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Archive for November, 2007

by DianeĀ 

Life is filled with small moments. My life is a collection of small moments with some big ones thrown in every now and then. This is not very profound, but I forget the impact of this thought. What it means is that the little moments have the potential to make or break my day.

How does that translate into an average day? Because my day is filled with little moments, I try to include lots of positive little snippets, experiences that make me feel good. For example, the time of day I take my shower impacts how I feel. If I wear my pajamas until 2 pm, then I end up feeling blah, so I try to shower and dress in the morning. Making my bed only takes a few minutes, so I usually take that few minutes. The result for me is calm when I enter my bedroom, which I do multiple times a day, so those few minutes are well spent. On some days, I don’t make my bed, and it doesn’t matter. It depends on the day and how I feel that day.

Some days I do my hair and makeup. Others I do not. Right now, I am wearing no makeup, and my hair is a frizzy poof. I may attempt to tame my mane later if I go out of the house. That will depend on what I feel like in the moment.

Some days are easier to influence than others. If my daughter is glued to my legs all day, then I have less opportunity to build in experiences I’d like to have that day, but I can take a few minutes after my husband gets home or take a nap when she does. The crazy days are harder by far, but there is always something small I can do for myself each day.

Some days are a total loss for one reason or another. We all have these days. I might feel totally down and unable to accomplish anything. On these days, getting dressed is an achievement. When these times happen (not often anymore, thankfully), I try to give myself permission to take a day off. If I close the closet doors, I don’t see the laundry. If I take a nap, I can get a mental break. If I order pizza, I don’t have to plan dinner. If I go shopping, I can escape for a while. Either way, the lousy day will come to an end, leaving me with a chance to have a better tomorrow.

I have found freedom in giving myself permission to enjoy the little moments and intentionally do little things to help me relax. All of these small choices are occurrences that don’t make much difference in the realm of life but make a difference in my mood. That alone makes the small moments big.

Whatever your day is like today, wherever you are, I hope that you can enjoy a happy little moment. You deserve it.

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Growing up, our family counted down to Christmas using a special advent…piece…my mom had cross-stitched just for us. There were 24 plastic rings sewn onto this piece to hold tiny candy canes. Each day, one of the four kids would rotate getting to take and eat a candy cane off the calendar.

As we got older (and wiser?) we demanded better candy than tiny, boring old candy canes. I’ll never forget my mom Scotch-taping holiday colored Hershey’s kisses to each ring by the little Hershey’s kiss flag in each candy. Or the fact that our dog, Cinders, ate all the candies–wrappers and all–while we were at church one Sunday.

advent calendarLast year my brother, Greg, brought home a Starbucks advent calendar complete with tiny numbered red drawers and stocked with milk and dark chocolates. We all enjoyed eating our way to Christmas, but it was so short-lived and meaningless to me. I had the creative urge to tap the potential this $14.95 little calendar was tempting me with. (They’re $15.95 this year–yikes!)

So, this year, when I pulled out the advent box, my kids started the chorus of, “ooooh, caaaandy!”

But I quickly squelched that dream. I told them that instead of candy this year, we were going to pull out little pieces of paper that would tell the Christmas story day-by-day throughout the month of December. They weren’t as excited about that idea, but they were intrigued. I’ll take intrigued and run with it.

I have visions of a hand-made storybook with kiddie-drawn pictures illustrating each day’s snippet of the new-to-them odyssey. Of my kids really getting Christmas. Of them being able to recite the story from Luke 2 by memory just a few short years from now. Of them looking forward to reading the familiar story every year and if filling them to the brim with excitement and giving them goosebumps every time they read it. Of Jesus is the Reason for the Season being more than a clever rhyme.

Advent Calendar by StarbucksĀ® Coffee ()

I’m offering a FREE advent calendar complete with kid’s version of the Christmas story to one lucky LAB reader. If you are interested in winning this prize, you’ve got to hurry as Dec 1 is just around the corner! Leave me an insightful comment and I’ll pick the one that strikes a chord with me most as the winner on Friday November 30. I’ll either deliver or mail the calendar to the winner!

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THRIFTY THURSDAYS FLAT header

Last night I was standing in the living room trying to figure out how to decorate for Christmas. Unfortunately, our Halloween pumpkins were getting in the way of my envisioning.

So Dan and I carried them all to the kitchen where I hacked them in half with my chef’s knife and bulging muscles. I scooped out the seeds to toast with a little salt and pepper, threw out the slimy guts, then put each cratered half in the oven to roast.

This morning I put the softened pumpkin into my KitchenAid stand mixer and beat them to a pulp. We now have 5 “cans” of pumpkin in the freezer to use for bread, muffins, cake, soup, sneaking into regular foods (I’m reading Deceptively Delicious right now–review forthcoming) and what have you. We enjoyed pumpkin muffins at dinner tonight, shared some with neighbors, and still have 1/2 dozen and a loaf of pumpkin bread to put in the freezer.

 

I figured that by cooking our Halloween pumpkins and seeds, I’ve saved us about $20. The pumpkin seeds we usually buy for our salads are about $6 a bag, and pumpkin is about $2 per can.

Here’s the recipe I used for tonight’s muffins and bread from Allrecipes. com. I halved this recipe and improvised. I used 1/2 whole wheat flour and 1/2 bread flour. I also added 1/2 cup of flax seeds, cut the sugar by 1/3, added dairy and gluten free chocolate chips, Rum flavoring, and the leftover cranberry sauce from the fridge. (Hey, I figured of cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie go together at Thanksgiving, why not?) Then I melted a 1/2 stick of butter with 3/4ish cup of real maple syrup and a few drops of Dominican vanilla extract to pour over the tops of our sliced muffins–they were amazing! Especially since I baked them in an adorable Pumpkin Patch muffin pan from Mom Scott!
Addictive Pumpkin Muffins

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups raisins
  • 4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 (29 ounce) can pumpkin
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C). Grease three 12 cup muffin pans, or line with paper muffin liners. Soak raisins in hot water for ten minutes to plump, then drain.
  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ground cloves. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, pumpkin, and applesauce, until smooth. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and stir thoroughly to make a smooth batter. Stir the raisins and walnuts into the batter. Spoon batter into the prepared muffin cups.
  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

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Leslie Davis, a researcher at Illinois State University is doing a study on pre-natal and post-partum depression, and she’s trying to tease out the differences in mood disorders (depression vs. anxiety, etc.) so that they can work on more effective plans for treatment.

She needs women to fill out their online survey. Feature Image Email MarketingYou are eligible if you are pregnant and 26 weeks along or more, or if you are between 6 week and 6 months post-partum.
It took me less than 5 minutes to complete and was totally anonymous.

The more responses the researcher gets, the better info she’ll have and the better prevention/diagnosis/treatment we’ll be able to offer to pregnant women and new mothers. (The results of the study should be available in the summer of 2008)

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In yesterday’s post, I shared our car traumas and the delay in our returning home from Thanksgiving. I wrote about a challenging time in my childhood that has affected my spiritual journey even to this day.

What I think prompted me thinking and writing about these things is something that is deeply affecting me right now–some dear, dear friends who are going through an extremely hard time right now.

As I was driving our van, with the dashboard warning lights still lit up like a Christmas tree, I waited until everyone else in the car was asleep and then I let myself cry. For 10 minutes only. So from 2:36-2:46pm today, I cried as hard and as much as I possibly could without jeopardizing my sleeping passengers. Then I wiped my eyes, cheeks, chin, neck and then some with a crumply Panera napkin, took a deep breath, and started praying.

Here’s the e-mail from my dear, dear friends explaining their very difficult situation.

Corrine is currently at the hospital after suffering some serious complications with our current pregnancy. On Sunday a ruptured membrane caused her to begin leaking amniotic fluid (ie her water broke 5 months early…or at least that was how I understood it to mean). Because the baby is not “viable” as it is only 19 weeks we are in serious jeopardy of losing our baby girl. There is a small chance the membrane re-heals itself, or the leak is small enough that enough fluid remains to aid the babies development, however we are told this is highly unlikely. Please pray for us for possible healing for Corrine as well as for the emotional strain we are under at the moment. She will be on bed rest at the hospital for a few days as they monitor her status. If she stabilizes she will be sent home for likely bedrest as long as the pregnancy lasts. I will try to update you all again when we get home, hopefully still pregnant, later on this week.

I’ve never lost a child, but am friend or family to many of you who have. Because of those of you who have been transparent enough with me to share about your losing a little one early or late in a pregnancy, I have a small sense of what Corrine and her husband must be going through. And I can to some small degree empathize and probably for the first time ever genuinely hurt alongside my friends.

Drew and Corrine, so many people care so deeply for you both. We are praying for you and your little girl. We know that this is a really hard time for you. We love you.

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When I was in 4th grade, I took a plastic thermos of hot chocolate to school for lunch. I didn’t finish the hot chocolate at lunchtime and took it home with me after school to re-heat and finish up.

When I got home, I asked my mom if I could microwave the hot chocolate in the thermos or if I needed to put it into something else. Mom told me that I could microwave it in the thermos, but that I needed to take the lid off before microwaving it.

I removed the outer lid (the one with the little handle that acts as a cup) but left the thermos cap firmly sealed. I think I reheated the hot chocolate for one minute.

After the minute was up, I took out the thermos and started unscrewing the lid. “Mom, this lid isn’t coming off”, I said, “it just keeps spinning and spinning but not coming…BAM!”

The microwaved thermos lid had melted to the thermos. The hot chocolate inside built up steam then exploded into my face. I screamed as the burning plastic and liquid scorched my face and eyes.

I ended up having 3rd degree burns on my face and in my eyes–but thankfully the burns in my eyes were only “on the white parts”. Although both of my eyelids cracked all the way through and my eyes were swollen and sealed shut for a few days after the accident–and besides having to scrape and peel them open twice a day to apply medication–my vision was not affected.

Thanks to a new cream called “Silvidine” and extensive vitamin E internal and external treatments, I have no scarring whatsoever on my face from this burn.

Just prior to this accident, I experienced a horrible case of the flu that left my already-below-average 4th grade weight 6 pounds lighter. And not long after my facial burns were almost healed I fell out of a tree. This fall broke my arm slipping my growth plate necessitating surgery and a cast almost to my shoulder with my wrist twisted at an agonizing angle and my thumb casted fully extended to allow the bones and growth plate to heal correctly.

It was in the midst of all these childhood traumas that a verse I had memorized in Sunday school became my “life verse”. The evening of my burn, I was in my room. After Dad came home from work, he and mom came up to my bedroom so he could view my injury. He must have said something to the effect of his being sorry about the accident and my burns when I said, “it’s OK dad, I know that all things work together for good”. (After reading this post, my mom told me a little more of the story. My father was so upset at how awful I looked with my poor burnt up face, that after I quoted that verse to him, he went out into the hallway and cried. I never knew that part of the story until today.)

I know this verse gets used out of context all the time, but to a 4th grader context is abstract and unknowable. This was a case of simple understanding that beget a simple faith.

As I type this story, I am ministered to by this verse again. Especially since I am typing this (unexpectedly) from a Holiday Inn Express in Du Bois, PA almost 500 miles from home thanks to a Check Engine light, a Maintenance Required light, and a TCS light all going off in our van at the same time 6 hours into today’s road trip. Good part–they popped on at the last exit in PA before many, many miles of no-man’s land where there are few towns, scanty at best cell coverage, pitch black night, and rain and sleet just starting. Also, there is (amazingly) a Honda dealership in this town!

There were holes in the ceiling of the kitchen where hot chocolate incident occurred. Scalding milk and plastic that wasn’t stopped by my face melted tiny craters into the ceiling tiles. Mom also told me that after we got home from the doctor’s office, the thermos was sitting on the counter top and the inside had melted and bubbled out of the thermos and onto the counter.

Looking back, although my accident seemed “so bad”, it could have been so much worse. Same with having to pull off and grab a hotel room for the night before continuing our trip home–it could seem kinda bad, but I know it’s really God taking good care of us. I mean, really, there’s a breakfast buffet in the morning and my kids think this is the greatest adventure ever. And I won’t have to make the bed in the morning or wash the towels we use, and there’s even a blow dryer. Thank you, God, for the “all things” in my life. Do you have some “all things” in your life too?

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28

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a time to rest FLAT header

I was on a subway headed back to the in-laws’ after an exhilarating trip into New York City this weekend.

Spread out between two train cars and myriad seats were my 3 kids and 5 adults. Any less adults and we would have been in trouble.

As I was (unsuccessfully) trying to keep Addi on my lap, out of the lap of the man sitting next to me, or from throwing her pacifier on the floor and giggling so the old lady across the aisle would pick it up and give it back to her I heard, “MOMMYYYY!” thud, thud, thud, thud and Elli came running up to where Addi and I were sitting from the rear car.

The old lady who had been patiently picking up and returning Addi’s pacifier said “oh, you’ve got your hands full”, to which I responded, “and I’ve got one more back there. Good thing I’ve got family to help me out. Lots of help–it’s wonderful.”

And I really meant it.

Although 13 hours in a car with 3 kids under 4, a new environment, different sleeping arrangements, lots of sugary holiday eating, excitement of family and lots of new stuff, late nights etc is exhausting and grueling, the few precious days and hours of extra hands just aching to hold, love, and help my kids is worth it. It rests me.

But has it rested me enough for a 13 hour trip back to Grand Rapids? We shall see…

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