Saturday, February 14, 2015

Birthday Boy!

Every birthday brings with it a chance to reflect. ...on the speed of time, the size of our children, and how important it is to love these kids -- each and every day -- with our entire beings.

This is our little Valentine boy...

This is him today.




And, best of all, he is 14 on the 14th, his star birthday. And he is definitely our star today!!

Happiest Birthday, Budboy! We love you more and more everyday!!

Monday, February 02, 2015

The Shadow Knows

Happy Groundhog Day!

Well, I'm not sure it is happy...if you consider the fact that our ol' friend Punxsutawny Phil saw his shadow...again. Six more weeks of Winter. Boo! Not that it actually means anything. Phil isn't an actual meteorologist of any kind. He's a groundhog.

And last year? When he didn't see his shadow? And we were supposed to get an early Spring? Yeah. Totally botched that one up, huh, Phil?  *wink-grin*

Still, he is rather cute, isn't he?

We had a bit of mammal day confusion in our house today. Being somewhat colder than usual and with snow in the forecast, I overheard Ethan (6) say, "If only that beaver didn't see his shadow..."

Love the funny things that pop out of kids' mouths.

Here were several adorable cupcake ideas. There are SO many of them out there. If I were less busy more inspired, we would have made some of these:

Do you have any Groundhog Day traditions?

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Sweet Sunday

This is by far my favorite contemporary song from recent years. (It's so hard to choose, though, since there are so many good ones!) But the words of this song fill me with such hope. I know that God is always in matter how much the enemy attacks. And it thrills me to think that "the demons run and flee at the mention of the name: King of Majesty. There's no power in Hell or any who can stand before the power and the presence of the Great I Am!"

Enjoy this video! And enjoy a sweet Sunday!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Saturday Sweethearts

My three sweethearts!

A blast from the past. This was from 2011 or 2012. It's amazing how much they've changed over the years. You think they do the most changing when they're babies, and they probably do. But during the years that follow there's a lot of change happening.

Here are a few more:

And most recently:

December 2014

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Agree to Disagree

Editor's note: I've been going through the blog post drafts I have on here, and this is from 2009. Sadly, not much has changed as far as some of our freedoms of speech go. Maybe it's time to change that...

* * *

Some may be offended by this post...if you think you're one of them, don't read this. You have been warned. *wink-grin*

* * *

Shhh. Do you hear it? That's the sound of my soapbox being dragged out....

I have a peeve to pet, an annoyance to air. It's been awhile since I have felt this angry about something...a long time since I have felt so hurt. So bear with my while I vent.

What is happening to real freedom? Freedom of speech (as long as you don't say the "wrong" thing), freedom of thought (as long as your thoughts agree with what's "acceptable" be determined by certain people only), freedom of expression (as long as it's exactly the same as everyone else).


Are we becoming sheep? Lemmings? Emperor penguins even? Being all the same and told what to feel and think and do?

I've thought long and hard about the words "conservative" and "liberal," and it's ironic that the people who claim to be them are actually the opposite of the true meanings.

liberal: broad-minded; especially: not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or traditional forms

conservative: tending or disposed to maintain existing views, conditions, or institutions: traditional

The liberals are outraged when anyone conservative disagrees with them -- and has the *gasp* gall to do it publicly. How dare they! By not agreeing you are basically telling them they're wrong...even though you may never have uttered those words...or even thought that thought. You just have a difference in opinion...which used to be (I thought) accepted and guaranteed by our Constitution? Where's the "broad-mindedness" in that?

But wait. Isn't that what they claim the conservatives do? Funny how that's what the word conservative means. Thinking in a narrow-minded way...being "intolerant" of other views.

I hate Lily Allen.

Oops. Was that my out-loud voice?

Okay, I said it out loud.

Once upon a time I liked her. A lot. I thought she was cute and fun and different. Now, I think she's an obnoxious "brat" who will one day pay for all she's sowing at this moment. She's using her "fame" to promote some pretty awful things. And why? So that she can be heard? So that she can sway a bunch of people to feel like she does? Have her moment of fame?

But I want to ask her some things.

First: Where do you live?

What gives you the right to have ANY opinion on my country or my country's leaders? Last I'd heard, you live in Great Britain...not the U.S.

Next: What exactly did President Bush do to you personally?

I'm sure you couldn't say. It's just the popular thing to diss a President who actually stood up against the evil that was done to his country...not your country. You didn't then -- still don't -- live here. And would you actually sing that horribly vulgar song to President Bush? (Yes, he is still called President and always will be. Sadly, you won't always be a singer.)

So your country joined in. Be mad at your own country's leaders NOT mine. Those leaders aren't puppets. They have their own wills to do what they deem as best. (Do you even have a full education to understand such thoughts? Doubtful. But I digress...and bow to your level by attacking you personally...)

And then: Was it YOUR country that was attacked on 9/11? Did you have any personal loss from that particular incident?

I did.

It was MY country that was attacked. It was MY countrymen that died, MY parents who lost friends in the Pentagon attack. It was MY children who lost the chance to go inside those buildings and enjoy an American landmark.

Finally: How would you feel if people started putting down your country and your country's leaders and you personally?

Oh, wait. You have no pride of country. You have no real country....not acting like that. You're a lost soul with nothing to hang onto...and that makes me sad.

When we promote hatred, we go a long way in pushing back the efforts of "peace on earth" since such "peace" starts with with a tolerance (from EVERYone) towards each other and each other's thoughts. That's TOLERANCE...not agreement. We can "agree to disagree" and still love one another...still be friends.

Until then, you keep singing such filthy songs, Miss Allen. You keep putting down people with honor who actually stand for something you'll never understand. You'll be the loser...since there's no real peace in your heart, the place that true peace on earth begins.

And remember for every finger you point (whichever one you choose) there are still four more pointing backwards. Look inside and see if this is the "agenda" you really want to push.

Okay. Okay. Soapbox away.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Mom Law

There are some things in life that defy explanation. One such thing is something I've deemed the "Mom Law of the Universe," and that's the compulsion of moms everywhere to say things that apparently don't need to be said. That are so blatantly obvious or unnecessary that they provoke the stereotypical teenager "eyeroll and sigh."

Com'on, Moms. You know what I'm talking about. Uh-huh. Yup. Been there, done that, right?

Yet somehow, despite the fact that we know our kids would never do whatever we're about to ask them not to do, we have to say it. At this point, it's not even a matter that self-control could stop.

We. Have. To. Say. It.

For instance, when they leave for a visit with friends, we always say "Behave." or "Be good." Really, if we didn't say it, would they act like monsters?

Maybe it stems from the fact that we have to constantly remind them of such things when they're toddlers. No one comes into the world knowing the rules of the road, so to speak. Most kids, as toddlers, will touch things unless they are reminded not to touch ahead of time. More often than not, kids will not remember to use their inside voice in a theatre the first time they go to see the symphony. Nor will they sit in a seat and eat a meal if they are not told that that's what we do. It's just not part of their makeup.

Just because they see other people doing it doesn't mean they'll know that that's what they're supposed to do, too. There's too much distracting them.

So at what point do we stop reminding them? Surely, they've learned a bit since toddlerhood. And even more surely we should have learned what they've learned since toddlerhood.

Since I haven't quite gotten to that part of motherhood, I honestly can't say. Though I can say with some certainty that the urge happens a little less often...either that, or it's getting easier for the kids to "smile and wave" instead of roll eyes and sigh.

But whatever the reason, we remind them, for goodness sake, be good!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sweet Sunday

From our worship time at church:

                                            "You're Beautiful"

I see Your face in every sunrise
The colors of the morning are inside Your eyes
The world awakens in the light of the day
I look up to the sky and say
You're beautiful

I see Your power in the moonlit night
Where planets are in motion and galaxies are bright
We are amazed in the light of the stars
It's all proclaiming who You are
You're beautiful

I see You there hanging on a tree
You bled and then you died and then you rose again for me
Now You are sitting on Your heavenly throne
Soon we will be coming home
You're beautiful

When we arrive at eternity's shore
Where death is just a memory and tears are no more
We'll enter in as the wedding bells ring
Your bride will come together and we'll sing
You're beautiful

I see Your face, I see Your face
I see Your face, You're beautiful
You're beautiful
You're beautiful

~Phil Wickham

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Saturday Sweethearts

Is it possible that these two are as big as they are? 

We feel so blessed by their close friendship, despite the 7.5 year age gap. It's going to be really hard on Ethan when Edward goes off to college one day. 

Until then, we'll enjoy these moments...

Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday Funnies

This was us yesterday.... 

But we're officially finished with the Fall semester! Yay!! Phew! Wow! Boo-hoo!! Lots of emotions today.

It's the end of the first semester of Edward's high school years...and the end of the last Fall semester for Emily's high school years. 

Lots of emotions today......

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Some Thoughts...

Editor's note: This was written back in October 2014.

What if Michael Brown had been a white kid on drugs going after a black cop? Where would the sympathies lie? Would this even be in the news? Probably not, and it's my guess that that has happened countless times.

Racism goes both ways, and it takes both sides to see it to erase it. Even "good kids" can make bad choices.

And so what if he was a week away from going to college? What if the cop had been a week away from being married? Or having his first child? What if he had been killed by this "good kid a week away from going to college"? Would that be any less tragic -- or would it be deserved?

This was a matter for the local news in Ferguson...NOT the national news. And rioting over it? That's tragic.

No matter what "color" your pigmentation, you have to follow the law. They're there for the safety of EVERYONE.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Silly Ol' Pooh Bear

Last year, Ethan and I read A. A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh for school. We fell in love with all the characters and Milne's fantastic sense of humor.

More than that, we loved the imagination and charm that filled the book. We loved it so much that we had to immediately find the sequel The House at Pooh Corner and devour it as soon as it arrived.

I love sharing good books with our kids. I love reading the words, letting the rhythm and song fall on our ears. I especially love when the older kids listen surreptitiously from another room. This time they just came and joined us. Everyone was very excited every time I announced it was time to read again.

Ethan turned six last September. Can you guess the favorite book he got for his birthday?

Now We Are Six. 

And it's a definite favorite, judging by the number of times we've read and reread it.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sweet Sunday

I found my old iPod Touch the other day. It was such a gift. From the photos it held to all the music and books, I'd forgotten how much I loved it before I got my iPhone.

Here's a gem from my "Worship Songs" playlist:

I love knowing that God is FOR and WITH us!! How about you?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Saturday Sweetheart

Today, our daughter had an interview for a fairly sizable scholarship for a university she's interested in going to. (I say "fairly sizable," but it was in fact for more money than our house cost when we bought it.) She was incredibly nervous beforehand...and VERY relieved when it was all said and done. She won't hear if she got it until mid-February.

But the amount of the scholarship dims in comparison to the amount of excitement and pride we felt for this girl today. It was amazing to watch her walk away with the scholarship interview staff, looking all collegiate, and think about how fast it's all going...and how she's looking at which colleges she might like to attend next Fall....and how is that even possible? Wasn't I just in college? Wasn't she just born?

"How can we be at this point?" I asked my hubby.

However, we are at this point. And it's all exciting and sweet and daunting and joyous and amazing and scary rolled into one.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday Funnies

Here's a little something to bring a smile to your face and a giggle to your heart.

Isn't this the cutest?

I grew up with bulldogs -- and we have two mixed-breed dogs that have bulldog ancestry (of some sort) -- so I love love love this breed!! So much fun-ness -- and funniness -- about them!

I hope you enjoy a fun Friday! And don't forget to SMILE!

(photo courtesy of Cup of Jo's blog)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

To Like or Not to Like

In a world that's saturated by social media, friendship is cheap.

On Facebook and Twitter, we "collect" friends and followers, even though we may never really speak to or connect with said friends and followers. We just "like" or repost photos and stories and statuses. Or retweet things we think are interesting. Sometimes we post photos in the hopes that they will draw a lot of attention and get lots of "likes" and/or comments. Then we'll feel liked, right?

But is there any real connection?

It's really just a popularity contest. We can choose the "friend of the day" like a person chooses a flavor of ice cream. We also can judge people by what they post. Sometimes, posts even cause feelings of inadequacy and jealousy, most of us forgetting that we can choose to do some of the same things we see or read about -- watch the same movies, read the same books, visit the same restaurants and cafes, save to travel to the same places, be the same patient/loving mother we think our friends are.

It just takes more effort (and money) for some.

Do you remember as a child being in a group of friends and seeing the "odd" girl hanging out on the fringe? Sometimes she was reading a book. Sometimes she was playing by herself. Sometimes she was standing, longing to be included. Do you remember feeling sad for her but hoping that someone else would invite her to join in? Do you remember when you became that "odd" girl and suddenly you understood just how lonely it felt to be on the outside edge of the circle? It made you promise yourself that if you ever made it back into the circle that you would always include any girls on the fringe.

What causes people to pick and choose who they like and don't like? Why do we separate into groups, causing others to feel on the outer edge? It takes effort to include everyone. It takes thought.


Sure, we're only human. We can't do everything perfectly, and sometimes we're going to forget to show the kindnesses that we've been shown. But when we do think of others -- include others -- we're doing something different...and we're showing God's love. Two good things.

We can't really choose to like or not like someone. Well, we can...but should we? In a world filled with loneliness and hopelessness, let's try harder to be a friend to everyone.

It'll be worth the effort.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sweet Sunday

A song from today's worship. Perfect after last week's tragedies, yes?

"I will trust the promise that you will carry me safe to shore!"

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Saturday Sweethearts

Sometimes in life an adventure is necessary in order to fill the hearts of our children. Today was one of those days. We traveled 200 miles (round trip) to visit a small mall north of Harrisburg and meet some awesome online friends for the first time IRL (for the non-texters out there, that's "in real life").

And it was totally worth it!

Friday, January 09, 2015


In memory of those who died in the name of Freedom of Expression:

Thursday, January 08, 2015

The Power of the Pen

Mine is a blog of random thoughts and mind is in constant motion trying to make sense of the world around me.


What does it mean to have freedom of speech or freedom of expression?

To the staff of the a French weekly newspaper, it meant death.

I believe in kindness. I believe in love. I believe that we should treat each other with respect. I believe in truth. But does that mean I'll always agree with everyone around me? Does that mean I won't ever offend someone? Does that I shouldn't ever offend anyone?


People are born with a voice. Many of us are taught to use that voice responsibly. Some don't choose to use it. Others choose to use it in a way that may ignite others to think, to laugh, to feel. In doing this, it may offend some people.

The attack and slaughtering of the staff of the Charlie Hebdo was senseless. It was horrific. It was barbaric.

I don't agree with the content published in Charlie Hebdo. Politically-speaking, it is probably as far from my viewpoint as ever something could be. But that's my opinion. And it's my choice not to buy or read that publication.

That's because I know that you don't have to agree with someone for them to have the right to exist. You can think they're vulgar and offensive, and they can still exist. You can be mad at them for it, and they can still exist. But...

You DON'T have to kill them for it.

It's the equivalent of the playground bully coming and killing another kid just because the other kid said he was ugly.

My heart hurts.

And my head spins...because they may feel they silenced the "infidels"...but instead they awoke the giant.

In the name of freedom of expression and speech and as a fellow journalist: Je suis Charlie.

Monday, January 05, 2015

2014: A Year in Pictures

A new year. It's always difficult to remember everything that happens in a year, but I love how photos can tell that story. I'm a bit, okay, a huge lover of photos. I love taking them and looking at them and collecting them. I really enjoy how they freeze a moment in time so perfectly. Even the photo mistakes have meaning to me. 

So digesting our last year to just 12 photos? I used to be able to do 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009. But, if you indulge my photobuggedness (is that even a word?), I'll keep it to a few each month....

Here goes:

We started the new year with a few of us getting ill and a LOT of snow, especially, of course, during the Pennsylvania Farm Show, which, sadly, we weren't able to go to. The doggies got new sweatshirts. We finished the first semester of school. January sped by, leading us to...


This was the month that Edward became a teen, turning 13 on Valentine's Day and got his first iPad mini, with money from everyone in the family. We had to reschedule his birthday party to the weekend after his birthday due to snow...and nearly had to reschedule it again due to snow. Edward chose to have a Build-a-Bear party at the store in Lancaster. While Stuart was on a trip, we used some of Stuart's hotel points to go overnight to a local Hampton Inn. Always a fun time for fun that some of us were extremely sad when it was over. And Emily and I went to the PaSRBA Convention where we found a new furkid named Lovebug, who joined our family and lives with Ethan.

Next came...


The month continued the "snow" theme. Emily, Edward, and I went to a local rabbit/cavy show where we showed three of the Himalayan dwarfs and one of Edward's piggies. We enjoyed a fun St. Patrick's Day with "Taco the Mornin'" and the more traditional (American) corned beef and cabbage. Emily took her SATs, and Ethan enjoyed his half birthday (5.5). I took Emily and her friend Lucy to a Skillet concert where we got in for free by volunteering to help with Food for the Hungry. Emily started the newspaper at school, thus The Agora Times officially went into production with the first issue happening in...


Easter came in April. The kids looked dapper. We had fun doing Easter eggs and having our traditional egg hunt. We missed one and found it later in the month...after a squirrel had eaten all the goodies inside. Emily celebrated her half birthday (16.5). The trees and flowers were beautiful and led into a wonderfully plush and flowery...


A beautiful start to the month, and I had a lovely Mother's Day. But the 22nd brought "The Hailstorm of the Century" to our area and wiped out all the flowers and leafy trees and our car, house and porch roofs, and outside furniture and toys. God provided us with the insurance money to replace everything -- with even nicer things. We celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary. Emily went to the prom and took her first AP test, which she passed with flying colors and got a 4. 


This month brought a fun trip to Knoebel's Amusement Park with school and the END of school. Edward (a.k.a. the "Blur") took another session of one-on-one soccer at Body Zone. We celebrated Father's Day. The month flew by into...


We went to our borough's annual July 4th parade. Ethan and I went to the Crayola Experience with our friend Beth and her granddaughter Madison. Gigi got a new summer dress that she loved. And Emily and I started on the "2014 Official College Tour," which included Albright College, Kutztown University, Reading Area Community College, and Arcadia University.


This month brought the open forum for politicians that Emily created and organized with seven other cyberschooled students, including her brother. Edward started high school soccer. We got school materials for the new school year, and we had our annual "Camp Woohoohaha!" family day camp. Edward had a fun half-birthday (13.5).


Edward started at Voices. School started after Labor Day, Emily's last year of school. Now, we officially had a senior, freshman, and 2nd grader. Stuart had his birthday, turning a palindrome, 44. Ethan had his birthday and turned 6. Edward had his first soccer game of the season. Ethan started his Fall U8 soccer season with us as his coaches.


Our birthday month. Emily turned 17 and I turned 44. We celebrated with My Little Pony shirts and all of us going to a local hotel to swim all day in their pool and have a night away. We did our school photos in the park. Halloween was fun with trick-or-treating in the cold. 


We had a chilly month with Thanksgiving bringing a bit of snow. My lovely aunt and uncle hosted a beautiful dinner as usual. We went shopping in the little shops on Penn Ave. with our friends, Dawn and Katrina, on Small Business Saturday. Ethan got glasses.


Christmas Eve with candles. Christmas Day with family and presents. My mom and dad made a lovely and yummy dinner as usual. Boxing Day was a success. Pagoda Day on top of Mt. Penn. We started the month with Breakfast with Santa. We went to NYC on the Eve of Christmas Eve. And played games and watched movies between the holidays. New Year's Eve was spent with our friends, the Stumps, and games and lots of goodies. And then it was...