Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy Anniversary Mr. Clean

I cannot imagine being married to anyone else.
You are amazing; thanks for a wonderful 12 years!





Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Here Comes Santa Claus?

Four score and 7 years ago... no, hang on, it was just 7 years ago.... okay, closer to 8 years ago, Mr. Clean and I gave birth to our first child, K.Z. We decided that there was not going to be any Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, yada, yada, yada, around our kids.

Fast forward to the present and we have three kids, Santa, and two out of the three "yadas" present and accounted for in this family (sorry Bunny, you were never included). Lately I have been more and more convicted that the man in the red suit with the fat bum needs to get up and get out. I love the story of St. Nicholas and the historical aspect of it, but that is not the man who rules modern culture now. It is the classic "Coca-Cola Santa".

My kids love the thought of Santa. They also love Christ The King and know that Christmas is the celebration of His birth. But is there room for both? I am not so sure anymore.

I grew up with Santa as did Mr. Clean and we did not suffer any great harm from it, but our focus for those first few formative years most certainly was not on Christ, but on tradition and what Santa would be bringing. That's just not good enough for my kids. I want their focus firmly on Christ. For that matter, I want my focus firmly on Christ and I know how hard that is as an adult who knows the importance. Forget being young, starry eyed and caught up in the magic of Mr. Claus and knowing how crucial it is to put Christ first.

Mr. Clean and I have talked before about "killing Santa" (as he refers to it) and we might just do it this year (no fear, we will not traumatize the children with tales of Santa falling out of the sleigh in flight or the like). We will gently tell them the truth and explain why.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Where do you fall in the whole Santa debate?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Humbled A Bit

I was running behind for an appointment today and I was stuck behind a driver going a tad slow. Okay, let me rephrase that. They were driving the actual speed limit. I did not tailgate nor gesture to them to speed up, but inside my head I was bouncing up and down, whining, "C'monnnnnnnn!!"

On the way home I was behind another slower driver. This time I was not in a huge hurry and decided to stick behind them even though I could have easily gone around. I was probably still a little sheepish about my internal behavior earlier.

So, if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it does it still make a sound? Well duh... of course it does. If a 33 year old mother of three yells at someone in her head yet remains perfectly civil outwardly, is it still a sin? Of course it is.
"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.

Matt 22:36-40 (NKJ)
Even if they have the audacity to follow the posted speed limits.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Christmas Hymn?

This is my favorite Christmas song. Albeit not written for Christmas, isn't this what Christmas is really about? I love the classics like "Oh Holy Night" and "Silent Night" that sing of Christ's birth, but we tend to forget why he was born. Ultimately to die. For our sins.



"In Christ Alone"
Words and Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2001 Kingsway Thankyou Music

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev'ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow'r of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Potty Mouth

My sweet, loving, charming three year old turned four recently and has been channeling a drunken sailor lately when she is frustrated; at least in the best way her four year old mind can.

This morning my angry little princess was apparently mad about some injustice her siblings had bestowed on her. So in as loud a voice and with as much indignation as she could muster, she angrily spat, "Stupid brother and big sister poop!" Complete with a raspberry for emphasis.

For the record, I just want to say that Mr. Clean and I keep a tidy mouth. We have never really been ones to curse nor does anyone we hang out with. "Poop" has become the most recent giggle word in our house apparently and whenever one of the kids say it, the other two break into fits of laughter while their parental units frown and scold them for using such silly language outside of the lavatory. It's interesting to see it used now in anger. Kind of goes back to that old saying, "It's not what you say, but how you say it".

It's going to be a looong year.

Walking In A Winter Wonderland...

THIS is where we will be spending Christmas this year when we head to the Adirondacks to see my in-laws.

Picturesque, no? I cannot wait to sip a "cuppa" tea, hot chocolate, plain water, anything, watching the snow.

We are really blessed.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Momma Aduladi' and the Hop Along Kid

Every once in a while a momma needs a minute. Far far away from any children, her own or others and to be able to think about anything but home and hearth. For me, I can grab that minute at our library. It is in our neighborhood, easy to walk (who am I kidding, it's cold here) drive to and can offer hours of escape or mere minutes based on the need and time restraint.

I needed a few minutes last night and Mr. Clean graciously allowed me to escape for a bit while he held down the fort. Until about ten minutes later when he raced into the library himself to track me down. Sans kids. All three kidlets were in the car and I was fortunately right by the entrance so Mr. Clean did not have to go far to find me. K.Z. had been "skating" in his socks on our foyer floor when he tripped and lacerated his toe pretty badly on the edge of a tile. Due to the amount of blood and the "ick" factor we thought it best to take him to the ER (I will spare you the details of the laceration itself, except to say it was super icky). Mr. Clean had bandaged him up at home (way to go Super Dad) so I never even had to see the cut until later at the hospital.

So... at 18:02 we registered at the ER, got our little beeper (think "Outback Steak House", but without free appetizers while you wait) and both settled down for a long winters nap. At 23:05, FIVE hours later we left with the world's most expensive band-aid. The laceration was on the verge on needing a stitch or two, but the doctor felt it would be alright to forgo that option, probably due to the panic that was caused simply by applying iodine to cleanse the wound.

The doc ordered an x-ray or two to make sure no damage had been done to the toe (um... except the huge cut?) and more than likely to make us feel like this visit was simply "not for naught" (I have always wanted to use that expression, but it felt too haughty... hey, there's another one!). I would have felt better if he had at least thrown in some Dermabond or a butterfly bandage, but he didn't. So home we went with a mummy wrapped foot and instructions to see our pediatrician within 2-4 days.

I need a momma minute. Maybe a trip to the library?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Home "School Picture" Time!

One of the few (very few) things I thought I would miss about not having my kids in "brick and mortar" school was the annual school picture. I am sure you remember the one to which I am referring. The funny picture in which your hair has been combed with that funky plastic comb seconds before, your eyes may possibly have been crossed and you have a fake plastic smile plastered on your face, all in front of that hypnotic blue background. Yet your mother gushed over it. Or cried from sheer embarrassment.

I had no need whatsoever to try and replace those things. Especially since the lowest priced package usually started at about $14,259.99. So when our homeschool group offered them, I initially had no interest. Then I got talked into it by some well meaning fellow homeschooler. So I reluctantly agreed and wrote my check.

To say that I was pleased with the results would be an understatement. I have decided that when I strike it rich, this photographer will be my personal press secretary and will follow my children around with her camera documenting their every move. Or at least take their school pictures next year...


Vacation!

Our semester has officially finished for the 2007 year and we are now on a three week vacation from school. Today was going to be one of those days that I would float around my beautifully clean home and stop to kiss my shiny clean children on the foreheads as I straighten the fresh flowers on the clutter free kitchen table. Then I woke up.

On Friday my house was fairly close to immaculate (except for my room, but that does not count 10 days before Christmas). My parents were coming into town for our Christmas celebration with them and I thought it would be nice to get it all done. Two days later you would never know it.

It absolutely blows me away that within 48 hours a house can implode. So I suppose it is time to start again. So that is what this week will have to be about. No floating and flowers and shiny children. Just vacuums and dusters and trash bags. Sigh...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Like A Good Neighbor...

Recently our anti-virus/anti-spyware/anti-wrinkle/anti-terrorist/yada-yada software expired. I knew it would happen, but when you buy it you rarely think about the next year when you will have to buy it again. So, it surprised me when it expired.

Frankly I have no desire to drop another $60 to replace it and have been grumbling about doing it for over a week now. Here's the cool part of the story...


Last year around tax time I was Googling coupon codes for
Turbo Tax since I am ridiculously cheap and constantly try to find a way to save a buck, when I happened upon a tip in a Yahoo chat room. State Farm clients got to use turbo Tax for free. I was in heaven.

I followed the link and happily filed my return for nothing.
I went back this year to see if they had posted the updated link to start my taxes (I have a problem, I know) and found that not only do they offer tax prep to their customers, they offer free McAfee anti-virus/anti-spyware. Cha-ching! Life is good; better when it's free!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Your Will, Not Mine

Yesterday was bitter sweet. In the mail we officially received our license and welcome packet from the county officially declaring us foster parents with dotted "i"s and crossed "t"s. Soon after we received two phone calls within two hours of one another from our case worker with placements.

The first was for three siblings, which we simply cannot transport as our "mom-mobile" only seats seven and there are five of us already. We had to say no. Again. The next call was for four siblings that they had to break up as they could not find a family with enough approved room for all four (in our county there can only be a total of six children in the household, natural or foster). They asked us if we could take two sisters from the group.

We talked about it for as long as we could since time was of the essence, but a myriad of obstacles stood in the way. Mostly timing. We will be leaving in a week to go out of state for Christmas and that would have to be approved by either the natural parents or court ordered. It would also mean that we would miss an important court date for the girls.

Also, to call our Christmas hosts and say, "oh by the way we are bringing two more children with us", would have been alright and we could have adjusted, but would it have been fair (we did call and they were willing)?

These travel plans would have also rattled the girls a little more than necessary. "Here, meet the family you will be living with, adjust for a week and then they will whisk you far away from your state, city and family. Merry Christmas."

We said no. Again. It is heartbreaking, but I know that the timing is not up to us, it is all in the Lord's hands.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Belated Happy Hanukkah

I meant to post this on the 4th, but it slipped my mind. This is my favorite of the three Hanukkah songs Adam Sandler wrote. Enjoy!


What Makes a Family?

The other day my mother made the comment, "You're just an aunt, I am the grandmother".

The comment was not meant maliciously in anyway, it was in reference to a conversation we were having, but it struck a chord in my anyway. Personally I think titles are bogus. As a kid one of the biggest influences in my life and one of the people I loved the most was my mother's sister, my Aunt Sue. She never forgot a birthday, always made me feel special and I would spend various weekends and then weeks in the summer with her family. She was never the "warm and fuzzy" kind, but she was very transparent and you knew how she felt about you. I knew, and it made me feel warm and fuzzy.

I spent the majority of my life living very close to my extended family. When we moved to Pennsylvania 4 years ago I was thrust into an environment where I knew no one. The family I had grown so accustomed to seeing regularly were now over two hours away at the bare minimum. I had to make some new "family".

In the past few years I am blessed to say I have more "family" here than I ever had back home (not number wise, as I come from a huge extended family, but relationally). The people that have embraced me here I would desperately miss if we ever left. My family is now here.

So that brings me back to the original question. What makes a family? It is cliche-ish, I know, but since we have started this process of becoming foster parents it is more prominent in my mind. We may never be "mom and dad" to our foster kids, or we may be more of a mom and dad than we ever could imagine. But do those titles really matter? Or is the relationship what counts? I think it is the latter.

By the way, thanks Aunt Sue. I love you.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Merry Tossmas

Xenaism

In the car today Xena announced that she needed a Band-aid because she is bleeding. Since all she had been doing for the past ten minutes was riding in the car strapped into a booster seat, I asked her what in the world happened.

"I scratched my hand and made a hole in it", she replied.

"Yeah! She did", confirmed K.Z.

"But you will not be able to see it Mom because it is tiny. I will show you where it is because I can see it 'cause I have tiny eyes."

Hmmm. If that logic were true, you'd think with my "big eyes" I would finally be able to see the big picture once and a while!

Bah Humbug...

I have no idea why, but the Scrooge bug has bitten lately. I have been in a funk these past few days with no real reason. You know when you get that "deep pit of your stomach feeling"? I've got it and I have no clue as to what the reason may be.

Hence, the lack of posts. Frankly, I have not had much to say and my brain has too much spinning around in it to sit down and type something coherent. Kind of like today.

A bit of good news however! Our PA clearances have come back proving we are not hardened criminals (just soft ones... kidding, of course!) so now the county can dot all the "i"s and cross the "t"s on our approval for the foster system. Last night I had a dream we got a ten month old placement. Probably spurned on by the fact that I was privileged to rock the sweet, but colicky baby of our Czech missionaries (home for Christmas) to sleep last night and give his mom a break.

So now, I will carry on with my day in my Eeyore like state. I think I need some serious time with the Lord and get my head back on straight!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Arlington National Cemetery

These are not my pictures, I snagged them from an e-mail floating around, but they made my heart stop for the briefest of moments.


Rest easy, sleep well my brothers.
Know the line has held, your job is done.
Rest easy, sleep well.
Others have taken up where you fell, the line has held.
Peace, peace, and farewell...

Thursday, December 6, 2007

"Poll-itics"

I have no horse in the political race yet, but I am liking Ron Paul more and more everyday. That is why this article made me laugh and annoyed all at the same time...

"The San Francisco Republican Party straw poll was canceled Tuesday, after a majority of attendants showed up to vote for Texas Congressman Ron Paul.

The San Francisco Republican Alliance hosted the event at the Holiday Inn on Fisherman’s Wharf with featured speaker, Republican State Senator Sam Aanest (CA 4th SD).

Aanest reportedly discussed his support for former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson, before a flood of Paul supporters, paying the late comer $5 non-banquet fee, entered the room to join those supporters already in attendance.

Event organizer, Gail Neira, then canceled the poll citing issues of fairness..."

Pardon me? Fairness? Oh right... because your candidate was not the majority vote represented? Got it. Give me a break.

Read the whole article here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A Different Kind of Sad

We got our first call today as foster parents. Three brothers currently in a foster home are being transferred to the adoption unit and the county wants to place them in a "legal risk home", which simply means a home that they will probably stay in permanently if their parents rights are terminated. We are considered a legal risk home.

The brothers are 6 years old, 4 years old and 19 months and have been in the system for about 6 months. These boys need a good forever home. Sadly, it cannot be ours. After talking about it and mulling over the obvious things like the fact that our van does not have enough seats for 6 children and the debatable facts, as in, "can we handle doubling the amount of children we have, all under the age of 8?", Mr. Clean and I agreed we would have to say no.

I know that this is par for the course and that the Lord will provide a home for these young boys, but it pains me to have to say, "no". I would take in all 800 children in this county that needed a home if that was realistic and not an absurd thought. My heart hurts for the things they have dealt with.

We will continue to pray for these young guys and that the right placement for our family will come along in the Lord's timing. It's still sad to have to say no, even if it is the right thing to do.

Tuesday Child Is Full Of.....

Since the colder weather has been thrust upon us, I have gotten a little lax in the "keeping 'em smooth" category.

After all, my gams are hidden under denim most of the time and the
lazy economical thing to do is to conserve razor blades since Mr. Clean uses up so many keeping his chrome dome in top shape.

So today, my ridiculously observant 7 year-old son, noticing my fabulously insulated legs peeking out from under my pajamas says, "I thought that when Moms grew fur they were supposed to get rid of it."


I am off to find a razor. Sharp, dull, meant for scraping wall-paper, whatever.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Get Out of the Pot

You know that old analogy about how a frog in a tepid bath will never notice when the water slowly gets hot (hence boiling to its death), yet a frog that jumps into boiling water will surely jump right back out, and how it pertains to Christians? I am sure you are familiar with it.

I just read an article at Slice of Laodicea about our declining girl culture. Remember the "little girl"? She almost no longer exists.

"I grieve for the painted little girls of Sodom today. Their mothers and fathers have not protected them but have thrown them into the dangerous stream of popular culture. They will be destroyed by that stream—pulled under by the powerful currents of lust and greed and hedonism that wait beneath the glittering surface."

This is an excellent article to read in its entirety. I felt the sudden burn of the hot pot that I had probably dangled my feet into when it had just been tepid. As the mother of two daughters I think it may be time to rethink some of the worldly things I may have previously allowed (and we are fairly strict). They are such precious commodities.

Train Up A Child?

Recently I was given two recipes that are so basic and wonderful that they can be used often (one I was given and one I swiped off of a website).

The first recipe was for amazing sweet ice tea that Susie gave me and the other was a mashed potato recipe I swiped from Ree over at The Pioneer Woman Cooks (don't laugh, before this recipe I too thought that mashed potatoes were just... well, mashed potatoes with some milk and butter thrown in... boy I was all wrong).

Since I love these two recipes so much, I figured I would want to have them daily at a minimum, so I decided that my children must become proficient in their preparation. I am probably breaking at least a dozen child labor laws, but it is sooo worth it...


Here is Xena diligently mashing potatoes under my strict authority.

Oh... and that salad in the background?

Yep, she made it too...

The recipes you ask? Well, the ice tea recipe is a well guarded secret that Susie found on the internet (the secret is to add about 1/8 tsp of baking soda to the hot water before adding the tea bags to steep, which will take away that bitter tea taste you can get ... shh, don't tell), and the other?

Oh, the other. The amazing mashed potato recipe. When I read it, I was turned off due to one key ingredient but Ree assured her readers that if tough cowboys loved these potatoes despite that one aforementioned ingredient, we would as well. I will let you check out the recipe for yourself. If you make them, expect me directly.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Out From Under My Rock!

Ahhh Sunday! The day of the week to lazily snooze in a patch of sun with your favorite chew toy. Or something like that.

The end of another week! It has been a great week with my in-laws coming into town on Wednesday and hanging out until yesterday. Both K.Z and I hit the eye doctor's, him for brand spankin' new specs and me for new contacts and "morning glasses", as Xena calls them since she only sees me wear them for a brief time in the morning when I stumble out of my room.

C'sa got her third small birthday celebration of the week since Nan and Pop were in town and wanted to share in the fun of her big "O-Four".


The Christmas tree made it's annual pilgrimage out of the basement and into the living room (which actually is now our "office" and school room) and it is adorned with lights and decorations. Now we are working on the rest of the house and wanting to just kick back and enjoy it. Maybe in January?

No, my boy is not really that tall... he is standing on the couch!

It has been a long and good week, but a tiring one and it does not seem like the next few weeks will be any slower. One homeschool perk however? In two weeks we are on a three week sabbatical from school work! Hurry Christmas!