Monday, January 31, 2011

Multitudes on Monday ~ whether I want to or not

Here's the honest truth.  Not the full truth, for that would be too much information.  But the honest truth is this:  I have so very much to be thankful for, and yet today I am struggling to get myself in a thankful frame of mind.  Or heart. 

I'm sad.  I miss my mom.  Today is her birthday, and I sure wish I was celebrating it with her.  The anniversary of her death is not a hard day for me.  But the days we should be celebrating...those are the days I miss her the most.  And I really could have used a mommy today.

Other things are out of sorts, and it makes my whole attitude out of sorts.  So I wasn't going to do this whole post on my 1000 Gifts today.  But the day is not over yet, and I know I will regret it.  I know I need to.  When I feel it the least is when I need to focus on it the most.

137.  A first grader being almost incapable of walking across a playground; needing to skip, run, or bound.
138.  Deep sighs.
139.  Finals week only coming twice a year.
140.  Commitment.
141.  Running in the rain.
142.  Tree limbs waving back and forth in the wind.
143.  The swooshy sound of cars driving by in the rain.
144.  "This too shall pass", a favorite saying of my mom: I heard it whispered today.
145.  Tulips poking their little green tips out of the ground.
146.  The pure laughter of a child that is contagious.
147.  Showers at the end of the day.  Washin' that day right away.
148.  The theme song to Little House on the Prairie.  (Yes, that's a gift!)
149.  That He is I AM.
150.  The stillness of this very moment.

That's much better.  I knew that would help.  My mind is calmer now, just like I knew it would be.

As I began writing this, my son took a break from studying and is playing the piano.  Just playing as it comes...the beautiful, soothing music that comes from a worshipful heart and a musical gift.  Soft, gentle, and soothing.  Just what I needed.

151.  Beautiful, soothing music that comes from a worshipful heart and a musical gift.

Now I'm done.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

My Saturday

I know it's not over yet, but so far this has been just about a perfect Saturday.

At least once I got to this point:

This is me after a one hour run in the rain with Brad.  I got down there to stretch, but just being down felt so good I stayed there awhile.  And you know what this reminds me of?  A friend told me about a shirt either she has or she likes that says "If you see this shirt laying on the ground, please drag it across the finish line."  My shirt should read, "If you see this shirt laying on the ground, please let it be and let me rest in peace."

Then came a shower, some lunch, some homework help, and I plopped myself right down here to continue reading my new book.  I love, love, love this book.  Thoughtful, thought-provoking, and thought-changing.  And a big kitty to keep me company as I listen to his wiffling snore?  That's a pretty great bonus to a really great Saturday.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Picutures You've Been Waiting To See

Happy Friday!  I am so very glad it is Friday.  Lots of simple things make me happy about Fridays.  The latest?  Now that I'm doing this silly half-marathon training, Friday is a "recovery day", which means no run today!  (Now, tomorrow is a different story.  Saturdays will take on a new meaning for me for the next 4 months.  I shouldn't have counted up how long.  Bummer.)

I'm going back to the list format for today, because I have some cookie dough in the fridge that needs to turn into real cookies before I leave for work.  Seemed like a good day for cookies at work.  And they won't bake themselves, so here we go:

1.  One day this week, Brenna came home late from school, frustrated with how long it took the bus to get her home.  Brenna doesn't express frustration too easily, so it's always entertaining when she does.  Her story?

First the bus was late getting to school.  Then it was a sub who took a wrong turn and had to turn the bus around.  Then they sat in the construction mess.  Then by the time she got off her stop, she was stuck behind the mail truck.  If you know Brenna, this makes total sense.  I asked her why she didn't just walk around it, and she looked at me with exasperation and said, "Well, then I would be in its way when it pulled up to the next mailbox!"  So very Brenna.  Then the neighbor girl wanted Brenna to watch her open a package she got in the mail, then the next neighbor stopped her to ask her about her just went on and on. 

2.  The reason for my computer woes?

3.  The reason for my computer "I no longer need to resist the urge to swing a sledge hammer" happiness?

I have no idea if  this is showing it right-side-up or sideways or what.  All I know, and all I care to know, is that when I ask this thing to do something, it practically jumps up and asks me if it can get me anything else.  It really is fast about what it does.  I won't even pretend to know anything about those wires and things, but Brad is quite happy with it.

4.  Today my husband is being my proxy in a silent auction that just may, if it all goes the right way, make me jump up and down and clap my hands and start singing Christmas songs.  But I need to reserve any more statements in hopes of writing a post unto itself about this bounty.  And plus, I tried to type what he was bidding on and it just came out all wrong.  It needs to not do that.

5.  A book I have been waaaiiiittttiiinnnnnggggg for, with great impatience, is finally out!  It has been available for my reader for awhile, but I decided to wait until I can get my hands on the real thing.  Because this book is going to be a treasure that I will want to keep in my hands.  Another post coming on that, I'm sure.  I'm going to buy it this evening.  And devour it this weekend.

6.  Loaded on my reader right now?  The newest Jan Karon book about Father Tim's trip to Ireland with Cynthia.  It is a peacefully happy book to read.  But I miss Dooley.  I'm hoping they make their way back home to Mitford before the end of the book so I can catch up with all these people again.

7.  We finally received some exciting news in the area of health insurance.  Instead of the trend of the last few years, we found that my plan at work is going to save us an extreme amount of money.  Extreme.  So thankful.

8.  This week I learned how to say hello in the native Navajo language.  I'd share it, but I didn't retain it enough to use it in conversation.  Or in a blog.  Or anywhere.

9.  I am all out of time, and tremendously distracted by the smell of the cookies in the ove.  I've gotta go sample and make sure they are fit to serve to other people.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tasty Tuesday ~ Scotcheroos

I had every intention of putting a meatball recipe on here today.  But I've spent a good chunk of my afternoon daydreaming about Scotcheroos.  I'm not entirely sure why, it's been quite awhile since I've eaten these.  I just may have to do something about that.  Soon. 

This is, essentially, a dressed-up Rice Krispie Treat.  Believe me, I love a plain 'ole Rice Krispie Treat.  Especially because they are Brad's signature dessert.  Let's be honest, shall we?  It's the only dessert Brad makes.  And he makes 'em fierce.  He has a couple "secrets" that make me grin, but it wouldn't be fair to divulge that without his permission.  And he always leaves a bunch of the mix stuck on the side of the bowl and lets me eat that with a spoon.  If that doesn't shout from the rooftops how much he loves me, I don't know what would.

Anyway, these are a super rich, extra yummy, chocolate coated way to get your snap, crackle and pop...


1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup light Karo Syrup
~in a large saucepan, melt together over medium heat.  remove from heat and stir in:
6 cups Rice Krispies
~press evenly into a lightly buttered 9x13 pan. 

In a microwave, melt together:
12 oz. chocolate chips
12 oz. butterscotch chips
~stir until smooth, then pour over top of cereal mixture.  spread evenly.

Let cool until chocolate is set.  If you make it that long, you have a self-control rating of "Superior".  I do not.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Multitudes on Mondays ~ Amazing

I feel like yesterday's post was one big multitude of thankfulness, at least inside my heart as I wrote it.  And when I looked back on last Monday, my last item was being thankful for the anticipation of listening to the playing of Amazing Grace.  That just makes me want to keep that list going, because it's pretty wonderful how we can be thankful for the anticipation of something, and that something arrives only to just blow us away more than we could ever anticipate.

This week had its giant-sized struggles with the passing of a great, great man.  And the service yesterday was beautifully done.  Beautiful.  There are not many better ways to be inspired towards gratitude than to watch a family say goodbye to a man who left too young.  Watching a life somehow summarized in a slideshow of pictures and series of letters makes me acutely aware of how very much there is all around us to be grateful for.  Every day is such a gift.

116.  Breathing without thinking about it.
117.  Time.
118.  Hugging someone who is feeling like you are feeling.
119.  Brad's snoring that wakes me up.  He's there.
120.  Not leaving anything unsaid at the end of each day.
121.  Music that moves you.
122.  A son's heart to play moving music.
123.  Realizing I ran .6 miles further than I meant to.
124.  A hot shower after a hard run.
125.  Not having to say anything, and being heard.
126.  Uncomplicated evenings.
127.  Putting a bunch of stuff in a big pot and having it slowly work itself into a fabulous soup...all by itself.
128.  Hot cornbread.
129.  Laughing hysterically over a ridiculously silly tv show, just when I needed to laugh.
130.  The sound of the pages of my Bible.
131.  That grief is not without hope.
132.  The promise of heaven.
133.  A new computer that is fully functioning!!
134.  My own personal IT consultant that built this computer.
135.  The little lines around the eyes of my IT consultant.
136.  That I have never, in 20+ years, looked into those eyes and seen anything but love, kindness and acceptance.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Amazing Grace

What an amazing experience I had last night.  It was a full circle moment if ever there was one.  And it was so significant to me that words may fail.  They often do in trying to describe moments that touch my heart so deeply.  I have been in several situations where "there are no words" is deeply true.  This may be one of them, but because I want to keep it documented, I must try.

Alex played yesterday with the Northwest Wind Symphony, rehearsing all day, concert yesterday evening.  I knew what they would be playing, I saw the music come in via email.  I saw the line up on the website.  But for some reason the true significance didn't occur to me.  I heard him run through some of his parts here at home, and it still didn't hit me.

It slowly dawned on me throughout the day, but I was woefully unprepared for how it would strike me.

We got to Centralia early, for his dinner break, and we all went out for dinner.  He was wiped out.  Something about the mid-range, long notes, very tired embouchure.  But he was excited for how everything came together.  He said it was going to be a pretty cool concert.  And, uh, yeah.  It was "pretty cool".

Once we got to our seats, I read through the program.  The program was titled "Liturgies".  Each piece had a program note that beautifully described the significance or impact of the arrangement they were presenting.  I love reading where something familiar came from, the significance it had when it was written.  The pieces built together in a beautiful way.  I could write an entire post about the "Alleluia" arrangement and its history.  Gave me chills.

So the evening progressed and built, and we came to playing of Amazing Grace.  Here are the program notes:

"Literally hundreds of composers have scored John Newton's Amazing Grace for chorus, orchestra, wind ensemble, and as a solo.  Composer Frank Ticheli had this to say about it.  'I wanted my setting of Amazing Grace to reflect the powerful simplicity of the words and melody - to be sincere, to be direct, to be honest - and not through the use of novel harmonies and clever tricks, but by traveling traditional paths in search of truth and authenticity.  I believe that music has the power to take us to a place that words alone cannot.  And so my own feelings about Amazing Grace reside in this setting itself.  The harmony, texture, orchestration, and form are inseparable, intertwined so as to be perceived as a single expressive entity.'"

And with that, I sat and listened, for the first time, to my son participate in the playing of Amazing Grace.  My all-time, hands-down, without-a-doubt favorite song.  A song that has meant so much to me during some tough times and some good times.  And, here's the mom's favorite song.  Here's where I will begin the attempt at finding words, where there may be none:

As my mom was in the end stages of her life, I spent a lot of time with her.  It was precious time to have together, and heartbreaking time to have together.  I was so thankful that I was able to be a part of her daily life and help in so many ways, and I was so sad that I needed to be a part of her daily life and help her in so many ways.  It was a tough time.  And mixed in with that time had been an almost 2-year struggle to have a baby.  The last 7 months of my mom's life, I had my first baby growing inside me.  The epitome of grace.  While my mom's life was very slowly fading away, my firstborn was very slowly growing strong enough to begin his life.

The day my mom died, I had an OB appointment.  To say I was under stress was an understatement.  They followed my blood pressure, and they did an ultrasound.  It was suddenly very important to know if this baby was a boy or a girl.  I had to know the baby's name.  So as they looked around, my doctor found what he was looking for, and congratulated us on our baby girl!  A girl!  And her name?  Grace!  No other name seemed appropriate to us.  That was Grace in my belly.  A belly full of grace.  It seemed so fitting.  I had been singing Amazing Grace my entire pregnancy.  I sang it to my mom.  I played it for my mom.  I sang it alone.  I played it through my house daily. 

Then my mom's memorial service, where it was, of course, sung.  So much Amazing Grace over those months:  I am living, breathing proof that it is physically impossible to desensitize yourself to the powerful tenderness of that song.

Fast-forward to the long-awaited birth of my baby, and the only people on this planet that "knew" it was a girl were Brad, me, and my doctor.  We had told no one.  We wanted to enjoy the knowledge of it before we shared it with anyone.  Finally that little brutus emerged, and my doctor said, "Oh!  It's a boy!!"  And my honest reaction, in the deepest part of my heart, was, "Well, of course it is!"  I was so thrilled.  It was so very....right.  This little man...we wouldn't call him Grace, but he still represented grace.  He was hope, all bundled up in 8 pounds and 7.5 ounces...

The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures
This was the good, the hope, that followed a lot of bad in my life.  I threw myself into being a momma, and was so very thankful for the new life.  And I sang Amazing Grace over this little man from the start.  I played it in the house, I sang it while I rocked him.  He had heard it so much in my belly, I just by then figured it was "our song".
So last night.  As I reflected back on this song, the meaning to me, the significance it has played in my life, I was overcome when it began.  I focused in on watching Alex play.  I imagined my mom being there to hear it, how she would have loved it.  She had this agonizingly embarrassing habit of shushing people in a room when a song she loved came on, and she'd close her eyes and "conduct" the song with her hands.  I can only imagine how she would have closed her eyes last night and let the music wash over her.  And she maybe would have even raised her hands to help conduct.
Hearing him play this song felt so very full-circle.  We've come so very far since those difficult times.  I can't believe it's been that long, and I'm so sad that it's been that long since I've seen my mom.  But life has been so good.  The Lord's promise of "good to me" has been so fulfilled.  He has been so good to me.  Life is so good, and that was all beautifully illustrated last night with the playing of a very simplistic version of Amazing Grace.
I was so absorbed in the moment, it didn't occur to me to record it until the very end.  I got a pathetic little snippet of it, but I will still forever remember this night, and the impact of hearing Alex play this for the first time. 
Crummy camera work, but that's understandable.  I love to see that sweet face playing that sweet sound.
And then we got in the van to head home and I finally let the tears flow and told him how much that meant to me and why.
It amazes me that a gift of music was put inside this young man. 

Back two generations, a Grandma who never got to meet him.  A song that tied me and my mom together.  A song that ministered to me.  A child born with a gift of music.  And a young man who then has opportunity to play that song so beautifully.

A full circle indeed.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Don't Be Alarmed By The Screeching ~ It's Just Chocolate

Okay, I'm going to grab the steering wheel and take a sharp, hard right turn.  The tires will screech.  The car will probably ride up onto 2 wheels going around this corner.  But sometimes that's the best way.  Oddly, though not really oddly for me, the two streets are more of a straightaway now that I think about it.  They are connected.

When I'm happy, I like to bake.  And eat.  And when I'm tired, I like to bake.  And eat.  And when I'm stressed, I like to bake.  And eat.  And when I'm sad?  I like to bake.  And eat.

I'm a consistent girl.  Order, order.

So as I was going about my day Tuesday, one of the things that I thought may just help the sadness was some chocolate.  Both the preparation of and eating of some good chocolate.  It just seemed right.  I wanted my house to smell good.  I wanted to beat something with my beaters.  And I wanted to dunk something in cold milk.

So I got a curiosity stuck in my head that would not leave, and I had to follow through.  I started thinking about really good sugar cookies.  This is my sister's recipe, my favorite sugar cookie.  The tricky thing about these cookies is they just don't fill you up.  Speaking from experience, you can eat a few before realizing you've eaten a few.

So my curiosity?  Could I make those into CHOCOLATE sugar cookies???  This was a risky move, because I was in no mood to be disappointed.  It could have caused a meltdown that would have put any two-year old to shame.

However, it turned out to be an experiment that now is one of my very, very favorite cookies.  It MINISTERED to me.  Okay, maybe that's extreme.  But at a minimum, it ministered to my mouth and tummy.  And nose.  And hands.  And eyes.  You know, ME.  I am the sum of my parts.

So I must share the recipe with you.  Trust me when I say that your house will smell so good that when someone pulls into your driveway and approaches the front door, they will smell them.  In a good way.

They are great dunked in hot coffee or cold milk.  They are even great undunked.  They would be great with a little espresso powder mixed in, I may try that next time.  Or with a little chocolate/espresso icing.  Mmm.

Enticed?  Give 'em a go:

Screeching Melt-In-Your-Mouth Chocolate Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup oil
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup Hershey's Special Dark Baking Cocoa
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
4 cups flour

Beat together softened butter, oil and sugars.  Add cocoa and mix well.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat it well.  Therapy.  Add tartar, baking powder and salt, mix until combined.  Add flour, one cup at a time, and mix just until combined.  Dough will be very stiff.

Drop by heaping cookie scoop full onto parchment-lined baking sheet, I do just 8 per sheet.  Personal space, you know.  Dip a flat-bottomed glass into sugar and then press cookie balls down to about 1/2 inch or slightly less. 

Bake at 400 for 9 minutes.  (these are so dark they are hard to tell if they are done.  Do your first batch at 9 minutes and use them as a test run, making adjustments for your oven.  Then trust the timer.

"Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him."  Psalm 34:8

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How Great Thou Art

A tough day today, it was.  A family said goodbye last night to a daddy, a husband, a brother, a son.  Many friends are heavy-hearted with the loss of a man that should still be here.  I've gotta say it straight out:  cancer sucks.  Disease sucks.  Sometimes you just have to say it like it is.  And that's how it is.  And this heaviness in my heart is not even the smallest fraction of the pain this family is experiencing.  I hurt for them.  I went through the "normal" parts of my day today, in some ways faking my way through it.  Work still had to be done, but I did it with my mind never leaving this family.  The praying was without filled my heart continually.

As I went through all the motions, the song that kept rolling through the background was "How Great Thou Art".  Such a beautiful song, such a powerfully truthful song.

So I looked up all the lyrics this evening, as well as the history of the song.  First the lyrics:

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!"

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

From Wikipedia:
"The inspiration for the poem came when Boberg was walking home from church near Kronobäck, Sweden, and listening to church bells. A sudden awe-inspiring storm gripped Boberg’s attention, and then just as suddenly as it had made its violent entrance, it subsided to a peaceful calm which Boberg observed over Mönsterås Bay.[6] According to J. Irving Erickson:
Carl Boberg and some friends were returning home to Mönsterås from Kronobäck, where they had participated in an afternoon service. Nature was at its peak that radiant afternoon. Presently a thundercloud appeared on the horizon, and soon sharp lightning flashed across the sky. Strong winds swept over the meadows and billowing fields of grain. The thunder pealed in loud claps. Then rain came in cool fresh showers. In a little while the storm was over, and a rainbow appeared.
When Boberg arrived home, he opened the window and saw the bay of Mönsterås like a mirror before him… From the woods on the other side of the bay, he heard the song of a thrush…the church bells were tolling in the quiet evening. It was this series of sights, sounds, and experiences that inspired the writing of the song."

Here's the thing:  the inspiration in the writing of this song was a storm that made a "violent entrance".  But all storms end, and bring a "peaceful calm".

One storm has abruptly ended for this family.  The peaceful calm yet?  I pray that in some way they are experiencing a peaceful calm.  Storms ahead?  For sure.  But my prayers are now focusing on the peaceful calm.  That even in the midst of a storm, they will feel the calm. 

And for Tom?  Imagine!  When Christ called him home, JOY filled his heart!  And then Tom bowed, in humble adoration, and there proclaimed, "MY God HOW GREAT THOU ART!"

I don't fully understand that, but I believe the Bible is true.  I believe that there is nothing but joy in the presence of the Lord.  I believe that's where Tom is, smack dab in the presence of the Lord, proclaiming His greatness.

And his sweet wife was there beside him when he left this earth.  While she was still standing there, Tom was already bowing before the Lord and proclaiming His greatness.  "I scarce can take it in."  I just can't.  But I trust.

Life is hard, but God is still great. 

Tasty Tuesday ~ White Chicken Chili

Prepare yourself for a bowl full of yum if you make this.  I am already daydreaming about lunch so I can have more of this.  So warming from the inside.  I am all about comfort food right now, and this one hits comfort food smack dab on the top of the head.

This is from a recipe my brother gave me.  I tweaked it some, just to make it bigger and gentler for the tender tummies of the family.  I did take a couple pictures of this perty dish, but then realized that we are still working off this partial computer and I have no way of getting my picture here.  But close your eyes and create your own image.  Or, better yet, just make it and you can see it all you want!

White Chicken Chili

About 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I bought one of the value packs from Safeway and used all of it.)
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 TBSP oil
1 TBSP butter (plus additional for later)
flour (about 1/8 cup or so)
2 (15.5 oz) cans small white beans, rinsed and drained
2 (15.5 oz) cans white cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
1 (4 oz) can diced green chilies
The equivalent of one box chicken broth.  Shoot.  I threw it out before I bothered to check how many ounces.  You know it, I'm sure:  the Swansons tall rectangular box with the pop back lid?  One of those.
1 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
cayenne pepper if you want that sort of kick
1 1/2 cups sour cream
3/4 cup whipping cream

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil and 1 TBSP butter until melted together.  Add cubed chicken and diced onion.  Cook until chicken is no longer pink.  Add garlic the last couple minutes of cooking chicken. 

With a slotted spoon, remove chicken and onion from skillet and transfer to a large soup pot.  Add in beans and green chilies.

Keep skillet over the heat and add additional tablespoon of butter.  When melted in, add flour and whisk together, cook a bit while continuing to whisk.  Gradually add chicken stock, continuing to whisk.  When all chicken stock is combined, allow to come just to a boil, whisking occasionally.  Add salt, pepper, oregano, and cayenne. 

Pour stock mix over chicken in soup pot, stirring to combine thoroughly.  Place over low heat, and let simmer for 30-40 minutes.

Just before serving, stir in sour cream and whipping cream.

Yummy.  So yummy.  Serve with some hot cornbread and you've got yourself a very hearty, comfort-food meal!  This would be a great football game food for this weekend, too!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Multitudes on Mondays ~ A HodgePodge of Thankfulness

Here is this little brief window in my day...a "day off", which really means a day off of the regular routine and a day ON with all kinds of busyness.  Before I go into all that, if you have never listened to Dr. King's last must do a search and listen to it.  It is so powerful.  Not knowing what his tomorrow would look like, he gave this speech.  Excerpts of it were read at an assembly our school had last week, and it is amazing.  Chilling.  And a good way to remember why we have this day off.

And so it goes, that my day on is filled with all things mothering:  cooking, taxi driving, social activity arranging, laundry, more taxi driving, more social activity arranging...and I love it.  I love that my kids have things to do and people to see.  I love their friends.  If their own parents weren't so fond of them, I'd move them all in here.  Wait...scratch that.  I just had a flash in my mind of the laundry that would create.  And the cooking that would require.  Thank you, Lord, for my three.  And for friends that come into our home.  To visit.

This week has been a roller coaster of emotion.  Tough news followed by encouraging news followed by good news and then followed by more tough news.  And in it all, there is the strong, steadfast belief that our God is still in control.  He's still providing.  He's still administering mercy and peace.  He's still ministering to those that have completely fallen into His arms, for they have nothing else to depend on.  And we keep praying that His will be done, in all those affected.  And we trust.

So, with all that, lots of opportunities have been presented to notice all the "little" things.  Remember to "Appreciate the little things, for one day you will look back and realize they were the big things."

Continuing on with my 1000 gifts:

96.  The sound of heavy, drenching rain.  From inside a warm house.
97.  Sleeping in.
98.  My children's sweet friends.
99.  Forgiveness.
100.  Handwritten notes.
101.  Stick-people drawings.
102.  Piano music.
103.  Watching a cat clean its face.
104.  Reading the Sunday paper ads.
105.  Food experiments.
106.  Cold water.
107.  Quesadillas.
108.  Peanut butter Snickers.  Have you TRIED these???  Yum.
109.  My husbands laugh.
110.  Watching clouds move across the sky.
111.  Books.
112.  The ability to read!
113.  Testimonies that encourage me.
114.  The peace of knowing that I can give without expecting to receive.
115.  Listening to my son practice for a concert...and the anticipation of knowing I get to hear him play Amazing Grace.  Truly a sweet sound.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Some Things Are Better Left To The Imagination

Oh, my bloggy.  I have missed you.  It's one of the few downfalls of having a computer sputter and die.  For the most part, I would be very happy to be a computer-free home.  But then there are the minor details like being able to communicate information to many people with one click.  Or sending someone information that I meant to call them with but then realize the day has disappeared and it's 10:00 at night.  Or needing information and having it be one click away.  Or signing up for something and not needing to mail in forms.  Or wanting an update on my boys, John Carlson and Marcus Trufant, and not needing to wait for the 11:00 news.  Or the kids accessing information that doesn't require me to keep a 400 pound encyclopedia set.  Okay, I guess it's a handy tool to have around.  I guess I like it.  And, with it's slow-onset illness and then sudden death, it has left me at an inopportune time.  And it's made me realize how much easier it makes my life.  I am knee-deep in gathering information that I must pass on to someone, and without any computer it would be even more difficult. 

Fortunately, Brad has rigged up a half-dead laptop to something.  And a half-dead laptop plus a half-dead - um - computer (?) equals a working-enough computer.  I don't know.  Something about a network card, motherboard, and a lot of laborious details that just overwhelm my mind.  I don't care to understand the details.  I just want it all to work when I push the button.  A nice little package of components is due to arrive Tuesday.  That means Brad gets to "work" after work on Tuesday and before long we'll all be back to normal.  And these extra wires will go away.  And I can get to all my email that I've been assured is somewhere.  And I will have proof that all my pictures are safe and sound.  Enough about that...

This day has been one that things in my imagination were much better than my reality.  Bummer.

I started the day with high hopes.

Hopes for my Hawks.

Hopes for waffles.

Hopes for my run.

Twasn't meant to be... 

My Hawks.  Owie.  Two big, literal owies, and one overall owie.  I proudly wore my Carlson jersey the whole game, even though my boy was taken out on the first drive with a scary head injury.  It turned out to be a sign of things to come.  Bummer.  But, they played two weeks longer than they could have, so I can't complain much.  I just will miss watching them.

My waffles.  I was craving waffles in a big way.  I had those coconut waffles with peach topping stuck in my mind.  If my name was Samantha and I was married to Darrin, I would have wiggled my nose and had Kari appear with a glorious plate.  Instead, I mixed up some good 'ole Bisquick waffles and drizzled them with Mrs. Buttersworth.  Not all meals can be a 10 out of 10.

Then, I had a strange desire to see what would happen if I poured brownie batter into the waffle iron.  A fudgy chocolate waffle??  Not so much.  Let's just say it was a complete waste of a perfectly good Ghiradelli brownie mix.  Although, I think I found a great way to make chocolate croutons.  Or a great crunchy topping for ice cream sundaes.

My run.  Owie.  The plan was to run 6 to 6.5 miles.  I was so excited to do that, and felt so excited to get it done.  I woke up with a weird cough, although I feel just fine.  So after the disappointing Hawks game, I hopped on my treadmill  with the kick-off of the Jets game.  I knew I was in trouble when I was wiping sweat 4 MINUTES into the run!  What?!  Everything felt great except my breathing.  The only thing I can find to justify it is all the tightness in my chest from this cough.  But I just could not get into a groove.  I only made it 4.3 miles.  And, yes, I was counting the tenths.  A real runner would say "4 miles".  I'm telling you, it was 4.3!  I was a mess.  It was very, very discouraging.  But tomorrow is a new day!  And I'm imagining it will feel much better.  And this time I'm counting on imagination and reality being friends.

And one more thing I just have to end with:

On Thursday morning I got my hair cut before work.  Now, my hair is as good as it gets when someone with a license to do hair does my hair.  I can say with confidence that it was a good hair day, because it was done by a professional.  I started my day with my reading group, and a newcomer to this group is a special needs little boy.  He, how shall we say this???, lacks social graces.  Sweet, but volatile.  Smart, but struggles a lot.  Eye-contact is not high on his list.  So although he addresses me by name, sometimes you are not even sure if he knows you are in the room.  Within moments of sitting down at his computer, without even looking directly at me, he says, "What did you DO to your hair???"  I told him I got a hair cut.  "Hmm," was his only response.  Not one to let things sit half way, I, of course, had to follow-up with, "Well, do you like it?"  He gave me a sideways glance without turning his head and said, "It's alright, I guess."  I laughed all day about that one.  Just tellin' it like it is.  No reason to pretend.  And this, by the way, from a kid who has a curly rat tail down his neck.  So I had no chance to impress him with my professionally straightened, conservative bob.

There's all the rambling I can handle for today.  And I'd say that's quite enough.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tasty Tuesday ~ A Gizmo Worth Trying

I'm not usually one for appliance gizmos.  I don't really like appliances that just do one thing.  I'd rather have a great multi-tasking gizmo that can do whatever I ask it to do.  I don't want 43 different pans for cooking.  Just one big one and one small one.  I'm sure that comes out of having a small kitchen.  I just don't have room for a lot of things.  But, I have grown quite fond of a gizmo that I must share.  I'd love to take a picture of it, a really nice picture, to share, but this is a house in a computer crisis.  I'm not sure if I could get a picture from my camera to our computer and then to my blog.  And the IT consultant is a bit tired tonight, so I don't want to ask him any technical questions.  So you'll just have to believe me that this gizmo, I call her Juanita, is really pretty.  She's a one-hit-wonder that is worth getting to know.

Our sweet neighbors gave us Juanita for Christmas.  What is she?  A quesadilla maker!

Really, she is so cool.  I never knew how many varieties of quesadillas were out there waiting to be a part of our family.  If you have any children in your home who cannot be satiated for longer than 54 minutes, you will really be happy to have this in your home.  A big package of tortillas from Costco, a package of shredded cheese, and a variety of meats and stuff (a rotisserie chicken goes a long way with this), and you can make a whole smorgasbord of quesadilla delights.  Juanita does all the work.

We have made plain cheese, chicken and cheese, ham and cheese, peanut butter/banana, peanut butter/chocolate chip...the possibilities are on-going.  I love the chicken/cheese with tomato soup.  And then!  We had a breakfast quesadilla:  scrambled egg, cheese, and sliced sausage links.  De-light-ful! 

Juanita is non-stick, so she cleans up in a snap.  She grills both sides at once, and makes the tortilla puff up and crisp.  It reminds me of tortillas that have been buttered and then grilled, only with no butter.  Really, give Juanita a chance:  she will rock your quesadilla world!

My plan is to make up some taco meat and keep that on hand too.  And as long as there are always some kind of miscellaneous parts in the fridge, any of the kids can pull together a quick snack or lunch or dessert even. 

Haha!  I found a picture on-line!  This is a Bella Cucina Quesadilla Maker.  Maybe then I should be calling her Bella.  That would make so much more sense.  But Juanita is who she is to me.

 Bella Cucina 13506 Quesadilla Maker

And this post is a special one.  I can't believe that the honor of this post goes to Juanita.  I SHOULD be having a giveaway for this post.  But because of the said computer crisis, I don't trust starting anything like that right now.  Oh, I so wish I could.  I'm so in the mood for giving something away.  And what is so cool about this post??  Alright, since there is absolutely nothing at stake I'll just tell you.  It is post number 345!  I love, love, love sequential numbers.  Call me OCD, but I love them.  I love 12:34, either as a time of day or the time on the treadmill.  Or 1:23, or 2:34, or 3:45.  4:56?  Not so much.  I don't know why, but 4:56 doesn't do much for me.

Anyhow and Anywho...happy post #345!!!

Falling Snow ~ Multitudes on Mondays

Oh, I am so thankful it is Monday!  I truly am.  I need a new week to get underway, and I'm looking forward to this one.  Sometimes fresh starts just feel right, even if circumstances haven't changed.

As I sit here and begin this, the snow has started falling.  It still gives me that childlike giddy feeling inside to see the snow start to cover the grass!  I love to stare at the snow coming down.  It's so peacefully mesmerizing.  I hope it keeps falling this morning.  I have a perfect view out the window from my treadmill, and as soon as the bus pulls away this morning I will be running.  And I'd love to watch the snow fall while I run.  The reminds me of fresh starts.  In a place where winter can be so grey, the white is so bright and new.  It covers.  It slows people down, it insulates everything around me.  It quiets.

So, in the quietness of this Monday morning, preparing myself to enter into the rapid pace of a new week, I'll continue with my thanks:

72.  Perfectly unique snowflakes
73.  Stillness
74.  Lamentations 3:21-24 "therefore I have hope"
75.  Quietness
76.  Eyes the color of chocolate
77.  The smell of snow
78.  The ability to physically take a deep breath
79.  The ability to emotionally take a deep breath
80.  Gentleness
81.  Holding hands
82.  The taste of cold milk with a gooey chocolate chip cookie
83.  Warming socks in the microwave before putting them on my cold feet
84.  The peace of the last child's light going out at night
85.  The peace of my light going out at night
86.  67-yard runs that put an exclamation mark on a victory
87.  Sharing "could you believe that?" conversations with total strangers
88.  Running into a store looking for something specific and finding exactly what I need
89.  Clearance racks
90.  Calculators
91.  Frosty breath
92.  Gloves
93.  Ability
94.  The laughter of an inside joke
95.  Perspective

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Unless The Lord Intervenes

I just need to share my heart a bit.  I usually don't go too deep, in this format, but one of the reasons I like to write is that it helps me sort my thoughts and find some order to what I'm feeling and thinking.  I work it out as I go.  So if the words that follow seem to have no order, it's because I'm working it out.  I'm scattered right now, for sure.  And it will probably show.

I'm watching from the outside as a very lovely woman walks through saying goodbye to her husband.  Her best friend.  Unless the Lord intervenes, she will have to make a very hard decision in the near future.  A decision that no wife should have to make.  It's too soon.  They are my age.  Their kids are the same ages as my kids.  There is so much life to be shared, it's not suppose to end this early.  I imagine that it's never enough time.  I can't imagine ever getting to a place in my life when saying goodbye to Brad feels right.  But certainly not in this season.  She still needs him.  His kids still need their daddy.  And she's now in a position that she must make this irreversible decision?  Please, Lord, take this decision off her shoulders and put it on Yours!  And yet, He has.  He always has the final word, just as He has promised.  All our days are written, He knows the hour, the moment, that this man will be absent from his body and be present with the Lord.  No matter what action is taken by this sweet lady, it's up to the Lord to declare when it is finished.  And yet she is still in a position of having to act.  Unless the Lord intervenes.

My heart physically is aching for her.  It's close enough to home to let my mind go there.  As much as I can hurt for her, as much as I can pray for her, I truly cannot imagine.  None of us can unless we've been there, and even then the journey is different for each one.  Common threads, but different stories. 

Yesterday, in my aching heart state, I became angry.  Angry that someone has to suffer like this.  Angry that a precious, tender, loving wife has to watch her husband go through this.  Angry that he can't reach his arms out and hold her, when she needs him most.  Angry that three kids are walking through this at such tender ages.  Angry that we live in a world with sickness and disease.  Angry that life is just not fair.

In my angry state, I lashed out at those I love the most.  I slammed my way through fixing dinner, alternating between shedding tears and being angry.  I slammed my way through cleaning the kitchen after dinner.  I was hungry, but I didn't eat.  I wanted to just lay down and cry and then go to sleep.  I wanted to yell.  I sprawled out on my bed for a few minutes.  Then I decided I needed to run.  I needed to run out the tension of my anger.  So I got on my treadmill and ran hard.  I ran for 4.5 miles.  Around mile 2-ish, I started hearing the Lord calm me.  I opened my ears.  I let it go.  I heard that He is there.  I heard that He is in control.  I heard those calming words that bring peace.  Not peace that it's happening.  Peace that He is intervening.  He's right in that ICU room.  Watching over the words being spoken.  Watching over the moments.  The last moment?  He knows.

I start thinking about this gal's future, and I get such a rush of grief for her.  I can't even find the words for it.  But she doesn't have to walk out that out yet.  Just this moment.  He will provide for her.  HE will.  Both in this very moment and in her future.

Tonight she has to talk to her kids.  Can you imagine?  I can't.  And yet I know He will provide her all the wisdom she needs, all the words.  Both the ones to speak and the ones to leave unspoken.  Those kids.  My heart hurts for them.  The Bible promises us that He "gently leads those with young".  So I know He will lead her tonight with great gentleness.

So I will pray.  Continually.  They are on my heart, in my thoughts continually.  If you are reading this, please say a prayer for them.  Not one prayer will be wasted on this precious family.

And as I go through the sometimes painfully mundane parts of my evening (closing a jar left opened, picking up socks on the floor, wiping up a mess left on the counter, doing yet another load of laundry...) I'm going to do it with them on my mind.  What they would give for a little mundane in their evening tonight.

Hug your spouse tonight.  Hug them and look them in the eye and tell them you love them.  Appreciate that you can.  Appreciate that they can look you back in the eye and say it back.  I know someone that would give anything to have that moment tonight.  But she can't....

unless the Lord intervenes...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tasty Tuesday Chicken/Cheese Pasta Perfecto!

Okay, a disclaimer before I begin:  I wouldn't exactly call this pasta "perfecto", but I just needed a good "p" word, and that was the first one to pop into my little brain.  My brain has shriveled a bit over the last two days of abrupt awakening.  There is a strong battle going on between my feelings and my logic due to this.  I feel like going to bed right now for the night, but my logic tells me I must complete my day first.  Plus the new season of The Biggest Loser starts tonight, and I must watch that and have a good cry.  It looks so good.

Since I'm now doing the Multitudes on Mondays postings, my Monday Menu has been bumped.  Now I'm free to just post random recipes when the mood strikes.  Apparently, the mood has struck.

Anyway, I made this pasta yesterday.  It's an old recipe that I relied on a lot back in the day.  My kids loved this as toddlers, and for some reason I got a craving for it yesterday.  It was still a big hit.  4 out of 5 of us packed it for lunches today, so there's a good testament.  Just a warning that it does not belong in the New Year's Resolution "I'm-going-to-eat-healthy" recipe section, but for those of us who did not make that resolution, it's a great one.  And no picture, sorry.  Just picture a chicken spaghetti type casserole with very little color.  And if you want it more colorful, saute some red pepper with the onion, mix in some chopped tomatoes, or maybe some steamed broccoli, or asparagus, or add some cilantro or whatever turns your crank!

Chicken/Cheese Pasta (Perfecto!)

12 oz. spaghetti, cooked according to package
5 cups cooked chicken (I just pulled all the chicken off a Costco rotisserie chicken and called it good.)
3 TBSP butter
1 small onion, diced
2 cans Cream of Mushroom soup (or 1 each mushroom/cream of chicken)
1 soup can of milk
3-4 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (I used Colby/Jack)

Melt butter in small skillet.  Add onion (and peppers, if using) and cook for a few minutes until nice a soft. 

Combine all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Salt and pepper to taste, if desired.  (I don't because there's enough sodium in the soup to last you all day.) 

Pour into a 9x13 baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray.  Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.  This can also be put into two 8x8 pans if you want to bake smaller portions.  It freezes great, too.  Just assemble it and freeze before baking. 

Serve with some hot garlic bread.

Just an added bonus for fun:  this is one of my favorite pictures of Brenna.  The combination of bed-head, plastic bead necklace, poking out belly, diaper, knock-knees, and fancy shoes is a perfect recipe for preciousness!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Back To Routines

Here we go, back at it again!  I'm so sorry this vacation must come to an end.  It was so very good to have some down time, to sleep in, to do whatever we felt like doing.  And now, like an ice cold cup of water thrown in my face, Monday is here again and it's time to scatter in different directions.  I love routines, order, structure, schedules...and yet that's the very thing I needed a vacation from!  Now it's back, and I think I'm ready to welcome it back with a good attitude, fresh energy.

With that, it is a good day to focus on some gratitude! 

47.  New starts!
48.  Foggy mornings.
49.  Cold, clean water right out of the faucet.
50.  Warm gloves.
51.  Brad's job.
52.  Zephaniah 3:17
53.  My Bible.
54.  Fleece-lined pockets.
55.  Soft carpet.
56.  Brad's voice.
57.  Smiles.
58.  My washing machine.
59.  Downy dryer sheets.
60.  An hour in a quiet house.
61.  The building sound the teapot makes just before it whistles.
62.  Eating take-out in the van with the whole family.  In our slippers.
63.  The hope in my dog's eyes while he watches me make dinner.

64.  Post-it notes.
65.  Unexpected phone calls.
66.  Dinner made in the morning.
67.  Watching the sunrise with my family.
68.  Seeing completely undisturbed snow.
69.  Running and sliding on the ice.
70.  Regular bedtimes.
71.  The smell of a clean pillowcase, right up against my face, just before I fall asleep.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Tubing, Handprints, and Swimmin' To Tunes!

On New Year's Eve morning, we headed out before the sunrise to go tubing at Snoqualmie Pass.  It was bitterly cold, and oh-so-fun!  I don't think it could have been more picturesque.  The sky was blue, the sun was bright and the snow was thick, deep and bright white.  It was a brisk 19 degrees when we arrived.  A bit of wind, too.  So cold that within 10 minutes of being outside, my fingers were aching from the cold, despite my gloves that were supposedly made for those conditions.  At that point I was wondering what two hours was going to feel like.  Then we made our first run down the hill, and I decided to run back up and bypass the tow rope, just to get my blood pumping to my fingers.  Second run down, another run back up the hill and I was warm and toasty!  All of us lost a bit of feeling in our lips, but other than that we had a fabulous time together!  Here are some highlights in pictures:

I think I love this picture because they look so little!

I could do a whole post just on these two pictures.  Hugging my 'little' boy one minute, watching him throw himself down a hill the next.  Kind of the season we are in right now, in many ways!

Another story in pictures.  Alex throws himself down the hill, head first; I oh-so-carefully sit on the tube and oh-so-carefully scoot myself forward until I glide down.

Have you ever caught a glimpse of curling at the Olympics?  Brad's the curler, Brenna and the tube are the stone.

Brenna tried both approaches, head first and seated.

Actually, I think the girls only went in the seated position their first run, then head first every other time!

I didn't get a picture of the rope tow, but this shot shows the hike up the hill that keeps you warm.  I was very grateful for the 5 minutes waiting in line to catch my breath when I go to the top.

"Baby, it's cold outside!"
  (I would have been singing that to Brad if my lips weren't so numb.)

How beautiful, how peaceful, how pure...

When our tubing time was up, we had a moment to be inspired by the hand of provision that snatched us out of the way of a major inconvenience.  We got back to the van, and Brad, first thing, reached in and turned it on while we were all getting out of our snow clothes.  It barely started.  He said, "Oh, it does not like this cold."  But she was purring along and the heater was kicking in just as it should.  A few minutes later, as we were pulling out, a lightbulb came on in my head.  I asked Brad if he had by chance left our lights on when we arrived.  Whoops.  Yep, he had done just that.  His lights come on and off automatically when he starts the car, and the van doesn't do that unless you set it to auto.  So, in his defense, he is out of practice in turning off those lights.  The Lord showed great mercy on him: in 19 degrees on a mountain is not the place to have a battery die.  Fixable, but oh the headache that would have been.  For all of us.  PHEW and thank you, Lord.

Then we drove down and got some lunch.  We sat in the van and ate, because three of us only brought slippers to change into and felt more cozy in the warm van.  The other two were very gracious to deliver our food to us while we stayed in our cozy cocoon also known as a Sienna.  While we ate, we had a good time talking about 2010, and what's ahead in 2011. 

Snuggly sisters on the ride home...

...and a brother who knows just when to pop in!

More catch-up stuff:

I left this picture off our Christmas Day recap because I had not yet taken the annual shot on the tree skirt.  We started this skirt in 2001, when Beth was one.  Each year, each kid puts their handprint on the skirt in gold paint.  It is amazing to pull that out each year and see how much they change from one year to the next.  We always run our hands over the little tiny prints of that first year, especially Beth's little bitty chubby baby hand! 

In addition to the tree skirt, I have a picture of them sitting on it each year, in their Christmas jammies!  Sweetness.

This year, one of Brad's gift is, I think, one of the best gifts I've ever given him.  If you don't count those three little gifts sitting on the tree skirt, it may just turn out to be the best gift.  It's a swimp3 player.  Yes, a waterproof digital music player, made for swimming!  It uses "bone conduction technology", when you place it on any bone of your skull, it leads to vibration of the fluid in the inner ear.  Bizarre.  But he loves, loves, loves it.  He loaded up his workout playlist and did a workout today, and it was a huge success.  His only adjustment will be figuring out how to count his laps while getting lost in his music.  Good problem to have.

Brad and Beth swimming laps together.  I love, love, love this.

My two water buddies.
Brad sporting his surround sound swimp3!

That's better.  Now I feel all caught up and ready to head into a new week.  Sort of.  At least in a bloggy sort of way.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 Year In Review

I meant to do this yesterday, but yesterday did not provide the spare minutes I needed.  So today it is.  As I begin this, it is 1:15 in the afternoon on New Year's Day.  I am still in my jammies, and the only plan for the day is to take down the Christmas tree and pack it all up.  A great day for sure, I love the clean look of having all that put away.  Although I will miss the cozy glow of the lights.

I did this post last year, reviewing 2009, and I enjoyed it so much.  It's so good to look back on a year and be able to reflect on all it brought.  I am finding that I always feel slightly different about years ending.  Sometimes they can't end soon enough, and I'm so ready to begin a new one.  Sometimes they are years that I am a bit sad to see go.  This year I find myself smack dab in the middle.  It's been a GREAT year overall, and yet I'm very excited to plunge into 2011 and see what it will bring.

If I had to assign a word to 2010, it would probably be "change".  As I look back on all the uncertainty that I started the year with, knowing change was in the forecast, I realize now what an in-between time I was in.  Change is always going to be there, growth is always going to be there.  This year will be no different, I'm sure.  But last year I went into it knowing that I was staring down some changes.  This year, I'm not sure what they will be.  But I have even deeper assurance that I can wholeheartedly embrace the change and jump in with both feet.  And the reason I can do that with such confidence is knowing that my Anchor is unchanging.  The same God who escorted me through tough changes and fabulous changes in the past will continue to escort me through this next year.  I have a very personal Guide who already knows the bends and twists up ahead in this road.  So I'll just keep following, while He keeps leading.

With all that, here's my look back on my own 2010:

1.  What did you do in 2010 that you had never done before?

SO many things, both internal and external.  I'll stick with two fun highlights, both of which were in the last month of the year:

Brad and I ran our first 10K!  Though I started the year with a plan to train for a half marathon, a lot of things derailed that.  And I'm totally fine with it.  Will I this year?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But I love that Brad and I can set goals and encourage each other and accomplish things together!

On the last day of 2010, I went tubing at Snoqualmie.  In all my years of living here, all my years of driving past this, I have never once gone to do any type of winter activity at the mountain.  We had a great time!

2.  Did you keep your New Year's Resolutions and will you make more this year?

Last year I said I was going to continue stepping out and facing fears and trying new things.  I certainly did that, in many ways.  And I also said, again, that I was going to cut back on my sugar.  That I certainly did not do.  As for this year, I honestly haven't pinpointed any specifics.  But I do have some things in mind, in many ways continuation of changes I've started: in the area of organization and not accumulating clutter, and in some personal areas.

3.  Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes, my niece brought the beautiful Kaylee Jean into the world!

4.  Did anyone close to you die?

Yes, my sweet grandma.  Though it was her time, I miss her so very much.  Goodbyes are very hard.

5.  What places have you visited?
We visited Lake Entiat again this summer, Cannon Beach in September.

6.  What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?

This made me say "Hmm..." last year, and it does again this year.  The first thing to come to mind is some clarity.  Some relationships I just don't understand, as much as I've tried.

7.  What date in 2010 will be etched into your memory and why?

Celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary in September.  We had a very special weekend away together that I will never forget.

8.  What was your biggest achievement this year?

Well, I would have to start with reaching the 20th!  I don't need to say that being married is not always easy.  The achievement part for us is that we stayed surrendered to the One who brought us together, that we chose to choose each other every day, and that we chose to do all that with joy.  The fact that we then showed up at the doorstep of 20 years is the Lord's achievement.

Another achievement was stepping out into the working world.

And another was running the 10K with Brad.

9.  Did you suffer any illness or injury in 2010?

NO!  Thank you, Lord. 

10.  What was the best thing you bought?

Does bought for me count?  I guess that's for me to decide, since it's my blog.  For Mother's Day, I was given an e-reader.  I love, love, love it.  I have read so much this year, and have enjoyed this new toy immensely.

And I love my giant white board calendar that has color-coded markers for each of my kids and has helped preserve some sanity in my home.

And I also love my muffin top pan, that has helped me produce some glorious cookies.

11.  Where did most of your money go?

Happily, no unexpected major expenses this year.  As far as where it went?  Mostly into the mouths of 3 growing children, in the form of orthodontics and FOOD! 

12.  What song will remind you most of 2010?

Probably any song by Chase Merrell, as this is the year his music really took off.

Also, the Glee mix of Halo/Walking on Sunshine, because it was my squad's dance song for competition (they won!), which meant that I listened to it A LOT!

13.  What do you wish you would have done more of in 2010?More time with friends.

14.  What do you wish you would have done less of in 2010?

Spinning my wheels.  In so many ways.

15.  What was your favorite tv program?

Still the Amazing Race, and I can't wait for the new season to see a bunch of the old favorites back at it!  I also still love 24, although I'm laboring a bit through this last season on dvd.  Rumor has it that I'm going to love it.  And I love Cupcake Wars, though I seldom get to watch it.

16.  What was the best book you read in 2010?

I cannot pick one.  If I HAD to, I would choose "The Help".  But I don't have to, so I'm also going to pick "Have A Little Faith" by Mitch Albom (the very last line of this book is "I am in love with hope."  I love that line so much.).  And "Her Mother's Hope" by Francine Rivers.  And "Choosing To See" by MaryBeth Chapman.  So many.

17.  What was your favorite movie of the year?

The new Chronicles of Narnia movie, Voyage of The Dawn Treader.

18.  What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?

I was 41 this year, and my biggest memory is receiving the box of cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcakes!

19.  What political issue stirred you this year?I know that last year was a year to be stirred, and that stirring has certainly continued.  There are many, although health care remains high up there.  And the rest I think I will hold my comments.

20.  Who was the best new person you met?

Oh, this was easy.  Kari from Blueberry Hills!  I cannot possibly do this experience justice in a little paragraph, and I've gone on and on about it in the past, so I will just leave it at that!

Seasons of change this year, to be sure.  And I've loved it all!

Now we are walking into the start of another new year, excited to see all that's ahead!