love to post a picture of them, but all my pictures are outdated and to be honest, I have no idea where to find them on this computer (but we won't get into that again!). Just trust me, if you don't know them, they are a good looking family, gray hair and all on the birthday boy!

Being the only boy in a family of four sisters, Roger got special treatment all his life. He got to play dress up with us. We got to put sponge rollers in his hair ... when he let us. He learned how to cook and clean with the rest of us. Let me tell you! Roger was trained well! Being a guy, he also had that analytical mind that caused him to quote chemistry and physics and algebraic statements and all that other technical kind of stuff to us all the time. "The girls and Roger" made up a great group of kids for our parents (don't you think, Dad and Mom?)! I don't know what we would have done without Roger in our family. I don't know what our PARENTS would have done without Roger!

Actually, I'll get to the serious stuff in a minute, but I have to share a few Roger stories with you. He was the boy who brought excitement to our home. He is the one who bit our dog on the nose because the dog bit him first. He is the one who somehow managed to tie himself to a tree right before we had to run off to church for the evening. He is the one who hooked up his little portable walkman tape player (remember those?) to his huge speakers in his room. He was the one who asked, "Mommy, what do girls talk about at night?"

He was also the one who sat on my freezing cold feet to keep them warm when our car broke down on I-71 on the way back from Cleveland one sub-zero night. He was the one that surprised me with a visit when I first moved to Phoenix, somehow getting into my apartment and then hiding in the kitchen and scaring me half to death when I got home from work. He was the one that helped me through the tangled web of computers and email when they were all new to me. He was the one that listened to me go on and on about Fred when we were first engaged. He is the one now that calls me from the other side of the world just to say hi (and to practice his Indonesian on someone who doesn't know if he's saying things incorrectly). He's the one who prays for me when I know he could use more prayers for himself! He's the one who thinks of other people and makes arrangements for Christmas presents to be purchased, wrapped and given to everyone in his family even though he's not there. He's the one who can make me cry just because he's the best brother anyone could ever have!

Ok. I need to stop because now I'm missing you a lot, Rog, and I can't type with tears in my eyes. We talked about you a lot today because it was your birthday and even though we couldn't celebrate together, we celebrated here many hours after you celebrated there! May God bless your life with many more years of service to Him. May He bless you as you pour your life of Christ into the lives of others. May He bless you as a husband to your best friend, Amy. May He bless you as the father to your precious sons. We love you!! Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Our Bread Bears

Today I finally attempted to use Aunt Heidi's tutorial on how to make Whole Wheat Honey Bread Bears. The pictures she had on her blog were soooo cute and she made it sound so easy that today when Stephen asked what craft we could make, I quickly said, "Let's make the bread bears!"

Before I continue, let me just say that I'm thankful that Fred had to take the camera to a client's today so I was unable to take pictures of our final product. They were quite deformed and looked nothing like the pictures on the tutorial.

So, there I was, elbow-deep in whole wheat flour and overactive yeast, trying to shoo away six little hands that all wanted to scoop and dump the flour mixture. After the initial combining of ingredients, I realized I was in trouble. My dough didn't look ANYTHING like Aunt Heidi's pictures!! Without even scraping the goop off of my hands, I dialed her number (probably even waking her up ... sorry, Aunt Heidi, but the boys were up early and bored by 8:00) and had to ask for help. After following her advice, I was able to incorporate enough extra water into the dough to start kneading it and getting it to look right.

Poor Timothy was so anxious to have his own bread bear that he kept asking every five minutes if it was done yet and could he have a piece. This was while I was still yanking my shoulder muscles out ... I mean ... while I was still kneading for approximately 12 minutes like the tutorial said to do. We let the dough rise (or do I say "raise"?) in a bowl in the oven, to keep those little fingers from poking and proding it to see if it was done yet, then we finally were able to start shaping our little friends.

The boys, who were whining and crying at this point, saw what I was doing and forgot their woes as they pulled up their stools to "help" yet again. I gave them some blobs of dough and we all worked together to make our own little bread bears. Now, Aunt Heidi's recipe said that one batch of dough should make 15 little bears. Our recipe made 5 little bears, then two plain ladybugs (not as many little arms and legs and ears to deal with) and then one loaf of bread (with no arms, legs or head to deal with!). The boys' favorite part was taking the skewer and poking in a belly button on those bears!

Many, many hours later, according to Timothy, the bears were FINALLY done! He was so proud of his new little friend with a snout that fell off and rolled into the back of the oven that he grabbed the head, pulled it off and stuffed it into his mouth! Stephen gave the best compliment, though, when he said, "Mommy, this is the best bread you ever made! You better use only this recipe from now on!"

Tonight's bedtime story even revolved around our bread bears. When the mommy in the story opened the door to see if her bread bears were ready, they all jumped up and shouted SURPRISE! and had a little party in the oven! Christopher especially loved this story and kept shouting SURPRISE and laughing hysterically at the silliness of it all.

Aunt Heidi, thank you for the delicious recipe and for bailing me out this morning! We love the bread bears and even if I don't attempt them again for several years, I'm sure I'll be using the recipe for plain old loaves of bread that don't rely on as much detail. Mmmmm. The smell of freshly baked bread is still wonderfully strong tonight as I write this. I think I need to go cut a huge slice off of a lone tummy that's left here.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Look what my creative son, Stephen, came up with! A clock pizza! I'm not sure where he ever got the idea, but he's been begging to make a clock pizza so we finally did it. We have number cookie cutters that we used to cut out the pepperoni. That was an ordeal in itself. Little Helper #3 (known to us as Christopher) decided that he was going to eat the pepperoni as quickly as it was cut out. Even after several warnings, he managed to get his sneaky little hand over to where our numbers were all lined up and ready to assemble. Number 3 and Number 5 were his favorites and I don't know how many times we had to cut those out just to replace the missing ones.

We had fun. The pizza was great. I wonder what these boys will want to try to create next.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Happy Birthday to the Boys!

So now that it's a month past Timothy and Christopher's birthdays, I finally have birthday pictures downloaded that I can share! We celebrated the boys' birthdays several times this year, and that's only fair since they have to share their birthday with each other anyway. This way the celebrations started early and were varied enough that they both got enough attention to last them until next year's September 15!
We started out a week earlier with a trip to Ohio and a visit to the Wayne County Fair with Grandpa, Grandma, Aunt Liz, Taylor, Laurel and a friend of Taylor's. What a great day! If you've never been to the Wayne County Fair, you are missing out! We went to Ohio for the specific purpose of going to the Fair this year and we weren't disappointed!

That night we met up with Uncle Joe at the Lodi outlet mall and had another birthday celebration. What a surprise to find a miniature train that took us all around the property, in and out of the shopping area and out into the fields. The boys, especially Christopher, were thrilled! That ridiculous whistle on the train gave the adults major headaches, but the boys didn't seem to notice. They loved it!

We finished our birthday celebrations on their birthday, September 15, at Oma and Opa's house with a cake of a requested theme of TRAINS! I wasn't feeling particularly creative, so I just grabbed some of their tracks and the least beat up looking trains and made a cake. It didn't look too bad and the boys loved it anyway. The funny thing was that I didn't have any cake mixes in the house (and no vehicle to run to the store to get one) so I decided to make a cake. Well, lo and behold, I had no flour in the house either!! Thankfully I had enough whole wheat flour that I could whip up a chocolate cake from a recipe I found online and everyone loved it! Whew!
There you go! Those of you that have been looking for the birthday pictures, here they are. Better late than never, right? Happy Birthday to my sweet, big 4 year old boy Timothy and to my precious little 2 year old Christopher! I love you boys!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Happy Birthday Dianne!

Today is my sister Dianne's birthday. Dianne doesn't read my blog, but I'm going to write about her anyway. We've done our share of teasing Dianne growing up. She was (is) the baby. She was (is) cute. She deserved our teasing. But we also loved her! We spoiled her and showed her off to our friends. She was (is) very special to us. I think that now more than ever I am appreciative of Dianne because of the stage of life we are in. Dianne has two cutie pie girls. Lily just turned 5 yesterday and Maci is 2. We love them because they are fun girls! Because Dianne and I are both in the same stage of mommyhood, we can relate to each other very well these days! Our nine year age difference isn't so noticable as it was when we were growing up. I actually ask Dianne for advice now, too!

My prayer for Dianne is that she would continue to be the wonderful mother that she is to Lily and Maci, that she would continue to raise them to love the Lord as she and Gabe do. I also pray that she and Gabe would continue to be used by the Lord to reach out to their friends and minister to their needs in their home and with their friendship. I pray that Dianne would grow even closer to the Lord so that she will be used more and more by Him for His kingdom.

I love you, Dianne, and even though you don't read my blog, you deserve to be honored on here today!

Monday, October 13, 2008

How Do They Learn Such Deceit?!

Christopher climbed into the bottom bunk tonight with the strict instructions to stay in bed or he'd end up in the crib again. He loves his bottom bunk ... but he also loves to climb out and explore the room after the lights have been turned off and the parents have left the room.

I was working in the kitchen and I heard the familiar little pitter patter of feet thumping out of bed and walking across the floor. Fred was still upstairs so I told him to go in and put Christopher back in the crib. He came down and said, "I thought you said he was out of bed. I went in there and he was laying with the blanket pulled up, eyes closed and breathing heavy. I don't think he was out of bed. He's fast asleep, unless he's becoming a good actor."

Not a whole minute later, I heard that same thump and then the pitter patters on the floor. This time I crept up the stairs as quietly as I could and opened the door. Good thing Christopher still wears a diaper because I think I probably made him pee his pants! I found him standing over by Stephen's bed, ready to climb in! That little boy was NOT asleep, but very much awake!

Christopher is now sleeping (for real) in his crib, but I just can't get over how he can pull something like that off at such a young age! How did he learn to do something so deceitful?! This little boy is awfully cute, but he's going to be giving us a run for our money, too!

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Oh give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good!

This is our Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada. Officially it's on Monday, but I've noticed that here in Canada, you can pick and choose which day of the long weekend you want to celebrate. Some people celebrate several times with family members from all sides. I kind of like that.

To be honest, though, even though this is my ninth Canadian Thanksgiving, it still catches me off guard every October. Especially because it's on a MONDAY!!! It's hard enough for me to get used to it being so early (Mentally, I'm not ready for an official Thanksgiving holiday yet!), but to celebrate it on a MONDAY ... and then to have to jump right into the work week the next day?! Oh boy. This is still tough on me. Weatherwise, it really is a much better fit to have it at this time of year when there is truly a harvest, but October ... and Monday?!

Despite the calendar date of a Thanksgiving celebration, I am thankful. We were talking about thanksgiving at the supper table and it was interesting to hear what the boys had to say about it. Stephen is thankful for black olives on our pizza (can you guess what we were eating at the time?). Timothy was thankful for the park. Christopher just kept saying, "Thank you" because he knew that was the word he was to say. We did get more indepth, as much as a 5, 4 and 2 year old can get, and it thrilled me to see that they really did get the idea of being thankful. Fred shared that he is thankful that we have a safe home and that God has always provided us with whatever we have needed. I said that I am thankful that God gave us such a wonderful family. I'm sure we'll be talking about this more specifically over the weekend, but this was a start of our Thanksgiving celebration.

If I had to list all that I was thankful for, this post would be much too long. I have many generic things to be thankful for, but also some very specific ones. I am thankful that God protects our boys from serious injuries with their boyish playing. I am thankful for a close friend who saw a need that I had and met it in a way that I never would have dreamed of. I am thankful that my Watkins business is packed with activity over the next few months. I am thankful that God loves me and forgives me for my silly mistakes as well as my obvious downfalls. I'm thankful for peace and security amid the world's upheaval.

What are a few specific things that you are thankful for on this Thanksgiving weekend?

My Aunt Is the Best!

It pays to comment on blogs. I say this because in many ways, some good conversations can be started when different readers comment on a blog that they have just read. Sometimes there are funny dialogs, sometimes some incredibly serious chains of comments, but it's always interesting to have this conference-type of communication going on through cyber-space.

A long, long time ago, I commented on a blog post from my dear aunt on her blog "Steps on the Journey." To be honest, I had forgotten about it, but she didn't! See, Aunt Heidi was desperate for commenters on her blog, so she decided to run a contest: Commenters (is that a word?) on the past and next week will get either a whole wheat bread bear or a lavender package, including a lavender wand and a packet of dried lavender with recipes for cookies. Due to gas prices and mailing costs- the bread bears are just for those in a 20 mile radius .Hah! Hah!- and again I say HAH! I am so Not doing this! It makes me feel false and sad and pathetic. And tired- might I add - because I just finished writing the next post and it is 3:45 on Sunday morning, July20 th and the thought of sending anything anywhere is exhausting just to contemplate- although I am too tired to contemplate - I'm just going to start making lists and checking them twice. No- that's Santa.Ok- if you comment a lot in the immediate future and I don't have to go to the post office to get it to you- I will make you a bread bear or something. BECAUSE I AM kind of sad and pathetic.

Well, I wasn't thinking of Aunt Heidi being sad or pathetic. I was just disappointed because I hadn't read her blog until five days after she posted and I lost her contest! Besides, I am definitely not within a 20 mile radius, so I knew it was a lost cause to win her contest, although I really wanted that whole wheat bread bear she was offering! So I went ahead and commented my disappointment for not reading about her contest earlier and put it all out of my mind.

Imagine my surprise and delight this week when I went to the mailbox and found a HUGE package from her!!! She didn't send me the bread bear, but instead sent me a beautiful assortment of handmade cards that she had made (I'm assuming) with the rest of the Schley family when they do their monthly Stampin' Up parties! I was so excited that I was squealing like a little girl! That got the boys all excited and even Christopher was oooing and aahhhing over my cards with an "OOOOOhhhh niiiiiicccee!" for each one!

Aunt Heidi, you really made my day! I thought that comment on your post was just for fun, but you meant it! I love the cards and I love you!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Way Too Tired

When you are overtired, you say ridiculous things. Last night was one of those times for me. About 1:30am, I heard Stephen telling me that he had a dream that was too scary and he needed to sleep with me. I KNOW that I told him to go back to his bed because it was only a dream, blah, blah, blah.

The next thing I knew, he had climbed into bed between Fred and me and made himself cozy. Because he never does this, I guess I just figured it must have been a really bad dream. I don't know what I really thought because I wasn't really coherent at all!

Every twenty minutes or so, Stephen would comment to me about something else in our room that was scary to him: the things spinning around (I think that's what he said), the lights on the wall, the mirror, etc. Finally, he made some ridiculous comment that made me say out loud, "Stephen, there are NO scary things in this room! Jesus is in here and there's nothing scary! Now, if you see one more scary thing, then just open the oven door! ....... What?!?! Did I just say to open the oven door?! SEE?! I'm way too tired to be talking to you right now, so be quiet and let me sleep!" We both cracked up, he turned over and finally fell asleep. Whew!

I think I made too many cookies yesterday.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Cookie Kitchen is Back In Business!

Yep. The Christmas cookie season has begun, believe it or not. I know it's not even Thanksgiving here in Canada yet, let alone the States, but we already received our first order in at for a repeat customer from last year. We already have the first few batches of cookies made. We already have little boys begging for cookies "for US! Not THEM!" Even Fred walked down to the kitchen tonight and commented that it smelled like a cookie factory in there.

The Cookie Kitchen is excited about things this year. We have been pouring over all the details of the business because we've had to adjust prices this year. Many of our ingredients have gone up which means that our cookies cost more to make, obviously. We've been gathering information from all our sources trying to find the best deals out there and we've done pretty well so far. Connie is the best business partner because she takes care of all those details. I just wait for her to tell me what to bake and when. I like that!

She sent me a copy of last year's statistics. We made about 3600 cookies last year that were sold. We made a lot more that were snarfed up by little munchkins (and some big munchkins, too), that were either broken or too dark or not dark enough or a little lopsided or simply begged for. Yes, we made lots of cookies, working around daily life as well as a broken finger, a chicken pox scare, a bout of the flu, and various other distractions. This year we're planning on even more orders because of last year's word of mouth AND an open house that we're going to be hosting for Watkins, The Cookie Kitchen, postScripts (This is my friend Julie's business. She makes customized address labels that are beyond classy! I love them!) and Tupperware. We're going to be handing out samples at our open house, hoping to entice a few more customers with our delicacies. This is at the beginning of November, and then at the end of November I have another Watkins event where I was asked to provide cookies for a baked goods table as well. No problem, I said, until I realized that this means a few hundred more cookies that I will need to bake! Ahh. No problem for The Cookie Kitchen! We've got our act together this year ... I hope.

When you start to make your Christmas cookies this year, pray for us. We want this business to be a blessing to others and we don't want to let our own responsibilities toward our families suffer because of this. We believe that God has given us this idea for a reason and we want to honor Him with our handiwork. It's been an interesting way to reach out to my neighborhood here, and because of it, I have met many new people and have even been able to talk to some of them about the Lord! This is what it's all about for us!