Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I'm Still Here

This week has been filled to the brim! Which I enjoy but leaves little room for writing and reading.

However, I couldn't go on with my day without showing you this:

The Boy had been wanting to make a Bantha craft that he had found on the net.

I helped him make sure the pieces were evenly cut, and I sewed the legs, lips, eyes and horns on.

The Boy sewed the rest.

By hand.

Which amazes me. He's no stranger to need and thread. He's made holsters, and Mithril (that is the special chain-mail shirt worn by Frodo, for those who aren't into Tolkien) and once he even made some chaps out of some old brown (faux) suede I had lying around.

He's crafty.

Which I wholly endorse.

Except when it comes to toy making.

If you are one of my long-time readers, you'll remember that crazy time a couple years ago when I was all into toy making. There were elephants, and lambs, robots, dolls and bunnies.


I had forgotten how difficult toy making can be with all their details.

In spite of all his hand sewn loveliness, the Birthday Bantha is born.

He will be a single Bantha.

And apparently, he's a flocker. I've been told that bantha's are usually kept in captivity for use in battle, but occasionally there are pods (are they pods?) that are flockers.

Ours is one of those....

After typing all this, I think I am worried about ourselves.

Anyway, what are two kids to do with extra bantha hair?

Tape hair to their faces and pose like a couple of thugs.

Yep. Thy look pretty thuggy don't they?

I am especially afraid of thugs with bunny ears.

This thug told me to post this picture:

He said it was artistic.

Bantha Hair Thug heard it here first.

Speaking of art...If you don't hear from me much in the next few days its because I am in the process of researching a machine that will help me in my artistic pursuit. I have been considering this for years, but only recently got the green light from The Mister.  Can you guess what it is?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Weekend Recap in Pictures

Good morning y'all!

I have to post quick this morning because we are down to one mouse in this house.

Computer mouse, that is.

And the kids will need to take the mouse to the other computer to do their math.

We had a good weekend....

It started with a "No School" pass, and birthday bagels at Brueggars:

Where he got to open the gift from his sister.

Then I went home and started to put together my first ever Lego cake.

Uh, blue frosting?  It looked good but I just couldn't eat it...I have the same problem with blue m&m's.

Later that evening he had the dinner of his choice: homemade waffles with whipped cream, and "real" bacon...(as opposed to turkey bacon...I don't often dig on swine...Its just not my thing.)

On Saturday as it drizzled and rained all day The Mister prepared the fire pit and I got all the fixin's prepared for the big party.

I worried a bit about the weather, which was completely wasted time...I had forgotten that fire is the love language of man. Rain or shine.

Not only did we have cake and ice cream, but then we had smores.

So the short story? We invited 13 children over to stand in the rain and play with fire. Then I filled them up with junk food, jacked them up with soda, cake and roasted sugar...and sent them home smelling of smoke and dripping wet.

Life is good when you're twelve!

Happy Monday!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Living His Dream: (The "Comment" That Turned Into A Post!)

Last week I accidently hijacked Whimzie (of Snoodling's ) comment section on her post entitled: Who Were You Born To Be?

Instead of being irritated at my post in her comments section, she has posted it for your viewing pleasure...

Click here to read it.

Happy Weekend!

PS: For my quiet readers who found this blog through True Campaign and Finding Balance , the comment I wrote in response to Whimzie's post has everything to do with my search for significance in this world...and I hope it encourages you to seek your significance in Truth!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Twelve Years Ago

Dear First Child,

You were the biggest surprise of our young marriage.

The gift I didn't know that I needed.

Twelve years ago from this very moment, I was fast asleep. Tucked in bed and unaware that in two and a half hours I would wake up, and my water would break.

I would call your dad and tell him to come home.

It was time.

By 6:30 that evening, after a day full of labor, you would arrive by c-section, with an adorable black eye to match your black hair.

Nine and a half pounds, and you were hungry.

Your dad and I were awestruck, as we held you; a dream come sooner than we had planned, but fulfilled in Perfect Timing.

Twelve short years ago...

Yesterday, as we walked through the piney woods of North Carolina, I was so proud of the young man you are becoming.

You wanted Kona the Wondermutt to come with us...just in case we might need protection.

You walked, with Kona, ahead of us, to swipe at cobwebs, so your sister and I wouldn't have to walk through them.

You patiently, carefully, taught your little sister how to cross the stream without falling in, or getting her new sneakers wet.

You held overgrown branches back so we wouldn't have to touch them.

You called out the muddy spots, and the dangerous spots; the places of beauty.

Some might pessimistically shake their heads and claim chivalry is dead.

They haven't met you.

Chivalry is defined as:

    1. The qualities idealized by knighthood, such as bravery, courtesy, honor, and gallantry toward women.

    2. manifestation of any of these qualities.

You are all these things, but your humble spirit makes all these qualities a hundred-fold more valuable.

Sweet Boy, you will always be my first born.

I'm tough on you.

I've learned from you.

I've made mistakes with you, but I will never forget that you are the surprise gift I am privileged to be given. 

You make me proud, though I can take no credit for who you are, or who you are becoming.

Today my prayer for you is the one I prayed for you over a decade ago:

"May the God who has been my shepherd
       all my life to this day,
 16 the Angel who has delivered me from all harm
       —may he bless (this) boy. "
          ~Genesis 48: 15-16

I love you,

(I was thinking about closing comments today, but instead I will leave them open...just in case you wanted to wish The Boy a Happy Birthday...)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Why I Pay My Kids in Monopoly Money

Last week I posted on housekeeping with the kids, and mentioned that I pay my kids their "allowance" in Monopoly Money.


Glad you asked!

You see, several years ago I decided I wanted to teach my kids the importance of money. So I made up a small chore list and gave them three piggy-banks each: one for savings, spending and church.

We had agreed on a certain amount per week. I think it was three dollars, but really its unimportant, because it only lasted about a month or two.

The problem is that I never have cash. I spend 98% of our money using a debit card. Every week I had to be sure that I had the exact cash for each kid, and then I had to check the chore list all the time and be sure that they had done their jobs, and so on and so forth.

So, I never really kept up.

This summer, while playing Monopoly Jr. with my kids I had an epiphany: pay your kids using this money.

I figured it would save me the trouble of finding one dollar bills every week, and I can use it to teach the kids a little bit of the "economics" of this household, while also learning some autonomy regarding spending.

So here is how I handle it:

Each child receives $4 a week on Monday. (Yes, they get paid in advance.) At the top of the stairs I have their daily schedules and their chore charts pinned to a board.

There are also two little envelopes that I place the money in each Monday morning.

If they do their jobs to the best of their ability, and without more than one reminder a day, then they keep all their money. BUT, this gives me a lot of room to teach them both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

For instance, a certain youngest child, who shall remain nameless, had a very difficult time understanding that money (of the real kind) doesn't belong on the floor, or in a shoe, or under the bed, or...well, you get the idea. I want her to learn that money has relevance in our life, not just to have it, but to use it well. To be (financially) responsible.

So, Rule #1 was born:  if I find it anywhere else than in the envelope, its mine (even if you had it all crumbled up in the mini-van last Thursday because you thought we might buy something, and forgot to bring it back inside, but you really meant to bring it back to the envelope). Finder keepers, losers weepers.

Rule #2: If I have to remind them to do their chores more than once, they owe me a dollar.

Rule #3: They are not to loan out  their Monopoly money to the sibling. You may give the other sibling money if you feel the need to donate to a cause (and this has happened with both children), but a gift is something that must be done without strings attached; it cannot be held over as collateral when the time suits you; and must be done without the expectation that the other will reciprocate.

Rule #4: (This was new rule added a couple of weeks ago, and honestly hasn't been entirely enforced) If  I find shoes, toys, or articles of clothing laying in the middle of the kitchen... school room... hallway... den... my office... the stairs ... any place that I must pick it up and deal with it, you owe me a dollar, or more, depending on how I feel at the moment.

At the end of the month, they may choose to do several things. They may go shopping, or they may save  their money. Or, when I am out shopping and they want to buy something they can pay me back in Monopoly cash, then they may buy it. Essentially, my bank becomes their ATM.

This is a win-win situation.  I don't have to feel irritated that I am spending my cash on junk from the dollar bin, and they learn that spending "just a dollar" on items they don't really want (and break before we get home), is like throwing money away.

This also helps me because my kids are at an age when the old ways of disciplining are less valuable. I am hoping that through the lesson of Economics, learned in the safety of this home, they will learn a valuable lesson for all of lifeYou can choose your actions, or you can choose your consequences... Generally, you can't have both.

Some of you may wonder about how we teach our kids about tithing.

I hesitate to write about it, because it can be a hot topic.

This is what works for our family, and yet, we understand that our philosophy isn't the end all-be all.

Here's the deal. We believe it is very important to tithe. We also believe our children need to learn the importance of generosity; that all good things come from the Lord: and that as we are given the opportunity to do good, we should (Gal 6:10).

However, the reality is, my kids have limited resources. We want to cultivate in them the desire to give of what they have, and right now they have a lot more time than money. So they might "do good" by writing to the Compassion child we have sponsored for 10 years in the Dominican Republic. Or they might visit someone in the hospital, or bring cookies to a neighbor, or serve tea to a friend. We want them to learn that giving should always be more than a required 10%. And sometimes, it might not have a financial value.

There will be a time in their life when they have to make their own decisions about giving. We want them to learn to give in the way the Lord leads them, not in what we make them do. Much of their learning will happen as they watch their parents.

At the end of their day, they will learn generosity by watching us. If my children are greedy, the consequences of my actions will be blatant.

That, is the very round and verbose nutshell, of why I pay my children in Monopoly Money.

Do you give your kiddos an allowance? Would love to know what works for your family!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ten Things That Make Me Happy

I'm feeling content today. I thought I should write it down, so two hours from now when I stub my toe and my outlook gets shaky, I can come back and remember...

1. Electricity. Our power was out for about 56 minutes today. I am truly a spoiled modern woman who enjoys (far to much) her spoiled modern ways.

2. Spelling: The kids are learning to spell words like distinguishingrelinquishing, and embellishment today. I don't know why I like spelling so much this year. I think its a sickness.

3. Homemade Chicken Soup with Rice: I love it so much I've eaten it three times this week.

4. Maurice Sendaks- Chicken Soup with Rice: If you haven't read this book in awhile, go get it off your shelf and read it again. My favorite month is November.

5. Aprons: I have a love of aprons. I've made one or two (or twenty), but its time for a new pattern. Especially since a lovely gal won an apron giveaway this summer and I have yet to make it. (Lauren, I haven't forgotten)

6. Quilts: I have never made a quilt, but I own several made by my mother and grandmother. I have had this pattern downloaded for at least a year. My mom had given me some Mary Engelbreit fabric years ago that I really wanted to use.

So, on Friday I began to cut a bunch of odd shaped scraps.

This is what those scraps look like today:

She's not the prettiest of little quilt tops, but she's my first, so I love her all the same.

7. My Man: He's exceedingly good to me. Oh, and he's handsome too.

8. Wednesday Night Date Night: I look forward to this evening every week. This week we plan to dine on spaghetti and french bread while sipping Zinfandel, right at our own kitchen table.

9. Memories: A couple weekends ago our family spent some time in a huge antique shop. I wasn't sure wether to be amused, or irritated that these old-school Hardee's cups were in an antique shop, since, you know, I had these cups in my day.

 I tried like crazy to find the original Yosemite Sam cup. The Mister had one as a kid but it was tragically broken. Someday....

10. Tween-agers: The Boy will be twelve by the end of the week. The Girl seems to literally be growing inches in the night.

There are some tween-age attitudes things I could live without, but I do love this older-but-not-too-old stage.  I had a crazy (but very "real") dream last night that I was pregnant. I woke up feeling grateful that it was just a dream. I do love a baby, but I'm grateful for this part of life too.

Now, tell me, what makes you happy?

Friday, September 18, 2009

What I Really Want

I've been thinking a lot this week about desiring God.

About filling that need inside of me that cries out for a Savior.

I've been thinking about how God knows me better than I know myself. He knows the ugly thoughts I have-- about myself, and others.

He knows all my feelings, all my wants, all my dreams, all my thoughts, all my failures, all my successes.

He knows my frustration, anger, and bitterness...He knows my every move.

He knows I long to fill spaces in my life with things I don't really want (or need)... though my flesh cries out to have them.

To some this may sound "personal".

It is.

Being known is always personal.

Several times this week I found myself in different parts of scripture, all with a common theme:

God knows who I really amand He loves me.

I also spent this week thinking on this prayer from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayer and Devotions.

Its speaks what my heart couldn't form the words to whisper.

Oh, that God will lift my head when my focus on Him is lost.

I cannot live without Him.


Teach me to pray.
   I confess that in religious exercises
      the language of my lips and the feelings
of my heart have not always agreed,
   that I have frequently taken carelessly upon
      my tongue a name pronounced above
   without reverence and humillity,
   that I have often desired things which
      have injured me,
   that I have depreciated some of my chief mercies,
   that I have erred both on the side of my hopes,
      and also of my fears,
   that I am unfit to choose for myself,
   for it is not in me to direct my steps.
Let thy Spirit help my infirmities,
   for I know not what to pray for as I ought.
Let Him produce in me wise desires by which
   I may ask right things,
     then I shall know thou hearest me.
May I never be importunate for temporal blessings,
   but always refer them to the fatherly goodness,
      for thou knowest what I need before I ask;
May I never think I prosper unless my soul prospers,
   or that I am rich unless rich toward thee,
   or that I am wise unless wise unto salvation.
May I seek first the kingdom and its righteousness.
May I value things in realtion to eternity.
May my spiritual welfare be my chief solicitude.
May I be poor, afflicted, despised and have
      thy blessing,
   rather than be successful in enterprise,
   or have more than my heart can wish,
   or be admired by my fellow-man,
      if thereby these things make me forget thee.
May I regard the world as dreams, lies, vanities,
      vexations of spirit,
   and desire to depart from it.
And may I seek my happiness in thy favour,
   image, presence, service.

*italic emphasis is mine

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Conversation with the Kids (or) Another Stinking Post About Coffee

I love it when the kids do things that make me laugh. 

Case in point, yesterday I was in need of an afternoon cup of coffee.

You see, I am trying to cut out the mid-morning cup of coffee in lieu of a mid afternoon cup of coffee. 

(It goes without saying that this all comes after the early morning cups of coffee.)

(Yes, I drink an ungodly amount of coffee.)

(But in my defense, the afternoon pot is only half-caff.)

As I way saying, yesterday I was hovering over the coffee pot wishing it to hurry up already  getting ready to drink a lovely, warm, cup of goodness when I could hear my kids laughing in the schoolroom. 

They began hollering Mom, this is just like you! You've got to come see this!!

They had found the Bean Me game on the Garfield website. Its basically a progression of the ornery cat as he goes from a grouchy waking-up self to his java-jolted self.

We had a good laugh, and then I spanked them and sent them to their room for telling lies.

(Just kidding. Please don't send anonymous hate comments.)

So go check out what I am really like behind this bloggy veil.

And for the record, I know I am no Limp Latte, but I assure you, I cannot possibly be a Blaster Blend either.

Click away my friends: Bean Me.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Put Another Pot of Coffee On: Its a Random Post

The sky is dark today, and I woke up with a headache.

And yet my heart is light.

This day calls for a second pot of java.

I have nothing on today's agenda except school, laundry,  and calling my "little" brother.

Yesterday was his birthday. I thought of him all day, but had not one-second to harass call him. So I am going to do that today and tell him I love him.

Have you noticed my excessive use of the strike-through? Blogger has (finally!) added this fabulous, fun feature. In the past, when I wanted to strike through, I would take the words I wanted to cross out and type them into a Word document, and then cross the word out. Then I would copy and paste the whole thing back into the blog template.

A process that wasn't always worth the effort. Now I can strike through as much as I want.

I am so excited because I ordered these today. I cannot wait to get my hands on them.  I am envisioning that hot cocoa cup in blue with "LVCG" embroidered on the front. With felt coffee in it, of course.

The little felt deer in that kit reminds me...

Two mornings ago these sweet little fawns came to our yard to play.

One was just tiny, no taller than a german shepherd and the other was slightly bigger, but still dappled in spots.

I was able to ever-so-slowly open the storm door to the front of the house and snap a few pics before a lawn mower was started and they ran off to the woods.

Let's see...what else can I tell you?


Its raining now.

I do hope to get through my Google Reader today. I am REALLY behind on my blog reading. I just checked and as of 10:15 a.m. I have 396 posts to read. Not too bad. Really. Right?

OH! and MOST importantly!!!

Save the date! I am organizing a Meet and Greet for local (and those who are nearly local!) bloggers on Saturday, October 24, 2009. I am still working on where we will meet, but there was enough interest for that date and I want to proceed! I will post within a week or two with more information.

OK, that wraps up the random portion of todays post.

Talk to me: Tell me something random from your little corner of the world.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Housekeeping and Homeschooling

When I started school several weeks ago I received comments and emails asking if I would share my schedule with y'all.

As a general rule, I have learned that sharing my schedule with others can be dangerous. Often the minute I say I do something on schedule, it will change.

However, I also know that last year (my first to homeschool) I was always curious of how others ran their home and school.

Today I am going to talk about housekeeping.

Before homeschooling I did it all. I enjoy a neat and tidy home. I like things clean, clutter-free, and comfortable. I have a hard time relaxing when I have a lot of clutter.

So you can imagine my dilemma when all the homeschooling books I read said the number-one complaint of homeschooling (after math) was the keeping of the house.

Most homeschooling moms (in these books, and honestly, in real life) had learned to live with a less-than -tidy house.

I, being but a young grasshopper, set my heels in the ground and resolutely announced that "that wouldn't be me!"

Famous last words.

By December of last year I was hit over the head with the realization that I couldn't do it all. I couldn't clean, cook, shop, keep up with an acre of yard, and do school, all by myself. I also realized that there was no shame in that admission.

Something had to give.

First, I needed to own up to the fact that my need for order isn't just about being able to feel relaxed. It's also because I care too much about what others think.

We often have unannounced drop-by visitors (at least twice a week), so my vigilance about keeping things in order was not always about liking things neat, as much as it was about wanting those who come in to my home to think I have it all together...which isn't the truth.

I realized that I had done my children (and quite frankly our family) a great disservice.

Although I was always taking opportunities to teach them value of hard work, I had never taught my kids the value of house work.

Like many things, talking about hard work is never quite as valuable as doing hard work!

In the past my philosophy had been that everyone had a job here in the La Vida Casa. The Mister worked. The kids went to school. I took care of the house.

I liked it this way because I'm very efficient at house cleaning. I had a schedule. A routine. Instead of taking the time to teach my children how to fold clothes, or load a dishwasher, or sweep the front hall, it was easier to just do it correctly, it my way, my job.

Thus began lessons in Home Economics.

I started with teaching them how to use the washer and dryer. They now do all their laundry, from hamper to drawer, completely on their own.

Then we moved to training in the kitchen.

The Mister taught them how to scrub a bathroom.

I taught them how to sweep the floors.

Of course, training is different than telling.

In a perfect world I would like to just tell my kids to do something and have them go do it...and do it well.

Reality demands that I go with them. Show them. And two days later? Show them again.

That is the hard part for me.

Wether you homeschool or not, the value of teaching our kids how to keep a home cannot be measured. It not only teaches them the satisfaction of setting to a task and accomplishing it, which feels good, but it can also help build up our home and family, as well as teach skills they will certainly need in the future.

Oh, and before I forget...I have to tell you that I have learned to live (and work) with this truth: my whole house isn't going to be spotless all at the same time. Nor will things be done the way I would do them. Which means if our plans change (and they often do) and the hallway doesn't get swept on Tuesday, then it doesn't get swept. This also means that the silverware won't be put away the way I like and the pots and pans may have new places in the kitchen (within reason!) each week.

This also means that when a friend drops by, my house may be a disaster, but in the wise words of  Gretchenwe do actually live here. 

So here it is: The Daily Chore Chart. These  jobs are the ones they get paid to finish. They get paid four Monopoly dollars a week. (you can click on it to see the full size)

Yes, I really pay them in Monopoly money...but that's a post for next week!

If you have tips on how to get your kids more actively engaged in housework, or tips on how to teach kids (from preschooler to high schooler) about helping out in the house, or you just want to share your ideas, let me know in the comments!

Happy Tuesday!

Cake Reality...Just So You Know

It wasn't a three-layer like I wanted, and the fondant was weird: dry, and yet sticky.

Oh, and also, in an attempt to be "all cakes for all people," I had made a tier of vanilla, a tier of chocolate, and a tier of chocolate-vanilla swirl.

I hadn't even thought of how hard it would be to keep chocolate-brown crumbs out of snow white frosting and fondant.

There was 30 minutes of time when I seriously debated scrapping it all to the garbage can and going to Costco for a cake.

I didn't, but I wanted to...

Anyway, the bottom layer of cake was all wonky (it had cracked a bit when I pulled it out of the pan), and it couldn't hold the weight of the top two tiers. It was slowly leaning more and more to the left as gravity played its hand.

There was a moment when I looked at that crazy, imperfect, sinking ship of a cake, and said to The Mister, "None of my ideas ever work out the way I want them to."

He set his eyes on me with a look I couldn't read.

I wasn't sure if he was going to laugh, or send me to my room.

Calmly he said, "That is the most ridiculous thing that has ever come out of your mouth."

I sat with my arms crossed and my mind in the pit.

He sat with me.

Our eyes both intently focused on that lopsided, fondant covered, heavily weighted, "failure" of a cake.

He said, "You know the top two layers aren't bad, don't scrap the whole thing, see what you can do with those."

And he left.

Of course, in my head I had all sorts of excuses as to why it would be impossible.

It would never work.

What does he know about cakes?

What do I know about cakes?

Why did you think you were able to do any of this?

Then the real punch in the gut. The Girl walked through the kitchen and said,

"Mom, it doesn't have to be perfect."


Yes it does. She's right, it really doesn't.

So I made my one-less-than-than-three-tier cake, thanks to the encouragement of The Mister, and words from a nine year old that brought me back to reality.

The lesson learned in the making was bigger than I anticipated.

And yet, it was still the same old lesson: The outward appearance is often not what it seems. 

Why am I telling you this?

Because its important.

When eighteen people on the blog, and many others who saw the cake in-real-life, comment on how amazing it is, and how "crafty" you are, and compare you to the likes of Martha Stewart (even in jest), I want you to know the truth.

I struggle.

This weekend it was about cake, but often its more than cake. Its about life. From body image to child rearing, and all things in between, I struggle.

I want you to believe that my life looks as rosy as this cake... I want you to think I have all my ducks in a row. That I am "good" in all I do!

But reality doesn't often look the way I think it should look, or the way I want it to look, and sometimes I don't handle it well. Even when the outside looks all-right, the inside might be all wonky.  It might be sinking under the weight of a fruitless chase for "perfection."

I often need Truth tellers in my life.

I know you need that too.

I brought that wonky third-layer to the shower, and put it in the fridge, in case we needed more cake to serve.

No one ever saw it, but I knew it was there. A sweet reminder that I might be able to hide my imperfect ways, but if I throw them out, I'll never learn to overcome the things that hinder me...


PS: I read this post last week, which came to my mind while writing this post.

PPS: To The Mister...Thank you for being a Truth teller. You have sat with me at many "tables" in our life, and helped me sort through things much bigger than cake. Things much more difficult, and much more important....and yet, you offer truth all the same. I appreciate you. xoxox

Friday, September 11, 2009

Of Roses and Fridays

Did you hear that great sigh of relief last night around 8:30pm Eastern time?

That was me finishing the last stitch on the embroidery for the Chuppah!

Oh, I am so relieved.  Next week I have some friends coming over to help sew the main pieces all together (they also must be done by hand in order to preserve the old materials). I may have to make one more quilt square, but that part is relatively easier than hand monogramming!

I hope I don't sounds as if I am complaining. I've enjoyed every stitch. Its probably the most extensive project I have ever done, so I am just really, well, proud of it. I think the bride and her family will be happy with the results. I'll be sure to post a picture as soon as its entirely finished!

However, early yesterday morning I needed to get started on the cake I am making for the bridal shower on Sunday.

I wanted to have the fondant made before the kids got up and I had to teach school.

The Boy actually got up and decided that he would take pictures. "For the blog", he said.

And although I was void of make-up and contact lenses, and still in workout clothes and an apron, I decided to let him. Plus, my hands were covered in fondant so, really, what could I do?

We laughed together when he showed me these photos. He said he was gonna call this set "Concentration" based on this photo.

He's a funny guy, that kid.

I mixed white fondant for the cake, and tinted some to make leaves and roses, but I wasn't in love with the texture for the roses. I had heard (primarily in my fave show The Cake Boss ), that gum paste would be a better medium for flowers, but I have always been to afraid to try.

Yesterday, I was brave.

I mixed up some gum paste, tinted it pink and started to make flowers.

Oh! I will never go back to fondant flowers. I like the leaves in fondant because they keep malleable and I will be able to bend them a bit when I decorate the cake....but really, if you have been avoiding gum paste, don't. You'll be addicted to all the cool things you can make!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

One Year

It is so strange that a year ago this week the La Vida Family was making its trek from Arizona to North Carolina on the most recent of cross country moves.

Remember the guitar playing packing man? Or what I chose to assert my control over  had to do   immediately upon arrival?

Good times.

Its funny how looking back can bring memories in which the tough parts are shaded so only the happiest parts shine through.

I was looking through the archives trying to figure out what day exactly we had landed here in God's Country, and I was thinking about all the expectations I had upon my arrival.

I had plans.

Big plans.

I thought for sure I would get here and slide-on into life as it had been before.

Only things had changed.

Instead of teaching music three mornings a week. I was teaching full time in my dining-room-turned-school-house.

Instead of having time for the gym, and throwing lunches with beautifully set tables and sewing, or baking, and blogging, I was always playing catch-up. Never being able to get one step ahead.

I didn't feel like myself.

I was fighting against all that was different and new, but until recently I hadn't realized it.

Back in the day, when The Mister and I left for our first duty station 13 years ago, I was given a great piece of advice from a woman I greatly admired. She said, "Kellie, it takes a full year to get settled when you move somewhere new."

I have kept that little bit of advice in my pocket each time we have moved.

Every time I got lost. Every time I had to find a new doctor. Every time I had to memorize a new grocery store. Or meet a new friend. Or feel like I had no order in my life, I would remember that a year from now, all this crazy newness will feel like order again.

I didn't expect that to happen when I moved back to North Carolina. After all I was moving right back to the same neighborhood. The same street. The same house.

It should have been the same!

But it wasn't.

And now, sitting one year away, I'm glad.

Its different, but its so much better than what my limited vision could see.

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes....

One year.

Fully lived, one blessed change at a time, and I lived to tell about it.

Life is good.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

All Creatures Great and Small

In this three-minute break from all things busy, I am sitting down to blog while a cup (or two) of coffee is brewing in the kitchen.

I want to write about all sorts of asunder things, which carry very little importance. 

I want to talk about the weather, and the sales, and the typical water cooler topics.

I want to write something funny or witty or profoundly deep, but instead I will tell you about our long weekend.

We took a trip to Asheville that was both bitter and sweet. 

Its taste lingers in my heart.

The short story is that our puppy Sophie now lives with a wonderful semi-retired couple in Alabama. They met us in Asheville on Saturday to pick her up.

Here is the long story:

After nearly a year with that sweet little Maltese we realized that we couldn't keep up with all the care she needed. She was smart, but needed a lot more training time than we could give her. 

I could go on and on about the hardships we faced with this sweet puppy, but I won't. Just know that if we could have made this situation different, we would have...

This decision was led by The Girl who felt stressed by all the things that had to be done: early morning potty breaks, grooming, feeding, walking, playing, picking up dog "accidents", and trying with all her effort to train Sophie in basic commands.

Before I say another word I want to say this: The Girl went above and beyond the call of duty. I am ever so proud of her.
It was too much for a nine year old.

She tried with all her heart...and was more than overwhelmed. 

After a couple weeks of deliberation (and a last ditch effort at puppy school), The Girl bravely decided the right decision would be to find someone who could give more than just love to our puppy. 

Sophie needed someone who could give her constant training as well.

I decided my first course of action would be to send out an email. I wasn't sure how I was going to find just the right home for Sophie, so I did what I do when I feel completely at a loss, I prayed.

I sent a quick email to three bloggers that I thought might have some animal-friendly connections. One of those bloggers was TheCarpoolQueen

What I didn't know was that I had typed her email address incorrectly in the "to" box and sent it to a complete stranger who lives in Kentucky.

A complete stranger, whose parents live in Alabama, and had just lost their beloved sixteen-year old maltese, Kapi the month before. 

I hadn't realized the "mistake" until this (very nice) complete stranger emailed me a few days later and asked how I got her email address.

Divine intervention, is all I could say.

And I really believe its so....

God cares for His creation. 

He cares about the sparrows . 

He cares about Sophie. 

He cares about a couple in Alabama. 

He cares for you...

And he's caring for the tender hearts of this family, who has done what is hard, but what is right.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Linky Love

Friday mornings are my favorite....such anticipation for the weekend!

Especially this weekend as we have some fun things planned.

My personal plan includes some reading. I finished my last book (a Biography on Harriet Tubman, she was an AMAZING woman!), and my nightstand was empty. Crazy, I know.

I went to the library yesterday and got The Lovers Knot, The Kite Runner, and Matters of Faith.

(I know I'm the last person on planet earth that has yet to read The Kite Runner.)

Thankfully Gretchen had those books listed on her Five Star list (on the right have side of her blog), other wise my weekend would be totally boring.

I had asked a BUNCH of people for their book recommendations this summer, but failed to write them down. BIg mistake on my part, since I hardly remember my own name from day to day, much less authors and titles. 

So if you have a book that you think I would enjoy, let me know!

Maybe you have read the books listed above.... well if you have a daughter than may I suggest this article?

And if you need a laugh, may I suggest this video?

And if you want to be a part of something fun on October 25th, please visit here!

Happy weekend!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Calling all NC Bloggers

I have an idea....

Lets have a party!!

I am seriously considering putting together a get-together for all interested NC bloggers (or those in close proximity that would like to come as well.)

I am looking at Saturday, October 25 as a possible meeting date. 

If this is something that would interest you please comment below.

If you read other NC based blogs, please pass around this info and see if we can't generate some interest.

If you know of someone who might want to sponsor this party. Let me know!

This is still in the early stages, so if there is interest I will give details as soon as I gather information!

Looking forward to see what comes of this!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

On My Honor

There were two reasons I wanted to be a Girl Scout as a fourth grader:

1. The girls got to wear their green sash to school once a week. I thought that made them special.

(Do you remember the green sash? The one that ran from the right shoulder to the left hip, and held beautifully colored badges that looked like jewels on a crown.)

2. They served snacks at the meeting.

Understandably, in my young and impressionable mind, fashion and food was  good reason to join such a great organization. 

However, disillusionment came soon enough.

Our troop met in the school cafeteria shortly after the dismissal bell rang. I can still remember the smell; a mix of school lunches and sweaty kids lingered in the air. 

Oh, that first meeting started out so well! We learned the pledge and promise, sang Make New Friend But Keep The Old, and of course, had the coveted snack. 

All was right in the world.


You can imagine my disappointment when the troop leader handed me my sash, completely devoid of jewel-colored badges, along with what was called a Badge Book.

Apparently, those sashes didn't come with the badges. One had to earn them. 

By working. 


I sat on the bed that night flipping through the book trying to figure out which badges were earned by looking cute and eating snacks.

There wasn't one.

In spite of these obstacles, I did enjoy my year at being a Girl Scout. With the exception of the summer Girl Scout camp. I didn't enjoy that. But that is a post for another time.

After fourth grade I moved to another school and that was the end of my days as a Girl Scout.

Yesterday, The Girl, also a fourth grader, walked into her first Juniors Girl Scout meeting. She learned the pledge and promise, sang "Make New Friends, But Keep The Old", learned a "secret" hand shake.  

She wasn't concerned about snacks (they didn't have one), and she already knew her green vest (her troop wears a vest instead of a sash) would be a blank slate in which to earn a beautiful patchwork of badges. 

She is very excited about all the fun she and her troop has ahead of them.

I got a little misty as I watched the leader with a group of ten girls, sitting together under a tree in the beautiful fall-like weather, talking of camping trips and service projects. The girls faces were lit up happily, throughly enjoying their time together.

I got excited about the things she'll learn as she works together with her troop mates. 

Most of all, I am glad that six months from now I won't have to go searching for a Girl Scout in the snackiest time of the year: Cookie Time.

Cuz, really, for me, its still all about the snacks.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

An Open Letter to the Season of Fall

La Vida Dulce
My Little Corner of the
World Wide Web

September 1, 2009

Dear September,

Hello and welcome back!

This week for school I gave my students the task of writing a friendly letter. So, I am writing to you.

Its on this day that I am filled with hope. 

This first of days in the months that end in -er are some of my favorite days of the year. 

Yesterday, I could feel the twinges of fall beginning as the eve of your arrival danced on the breeze...the air was cooler, and, as if you have already begun to wave your wand of change, some of the leaves on the trees are preparing to turn gloriously red-ish.

Every year I am surprised by how good you smell, and last night, as I walked outside one last time to say goodbye to August and those lovely days called summer, I caught a teasing whiff of the sweet goodness you bring when you finally make the choice to stay.

Before I lived in this sweetest of southern states, I used to know your scent by an orange colored candle I would pull out from under the bathroom sink every year. 

Who knew that "Fall-Time" was a real-life smell? 

I don't need that candle anymore. I just open the windows, and fall comes in.

What else do I love about this first day of this great month (and the months to come)? 

Well, you bring the celebration of the birth of my first child, the beauty of Gods creation in the best of colors, the beginning of soup season.

And craft season. 

You bring the opportunity to start drinking more hot beverages, and eating breads that are ladled with spices. 

You bring apples with caramel.

You bring warmth, and charm, and the ability to hike without bugs.

September, you're the beginning of a great time. 

I love you so....

The CoffeeGal