Sunday, December 19, 2010

Life at our house.

The colorful lights on our Christmas tree are glowing in the semi-darkness of our living room.  The tree is enormous, so much bigger than it looked in the parking lot of the grocery store where we bough it.  I think it doubled in size on the way home.  It's a gorgeous blue spruce that makes me a little sad that it's only going to be beautiful a few weeks longer. 

When we first were married I loved decorating our tree with the ornaments from our wedding.  All burgundy and gold and green.  Gold bows and white lights looked so pretty and together.  Over the last twelve Christmas's (we didn't even have a tree our first year in our home, but we had two at our wedding!) we've added childish ornaments.  Handmade angels, snowmen, stars, and a special ornament picked out each year for each of the girls.  That makes up a lot of ornaments.  None of them match, but they are all a fun memory of a year gone by.  This year thanks to a good friend the girls and I have an ornament purchased at Disney, in remembrance our family vacation last year.  (The one I wish we were experiencing again! lol)

On the top of the tree is my daughter's red angel.  She loves it.  It fits, so it's there.  My gorgeous angel with brocade and gold lace is too tall with this tree to fit. 

On our coffee table are not one but two nativity scenes all with the glass figures centered around the baby in the manger.  The angel, my tree topper angel is looking down on all of them. 

There are five stockings strewn around the room.  My youngest is so curious as to what I will put in hers and what I will put in daddy's and can she help? (no, lol)  There are gifts already wrapped and under the tree and I have more in my room waiting to be wrapped.  It's a bit of a mess out here and I'm too tired to clean it up right now.

So blessed. 

My three beautiful girls are watching television with their daddy. They are cuddled around him on our bed.  I think now it's Myth Busters.   My youngest was out here in the living room with me for awhile, playing game on my phone. 

Thirteen years ago I dreamed of today and had no idea what it would really be like.  It's not what I hoped, not what I expected.  Rarely are the things God gives me actually what I thought I wanted.  Sometimes it's better, and sometimes I'm disappointed.  But for better or worse, this is where we are today, now.  Where will I sit thirteen years from now? My heart trips as I think of that and I push the thought aside.  I don't want to know. I just want to enjoy today and wait and see what tomorrow brings.

Thirteen years ago today was the last day of my life as Sara Burks.  Thirteen years ago tomorrow I became Sara Adams.  So blessed.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I have a Keurig!

That's all really.  :) 

I sent a text to my mom this afternoon to tell her the girls gifts had arrived. So she called me.  I ended up calling her back using our MagicJack and while we were on the phone another knock at the door came.  Tim answered it and walked back into our bedroom where I was chatting on the phone carrying a HUGE box.  It said Keurig on it. 

So I said to mom, "Did you buy me a Keurig?"  She said. "Yes."  I almost cried.  I did tear up.  A few minutes later, more chatting and Tim tells me that I should tell her it just came.  I figured she knew, forgetting she can't see what I see.  So I told her that when I asked her that Tim has just walked in carrying the box. 

I think it made her day to have been on the phone with me and heard my reaction when I saw it.  We talked for a few more minutes then i told her I needed to go since I wanted a coffee. LOL  It came with 18 flavors to try.  We went to the grocery store to pick up two other flavors I'd seen but didn't buy since I didn't own a machine and it sure wasn't going to be purchased by me this Christmas.  Wow. 

I love it.  Tomorrow we're going to the city and will check out some more cool flavors, some hot chocolate, and teas even.  I can't believe it.  We have a Keurig!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Past

I used to love Christmas.  The pretty houses with colored lights with reflections that sparkled on the snow making streets that most of the year look plain and boring look like a carnival could happen at any moment.  Cutting down a Christmas tree and hauling it in the house.  It's branches and sap filling our home with it's fresh tangy scent.  Talking about the ornaments as we hung them on the branches, eating popcorn and drinking hot chocolate.  Dad getting frustrated with the lights and sometimes a little angry.  Kids fighting over who got to hang which ornament. 

I loved thinking of what I could give and buying the best I could.  Making pictures, making ornaments. Trying so hard to make or find something special for those I love.  Desiring to give a gift that would be treasured.

I loved singing carols and listening to them.  Christmas music surrounds you no matter where you go!  From the Nutcracker Suite and Handles Messiah to Joy to the World and yes, even Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, I loved it. 

At school I remember anticipating the Christmas story they would play over the intercom, bit by bit each morning for the weeks leading up to Christmas break.  The Christmas story, Jesus birth story came to life for me as I listened to the story played out in a radio theater style. 

Somewhere in the growing up though something began to drain away.  I began to notice things about Christmas.  Like the disappointment in a gift given just to say a gift had been given.  Something that didn't suit me and showed that the person who I thought knew me, really didn't.  A gift that was almost what I wanted and fit the description of what was asked for but missed the mark by being a cheaper version than hoped for, or just wrong  by color or brand because that version was less expensive.  Almost what was asked for, but not quite.  Sometimes leaving me with the feeling that I'm almost worth it, but not quite. 

I noticed that the family I looked forward to spending time around sometimes didn't like being around each other. And sometimes I didn't want to be around them.  Yet I loved it still.

Christmas eve, years and years of Christmas Eve together with the Wheats and Grandma Burks.  Delicious foods to fill our stomachs, followed by hours of playing with cousins and the endless waiting for SIX O'CLOCK, the present hour!  Listening to Luke 2 as my dad read the Christmas story out in his deep pastor voice.  "And it came to pass in those days. . . ."  Gifts opened and treasured.  Books to read! Gum! Chocolates!  A china doll, a favorite perfume! Watching others open their gifts and watching their eyes light up with pleasure.  So many happy memories. I honestly thought they would last forever. Kid's do think that.

But they don't.  Kids grow into adults and move away.  Traditions turn into treasured memories.

I used to love Christmas.

I loved Christmas so much that I chose to have a Christmas wedding.  Christmas trees on either side of the stage, white lights and poinsettia's as decorations.  Green, burgundy and gold were our wedding colors and Christmas decorations were the decorations for the reception hall, the tables covered in pine boughs.  A Christmas dinner with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc. was our dinner. I loved Christmas. 

I don't love Christmas anymore.  Shhhhh! Don't say that too loudly!

But it's true.  I don't love it. I'm disenchanted, tired of being hurt.  Tired of being disappointed. I don't know what to do exactly.  Do I even want it back?  What I thought was Christmas wasn't. Not really. 

Do you know that my 11.5 year old only realized this past November that Christmas has the word CHRIST in it?!    I thought she knew.  We've talked about it being a celebration of Christ's birth, not the actual day of course but a celebration of the day regardless of what calendar date he arrived.  We've read Luke 2.  She's been in church her entire life.  She's homeschooled!!  which is supposed to make kids holier. (Total tongue in cheek there and dripping with sarcasm.)  How could she not know?

Perhaps because the focus is not on Christ. No matter what we say, it's just not.  It's on gifts. It's on family. It's on food and fun and none of those things are wrong! Not a single one.  But the holiday (holy day) Christmas (Christ Mass) is no longer a true time of worship.  There are some out there who do worship and a few to whom it is still that, but let's be honest.  Even for believers, followers of Christ, Christmas is no longer truly about Christ.  It's just not.  And our actions, our shopping, our stressing, our bank statement all tell the truth even if we won't. 

To be continued. (maybe)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I had a dream

I had a dream, a vision for our family before I married.  I wanted our home to be the place the kids loved to come.  I envisioned a room big enough for a television for movies, maybe a pool table. A stable maybe with a couple of horses, a basketball net with a slab of concrete and lines painted on.  A fun place to be.

I had a dream of a church where people knew our names, our first names.  Knew us and we knew them.  Where I knew if someone was hurting and could send them a card or stop for a visit.  I'd hear if someone were sick and could take them a meal.  Of a church where they preached God's love, and His word and Sunday mornings especially were dedicated to worshipping Him.  A church that had meals together, spent time together, cried together, laughed together, lived as the body of christ. 

I had a dream for my children of friends for them.  A dream of a best friend for each of them. Someone to talk to and confide in to encourage them.  A friend who loves God the way they do and is the iron to their iron sharpening each other. 

I have a home. I have children.  They have friends.  But none of those dreams have become reality. Sometimes, reality just sucks.  I feel like venting here and letting all the vile things in my head and chest out right now but I'm repressing it. 

I have a higher standard than most people do. That's just the truth of it.  When it comes to my kids and what I want for them my goals, visions, ideas of what is right and good for them are not running parallel to culture, and YEP I mean Christians in that statement because to tell you the truth I do not see a difference anymore worth mentioning between most "christians" and those who have never claimed to be one.  

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

MWA weekend and a Mini Vacation

It was six months in the making and lasted just 36 or so hours but the memories of our second annual MWA/SKU (ska depending on who spells it) weekend will last forever.  Mom's Weekend Away is what I painted onto the gold stars to give out to those who came.  Sku/ska is a long running nickname for Dutch Blitz and the term of choice to shout out when you need to in the game to indicate you won.  SKA!  There were several games of it this weekend and I happened to be the winner of one!

Last year we had a couple of cottages at Darcy's By The Bay.  It was fun but the cleaning our way out wasn't hugely thrilling.  This year I found a different location thanks to a college friend who had a trip planned to Ontario.  I found Carriage Hills Resort.  There are all sorts of resorts around here but finding one that allowed 8 women in the same space and that didn't cost the earth? That was tricky.  Then our sweet Julia figured out that if she used RCI to book it she could book the week for the same!  SOLD!

And tada we have a MWA weekend and a Mini Vacation rolled into one.  Julia offered the extra days out to anyone who wanted them for $20/night.  In a condo.  Near home.  With a pool. Add those things up and mix in us not going anywhere for Christmas this year, me feeling very sorry for myself because of that and just feeling sad and you get a chance to have some fun anyway. 

Now, what happens at MWA stays at MWA so I can't tell you more details.  Although the chocolate cake recipe (wheatless!) is fantastic and so amazing.  Dense, rich, it's more like eating a truffle or a super rich brownie than cake.  It was amazing. 

On Sunday afternoon the last two ladies headed out.  I had the condo to myself for a couple of hours before Tim and the girls arrived.  I filled the giant tub with water and soaked for a bit. I have to confess that without a book it was boring.  You know a girl doesn't watch much tv when she's sitting in front of one, on a Sunday afternoon and wishes there was something to do and checking the TV for a basketball game or football game doesn't even cross her mind.  Yes, I'm that sad. And Yes, I was that tired.

After Tim and the girls came we went to the pool.  It is an indoor/outdoor pool with a swimout.  They have a hot tub outside too.  This in my opinion is sheer brilliance.  There is nothing like sitting in a tub of hot water when the air is frigid around you.  It's like sticking your tongue out at winter.  Bring it on!

The last couple of days have been fabulous in a simple, quiet way.  I brought no school work.  We had literally nothing to do and it was wonderful.  We swam a couple of times a day.  The girls did an activity yesterday making edible necklaces.  Today they had local vendors set up and we shopped for a little bit and chatted a little bit more.  One of the vendors is neighbors with another homeschooling family we know.  The one night we were swimming G made friends with a little girl only for me to realize the girls is a daughter of a rather new friend.   Small world.

Today I am calm and relaxed.  I'm tired, it's true.  I'm praying I sleep before one tonight. I'd sure love to wake up feeling rested and ready for the day. 

This week is Thanksgiving week in the States.  This Thurs. the girls and I will be back at the condo for a night to play with friends this time.  Just one more small day of fun.  This year instead of sitting at home wishing to be with family and friends I will be with friends.  We probably won't have turkey, maybe pizza instead, but when it comes down to it, it's not really about the food it's about the people. 

I am so thankful for the time we had, for the friends I have and for a God who loves me without strings. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I was getting an Iphone.

Last night I was buying an Iphone.  I'd done the research and due to the screen size of the Blackberry Torch I was getting an iphone.  I could hardly wait!! Anticipating it was fun.  I decided to go to Costco to price check, not to buy.  I'd buy at Rogers from Brad, the amazing cell phone dude. 

And then. 

And then there was a customer in front of me so I had to wait. So while I waited I played with the Iphone.  The touchkeypad is a pain in the butt.  It kept typing the wrong letter and then I'd have to slow down to fix it.  Grrrr. But still, it's an Iphone!!  Then I looked over and they had an HTC Desire and I played with that.  Oooh, sweet!!! It has a slideout keyboard.  No way!! And the camera is awesome! And it has the potential for up to 32 gig memory!!  Hooo this is fun!

And then. 

And then she told me I could get $25 back with that phone, and it was already about $35 cheaper than the iphone.  Then she said I'd get a free charger with the HTC and I could keep my plan and just add a data plan to it. . . . . sweeeeeeet.

So then.

So then I texted Tim that I was in Costco.  He called me and we chatted.  He said to go for it. 

So I now own an HTC Desire and it is beautiful, fun, wonderful and ooh so amazing.  I don't want to own another phone ever. I want it to work forever.  YAY!!!   I'm still a tad sad not to own an iphone, but I am super happy with my new phone, my new mini computer like phone.  :D Merry Christmas to Sara.

Monday, November 15, 2010


I am not a maid, a housekeeper, a cook, a nanny, an entertainer, or a magician. People who are those things get paid for doing them.  I do not get paid for cleaning up the messes you made which is why I will not do it for you, you need to learn to do it yourself.  When you drop your toys, clothes, books, paper scraps on the floor, when you make a sandwich and leave jelly on the counter I will not simply pick them up or wipe them up.  I am not Alice from the Bradybunch getting paid to pick up after mess makers.  I am a MOM. 

As a mom my job is to provide meals that nourish your growing body and brain.  It is not to deliver food that tastes yummy to your mouth every single time.  So no, I do not care that you don't like it.  You will eat what I make because that's what's been provided, and you will not complain.  This is not a restaurant, I am not a cook. 

I do clean the house, wash clothes, prepare meals, do lesson plans and teach you things you need to know.  All of this is done in the few waking hours I have that I am not working a part time job to help provide the things you actually need.  So when you do not have school work to do or a job that needs done, which you will do because you are part of this family, I will not entertain you.  God gave you a brain, an imagination, and your dad and I have bought you toys.  Grandma got you a Wii, and God created a gorgeous world outside for you to play in, go entertain yourself! If I hear, "I'm bored" I will find you a job to do because I am your mom. 

I know where your shoes, boots, pencil, eraser, Awana book, and much more are supposed to be and if you, the owner, put them in the correct place that is exactly where they will be.  So you will have no need of a magician to help you locate them.  In fact if your room is tidy and the toy/school area is too because you have done your jobs and kept them that way you won't need a magician either.

 Because this world is not magic but things cost money I can not and will not buy the entire American Girl catalog, get you a horse, or even be able to do things that I really would love to give you.  If I were a magician and could just fill our bank account with money then we would have a larger house in the country and you would have a dog and maybe a horse.  But I am not, so we don't. Talk to God about it.

Let's go back to the housekeeper/maid thing.  Cause and effect here. . .if you make a mess where I just cleaned I will be angry.  Count on it.  When I work hard to clean up the upstairs and come downstairs and it is such a disaster that we can not do school until we spend an hour cleaning up I will be angry.  I will work along side you to clean it up, but I will also warn you that if this keeps up I will sell the Wii and I will get rid of toys and things that are left out.  If you can not take care of what you have then you can't have it. 

I am a mom.  My job is to train children in the way they should go.  That means I teach you, the child, to clean up after yourself, to learn to learn, to respect other peoples property and to be responsible with what you own.  It means that I teach you to love God and honor him.  It means that when I lose my temper and yell I apologize.  It means that my heart breaks when I can't give you what you want and sometimes what you need. 

I am a mom.  I do not earn money for jobs I do in our home for our family that if I did the same for another family I would earn a lot of money doing.  It means that I love you more than I would love any child I was paid to care for in the same way.  So no, I am not a maid, a housekeeper, a cook, or a magician I am more than that. So much more than that, I am your mom.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Christmas Cookies

Two heads shared space over a favorite cookbook.  They flipped the pages discussion the merits of one cookie then another.  After several sessions they reached some conclusions.  They each chose at least one recipe they wanted to make.  Boo picked Chocolate Clouds, and Chocolate Almond Biscotti.  Kinz picked Chocolate Sugar Cookies.

So Boo and I went shopping to pick up the almonds we need for her biscotti.  We picked up a chicken for supper, some bread for the party tomorrow and a few other ingredients.  We didn't get baking chocolate so Kinz had to switch cookies and chose peanutbutter blossoms instead. 

Now on my counter there are two dozen Chocolate clouds (Meringue with cocoa and chocolate chips), and a dozen Peanut Butter Blossom cookies.  Dough for the next couple of dozen PBblossoms is ready to go into the fridge and finish tomorrow.  The biscotti will have to wait too.  This mom is whooped.

But the season has begun.  Our first round of Christmas cookies are in process.  Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Daily Stuff

My couch is covered in clean folded clothing waiting to be put away.  I hate putting laundry away.  So glad the girls are old enough to put it away themselves!

My kitchen is clean. I love that. I love clean countertops, shiny sinks, open space.  Thanks to my two new pantry cupboards my kitchen is looking more open, more spacious than it has in a long time. 

There's one cupboard still in the kitchen that I can't decide if I want to put in the laundry room or leave there.  I have a love/hate relationship with it at the moment as I love the convenience of it but hate the way it is THERE in the way, cluttering up my space. But if it's not there then the stuff inside needs to go back in that same spot but be out in the open, and the other stuff goes back into the cupboards which is fine.  But I could really really use that same pantry cupboard in the laundry room.  I could put the clean linens in it, put the many needed rolls of toilet paper in it, and paper towels too!  Ooh, the possibilities!  Which do I want more? I don't know.

I want my kitchen painted brown.  Blast it all for not getting my stuff together and buying it during the paint sale when I could've got 30% back! I suppose I will simply have to wait for the next sale.  I'm going to paint it (Tim is going to paint it) chocolate brown.  It will go beautifully with my lovely red wall in my living room.  Then I'm going to put some wall-words up.  Just have to decide which ones and then get the money together to buy them.  Coffee is a theme in my kitchen/dining room area.  I'd love a cool poster with all sorts of coffee cool things on it. I love antiques too.

I love it when things are orderly and tidy.  Why is it that it's so hard to keep it there once you get it? 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Too much.

There is so much going on in my head right now. I can't even separate it out into nice tidy blogs because there's too much and it's all mixed together.  I'm thankful that in a few minutes the girls and I are going to a friends house just to hang out and play.  I think I need it. 

My head is pounding.  Stress is hovering and pushing down on my shoulders and back.  Interesting how something not physical can literally weigh you down. 

I have so much to be thankful for.  There is so much I am thankful for.  I still want to scream STOP! And have a week, a month, a year to straighten things out, fix things, make them work properly.  But that's not the way life goes.  Hang on, work as you run ahead to tomorrow.  Try not to screw it up like yesterday.

The sermon Sunday was about forgiveness.  About how Christ's death on the cross once and for all healed that break between God and man, if we will just accept it.  There will still be consequences on earth, humans are not God and do not  grant immediate and full forgiveness.  I appreciate the reminder that in God's eyes I am forgiven because in my own I am condemned.  Again and again, beaten, broken and unworthy. 

On the outside I look calm for the most part. I work to keep a sembelance of cheerfulness (fake it til ya make it!).  Inside  my head, my heart, my spirit though I can feel a tightening like a spring pushed down just before it releases. 

When there's too much I'm overwhelmed and paralyzed.  Too much to deal with? Just shut down and run on autopilot.  And my too much is so little compared to so many.  Here comes another cycle of guilt for the very thought of not being content and strong in my reality. 

Why so downcast oh my soul? Put your trust in God.  Put your trust in God.

I will put my trust in God. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Good Things

Tonight was a plain and simple night of the most wonderful kind.  We had a simple dinner of omelets and toast.  Then we packed up our bags and box for the Library.  I'm thankful we waited until Tim could come too.  He's so good at carrying big heavy things! 

We spent an hour at the library and then stopped at Walmart on our way home to get chocolate chips so I could make him cookies.  Tomorrow he is going hunting for the first time in several years.  He's excited!! He's also excited about homemade cookies.  He called his dad before we left home and checked about taking a lunch.  His dad is bringing ham sandwiches and Tim will bring the chocolate chip cookies.

I started mixing the cookies and realized we had a critical problem.  No brown sugar.  I could make a different cookie but he wanted chocolate chip!  So my sweet husband looked at our middle child who was on her way to bed as the time was already 8:30, and said, "Get your coat and shoes on."  Her face lit up and she hurried to obey.  A daddy date is not something you take your time deciding on, if he offers, GO!  And she did.

They called me from Walmart and confirmed the dark brown sugar would work.  Then he grabbed baking soda for me, and checked for pecans, of which there are none.  He asked if I needed anything else and I said no.  There wasn't. Not that I need.

Just a few minutes later they are home and my sweet middle child sang out, "Delivery for Sara!" She called me into the kitchen to see the treasure she'd found. I knew she had a Twoonie so I expected to see a pack of gum, or a bag of candy.  Instead she held up a frozen Turtle Cake.  The one I had drooled over and put back on our first trip this evening to Walmart. 

She then grinned, her eyes sparkling and told me, "My daddy date's not done, I have to watch him play cars!"  Which means x-box. He looked at me with a sheepish grin and said, "Just ten minutes!" Of course I didn't say a word, just smiled and they scampered down the stairs before I told them it was way too late for her to be up, which it was.  But for a daddy date?  How could I say no?

So I spent the last hour listening to Josh Groban serenade me with Christmas songs while I baked chocolate chip cookies for my husband to take with him hunting tomorrow.  As I sit here I am filled with contentment and thankfulness.  It's been a good day.  

Monday, October 25, 2010

Christmas is coming!

     It is a fantabulous day outside, warm with a breeze that is so un-end of October like.  It smells like spring. Oh how I wish that were true, but despite this gorgeous day I know full well what is coming.  Winter. Snow. Ice. Cold. But something good too, Christmas!

     Sometimes I wish Christmas were in February or late January as it would give more time during that cold season to look forward to it instead of having it already done.  But this year like all others in my lifetime Christmas will arrive on the 25th day of December.  I hope there is snow.  I hope the day sparkles like a diamond.  I hope my children remember this Christmas as one where Jesus was real to them. 

      So how do I go about making sure that happens?  Snow I have non control over or we would only have it for a 48 hour period Dec 24-25th.  But the mood in our home, the focus of our celebration, that I can control, that is up to me largely!  I am the MOM, the homemaker, the celebration creator, the gift thinker upper and wrapper, the cookie maker, you get the point.  And I have three little Mom's in the making.  Daughters of the King ready to learn how to best serve Him. 

     This is the beginning of my thinking so I don't have a solid plan yet, just an idea, some thoughts rolling around in my head.  I want us to do a service project, go to soup kitchen, hand out brown bags with meals in them, do something for people who have less than we do.  I want to hostess this year, invite people into our home because relationships are something God is all about.  Perhaps we will purposely observe Advent in our home this year.  I'll need to do some research on that.  The gifts the girls give one another, could they be hand crafted?  They are growing so quickly, how can I meaningfully capture their hearts this year and preserve a bit for the future? 

     Our gift giving will be smaller this year than probably ever before.  Even that though is a way we are honoring Christ, Tim and I.  How can I give from the heart and feel that it is enough?  I plan to bake and make candies and give a platter to a few people on purpose in the hopes that my baking will ease their entertaining duties this year maybe.  I love to make homemade caramels, fudge, pretzels coated in caramel and chocolate, chocolate covered peanutbutter crackers, etc.  By staying home this year those are all possible.

     This year we will have a real Christmas tree and I hope that the adventure of picking one out is something our girls treasure.  I have fond memories of walking through snow to pick out the perfect tree, and of my dad cutting it down.  Hot apple cider, the smell of pine and the cold all mingle in my mind and make me smile. 

    What do you do to make Christmas different than other times of the year?  How do you keep it Christ centered and how have you noticed it with your children?  This is the time of year dedicated to celebrating Christ and yet the holiday (holy day) has been steadily morphing into a secular gifts/family/food/greed (dare I say it?) time of year instead.  How to keep the JOY and the fun while celebrating Christ is my question.   Share with me?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Church in the Kitchen

     Last night was one of those treasured memory making nights with friends.  I could honestly tell you I went to church last night in my own kitchen.  When you think about what church is, worshiping God, enjoying Him, learning about Him, praying to Him and all done in the fellowship of other believers.  Yep. I went to church in my kitchen last night.  

   I also won SKA, aka Dutch Blitz.  Wow. That hasn't happened in my known memory! I won as in got to 100 points first.  Must've been the time of morning we played and the growing sleepiness of the other players. NAH it was all skill! That's what it was!  Somewhere in the evening I also did not win Settlers of Catan, but sure had some great conversation while playing it, not that I could specifically tell you about what right now. 

     The conversation ranged from this weeks push it to the limit attitudes from various kids to Bible translations and who owns them to the Breast Plates of righteousness, and yes I pluralized that on purpose.  The thought just makes me laugh. I've got pictures to prove it! Ya had to be there and I'm so glad I was, that they were.  Here that is.  Here in my kitchen being the church, worshiping with me. Laughing, praying, playing, and talking with me, for that I am so thankful. 

     I'm working on about four hours sleep today and doing ok.  Sometimes we need things other than sleep to fill us up.  I needed last night.  I'm looking forward to the next one and thanking God for the women and friends he's put in my life right now.  God is good. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I Get Knocked Down

     But I get up again, you ain't never gonna keep me down. Isn't that how the song goes?  I actually prefer Toby Mac's Get Back Up.  We lose our way but we get back up again.  May be knocked down but not out forever. This is love callin' out to the broken. 

     Call me broken.  Call me longing for what I used to have.  No matter how far my heart may have wandered, no matter how long it's been since I paid attention.   It's never too late to get back up again. 

    Toby Mac is a man of God and anyone who thinks differently hasn't really read his lyrics or listened to the songs the man sings.  His song Hold On is reaffirming God's love and faithfulness.  It reaches my heart. 
His cd Tonight is one of my all time favorites.  And now back to our regularly scheduled blog.

     Tim and I are doing the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University Home kit.  Last night we watched week 3.  This is a big week.  It's the week we work on the cash flow plan.  That is a nice name for Budget.  I really do like it better. Instead of a budget being something telling me what I have to do a Cash Flow  Plan is me telling my money where to go and what to do.  I like that. I'm bossy like that.  One of the outstanding notes of the night was his continued emphasis on keep trying, keep working on it, it's not going to work the first time perfectly. 

     That idea of not expecting perfection the first time is a concept that I need to apply to most areas in my life.  Instead of giving up before I start because I can't do it the first time (lazy?), try and keep working at it, it's worth it.  Constant correction, that's what Andy Stanley said.  It's going to take constant correction, and Mr. Ramsey just emphasized that again.

 In about 90 days you'll start getting the hang of it. Three MONTHS to get it right?! Are you kidding?!?!  Ok.  Taking a deep breath I've already done it sort of for the last couple.  This month still counts as month one, but hey, I've already had some practice, that's a good thing!  Then he said that even then it's going to need doing every month.  I could feel a chill go up my spine. Every month, forever?  Uh, I'm not good at forever like that.  There are only two things I've done long term, love my husband and stay married to him, and love my kids. LOL  Nope, that's not three, that's two. 

I've been given the tools to do this well.  I've got the dvd series, the workbooks, the support of good friends, and even the online tools from Mr. Ramsey for 91 days, which is the length of the FPU class.  I've got the tools to do other things well also. I've got the Bible.  I've got school curriculum.  I've got friends and spousal support. 

I didn't get this far from God, this far from faith in a week.  I'm not going to get back in a week.  It was deliberate steps that took me away, my decisions to not read His word, to not pray.  It's going to take little decisions to get back.  Reading the Bible daily and thinking on it, not just reading it to check it off my list.  Praying for my children daily the way I always wanted to, why on earth did I stop?! 

I know perfectly well we can't cover a years curriculum in a month, but it's laid out intentionally to cover it in a year.  If we do a day at a time, week after week we will conquer it and the girls WILL have an excellent education.  Lesson by lesson, day by day, month after month will turn into school year after school year.  I can do this and do it well. 

I'm not even going to tackle my health right now. I'm babystepping in a few areas already and need to keep my balance.  Put too much before me and I crumple.   As my heart turns back towards God and I babystep towards Him I'm going to have faith that the other areas in my life will follow.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

There is no Arizona

There are some friends who when you are around them you are a better person.  They are the iron that sharpens the iron of you.  They encourage, strengthen, and bless your life.  I have been blessed with a couple of those friends.  Even more blessed to have one live just around the corner from me.  

Homeschooling can be lonely.  Like anything worth doing in life it's hard, and it takes courage and often I need encouragement.  When you are surrounded by likeminded people it makes it that much easier to do.  When those likeminded people think in a different way than you do they help you see things from a different perspective and gain insight that you wouldn't find on your own. 

In the past six years my friend has challenged my by her own actions to get outside and take my kids sledding, skiing, iceskating, or just for a walk in the snow.  Our families have gone together and sometimes we've gone without the husbands.  Sometimes it's been with other families.  We've sat on the beach, walked through the woods,  skiied over trails, talked around campfires, played together, laughed together, lived. 

I know that what I have here is something special.  It's not everywhere.  Game nights filled with games, laughter, good food and prayer.  It's been my church.  For the last three years especially this group of homeschooling mom's has been my church. 

Tonight my world shifted. My dear friend is moving, soon, and far away, probably to Arizona.  Yeah, this is all about me right now.  Later I'll be able to be happy for them, excited even for the new adventure but tonight I just cry.  If I'd known this was our last summer I'd have made more of an effort to be with them more.  If I'd only known.  Hindsight is 20/20 I know.  I feel robbed and ache for this to not be true.  I ache for my children.  Her kids are some of their best friends. 

 I don't want to fathom a future where I don't get to watch those children grow into adults.  I don't want my children to not have these children in their future.  God is in control, He works all things together for good. I know that. But tonight I'm going to cry and it sounds a lot like a country song.  There is no Arizona. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Can People Change?

Can I change? This is on my mind right now.  As I mentioned in my last blog I read through a devotion journal and saw that my struggles then are still my struggles now.  So my thoughts have turned to wondering if what I've believed to be true really is.  That God changes people.  Does he? Always? 

Because from where I'm sitting, I'm sincerely wanting to change, and have been for 10 years.  The same desire to change the same things.  Working on it, praying about it, feeling like there is hope and then I turn around and look and nope, not really a change.  Same issues. 

So is it me?  Is there something wrong with me? I don't have enough faith, or I don't want it enough?  Is it God.  Does he really promise to change people? 

Right now I keep flipping mentally back to Paul.  His thorn in the side. God didn't remove it from him. Whether that thorn was physical, or spiritual is highly debated.  Regardless, he wanted it gone and God didn't move it.  

If these things that I want to change, and they are things that would be good change, haven't changed after so long trying will they ever?    If you've read this blog at all you can probably name them.  The big 3.  My handling of money, my weight and my diligence with teaching the girls.  

Is there hope?  Right now I just don't know.  I'm swinging back and forth between my upbringing which says, "Of course! There is always hope! God changes hearts." and my reality right now which is, "Nope.  I don't see evidence for me that I can or will change permanently." 

Not a fun place to be but here I sit.  Here I think.  I want my faith that I can change, back.  But I don't want an empty, hollow faith in that, I want proof, real life evidence that I can and will change.  It's the middle of the day so it's not a midnight mood.  Hormones probably are playing a part, they always are, aren't they?  Nonetheless this is where I am. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dr. Pepper is not my friend.

I do hope this is not going to become a habit!  This blogging when I should be sleeping.  I love to sleep.  This afternoon while eating a jalapeno popper I needed a drink so I grabbed a Dr. Pepper, purchased for our entertaining today and because I really really like Dr. Pepper!  If I had thought to look at the time perhaps I would've grabbed a rootbeer or even a glass of water. That would've been wise!  But I didn't. I popped the top, enjoyed the fizz and drank a fully caffeinated Dr. Pepper at around 6 p.m. tonight. Or last night rather since it's past midnight here.

At eleven o'clock or so tonight I did turn my light off.  I said goodnight to my chatting buddy. Then as soon as my eyelids met my brain began to race.  When is the last time you wrote down your spending?  This is something I've been doing for a month and plan to continue ad naseum.  It doesn't matter right now!  I told myself but I disagreed. It does! You can't even remember the last time and it's been a spendy couple of days.  Your purse is right there with notebook, just grab it and jot them down.  Like it's that easy.  Like I remember exact amounts or have all the receipts IN my purse.  I squish the thoughts and press my eyes tightly shut. 

My thoughts twist to the week ahead.  Swimming tomorrow, do I run or exercise or read my book and sit in the hot tub while the littlest is busy?  Then Wed. I'm off too, yippee! a mini-date with dh.  Ugh, but then four days in a row of work!  Ya know, you might only work 4 ours next Saturday, not a whole day. This is enough for me to grab my calendar and attempt to read in the non-existant moonlight if that is true.  I can't see so I flip the light on.  Bummer. Nope, full shift on Sat. but a 4 hour shift on Sun! That's something! 

My eyes glance at my Bible. The one with my maiden name on the front.  I could read it, but why?  I notice the green notebook behind it.  It has quiet time notes in it from 2007.  I flip through a few pages and read.  I could've written them today, or yesterday, or six months ago, or a year ago.  My fear is that they will all still be true that same amount of time ahead.  So I voice my frustration to God. How come I haven't changed?  Have I even a little?  WHY are these struggles still my struggles? Why haven't you made me perfect yet. Errrr, or at least made me better?  It feels so hopeless. 

I don't really hear an answer so I flip the notebook and notice the list at the end.  A list of shared goals with my chatting buddy I was talking with earlier tonight.  I think to myself that I will talk about those with her tomorrow.  Our friendship bloomed from the desire for accountability to work on the issues that are still issues today.   Five minutes have passed and suddenly I just don't feel sleepy.  I remember my original thought of jotting down spending amounts. 

So I grab my purse and slip out to the living room.  Then I decide I want the workbook we're going through.  I make photocopies of the workbook pages so I can use them to see in front of me.  The perfectionist in me wants the pages to stay pristine and white, no pencil marks!  But I also want paper and pencil in front of me, doing stuff on the computer is great for somethings but for finances, I need both!! The computer AND pencil and paper. 

So here I sit now.  I've filled out the Quickie Budget somewhat.  I'll go over it with Tim tomorrow.  Oh, and I did go ahead and fill in the spending on the pages of my notebook for that purpose.  I feel better now and even a little sleepy.  Perhaps now that I've done these little things my brain will let me sleep.  Perhaps tomorrow there will be progress.  Goodnight!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Preparing for Thanksgiving Day

It's eleven o'clock and I'm perched on my new to me favorite stool just like my grandma has in her kitchen.  The third pumpkin pie is in the oven, strike that, the fourth pumpkin pie is in the oven and the pumpkin cake is waiting for it's turn. It occurs to me that I might be able to scoosh the 9X13 pan in alongside the pizza pan.  Since selling pampered chef I don't even own any metal cookie sheets and times like this make me wish I did!  The cake will take an hour to bake and this Cinderella would love to kiss the pumpkin goodbye before midnight!

I can't really whine.  I'm chatting via instant messenger with my girlfriend.  I don't have to work tomorrow and my sweet husband and kids DID work on cleaning up the house while I was at work today.  I have the cherry cheesecake ready to go, the pecan pie is done too.  Tomorrow I will make corn casserole and let beans simmer while I bake a squash.  Then at noon extra people will arrive at our house to eat a turkey dinner. 

There's still work to be done, but to be honest I'm tired and just can't get up the juice to do it.  When the cake is in the oven I may work on cleaning and slicing veggies. OH, and I do want to make the dip tonight so it's full of flavor for tomorrow.  I adore Epicure Selections and their spice blends.  I think I'm making Smokey Bacon Ranch for tomorrow's dining pleasure.  And the pumpkin pie plethora is seasoned with their pumpkin pie spice.  The cherry cheesecake has their real vanilla.  If I didn't love my rep I'd sell it!

My exhausted husband is already asleep, fully dressed, on top of the covers "listening" to his audio book on my ipod.  He works SO hard for us.  I love that about him. 

My oldest was making the pumpkin pie this evening. Did I already tell you this?  She's getting so grown up and just melts me.  She loves to make pumpkin custard aka pumpkin pie without a shell.  So she mixes her magic and mutters at me about making her use a spice blend instead of measuring the different spices herself. I promise to take the blame if it tastes bad and she can have the credit if it takes good.  But fifteen minutes into the baking process (which according to the recipe is nearly finished.  The recipe lies!) I notice two cans of evaporated milk, unopened.  "Oops", she giggles. 

Superdad races with her to Walmart making it with 20 minutes to spare before closing time and they purchase new pie shells.  She starts the process again and then after mixing it decides she's too tired to finish.  So she is now in her room.  But when I go downstairs a few minutes later is she sleeping? Nooooo, she's reading a book!! Turkey!  

OH JOY!  The pan does fit beside the pizza pan!!! Bedtime has just skipped ahead by 45 minutes WHOOHOOOOOO!!!!   I better get going on the dip.  I hope that your day whether tomorrow is Thanksgiving for you or just another Monday, is a good day with lots to be thankful for. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Are You Kidding Me?

There are many things in life as a mom that I will be happy if I never encounter.  Lice, Worms, Broken Bones, I could go on but I'll stop now.  One of those things I can cross off the list.  It's been confirmed today that my youngest one has Pinworms.  May I vomit now? 

She's had redness and soreness which I chalked up to not wiping well and a possible UTI.  The test came back clear on that and teh ER doc decided to test for pinworms.  So I did.  EWWW! I refuse to do the flashlight in the middle of the night and check the bum thing.  No way, no how! 

So tonight, my family is being de-wormed and tomorrow I will scrub the house and wash the sheets again.  Everyone will shower first thing in the morning.  Everyone will wear clean underwear, EVERY DAY! For at least the next ten days. 

Yep. Some things in life I can die happy without experiencing. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Flipping The List

Every once in awhile I hear something that affects me profoundly.  Even less often I am moved to the point of deciding it's time to change and then DO!  Today is one of those few and far between moments.  Today I've had it! And that's a good thing.  It's one step in the right direction and one more finger letting go of my grasp on what I call mine. 

I've been thinking about it for months, what I just did.  But it's taken me awhile to get here.  I'll tell you where here is soon enough. Let me tell you the whole thing.  Tim and I? We're in the "Stupid Kids" category as Dave Ramsey calls it.  God's kids he loves but shakes his head at the way they act.  It's mostly me. I'm the spender. I've talked about this before. That's not new, I won't blather on about it.  Suffice it to say once again, and hopefully this time for the last time we are on our way to getting out of the "Stupid Kids" category and into the "Thatta Girl/Guy, I see potential, maybe I can use them afterall" category.

I've been listening to Andy Stanley at home instead of going out to church the last 3 weeks.  Today I listened to the 6th sermon in his series Balanced.  And it got to me.  I'm still fighting it all the way.  I have to admit my fist is still pretty firmly grasping and "Mine!" said in the tone of a toddler is in my heart, but I'm renouncing that.  Starting with Heart 2 Haiti and sponsoring a child.  I've been wanting to do it since the earthquake.  Felt led, but tried so hard not to let emotions rule me.  Well, tonight as I sent the e-mail I even had a qualm of "you shouldn't do this." But you know what? Yes, I should! WE should.

It's $35 and one more child. I wish I could sponsor 10. I wish we could buy more for them. Help more. Make a trip there.  And ya know what? Maybe in the future we will be able to.  I'm working on flipping our list.

What's the list?  The list is the top 5 things on which we use the money God has given us.  Here's how Andy put it.

1. Spend (Me)
2. Pay back debt (Me)
3. Pay taxes (We)
4. Save (Me)
5. Give (God and others)

He's so right! I knew this, but I didn't really KNOW, if you know what I mean.  I hadn't thought of it as putting God last.  Andy pointed out that God thinks in percentages.  Jesus watched the widow put in her coin and was amazed by it, pointing out the hugeness of her gift.  In dollar signs it was so much less, but in percentages it was everything!  Andy challenged his listeners to figure out their percentage.  How much are we living on?  How much are we giving to others? 

He read from Malachi, that beautiful plea from God to test him and see! The promise was given to the nation of Israel that he would open the floodgates of heaven and pour out blessings.  That promise is related to a truth, if we will honor him, give to him freely and put him first.  That's what it really is, a heart thing, not a money thing.  Then, if we put him first He will do great things in us.  Doesn't mean he'll make us rich. Not with money anyway, but if we let Him he will use us, work in us.

It is my desire to be changed.  It is my desire to know God and honor God and I'll be honest it seems like there's a big huge brick wall between. I sometimes wonder why other people can experience God in such a real way and yet I feel like a kid watching a tv show.  This just might be part of the solution. 

One finger at a time, one debt payment, one cash budgeted expense at a time, one gift to a charity, to the church, to help someone else instead of myself/my family we are going to work on flipping our list.  What a beautiful gift it would be to give our children a legacy of giving, a legacy of honoring God with ALL he has blessed us with and not focusing on what we want and don't have but instead looking to see what else we can give.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Better Today

Last night it was as if the storm clouds moved on.  The darkness isn't hovering over my spirit now.  Just like after a storm is done it's a little cool, tentatively warming up to goodness.  I'm just so thankful the bleakness is gone.  The problems are the same, my attitude, my spirit is better.  Even knowing I'm walking into a weekend (work, not a fun thing).  Then a week at the cottages (more work, different kind).  And that I don't get to take the girls to the VBS I wanted to, nor do I get my mornings kid free next week to finish prepping for school.  It's ok.  I'd love it if God popped a surprise for me and *poof* it worked out to do the VBS afterall, but I'm ok with not.

Last night after work I wanted something sweet.  It was either going to be brownies or chocolate chip cookies.  Well, my middle girl had napped earlier in the day while reading her Bible.  Tim understood what I meant when I mentioned it and he went to her room and told her I needed her in the kitchen.  She and I baked cookies. She talked, I listened. 

Mommy brag.  My girls have the sweetest hearts.  They are so thoughtful of each other when one is getting a treat they are constantly thinking of their sisters.  So I wasn't surprised when she asked if she could go see if the oldest was up so she could come be with us.  This time I said no.  It was one on one time for the two of us.  She smiled and started talking. . .she didn't stop talking until she was in bed.  Wonder where she gets that? HA ha.

Oldest smelled the cookies baking and heard the talking.  The lure of the combination was too much, she had to come see what was going on.  So at 10 p.m. last night we had a picnic on my bed with warm chocolate chip cookies and cold glasses of milk. 

This afternoon a friend is coming to help us get started sewing the girls Pioneer dresses!! We picked out the fabric months ago.  It's washed, but I need to iron the fabric still.  I'm SO looking forward to it! :D  Oh, and I guess we should locate sharp scissors so we can cut the pattern out too.  This is going to be fun.  When they are done we will plan a trip to Blackcreek Pioneer Village.  This is the culmination of our last year study through A Pioneer Story by Barbara Greenwood. 

I just remembered that the Staples Teacher Appreciation days are coming up.  Silly as it is I'm looking forward to that.  We need a few packages of white paper, I love the goodie bag they give to teachers.  Even more, I love that they recognize Homeschool parents as Teachers! The 10% off is nice too, and the coupon book is fun.  The click dry erase marker they gave in the goodie bag last year is my favorite one. I went back and bought a 4 pack of black because I like it so much. 

I do believe I feel a little excited about starting the school year.  God is good.  So glad the sun is coming out in my soul, even if it is a rainy day here in Ontario today.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Jumping In

I'm really  not a sit around and wait for things to change kind of girl.  I'm more of a think of something and then DO IT.  Sometimes something occurs to me and I think, "I want to _____" but I don't do it right away, then all of the sudden something clicks and I just do it. 

Today I have been fighting feeling blue all day.  Same as yesterday.  I know it's hormonal but it's still a fight.  I've cleaned things I've wanted to be cleaned. Like the top of the fridge.  And the counter.  I hate having every inch covered with something, it's driving me nuts.  So I found room in the cupboards for the containers and emptied expired vitamin bottles to make room for cereal and ta'da! more counter space.  I wanted to clear the top of the pantry cupboard.  It's not clear but it is tidy and I'm satisfied for the moment.  I rearranged the pictures of the fridge ditching ones that were o-l-d.  Throwing out magnets to things I have no interest in.  It looks much nicer now.

And then I saw a friends post about concluding leading Financial Peace University.  Tim and I had talked about hosting one a year or more ago.  We talked about it but never did it.  I didn't request the info because A. my house was messy and did I really want to invite strangers in?  B. When on earth could we do it? Most are done weeknights.  C. there is no "c" those are the reasons.  So today I went on the website and requested information.  I didn't commit us to anything, just asked for info about leading it.  Then I called Tim and made sure that was ok.  As usual he's fine with it, since I didn't commit.  We'll look over the info together and then decide if it will work.  I think it will.

I've Dave Ramsey's books.  Living it is what I suck at.  Choosing to do it, it's HARD.  Harder than anything else other than losing weight.  It's equal to that, imo.  So possibly this October we will open our home, something I actually really enjoy doing, and host a Financial Peace University class.  We'll see, as Tim likes to say. 

So it's the middle of the day.  I've had coffee, ibuprofen, cold medicine, and chocolate and my spirits are up a bit.  I'm diving in!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

It's Probably Hormones but. . . . .

this bowl of spaghetti is making me crazy.  Ya know how there's that comparison of men are waffles and women are spaghetti?  My spaghetti is making me crazy.  I have so much to be thankful for.  I have a husband who loves me unconditionally.  Children who are healthy and wonderful, full of joy and laughter.  A home that is warm in winter and cool in the summer.  We have food in the fridge and freezer and cupboards.  My parents are alive and well.  Tim's parents are alive and well.  My grandparents are alive and well!  My sisters and brother are married to good people and have wonderful children.  I have so much.

Right this minute my oldest is teaching herself to play piano.  My youngest is sharing her paper and craft supplies with the neighbor boy.  The sun is shining outside and there's a breeze.  A box of lovely new clothes came for my girls today from my mom.  I have so much. 

Three years ago yesterday we buried my nephew Cade.  I've held his little brother Connor.  I've kissed Connor and cuddled him, changed his diaper and swooned when he smiled.  I have pictures of Connor on my computer and am loving watching him grow.  I have pictures of Cade on my computer too but I will never, on this earth get to hug him.  He will never grow.  He will never blow out birthday candles, ride a two wheeler, smart mouth his mom, smile and melt my heart or grow into a man.  I will meet him in heaven and am thankful he is not in pain, I really am.  But right now my heart hurts and I miss him. Spaghetti.

I've been an idiot with our finances.  It embarrasses me to admit it and pride makes me want to pretend everything is fine.  God is good, he provides all our needs, and I believe he will continue to.  My greatest frustration and embarrassment is my continued foolishness.  Everything is not fine at the moment.  In anger I'd like to lash out and blame Tim.  He's the man of the house, it's his responsability! He should tell me no, he should manage our finances, he should. . . . . .he should be able to trust his wife to bring him good and not harm all the days of his life.  Spaghetti.

Fall is coming, another school year.  I want so much to do an excellent job teaching our girls.  They are smart, talented, and ready to learn.  I am amazed that I have this opportunity, but I want more.  I don't want to leave our home to work.  That makes me tired.  It sucks the energy out of me.  I have in my head a picture of the lovely home, and the things we will do in it, the school we will have.  Fall scents, cinnamon scented candles, walks collecting leaves, piano lessons, guitar, art, latin, to go along with our three R's.   Spaghetti.

I am excited about implementing the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education this year purposefully.  I've been doing it accidentally up to now.  This life of learning is right for us, for the girls.  It is going to stretch me and I'm afraid.  School done school like is easier.  Workbooks, fill in the blank questions, and the such are much more orderly and preferable to me, but they are not what's best for my children.  I'm going to need to listen to my children.  I'm not good at that.  I'm going to need to be present, and part of me is terrified that I will fail in this.  The larger part of me thrills in the potential and screams YES!  This is how to do what I want to do, teach them to love learning.  This is how I can fill them with confidence in who they are as God's children and help them grow into the women he created them to be.   Spaghetti.

I'm melancholy today, I'm sure you can tell.  I'm sure it's hormone driven.  It happens about once a month and I long for the days when I do not feel a sadness and hopelessness.  I like the days when I am cheerful and energetic.  Like the summer days they make me smile.  I feel content and ready to take on whatever may come. 

Today tears are at the back of my throat and need little coaxing to come to my eyes.  A book, a sentence, a blog post, a thought and they are there.  I shove them down. I don't want to cry for me.  But I've also told myself that no matter what other people think I need to feel and let myself feel.  So I am working at letting the tears come.  I'm working on not letting them drown me and pull me down deeper.  But I suppressing them doesn't help either.  Spaghetti.

I don't even really like spaghetti.  I'd much prefer chocolate.  Wouldn't it be nice if women were like a chocolate bar?  All melted into one but able to keep things in sections a bit more with it all together underneath.  Sweet and warm, giving pleasure and contentment.  If I were a chocolate bar I'd be a Symphony bar, the one with toffee and nuts.  I can be sticky and sweet and am often slightly nutty.  Today I'd be a melted chocolate bar, but a true chocolate lover wouldn't care.  Just let it firm up a bit and it'll be fine.

Give me some time to chill and I'll be fine too, but for right now I'm a mess. ;)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I am not weak.  I am an emotional being who feels things deeply.  Sometimes more deeply than those around me.  It is time I learn and live knowing that while others may not feel as deeply and may be completely uncomfortable with the level to which I do feel things that does not mean I am weak and they are strong or that they are right and I am wrong.  If they are uncomfortable because of my emotions I can respect that and them but I do not have to suppress my emotions and feelings because of their belief.  It is their issue. Not mine. 

To suppress completely the way I feel is to deny who God made me to be.  I have been trying to do this.  I have been trying to live with my feelings and emotions separated from what I believe so that I would be strong.  It's not working.  I'm not strong because of it, if anything I am weak.  Ironic, no? 

Feelings are not what most decisions should be made by.  I know that, and I will continue to live by that.  However, what has been happening to me is that my faith has been shaken as I tried to isolate my emotions.  Knowledge without faith is dead.  I choose to believe.

I can not not feel.  I can not not care.  I have tried and it bursts out anyway.  But where I have been successful at resisting feelings, in my faith, there are dangerous and terrifying results.  My faith is shaken.  I know in my head and accept it as true, but there are doubts there.  I reject them.  I won't continue to live this way separating my heart from my life.  It didn't work.  I do feel.  I'd rather live and feel than half live and not feel.  It hurts.  It's exhausting.  Sometimes it does make me crazy but it does not mean I am weak, unless by that you mean that I am weak so that He is strong in me. 

Now, I'm going to go spend some time reading God's word and beg Him to speak to me.  To ask him to talk to my parched heart.  To renew in me a clean heart and restore to me the joy of my salvation.  I choose to believe.  I'll also be asking Him to forgive me for trying to deny who He made me to be.  I believe.  Lord, help my unbelief. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Conversations with my daughter.

Yesterday in the kitchen.

Dd: Mom, why do some girls like Hannah Montana?
Mom: Because she's famous and kind of pretty, and she looks fun.
Dd : Oh.. . . .   I don't really like her.
Mom: No, and that's okay.  I don't either. I don't think she's a good role model.
Dd:  What's a role model?
Mom:  A role model is someone you look up to and want to be like, someone you model your life after.
Dd:  Mom, you're my role model.  I want to grow up and be like you.
Mom:  *stops and takes a deep breathe* Thank you sweetie.  I will do my best to be a good role model for you.
Daughter hugs mom tight and then goes to play.

I knew when I had babies that they would grow up.  I knew this.  In my head I understood.  But my heart?  My heart is just now catching up to reality and it takes my breath away.  My little one.  The one who not so very long ago learned to walk, then talk, then ride a bike without training wheels, then write her name, now bakes, and plays guitar and is thinking about who she is and who she wants to be. I've had eleven years with her as my little girl and those minutes left are ticking down faster than I ever dreamed.  I can feel them slipping away like water through my hands. 

She's lovely.  Her heart is lovely.  She is reading through the Bible on her own.  She understands it and applies it to her life.  She is a person without me.  I'm doing my job and getting her ready to be a woman, a mom, a wife.  I'm teaching her to care for a home, to love her husband by loving her daddy the best I know how.  This is a bittersweet journey.  There are moments when I see who she will be peaking out through the child she still is.  There are giggles and silliness along with moments of maturity. 

It's not about me.  And yet it is.  Because who I am now influences who she is and who she becomes.  By God's grace may I be the example she needs.  May she see the good and forgive the bad.  May I find the strength and courage to be who she needs me to be in these last years of her maturing.  May God be glorified!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Country Girl At Heart

I didn't grow up on a farm with cows, pigs, or other animals although I have cousins who did! I grew up between cornfields in various places in Central Illinois.  The "home" that stayed constant was my Great Grandpa Quick and Grandpa & Grandma Quick's place.  With an acre or two between the houses, apple trees, pear trees, wild grapes, Grandma's garden, multiple climbing trees and surrounded by fields that grew corn or soy beans or whatever crop was being rotated that year it was a kids paradise. 

In the last couple of years my Grandpa Quick has been reminiscing about his growing up years in that same spot.  "This is where the cows were, there were apple trees here then too, not the same ones most of them.", and "I remember mom putting cottage cheese out hanging on the clothes line."  He didn't say if he liked the cottage cheese or not though!  He's planting trees and watching birds now in the area where cows once grazed.  His dad raised bees and chickens and sold them to the people in town.  He remembers the wagon coming out to pick up the chickens to take into town to sell. 

My dad's parents, Grandpa and Grandma Burks had moved into town by the time I was old enough to remember, but my dad remembers his family farm.  He remembers playing on the farm fondly.  He used to drive us past the house where he grew up.  I remember the longing to still belong there, wishing it were still part of our family. 

Through the years my mom had a couple of opportunities to raise chickens.  I have memories of throwing eggs we weren't sure were still good, at the trees in the gulley.  I remember how the chickens smelled.  I remember how they pecked me when I tried to get their eggs.  I remember plucking feathers and chasing the headless ones around when it was time to put them in the freezer for food instead of eggs.

Now I live in town.  I can get to Walmart in less than five minutes and buy eggs, milk, butter, cheese, chicken (I don't from Walmart!), or anything else my little heart might desire.  Except I can't buy country. 

Last night I couldn't sleep.  We're out of bread.  So I started a loaf of whole wheat.  It went over well.  Before noon today it's gone and the girls are asking for more.  So I've started a bigger batch.

 As I was kneading the bread on my counter my mind drifted.  Aunt Mary's yeast rolls, my mom's amazing cinnamon rolls, what it would be like to have cows and chickens.  Not that far a stretch when you remember where my mom grew up and know that Aunt Mary lived on a working farm until just a few years ago when necessity moved her in town.  She grew up on the same farm land my mom did, she's my grandpa's sister.  I've been on farms.  I know it's not romantic.  Cows smell.  There are flies everywhere.  Chickens smell worse than cows. 

What I long for is to have that opportunity though to just try it.  I want to see if we, Tim and I, could do it.  Not have a farm to make money. That is hilarious to most anyone who knows about farming! But to have a farm that would provide for our family.  Milk to make cheese, butter, cream, icecream and other things with.  I don't like milk so drinking it is low on my dream list.  Chickens for the girls to care for and eggs to harvest.  We've been blessed with a friend who shares hers and we love it! A plot for a garden large enough to grow food to feed our family, not just to play with. 

I know that all that spells work.  LOTS of work.  Hard, hot, sticky, messy, work that isn't a single bit romantic.  Yet still I want it.  God knows me better than I do and at this time that's not an option for me.  Maybe someday it will be but for now, for today I will be content with making loaves of bread and day dreaming. 

You can take the girl out of the country, she might not even grow up there, but in her heart, in who she is there will always be a desire for that simple life.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

How Far

Cave under pressure.  Do you? I do.  It feels like every time.  I know me.  Put too much on my shoulders and I cave.  "My strength is made perfect in weakness."  Really, Lord?  Because all it feels like is yet another failure. 

It's too hard.  I'm weary.  It's too much.  "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me." But I'm so tired.  "I will give you rest".  When?  It seems never ending.  I can't do it.

There's a chant through my head of all I need to do, all I'm not doing well enough, all I'm failing at and longing to instead succeed in doing.  The house, the meals, the kids, school, the important things.  Eating well and exercising to take care of the body you've given me.  I'm tired.  The guilt is so heavy.  I only get one shot at this and I'm failing, Lord.  I can't do it. 

There is nothing more important to me than being the wife and mother you have given me the privledge of being.  Help me, Father.  Help my unbelief, my doubts and my fear.  "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."  I'm seeking.  Forgive me, please.  What I want do to I do not do and what I don't want to do, that's what I do!  My spirit is willing but my body is oh, so weak. 

Can you hear me, God?  Are you there?  Do you care?  I'm a speck of dirt on this earth, so undeserving.  So full of pride and still clinging to this life.  Life is so complex. Your gift is so simple and yet so incredibly hard to fathom.  I believe you sent your son. I believe He died for sinners and that I am that.  Forgive me, please.

Grant me your strength, your peace.  Dwell in me.  I need your wisdom.  I need you.  Change me.  Purify me.  Restore in me a clean heart.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Getting There

I have a destination in mind.  When we travel I'm excited about arriving, but I also thoroughly enjoy the journey.  We see new things, new places, new people and sometimes get to taste new food.  I enjoy that.  I have a destination in mind now too.

I have a healthy me in mind.  I want to hurry up and get there, but it's a long journey there, not an airplane ride with nearly instant results.  Along the way so far I've found I love Falafel pita's (new food), and that I'm enjoying jogging (new things), and even like lifting weights and doing strength training.  I'm considering running a 5K in the fall, that will be a new place.  I now know the names of a few and the faces of all the regulars at the Y in the early morning. 

Sometimes on a trip we reach a place in our travelling where it feels like we'll never ever get there.  It feels like we're barely moving and we'll never make it.  "Are we there yet?!"  That's where I sit right now.  But I know that I will.  I know that I have made progress.  I would have to go backwards to get to where I started.  I'm moving towards my goal.  I'm getting there. 

Weight today 195, total lost 16lbs, and 23 inches. 
Today I walked  doing hills, 2.9 miles in 49 minutes, jogging the last 9 minutes.  That's just today.  I've covered miles and miles in my early morning exercising and despite being in the same place location wise I'm getting there physically. :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Where I've Been

The question wasn't asked but I'm going to answer it.  The last three weeks have been. Ugh. Just Ugh.  Mentally, physically and even emotionally, Ugh.  Nothing big and horrible happened.  Just life in general.  But it's in the past.

Tonight I'm looking forward to about two hours of time to myself.  I'm taking a book, a pad of paper and some magazines.  I'm bringing my ipod and am planning to sit at the coffee shop sipping on a tea or a coffee and just relax.  I have a Vision Collage to create.  What do I see for the future, what do I want? What are my goals?  What is important to me, really important?  What motivates me?  Those are questions I need to contemplate and try to answer.  It's been a week since I started thinking about them and I haven't got solid conclusions yet. 

On my journey to a healthy lifestyle I have rebelled, repented and now returned to the path I want to be on.  But that means for the last month I've plateaued.  NOT a fun place to be.  Those around me are dropping, they are succeeding, they are losing sizes and weight and inches.  I feel like I have, but I haven't.  Not in that last couple of weeks.  But I didn't give up.  Three months in and I have not quit.  Wow.  That in itself is remarkable and worth remembering.   I am succeeding.

I'm researching and learning about probiotics, nitrates, lactic acid, glycomes (sp), interval training, and much more.  I'm looking into how to run.  Considering doing the training for a 5k with my girls.  I've been busy. Just not blogging.

I am thankful that my marriage is strong.  My husband is fantastic and our relationship is very good.  I am blessed.  My children are healthy and our relationship is good also.  I love them all so much.  Giving them a healthy lifestyle is something I really want to do and the fact that it is important to me is coming to my attention.  It is not good for mom to eat healthy and kids to eat junk.  I'm also thankful that Tim not only recognizes my desire to move our lifestyle into a healthier one but supports it!  He even likes my homemade granola. has been a blessing.  Friends, in real life and those I've never met in person supporting, encouraging and even at times holding accountable each other.  It's free. That is amazing.  I'm reading The Spark, Chris Downie's book, hence the vision collage.  It's good.  Really good.

 Now I need to go switch the laundry, call the girls in for supper and get ready for Awana.  Have a great week!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Up and Down

The last week I've been up and down emotionally and physically.  Nothing serious or life altering just life in general taking me for a ride.  I added 30 Day Shredd to my exercise plan and ran on a poorer quality treadmill and somewhere in there managed to make both my knees and my left ankle hurt.  That scared me.  What if I get hurt and have to stop exercising?! 

I was so excited to hit 199 and couldn't hardly wait to nail the next few pounds taking me to my next goal.  Then on Sat. and Sunday we ate out.  It was a great weekend, Rebecca was baptised!  Tim's parents took all of us out to eat to a chinese buffet.  I never want to eat at a buffet again.  I feel like I'm wasting money if I don't eat until I'm stuffed.  What a bunch of rot!  It tasted fine but wasn't worth it. 

Monday I walked through most of my cardio and that made me freel frustrated.  When I did run, it hurt. :( So Tuesday I decided to stick with the elliptical.  That didn't hurt!  I was able to do 2+miles without pain.  I left the gym feeling excited. 

Since Tuesdays are Weigh In days I stepped on the scale.  It hadn't budged.  199  What made me so excited last week had me completely bummed and frustrated.  I wanted to blow a raspberry at the scale and punch the wall.  I didn't do either.  So I measured.  Every other time measuring has come through and encouraged me.  I've lost an inch somewhere or other and felt like it was okay, my body was just shifting.  Well, yesterday, not so much.  :(  If I pulled in I could make a half inch difference but that's hardly countable.  So in essence my 5 extra workouts, my dilligence in my food except Sunday (Sat. meal was fine) equalled nothing. 

I am thankful for and for the sparkpeople on there who have friended me.  There were so many kind and encouraging words yesterday.  I knew I was throwing a tantrum but my feelings of disappointment and frustration were real.  I had and have no intention of quitting but I needed to vent.  So I did, and so they encouraged me.  I took a nap, took some time and by evening was in a better state of mind. 

Tim and I talked too.  I can't explain why I didn't lose, but I know that I am still doing the best I can.  He is proud of me.  It's amazing how much that means to me.  My husband and my parents, encouraging words from them just shoot me over the moon. 

I have been taking pictures to chronicle my changes.  I can see slight differences.  I wish I could see major.  I'm a little concerned that while other people see it so clearly, I have to look close.  At least I do see it!!   Also, the size 16s I bought at Goodwill last week that I love, they are baggy by the end of the day.  I'm just so impatient. 

This is week 8 of consecutive exercise.  It feels like forever but when I look at it I can see it both ways.  It's so short a time, and yet such a long time.  Where will I be 8 weeks from now?  I want to see it, I want to know already.  I want to be there. 

I'm hanging on and going to keep going. Perseverance has not been a strong suit of mine in the long term but this is a battle I intend to win, with God's help. 

I'm thankful for today.  Thankful for sunshine and a furnace that works to keep our home warm.  Thankful for Tim's good job that he enjoys.  Thankful for healthy food and the ability to buy it.  Thankful for a workout buddy that keeps coming to get me.  Thankful for lots. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Six Weeks In

I am six weeks in to the Biggest Loser At Home challenge.  I am 11lbs lighter and 15.5 inches smaller.  I can run over a mile.  I've lifted over 100,000 lbs.  My jeans are too big.  My shirts fit. I had to buy a belt.  I'm getting up at 5 in the morning most weekdays and exercising about an hour each time. 

All of those things I count as successes and I am happy to have conquered them.

Now here's the flipside.  It feels like it is taking forever.   I want more off, faster.  I want to not only participate in this BLAH challenge I want to WIN!  With lots of things I feel no need for competition.  But this is one of those things I most certainly do and to deny it would be to lie.  ($400-600!!!!!)

So what else will it take to help me not only keep going but win?  That I'm not sure.  I'm researching Interval training.  I've already added Strength Training.  ST won't help me drop lbs quickly but will help over the long run and improve the way I look taking me from round and squishy to smaller and tighter.  I am contemplating adding in more exercise.  More workouts.  I've done well up to now with what I'm doing.  I'm really not knocking it! I am just ready for more.  Ready to kick it up a notch.  This is the middle stretch and I have a choice, keep going as I am and possibly plateau or kick it up a notch and pray that it works. 

My diet has been pretty good.  I did have a normal week of blah, you can probably guess which week that would be!  But I'm back on track, Lord willing, to stay.  What can I do there to make it better?  Perhaps reduce carbs and up protein.  My veggie intake is good.  My fat is even ok.  Could be lower, but I'm getting it from healthy sources for the most part.  My water intake is good. 

In a dream world I could have a personal trainer, and a cook, possibly a nutritionist too. But I am not a celebrity, nor do I really want to share the credit for my hard work.  I am doing this, with support from many people but it won't be because someone else took care of the tiny details for me.  Oh, and before you think I'm getting really cocky, I am 100% aware that it is GOD changing me and working in me that has got me this far.  Me, getting up at 5:15 in the morning. . . you don't really think I take credit for that, do you?! lol

November 2009

Feb. 2010

Friday, February 19, 2010

Goal Met!

Today I made my first goal! I have officially lost 10lbs.  I can book my pedicure.  :D  Only, now I don't want to quite yet.  Funny how that goes, eh?  I want a reason to have had a pedicure. 

I needed that this week.  It was beginning to feel like I'd never make it.  It started to feel like the change wouldn't be happening.  Then I stepped on the scale and it said what I've been waiting to see.  200.4  I started at 211 on January 11th.  That is 5.02% lost!! 

Did you know that weight loss without exercise can actually be up to 25% muscle loss?  I didn't but it sure does make me glad I am exercising and building muscle.  Hopefully I'm building a lot of muscle.  That's what the strength training is supposed to be all about.  That and definition.  I'd love to actually LOOK strong instead of fluffy.

I'm making it at least two miles a day for cardio.  It's either on the treadmill or on the elliptical.  Today I walked over half of the two miles but I had adjusted the incline and usually I leave that flat.  I pushed it with the Strength Training circuit today too.  I'm slowly but surely getting there.  Now if only my body would hurry up and change so I can see it!!! LOL


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Things I Like

I like quiet.  In a clean room. 

I like chocolate and a good book.

I like the ocean and the gorgeous shells that wash up on it's shores.

I like the beach and the way the sand feels beneath my feet.

I like sunshine and how it warms my skin.

I like fires in a fireplace and watching the flames dance while the heat warms me up clear to my bones.

I like stretching after a yawn.

I like the smell of roses especially on a warm summer day.

I like hugs from people I love.

I like fuzzy socks that don't fit in my shoes but keep my toes warm.

I like chairs big enough to curl up in and soft enough to relax into.

I like the sound of my children laughing, especially the giggles.

I like hot baths in bathtubs you can sink in up to your chin.

I like coffee dates with friends where you talk about anything and everything and the coffee is optional.

I like Moms Nights Out and playing games, laughing and praying with friends.

I like gardening and eating tomatoes out of my own backyard.

I like holding a baby and making them smile.

I like listening to my children as they learn to read, learn to add, learn anything new.

I like long trips to new places I've never been before. 

I like shiney things like diamonds and sparkles and fingernail polish.

I like eating oven warm bread with real butter and honey.

I like waking up in my husbands arms and knowing he loves me unconditionally. 

I like holding hands and walking in the rain, or in the sunshine, or in the dark.

I like watching basketball and cheering for my team.

I like second hand stores and finding amazing deals.

I like ordering foods I've never tried before and finding new favorites.

I like falling asleep in my husbands arms and knowing he loves only me the way I love only him. 

I like real whipped cream right out of the can or on top of gingerbread still warm from baking.

I like standing beside the ocean or a lake.

I like giving gifts to people especially when I find something perfect for them.

I like reading book so good they make me laugh and cry.

I like listening to music that makes me want to dance.

I like caramels with nuts and chocolate.

I like stickers.

I like the way Spanish moss makes trees look like old ladies with shawls on.

I like steak medium rare with sauteed mushrooms.

I like long talks.

I like finding a scripture that speaks to me in a way it never has before.

I like singing songs and hymns.

I like being with friends and family especially on special occasions.

I like my house clean.

I like the colors blue and green and purple and red.

I like welcoming my husband home after he's been at work all day.

I like time away from home and being by myself.

I like the way I feel after I've run a mile or even two.

I like to hear encouraging words.

I like recieving gifts especially those that someone thought about and chose just for me.

I like to encourage and help other people.

I like pedicures and massages.

I like spending time with my husband.

I like eating pizza and hot garlic sticks.

I like puppies, kittens and babies of almost any kind of animal.

I like shooting guns and hitting the target as close to the center as possible.

I like succeeding and making goals.

I like the way my children smell after a bath.

I like life.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Week 4 Weigh In for BLAH

This morning was the week 4 weigh in for the BLAH challenge I'm participating in.  I weighed in and an hour later, when I stepped on the scale before going in the shower it had dropped almost another pound!!!  I just laughed.  My week 4 total stands as reported.  202.4  I'm soooo close to 200!! I can hardly wait to break it.

I also measured again this morning.  I'm finding that to be VERY encouraging.  My total inches lost in 4 weeks is 13 inches.  THIRTEEN!!! Three are off my waist, two off my chest, not bust, area.  Tim will be happy it's not melting off my bust the way it usually does.  Although I'm sure it will at some point.  My thigh dropped a couple of inches too, and I know there is more, stronger muscle there than there was 4 weeks ago. 

This morning I decided to get on the treadmill and stick with it for my entire 30 minutes.  I made it to 2 miles in 30 minutes and just a few seconds!! Then I walked to cool down for another five minutes and went .25 of a mile.  I'm excited to have made it jogging/running for 2 miles without stopping! That is exciting. 

I'm reading the book The ABS Diet.  My friend Tiffany recommended it.  The copy I'm reading is so written for men it's not even funny.  There is one out for women now.  I want to check that out as the references to increasing testosterone, etc. just doesn't appeal to me! LOL

I am thankful that today is not my marker for the Pedicure.  Even with the extra near pound before my shower I would've missed by .4 of a pound.  THAT is just not happening. lol  I am going to earn that pedicure and hopefully get to the SPA pedicure too.  I need to go to just under 201 to earn the Spa pedicure.  I have two workout days to make it.  I think I can do it! 

Another positive result for today was that one of the new bras I picked up a few weeks ago while shopping with Tim now fits!! I bought a couple with smaller band or cup sizes while they were $8.  This new one is a pretty one.  :)  So now I have two decent ones to wear!!

On a weird note, I can not find one of my sports bras and I'm also missing a pair of jeans.  Where on earth could they be?  The laundry is caught up. They aren't on the floor under the bed or on the floor of the closet.   That makes 2 pairs of jeans missing.  No one else wears close to my size so where could they be? Odd.  I'm hoping they show up.

That's it for now. 

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Day Before Weigh In

Tomorrow marks the 4th Weigh in.  It will be the measure for 1/4 way through the BLAH challenge.  Just a little over since it's a 15 week challenge, actually.  They say it takes a month to make something a habit.  So I guess then that tomorrow exercising and choosing healthy food is a habit?  I hope so.  It's one I'd like to keep. 

I just tried on the green windbreaker pants I wore the last time the girls and I went cross country skiing.  Last time I was a mite cranky.  Every time I bent over or knelt down the snap popped and the velcro opened on the side.  Today Tim left me his black, fleece lined snowpants to wear because it's cold.  But I tried on the green ones anyway, just to see.  I snapped them easily.  I bent over, bent down, knelt down and twisted and couldn't get the snap to pop open.  YAY!! 

I think tomorrow I may have my oldest take a picture of me wearing what I wore for my before picture 4 weeks ago.  It would be neat to have the pictures to compare.  I'm hoping I will see a difference. 

Tim has been great.  He's such a sweetheart. This morning as we cuddled on the couch for a few minutes before he left for work he told me again that he is proud of me.  I appreciate him telling me that.  It really is pushing me to get up at 5:30 and eat then go to the gym.  I still feel tired but I think it's getting better.  I'm sleeping at night and falling alseep before 1, most of the time it's before 11! So those are good things.  Time with Tim in the morning while the girls are still sleeping is a sweet bonus too.  Although often they are up and that makes it a challenge instead of bonus time.

A sweet friend has offered to have my girls at her house for the day, so Tim and I will be heading to the Scandanavian Spa after Valentines day, for the day!  I wanted to take him there last year and I'm so excited to get to go this year!  And to have the entire day.  It will mean a short week for him, which isn't a bad thing either.  He could use an extra day or two of rest.  He works hard.  My friend, Nikki, lost her husband last week to complications from what started as the Flu.  It's really had me counting my blessings in Tim and thanking God for him. 

On another topic, I think tomorrow I might get to try Zumba!!  I've never done it but it looks like FUN!  It will be a bonus workout as I have every intention of going in the morning too.    Zumba is at night.  It's at the Y and included in the cost of membership so no added fee!  FUN!  If I go I will let you know how it goes.