Word Cloud

Thank you Renee for this fun little word cloud. It was a fun little way to see frequently used words from my blog put in an artistic form. If you'd like to try it for yourself, just click here!

Food for Thought

After a silly previous week of being down for one reason or another, I was glad to have such an encouraging lesson from Bible Study today. We have been studying the book of John, which has been very appropriate during the season of Lent. Today we studied John 15, a very common analogy of the Vine and the Branches. I have read this verse many times before, heard sermons, conversations....yet when you truly study it and break it apart, it can take on much more meaning (I know I should know this by now, but it always amazes me). Anyway, two verses in this chapter gave me particular joy and peace.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. - John 15:9

Can you believe that God loves us as much as He loved His own son? His perfect son that would do anything for Him? So many times I get a woa is me sort of feeling where I feel like no one loves me with all my shortcomings (I know that isn't true, but I'll admit I get stuck in a pity party sometimes). I know deep down that Jesus loves me too, but the fact that He isn't physically here telling me this, is sometimes hard to grasp. But to reread this verse today, and know that God loves me for who I am, despite my many shortcomings is truly an awesome feeling. We are precious to Him and He loves us unconditionally.

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. - John 15:18

This is the second verse that really struck me. We feel so alone when the world rejects us. We feel hurt, angry, insecure. It is hard to get back on your feet after you have been thrown down. So, to know that Jesus was rejected first, somehow gave me comfort. He has been there before. He knows how we feel. He loves us deeply, and wants us to remain in His love.

May all of you remain in His love.

Tiny Talk Tuesday

The little ones are talkin, here's some of the things they said while in Florida a week ago:

While taking a walk along a pond:
Kyra: Mommy, what does that sign say?
Mom: It says, "Beware Alligators are not friendly." (who knew that a nice looking pond, with cute hungry ducks in it, right next to our resort, would possibly have alligators. GREAT!) That means we can't get too close to the pond. You may NOT feed the ducks Kyra, there may be alligators in that pond, and it's important that we don't get too close.
Kyra: Okay, mommy (while I've probably scared the bageebees out of her). Ducks don't have teeth though. But just in case we better be careful of the ducks too. They might eat us and the alligators!
(maybe she misunderstood me and thought that there were killer ducks in the pond!)

While taking a walk across a busy street, with a push button to get a walk signal:
Mom: See that sign? When we see a little walking person, then we can cross the street. But first we have to push the button.
Kyra: Can I push it?
Mom: Sure.
Kyra: (she pushes the button). Mom, I'm your biggest helper in the whole world!
(yes, you sure are)

And just a few from Katie, this one's more of a story:
I put a very tired Katie to bed in our friend's room in the pack-n-play. Although she had previously just fell in some mud, so I took her pants off before putting her to bed. After 20 minutes or so, I decided to go check on her to make sure she was sleeping. I found her sleeping alright, but all curled up with her bare bot*tom sticking straight up in the air. Yes, apparently with the freedom of no pants, she took it upon herself to take off her diaper too, and then go to sleep. At least she had the good sense to wet the diaper before taking it off!

Here are a few of Katie's new, overly used phrases too:
I bwoke it! (she uses this one about 3x a day, probably be she really does break many things)
Wook at Meee (Look at me! She got that from her sister of course)
Keewaa (Kyra)

If you'd like to read other tiny talk just visit Mary's

Friday's Foto

Lately, the girls have been bonding more than ever. To hear them giggle in the other room together just melts my heart. Yes, I think these two are good buds.

Friday Morning Musings

Breakfasts with a 3 year old are always interesting. Some mornings she may show up to the table wearing her princess getup. Sometimes eating breakfast is a race. And yet again, sometimes you have interesting conversations that may or may not make any sense to you. This morning was one of those mornings. It is always fun to see their little brains at work, but boy can it be a journey trying to get there. Here's how our morning began:

Kyra: Mom, what is a spirit named?
Mom: Kyra, I'm not sure what you mean. Do you mean what is a spirit?
Kyra: Ughhh...No. I'll tell you what a spirit is (yes, please enlighten me). A spirit creates Christmas Trees. It also is something that creates little rocks that shine when you throw them in the river. They become shiny, because when you take them out of the water, they are all wet. That's what Caillou says. I love shiny little rocks. They make me happy. I am also the winner! Look at me, mom. I finished my cereal first. Katie isn't that winner because she still has raisins. I think I want a pony tail today, and my sparkly shirt. Moooomm... what is a spirit called again? Tell me!
Mom: (Wow. Where do I even go with that? That girl was seriously talking a mile a minute. I didn't have even a single opportunity to get a word in edge wise. How do you even follow her train of thought? They certainly have a lot going on in that little brain, especially for so early in the morning. I don't think I even have that many thoughts to formulate until I've had my morning coffee! Well here goes nothing.) Kyra, maybe you were trying to remember about the HOLY spirit. That spirit lives in your heart. God gave us the Holy Spirit so we have someone who tells our head everyday how to live, and remind us of God's love. Is that what you were thinking of?
Kyra: NO! A spirit is something that creates shiny rocks!
Mom: (okay, there you have it! I think I'll go back to my coffee. Obviously, my train of thought was just as confusing to her, as her's was to me. She sure does bring a smile to my face!)

And the Winner Is....

While I would have enjoyed giving every one of you a gift certificate, I know that just isn't possible. Believe me when I say you all have made a great impact in my life. I hold all of my friends dear to my heart, and am very blessed to be rich in friendships. I enjoyed reading all of your comments. That being said.....congratulations to Sarah from Minnesota (I had to specify, since the majority of my readers seem to be Sarahs), who is the winner of the Panera Bread gift certificate! Sarah, I will mail out your prize today in the mail! Kyra picked the winner this morning from a basket. Although she was very confused as to why she was picking out a random piece of paper from a basket, and wanted to be the winner herself (even though she didn't know what the prize was).

Have a wonderful day everyone!

One is Silver and the Other's Gold

Well, I made it. This is my 100th post! For many of you who have been blogging daily, or blogging for years, this may not seem like much, but deep in the depths of my brain I never thought I'd last this long. I am one of those people who has great ambitions to try something new and then I either- A. Don't follow through, or B. Don't finish what I start. So last summer as I began this journey to record my thoughts, pictures, reflections, I secretly didn't think it would last. But so many of you who have visited, read, and commented on my blog have truly been an inspiration to me. Your comments, of course, are not the reason I continue to blog. I already got melancholy once in the beginning of my blogging experience for not getting the "fan mail" I would have liked. However, staying true to the reason I began this blog (which was to focus on the positive things in my life, and make a record of the tidbits in my children's lives), I have grown to love writing, reflecting, and reading various blogs as well as read the many encouraging comments I have received (just icing on the cake!).

That being said, I decided to focus my 100th post on friendships. You remember the song, "Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other's gold." I have been reminded of that so many times this past year. In the beginning of the summer I was going through a really tough time, which is why I thought writing out positive thoughts would help me refocus mentally of all the blessings I really have. And it has helped. However, a large portion of that help has come through friendships. I have a wonderful family, who listens to my joys and sorrows, and never turns me away. I have friends from college, who I feel will be good friends for the rest of my life. They may be far away, but I will always hold them close to my heart (you know who you are). They make me laugh, cry, and share a wealth of history that will forever bond us. Finally, I have NEW friends. I have made some friends through bible study this year, and then also blogging friends - some whom I've never even met. You all have had such encouraging things to say, that quite frankly has helped bring me closer to God. I have met some with such a strong faith, some with such a great sense of humor, creativity, and overall hearts full of compassion. You all have been such blessings in my life.

That brings me to my final point (sorry this has been a little long winded, but hang on you'll be glad you read to the end). It is imperative that we encourage each other and lift each other up. True friendships help our faith walk with Christ.
"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing" -Thess 5:11
And I have been so blessed to have had many wonderful friendships that I can count on to help guide me in my walk with Christ. So I have decided to GIVEAWAY a $25 gift certificate to Panera Bread Company. Why, you ask to Panera? Well, one it is one of my favorite places to eat, and two it is a great place to meet with a friend and catch up on life. My only request is that if you win the gift certificate, you share with a friend (hubby, mom, friend, child, etc.) So, here's the details: just leave a comment explaining how you have been blessed by a particular friendship. Then, on Thursday morning around 7am I will randomly select a winner (I will probably print out the comments, cut them up, put them in a basket, and have my daughter chose one). I look forward to your stories!

Home Sweet Home

Well, our trip to Florida was a complete success. In fact, I would just assume get back on the airplane and fly back (after sitting in the sun for a few days, somehow this weather just doesn't agree with me). Oh well, at least we had a taste of what's hopefully to come in the next month or two.

Our trip began by leaving Michigan just as a cold front was coming in (I believe the beginning of the week was down around 0 degrees and the end of the week had blustery snow). So, we couldn't have left during a better week. The girls did well on the plane as well. I wasn't really concerned about Kyra, but having Katie as a lap child was a bit concerning (when was the last time you saw a 22 month old sit still for 2 minutes, let alone 2 hours). However, she did fairly well - and of course fell asleep as we were landing. Our friends who took us in for 2 days, were as always very hospitable (thanks again Jon and Stacey). We had a good time catching up with them, feeding the ducks at a local lake, and tasting some of the food at the local eateries (Jon ALWAYS knows where to find the best food). Our favorite of course is Parksdale Farms, where they serve the BIGGEST strawberry shortcakes ever, and boy are they tasty.

We then traveled to Kissimmee, Florida. We stayed in a very nice condo, and enjoyed the two large pools and hot tubs nearby our room. Unfortunately, the lazy river that I wrote previously about was not there, but we still had a great time lounging by the pool.

My husband was gracious enough to let me catch some rays while he played with the kids in the pool, on quite a few occasions. Katie was hesitant to swim the first day, but by the end of the week, you just mentioned the word pool, and she would come running to you with a swimsuit. She was even going under the water by the end of the week. Even Kyra was voluntarily dipping her head under the water, which is a REAL accomplishment for her, since she has always been terrified of water in her face!

We spent one other day going to the Florida Aquarium. We had been to this aquarium before, but it has a very nice layout that is not too big (so we could do it in a half days time), but big enough that it holds kid's interest. Then there is a huge play area outdoors for the kids to play at while you eat lunch. Grandma and Grandpa had fun seeing the excitement in their eyes and spending the day with the kids. The kids were pretty tired by then, so they snoozed off and on as we took a drive out to see the manatees at the Tampa Electric's Generating Plant. They stay in the plant's canal because the water is so warm.

Our Kissimmee stay ended with a night on the town with just my hubby. His parents watched the kids, while we went out for dessert for Valentine's Day. We started out at Old Town, an amusement park of sorts, where we both challenged the thought of a bungie jump. Of course, I chickened out at the last moment, so we settled for race cars instead. We then headed to an Italian Restaurant for tiramisu and some coffee. It was a good night, full of much needed adult conversation without the kiddos.

So, now we are home, and back to reality. Yesterday it was freezing rain, today it's just freezing with snow. Yet, indoors it is warm and cozy, the kids are glad to be back in their own beds, and our every day schedule is coming back into play. It was fun to be on vacation, but there is always something about home sweet home that makes it so inviting to come back.

My Valentine

Back in my high school and college days, Valentine's Day was a holiday that I would just assume miss. Having never had a boyfriend, I didn't want the reminder pushed in my face of seeing girls getting a dozen roses, romantic cards being exchanged, or warm embraces seen from afar. Yes, I can look at people now in the same boat and Awwww at the sight of their joy, but then I was just a wee bit jealous. I had my very loving family, who always gave me candied hearts, and trinkets of love, but it wasn't the same. I longed for that person to truly love me for who I was and pour out their love for me in gifts, hugs, and kisses!!

I finally got my wish 9 years ago to the day. I had been dating for only weeks a young man that I had met through friends at a line dancing bar. We had a slow going start, but once we got started, love seemed to be soaring with flying colors. Unfortunately, after only a few weeks of pure joy, I was scheduled to leave for a semester away in New Mexico. My new romance was to either end, or begin as a long distance relationship. We decided to give it a go for the long distance part (even though we had only dated for a few weeks). I had been gone for only 2 weeks and my first Valentine's Day with a boyfriend was going to be spent apart. So much for the romantic dinner and hours of cuddling, I was going to spend it in a small room away from friends and family.

But to my surprise, I came home from dinner that Feb. 14th and found the most beautiful red dozen roses that I had ever seen! I had only known that man for a few short weeks, and yet he had a compassion for me that I had not even realized. It didn't matter that I was alone that night anymore. My thoughts were filled of him and my growing love for him.

A little over a year later, I married that man. He is my husband. He is a tender hearted, hard working, compassionate, dependable, at times stubborn, but loving man. He doesn't give me flowers very frequently anymore (which is fine), but he has never forgotten a Valentine's Day yet. His little gift of red roses is a reminder that he is still very much in love with me and that love will continue to grow. And I love him very much too.

Tiny Talk Tuesday

I wrote these conversations down just before we left for vacation (hoping to post them at the hotel, but found out they didn't have computer access.) More Florida tiny talk later this week!

At Breakfast time:
Kyra: Mom, you better hurry up and eat your cereal so you can grow as big as Daddy!
(unfortunately Kyra, I think I'm already there)

At a different Breakfast:
Kyra: Katieee...toughin up! You don't want to be a cry baby like me.
(Uh-oh. Unfortunately we've told Kyra to toughin up probably one time too many. The funny thing is that Katie wasn't crying or whinning when she said this, so who knows the train of thought of a 3 year old)

If you want to read more tiny talk, just visit Mary's.

Goodbye Gray Days, Hello Sunshine!

After going on so many vacations this past summer, my husband and I decided to lay low for the winter. We have been trying to save our pennies for a swingset for the girls, school, and extra curriculars for the girls. However, when the hub's parents invited us to stay with them at their time share in Florida for the week, our wheels were a turnin. We began writing out a pro and con list for going. We finally decided that unless we found a really cheap airfare, we wouldn't go. Well, wouldn't you know it, we came across a really cheap airfare! So, other then the cost of our transportation, our trip is virtually free! It was too irresistable to pass up.

We have some wonderful friends who are picking us up at the airport, staying with them a few days, and then going on to the resort where the hub's parents will reside. They have a lazy river, activities for the kids, and cheap eats (because my in-laws will most likely cook meals in the condo most of the time). I'm loving it!

So, I am currently making a checklist of the final things we have to do before leaving for sunny Florida this Saturday. So long for now, hopefully I will have lots of fun stories to share when I get back in a week or so.

Visiting Memory Lane

I was looking through some of my old pictures and came across this short video of Kyra singing a song. We don't have a video camera (just what comes on our digital camera), so I take very few recordings. This one left a special impression though because it was taken shortly after Kyra's 2nd birthday (about the same age Katie will be). It's hard to believe Katie could be doing the same thing in a few months (or maybe not). Nevertheless, it was cute.

So, I thought I would try my hand at downloading it onto You*tube. Needless to say, it's sideways and I can't figure out how to turn it, but I gave it a shot. Hope you enjoy.

Visit here at You*tube!

Prayer Journal Recap

Okay, I know it has only been a few days, but the prayer journal I started is going really well. And wouldn't you know that some of the things I prayed about really coincided with my day. Here are a couple examples:

Friday morning I prayed that I would find my children a blessing at the current stage they are in. After feeling very rejuvenated, I got up, showered, and began my day. Wouldn't you know, the kids had something else in mind. They were grumpy from the get go. I tried my best to distract Katie from the grumpys (who clearly didn't want to be picked up, set down, or any of the above) by letting her know it was breakfast time. Unfortunately, no milk left for cereal (which is Katie's favorite), so I put some cereal in a bowl of yogurt. She shoved it to the floor, and cried "NO, NO, NO!" At this point, I was getting a little frustrated. But remembering my prayer, and blogging friend Earen's thought on power of positive words, I told the kids we were going to have a great day. Unfortunately, they didn't reiterate my thoughts. Oh well. Most of the day continued to go on like this (tantrum by Kyra at the grocery store for having to sit next to her sister in the grocery cart -and I mean loud screaming, fighting each other over a toy baby stroller, I mean the list goes on). Needless to say, maybe it wasn't a great day, but I didn't yell. I really think the morning's prayer helped. And I NEEDED to say that prayer that morning.

Second example comes to yesterday. Then I prayed that God would use my husband to work to the best of his abilities and keep him safe through the day. Fortunately he was kept safe, for he was a bit tired after staying up for the Super Bowl (he works in the line of construction, which if tired could lead to trouble). But then, he called around noon to say that they needed him to work some overtime (bonus for the fam, but I knew he was tired). He came home at 9pm tired from a long day, but he had worked hard and he was safe. That was almost a 14 hour day!

Now, I know neither of these examples are life changing, but they were small examples of the power of prayer. I can't wait to see the continuing impact that occurs through keeping up with this prayer journal.

Obsession with Coupons

Although going out to eat is not always the healthiest options, I love to do it. I love not having to think about what to make for dinner, I love having many choices at my finger tips, and I LOVE not having to do the dishes. However, since children, we have tried to limit our going out to eat to once a week (which may be even more than most people, but did I say that I love it?). Anyway, we rarely dine at anywhere fancy. And when we do go out to eat it almost always has to entail a coupon. I'm forever looking for coupons in the paper for our favorite joints.

Needless to say, not having gone to the grocery store yet, we were running out of staples to make a palatable meal. So, when the hubs came home, I told him we were either going to have leftovers (sloppy joes from 4 days ago) or go out to one of our favorite restaurants because I found a coupon in our coupon drawer that expired today! He quickly hopped aboard and took the bait. After all, it would be terrible to waste a perfectly good coupon. And what could be better than a meal at our favorite Mexican Restaurant with a 20% off coupon?

So, off to Cabana Tres Amigos (a fairly new local place, with more authentic Mexican dishes) we went. I had the chimichanga (which is what I always have), my hubs had a beef tamale, while the girls shared a quesadilla. Normally, we would just have water to drink, but because we had a coupon, we threw in some sangria! After becoming delightfully plump, I got out the coupon and set it on the table. We rested for a moment, and then the rest happened all too fast. The waiter came by, swiped our empty plates away, and gone was the coupon (I believe it stuck to the dirty plate)! Yes, our whole reason for going out to dinner in the first place went out with the dirty dishes. It was a wash! For one evening we failed our Dutch heritage (okay, the hubs heritage, not mine). All right, a little dramatic, but we do love our coupons. I guess we'll know better next time to keep them in our pockets, because after all, they are pretty much good as money. It was worth it though, our meal was GOOD!