Sunday, October 24, 2010

Today I Played

Today I played....

I ran in the yard....

I wrestled with my boys....

We went on an adventure, right in our backyard...,

We hunted for treasure....

And pretended we were on a field trip....

I was the bus driver....

And we hid in a "cave".....

For just a little while....

I wasn't a mom....

I wasn't a wife....

I didn't have bills to pay....

My cell phone was inside....

I forgot about work....

My to-do list was forgotten....

I was 5 years old....

And it was amazing....

The best free therapy there is.....

So if you're feeling kindof blue....

And don't know what to do....

Go be a pirate.....

Or a princess instead....

And go on an adventure.....

To a far away land....

Right in your own back yard.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Friday Funnies

It's been awhile since I posted a Friday Funnies post, so I have been saving up some funny stuff for you!  Well, at least I think it's funny :)

-Micah came to me whining one day and said, "Mommy, I want a kid friend and Jaden won't play with me!"

-We were talking about the Spanish language, and I asked Micah "What's daddy's name in Spanish?"  He replied, "Barbie!!"

-Micah saw a small figurine of the Statue of Liberty and said, "Hey! There's the US guy!"

-Jaden loves playing "Pretend Preschool" every single day.  He refers to me by a different name every day - I'm usually Mrs. McCamant (his current teacher), but this week he kept referring to me as "Ethan's Mom."   Today he told me his name was "Brooke" and had me call him Brooke until he went to bed.

-We have caught our boys calling each other "stubo" and figured out that they are trying to call each other "stupid."  We have to discipline them the same way as though they were calling each other "stupid," but it is funny to raise our voices and say, "Stop calling him stubo!!"

-I asked Micah what he wants to be when he grows up, and he said, "A soccer player, and a blast off man!" (That means an astronaut).

-This week's car conversation trumps any other car conversation that we have ever had.  A moth was trapped in the car, and Micah asked how moths are born.  I told him that they come from eggs that their mommies lay (that's true, right?).  He then wanted to know how the eggs come OUT of the mommies.  "Ummmmm......Well, the mommy moths have a little opening that the eggs come out of."  Micah said, "the mommies have a hole that the egg comes out of, like we have a hole that poop comes out of?"  I replied, "Um, kindof!"  He said, "Well, how did I come out of you?"  I replied, "Well, um, mommies have a hole too that babies come out of!"  End of story.  Changed the subject.  That was weird.  I hope I haven't scarred my child forever!

-And lastly, at dinner last night, Jaden was FULL of energy and told us a story that was 30 minutes long, talking non-stop without barely a breath in between.  He was so animated, and although we couldn't understand everything he was saying, he was so cute and we could not stop laughing.  I love especially the clip between 2:00-4:00.   He is a funny boy!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Last weekend we had a tragedy in our group of friends.  Friends who we've known since college, who were in our wedding, who we've done life with despite the time and distance between us.  Our friends grieved the death of their baby girl.  It was sudden, it was shocking, and the grief and love shared by all of their friends was overwhelming.   I have been amazed reading of their strength and hope during this time, a strength which can only come from a true and genuine depth of faith.  My heart is heavy for them.

Last night we had a young man over for dinner, who was born and raised a Muslim and converted to Christianity last year.  He shared with us about the political unrest he grew up around; that if he went to demonstrate in the streets, he would be captured and tortured.  This has happened to those closest to him.  He knows that if he returns to his country, he will most definitely be put to death for his faith in Jesus.  He knows that because of this choice he has made, he will likely never see his family again.  So he lives here, in a hotel room, alone.  His story broke my heart, because that's not the way it should be.  My heart is heavy for him.

We also found out that Mike, who was living with us for awhile, is homeless again and living  under a bridge nearby.  Our youth group went to serve at  Homeless and Hungry ministry outreach, and he was there.  My heart is heavy for him.

We are going through all sorts of trials with Micah's class at school, that I won't go into here.  The parents have every right to be upset, and major change is needed in many areas, and I feel helpless.  I am trying to be a light in the midst of chaos and anger, while experiencing that same anger, and it is not easy.  My heart is heavy.

While my heart is heavy, I do not feel hopeless.  I have to hold on to hope, believing that God can do great things in the midst of these circumstances.  If I walk around hopeless, how am I any different than unbelievers?  I am sure that you feel heavy about many things in your life as well.  The only thing that brings me any peace is bringing my concerns to God and laying them at His feet.  He is truly the only one that can change these circumstances.  

I will leave you with a Scripture that my friends (who lost their baby) posted on their Facebook wall the day after this happened.  May I have this same kind of hope and faith:

‎2 Corinthians 4:8-18 (New International Version)

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 

We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. 

It is written: "I believed; therefore I have spoken." With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. 

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Homemade Granola Bars!

I experimented with two different granola bars this week, and wanted to share the recipes with you!  They are different in ingredients and taste, so try both and see which ones you like better (we preferred the second recipe ourselves).  These were fun to make with Micah, so get your kids ready and make some granola bars!

The first recipe is one that I found in the newspaper.

Homemade Granola Bars
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 cups crispy rice cereal
1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
pinch salt
2 tablespoons canola oil
4 egg whites, lightly beaten
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (we used raisins instead)

Line a 9x13 pan with foil.  Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Stir well, using hands if necessary, and be sure all ingredients are evenly moist.  Press mixture firmly into prepared pan using back of spatula.

Bake in a preheated 325-degree oven 18-22 minutes until nicely browned.  Place on a rack to cool.  While pan is slightly warm, carefully cut into small bars.  Store in a sealed container for up to a week or place in plastic freezer bags and freeze.  Makes 22 bars.

These bars turned out a little dry for our taste, but the boys did eat them.   Micah actually preferred this granola bar, although the rest of us preferred the second recipe.

Chewy Whole Grain Cereal Bars
This was a recipe I received a few years ago and I'm sorry I don't know who to give credit to!

Nonstick Cooking Spray
1/2 cup honey or rice syrup
1/2 cup chunky almond butter or peanut butter
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder or soy milk powder
3 cups whole grain flake cereal
1 cup dried fruit bits

(Note: we used the honey and peanut butter, and omitted the fruit bits and used 1 small box of raisins instead. We bought whole wheat flake cereal from the 99 cent store and crushed it in a ziplock bag before mixing).

Spray an 8-inch square baking dish with nonfat cooking spray.  Set aside.
In a 3-quart saucepan, combine honey or rice syrup and almond butter or peanut butter.  Heat over medium heat until melted and smooth, about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Stir in milk powder or soy milk powder until blended.  Add cereal and fruit bits; stir until coated.  Spoon mixture into prepared dish; spread evenly and press into dish with back of spoon.  Serve immediately, or refrigerate until firm (bars are easier to slice when firm).  Makes 16 bars.   (We ate all of them in 1 day) :)

(Have I mentioned that Micah doesn't like his picture taken?)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fall Decorating for Free!

Beth at The Stories of A to Z inspired me with her Fall front porch.  I asked her for ideas on how to decorate for the Fall with no money.  She recommended going out to the woods somewhere, with some big clippers, and finding leaves, pinecones, branches, etc...  I just happened to be looking for something to do on Monday morning, so Martin and I took Jaden to a Wilderness Park near our house (remember - the one where Jaden fell into the lake earlier this year?)  We had fun hiking and picking things to decorate the house with.  I came home with a big bag full of stuff and went to work:

On the piano I used two mason jars to put berry branches in, and an old water vase I had for the middle. I already had the fall leaves, but I think I picked those up at Dollar Tree last year.

For the middle vase, I used pinecones as a filler.

Over on the stereo I took a crystal vase I had lying around and just placed some sticks inside.  I'm not so sure about this one, but it will have to do until I find some nice ribbon or something to spice it up with.

I placed another berry branch on a shelf in the living room:

Here I did the same thing as on the piano (with the vase).  Too bad we still have to use an antenna for our TV since we don't have cable - oh well...  In front of the antenna (hard to see) I placed a small pumpkin and pinecones in a glass plate.  Oh, and that clock?  Our landlord put that there and asked us not to take it down.  We can't center our TV armoire under it because it won't be center with the couches.   That clock is always hard to work around.

Coffee Table - all stuff I already had.  Except that pumpkin - I picked it up at Goodwill for $1.25 and then saw the same ones at Target for $2.50 a week later.  Love my Goodwill! :)

This wreath for our front door, which is not my first choice, was also FREE - I found it on the side of the road.  Seriously.  A lady down the street was throwing out a bunch of stuff and this was on top of the pile.  Score! 

So there you have it - a little home tour of free Fall decorations.  Thanks for the ideas, Beth!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

9 Questions

My friend Corrina posted some fun questions for her readers to answer, so here goes...

1.  What is one goal you have in the next 5 years?  To pay off our last school loan

2.  If you could purchase an entire outfit--head to toe--what would it be?  Oh man, this question stresses me out.  I'm horrible at choosing outfits, as evidenced by my entire Merona-on-sale closet.  I would probably go to Anthropologie and pick out something like this:

(As you can see, I don't wear a lot of color) :)

3.  What country do you want to visit and why?  Ireland, since we tried to go there 7 years ago and the whole trip fell through, or Israel, because I've always wanted to visit the places Jesus walked.

4.  What is your favorite See's Candy?  Raspberry Truffle

5.  What music are you listening to most frequently right now?  Seeds Family Worship :)

6.  What's the last thing you did for yourself?   Had Pumpkin Spice Coffee, and removed my toenail polish.  Nice, huh?  ;)

7.  What time do you wake up in the morning?  7am, then go back to sleep until 8am. (I know, it seems late, but you don't want to be around me before 8am, trust me.)

8.  What kind of jammies do you wear?  Nothing fancy; I have about 10 different things I rotate through, from a gray pajama set, to some cute nightgowns.
9.  What is your outlet?  Blogging and being with friends.

Your turn!! Copy these questions, delete my answers and go for it! 

Friday, October 8, 2010

It's All About Perspective

As women, we want nice things.  We love to shop, we love to browse online, we love to hunt for bargains.  All of those things are fun and nice and good, and I love to do all of the above!  But sometimes I get in a rut, and all I can think about are the things I don't have.  It's discouraging, and I get angry.  Angry that I don't have more money to get the things I want.  I get frustrated and wonder if it will always be like this.  But then a quiet whisper says this to my heart, "Be content with what you have."

And sometimes, when I'm looking at pictures like this:

A little voice inside reminds me of this:

And when I'm looking at pictures of bigger houses (with more than one bathroom):

I'm reminded of the family I know that has lived in a hotel room for over a year (a family of 7).

When I'm complaining that I can't go out to eat because the budget is tight:

I remember my friends who have met the kids who live at the dump, and find their dinner there:

And I am reminded of the verses that say:

"7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction." I Timothy 6:7-9 

"11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."  Philippians 4:11-12

I am reminded to be careful that I stay thankful, and that I stay content.  So today I encourage you - whatever that thing is that you've been wanting so badly, find a way to love it and be thankful for it.  That includes me.  And my old refrigerator, and my house with one bathroom.  What will you give thanks for today?

Home Decorating

I confess that much of our home is decorated a-la-craigslist, and we have found some great buys on there.  Our couches, for one (both for $175)...

(Oh, what's that?  Why, yes!  I did rearrange our furniture this week! Thanks for noticing!! I got a little stir-crazy with all the rain and decided to re-do our living room while Martin was at work one day) :)

We also purchased all of our baby furniture from there, which has now found new Craigslist-shopper homes.

I "window shop" Craigslist a few times a week for great deals, both in their free section, and in their furniture section.  Currently I am looking for some specific items, like a side chair for our living room, a side table for our living room, and replacing every item in our house with something different would be nice, too.  For 11 years we have had the "mission" theme going in every room, and I'm ready to at least go half and half with the mission and shabby chic themes.

In my quest to find cheap shabby chic finds online, I have found some that are accurately described as so.  I have also found some "pieces" which I will say, get named shabby chic if they are just plain old junk.  I know that shabby chic has different meanings to different people, as evidenced by the pictures below (found tonight on Craigslist):

Item #1 - Shabby Chic Bedding
TRUE or FALSE - Is this shabby chic?

TRUE!! Beautiful bedding set.

Item #2 - Shabby Chic China Cabinet
TRUE or FALSE - Is this shabby chic?

TRUE!  This would fit well in a shabby chic environment!

Item #3 - Shabby Chic Desk
TRUE or FALSE - Is this shabby chic?

The actual title is "Awesome vintage desk with 6/drawers - all wood- nice style.
Um - FALSE.  The actual definition of awesome is "inspiring awe."  Well, maybe they're right. :)

Item #4 - Shabby Chic Furniture
TRUE or FALSE - Is this shabby chic?

FALSE - pretty sure that's not Shabby Chic.

Item #5 - Shabby Chic Picture of a Bird
TRUE or FALSE - Is this shabby chic?
FALSE.  Sorry again :(

The moral of the story is, everyone has different decorating styles and different definitions of what those styles....include.  Just something I thought was funny and wanted to share :)

So, what's your favorite decorating style?  If you're not sure, take this fun decorating style quiz.  Here were my results.  Very true, although I don't keep a clean house :)  Unless you are coming over.

Your style is Classic Traditional.

You like things matching and well placed. You prefer classic colors such as navy, burgundy, forest green, and beige. You buy furniture that stands the test of time.
You don’t like trendy fads nor clutter. You keep a clean house. There are only a few knick-knacks but plenty of family photos. Traditions and family are important to you. When you entertain you invite close friends and family. You don’t like new things and are hesitant to try new colors or furniture placements.
You grew up in a very traditionally decorated home and that is what you are most comfortable with. Your decorating challenge is for you home to not be too predictable or boring. (Ah, yes, very true)

Better Homes and Gardens also has a great post about decorating styles.  I would describe my favorite as Country/Cottage.  So, what's yours?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Crazy True Stories

Sometimes weird things happen to me, and my friends always say, "The craziest things always happen to you!"  I don't think they always happen, but there have been a few interesting incidents.  I remember one day, when I decided to go into ministry, praying that God would give me some good sermon illustrations.  I guess he listened to that prayer! :)  Here are a few that I was remembering recently:

-When I was about 18 years old, my friend Amy and I were driving through the forest to get to a camp where her dad worked.  As we drove around a bend, a large deer jutted out of the forest and directly into my side of the car door.  I looked that deer in the face as his head smacked in to the window.  It hit the car hard.  We were both in shock and Amy pulled over.  I couldn't open my door since it wouldn't work anymore.  I climbed through her side, and joined a crowd of people that had gathered around the deer.  I put my hand on the deer as it lay on the ground and took it's last breath.  It was SO sad!  As we drove away, we both started to cry.  We stopped at the Ranger station, because we weren't sure if we were supposed to report it, and the ranger said, "Who wants some dinner?!"  and laughed.  What a mean man.
Sermon illustration: God's protection

-In college, my friend Beth and I were driving up the 405 freeway to pick someone up from LAX (airport).  Suddenly we saw a golden retriever in the middle of the freeway, right in our lane, and she had no choice but to hit it head on.  We pulled over, and saw that the front headlights had been knocked out and the front of the car was heavily damaged.  We drove the rest of the way with no headlights on, in shock (again), and both holding back tears.  At the airport we got pulled over and explained to the cop what had happened, and he said, "Oh, that was you?"  He apparently had heard about the incident already.  So sad.  In both cases, it was a miracle nobody was hurt.
Sermon illustration: God's protection

-When Martin and I were first married, we lived in an apartment complex and had to walk to get our mail.  I headed downstairs, on a cold and blistery day, and casually walked towards the mailboxes.  All of the sudden about 3 police cars came speeding down the driveway and all surrounded me.  About 5 policemen got out and surrounded me with guns drawn.  "Take your hands out of your pockets and put them in the air!" one shouted.  I was scared, but at the same time amused.  I remember saying at one point, "Um, do I look like a criminal?"  One of them patted me down and then they let me go.  Apparently someone had reported a woman with a gun (in the parking lot) who was wearing a black jacket.  That was fun :)
Sermon illustration: I have no idea

-A little over 5 years ago, when I was 9 months pregnant with Micah, I got a spurt of energy after work and decided to go to Mervyn's (remember Mervyn's?).  I shopped for awhile and had my hands full of a big pile of clothes when my cell phone rang.  It said "home" so I knew it was Martin.  I answered the phone and heard another voice on the other end.  "Ma'am, this is Officer Flores and I am in your home right now.  Your house has been broken into and you need to come home right away."  I dropped everything on the floor and ran out.  I called Martin on his cell phone and he rushed home, getting there before I did.  The house was a mess. Totally ransacked.  Everything was taken out of every drawer, every closet, and even from under our bed.  We tried to figure out what was missing.  The only thing missing in the house (amidst all of Martin's guitars, my camera equipment, our computers, etc...) was our small digital camera and about $4 in change from our change jar.

The police officer said that 4 young men approached the house.  One knocked on the door and the other three went through the side gate.  They came in through the back door.  Two employees from Toyota (next door to our house) were on their lunch break and saw the whole thing take place.  They pounded on the front door and said, "POLICE!  Get out of the house NOW!"  All of them ran out the back door, jumped over the fence and to a getaway car driven by a female.  The two men from Toyota got the license plate number and called police.

The policemen kept telling me it was a good thing I wasn't home.  Yes, it was, because every single day after work, being 9 months pregnant, I would come home and take a nap, with earplugs in my ears.  I probably would not have heard them knocking on the door, and they would have come inside and found me in my bedroom asleep.  Lord have mercy.

That night our friends came over for pizza, and the investigator came to take fingerprints.  It was quite entertaining eating our pizza, watching him dust the whole house for prints.  The female was caught, put on probation, and had to send us monthly payments for our camera and the $4 in the change jar. :)  I am not sure what happened to the other four.

"God is our refuge and strength, and ever -present help in time of trouble." Psalm 46:1

So many people spend their lives in FEAR of so many things that can happen to them.   But I am living proof that God protects his people and watches over them.  God is our protector!  I think that sermon illustration is pretty obvious :)

Now I want to hear your crazy stories!!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Catching Up!

I cannot believe it's been almost TWO weeks since I last posted!!  I think I have writer's block lately. I usually write in spurts and have late night moments of creativity, but they have all escaped me lately.  Maybe it's the fact that school has started, and all of my attention has been on packing Micah's lunches, volunteering in his classroom, taking Jaden to preschool, and enjoying all those in-between moments.

Micah is L-O-V-I-N-G Kindergarten.  He leaves happy and comes home happy.  I am volunteering in his classroom every Tuesday, and Martin is volunteering on Thursdays.  At least 1-2 moms volunteer every day of the week.  It is highly needed, as the class has 29 kindergartners, and 9 of those are very young 4-year olds.  The day I helped out, a kid went missing from the classroom and I found him in the cafeteria (during class time), and the day Martin volunteered another kid wandered off. There is just no way for 1 teacher to have an eye on all those kids at once.  It is disheartening that this is the way things are in many areas of California.  The class has one girl who speaks no English whatsoever, and she is just the cutest thing but I feel so sad for her.  All the moms who volunteer feel overwhelmed, and I am just thankful I had two years of teaching junior high to prepare me for this.  Thankfully it does not seem to phase Micah, who works independently and actually seems to be more advanced than many of the kids in his class (after ALL that stressing about whether to hold him back or not).

In other news, which may surprise you, I stepped down from my role as the Women's Pastor at my church.  It was weighing me down and wearing on me, and I always felt that I could barely do enough just to keep up with it.  I am learning the fine art of saying "no",  and I definitely feel this is a season for saying "no", even to good things.  Having that pressure off of me is enabling me to focus more on my family, and I am going to be spending more time writing (if this writer's block ever ends) and speaking at a few places this Fall.   I am very excited to be in this new season of life and am enjoying every minute!

I leave you now with a few pictures of what we've been up to lately...

Last weekend I celebrated my friend Heather's birthday by having a "girl's night" away at a hotel near my house. I had a free gift certificate there, and had already used one night with Martin a few months ago.  I planned a scavenger hunt for her in Borders bookstore, that led to her gift (which I'll write more about later), and it was so fun!  We had dinner, saw a late movie, ate breakfast at a cute cafe by the beach, looked for whales, and more.  It was so refreshing - it is amazing how one night can refresh and re-energize you!

We endured a week-long heat wave, where temperatures reached up to 103 degrees in our city; the highest temperature EVER recorded here!  We got the pool back out and the boys had fun.

I hope you all have a great, relaxing weekend.  What have you been up to lately?