Archive for June 2009

Who's to blame?

Monday, June 29, 2009

I was offline for a couple days last week during many big news events. To make me even more of a neanderthal, our TV blew up too. Because of this I did not learn of Michael Jackson's death until Friday. I saw the headline on my homepage "Generation 'X' grows up." It was a great article about two celebrities who will forever be etched in our minds from the time period when we came of age: Michael and Farrah. What adolescent boy didn't have the poster or satin pillow of Miss Fawcett? What teenage girl didn't line up at the salon for her coveted feathered hairstyle? Did any of us not have the cassette tape of Thriller? (If you don't know what a cassette is, you're way too young to be reading this) :)

Of course I got sucked in to clicking on the next news piece and the next. They weren't about the news. They didn't even come close to remembering Mr. Jackson in a kind manner. They may have mentioned a sentence or two about his three surviving children. No, the focus of every article was on who was to blame for his untimely death. "Was it the cardiologist?"..... "Maybe the CPR attempt was botched."........ "He was injected with Demerol thirty minutes before he went into cardiac arrest."...... Why does there always have to be someone who was at fault? Why can't we just say "it was his time?" Is it because we just don't want to accept that sometimes there isn't an easy explanation? Or is it just that we can't come to terms with the reality that we really aren't in control? Does it make us face our own mortality with disbelief? For me, it's all of the above. Regardless of the autopsy results, God is the one "at fault" and He holds both of these beloved souls in his hands.

Rest in Peace, Michael and Farrah.

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Foodie Friday

Friday, June 26, 2009

I love to try new recipes but don't do so very often. Mostly because my kids turn their noses up at anything that "looks weird". It gets so old. But when we have guests for dinner I relish in making them my "guinea pigs." Last weekend I broke out the "100 Chicken Recipes" cookbook and found this gem. For the kiddos, I poured some barbecue sauce on a couple of extra chicken breasts and everyone was happy.

Smoky Almond Chicken
  • 1/2 cup smoked almonds
  • 1 piece firm white bread torn in small pieces
  • 1/4 t. black pepper
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream
  • 1/2 cup bottled barbecue sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray's)
  • 4 chicken breasts

In a food processor or chopper blend the almonds, bread and pepper. Pour onto waxed paper. Mix sour cream and 1 Tablespoon barbecue sauce in pie plate. Roll the chicken in the sour cream then the almonds. Place on cookie sheet and bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes. Serve with rest of the barbecue sauce. So easy and delicious!!

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Happy Belated Father's Day

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Not to be redundant but I continued to peruse Quinn's poetry book and struck some more "gold". Because we were out of town, I completely missed posting anything on Father's Day in tribute to my sweet husband who also happens to be a fantastic dad. Apparently his son feels the same as evidenced by the poem below. I might need to pull this out again as a reminder to Quinn as we embark on the teen years in six short months and dad becomes a nerd for a while.

This is so darn sweet!


You dive into the swimming pool

Sweat after a long run

Love your beautiful family

Linger to do good for someone else

Drain all fears from my mind

Load up the car for a road trip

Applaud my accomplishments

Climb the North Twin

Protect me when I'm in danger

Imagine life in Heaven

Praise God in church

Ride the waves in Oregon

Complain about the economy and government

Launch yourself into the air while skiing

Come to my weekend soccer games

Enter the room in a good mood

Lock Christmas presents away from me and my brothers

Who would do anything to just open one


A boy who writes poetry?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Tonight I tackled the mound of papers that came home on the last day of school. Most of it made its way to the recycling bin but you can always count on a few finds that absolutely, positively need to go in the cedar chest (do people even have those anymore?) This little diddy from Quinn's sixth grade poetry book was just begging to be shared. Thanks for indulging me.

I am an athletic guy who loves soccer
I wonder what I will be when I grow up
I hear the falling waves crash against the coastal rocks
I see presents under the Christmas tree
I want to play professional soccer
I am an athletic guy who loves soccer
I imagine myself winning the World Cup
I feel that I have nothing to be scared of
I touch the soccer ball on a corner kick
I worry about the people who have to starve
I cry for the people that lose family members in the war
I am an athletic guy who loves soccer
I understand that the only way to know God is through Jesus Christ
I say that I'm a good brother
I dream to play professional soccer
I try to be the best I can
I hope to be a loving father like my dad
I am an athletic guy who loves soccer


Economy Hour

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Don't let the post title scare you. I will not be giving financial advice. "Economy Hour" is an event that occurs three times a year at the boys' school. If you're lucky enough, (or unlucky in my opinion) you'll can participate in both fourth and fifth grades. That is unless you get Mrs. R. for fourth grade. She is "old school" and thinks the whole things is unnecessary to learning at that age. My oldest had her and although he was crying when he heard the news, because of no "Economy Hour", she whispered: "you'll be so happy by the end of the year". She was right. Sorry. Major tangent.

Economy Hour is a little trading store of sorts. Each student is to make an item(s) to sell to his or her classmates at the store. Throughout the quarter they earn "economy bucks" by doing jobs in the classroom, displaying good behavior, etc. At the end of each quarter the "store" opens and they spend half of the time selling and the other half buying goods. The creativity and hard work is quite impressive. (I think once a year would suffice but no one asked me.) Nonetheless it's always a dilemma when the time rolls around to apply for the "business license." Shortly after the last store in March, Ian had already decided that he was going to make fuzzy flip flops and have Mimi help him since she would be visiting in May. Yay! No last minute trips to the store or my repeated mantra of "we will not be working on these the night before". Right.

The day before Mimi left, Ian came home and announced that Economy Hour was in two weeks! Yikes! Fortunately Mimi is a "can-do, problem solving" kind of grandma who kicked into high gear upon hearing the news. Before we knew it, the three of us were heading down the hill to the Dollar Store for flip flops and Jo-Ann's for "fun fur". Bless her heart. Mimi stayed up well past midnight knitting the fun fur (which is a total pain) pattern for Ian's ten pairs of flip flops. She finished up the next day and showed Ian how to sew the fur onto the straps and he was on his way to cashing in the big bucks.

Wait. There was one small problem. What about the boys? UGH! After I rolled my eyes, Ian quickly left the room and consulted Dad who then consulted "Google." Thank God for "Google." Ten minutes later my child was going door-to-door in search of dryer lint. Apparently the combination of the lint, in a cardboard eggshell carton, covered with melted paraffin is an excellent fire starter. Who knew? Problem solved. Wrong.

Ian walked in the following day and informed me that he couldn't do the fire starters because they were.........flammable. You've got to be kidding me??? Isn't everything flammable when it gets near a FLAME??? Gotta love public school. Safety over imagination and creativity. Always. I had to draw the line. Or at least Trey had to. He played phone tag with the principal for a couple days and they never connected. Ian decided to take matters into his own hands. (I love that about this kid!) While I was racking my brain for a new idea, he came home and told me "we can do fire starters now". I assumed that the two men had spoken and worked it all out. I said as much and Ian said "No, I saw him today and asked him myself and he said it was OK." Me: "You did? Did you tell your teacher?" Ian: "She was standing right there." You know what I'm thinking so I'm not even going to say it. Smile.

The proud proprietor of "Fuzzy Flips and Pyro Paks"

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Book Review, Part One

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I love to read. I especially love to read books that challenge my thinking and my safe, comfortable life. As of late I have plowed through three books, all of which have done just that. I have been CHALLENGED me with a capital 'C'. The first one was moderately so but each subsequent book has rocked my world even more than the previous.

These recently unstable economic times have forced us to examine our spending like never before. As we've cut back dramatically in most every area I've seen how we've adjusted our expectations. We have really, truly accepted the difference between a want and a need. I've always thought of myself as financially wise but in reality I've made very few sacrifices. And quite frankly, I've been ashamed at my attitude of wanting to "have my cake and eat it too." I hesitate to admit that I have whined more than I've been grateful. During this season I find myself pondering the quote we always hear about how in America we live better than 85% of the world. We see the commercials imploring us to sponsor a child in Africa. We absentmindedly send our monthly check to a missionary in India because "we're doing our part." Yet do I ever really think beyond these simple acts that don't inconvenience me in the least? I honestly don't give much thought to actually doing anything about it. I would rather just pretend it doesn't exist.

A couple months ago, my friend Sasha, dropped off a book that she described only as "it will rock your world." She was right. And then some. When I heard the title, Revolution in World Missions, it didn't sound like a compelling read. I've never felt called to mission work or shared a passion with those who do. I admire and support those whose life work is fufilling the great commission in this way. But I personally have never felt a burden in this way. Until now. While the focus of the book is the author's personal journey into mission work, it's more about challenging the reader to "revolutionize your life" and let go of self-centeredness. He just uses examples from the lifestyle of third world countries to drive home his point.

As I turned the pages I kept thinking "no way." This was a sobering statistic from page 83: "One fourth of the world's people lives on an income of less than $1 a day--most of them in Asia. The gross national income per person in South Asia is only $460 a year. Americans earn an average of 77 times more........ while much of the world is concerned mainly about where its next meal is coming from, affluent North Americans spend most of their wages and waking moments planning unnecessary purchases." OUCH!! Guilty.

I love his challenge that follows: "You have been born among the privileged elite of this world. You have so much while others have so little. Why do you think God has allowed you to be born in North America or Europe rather than among the poor of Africa and Asia to be blessed with such material and spiritual abundance? In light of the superabundance you enjoy here, what do you think is your minimal responsibility to the untold millions of lost and suffering in the Two-Thirds World?"

I could go on and on with anecdotes from how this author's words have begun a little revolution in my heart. I looked up the definition. rev-o-lu-tion: a sudden, complete or marked change in something. A change has definitely begun. It's not necessarily sudden and it's certainly not complete. Next week I hope to share how the second book that made its way to my nightstand is taking the challenge to an even greater level. Stay tuned for part two.


Foodie Friday: Ripped Off

Friday, June 5, 2009

I am on to the food manufacturers. I have discovered their dirty little secret to tricking us into buying less for the same amount. If you're a frequent consumer of dry cereal (it's a food group of its own in our house) you've undoubtedly noticed the shrinkage. I thought I was buying more because my kids were eating more. Wrong. Below is a picture of my dry food storage bins. I've had these bins for about 5 years and the contents of a typical box of cereal would fill these up to the brim. A few weeks ago I realized that one box of Quaker Oatmeal Squares only went two-thirds of the way to the top. I was ticked! So here we are thinking that food costs are not actually increasing when they're just ripping us off.

To make matters worse, this unethical practice has also spilled over into my beloved baking department. It used to be that when making cookies involving any type of baking chip, my recipes would call for a 12 oz. bag or two cups. Recently I noticed that they now say 1 2/3 cups. You know why? Because the bag is now ELEVEN OUNCES!! Do they know how many baking recipes passed down through the ages don't actually, ever, refer to measured ingredients??? It's usually a sleeve of Ritz crackers, a package of graham crackers or a bag of chocolate chips. UGH!!! Do they not realize the stress they are now causing bakers across the land?? So now when you want to double a recipe, one now has to buy THREE of the same item!!! This changes everything.

And finally, let me speak to peanut butter. Another one of the five food groups. Not only has Costco switched from my beloved Jif to Skippy (shame on them) but the grocery store size used to be 32 oz. I'll give you one guess as to what it is now. THIRTY OUNCES!!

I can't help but think about how it came to be that some "number cruncher" decided that it made sense for these companies to redesign their packaging, labeling and all the labor that these changes ensue. Clearly it wasn't a blogging baker with too much time on his or her hands.

I almost wasn't going to post a recipe today in protest to the greed and deceit of Nestle, Kelloggs and the like. But instead I decided to offer grace and share a recipe for the easiest, yummiest no-bake cookies using all three of the aforementioned ingredients. I'm so forgiving, huh?


  • 11 oz. bag, butterscotch chips
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 7 cups, corn flakes

Empty the butterscotch chips and peanut butter in a large glass bowl. Microwave on high, stopping to stir every 30 seconds until completely melted. (about 2-3 min). Pour in cornflakes and mix thoroughly. Drop by heaping tablespoons onto cookie sheet lined with waxed paper. You can layer the paper on top of each other and repeat. Put in freezer for an hour or the refrigerator for 3 hours. Voila!


Happy Sad

Thursday, June 4, 2009

When my kids catch me crying and laughing at the same time they describe it as "HappySad". That is the perfect description of my mood today. Our most recent guest just checked out of the "Carpenter B & B"--though I really should just call it a 'B' unless serving oneself to dry cereal counts as a gourmet breakfast.

My dear friend Ashlee arrived from Florida on Monday and returned home early this morning. As I drove out of the airport I felt on the verge of tears and the brink of laughter. It was such a good visit but I missed her instantly. We had stimulating dinner conversations, great walks, a long bike ride, political discussions over cups of coffee and reminisced about our D.C. days well into the night. Our friendship spans 18 years and we met in the most unusual way.

In June 1991, I was working at Nordstrom in Tysons Corner, Virginia. I had been living back there for 4 months and still had not made any friends other than my co-workers. I was longing for an honest-to-goodness friend, not those who didn't have a choice to be with me simply because we were employed at the same place.

One summer evening I left work around 8:00 and as I exited the employee door there was a huge tour bus parked right in the crosswalk. In front of it was this sweet, young girl in her little red Nissan Sentra, crying in the drivers' seat. I walked over to inquire what was wrong and through her tears, she proceeded to tell me how her car had broken down and the tour bus driver had been honking, yelling and swearing at her get out of his way. I ran back in the store, found a couple burly security guys and asked them to help move her car. After the mission was accomplished she told me that her boyfriend was waiting for her downtown at George Washington University and there was no way to get a hold of him. (don't think cell phones were even invented back then) I told her "I don't know where that is but if you can give me directions, I'll give you a ride." (I really was desperate for a friend)

As we cruised down the Capitol Beltway, we discovered many common interests and a shared love of adventure and meeting new people--that probably explains why we would both get in a car with a total stranger. Unfortunately she was only in town temporarily. Her summer internship would end in August but she hoped to relocate early the next year after graduation from the University of Florida. We connected a few more times that summer and when she returned to the area, Trey and his partners hired her to work at their mortgage company.

Over the years our lives have taken many different directions but whether we talk once a month or see each other every five years, nothing changes. To look at our individual lives from the outside it might appear that we have less in common than at our friendship's beginning. I'm a full-time mom with three children. She's married, child-free with a master's degree and a successful consulting career. Sometimes I can feel inferior to that and wonder, "why would she want to come out here and immerse herself in this chaos when she can go anywhere in the world?" Yet she does it because she's invested in our friendship. It humbles me as I think about if I would be so considerate had the tables been reversed. She doesn't expect me to make changes in my lifestyle because of her presence. Instead, she finds a way to fit in to the madness. She doesn't demand that I neglect my family simply because she flew so far to see me.

We both love to tell the story when others ask "Now, how do you know each other?". Her mom has said to her, on more than one occasion, "God meant for you and Dana to be friends." I agree.

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No time for blogging

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I was really on a roll there for a while. Three, sometimes four, posts a week. I have been pondering so many subjects in my head that I want to share but my time is not my own lately. Here are a few reasons:

  • 85-degree weather that begs for being outdoors every waking moment
  • A new houseguest arrived from Florida on Monday for the week
  • All-day, end-of the-school-year field trips
  • End-of-season track meets
  • Soccer practices, track practices
  • Frequent calls from realtors and subsequent house showings

I hope to be back on Foodie Friday.