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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pinterest Party!

I've been mulling this idea for a while, but as I've been looking at my calendar, I realized that I have almost no time to get it going unless I do it now!

Since I'm trying to find the incentive to actually DO some of the great projects I keep finding on Pinterest, I've decided it's not enough to simply post once a week about them... I'm taking it to the next level! I'm having a Pinterest Party at my house.

Some of you live too far away, but I'm hoping to take lots of pictures to spark your creativity. And, I'll be having a contest for you to pin your favorite ideas. If you are local and we know each other personally, let me know and I'll send you an invite!


Here are the deets!

1. Bring your favorite Pinterest food to share.

2. Bring a Pinterest craft that you made to exchange for someone else's Pinterest craft.

3. Bring copies of the recipe and craft directions for those who want to try it themselves.

4. Come and have fun!



Friday, October 26, 2012

Alpaca LOVE!!!

This is where I turn into a big fat mushy dork! I LOVE alpacas!! A couple years ago, I went with some friends to visit an alpaca farm to research a book. I was going through pictures tonight, and look what I found!!

[caption id="attachment_4183" align="aligncenter" width="225"] My sweet little girls feeding the alpacas.[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_4185" align="aligncenter" width="300"] This little guy wanted to come home with me. Okay, fine. I wanted to take HIM home. [/caption]


[caption id="attachment_4186" align="aligncenter" width="300"] This guy was so cute!! How can you NOT want an alpaca when you see him?[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_4184" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Who wouldn't be inspired by a 3 legged alpaca?[/caption]


I know, insanely cute. You're welcome.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pinterest Busting the Mattress Cleaner

I've been working on my Pinterest projects, more importantly, seeing which ones work. Last week, I tackled my microwave. This week's project, in honor of being husband-free (he's on a trip), I decided to tackle cleaning my mattress.

Now you have to understand, I'm married to a stinky man. Well, I think all men stink, but my man does physical work for a living, so he comes home stinky. Plus, I let my dog sleep on the bed. Which means I have a stinky bed. I really hate having a stinky bed. So when I saw this pin to clean your mattress, I just had to try it.

Following the directions, I measured out a cup of baking soda (I put it in a plastic container since I didn't have a mason jar) and added 4 drops of lavender essential oil. I put on the lid, shook it up really good, and got to work. I tried sprinkling it with a kitchen strainer, but my holes were too big and I don't think it sprinkled very well. So I had to really watch how it sprinkled because otherwise, I got clumps of the cleaner. I noticed that a fast motion was better than slow.

Then, I let it sit while we went out to dinner and take hubby to the airport. When we came home, I went to vacuum it and realized I had a small problem. Someone lost the upholstery attachment for my vacuum. That happens a lot in my house. We have these ghosts- I don't know, someone, and no one- and they have a tendency to lose things. I had to vacuum it with my regular hose attachment and it was a real pain. So... before you start this project, make sure that you didn't have a mysterious ghost take your upholstery attachment.

When I finished, my mattress smelled great. I loved crawling in bed to clean sheets and clean mattress. The lavender smell was light and soothing. I am really sensitive to strong scents, and I didn't think it was overpowering.

I can't speak to the claim of getting rid of dust mites, but I'll take it. I'd like to think those nasty things are gone. :) One thing I will mention is that this does not take the stains out of your mattress... so if you're looking for it to take out the stains, you'll have to find another solution.

All in all, I'm really happy with the results. I'm calling it confirmed! Of course, hubby hasn't slept in the bed yet, so he might not agree, but I'm not sure I want to let him get my bed all stinky again. Hmmm... I wonder if Pinterest has any stinky husband eliminators?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Everything Book

I'm super excited about my friend Mary DeMuth's latest release, Everything. To be honest, I haven't read it yet, but my little shipping tracker says it should be here Sunday. Sunday? Wait a second... there's no mail on Sunday. The tracker lied!! I guess I don't get to read it until Monday.

But I digress.

I've always loved Mary's heart, and I think this book really hits to the core of it. At least from the quotes I've been reading. In fact, I'm really hoping to get this book soon, because the quotes are so great and I'm really eager to read it. Mary's got a great contest to win a KitchenAid mixer and it seems like a lot of fun! So join in! And if these quotes intrigue you, pick up a copy here: http://amzn.to/yxEeaz




Benefits of indulgences

Every two weeks, I get a massage. I've had people tell me that it's an extravagant indulgence and they can't believe that I'd take the time and money to do it so often. I've gotten to the point where I think that it's probably one of the best things I do for myself.

As a writer, I spend a lot of time on the computer. Add in a job that has me on my laptop for several hours a day, and I have a lot of physical issues as a result. I have back pain, neck pain, hip pain, and all sorts of other aches and pains. Regular massage eases a lot of the discomfort I feel. I've tried just about everything else, and massage has been the most effective.

But here's something else to consider- I (and a good portion of the rest of the world) tend to put taking care of myself last. There's laundry and dishes and kid activities and work responsibilities and on and on and on. So when I finally think that I might have a little time to myself, I'm exhausted, and invariably something else comes up. But having a standing massage appointment gives me the opportunity to say yes to myself. Since the appointment is already made, it's a lot harder to let something else get in the way. I can't just push it off until later- unless I want to pay a cancellation fee.

What I've realized with having a regular massage is that I am more relaxed, in less pain, and I feel good about taking care of myself. I also have something to look forward to. I find that when I'm on my regular massage schedule, I'm less grouchy and more at peace.

Do you take the time to indulge in something just for you? What gives you an escape?


Monday, October 22, 2012

What do our assumptions say about us?

I had a weird run-in at a store over the weekend. I was shopping with my daughter, and she'd gone to another rack to look at Halloween costumes. I went to join her, and I passed by two women. One of the women said something like, "which ones are on sale," or something similar, but I assumed she was talking to the other lady. When I reached my daughter, however, the lady raised her voice and started commenting about how young people these days are so rude and won't answer people when they speak to them and how they think they're better than everyone else.

Being slightly preoccupied with the fact that I was with a child who needed my attention, I wasn't fully aware of everything this lady was saying. She was very loudly going on and on about how rude people will get what's coming to them, and on and on. Because this lady was being so loud and obnoxious in her carrying on, I couldn't hear what my daughter wanted, so I finally took her by the hand, and moved away.

Which is when it hit me.

The woman was complaining about me.

I have to admit, it really bothered me that I had a stranger literally raining down curses on me because I didn't answer her question. I am not a rude person. I typically go out of my way to be polite, especially to strangers. But I'm also a very non-confrontational person, so I really didn't want to go talk to her. Even across the store, I could hear this woman loudly complain about young women who think they're better than everyone else. I've learned through painful experience not to engage crazy people, and based on the curses she was calling down, I was pretty sure that engaging was a bad idea.

As I shopped another section of the store (okay, I was really hiding from her so that I could go check out and not hear about what a horrible person I was for not answering her question- which would have been "I don't know, sorry."), I started to think about this woman. She didn't know me, and yet, she automatically assumed that my lack of response was that I thought I was better than her. In truth, I honestly thought she was speaking to another person (who was an elderly lady), AND, I was in a hurry to get to my daughter (who looked like she was about to make a mess).  I admit, maybe I should have gone to the lady when I realized that she felt slighted by me and said, "look, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you," and then explained my side of things.

Which, of course, led to me analyzing why I cared so much that some strange lady in the store was cursing me. And when I say cursing, I don't mean saying bad words, I mean she was literally saying that I should be cursed for my actions. Because I know who I am in Christ, I know that another person's curses mean nothing. But it bothered me so much that I prayed for this lady as I waited for my daughter to try on her Halloween costume. That's when I realized that this woman's words said far more about her than they did about me.

I believe this woman is an unhappy person who sees a lot of negative in the world around her. Her first assumption about a stranger is negative. I tend to be negative in my assumptions, but in her shoes, I would have thought that the person I asked didn't hear me. So what would the life of someone more negative than I look like? Maybe I'm guilty of making wrong assumptions about her, but I felt sorry for her. That her assumption about me was that I thought I was better than her said a lot about how she saw herself. She must think that she's not worth a whole lot if her judgement of others is that they think they're better. And that made me sad. What made me more sad, though, was realizing that in such an assessment is a deep level of pride. Of wanting to be elevated just as high or higher than someone else. If she didn't want that, she wouldn't have needed to loudly proclaim her disapproval of a stranger. And in so proclaiming, she told the world that she thought she was better than me.

In judging, this woman became exactly what she was complaining about.

Which made me realize that so many of the things I complain about are often flaws in my own character. When I assume something negative about a person without talking to them to learn the truth, I'm merely reflecting the flaws in me. My own insecurities. My own fears. My own idols. I can assume a lot of things about people, but those assumptions are probably not very fair. And, as I struggled with being bothered by this woman's assumptions about me, I realized that I probably make negative assumptions about people more often than I should.

I wish I had an ending to this post, like, "this is what you should do to get over it," but you know what? I don't have that answer. I wish I knew how to be better at not assuming negative things- or even assuming at all. I do think that being aware, and recognizing that our assumptions aren't always true, is a good start.

What do your assumptions say about you?

Friday, October 19, 2012

21 Ways to Connect with Your Kids by Kathi Lipp

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Harvest House Publishers (October 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***


Kathi Lipp is a busy conference and retreat speaker, currently speaking each year to thousands of women throughout the United States. She is the author of The Husband Project and The Marriage Project and has had articles published in several magazines, including Today’s Christian Woman and Discipleship Journal. Kathi and her husband, Roger, live in California and are the parents of four teenagers and young adults.
Visit the author's website.


21 Ways to Connect with Your Kids offers a straightforward, workable plan to create new avenues of connection between parents and their kids. This handy guide coaches moms and dads to do one simple thing each day for three weeks to connect with their kids even in the midst of busy schedules.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99

Paperback: 208 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (October 1, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736929673

ISBN-13: 978-0736929677

My Review:

I'm always looking for new ways to connect with my kids, especially since I'm raising a mini-me and one who I still can't figure out! It was so great to have immediate reassurance and skills for figuring out how to connect with such different personalities. I love all the practical ideas and tips in this book. It's a lot more about doing than about theory. I especially love that within each of the 21 ideas, there are a lot of small ideas of things to do. I think there is something for every parent in here, and it's a great resource for when you run out of ideas or need something that's a little more creative than what you typically do. Kathi says it so well- we don't have to be perfect parents, so there's no pressure here to do everything or do it just right. Just pick something and do it!


The Book I Almost Didn’t Write

I argued with God for a long time before writing this book.

When I originally came up with the idea to write a book about connecting with your kids, I was on a “Mom High.” My husband, Roger, and I had been married for five years, and we had successfully blended a family. Two of his, two of mine, my cat, our dog.

Even the challenges I’d had with my stepson, Jeremy, after Roger and I got married were a mere memory. We had learned to care for each other, hang out together, and enjoy each other. And my relationship with my stepdaughter, Amanda, was growing, and we loved being together. All our kids would come over for Sunday night dinner and would often hang out during the week. While I knew we were far from perfect parents, I was excited that Roger and I both had close relationships with our kids.

But then all that went up in smoke.

My son, Justen, was going through a tough time in his life. He grew cold and distant from me. We were fighting and arguing and going through an awful, awful time.

And I needed to write a book about how to be close to your kids.

I cried out to God. I felt betrayed by him. I had poured all this love and energy, time and prayer into my son, and he was barely speaking to me. I felt like a failure. I felt like a fraud. And on the rare occasions that Justen and I had a conversation, I would curl up in a ball and cry as soon as we were done talking. I hated where our relationship was.

I talked with my husband about not writing the book. Not out of shame or embarrassment (and trust me, I felt both of those) but simply because I felt like the principles I had practiced didn’t work. My son was distant from me, and all the praying in the world was not helping. I asked friends to pray for Justen, pray for me, and pray for what this book was supposed to be about.

I’ve written much of this book during my desert time with Justen. I had nothing to hold on to but God’s Word, especially Philippians 4:6—“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

So I waited and I prayed. And I prayed some more.

And now, as I finish writing this book, God has used time and the healing that only he can bring to restore Justen to a good place. It’s taken a lot of time and a lot of prayer. But when I talked with Justen’s counselor, the one thing he said that I will never forget is this: “Justen felt safe enough with you to express his anger to you, because even with all of his anger, he never questioned your love for him.”

I’m afraid that each of my kids—and probably yours—are going to go through hard times. They are going to go through loss and disappointment and sadness, and they are not always going to behave as if all this “connecting stuff ” will make a difference. But let me tell you, it does.

Trust the process and trust your parenting. God has given you everything you need. You are not always going to feel like connecting. Do it anyway. Your kids need you to invest in them when they are young so that when they are older, they don’t ever have to question your love for them.


Why You’re a Better Parent than You Think You Are

I can tell you one thing about yourself right off the bat: You’re a better parent than you think you are. I know that’s a bold statement (especially since we’ve never met), but if you are anything like me and my friends, someone needed to tell you that.

I remember looking at the other moms at church, the dads out in the parks pushing their kids on the swings, and just knowing they all had it way more together than I ever would. Those thoughts started exactly one day after I became a parent.

It was time for us to check out of the hospital with Justen, who at one day and nine pounds and four ounces was just about the most terrifying thing I’d ever seen in my life. I was having a small (OK, enormous) panic attack. I couldn’t believe that the authorities, whoever they were, were going to let me take him home. Didn’t they realize I’d never handled a human baby before? What kind of broken system do we have that would let me (me!) take home this not-so-tiny baby boy?

And that’s when I knew I was sunk. In my mind, no one had ever had those thoughts before. All around me were happy couples who were dying to get their babies home and do what? I really had no idea. But I felt as though everyone else had been given a secret manual, and I had missed that day of orientation.

And the feeling persisted. All the other moms acted as if they had been parenting for decades. They had their parenting methods all picked out and were parenting on purpose.

I had a sneaking suspicion that they had their kids sleeping through the night after thirty days, were breastfeeding without tears, and woke up hours before their children so the house would be clean and activities laid out—activities that were not only creative but also educational. I felt like the world’s biggest loser of a parent.

But then something miraculous happened. I started talking to other parents. I mean really talking. And guess what I found out?

I found out they were just as unconfident, strung out, and secretly ashamed as I was. They too thought their kid was the only one to ever have a meltdown in the middle of Whole Foods. They too thought they had the only child on the planet who insisted on wearing his Spiderman underwear on the outside of his pants. They also thought that everyone else cooked homemade spinach muffins for their kids every morning and did alphabet-training drills starting at age two.

If you can relate to any of this, let me give you a few words of encouragement.

God gave the right parent to the right kid. There are days when this statement couldn’t feel further from the truth. You feel ill-equipped to meet your child’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Because, for the most part, you are. God wants you to rely on him and the people he’s surrounded you with. You are not designed to do this parenting thing alone, even if you are a single parent. There are no gold stars for parents who never ask for help.

God gave the right kid to the right parent. All those things that God needs to grow in you to draw you closer to him? He sent those in a neat little package called “your child.” Each of my kids has taught me something about myself—often things I would choose to ignore if given the opportunity. I would have never thought that I had a patience problem, for example, until I had a patience tester named Kimberly. But there is no chance to ignore such things when they need to be bathed, fed, and loved pretty regularly. I had to confront the parts of me that needed, desperately, to be more like Jesus—and often, I needed to confront my problems with a lack of patience before Kimber woke up from her twelve-minute nap.

Prayer is key. For years, when a kid issue reared its ugly head, I would go to my friends, I would go to my mom, and I would go to my wall of “how to raise a great kid” books to find the answer. I needed answers, and I needed them quick! But as my friend Erin MacPherson, author of The Christian Mama’s Guide to Having a Baby: Everything You Need to Know to Survive (and Love) Your Pregnancy, says when it comes to pregnancy as well as parenting, “Go to God before Google.”

God will direct your heart as you parent. From day one, what I really needed was to know the heart of God and to let that direct me as a parent. Yes, I’m a big believer in wise council, but I am a bigger believer in not using God only when things hit the crisis stage (or the principal’s office).

• • • • •

Now, if you have a couple of years under your parenting belt, would you do us all a favor and tell the other mothers around you what went wrong?

• Tell us how the helpful junior higher you now are raising once threw a toy and knocked out her older brother’s tooth.

• Tell us that you faked dizziness so they wouldn’t release you from the hospital and you could stay another night.

• Tell us that your one and only prayer for the first year of your daughter’s life was, Dear God, please don’t let me screw her up.

When I was in high school, I had a youth leader named Emily Nelson. Emily had it all together. She’d married a great husband and started having great kids. Emily was the kind of person that I would spend a lot of time comparing myself to. You know the kind. You think to yourself, I bet they’re the kind of parent that grows their own organic food while teaching their kids French, as opposed to my kid who learned how to read from frequent exposure to packages of Chicken-Dino-Nuggets.

So imagine my glee when I read this essay by Emily about being a not-so-perfect mom:

As we cruised down the coast, singing along to Veggie Tales, I tossed carrots to my 3 sons who quickly gobbled them up. We arrived at the beach with our fresh-from-the-library-checked-out book about seashells and started collecting. After making sandcastles and letting them bury me neck deep, I pulled out the ice cream maker and made homemade, organic ice cream. I snapped a funny picture of them. “This one is for the scrapbook!” I exclaimed, and they tackled me with a hug. This was a perfect day, but…it never happened.

My REAL beach day started with screaming them into the car to beat traffic, telling them to forage the van floor if they were hungry, and throwing beach toys onto the sand, while I collapsed in my beach chair devouring the latest People magazine. I didn’t even bring the camera.

Looking back I’m tortured with what I didn’t do with my kids: take them hiking, educate them in museums, have family devotions. And I moan about what I did do: harsh words, wishy-washy discipline, and over-involvement in non-family activities. I look at the creative moms, the outdoorsy moms, the homemade-everything moms, the spiritual moms and think they parented so much better than I. Yet one day, as I was recounting my lack of mothering skills to my 27-year-old, he encircled me in a hug, saying, “Mom, you did just fine!” That boy never has to buy me another gift, as he gave me the gift of peace that maybe, just maybe, I did okay.

Every parent has struggles. Every parent has those nights when they toss a loaf of bread and some peanut butter on the table and call it dinner. But every parent also has those moments—probably more often than not—when they are a rock, an encourager, and a God-given gift to their children.

Your parenting road is going to have its share of take-the-hubcaps-off potholes. And it may be a long time before you hear the words, “Mom/Dad, you did just fine!”

But remember 2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” God is sufficient for all your needs. Even your parenting needs.

You see? You really are a better parent than you think you are.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pinterest Busting the Microwave Cleaner

I don't know about you, but I find the whole microwave cleaning thing more than daunting. I've bought the spatter covers (and then my kids don't use them), I've threatened bodily harm to my family if they don't cover things in the microwave, and my microwave still looks like this:

So there you have it... my dirty microwave. After I saw a pin on Pinterest telling me how to get it clean and shiny, I thought, "what have I got to lose?" Dirt, germs, and probably diseases I'd rather not know about.

The directions said to follow these steps:

1. Pour 1 cup of vinegar into a 2 cup measuring cup.

2. Add 1 cup of hot water.

3. Microwave for about ten minutes.

4. Let stand for 5-10 minutes, then wipe with a wet cloth.


I followed those instructions. There was still a lot of junk stuck inside the microwave. Something really icky was caked under the turntable, so I took it out and soaked it, then cleaned underneath. I had to really scrape to get the caked stuff off. Then I noticed that the top of the microwave was still kinda icky.



I grabbed my usual spray cleaner and sprayed and scrubbed, but it wouldn't come off.  After about 5 minutes, I went back to Old Faithful, aka my Magic Eraser, and scrubbed the rest off.

I then went back to the original instructions, took some rubbing alcohol, and shined it up. I thought the rubbing alcohol left it streaky, so I ended up having to go back and fix the streaks. Still, it did end up looking nice at the end.


While this was not a quick fix and it didn't seem like it came as easily as the pin implied, I did think that it made it easier to clean the inside of my microwave. I did have to scrub, but it wasn't nearly as much as I've had to do in the past. I'd say this one is mostly confirmed. It definitely helps, but it's not the complete fix.


Have you tried this method of cleaning your microwave? Did it work for you?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pinterest Busters!


I have a slight Pinterest addiction. I thought I had it under control, aka I stopped visiting, but when I needed to get on for a work project, I couldn't stop. I love finding all of the great projects and seeing how I can do different things. But as my pinning has gotten out of control, I've realized that I have a lot of cool ideas, but there's so many things I'd like to do that it's almost overwhelming. What do I do? How do I start?

I'm not a very handy or crafty person. I like them in theory, but I'm terrible at executing most projects. As I look at some of the ideas, I also wonder- does this thing really work? I've tried making a few pins with limited success. Is it me? Or is it the project? And, as I see that there are similar recipes for the same food/cleaning hint/etc, I wonder which is the most effective.

Which has led me to my quest- Pinterest Busting!

Every Thursday, I'm going to post a new Pinterest project that I've attempted- and the results. I hope you'll join me and share your projects as well as your results. What works? What doesn't? What are you willing to attempt?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Why do we tolerate so much meanness?

Yesterday I ranted about an Amish reality show and how it seemed very disrespectful to the Amish. But the more I think about it, the more I've realized that a lot of what we consider "entertainment" is about being disrespectful of others. I look at the problems we face with bullying in our schools, and I wonder... is this where they get it from?

We live in a society that makes it okay to make a mockery of a religious group under the guise of free speech. Our political discourse consists of name-calling and lies. The shows we call "comedy" usually involve laughing at someone doing something ridiculous. Or someone who is different from us. Most of the jokes I see posted on people's Facebook walls involve making fun of someone or something. We laugh, but I can't help but wonder... has all of this meanness, even in jest, immunized us to the point where we forget that we're sometimes hurting real people?

We let things slide because sometimes we don't always realize they're there. We hear so many negative words that we often don't even hear them. This allows more negativity and meanness to slip in. And the cycle continues.

How do we combat this?

My honest answer is that I don't know. One of the most important things we can do is be aware and think critically about what we hear in the media- then make an informed decision. There are shows that are banned in my household. There are also shows I'd prefer my kids not watch, but hubby likes them, so they watch them. So I am teaching my kids to think critically about those shows. I ask questions like, "how would you feel if your friend did/said that to you?" Or, "Do you think that is how s/he should have reacted?"  Instead of letting my kids tune out during a television show and absorb the material, I'm asking them to think about what we allow to enter.

How have you handled negativity in the media?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Breaking up with Breaking Amish

Here's today's semi-ridiculous confession: I've been watching Breaking Amish on TLC. People who know me well will probably be shocked because a.) I hate reality TV, and b.) I'm not a big fan of Amish books.  But see, that's kind of why I wanted to watch it. I don't "get" the fascination with the Amish. I mean yes, I'll be the first person to sign up for a life without TV and rely on my beloved books. But I'm a big fan of indoor plumbing, electricity, and driving my car. And I'm sorry, but I don't think the Amish have the chokehold on what it means to be a good Christian. So I thought watching this show would be interesting. Maybe, as I watched Amish people learn about our ways, I could learn about them.

Um, NO.

If the Kardashians were Amish, I imagine this is what the show would look like. Ridiculous fights, cussing, being all-out mean, and frankly, these people act nothing like what I'd imagine the Amish to be like. And that was in the first episode. But then I thought, well, maybe I just didn't know as much as I thought I knew about the Amish.

So I endured a few more episodes, thankful for my DVR (one more reason I could not be Amish) and I fast-forwarded through most it. But then I caught something in one of the episodes about Jeremiah saying he was divorced. HUH?? Amish don't get divorced. Do they? So I decided to Google "Amish Divorce" and one of the first results I got was this gem: a blog devoted to showing everything on the show that is a fake. Color me embarrassed.

I'm not one to follow a lot of the gossip in the media, and so my instinct was to take it with a grain of salt- except that there's a lot of overwhelming evidence pointing to the lies, AND, every single thing that they get wrong is something that has bothered me from the get-go. I should have known better. I forget that television, even with their so-called reality shows, have absolutely no basis on truth. I should have realized that each segment of each episode features a Bible verse, and then shows how these people violate that verse. I try not to be a legalistic Christian, but it really bothered me that they seemed to be taking a piece of the Bible and then pissing on it. If that's not what you believe, then fine. But why make a mockery of something that their families would hold dear?

Frankly, the more I think about this show, the more I am appalled at how these people would completely disrespect a people group and tear apart their beliefs to people who don't all know better. Is there truth in the show? Maybe. But it would be like saying that watching The Simpsons is an accurate reflection of the typical American household.

TLC, I'm ashamed of you. I'm ashamed of these ex-Amish who would sell their souls to be on television. And, I'm ashamed of myself for watching it. Amish people, I know you will probably never read my blog, but I want you to know that I am sorry. For those of you who don't know anything about the Amish, or even if you do, I hope you'll consider not watching this show.

Have you watched a show that you later feel betrayed by because it is such a misrepresentation of truth?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Tragedy's reminders

I don't know anyone in the Denver metro area who isn't absolutely sick over the horror of what happened to Jessica Ridgeway. Something so terrible should never happen to a child. The tragedy is a good reminder, though, of how vigilant we must be to keep our kids safe. Now before anyone gets upset or thinks I am blaming anyone, I'm not. I have no idea what safety measures Jessica's family had in place, and maybe Jessica did everything right. But let's make it as hard as we can for some sick person to harm our children.

When our kids asked about what was going on, we were honest with them, and we also took the time to remind them of our family's stranger rules. Every family needs to periodically review the rules with their kids.

Here are a few of the important items we covered with our kids:

  • NEVER go anywhere with anyone they do not know. If someone asks them to get in a car, offers them candy, or asks them to help find a lost pet, the answer is to yell, "NO!" as loudly as possible and run to the nearest safe place, where they will let a responsible adult know right away. There is NEVER an okay reason to go anywhere or get into a car with a stranger.

  • IF someone tells them that mom or dad sent them, that person will know the family code word. The kids are never allowed to share this word. If the person trying to get them to go with them doesn't know the word, the kids need to run away and go to a safe place and tell a responsible adult.

  • If someone tries to grab them and take them, they are to kick and scream and fight and bite and kick and make it as hard as possible for the person to take them.

  • If the kids are home alone, they are not allowed to answer the door PERIOD. We also do not allow them to answer the phone- we still have an old school answering machine. If we are calling the kids, they can hear us when the answering machine picks up. If someone enters our home, they have a safe place in the house to go and call 911.

What safety rules/tips do you use with your family?

Undead by Clay Morgan

What's a nice sweet girl like me who only likes reading about rainbows and butterflies and puppies and true love doing reading books about zombies?  Yes you read that right. Zombies.

The story begins almost a year ago when I was at a marketing seminar put on by my agent. A group of us went out to dinner, and I ended up sitting by this guy named Clay. We did the requisite, "So what do you write," conversation that invariably happens at these things. By now, you know that my answer was, "I write romance." Cue the stars in the eyes and the little angels fluttering above my head. His response: "I write about zombies." Um, okay. I'm not really a zombie girl. Not only does hubby explicitly forbid me from watching movies that do not end with, "and they all lived happily ever after SO HELP ME GOD," I am also not allowed to watch scary or violent movies. I'm pretty sure this includes zombies since they're kind of gross, and I don't even watch the gross parts on medical dramas.

This should have ended any thoughts I might have entertained about Clay's zombie book. But Clay is a neat guy, and he had some really interesting things to say about zombies. More importantly, how WE are really zombies. And I thought, "Huh. Maybe I'll read this book."

So... when Clay asked to have some folks help him spread the word, I decided to give it a shot. Even though I'm creeped out by zombies and anything that might possibly be a little gross, I've learned to keep an open mind. Besides, the zombie thing is about JESUS, so how bad could it be?

I learned three important lessons: One, do not make the mistake of thinking that you can start this book while making dinner. Your family won't appreciate dinner being a lot late. Two, if you're going to eat or drink while reading this book, do not read the footnotes.

The third, and most important lesson I learned is that in spite of my desire to live in the land of rainbows and butterflies and happily-ever-afters, I still dwell among the living dead. One of my favorite parts in this book was when Clay talks about us living in the state of undead. My favorite section is on page 122 "We find ourselves behind walls that keep us from God, whether it we build them ourselves or allow others to do it for us. We're chained to things that keep us from the sustenance of life that God offers. In that spiritual sense, we slowly die behind obstructions of self-love or addiction or whatever it is that buries us alive. It's often hard to recognize the face of death in our own lives. We don't see it so clearly when we are the ones on spiritual life support. Undead monsters make a great metaphor for spiritual death because decaying zombies and eternally damned vampires symbolize the opposite of purity and holiness, which is the essence of God."

We're dying. Every single one of us. And we yearn for the wholeness that can only come from God. Maybe that's why the whole death and dying and zombie thing freaks me out. Maybe there's a part of me that's afraid to look in the mirror and see the truth- I can pretty myself up all I want, stick a unicorn in the background, but it won't change reality. The good news is that while I am dying in this earthly body, there is real resurrection, real life after death, and I don't have to stay a zombie to receive it.

So that's the real me... zombie girl, ready for action. I hear tell that my next encounter with Clay the Zombie King might involve some swing dancing. Thanks, Clay, for sending me a copy of the book and putting me on your Undead Launch Crew. For those of you who are nice little girls like me who prefer rainbows and butterflies and happiness all around, this book is for you. And if you dig the whole zombie thing, I think you'll like it too. Visit Clay's website for more information: http://claywrites.com/undead

Zombie Swing Forever!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Another risk payoff

I'm not really a risk-taker, which seems funny since so many of my blog posts lately have been about the risks that have paid off. I didn't intend for this year to be about risk-taking, but I'm hoping that my adventures in the garden will translate into a success in other areas of my life.

One of my gardening experiments was growing beets. I am one of those weirdos who actually likes beets. Until last Christmas, I'd only ever eaten beets out of a can. But for Christmas dinner, my FIL made some really yummy beets and that got me thinking about growing some. So I grew beets.

The only trouble with my beet growing plan was that I had never grown beets before, AND I had never cooked fresh beets before. Beets at my house involves opening a can. Ignoring those facts, I planted beets.

Which led to confusion about when to harvest.

When I finally decided to harvest, that meant finding an online recipe to cook beets. All of those recipes involved orange juice, and for some reason, that sounded gross, so I made up my own recipe using theirs as a guideline.

Danica's beet recipe:

Beets, peeled
Sea Salt
Olive Oil

Mix the ingredients in a baking dish, bake at 450 for 45 minutes.

I didn't measure amounts, so use whatever you think is best. For the seasonings, I just lightly sprinkled over the dish, and it worked well. Most of the recipes I came across used thyme as a seasoning, so I tried it. I've never used much thyme, so I had no idea if it would be good or not, but it ended up being really good in this combo. The carrots also came from my garden, and they added a nice variety to the dish. We grew the rainbow carrots, so they ranged from white to orange to red, and I think the colors really made it nice. I generally hate cooked carrots, but I really liked these.

The verdict:
I LOVED this dish!!! I'm telling you, eating it was like having a spiritual moment with food. I was a little nervous because I had a friend for dinner, and I was a little nervous about experimenting on her, but she liked it as well. (Or was just being polite) My kids hated it, but they hate beets, so their opinion doesn't count. :)

Do you experiment with food? Have you had anything turn out surprisingly well?




Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Blessing your family with your imperfections

As a recovering perfectionist, I've had to let go of the need for everything to be just perfect. If you've followed my gardening journey, you'd know that I've allowed myself to do a lot of it imperfectly. And if you're not a gardener, that's okay... because so much of what I've learned can be applied to you as well.

My princess loves corn. When I planted the garden last year, she begged for corn, so I planted it, but I didn't know when to harvest it, so the evil squirrels got to it before I could. No corn for us last year. So this year, I planted corn again, and despite reading things about corn, I really had no idea when to harvest. But with the coming frost, I had to decide- pick the corn or leave it for the squirrels. I chose to pick the corn.

The corn we picked was small and not well-developed. I'm not sure what went wrong, but I realized that even the small amount we got from our garden would be enough for dinner. The little one loved eating the corn that we grew. It didn't matter that it wasn't pretty or that the ears were tiny and misshapen. My daughter now has the memory that her mommy planted corn for her, and we got to eat that corn, and it was delicious.

I'm so glad that I didn't let last year's corn failure keep me from trying again. I won't win any prizes or be on any master gardener shows, or even be the go-to girl for gardening advice. But I do have a little girl who got to have a really cool experience.

What have you been afraid to try because you don't think you'll do a good job?


Monday, October 08, 2012

You don't know me by Susan May Warren

Welcome to the campaign launch for Susan May Warren’s latest offering in her beloved Deep Haven series, You Don’t Know Me. Susan is celebrating with a $200 Weekend Getaway Giveaway and hosting a fun video Author Chat Party!

One fortunate winner will receive:

  • A $200 Visa Gift Card (Use that to catch up with a loved one and “Get to Know” your spouse, friend, sister, mom…whomever!)

  • The entire set of Deep Haven Books

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on October 22nd. Winner will be announced at the ”You Don’t Know Me” Author Chat Facebook Party on 10/23. Connect with Susan for an evening of book chat, Deep Haven trivia, and a live video chat! There will also be info about Susan’s BookShout read-along and a chance to win gift certificates, books, and other fun prizes!

So grab your copy of You Don’t Know Me and join Susan on the evening of the October 23rd for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the books – don’t let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 23rd!


My Review:

I'm always nervous when reviewing a book written by a friend. My fear is always, "what if I don't like it?" Then I worry about what I'm going to say about the book. Which is silly because I've always enjoyed Susan May Warren's books.  I'll be honest- she had me at witness protection twenty years later. That's just too cool of an idea to pass up.

I took advantage of our cold weather and curled up with a warm blanket, a cup of tea, and the book. I am so glad I had nothing else planned for the afternoon, because I wouldn't have been able to put the book down. I really loved the complex relationships and how nothing was a simple decision for any of the characters. I think that's so true to how life is- from the outside we see one thing, and don't realize the many parts that are affected. Annalise didn't have the simple decision of running, staying, or running with her family. Too many other things impacted that decision. I also really enjoyed seeing the other relationships of people around them. I love getting into those deep places to see where people tick.

So if you have an afternoon to spend, I definitely recommend this book. Just don't think you're going to be able to read it in snatches, because you're not going to want to put it down.

** Disclaimer** I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for a review. They didn't tell me what to say, they just sent the book and asked me to be honest about what I thought. So there it is. :)


Friday, October 05, 2012

There's just not enough preparation

I am a warm person. When I say warm, I mean that I always like to be warm. Unfortunately, I tend to be cold most of the time. When we swing into fall and winter, I'm always sad because I know that I'm going to be cold- soon.

So when the weather report said it would snow Saturday and that it would get really cold Thursday night, I prepared. I brought in the produce that would get ruined, and I covered my garden to keep it going just a little bit longer.

As you can see, I got a nice selection of things. Yum!! I'm thinking there may be some zucchini bread in our family's future. :)


Imagine my horror when I woke up this morning to this:

Yes, friends, that icky white stuff is known as snow. Snow that we weren't supposed to get until SATURDAY. It's FRIDAY. I needed that extra day to mentally prepare.  Even though the snow is already gone, I'm still sad because it means that I am finally forced to face the reality that my warm days really are leaving.

So to cope, I'm making chili in the crockpot.

How do you cope with changes in the weather?

Monday, October 01, 2012

Lest you think I'm a garden expert...

Here are a few mysteries I still haven't figured out about my garden.


Yes, this is corn. You might have seen that I have a few rows in my last post. However... I have no idea when the corn is ready. Last year I grew corn, but by the time I picked it, the squirrels had eaten most of it. I have corn again, and I have no idea what to do with it. Maybe I should stop growing corn. Except if I did that, my little princess would be upset. *sigh*




And for exhibit B, we have cauliflower. Last year, I grew it next to broccoli, and then I read that you shouldn't grow them near each other. Needless to say, it didn't turn out well last year.

So this year, I grew them on opposite sides of the yard. And this is what my cauliflower looks like. I'm guessing that the purple means it's not ready yet? Hopefully it'll turn out, but I'm thinking I may have done something wrong again. *sigh*


I think what I love about working in my garden is that it's a lot of trial and error. Even though I am disappointed when my projects fail (like the cauliflower, one of my fave veggies), it's always interesting to see what I learn at the end of every season. Maybe one day I'll be a master gardener, and I'll have a super fabulous garden. And maybe it'll always be organized chaos. I do hope, that as you look at my garden pics and think that you'd like a garden of your own someday, that you give it a shot! Don't worry about being perfect or knowing what you're doing. Mine isn't perfect, but we still get a lot of enjoyment out of it.