I'll save my $8, thanks: common sense and education are better than some products

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Above you see a Parking Pal Magnet.  There's a handprint in the middle of the magnet.  You slap one of these babies on your car in parking lots for your child to put their hand on so they stay safe.  Great idea.  The first time I saw these online I thought, "Man, what a great idea!  I so need one of these!  What can I do in the meantime?  We have some Julius magnets from a happy meal...I can just stick one of those on the van and NR can put her hand on that."

Well, then we went to the store.  When we came out I realized I had forgotten my trusty magnet to stick on the van.  It didn't matter because I had my hands full and couldn't have gotten it out anyway.  So I pointed to spot on the van and told NR to "touch the van".  She did so dutifully!  It worked like a charm: I got groceries loaded without wrestling her into the carseat first and she was safely hanging out against the van (within eyeshot, of course.  At the time she was only about 18 months old, so she needed a couple reminders to keep touching the van).   

On the way home I began reasoning: When I come out of the local grocery store I usually have my hands full of grocery bags and I'm holding NR's hand, so I can't pull out a magnet from wherever I have it stashed.  Often on these local trips I don't carry a purse or a diaper bag, just my wallet, so there would be no where to stash a magnet. I would have to unlock the van before putting it on or try to remember to stick it on there before going into the store.  Let's be realistic here, how many moms do you know that are going to remember that?
If it was a big grocery trip, I have a cart and typically NR is in the cart, voiding the need for a Parking Pal.  At the mall there is usually a stroller involved.  So the only times NR is in the parking lot are on those quick runs into the local grocery, Family Dollar, Ben Franklin or somewhere like a thrift store. 

So we've stuck with "touch the van" around here.  Now she's a little taller and loves to hold the door handle till I'm ready to put her in. 

I'm not trying to defame Parking Pal--for some kids it's probably perfect and maybe it works especially well with more than one kid or older kids.  I don't have experience in those areas.  My little "pleaser" will do just about anything you ask her, so I have it easy.

My real point is there are a blue million products out there to "make it possible" to do things that are just as easily done without them.  Most of these products offer visual interest and a specific function, but are absolutely not necessary.  Most of the time they can be substituted with a little time teaching our kids or some common sense. 

Can you think of something that is supposed to make life easier, but is actually its own burden, or is just not necessary at all?  There are a lot in the baby/kids realm especially.  I can think of two that I have bought that just didn't turn out to be as helpful as I'd hoped.  Check out this podcast from the Playdate Crashers for some of their "Not Must-Haves". 



I was thinking of Thanksgiving memories this evening and just wanted to share a little. 

For as long as I can remember we always went to my Aunt Weese's house for Thanksgiving.  We would always squeeze into her little home and watch football (and once in a great while, the dog show) and eat and visit.  I'd get hollered at for snacking on the pickle and olive tray (heavily) before lunch was ready.

My aunt always wears a lot of jewelry.  My memory tells me that it wasn't odd for her to be wearing 8 or 10 rings on Thanksgiving.  Even if that's exaggerated (as I've learned childhood memories sometimes are), it's not by a lot.  She would sometimes let me try on a diamond ring and see it sparkle on my hand.  We always wore Christmas earrings and had a contest to see who could wear the most audacious earrings to Thanksgiving dinner.  We had everything from light up Christmas bulbs to reindeer that played "Rudolph". 

We always ate ourselves silly surrounded by our family and I would drink green punch until I was sick.  Every year I drank that punch till I was green in the gills--still can't help myself.  I inevitably fell asleep somewhere just out from under foot after lunch (not just as a child--I still did this when I came home from college to Thanksgiving). 

Then we'd head out to my Aunt Blanch and Uncle Bo's for dessert and to piece on leftovers.  As a child I saw some cousins I didn't always get to see.  They were in the military or lived far away and this was a special treat.  After everyone was out of the Marines and moved home, it was just time to play games or do crafts together and as an adult, a time to sit around the dining room table and catch up and laugh.  Oh, the laughing.  That is still my favorite part of my family getting together.

Being together has gotten harder as an adult since we've moved away and my job doesn't always afford me the time off needed to make the trip. 

Last year, though, I had the joy of hosting Thanksgiving for both Zach's and my family and for the first time, a friend.  We all squeezed into our tiny house--10 or 12 of us.  We ate and laughed and enjoyed each other.

This year we don't get to make the trip to see either family, so we're borrowing some (my parents visited last weekend and Zach's will be here Friday).  We're going over to some friends from church's home with some of their family and other friends from church.  I expect we'll enjoy each other and laugh and laugh. 

Before going over, though, we're going to have our first Thanksgiving as just the 3 of us.  We'll have some breakfast and watch the parade and make some pies to take along.  I'm very excited for tomorrow morning.

This year I'm thankful for my little family here, for my family far away and for friends who are like family.  I'm thankful for happy memories, for our new town, our new church.  I'm thankful for all our health and for a roof over our heads.  I could go on and on, but I won't.  I hope you can come up with some things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving and I hope you have the blessing of happy memories of Thanksgivings gone by. 

God Bless!


Memory Triggers

Is there something odd or small that makes you remember something in particular?

Today I was reading this article on Design Mom (my very favorite blog) about newspapers.  I realized that every time I read a newspaper I remember very clearly the dream I had as a child to write for a newspaper.  There's something about the skinny columns and the succinct stories that always appeals to me.  Touching a newspaper also makes me think of Clark Kent and Lois Lane.  Every time.  Not kidding.

If I really was a newspaper writer, I think I would want to write a weekly column, though I'm not sure what I'd write it about.  I'd also like writing those feature articles that always make your heart swell and your throat tighten (you know what I mean...that description sounded more like you need an Epi-pen)

What types of things bring back memories, hopes, or dreams for you?

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Pin Win!


I am terrible at Pinterest.  I have 50 boards, 1480 pins.  And I have accomplished about 5 of them.  And failed at about 5 of them.

But this week I had a pin win!  I pinned this recipe for pretzel rolls a few weeks ago and I've looked at it over and over, drooling over how delicious they look.

Pinned Image
Here is my "Food" board on Pinterest

Don't they look great?  Well, this week I finally decided to brave this recipe.  I've never made bread from scratch before, so this was pretty intimidating, but check out how great they turned out!
They're not as round and picture-perfect as the pinterest pic, but I was quite pleased.  They were not the easiest thing I've ever made, but their deliciousness is worth every minute it takes to make them (easily 2 hours)!  I'm letting the dough rise on my 2nd batch this week as I type this!

Truly, and I mean this--if I can do it, you can do it!  Run, don't walk (high-speed, don't dial up?) to une bonne vie for the recipe!


Getting Behind

Let's face it: no matter who you are, sometimes you get behind at work. 

It doesn't matter if it's a day off, sick days, not enough hours in the day or just good (or not-so-good), old-fashioned procrastination, it happens to everyone.

Does this feeling of being behind motivate you to work extra hard to catch up, or does it drive you to dispairland where you sit in sackcloth and ashes and gnash your teeth about never getting caught up again?

To be honest I think it depends on the task even more than it depends on my mood.  My Mom is one who can't leave/stop/go to bed with a task that must be finished undone.  If you give her a deadline of today, it will be done before she sleeps.  I have a little of that in me.  But once it a while it's just impossible to finish (I only get to log so many hours a week) and if it's some tedious, unloved task, it teeters on the precipice of falling into dispairland. 

I have been there a little this week, but I'm beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel!  Hopefully some hard work tomorrow and a restful weekend will put me back on track to motivation station!  (haha, that's terrible, but I need a counterpart for dispairland!)

I wish you the blessing of a productive day and a restful weekend!  <3 p="p">


The Hope that We Have

A couple of weeks ago we had a great Sunday focused around Hope. 

There are tons of things I could say about the day and I'm sure each person walked away with something different set on their heart. 

The day started with a fantastic set of music to get us ready for probably the best sermon our Pastor, Dallas, has delivered since we arrived here.  You can listen to the full message here: "Hope" 10/21/12.

Then, on Sunday evening we had a worship experience complete with music, drama and live art that was touching and uplifting.  I am honored to have been a part of it.  Here are a few shots:

One of the things that has stuck with me deeply from the day was about hope for the future.  It's not about what Christians normally think about when think of hope for the future--that we can make it through this world because Heaven awaits.  This is hope for our future here, on earth, in this life.

Several months ago my Mom shared with me a conversation she had with another family member.  The other person was expressing dispair over the state of this world and how she didn't understand how people justify continuing to bring new children into this broken world that is only getting worse.  Fair argument, I'd say.  Plenty of people have thought on this and provided discourse for and against the subject.  Mom told her she hopes Zach and I have more children to bring happiness and joy to this world. 

To be a light.

The thing that Dallas said that has stuck is along these lines: I hope Jesus tarries a little in coming back because I'd love my children to have the opportunity to lead someone to Him.

To bring Light--the Light of Christ.  Each child in our broken world isn't the threat of another rebellious teenager, abuser, criminal, or sociopath.  They are children that God wants for His own.  They are the potential to be God's hand outstretched to the downtrodden, God's voice to the broken, God's hope to the hopeless.  Each one has the potential for God to use them to change their world, someone else's world, even the entire world. 

I choose to pray for Nora and any future children we'll have to that end.  I pray for them to simply beam with the Light of Christ and I pray that we will listen to God's guidance in raising them so they will.  And I thank God, on this first day of November, for His Hope.

It's Fall, Ya'll!

Guess what I did today?  The temperatures have dipped, the heat has been bumped up a few degrees, the leaves are down and I put the proverbial nail in Summer's coffin.  That's right, I put away our outside toys.  The hammock has been disassembled, the little tykes slide has been brought in along with our canvas camp chairs.  It made me smile.

I was glad to spend time outside--even if for just a few minutes.  I raked for just a couple of minutes and was able to build an enormous leaf pile.  I love that crinkly swish-swish sound of leaves being raked and it took me back to memories of my cousin, Nici and friend, Katie and playing in the leaves.  One year Nici and I even went to our school's Halloween costume party as a two-headed monster dressed in a giant black garbage bag filled with leaves.  We were itchy and happy (and I think we won a prize, too).

Fall is that kind of time for me.  Happy and nostalgic.  I love the sights, sounds, smells and it only gets better from here now that Halloween has passed, we can start to look on toward Thanksgiving--possibly my favorite holiday. 

Speaking of Halloween, I'll leave you with a couple shots of our little octopus:

I couldn't improve on A Young Wife's Tale's tutorial for the costume, so you can find it here.  I changed just two things: I stuffed with plastic grocery bags since I had them on hand and instead of stitching on the eyes, I drew pupils on cotton balls and safety pinned them on.  They looked cute, but you'll notice she's not wearing her hat...she destroyed one of the eyeballs before we even got a picture.  :)

Happy Fall.  What are you thankful for on this first day of November?