Sunday, March 28, 2010

Cardinal Persistence

Day 6 - the cardinal is STILL HERE! She doesn't give a flip about the Easter decals we put up on the panes to break the reflection. She wants in! She flies right into the stickers, as well as around them. I'm changing my perspective on her: I want to be as persistent in prayer, not giving up, no matter how futile I feel, just like her. :-P

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cardinal Rule of Life

For the last 4+ hours straight, this crazy female cardinal has been trying to fly through our window. She's not really hurting herself (I don't think) but she just keeps running into the glass over & over & over. It's kind of heart-breaking, (I wish the window had a screen on it & I'd open the glass!) ...and it's rather irritating, too.

I wonder if God feels this way about us, whenever we're floundering - whether we won't give up on something that's not working, or whether we see this reflection of what we think our lives should look like, and even though it's just a mirage, we won't stop trying to get it...even if we're bashing our heads in with each attempt.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Thumb War & Homemade Pizza

Sooooo, remember when I fell last month & caught myself with my hand? It's been 5 weeks, and my lower thumb joint still kills. I had no idea how much I actually do with my right hand! (I write left, but I think now that's about it!) I had to break down today and buy a brace for it, but I really feel like it's going to help. Add prayers of healing to the prayers of peace while waiting on God's will!

One of our happiest traditions when we lived in Georgia was making homemade pizzas on our pizza stone with fresh pizza dough from the Publix bakery. (Publix is *still* my fave big grocery store!) JB had absolutely mastered the art of the perfect pizza for us, but we got out of the habit when we moved to MI, with no Publix around and JB barely ever around, either. Tonight we're going to try to recapture the magic! We got dough at Trader Joe's (my fave smaller/speciality grocery! I've never tried their dough, but everything else they have is divine, so this should be, as well!) I have wonderful friends who make their own pizza dough from scratch, but when this is also freshly made (not in a packaged tin) for $0.99? Yeah, we're buying it. :-P I'm geekily excited for dinner!


Edited to add: It rocked!

Precious Children

Writer Amy Butler focused over & over last week on the fact that we are "precious children of God". We're in a season of limbo right now, and while - THANKFULLY! - we're certainly not enduring any dire hardships, we're still calling out to God and waiting on His answer. These devotionals have really encouraged me, so I wanted to share:

Psalm 5:1-3 "Give ear to my words, O Lord; give heed to my sighing. Listen to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you I pray. O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch."

The psalmist reminds us that, as precious children of God, we are worthy to cry out for help, to ask God to hold out a hand to us in our uncertainty and fear. We don’t have to have the answers to everything. When we face our problems of fear and uncertainty, we can reach out to God knowing that, in the morning, God hears our voice and reaches back to us.

Help me, God. I admit I can’t get through this task of being human without your help and guidance. I give you thanks today that I can turn to you, that I am not alone, that you are ready to help me. Amen.

Psalm 22:1-5 "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest. Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our ancestors trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried, and were saved; in you they trusted, and were not put to shame."

...Our cast-down souls, our sad hearts, do not have the last word, even when we can’t imagine how things might get better. We are precious children of God, and we are worthy to hang on to hope, no matter how dire our circumstances seem. The writer of today's psalm seemed to know this in a very real way. Despite the difficult circumstances in which he found himself, he asked with resoluteness, why are you so upset? Then he realized: there’s one thing I do have - hope. As God’s precious children we are worthy to know that something beautiful is always on the horizon.

God, even when my circumstances look bleak, thank you for the reminder that I am your precious child, that I am worthy of the hope that comes with your redemptive love. Help me to live today with the assurance of that hope. Amen.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bonnie Play Digiscrap

In the last several months, our beagle Bonnie Blue has started acting like her old puppy self, again. When Will was born, she wanted nothing to do with him (or me) for the first six months. She was a jealous sister and gave us the cold shoulder. Then, *she* was the one who taught him to crawl by barking him forward towards her, :-)

and after that they were fast friends. Less than a year later, though, we moved her out of her almost-an-acre fenced-in paradise of a yard (complete with 4 yellow labs & a golden retriever she could play & run along the fence with next door) and moved to a chilly climate with virtually no yard and no fence for the first year, anyway. Add to that the birth of Annelise the month after we moved and me just not able to give her much attention, except for the negative kind whenever she had an accident in the house, (which hadn't happened since she was a puppy, but with no more fenced-in yard, it was a frustrating reality for both of us.)

She's put up with a lot, (not that we haven't, too, but obviously it's been harder for her to understand,) and the last several months, I finally feel like she's come back around to me. She's choosing to snuggle with me on my lap on the couch, again, like she did as a puppy, and she finally wants to play, again. I think a lot of it has to do with the kids getting older. I know I've blogged about the refreshing feeling this last year of them both finally being old enough not to need me every second, and I think Bonnie has picked up on that, too, and is taking her mommy back. :-)

She's also wanting to play like she used to, especially with her new pheasant toy we gave her for Christmas. We chase with it, play tug with it, and she'll even fetch it! (Well, as much as a beagle will fetch. ;-) She'll bring it back when she wants you to throw it, again, but you have to "fight" her to get it back.) She *does* still treat each child differently, though. She'll play the hardest with me, complete with full out play bark/growling. With Will, she'll play as hard, but she won't chance scaring him with any growling, and with Sis, she'll still play tug, but she won't tug as hard or pounce like she would if I shook her toy in front of her. She'll wait for Sis to hand it to her before she runs. I feel like I've gotten my sweet B back!

I took some pics of her so proud with her pheasant yesterday before we went to the riverwalk:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

March Magic

Today exemplifies why I am enjoying living here. It's our first day (of hopefully 3 in a row) of the year over 60°F. (OK, obviously *that's* not what I enjoy about here - no 60's til mid-March STINKS! Esp. when we have the possibility of snow showers forecast for the weekend, but) there's no denying that spring is thoroughly appreciated here. It's impossible to live through the nasty winters & take spring for granted.

We had no St. Patty's plans this afternoon, but after I picked Will up from school, we went downtown to eat & revel in the sun! Downtown is so vibrant - full of delicious restaurants & cool shops. Since Sis & I hadn't eaten lunch, yet, we went to Five Guys for the *best* burger & fries (and fountain caffeine-free diet coke for me! :-)) The kids LOVE eating the bulk peanuts there, too. After "tea", we took our left-over fries and headed over to the riverwalk. We passed people partying on the patio at Jimmy's Grill, but we weren't strong enough to walk past Sugar Monkey Cupakes without opening the door. We got one Brown Butter Vanilla cupcake to go and headed down to the riverwalk.

It feels SO GOOD to sit there in the sun!!! And something interesting *always* happens. The kids fed our extra fries to the ducks & geese, and our wood duck was with them!
(All last year, we saw one single wood duck hanging out occasionally with the other waterfowl, and here he was on day 1 of the season!) He has this hysterical high, light quack that sounds more like a mouse than a duck. :-P We divvied up the decadent cupcake,


and after all our food was gone, we headed down the walkway. Everyone you encounter along the riverwalk is so friendly - even the questionably-dressed teenagers, who you'd fear would be rude or at least too cool to acknowledge you, are always so nice, esp. to the kids. Everyone always talks to them politely & sweet. We saw the first crocuses of the season, and when we reached the amphitheater labyrinth, I spied a brown animal gnawing on the sprouting tulip greens. It was a muskrat! And this thing was TAME!!! He did not give a flip how close we got or loud we talked. We were fascinated! The kids decided to call him "Stinky" (nice & oh so predictable :-P) and we hung out with him for at least 20 minutes.

(BTW - the building that my dance studio is in is in the upper right of this pic.)

Why did we leave? B/c Will was *hot*. Hot! Outside! Praise. (Granted we were wearing jeans & long sleeves in the strong sun, but still - ahhhhh! :-)) It was only two hours out & about, but that simple-turned-delicious-and-entertaining afternoon totally defines what I fancy about living here.

This evening is going to be just as awesome: JB is actually coming home early so we can go out on a mid-week date night!!!!!!! We're going to our fave movie theatre that serves dinner & drinks to you in your seat during the show to see Matt Damon's new movie, Green Zone.

PS - I still stand by my awesome vitamin D supplement we've taken all winter, but WOW, does my body feel better to have gotten it naturally from the sun this afternoon!!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Song Spree

Every once in a while, I go on a little amazon.com mp3 spree. I buy all my music downloads on Amazon instead of iTunes, b/c Amazon gives you the mp3 & then instantly uploads your music to iTunes for you. (If you buy on iTunes, you have to burn your song to a CD & then rip it to get the straight mp3 = maddening when I make so many mix CDs & share music for dance.) I also put all of our spare change from our crystal change vase (most people have a change cup, but we got over 30 crystal bowls & vases for our wedding, so we have a change "vahz" :-P) into the Coinstar machines at the grocery store that give you Amazon gift credit. (If you get cash for your change, they take 9%! If you get a gift credit, you get your full money value. I always get an Amazon one, so I always have money on hand for mp3s, cheap used books & movies, and presents for people whom I'd have to ship them to, anyway.)

So yeah, I bought some songs. Nothing gets me through hard times or helps me rejoice like music!

"Something Beautiful" by Needtobreathe is my current favorite song.

It says everything I'm feeling:

In your ocean I'm ankle deep
I feel the waves crashing on my feet
It's like I know where I need to be
I can't figure out
No, I can't figure out
Just how much air I will need to breathe
When your wave crashes over me
There's only one way to figure out
Will you let me drown
Will you let me drown

Hey now, this is my desire
Consume me like a fire
Cause I just want
Something beautiful to touch me
I know that I'm in reach
I am down on my knees
And waiting for
Something beautiful

And the water is rising quick
And for years I was scared of it
We can't be sure when it will subside
So I won't leave your side

No I can't leave your side

Hey now, this is my desire
Consume me like a fire
Cause I just want
Something beautiful to touch me
I know that I'm in reach
I am down on my knees
And waiting for
Something beautiful


I got "Beautiful, Beautiful" by Francesca Battistelli, b/c I love the chorus:


I was so surprised how Hillsong United's "Hosanna" moved me, I had to get it, too. It's not my normal type of song, but it stuck with me; I just couldn't let it go.


Finally, "What Faith Can Do" by Kutless is the best reminder that God can come through out of the blue. The chorus is perfect:
"I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
And I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do"


I almost bought 3 more (I don't know why I didn't - it's not like buying a whole CD; they're $0.99) but next, I'll probably get "Beautiful History" by Plumb:

Her last album, "Blink", feels like an entire CD of contemporary lullabies! It is GORGEOUS - definitely the perfect CD for any parent of young children.

I'm really focusing on faith & God working things out for the best - not only in my life, but in the lives of several close friends this week, too. I want to proclaim victory for our families! :-)

Psalm 119:74-76 "Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice, because I have hoped in your word. I know, O Lord, that your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness you have humbled me. Let your steadfast love become my comfort according to your promise to your servant."

Psalm 34:4-7 "I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him."

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Pacific

I am certainly a girly mommy...but I have a major obsession with World War II history. We're talking absolute fanatic. I'd rather watch anything - fictional or not - based on WWII than almost anything else I could think of, (except maybe the Redskins playing a winning game.) You'd think that would make me a husband's dream...except I'm more into this stuff than he is! :-P I am geeked out beyond belief to watch the premiere of The Pacific on HBO tonight, (a miniseries like Band of Brothers, about the Pacific theatre instead of Europe,) but JB went out tonight to see a buddy. I'm sorry - nothing would pull me away from my TV for this. :-D



My obsession stems from:
#1 - Being a total, life-long history buff! ALL history! My favorite subject, (along with geography & sociology - so the total "social studies" package.)
#2 - Being a German major in college got me really into Germany's perspective in WWII

And #3 is the biggie - my dad (yes, dad - not grandfather; he was quite a bit older than my mom) was in the Navy in WWII. He flew in airplanes over the Solomon Islands in the Pacific. He passed away 13 years ago next month (that number seems impossible...) before movies like Saving Private Ryan came out and before veterans really started speaking openly about their experiences. That generation just did their duty, sucked it up, moved on, and didn't speak of the past; but it absolutely shaped who they were, and it breaks my heart that we never got to sit down and have him tell me everything before he died. He didn't talk about it, and at the time, I didn't know enough to ask. I can't stand now that I don't know all that I could about what he did, saw, & felt; what he experienced & how it changed his life...b/c I know it did. How could something like that not???

When you know you're missing information on someone whose blood you share, it never stops nagging you. I hate that there's so much I don't know and didn't get to learn from him, but I guess I feel like I gain some more insight with each one of these shows or movies. I know my obsession will never be quelled. It fascinates me beyond words!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Chocolate Pretzel Playdate

So, yesterday I hosted seven preschoolers (nine, with Will & Annelise) for a chocolate-dipped pretzel playdate. I took a little flak on Facebook, b/c I had just posted on Sunday that I thought I deserved a gold star for letting the kids do a painting craft when I hate messes so much. (I never encourage painting or messy crafts at home EVER, b/c I hate to clean so much, why on earth would I add anything extra to that irritating plate? Plus, that's why we send them to school! School is the best place for nasty stuff like play doh & paint.) But then everyone chimed in, "Chocolate-dipped pretzels with preschoolers?! This from the girl who says she hates messes?!?!"

I'm not a hypocrite - let me explain: food messes are WAAAY different than non-edible messes. If I'm going to have to clean up something, I want to get a sweet dessert out of it! Plus, I honestly just don't enjoy playdates all that much, unless *I'm* trying to make new friends, so I had to make this something I wanted to be around. I teach dance classes of this many 3-5 year olds multiple times a week, so I wasn't worried. I just wanted this to be special enough to get me off the playdate hook for the foreseeable future here! :-P

It was fantastic! Sooo easy and shockingly NOT that messy! The key: disposable tablecloth. I had a space set up for each kid beforehand. They came over, we did the pretzels right away, I helped as needed & demonstrated with my own, they washed their own hands when they were done, and then the girls played in the playroom & the boys played Wii while I wiped everything down and the chocolate firmed up on the pretzels. So simple. The kitchen was spotless before the playdate was over, b/c I scooped all the mess into the middle of the disposable tablecloth & threw it straight into the trash. The only things I had to clean were my two glass dishes that I used to melt the chocolate in the microwave. I bagged & tagged each kid's pretzels, they left, my house was clean, and everyone was satisfied. I was most happy that there wasn't any of that awkward standing around "what do we do now?" feeling. One of my friends thought I was insane to not have all the parents stay, but honestly, I think it's easier w/o them, b/c #1 - kids don't care whether or not you cleaned the house, (although I *DID* :-)) and #2 - the kids entertain themselves. They're old enough not to need a hand on them, so there's nothing for the parents to do but stand around, and then I need to entertain them. I don't mind so much one-on-one or two, but juggling seven parents (who keep looking over their shoulder for their child & with whom I may not have any other connection) is not my favorite way to hang out with adults, you know?

Anyway, it was a rousing success! The only failure was that I couldn't take any pictures, b/c my hands were so messy!!! I only took one right at the end with my phone:


I had envisioned a scrapbook page for the event & everything. Boo. Oh well. (And no, that's not an excuse to do it, again, next week! :-P) I will say, though, it did get me over a little hurdle of avoidance, so YAY!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Samples

Samples, Part One:

Wild Recon on Animal Planet is our #1 favorite family show, (followed very closely by The Amazing Race & Survivor.) Will & Annelise are obsessed with the host, Donald Schultz. He's from South Africa, so he has a funky Afrikaans accent, and his #1 mission on the show is to collect venom and/or DNA samples for conservation & pharmaceutical research.

The other day, Will kept going on and on about "sah-ffles" (like "waffles" with an s.) I was at a complete loss as to what he was talking about. He finally sighed at me with exasperation, "Like Donald Schultz, mom!!! He collects saffles from animals all over the world!" :-P

I explained Donald's accent and that he was really saying "samples"...but "saffles" just won't leave Will's brain. I was lamenting a bit the loss of all of his baby vocabulary, but now we have "saffles."

Samples, Part Two:

Here are two free coupons for AWESOME "saffles" of your own!!!

Click here & print this coupon for a free bag of Snikiddy brand baked snacks. I *lovelovelove* these things! Their pizza puffs are divine, and I'm anxious to try their new baked "fries". Their snacks are all natural, and you can click here to find where to buy them. The only drawback is that I think they are rather expensive, but with this coupon, you can get a free bag every time you go to the store now through May!!! (And I will!)

Click here & print this coupon for a free "deluxe sample of Too Faced Lash Injection Pinpoint mascara at a Sephora inside JCPenney". This is one of those things that I'd never buy on my own, (b/c I don't even regularly wear much make-up other than moisturizer with a little self-tanner, eyeliner, and - if I remember to put it on in the car - lip gloss.) But even though I rarely buy make-up or really use much of it, I love to play & experiment with it!

Enjoy!

PS - Subscribe! I never, ever remembered to check out my friends' blog updates before I started my own. I only kept up with one of them, and that was b/c she had an email subscription option. If you're interested in my blog, but never remember to come check for recent posts, you can sign up here on the right and get all my posts emailed to you. Submit your email address in the box right here on the right side of the page and then don't forget to accept the email confirmation. Yay for making life easier! :-)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Will Says...

When we climbed out of the van at the post office yesterday, there were a bunch of Budweiser cans in the grass along the lot. (Odd, huh?) Will looked down and said with slight disdain, "Oooo! Kasey Kahne!"

[Hysterical that my son directly identifies corporate sponsor logos with their NASCAR drivers! Will & Sis both also call Home Depot "Joey's Store" and say "Denny's truck!" whenever they see a FedEx delivery truck.]

Will's been asking lots of questions about what all exactly is in Heaven lately, and I just keep telling him that it's better than anything you can imagine. Yesterday at breakfast, he announced emphatically that Heaven has greater candy than anywhere in the universe! :-)

Sunday Singing

I don't think I have ever had a performing opportunity that has fulfilled me or made me as happy as singing on Sunday mornings. I am notorious for loving to perform, but despising rehearsals, (unless I am the star.) This last year on Praise Team has been the first time I have ever loved rehearsing as much as performing; and I think it's b/c every single time I sing these songs - no matter if it's for practice or the real deal - it means the same thing, and it feels so good. It's not about *me*, like every recital & theatre production I've ever done. This is bigger than me, and there's something very freeing about that.



Neil (our BFF & actually our pastor) took this clip on his phone early this morning during rehearsal. Just a tiny snippet, but makes me happy. :-)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Creativity, Failure, & Plans

I have been getting a lot out of "Journey to the Cross" this week, and I want to share the 3 devotional excerpts that have really stood out to me. They are all written by Bruce Reyes-Chow:

On creativity:

There are no precise step-by-step directions for how to build God's perfect world. We are only given wonderfully complex commands like "love one another as you would love yourselves" and "love God with all your heart, mind and strength."

Great. What do you do with that?

What we do is this: Live our lives in God, with those words freeing us to be as creative as God has been with God's own creation. Stars, mountains, songs and creatures - God has created amazing things out of nothingness. We too must strive to do the same. Out of what often feels like a world overwhelmed by despair and pain, we live lives that are overflowing with hope and healing. It is that hope that allows us to be creative beyond our own imaginations.


On failure:

Our world does not embrace "failure" well. While there is merit in affirming a job well done, too often we become owned by those accomplishments in our lives and begin to be driven to achieve more and more. We begin to live our lives held captive by our tasks, achievements, and successes and we lose sight of the belief that in fact, we do not belong to those things, we belong to God.

There is no more evident time to remember that than when we fail or have to come face to face with something in our lives that we do not like. When the accolades have stopped, when we realize that we are simply human or when we come to the painful realization that we cannot do everything, that is when God reminds us once again that even in the depths of our despair, God is there.

We need not be ashamed when we cry out to God. There is no weakness, no failure, no shame. In fact it is a show of faith and strength that we can turn away from the ways of the world, which demands that we try to be God, and boldly proclaim that we belong to God. What a gift, a joy, and a relief!


On plans:

Dear God, at your earliest convenience, could you please send me a detailed list of your plans for my life and for the world? That would really help me out and I promise I won't tell anyone. Thanks!

Oh if only life were so easy and God were so clear! Sure, God is pretty evident when you see a beautiful sunset or a child born or when a stranger offers words of encouragement. But that day-to-day life thing - not so much.

A hallmark of our faith is that at the end of the day, we are claimed by God to be part of God's unfolding of life and creation. We are not always going to know how we fit into that unfolding, but we believe that we are somehow part of its realization. While this could be daunting and overwhelming, it is also a chance for us to embrace the art and dance of faith. We struggle with God's word to us through scripture to guide our lives. We navigate the nuances of communal discernment. We come to God in prayer, lifting our voices to God, seeking to know God's will. What an amazing gift of faith we have, knowing God so deeply that we trust God without even knowing where God may be leading us!



Allow me the wisdom to trust in the unfolding of your hopes in my life and in the world. Amen.

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." - 1 Corinthians 15:57-58

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Slow Picture Months

January & February are always such sloooow photography months at our house. I mean, I just went TWO MONTHS w/o digiscrapping, y'all! After Mom's Night at Montessori this week, I finally had enough pics for a new spread:

Random Jan. & Feb. and Sissy's Babe


And Montessori work March 2nd & 3rd

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Redirection

Construction began, again, this week on the biggest intersection b/t our house and the kids' Montessori school & our church. *Sigh* We moved here January a year ago. Just in time for us to get our driving routes & routines set, nine months of construction began on this same intersection last March. (It involves a 4-lane road & a bridge; scheduled to be done in 2011!) We had to completely redirect our paths. Instead of a straight shot on a major road with only one turn out of our sub, the drive to school morphed into a twice-as-long trek through winding neighborhoods at 25 mph. The really irritating part is that I make this trip at least 3 times a day, (dropping them off, picking Annelise up at noon, and then Will at 2.)

I felt the most remarkable freedom when this main intersection reopened in November! Suddenly, I had all this extra time that I had been spending in transit. I could get everywhere so much faster! Getting to church was a big difference, too; I'm the coordinator of my MOPS group & sing on Praise Team, so I'm there more than just Sunday mornings.

But apparently, it was only to be open for a season, (not that winter is over here, with snow still everywhere.) This week, I feel like my wings have been clipped, again. We're off the main road and once more relegated to the winding back streets. I have to build more travel time back into our daily schedule...and more patience back into my mindset. I even tried to navigate directly through the construction this afternoon after picking up Will in a desperate attempt to hang onto my old route. (It was in vain - longer than even those irritating back streets.)

As I sat there in traffic, inching forward every three minutes, it hit me how much this parallels life, especially ours right now as we pray for new job opportunities for my husband. We can be on a path that we love, but when God needs to fix some things, He has to redirect us. The circuitous route on which He places us can feel less than ideal, but He'll never give us more than we can bear. He also loves to bless us and give us a joyful reprieve when appropriate, but He won't give up until His construction is finished. Our lives can feel tedious when it seems like we're driving in circles, stuck in a roundabout waiting on God. Sometimes we even try to take matters into our own hands and drive back through the junk, even when we know it's not going to be very productive. The day is coming, though, when the current construction project will be complete, and we can revel in the new with a deeper appreciation for it than we would have ever had before.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Postscript

PS, re: our praying for change - God is moving!!! No concrete details, but we know that He is working for us. I'm praying that March is a month of good news!

PS, re: me never initiating playdates - um, I scheduled one. A big one. 7 friends + Will & Annelise @ OUR HOUSE next week = chocolate-dipped pretzel playdate. (I know, I know. Pick your jaws up off the floor.) I just felt so bad that the kids, esp. Will, beg for playdates, so I figured, let's do a big one and get me off the hook! A glutton for punishment, you say? I figure, I teach classes of this many kids ages 1.5 to 3 and 3 to 5 every week, so I think I'll survive. Plus, it's only two hours, and I already have all the chocolate to melt & pretzel sticks to dip.

PS, re: sloppy joes - LOVING that recipe! Everyone cleans their plate every time I make it! I've been making it as shepherd's pie lately: the sloppy joe meat recipe using ground turkey, mixed with peas, topped with mashed potatoes, and heated together in the oven. Mmmmm...

PS, re: my root canal - dare I say, it was the best thing that's happened to me at the dentist in years? It was 100% painless, and on top of stopping & healing a potential big problem, he made my smile BETTER! He whitened that one (my front!) tooth from the inside, (b/c it was dead, no number of whitestrips or bleaching trays would have made any difference on the outside,) so the slight discoloration that had bothered me for several years is GONE, and I think my smile is more gorgeous than ever! :-D

PS, re: The Bachelor - I think Jake is a coward for choosing NOT to be with the ONLY woman who challenged him to step up & be better than he already thought he was. I hope there really was no spark & that he didn't just think with his manhood.
And re: The Bachelorette - BIG BOO!!! She *quit* the show. QUIT! I don't root for quitters.
And re: Jason & Molly's wedding - Really?! As if we didn't all hate that situation enough last year? *roll eyes*