Saturday, March 31, 2007

37 Things I am Thankful for on my Birthday

Yesterday was my 37th birthday and I feel the need to count my here they are in no special order:

1. Jesus
2. The Husband
3. The Children
4. Diet Coke
5. Pasta
6. Chocolate
7. My mini-van w/ DVD player
8. My sun room
9. My computer
10. My free Easter ham I earned at Giant
11. My friends
12. Taboule
13. My family
14. My hot tub
15. My daffodils that are currently in bloom
16. My neighbors
17. My church
18. Tortoni (not to be confused with tortellini)
19. My moms group at church (MIA)
20. Dark chocolate peppermint Altoids
21. Good health insurance
22. Camp Hebron
23. Home schooling
24. Mr. Magic Eraser
25. My town
26. My library
27. My jobs
28. Coupons
29. My Bible
30. The gifts God has placed in me
31. My pink Razor cell phone with matching pink blue tooth
32. My grill
33. McDonald's with playlands
34. Flip flops and sandals
35. Italian cream sodas
36. Flavored coffee
37. El Rodeo Mexican food

It's Fun to be at the Y-M-C-A (or not)

Yesterday we checked out the all "new" YMCA on the west shore with our friends Rocky and ADRI-ran! and their kids. We heard they were offering free guest passes and after ADRI-ran! called 3 times we finally understood we could come for free. They are trying to get people to come out and try it to boost their membership rate. Trust me, I had no desire to join after the way we were treated.

We were greeted by a grumpy receptionist who looked at our "large" families with disdain and instructed ADRI-ran! as she was counting out passes "you can't take the whole pile!". She explained she was counting out what we needed and was going to put the rest back. We then moved to the "water park" which is in a separate room from the lap pool and the water slide (translated to mean if you have a 4-year old and an 8-year old you can't bring them to the pool alone while hubby is at work since you wouldn't be able to watch both at the same time).

The water park was great.

If you're three years old and under.

My youngest is 5 so you can do the math. It held our kid's (age range 5-11) attention for about.....15 minutes then they wanted to go to the next room and go down the water slide. BUT WAIT!!! A very serious, firm, stern lifeguard informed us you must be 7 and take a swimming test to get a wristband that allows you to go down the slide.... ummm, we're only here for a few hours, folks. That seemed a little extreme, but we complied. The swimming test consisted of swimming a lap in the pool and treading water for a minute. While the older ones were going down the slide I took #3 to one of the lap pools and we played in a 2x2 corner of the shallow end as to not disturb the little old ladies frowning in our direction. After about 10 minutes one of the ladies informed me that a class was starting in 5 minutes and we would need to leave. So, I assured her when the class started we would leave. In the meantime, the older kids came and jumped in the pool and I told them we only had 5 minutes to swim before a class started and then we had to switch pools. About 2 minutes later the instructor came in and frantically waved her arms at me YELLING that we must get out the pool NOW, they have a class, GET OUT! That was about the time I started thinking they could take their pool and .......but I'm a good Christian gal so I'll stop there.

We decided it's no wonder they are having trouble getting new members so we left and had lunch and played at a nearby park. Thank goodness we were with friends who we could laugh with about our experience. We ended up enjoying a marathon day with this other family and we didn't say good-bye until midnight. I love having friends that don't care if my house is dirty (in fact, they get offended if I clean it just cause they're coming over), who we can play a good competitive game of "Pigs and Chickens" with (I WON!!! Woo-hoo!) and our kids love each other like brothers and sisters. We can all be real together without passing judgement. That's one of the many things I love about Rocky and ADRI-ran!.

So, here's the consensus: thumbs down- YMCA, thumbs up - sharing Jelly Bellies with cool friends.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

I'm a Loser!

The most amazing thing is happening to me....I'm losing weight. I have been too busy to obsess over it and I'm thinking there is a connection. I've been part of a "Biggest Loser" group for the last two months along with my pals, MIA and Say Anything (who, by the way, have a starting weight that is my GOAL weight for heaven's sake!). I was very motivated know.....uhhhh..... I refuse to go on a diet....I need to make a LIFESTYLE change (LOL!LOL!LOL!) and my lifestyle revolves around Chuck E Cheese and large quantities of ice cream (purely for social reasons). So, no major lifestyle changes happening here for another 15-20 years or so until the kids are all moved out. And even then, grandmas need to have goodies at their houses, right? Lord help me!

Okay...the point of this rambling is that I AM miraculously losing weight or my skinny jeans are growing (now when I say "skinny", I'm not referring to the world's view of skinny, I am merely referring to the jeans I was unable to button around Christmas time). Losing this little bit of weight is now starting to encourage me to lose more and maybe that is the secret I've been missing out on all these post-pregnancy years. Maybe if I stopped thinking so much about what I am going to eat, what I should be eating or worse what I already did eat, I could just relax and eat a normal portion of whatever it is I happen to be hungry for. And, salad. Lots and lots of salad.

All this said, I could gain it all back by the end of the weekend if I'm not careful. Does anyone else's weight fluctuate any given day by 3-5 pounds? With swimsuit (shudder) season right around the corner, this curvy mama is hoping to lose at least 10 pounds, but 40 would be even better. So, as a way of keeping myself accountable maybe I'll make up some cool "tracker, bloggy thing" to update you all on my progress. That way, Internet embarrassment shall be my reward for too many double scoop waffle cones!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Happy Birthday, #1!

At exactly 4:24 pm today my oldest, #1 turns eleven years old! I have watched this child grow throughout the years and every time I think back through her life one thought constantly enters my mind.... I gave birth to MYSELF exactly eleven years ago today!! Yes, this daughter of mine is the Christian version of myself at the same age. We like the same things, we think the same way and we are both "bossy pants" who never seem to be able to "mind our own beeswax". It's not shocking our birthdays are only 3 days apart, our favorite color is purple and we are bookworms (nothing too heavy or complicated, mind you). We both are a little lacking on the athletic gene (something her sisters must have inherited from their father and NOT us!) but we are social with a full plate of activities to look forward to most days. It is a blessing at times and a frustration at times to live with someone so much like yourself. With the exception of my passionate dislike of black olives there is nothing too different about us. Braces? Yup. Roller coasters? Love 'em. Catty girls? Hurt our feelings (we just can't seem to shake it off like #2 and #3 can). So, you can imagine combined with preteen angst who is one I could throttle some days. You guessed it! My dear #1.

I remember spending my 11th year with roller skates or my bike attached to me, still occasionally playing with dolls, and my friends were the most important part of my world. What #1 has that is better than what I had when I was a child is a heart that belongs to Jesus. She doesn't just talk the talk, I watch her walk the walk. While her struggles are very similar to mine (fear and control being the top 2) she is quick to pray and find her strength in the Lord. I've seen the Holy Spirit work on her heart and through her life. It is very normal to be sitting at Baskin Robbins or McDonald's and watch her go over and ask to pray for someone. Her heart is filled with compassion (unless you are an 11-year-old boy!).

So, happy birthday, my sweet #1. I am a blessed mama.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Are You There, God? It's Me, Melissa.

Have you ever been in a rut? Maybe it's a comfortable rut and you don't even know you're in it. Maybe it's a stream of negative thoughts and while you're smiling on the outside (as a Proverbs 31 woman is expected to do) on the inside you're screaming IS THIS ALL THERE IS TO LIFE??!!! Then one day, as you're driving in the car or scrubbing in the shower God just drops a Divine Revelation on you and you wonder how in the world you got comfortable thinking in such a wrong way. It's subtle my friends, verrrrrrry sneaky. Trust me, I know.

The Husband has been complimenting me lately about my good attitude and how I have not complained about homeschooling the kids while I'm working 2 part-time jobs. I smiled and said thank you and believed for a moment that what he said was true. But, the next morning when the alarm went off at 5:30 am and I drug myself out of bed, I was thinking "That's it. I can't do this anymore. Why, God?? Are you even listening to me?? Why don't you rescue us from this situation? We tithe, we obey you....waaaahhhhhh.......God, please...I'm just so TIRED.....". Yeah. That sounds really mature and content, doesn't it?

So, I've sort of realized this lately and I am really trying to be joyful on the inside. God also reassured me that He knows I'm tired so I really don't need to remind Him on an hourly basis. I've decided to take the "student" approach to this season we are in. Instead of asking, "Why, Lord?" I'm asking "What are you trying to teach me, Lord?". He likes that. He wants to teach us all sorts of things even if we don't like the lesson plan for that day. Lord, can't it be recess, yet? Or, lunch? Pleeeeeeease!!!! Although now that I think about it, all day recess would leave us tired and all day lunch would leave us ....ummm....bloated. So, maybe there is something to be said about being a good, well-rounded student, especially when the Teacher overflows with wisdom and love.

I know we can all rest in knowing that God is never surprised by our situations and if we're listening He can change our hearts to make them more like His no matter what our circumstances are. Now, that is worth smiling about. On the inside.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Green Acres is the Place for Me

Every once in awhile I experience one of those "Mom of the Year" moments where I can pat myself on the back for a job well done. Well, the last 24 hours was one of those times. I surprised daughter #1 for her 11th birthday by taking her and her sisters and 3 friends to Green Acres Bed and Breakfast. I have now become their unofficial spokesmom and it is my job to tell you to pack an overnight bag and go there NOW! Oh my word! We had an amazingly great time.

We arrived at this beautiful stone farmhouse around dinner time just as our hosts we leaving. They told us to make ourselves at home, and we did. We had brought some subs and snacks and spread out at the huge farm table in the dining room after we explored the house. It was perfect. We had booked a room in the attic, but our hostess told us it was a bit chilly so she moved us to 2 adjoining rooms on the 2nd floor. Three words for our rooms: Little. Girl. Heaven. They were decorated in every shade of pink you can imagine with flowers, lace and dolls all over. Bunk beds, my friends. Pretty, pink, girly bunk beds.

Outside there were cats galore, goats and a wonderful dog named Bear who followed us around. There was a giant playhouse and a play barn with a loft. Inside were dress up Amish clothes (hence the serious faces in the pictures because according to our 11-year old Amish expert, the Amish don't smile for pictures). Ladies, at times it was so adorable I felt light headed with joy!! In these past weeks of GAS problems and the pressure of The Husband needing to find a new job this trip was just what my weary soul needed. When the girls were finally ready to come in last night we played hide-n-go seek in this huge house and it was so funny when we tried to keep scaring each other (I was hiding in the kitchen and threw a roll of Saran Wrap at them and let me tell you...those girls got some strong lungs!). After it was dark outside we hung out in the Victorian-style living room that felt like a museum. It was beautifully decorated, but had plenty to entertain the girls with. Sometime around 9pm another family staying there with a 2 year old and 10 month old came in and said hello. After lots of junk food and many games of "Piggly Wiggly" the whispers stopped around 11pm. I had as much fun playing as the girls did!

In the morning when we woke up (although, some of the precious dears in our party were up at 5:45 am) we had a fantastic home cooked breakfast that included waffles with homemade strawberry syrup, scrambled eggs, ham balls, potato and cheddar casserole and a cinnamon coffee cake with a candle in it for #1. Our host said a wonderful blessing over the food and I once again was overjoyed that the Lord led us to the establishment of a family that has a strong relationship with Christ. There was no need to worry about the video stash in the living room....nothing above a G rating. After breakfast our host took the kids on a wagon ride and to collect eggs from the chickens. They would've got to play with the goats, but it was a mud pit. Instead, we rode bikes (from the 1950's I think), including a bicycle built for 2. We ended this wonderful trip with hot dogs at Sheetz because it is my personal belief that every child's birthday party should include hot dogs at some point. For all of you healthy people....don't worry ....I gave them fruit, too.

And, to top off this wonderful 24-hour slice of heaven, GAS is home! The Husband went to pick her up just as we were leaving for our trip yesterday. She is doing well and is very happy to be home! Thank you so much for your prayers.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I'm Waxing Poetic....

It's spring......sigh....I mean, IT'S SPRING!!! I was just outside trying to locate my recycling bin (you never know where it will turn up after trash day) and I was caught in a lovely (and, I mean glorious) spring rain shower. As I breathed in the semi-warm air I could almost feel new life being birthed around me. I felt encouragement wash over my soul like this sweet, spring rain. After finding the recycling bin I still didn't want to go back inside. I just wanted to take it all and be grateful for new beginnings. I must admit, without winter I'm not sure I would rejoice over the coming spring. Can't the same be said about our lives, too? If not for the trials and the storms in life, would we really appreciate the blessings when they fill our cups to overflowing? I think about the cruise we took a few years ago....when we got on the ship we were blown away by the food and the service. I mean we "ohhhed" and "ahhhed" about every 3 minutes the first 2 days on the ship. But, after that we started to expect that kind of treatment and while it was enjoyable, it was no longer as exciting. By the time we got off the ship, I was so overfed and understimulated I wasn't sure that I would ever go on another cruise again! In just one week, all the things that I thought were wonderful were no longer appreciated. I certainly don't want to go through life being unappreciative because everything works out just perfectly for me every time. I'm not sure that we can mature that way.

But, back to spring.....there seem to be changes all around me. Three of my friends are moving to different parts of the country (all in the next week!) and my good friend, Biker Babe is falling in love (ahhhh). Also, I have great hopes of The Husband changing jobs soon to something more befitting a man of his experience and handsomeness (okay, maybe his good looks should have nothing to do with where he'll be working, but the man is gorgeous!). I smell the promise of tomorrow in that fresh spring air.

Spring isn't even my most favorite season. Wait until you hear me go on and on when it is summer. I mean, SUMMER!!!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The GAS Chronicles

So, we've been frequent guests at the hospital visiting my grandma, "GAS" since Saturday. She is bleeding internally and they don’t know where it is coming from. They initially thought that she overdosed on aspirin and that was probably causing the bleeding. She takes 2 in the morning and 2 at night and sometimes more (I had no idea!). Why does she take so much aspirin? She says it's to prevent a heart attack. My grandfather told her five years ago to take one a day and she said (and, I quote), "When I do something, I do it right. ". They had to replace 2 units of blood on Sunday that she had lost, but she seems in good spirits. She really wants to come home but the way the doctor was talking that isn’t going to happen until they know what is wrong. She had stopped bleeding for awhile when she was just taking liquids, but she started again yesterday after she ate some solid food. She had actually swallowed a pill on Tuesday that was a camera and the doctors have been studying the results and can't find the cause of the bleeding. They said her blood counts are all good and they just can't figure out what is going on. Her hand is all swollen from her IV so they had to change that and now she has pain on the right side of her chest whenever she breathes deep or laughs. I'm thinking...."just let her come home, she's getting worse in the hospital!!" but then I guess I'd be having to deal with all of this and my medical background is limited to kissing boo-boos on scraped knees.

So, all your prayers are appreciated!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Formal Introduction....3 Posts Later

Well, I got to thinking that here I am with a new blog and all and I never really introduced my "cast of characters" (you know, my family!). My hesitation came from the pressure to make up catchy little nicknames for them to be called (like in all the other blogs I read). I have been at a loss and while I'm not making fun of all you bloggers out there who do this (snicker, hee, hee) I just don't know where you all come up with them. So, for the sake of me being able to move on in life and with this BLOB as my youngest daughter calls it, without further ado I introduce you to my household.....

My husband - "The Husband"
My oldest daughter - "#1"
My middle daughter - "#2"
My youngest daughter - "#3"
My grandmother - "GAS" Those really are her initials!
Our doberman puppy - "Annoying, Destructive Dog" or, for short "ADD"
Our cat - "The Cat"

See how clever I am! As for the content of my blob? Random, total randomness, randomier than your average blog, so random it may scare you. Well-written you wonder? I venture to say no. I tend to write as I speak and while that's so cute when you're Southern or British, my Pennsylvania Dutch upbringing may taint that from time to time with sentences that youns may have to read twice to understand (just like this one!).

Monday, March 19, 2007

Can I be honest?

I have to tell you is tough. I mean it can really break you if you let it. I am not so quick to spout off contrite sounding phrases like "what doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger" anymore. I feel like at times I am careless with my words, even careless with God's promises as if I am wishing on a falling star instead of really seeking His truth and His ways. The only thing that gives me any hope some days is that I believe that God has a plan for my life and whatever the current trial I'm going through is part of that plan. I then can see things through His eyes and start being grateful for the blessings I DO have in this season.
The hardest thing I've faced as I am growing older (oh my word, can you tell I'm so ridiculously melancholy that I'm turning 37 in a few weeks???!!!) is fear. And, I believe like so many other things in life that fear is a choice. You know, I want to be the one with the unshakable faith that can stand strong in the storm. In the good times I picture myself that way. The reality is I don't sleep very well some nights, almost begging Jesus to calm my racing heart and quiet my overanalyzing mind so I can get a few hours sleep before I have to wake up and endure life. And, I DON'T WANT TO BE LIKE THAT! The list goes on and on but my worst fears are my family spending eternity separated from God, my 85 year old grandma who lives with us getting so sick or hurt that I won't be able to take care of her, or worse I'll come home one day and find her well, you know where I'm going with that.....I worry about our finances and where we'll be a year from now. I pray daily that I'll be able to transition well into "mom of teenagers" so the girls will not shut me out of their lives (young people who are reading this please take parents can really mess up sometimes, but please trust me when I tell you that we only want the absolute best for our kids, even if it seems like we're just trying to ruin their fun!). Well, anyway...John 14:27 says "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.". So, that sounds like I have a choice to make. Some days, I just don't know how to walk without that fear and worry. And, it shows in my attitude. I think so often of Paul and all the times he was imprisoned and what his thoughts may have drifted to. Was he worried? Did he feel guilty because of all the harm he did before he surrendered his life to Christ? I think if he was tempted to do any of that he prayed it away pretty quickly and made the choice to not entertain any of those kinds of thoughts. Why? Look at his character, he was so rooted in the firm foundation of Jesus that you don't get the impression Paul had many pity parties. Which makes me feel petty just sitting here typing about my suburban soccer mom trials. So, please excuse me while I go pick myself up, brush myself off and thank God for another day to make a difference for His kingdom!

These Just Can't Be My Children!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

37 Things I Want for my Birthday

In honor of my upcoming 37th (ugh) birthday I started to think of 37 things I would like....

1. My entire family to know Christ as their Savior.
2. A latte a day (my new favorite, believe it or not, a caramel latte from Dunkin Donuts. I know. I'm full of surprises) for the month of March.
3. Lots and lots of fountain Diet Coke.
4. To fit into my "skinny" summer clothes.
5. To go play laser tag. Lots of laser tag.
6. Take the family to Disneyworld.
7. Take the family to Israel.
8. World peace (to make the trip to Israel more enjoyable)
9. To not be afraid to fly (which would also make a more enjoyable trip to Israel).
10. To snorkle off of a tropical beach.
11. To have brunch at Raspberries.
12. A day at the Hershey Spa and dinner in the Circular Dining Room.
13. To sleep in until 10am and not feel guilty.
14. To have breakfast in bed (eggs benedict, please!).
15. To ride all the roller coasters at Hersheypark without having to wait in line.
16. To play in the mud with my kids and not have to wash their clothes when we're done.
17. To learn how to play a musical instrument.
18. To go hiking up a beautiful mountain and watch the sun rise.
19. To find a good home for our dog, Bella without all of our hearts breaking.
20. To have tea and finger foods with my friends at a cute little tea house.
21. To play hours and hours of Nerts.
22. To play an hour or so of tennis.
23. Ride a wave runner down the Ft. Lauderdale intercoastal.
24. Eat a basket of ribs and conch fritters at Flanigans in south Florida.
25. Ride in a convertable with the top down. Preferably a red convertable.
26. See a really good Broadway show.
27. Teach my kids about volcanoes by taking them to Hawaii.
28. Teach my kids about the Grand Canyon by taking them there.
29. Buy an RV. and visit the continental US, Canada and Mexico.
30. To feed the hungry, clothe the poor and give shelter to the homeless.
32. More faith to believe God can do miracles beyond my wildest imagination.
33. A job that hubby really enjoys and not one he feels stuck in.
34. A week long luxury cruise with 30 of my closest friends.
35. To wake up and know that no matter the circumstances I'm in, everything is going to be alright.
36. Go horseback riding.
37. Meet President Bush to tell him he's doing a great job and I'm praying for him.