Friday, October 29, 2010

Couples Paint Night- A Pair of Pears!

Tonight Sweetie and I had a different kind of date night. We went to a painting class!
We each started with a blank canvas... and after mixing some colors, we began to see shapes, which amongst the nervous laughter in the room from the other couples.. started to turn into pears. Most of us thought our personal one looked like say: a peanut, a gourd, or a potato!
But as we added more colors and shading.. it turned into a pear! Towards the end she had us all put down our paintbrushes, and step back from our painting. Then she told us to sit in our partners seat. We painted the little area where the stem starts on the pear, then we got to go back to our painting! It was funny how many spouses "fixed" what their other half painted!
Here is the finished product! We both had fun!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I'll take a moment here to focus on a ray of sunshine before I address the little raincloud in our neighborhood. Our neighborhood is pretty unique in that we all communicate. We help one another with various projects, borrowing tools, holiday cookouts and various get togethers. We have attended funerals together and celebrated births and graduations together also! So, when a problem happens, the group gets together and helps the one who needs it. We have had a suicide, death, and job loss where everyone pooled their money to help this family stay in their home through the holidays. So, bottom line.. its a great neighborhood.
However we have a child quickly bypassing "ugly behavior" and living/acting out as the bully.
"Bully: A person who is habitually cruel or overbearing, especially to smaller or weaker people."  This is Webster's Dictionary definition of what it means to be a bully. In the last month or so, ugly actions have ooozed their way into our neighborhood.
There is a family that has severe issues going on which unfortunately are affecting the rest of us. Their son, for one. He constantly tries to divide the neighborhood boys against each other. He creates all sorts of turmoil, throwing bicycles and ballcaps into the pond, calling everyone names from out in the street, and as of late, some small theft and destruction of property. 
When he is approached about this behavior, or caught in the act, (as I was able to do), the explanation we get out of said child is that he has "anger issues and is looking for a way to vent."  Sidenote: I have a suggestion to give him a way to vent, its called work. Something productive to do with his time! This boy suffers from lack of parental attention, and so the rest of us in the neighborhood are dealing with this child.
Earlier this week, I came home from work to find several of my potted plants on the back porch broken, (just one pot out of the bunch is broken), and lying on the ground. There had been no storms, no winds. Then came news from our youngest that the bully was mad at me for not letting him come over to play so he snuck into our backyard and destroyed a few things. (he couldn't come play because our boys don't get to have other children over to play unless an adult is home, or a neighbor can hang out and keep everyone safe, our boys have to have their homework done first, and several afternoons are spent involved in various after school activities).  At first, I just went out back and cleaned up, a variety of emotions swirling in my mind. After all, Brian didn't see this bully do this, but after checking with other parents, they didn't witness this act either. So until I have proof, I can do nothing.
There is a saying that it takes a  village to raise a child. I believe that is true. Sweetie and I can't watch the boys activities all the time, so we rely on the parents of the boys they play with to enforce rules upon them while on their property. If the boys can't behave, they don't get to play. We have sent other children home, as ours have been sent back home themselves.
Bullies today are such a different sort than in the past. Most disagreements that I recall were settled before/ after school, then everyone played together later that same evening or that week. Today, the world is different, with bombings and shootings being played out on our nightly news. With this difference we must be active parents, neighbors, and friends.
In this situation one parent is absent, and the other? Well she doesn't want to deal with her children's actions, so she just gives excuses and nothing gets done. With some direction from the rest of us, this bully can learn to deal without hurting others, or their property and become a working member of society. Until then, I will commit to not only being watchful and involved, but also praying protection for the boys.

Pumpkin Patch 2010

Sweetie and I have taken the boys to the pumpkin patch since Cory first turned 1 in North Carolina.
Depending on age there are varying things we could do. The first couple of years we just took family photo's amongst the pumpkins. Then as Cory and Brian got bigger they would be tall enough to stick their faces in various farm style cutouts, take a hay ride, go dunking for apples, and feed the animals (when there were animals), ect.
The last several years have been so much fun, each one increasing what we can do, or let them go do on their own. My favorite has to be pumpkin picking. Each boy has been allowed to pick whatever size, shape, or color of pumpkin they want. The only rule is that they have to be able to carry it to the car. This year the pumpkins ranged from 18 to 20 pounds each!
Yesterday was Sasha, our rat terrior's first pumpkin patch. She had to stay in the car while we went through the corn maze though as pets weren't allowed.
We took pictures and explored the maze. Now we need to carve the pumpkins!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Time for Sleep!

Time is flying by anymore it seems. There just doesn’t seem to be enough of it for me to get done what I need to get done. If Sweetie was sitting here reading this as I type he would say that my definition of need is much different than his, and probably yours also.

When I was a child, time moved along SO slowly, or at least that was my perception. Today? I can’t keep up with it. I’ve been working on time management and narrowing down what I commit myself and the family to. Learning to say No has been a big obstacle for me, until I looked over the schedule and saw how much of our time was busy doing things that while important, would manage to go on without us. However, working through my schedule I still have quite a few things that I need to trim off my list.

One thing I need to add more of to our whole families list is sleep. I recently read a study that over 73% of Americans don’t get the sleep that they need to function! What? Here is a basic chart showing what each of us needs based on our age.

Sleep requirements -

Newborns (0-2 months) 12 - 18

Infants (3 months to 1 year) 14 - 15

Toddlers (1 to 3 years) 12 - 14

Preschoolers (3 to 5 years) 11 - 13

School-aged children (5 to 12 years) 10 - 11

Teens and preteens (12 to 18 years) 8.5 - 10

Adults (18+) 7.5 – 9

I value sleep a whole lot more these days. It hasn’t always been that way. I remember the red and blue sleep mats in kindergarten and how my friend Stacy and I would giggle and make faces back and forth instead of sleeping. I remember home quiet time/nap time as a child. I fought did fight that. Mom liked quiet time in the house, and my sister and I didn’t. Once I talked her into letting me take a book to read for quiet time I settled just fine, sometimes actually falling asleep. It worked for her as I was quiet and resting, and out of her hair. It worked for me as I was NOT sleeping but got to read.

That was a few years ago. Being an adult has its privileges, one of them being, you don’t have anyone telling you that you must go to bed, or take a nap NOW. We get the choice of when we rest and how much. So to me this is a catch 22 scenario. It’s a good thing and it’s not a good thing. We now have to be good stewards of our time and make sure we give ourselves unwinding time, and plenty of sleep!

How much sleep are you missing out on? Ya know, a cousin of Sweetie’s recently wrote a blog on how their family turned the TV off for one night a week. She also shared about how much more talking they did to one another, and how much more they got done. Isn’t it crazy that sometimes technology isn’t helping, but actually hurting us? That’s another thought! So, let’s turn off our TV’s, silence our cell phones, shut down our computers and GO TO SLEEP!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sleeping in a Church Pew

So, have you been guilty of sleeping in or on the church pew on Sunday mornings? Well, when you are a guest at our home, you get to do just that!  In the meantime, our oldest son gets to sleep in a bed made out of an old church pew!
We have a friend that is a recycler on so many levels. And when he noticed a church pew was getting thrown away, he was on it - and had that broken pew loaded in the back of his truck. Now, the next best thing he did was call me and tell me what he was doing. Yes, I was excited! I love things that are refurbished and used as something else! (ever heard the saying, "one man's trash is another's treasure?" it applies here)
So my handy friend got busy making a  bed out of the pew. Before I show you a picture of the finished product I want to share the background to this story with  you. 
 I truly enjoy spending time with my friend and his wife as they are very resourceful, and I feel there is a lot to be learned from this lifestyle. For instance when I visit their home, I always find some new idea, or new use for a item that finished its purpose as one thing and now is getting to be used somewhere else. For example they don't have an ordinary paper towel holder in their kitchen, no - what they use is an old pair of iron ice tongs (super neat). There is an old screen door, paint peeling and all that seperates the kitchen from the dining area. In the living room there are end tables that are made from recycled windows; he even put hinges on them so his wife can store magazines or other memorabilia inside that you can see, but still have the glass to set a drink on. There is a table also made out of a longer window that is serves as both a coffee table and a shadow box of their childrens school pictures and other trinkets. Our friend is quite the handyman! Here is a picture of Cory's pew bed.
See how fun it is to recycle? On the front of the footboard there is the place to put your hymnal and your communion cup! So far this has only been in our home a couple of weeks, and it has quickly become quite the conversation piece!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Up..up..UP to Chimney Top!

     Sweetie and I got to spend an adventurous weekend with our small Bible study group this past weekend in Gatlinburg, TN. This is truly a beautiful area, and if you haven't been to TN, or its mountain area, you will be impressed with its beauty and the breathtaking views.
      I will start out with a little background here, this is a group of largely 20ishers and a couple of early 30 year olds. (FYI: Sweetie and I are late 30's)We knew going into this last year when we made our year commitment to these folks it wouldn't be without its share of drama and exciting moments. We have had a lot of both, and don't regret a minute. These guys and gals are an inspiring group. We let them talk us into going hiking early Saturday morning.
First off, "early" to a 20isher is 10 am. I was up making them breakfast at 830.  The mumbling amongst themselves only lasted until the smell of bacon, biscuits, and farm fresh eggs wafted through the air caught their noses.
     On the way to Chimney Top we chatted about the hike. Here is what the brochure said: "Chimney Tops Trail - 1700 ft. up - 4 miles round trip - Strenuous) The trail crosses bridges over a cascading mountain stream and through virgin forest to the Chimney Tops, a rocky outcropping at the summit. A level path leads along a tree-covered ridge and, after negotiating some large boulders and tree routes, the large rock mass of Chimney Tops looms before you. An exciting scramble takes you to the top (not advised if you don’t like heights).You are greeted by an awe-inspiring 360-degree panorama of forested mountain slopes stretching away into the distance."

     We didn't realize how much of that was up. I mean like climbing up, up. If I am brave enough to do this again, I will spend more time stretching, as I certainly stretched muscles that haven't stretched in awhile and they are still screaming at me. For my readers benefit, only one of the group had actually made this climb, an energetic Army officer with a consistant smirk on his early 20's face. (Now I know why he was smirking)
According to him, he generally jogged up the mountain. (slight eye roll and smirk from me now) But since he had the group he would walk it with us.
     The first mile was a typical hike, stepping over logs, and occasionally walking across a wooden bridge that crossed rushing water. (looking at the water made me wish I had gone white water rafting instead). As we headed into the second mile of this hike, Sweetie and I moved from the middle to the rear of the group, as one of us wanted to stop for a few minutes and catch our breath. The overall blessing to this whole experience was that it was a crisp 59 degrees when we started and only reached a high of 63 by the time we were finished.

In the second mile the track gets more rugged and an unrelenting, and the steep climb begins. (Steep meaning placing ones foot firmly on the ground and reaching with your hands to pull yourself up, placing your opposite foot in a nook or cranny and repeating until you are able to stop and give your body time to sweat)Fortunately, after 20 minutes or so the gradient eases up, even descending for a short time. The path is now eroded and very narrow in places. In many places the earth was wet and muddy, presenting us with a slippery slope. God and I had many conversations up and down that mountainside. (esp. with these signs)

We passed several folks going down, some sharing their various words of wisdom and advice. As time went on and we kept winding up the mountain, the jokes started flowing about how the slow ones will keep the bears busy so the rest can escape. Mountain climbing humor at its best I suppose. While we never saw any bears, we heard that there were some you could see once on top of the mountain.
As we got to the top, the trail stops so you can look out over the valley. It was beautiful. However, this was not good enough for the majority of our group. They wanted to go to the very top and literally sit on top of the mountain. This was allowed, but not advised. There was a warning as you can see in the above picture showing us a picture of stick man falling off the cliffs. Once all the 'pride' talk subsided, it was then decided a select few of us were brave enough to make the climb. The rest would stay at the bottom and pray for us.

See? We made it- all the way up - as far up as one could go! I generally don't mind heights when there is a bar to hold onto or a safety harness involved. But since I had neither, I clung to the rock ledges and enjoyed the view. I didn't spend much time up there though, enough to get the full panoramic view, look for bears, then take a couple of pictures. The smirking Army officer kindly went down the top of the mountainside in front of me, and was there to lend a hand, while Sweetie kindly escorted me down from behind.
I appreciate our group for the adventure and in some cases, helping me stretch myself to accomplish something I didn't set out to do, overcome my fear of climbing out to the ledges of the mountain top called Chimney Top!

Monday, October 4, 2010


“Class never runs scared. It is sure-footed and confident, and it can handle whatever comes along. Class has a sense of humor. It knows that a good laugh is the best lubricant for oiling the machinery of human relations. Class never makes excuses. It takes its lumps and learns from mistakes. Class knows that good manners are nothing more than a series of small sacrifices and minor inconveniences. Class bespeaks an aristocracy unrelated to ancestors or money. Some extremely wealthy people have no class at all, while others who are struggling to make ends meet are loaded with it. Class is real. You can't fake it. Class is comfortable in its own skin. It never puts on airs. Class never tries to build itself up by tearing others down. Class is already up and need not attempt to look better by making others look worse. Class can walk with kings and keep its virtue and talk with crowds and keep the common touch. Everyone is comfortable with the person who has class because he is comfortable with himself. If you have class, you've got it made. If you don't have class, no matter what else you have, it won't make up for it.” anonomyous

I found this quote and just loved it, so I felt I would share.