Archive for October, 2008

Halloween Costumes of Yore

The other day Orison told me he wanted to be a dragon for Halloween. This surprised me for a couple reasons:

1. We don’t really do Halloween, so we don’t talk about it a lot.
2. I didn’t know he knew about “being something” for Halloween.

    So I searched “dragon costume” on Target’s site and the result I got was really cute. And… it also cost $40. Guess who’s not being a dragon for Halloween?

    When I was growing up, my mother’s version of Halloween costumes was very simple. Buy a sweatsuit in the color of whatever you’re being—a black one if you’re being a cat, a white one if you’re being a bunny, a camoflauge one if you’re being a soldier, etc.

    My mother’s highest priority on Halloween night was that we be warm. She had no time for frilly princess dresses that left you with bare legs at the end of October in Pennsylvania. I think the real motivation for this was that she knew we’d end up cold (and therefore complaining) for the whole two hours we were out, and she really didn’t want to hear it, or stick my dad with three whining kids.

    She always accessorized us well—cat ears, bunny ears, a gun, or some other accessory to complete the costume. And she always painted our faces with the necessary whiskers, battle wounds, etc.

    Now that I am a mom, I see the sense in what she did. It was a low-cost way to make us pretty happy with our costumes. They were never fully store-bought, but we never seemed to mind. And then we had a pair of sweatpants or a sweatshirt that we could use for the rest of the year! Genius.

    The only way to do it cheaper is to do it like Abraham’s family—with bathrobes, ice cream buckets, and paper bags.

    October 30, 2008 at 12:30 am 29 comments

    Dinner on Friday night is covered.

    We love Chipotle. It’s seriously my favorite fast food (I don’t even like calling it that because it’s so not in the same category as McDonalds or Arbys).

    For those of you who share the love and have one in your city, you should know that on Halloween night, they offer FREE burritos! All you have to do is don some tin foil, and the burrito is free!

    We did this for the first time last year with friends from our small group. They’re a family of seven, so this was a major deal for them.

    In our fair city, the festivities begin at 6pm. Call your location for details.

    October 29, 2008 at 2:18 pm 32 comments

    The Meat Sauce…

    Some of you have asked for the meat sauce I made a couple weeks ago. So here it is, compliments of Rachael Ray.

    I’ve used this recipe many times now. I’ve done it with the mushrooms, without the mushrooms, with more spices (garlic, allspice, salt, pepper), and sometimes with tomato paste to thicken a little.

    When I read through the reviews of this sauce, most people liked it, but the main complaint was that it was watery. I have to agree. I would probably add tomato paste each time. And the recipe calls for allspice, which is definitely unique for a spaghetti sauce. Personally, I like it. I think it’s interesting.

    Abraham really likes this sauce and requests it a lot—spaghetti is definitely his favorite food. It makes me feel good to make a sauce from scratch that will roll his eyes into the back of his head.

    October 26, 2008 at 7:57 pm 14 comments

    What’s up with our kitchen?

    Awhile back I solicited your opinions about countertops. For those of you newer to the scene, we are in the throes of a kitchen remodel at our duplex (which just happens to be next door to our current house). We are still living in our other house, but plan to move over to the duplex as soon as the kitchen is done or as soon as we secure renters for our current house, whichever comes first.

    We have wonderful tenants in the first-floor unit of our duplex, and we will move into the second-floor unit and finish out the attic/3rd floor this winter with the rest of our bedrooms and another bathroom.


    The original upstairs unit had two bedrooms, one that shared a wall with the kitchen. Since we’re planning to build 3 bedrooms in the attic (yes, it’s that big), we figured we really didn’t need that other bedroom, so we knocked out the wall between the back bedroom and the kitchen. We’ll use the old bedroom space as our eat-in area. I’m imagining that the kids will play there a good deal, too, since it’ll be right in my line of sight.


    For countertops, we decided to go with Quartz. We got a tremendous deal on them through a special that was running with Home Depot, and decided we’d just go for it. All the laminate we looked at was just not doing it for us, but we figured because of cost we’d have to go that way. We were pleasantly surprised with the deal we got.


    Abraham’s brother is our contractor, and he has a wonderful company called Piper Construction. Working with him has been great.


    We’ve really liked our designer with Home Depot. He’s been awesome through this whole process. I’m sure the experience varies dramatically depending on the designer you’re paired up with, but the guy we got has been wonderful.

    We also ordered our cabinets through Home Depot. Planning that out with the designer was a lot of fun. And our designer took a lot of time to explain things to us, which helped us to trust him a lot more.


    The drywall is hung and the mud is dry. That means it’s time to paint! Here’s the fabric I’m basing my color choice on:

    It’s brighter/bolder in real life. I really want a funky kitchen. If I go with my default color choices, it’s all going to be earth tones. It’s just who I am. But I want to be funky, so I’m just going for it! I really want to be Anna Marie Horner, but don’t have the creativity or gumption on my own. My color scheme usually ends up looking like something you’d see in Indiana Jones.

    BUT… the paint is going on the walls today! Here are my color choices… (I’m nervous, so nervous).

    The orange and blue are for sure. I haven’t decided on the third green color so I just put that one in as a place holder. It’ll probably be something close to that, though.

    What’s next?

    The cabinets will be hung, the floors will be refinished (hardwood), the appliances and countertops will be installed, and we’ll be good to go. Sounds easy, right?

    In all seriousness, there was a point in the early days of planning this remodel that we thought we would possibly live over there in the duplex while the construction was going on. When I look around at the mess that will someday be my home, I think I would have literally gone insane with a new baby, a curious 3-year-old, lots of dust, nowhere to put our stuff, etc. It’s good that God derailed that initial plan.

    October 22, 2008 at 8:40 pm 32 comments

    My first poll: Are you like me?

    Here’s a simple equation for getting me to fall asleep:

    Movie + Laptop + In bed

    So now I’m curious (and eager to try out this new polling feature on wordpress):

    October 21, 2008 at 7:57 pm 26 comments

    Team Cooking

    I’ve been doing some research into the concept of team cooking. I got to thinking about it because there’s a group of gals from my church that get together and do this every month or so.

    Here’s how I think it works:

    • Create a group of people you want to cook with.
    • Set a date and time to do it (maybe a Saturday morning when husbands can watch the kids?).
    • Find a few recipes that freeze/preserve well and plan to make a few.
    • Buy supplies and ingredients and do some prep work (especially if you’re hosting).
    • Cook a bunch of stuff together and everybody gets to take some home to freeze!

    Here’s why I think it would be cool to try:

    • Getting to hang out with my friends on a Saturday morning.
    • Having a couple freezer meals always on hand (maybe even one per week?) would be awesome!
    • Sharing the cost probably makes it cheaper (I’m just guessing).

    If any of you have ever done anything like this, let me know! I’m really interested in the practical (“How would I actually set this up?”) aspects of such an undertaking.

    October 17, 2008 at 2:36 pm 28 comments

    Cake Wrecks

    These days, I really appreciate the laughable moments in life. They’ve been fewer and farther between in the past few weeks, but there is one blog that makes me laugh every time I go there.

    The Cake Wrecks blog is absolutely hysterical. All the cakes she features are “professionally” made. But the best part is the way she writes about these wrecks. I’ve laughed so hard I’ve cried.

    In the past I’ve harbored the guilty pleasure of reading a couple blogs that make fun of celebrities’ fashion choices, but felt like that might not be the best way to spend my day, laughing at other people. But when it’s a cake, you can just laugh!

    I totally didn’t know this was happening when I originally wrote this post, but Cake Wrecks is in the running for “Best Humor Blog” in the 2008 Blogger’s Choice Awards. You have to set up an account to be able to vote, which annoyed me, but I had to vote for her. After you read a few of her posts you’ll know why.

    October 15, 2008 at 9:25 pm 25 comments

    Remembering Our One-Year-Old

    It’s taken me a long time to get this post together about Felicity’s birthday last month. It was a really hard day and no amount of words I could type could communicate the depths of that.

    But it wasn’t all heaviness, either. Grief is so paradoxical.

    Orison really wanted to make cupcakes for Felicity’s birthday day. Incidentally, he still calls them “pupcakes,” and his speech pathologist mother doesn’t correct him because I think it’s too cute. I know he can say cupcakes, so I just leave it at that. He was very particular that they be chocolate cupcakes with pink frosting, “Because Felicity’s a girl.”

    We had a nice lunch with Abraham’s parents and the ever-thoughtful Grandmama included presents for Orison and Morrow. And since Morrow’s too little to open one, Orison gladly stepped up and fulfilled his big brother role.

    Then it was off the the cemetery with flowers, balloons, and the cupcakes. The weather was perfect, so Orison brought his bike, as he loves to do. We were able to nail him down for a few photos. Morrow was more easily convinced. This was my favorite one.

    We tried to light a candle on Felicity’s cupcake, but the wind was too strong. Orison was consoled by us telling him that we would light the candle again at home and we could blow it out then. Orison and I had planned that our whole family would blow the candle out together.

    There were so many deeply sad moments, where the grief was very intense. When Abraham set her little cupcake on the stone, I just kept picturing the scene that should have been. He would be setting her first serving of sweets in front of her on her high chair tray, her face either bewildered or beaming, and all the people who love her would have been singing “Happy Birthday” to her.

    Instead we set a cupcake on a granite slab and tried in vain to light a candle for someone who had never inhaled or exhaled.

    When we eventually did light her candle back at home, Abraham and I both could barely sing as Orison’s little voice sang “Happy birthday, dear Felicity…”. We hear her name so seldom, let alone being sung, and by the sweetest brotherly voice that God ever made—it was very emotional for us.

    Orison shed his share of tears that day as well. It’s so interesting—he’s still trying to get a handle on this loss thing. I know he can’t always express it, but sometimes he does, and when he does, we get a window into all the confusion, disappointment, and dashed hopes that adults feel when someone dies, through a three-year-old’s eyes.

    For dinner, our good friends offered to watch the kids so we could go out on a date and even gave us a gift card for the restaurant. It was wonderful of them. We spent a lot of the time reflecting on this past year, trying to remember.

    When grief has clouded your brain for so long, memories are hazy. Most of the conversation went like this: One of us would say, “Remember this (fill in the memory/event)?” The other would say, “No, I don’t remember that.” Or, “I kind of remember that.” We came to the realization that we’ve lived most of this year in a thick fog.

    Since her birthday I’ve been dealing with a lot of very deep, raw emotions that are surfacing. It’s been really hard.

    I realized then that we had passed all our “firsts” without her. There would never be another first Christmas, first summer, etc. Though this has always been true since she died, and seems ridiculously obvious, I’ve felt it more heavily since her birthday: From now on, the time we’ve spent without her will just keep getting longer and longer. One year will turn into two, two into ten. And she’ll still be gone. And I’ll still miss her. I’ll still wonder what she would have been like. I’ll still feel cheated for not getting to cuddle her close at night during devotions and kiss her little face when I laid her down. I’ll picture her at whatever age and phase and long for her.

    Felicity’s life, though short, made me anticipate life with a little girl so much. To have that taken away has been very painful. And as I look to the future I have a hard time trusting and hoping that God will ever give that to me.

    It’s probably the deepest residual pain that I struggle with. So any prayers you can renew on my behalf for this would be appreciated.

    I don’t say this enough to those of you who faithfully read and comment here—thank you. Thanks for coming around me and Abraham and Orison and making us a part of your lives. And thanks for welcoming Morrow. And thanks for missing Felicity with me. Thanks for your stories and letting me into your lives as well.

    In the arms of a good Father
    You can go to the deep water
    Where the questions, we have left unspoken
    Come out in the open
    We will find shelter here

    So I lay down, what I cannot hold in my hands
    Every sorrow and hope spinning out of control
    And here I find sweet resolution comes in letting go
    And we will find shelter here

    Sandra McCracken, Shelter

    October 14, 2008 at 12:22 am 77 comments

    A Powerful Video

    I’m totally copying my friend Jenna’s post from yesterday, but this was such a good idea, I wanted to link here too.

    Last week I posted about the Art*Music*Justice tour, but I didn’t realize that this video was available on YouTube. Good find, Jenna!

    Every fall our church focuses on missions for 2 Sundays in a row, with all kinds of various events on the days between. So with that in mind, I want to ask God what he wants for our family on a more international level.

    This is one of the videos shown at the concert, and I just loved it, in a very brokenhearted way.

    Incidentally, Sara Groves and her family will return to Rwanda in March with Food for the Hungry, and they are working on adopting an entire village through the contributions they get until then. They also gave an open invitation at the concert to anyone who wants to join the team.

    I’ll just insert the video now…

    Have a great weekend.

    [via All The Way Home]

    October 10, 2008 at 3:19 pm 10 comments

    I’m no economic expert, but…

    With all the talk of the economic crisis/downturn/recession/slump (insert your adjective of preference here), many people are talking about wanting to save money.

    Now many of you might already know this secret four-letter word, but for the rest of you, consider this a favor from me to you:


    Say it with me now: “ALDI!”

    Good job.

    Yesterday I found that I had not a single can of beef broth in my cupboards, which was the only thing I lacked to make Abraham’s favorite spaghetti sauce recipe. We have an ALDI within walking distance of our house (another way to save money!), so I thought I’d hike it over there and pick up a couple cans.

    Now, one thing that I consider an inconvenience about my ALDI is that they don’t take my debit card; I always have to pay with cash. And considering I never carry cash, I began the process of spare-change scrounging.

    I was able to collect about two dollars off my dresser, so I stuffed that into my pocket thinking, “That should be enough for 2 cans, right? Then I’ll have one for next time.”

    I get over to the store, find the broth, and check the price to make sure I have enough money. And much to my delight/shock… 39 cents. I think I did a triple take. Thirty-nine cents?! I was able to leave the store with $1.22 in my pocket!

    This is good economics, people. At my regular grocery store, I would have paid at least twice that amount. I can’t say I’d buy all my groceries there, but for pantry stuffs, they can’t be beat.

    To those of you without an ALDI in your neck of the woods during this time in our economy… God be with you.

    October 9, 2008 at 9:07 am 41 comments

    Art Music Justice Tour

    This week I had the privilege of attending the Art*Music*Justice Tour, a concert event featuring Derek Webb, Sara Groves, Charlie Peacock, Sandra McCracken, and Brandon Heath.

    The vision of the tour is to alert Christians to some of the justice issues going on worldwide, like slavery, poverty, human trafficking, etc. Their hope is for Christians to respond in loving, prayerful action to relieve some of the suffering worldwide, and be part of God’s story around the world.

    The music was awesome and the documentary clips were compelling without being manipulative (which was something I was a little nervous about beforehand). My soul was stirred to consider how our family should fit into God’s larger story.

    We’ve been pretty locked up with our pain this year, losing a child. And though that’s what God has brought into our life to live with right now, in this season, I had to wonder, what more does he want from us?

    Some highlights of the concert for me:

    • Watching husband and wife singing and playing together (Derek Webb & Sandra McCracken).
    • Hearing Sara Groves. I had never listened to her music before, and she was simply wonderful.
    • Sandra McCracken. I have liked her music for so many years, and it was so wonderful to hear her live. Though she has her own sound, of course, think of a Christian Patty Griffin if you need a comparison. I love folk music.
    • Being drawn into the stories and experiences presented in the videos they shared.
    • Getting to hang out on the tour bus afterward with Sandra McCracken! Yes, that’s right! My dear friend Jenna has been friends with Sandra since childhood, so was able to get us tickets to the show and get us into said tour bus after the show. So fun! We had a blast.

    If this tour is coming through your town, I highly recommend it.

    October 5, 2008 at 11:48 am 21 comments

    Is there a speech pathologist in the house?

    Yes, indeed there is.

    I thought it would be interesting to see if Orison could catch on to “th” productions in words. So recently while were riding in the car, I showed him where his tongue should go for “th words,” like thing, thumb, and three.

    He’s caught on with great gusto, as you will see.

    We don’t really do too much speech correction at this point. He’s only 3 for crying out loud! This was just an experiment that he’s enjoyed, so that’s why we went with it. If he were getting frustrated, I wouldn’t press the issue at all at this age.

    There are some words that I can’t bring myself to correct, even though I’m a speech pathologist. He still says “pupcake” for cupcake, “brezkist” for breakfast, and “the Carnells” for the Parnells (our tenants).

    I don’t want to teach him to say these words correctly, because if I did, I feel like I would be confirming the end of his toddlerhood.

    What words did your kids say “wrong” that you enjoyed tremendously?

    October 3, 2008 at 2:19 pm 92 comments

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