About Me

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Just another stay at home mom trying to do it all, save the world, and not run out of coffee.
My published articles: exm.nr/gkA1yp
Twitter: @CarolBruckmann

Friday, December 28, 2012

Belk Bowl 2012

When Cinci and Duke were announced as the Belk Bowl teams it was a no brainer that I would cheer for my favorite team-in-law, even if they can't be defined as having modern, Southern style. Plus as a UNC fan I am programmed to cheer against the Blue Devils. Jamie immediately decided we would be skipping our annual holiday trip to Ohio to stay home and attend the game. A good friend at church scored us great tickets, and his parents drove down a two-night one-day visit. (This prompted Caitlyn to ponder, "Why do they only care about football?" But of course Granny and Grandpa showered her with attention.)

Cinci was without their coach (who had committed to UT), and Duke went off on a 16 to 0 romp. When Cinci started to come back, I tweeted this pic of us in an effort to get on the big screen. No luck - apparently you needed a cute kid. Despite the fact that the people in front of us never sat down and one of the overbeveraged people behind us us fell on Jamie, it was a great game that saw Cinci emerge victorious 48-34.

We managed not to catch Grandpa's stomach virus and Granny's cold, but of course the next day  when I needed to wash sheets and sanitize for my family to come the water was off for 8 hours with no notice or explanation. Thanks City of Harrisburg! Now if next year I can somehow forget how much easier it was NOT to drive to Ohio for Christmas...

Here's Elijah opening his least noisy gift from the in-laws. (Just kidding Granny, we love the noisy race track as well!)

More pics from the game can be seen at the end of my December pics by clicking here.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas recap part 2

(Click here for part one.)

We dressed and headed back to my other granddad's for Christmas brunch and more gifts. Elijah got the perfect gift - a loud guitar!
To honor my Dad, we decided to go sing Christmas carols at his grave. While we waited for the others, Caitlyn sang to him by herself.
While we all sang together, a strange male was sneaking around the tombstones...
Elijah was still rocking that guitar late into the night!

I am so thankful for my family. They are not only my relatives in blood, but my sisters and brothers in Christ. What comfort, joy, and peace we have together!

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were
called in one body. And be thankful. - Colossians 3:15

Christmas recap

(You can see the December pics by clicking here.)

This Christmas would be different than any before. Of course we would greatly miss the presence of my father. And instead of us heading to Ohio after Christmas Day, Jamie's parents headed to Charlotte for the Belk Bowl. But different doesn't mean bad, and we had a lot of fun with family.

If you love videos, then this is the post for you. If you REALLY love videos, come over and I'll show you the other 53 from December. I'll pop the popcorn. My apologies - most of these were taken before I learned how to focus my iPod.

On Christmas Eve, we hung out with my Dad's family. The extended family also lost some key members this year, so a decision was made to not have the yearly Christmas Eve gathering. My aunts, uncle, Granddad, a great aunt, and my family piled into my granddaddy's house for a great meal and some fun. Let's just say the white elephant gifts were a bit shocking. (PM me for the details.) My Uncle Dennis provided entertainment by sugaring Elijah up with 4 desserts and teaching Caitlyn some dance moves.

After returning to my other grandparents' house, we opened more presents, donned our Christmas pjs, and herded the children to bed. We almost forgot to leave cookies for Santa, but thankfully Elijah and Kylie remembered just in time.

Despite Santa's best efforts to "cut back", the wraparound couch was consumed with gifts for the four grandchildren. Needless to say, a thank you was in order.

One of Elijah's favorite gifts was his rocket launcher. Perhaps it should be an outside toy, but are there ever truly outside toys?

Another great gift was this Kmart special from my mom. See how Elijah quietly stalks his prey.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Oh Christmas Trees

Needless to say, I will never be featured in Southern Living until they put out a "How Not to Decorate" issue. I visit my friends and gasp in awe at their themed trees gracing each room. But I love my little ragged Christmas trees. The big one with the bright lights and mismatched sentimental ornaments reminds me of my childhood and people in my life. As I learned from my mom, all the angel ornaments hover at the top recalling the angel army who announced the birth of the Christ child.

The trees in the children's rooms provide the best nightlights of the year. Caitlyn's is filled with handmade crafts and ornaments given to her. Elijah only had one ornament of his own, so I gave him some stars and a bucket to clump all on the top.

My favorite of all is our Advent tree. We hung Caitlyn's crafts from last year and added to the tree each day. I knew Elijah was paying attention when we began the Baby Jesus craft. He ran to the tree and cried, "Oh! We make dis one?" We used this sweet tree to tell and retell the story of the Christ child.

My fake trees may be free hand-me-downs with unevenly spaced ornaments hung by tiny hands, but as the Peanuts gang learned, once you turn on the lights the beauty can be seen by anyone who seeks it.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Daddy's birthday and Christmas music

We surprised Daddy by cooking mini garlic cheeseburgers reminiscent of his college greasy spoon - Marvins. The kids gave him a flashback Atari system. Nothing could make my man happier than unhealthy food and video games. Well, I suppose his children being adorable could top it. Thankfully we had that, too! Before the children's musical, the Mission Friends choir performed a couple of Christmas classics. Caitlyn and her buddies were adorable as always!


Friday, December 14, 2012

Advent crafts

Last year Caitlyn and I did the advent crafts from Truth in the Tinsel. It's a great way to cover the story of Jesus' birth and focus on Him. For a not-so-crafty Mama, this was hard work! We even included Elijah this year to up the ante. The crafts were cute, but the best part was that they really learned the real Christmas story. Caitlyn came up with the idea to act out the story with the crafts they made. Why didn't I think of that! I recommend this to any Christians with young children.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas caroling 2012

I love that our church carols in the neighborhood as an outreach each year. It's great to see people react. We get everything from people hiding and pretending they're not home to opening the door excitedly to confusion. People have yelled after we passed, "Hey, are you caroling? Come back!" They have mused, "Wow, I thought people only did that on tv." One kid even nearly jumped out of his skin when he opened the door, thinking we were there to "jump him". It's a fun night, but this year we forgot Elijah's coat! Since it was really cold and he had been sick, he and I stayed behind and had an interpretive dance session with his buddy. Caitlyn and Jamie had a great time ministering to the community, and Elijah had a great time trying to eat all the cookies before the carolers returned.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Mean old Roman soldier

Somehow a few years ago I found myself "in charge of" of the Happy Birthday Jesus party at church. Basically I make sure the Sunday school teachers do a section then walk around watching them work. I was very excited that the kindergarten class decided to join us so I could see Caitlyn in the dress up room for one more year. Quit growing up, kid! Oh yes, and Happy not your real birthday, Jesus!

Christmas music is better with your eyes closed.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Thanksgiving miracle

Fierce warrior face
Well, Granny found the camera wedged under her car seat! So through the magic of internet manipulation, I'm going back in time to post some November pictures!
Cheering on the Heels
Peace between Pilgrim and
Native American

You can see more November pics by clicking here.


There are no pictures of cute kids dressed up for the Thanksgiving play, or Jamie dressed as an Indian, the girls against boys baseball game, or videos of family laughing at dinner. All these things happened, but somehow my camera vanished at Thanksgiving. Thankfully I have a terrible memory, so although I will forget what happened, perhaps I will eventually forget the pain of the lost pictures and videos!

At the beginning of the month, the kids and I headed to the country for fun and my Grandmama's birthday. We love you, Audrey!


My uncle gave us two tickets for a UNC football game, but I had cantata practice. Jamie had the privilege of taking Caitlyn to her first visit to Kenan stadium. He took some awesome pictures... which were on the camera. Jamie scored free tickets to Kaleidoscope On Ice. The ice skaters were amazing, and the Olympic gymnastics gold medalists made an appearance.

Thanksgiving was fabulous as usual, and at the end of the month we headed to the Harrisburg Town Center to make some beautiful grass angels while we waited to meet Santa.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Click here for the November pics that survived the tragedy.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It's the Great Chocolate Debate, Charlie Brown

Fair Trade Organic Belgian Chocolate Bars
I'll have to get a bar for
Mommy & Daddy, too!
For quite a while my household has been a free trade only coffee zone (easy since I'm the only drinker) and kind-of a free trade only chocolate zone (much more difficult with a sweet tooth husband and two kids). When I'm shopping it's easy to avoid "slave chocolate" as my daughter and I call it, but candy centered holidays (aren't they all?) like Halloween call for more introspection. After seeing several friends post about free trade chocolate and Halloween I began ripping my hair out contemplating what we would do as a family since we do trick or treat as well as need to buy candy for an outreach at church. (Keep in mind I'm also against most of the other candies for chemical and food coloring reasons - sigh.)

I think I've come to a decision for our family. I just told six year old Caitlyn this morning that we were going to send the "slave candy" and "chemical candy" they get for Halloween to the troops and in return buy some fair trade chocolate and healthy candy from Trader Joes. She was totally fine with it! I'll probably do it behind my candy junkie three year old's back, and I just have to convince my husband to get rid of free candy in exchange for spending his hard earned money on junk food.

What's the big deal? It's been covered far better in other places - recently rageagainsttheminivan posted about the inconvenient truth about your halloween chocolate and forced child labor and from problem to solution: practical ideas for an ethical halloween. Go ahead and get informed... I'll wait.

I know, it's more expensive and inconvenient to find free trade chocolate. But it won't get any easier until we start to care and then shop our conscience. To me it is the same as the following scenario:
You go to check out at your favorite grocery store. The cashier takes your loyalty card and says, "Oh, we have a great special today. You can save 20% by doing nothing. I'm just going to take this non-loyalty card member and this random kid I found in the parking lot and beat them with a stick for a couple of minutes."
Maybe you would do some mental math and think, "Sweet, that's $25.83 I can save!" Hopefully you would either do a Chuck Norris move to take down the cashier or at least leave your groceries there, calling the police on the way to the slightly more out of the way and a few dollars pricier grocery store across town.

As a Christian I am commanded to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God. But I should think that few Americans of any religion could truly believe that it's worth the life of another child for our children to have cheap holiday candy.

Some of you may think I'm being overdramatic, but remember - out of sight should not be out of mind.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Goddess of the Binky

In our reading about Ancient Egypt we came across this picture today of the cat goddess Bastet depicted with a golden nose ring.

Very impressed, my three year old Elijah exclaimed, "Cat have ba-ba? Cat have ba-ba like me! Gimme dat ba-ba, cat!" I fear that the foundation of Christian faith may be undermined by this feline idol masquerading as a harbinger of everlasting pacifiers.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Don't give me any more lip!

Look at the hole in my sweet baby's lip!
It was such a peaceful morning. I rose before my family to write the day's devotion since I fell asleep with the kids last night. The children slept in until almost nine, surely catching up on their sleep to be ready for a day of schoolwork and chores. I snuggled at breakfast with my son until my daughter crept upstairs, snuck under the table, and surprised us to our delight and giggles. Everything was right in the world.

Sibling fighting began rearing its head, but things were somewhat under control until I went out to dump the compost and returned to a locked door. (Elijah thinks this is hilarious.) I rang the doorbell to send my boxer into a frenzy be let back inside, but when the door opened I was met by the sight of blood gushing from Caitlyn's mouth! (Apparently she had fallen on her pink plastic princess castle, although I cannot see anything with that particular shape on said toy.) Using water and paper towels I discerned that her teeth and gums were fine, but there was a gaping hole in her lip. Of course we were still in our pjs, so I got everyone dressed while keeping the blood from touching anyone's clothing. Thankfully the blood subsided before we reached Urgent Care, and we didn't even need to be seen. The doctor told Caitlyn to stay away from salty foods. (She told him she didn't even like salt but was quite upset to later learn the hard way that pistachios are quite salty.) The poor girl said she felt like someone had hit her with a brick and that she was going to die. My quiet day was now filled with crying and fussiness. Add to that stressor a three year old who throws things when he isn't getting attention and refused to nap, and my patience reserve was zapped! I started screaming "HUSH!" repeatedly and to no avail. I couldn't help myself.

The irony is that just this morning I wrote in my devotion that
I am almost always able to deal with daily situations with a kind voice that is not raised, even when my three year old repeats the same bad behavior for the millionth time that day. I am patient with my strong willed six year old as I try to train her character. 
 So much for that! I wasn't even trying to brag! At least I put in the "almost". At least it was a good opportunity to confess my sins to my children at bedtime as we all vowed to be kinder in the future. Oh well, the sun'll come out tomorrow, right?

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Two nights before my daddy passed from this earthly realm, my Granddaddy gave thanks for our dinner. He prayed for peace for our family, especially my dad. That evening when I ventured out to collect my children from their outdoor play I gazed skyward at the most vibrant double rainbow I have ever seen. (Pictures never do this sort of thing justice). Although the rain had not yet fallen, that rainbow was a symbol of peace for us. As it symbolized God's hope and provision for Noah so many years ago, so for me it was a balm to my soul that in the midst of what would look like destruction there would be hope for a future, peace that passes understanding, and provision through the journey of this life.

People have commented about how unfair it is that my dad had cancer when he was a minister of God and a "good man." Unbelieving friends even see this as a sign that God does not exist. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even Jesus taught His disciples, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." The sun rises on both the good and the evil; the rain waters the fields of the just and unjust alike. Of course I recognized the tragedy when the first man I loved had lung cancer of all things - a disease that would not only affect his life but his ability to share his voice in praise of his Lord. I sat in my closet and sobbed uncontrollably. After all, I've always been a Daddy's girl. But I made the choice to not dwell on the thoughts of "Why?" that spring from my natural self and instead on "What?" Of course I wondered "what" I could do to help my parents through this time and "what" could be done to heal my dad. But I also looked for "what" God was teaching His children through the process.

In the three year journey of my Dad's cancer I treasured the time with him. Had he died suddenly I perhaps would have missed opportunities as I focused on the craziness of raising two small children. I learned what true love is as my mom gave her energy and time to care for my dad as he received treatment in Asheville and Chapel Hill. In the last two weeks of his life she was by his side, patiently waiting for him to accomplish the smallest of tasks and striving to preserve his dignity to the end. I am thankful that she was with him when he took his final breath and opened his eyes wide as his faith became sight.

I learned the value of family as my granddaddy and my dad's two sisters dropped all responsibilities to care for my dad (and mom) so that he could spend his final time at home and not in a facility. Other family members came as well, and my children and I grew close to them in a way that could not have occurred at holiday visits. We are now bound together with invisible but unbreakable bonds.

I listened as my grandfather soothingly read scriptures to his children and applied his beliefs as he made peace with the death of his only son. He taught me to be strong, trust God, and give thanks in all circumstances.

I drew on the power of the Holy Spirit like never before, especially as many of us sang to soothe my father in his final hours.

None of us would choose to learn these lessons at the expense of my father's suffering. The price is too high. And being believers, we knew that our God had the power even to raise my father from the dead. Until the end I prayed for my father's miraculous healing and believed it might happen.

My favorite Bible story is the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednago. These three Hebrew children faced the furnace knowing that God had the power to save them, but even if He did not they would not worship the king. Following their example I choose to worship and praise God through the storms of life.

No other choice could better honor my father's legacy.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Learning to Speak

Caitlyn's speeches for Classical Conversation have improved so much over the year. I am so proud of her! Her last speeches were on her Granddaddy Ed (my Dad) and what she loved about CC and Jesus. She came up with the last speech almost totally on her own! (The yellow fleece appearing both weeks is due to our placement on Team Yellow for field day. Yellow clothes are a hard item to come by in our house!)

Elijah's speech is also improving. Just listen to the adorable kid after he learned to say "Hosanna" in Sunday School!

With admitted author bias, I am so proud of my two preschoolers!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Go Targetheels!

"May I bring you some snacks?"

Anyone familiar with my husband would not be surprised to know that my daughter loves to talk  to and yell at the t.v. during March Madness. (Last year I used the ACC Tourney as an educational tool as she learner her numbers by looking at the score, so maybe I am somewhat to blame as well.) Plus it's one time she is actually encouraged to talk incessantly. Unfortunately she would never repeat her best exclamation; after a particularly tough foul committed by UNC player Tyler Zeller (called "Zecker" by Caitlyn) she crowed, "That's how you do it Carolina! Knock 'em down!!"

Bearcat basketball attire
She loved cheering for my "Targetheels" as well as Daddy's UC "Beahcats", especially when she could wrangle a later bedtime and some popcorn out of the deal. I'm sure little Elijah didn't really understand the game, but he cheered and yelled whenever the crowd on TV or in the living room did. Daddy let him know when he was cheering for the wrong team, but I found his antics adorable even with his misplaced allegiance.

Now if only I can work out my master plan of getting everyone as excited about "April Spring Cleaning!" Maybe a bracket would help...

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Parable of the Merciful Mama

I was fairly certain that my five year old had accidentally accessed the Internet on my phone. As I don't have a data plan this would mean some charges. It had happened before, and we had taken the money from her savings as a consequence. Clearly that had not made a lasting impression. She has always been strong willed and a stereotypical oldest child who believes she is right and knows what is best. No, I don't know where she gets it. We are constantly on our toes thinking of strategies to help her become the woman God wants her to be, and I am sure we haven't seen anything yet as she and I learn to live together on her journey to adulthood.

Since this time incurred an almost $25 charge, I called Verizon to block data on our phones until we decide to pay the monthly fee. I also had the woman on the phone make sure Caitlyn hadn't accidentally signed up for anything with a recurring charge. The woman sheepishly said, "Okay, I'm unsubscribing you from two things - mobile email and Sexy Girls Next Door."
Me: You're kidding.
Her: No.
Caitlyn: (from the backseat) "You said a bad word!"
Me: "Well you did a really bad things that deserves a bad word!" (to the woman on the phone) "Well, I suppose it could be worse. I could be dealing with a teenager who intentionally signed up for something like that."

I waited a couple of hours debating and praying about how the proper punishment. (Remember my whole Lent sacrifice of trying to make my words, thoughts, and actions honor God?) After I got her brother to sleep we had a chat about things. Thankfully she didn't recall seeing anything bad on my phone, although she did realize at one point that she had gone to the Internet and tried to "x it out."

Drawing from our sermon Sunday on Matthew 18, The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant, I tried to explain the monetary amount of her transgression. She has a chance to earn a quarter a week, but each time she refuses to obey she loses a penny. If she never misbehaved it would take her 2 years to pay us back. In addition she had recently clicked something on her Dad's Facebook account that would take another 2 years of perfection to pay off. For a 5 year old, this is an impossible sum of money to earn. I then explained that because God had forgiven Mommy and Daddy for our sins against him, we were going to forgive the debt she owed us. She understood that if she did it again we would be making a trip to the bank, but this time the slate was wiped clean through no merit of her own, just because God had shown his love to us and we wanted to show that love to her.

Most of it probably went over my preschooler's head, except for the part that she wasn't going to have to spend the money she is saving for her purple Honda. But I only wish all my parenting decisions were that well thought out and based in Scripture.

Did it change her? It's hard to say. But I know it changed me.

Fun with the Fitzgeralds

Jamie's sister, her three children, and his mom made the trek down to NC to visit before the craziness of soccer season hit them. Unfortunately we lost a day due to a landslide on the interstate, but we made use of time the best we could! We met at Discovery Place Kids where the youngest generation could run around to their hearts content, get some wiggles out, pretend to be chefs/ repairmen/sailor/florist/firefighters, and engage in various dance parties.

Jamie, his mom, and the three eldest grandchildren headed on Sunday to the Whitewater Center in Charlotte. They cheered on some training American and Canadian Olympic hopefuls and enjoyed some nice hikes. (As a result the following Sunday I accompanied Jamie on a trip involving peaceful flatwater kayaking on the Catawba as well as high ropes courses and zip-lines that were far beyond the reaches of my acrophobic nature.)

My grand idea was to have a fondue night, but unfortunately the cheese did not cooperate. Nevertheless we enjoyed our cheese course, meat/veggie course, and especially the chocolate fountain. The children were so chocolate covered that Elijah was unceremoniously hosed off on the back deck by his loving father. We loved having them down and wish the cousins could play more often!


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Letting Go

It's been a week since we put our dog Sasha to sleep. After almost 15 years together it is hard at times to remember she isn't here. One morning during her morning chores Caitlyn yelled that we needed to get Sasha some more dog food, and it took a couple of tries to remind her that we didn't have a Sasha anymore. Elijah went in the garage and emerged with two treats, saying one was for "Ze-Zeke" and one for "Satcha." When he remembers he looks sadly at me and says sadly, "Die." For me it happens at times when I feel the need to take care of her - hearing footsteps and thinking she needs to go out, clearing the toys from the floor so she'll have a clear path, seeing the cream cheese in which we hid her medicine, or thinking I need to put her on the deck if we're going out for a while. Letting go was hard, and I imagine it's an ongoing process.

The actual decision to put her to sleep was difficult. For a couple of years I had been saying that she would die at any time, then she would pull through. At Christmas we took her on our whirlwind trip since she needed such constant care. The trip was stressful for her, and we did not think she would make it. But when we came back home she pranced around the yard and perked up. Every time my heart would tell me that it was time, something would happen to convince me otherwise.

Of course I knew she was past her prime. She no longer did tricks, unless you count trying to catch popcorn in her mouth. Rather than "speaking" and "whispering" on command she would only whimper in the direst of circumstances. Her hearing and vision had been fading, and she spent most of her days sleeping. But the finality of the decision weighed heavily on my soul. You see, I fervently believe in the hope of heaven, but I am not all together convinced that "all dogs go to heaven." I do know that God's eye is on the sparrow, and if animals do have an afterlife then Sasha is a shoe-in for a good one.

In order to minimize my sadness after Sasha's death I took care of destroying her medicene the night before and combining her dog food with Ezekiel's. I made sure we completed Caitlyn's math assignment graphing pets the day before so we wouldn't have to deal with that. But wouldn't you know it, one of her reading sentences the next day was, "I hope my pet lives a long time." The night before the appointment I slept upstairs to be available any time she woke up and needed anything. At 3 am I cooked her a chicken breast for a last meal. When I dropped the kids off at my friend's house they said goodbye to Sasha, and my intuitive daughter voiced the thoughts hidden in my heart. She gave Sasha one last hug and asked, "Don't you wish they could fix Sasha and make her one year old again?" I choked out the reply, "Yes baby, that's exactly what I wish."

I held it together fairly well at the vet, taking Sasha for one last walk around to sniff the grass and only falling into sobs when we first arrived and when I was leaving. I knew that a sense of calm was the final gift I could give the sweet dog who had seen me through so many tough times in my own life. Sasha miraculously allowed them to insert the catheter that would deliver the drugs to her system, and I was able to hold her snuggled in my lap on the floor as she gently passed into peaceful slumber. In the end it was as it began, the two of us alone against the world, embracing against whatever life threw our way.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Remembering Sasha (4-12-97 - 3-1-12)

People tend to think they have the best dog in the world, but I know I did. My dog was beloved by people around the globe! The summer after my sophomore year in college I decided I needed a dog. The small dogs advertised in the paper were all taken, so against my better judgment I went to check out some Rottie-Husky puppies in a guy’s backyard in Knoxville. Soon I was driving back to my apartment with my 25 pound bundle of joy. Except for a semester when she had to live with my parents, we have been inseparable.

Carson Newman
Sasha was an active puppy, and everyone at CN loved her. Several people had keys to my house and would walk her when I was in class or at work. When I would walk her around campus people I didn’t even know would say hi to her! Once when she was a puppy she found a nasty ball outside my apartment. No one would pick it up to throw it for her, so she dropped it on one side of an SUV then ran around to the other side to play “Solitaire fetch.” I never worried about living alone when I had a big dog to protect me. On the other hand, once when a pit bull got away from its owner to go after her I protected her by punching the pit bull in the mouth. (Afterwards I was shaking at my stupidity, but it worked!) She was spoiled rotten. Once, I was afraid because I thought I heard someone outside and let her hop in my bed. After that point she slept with me until I got married.

As a poor college student I often made toys from empty Mtn. Dew bottles and wadded up pieces of paper. Unfortunately one day she thought my college research paper was a toy! Thankfully my professor had a great sense of humor when I showed her that my dog literally ate my homework and allowed me to reprint after class with no late penalty. My favorite sociology professor loved to blow bubbles to relax. Knowing this I brought Sasha into class for a presentation on relaxation to demonstrate how blowing bubbles isn’t nearly as relaxing as blowing bubbles for a dog who will jump up to pop the bubbles!

She learned a lot of tricks, fetch being her favorite. I would take her to my parents’ house and hit tennis balls down the side of the mountain to try to wear her out! She could also sit, lie, down, shake, and chase her tail, but her most impressive trick was being able to both “speak” and “whisper.” She would go crazy anytime it snowed, running around the house scooping up snow in her mouth like a bulldozer and rolling around until she was soaked. I would make snowballs and throw them into the snow for her to chase. Crazily enough she often found them and chewed them up.

Moving to Texas was emotional and scary, and perhaps I couldn’t have done it without my constant companion. But she and I made some amazing friends there! She loved to wrestle with my friends (Crocodile Hunter Kathy?), and many were excited to keep her if I had to go out of state. Sasha was afraid of water until one day at a pond with a friend she really wanted to chase some ducks. After literally “taking the plunge” we couldn’t keep her away from any water source from then on… well maybe except the bathtub!

After I moved in with Melinda, Sasha found her second family with the Whighams. They loved her as much as my family did, and she returned their love. She played with Mama Dot’s little poodle Romy and raised Melinda’s cat Sebastian to be a great cat-dog. They were her family if I ever flew home, but if I made the 17 hour trek in my Honda she rode in the back like a trooper, sometimes only stopping once or twice for gas, food, and a potty break!

Back to N.C.
As much as I didn’t want to move to Texas, moving back to NC was just as tough. I moved to a place where I had no friends, and Sasha was my constant companion. After Jamie and I started dating he became her Daddy. She accompanied me to visit him from time to time until one of his neighbors called the front office complaining that he had a bear in his apartment!

Sasha came to our wedding reception as the guest of honor. Right before our wedding she popped a ligament on one knee and popped the other one right after our honeymoon. I knew my husband loved me when he unflinchingly forked over the cash for both surgeries.

Through several family additions (1 husband, 2 cats, 2 dogs, and 2 kids) she remained sweet and faithful. Although she no longer played fetch, she still loved the snow and slow walks outside. She never once growled at the kids, but she would put other dogs in their place with her Alpha personality, even when they could have taken my senior dog down in a second! In the end I was thankful to hold her as she gently passed into peace, beloved by so many and leaving a paw print shaped hole in my heart.

If you have memories of Sasha, please leave them in the comments section below so I can keep them.

You can see pictures of Sasha’s life by clicking here.

Visiting with Aunt Melinda before my wedding

Sasha never stopped loving the snow!

Eventually Sasha had to start sharing he popcorn with her younger sister and brother.
You can see more videos of Sasha on my Youtube channel.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Peanut... Peanut Butter!

Your honor, to the question of how I can claim to clean so often yet still have such a messy house, we give you Exhibit A - the peanut butter massacre of 2012.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Weekend Fun!

Another part of my Lent journey is focusing on something I've tried before but forget in the busyness of life. It goes completely against my Type A overbooked constantly moving nature. I want to be present in the moment, especially with my children. My mind likes to jump to the next task at hand, especially when I am doing something "mundane" like playing with toy trains. I don't want to look back on my children's childhoods and find that I spent so much time doing and thinking about "stuff" that I missed the joy of childhood. So although I have been consumed during the week with getting things together for the consignment sale, I have purposed to do fun things on the weekends without trying to get anything else accomplished!

Last weekend my good friend Rebecca Ann helped me run my errands and meet my parents and nephew for dinner. I couldn't make it without her! We shopped at an old fashioned hardware store in Matthews where I bought some heirloom tomatoes while the kids played with chickens, stared transfixed at fishing crickets, and chased each other around giant bags of manure. If my non-green thumbs can somehow grow these tomatoes and save the seeds we can grow tomatoes from them forever and not have to worry about GMOs, BPA, and who knows what other initials.

This weekend Daddy came home early because of the rain and we played Balloon Lagoon as a family. Elijah did a great job playing but couldn't handle the entire game of Feed the Kitty that followed.  Instead he decided to play "torture the boxer". Once the camera started rolling he went easier on poor Ezekiel. Today we threw on our coats and headed to the park to ride bikes and enjoy having the cold playground all to ourselves.

You can see more February pics by clicking here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday

Yesterday I searched for something like I used during Advent that would relate the celebration of Lent with my preschoolers. Not having found anything I decided to wing it. I spent the day continuing to examine my actions and thoughts to discern whether or not they were rooted in love. Many of them weren't, but as the day progressed I noticed some of my natural tendencies being supplanted by a supernatural calm and peace.

Since my church doesn't have an Ash Wednesday service we celebrated the holiday by the compost pile for the sake of fire safety. Knowing that my children wouldn't be able to hang for the entirety of Psalm 51, I chose two key verses: 9Hide your face from my sins, and wipe out all that I have done wrong. 10Create a clean heart in me, O God, and renew a faithful spirit within me (GW). We talked about the biblical significance of ashes representing mourning or sorrow for sins and how God completely forgives our sins when we ask as well as giving us clean hearts to not sin again. We chose a sin to write on the paper and put it into the compost pile to burn it.

Our lighters never work well, and I was struggling. A young man walked by, an odd occurrence on our busy sidewalk free street. He heard the clicking of my lighter and asked if we would like to borrow his. He came over and asked if we were making compost. His name was Jordan, and we shared with him what we were doing (aside from making compost). He must have at least some knowledge of God because when we thanked him he responded, "anything for the good Lord." It was deeply meaningful to watch our sins symbolically turn to ash, although I suspect the kids were more in awe that we were actually playing with fire. We'll see if anything comes of meeting Jordan, but I thank God that he gives us beauty for ashes as we grow into trees of righteousness (Is. 61:3).

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Truly Celebrating Lent

The kids decorated our cake with
waaaay to much sugar!

During my first Lenten season as a married woman, I made the mistake of cooking meat on a Friday night. My Episcopalian bred husband was mortified and ate a PB&J. (Give me a break - I grew up Southern Baptist. We take Paul's "kill & eat" sheet vision very literally.) It's funny how differently people can celebrate the same holidays and holy days. After seeing Fat Tuesday recipes on the Today show and forgetting that it was "Shrove Tuesday" - the one night the hubs would love pancakes for dinner - the kids and I cooked skillet Jambalaya and made a homemade Kings' cake. The purported purpose of the Kings' cake is to remind people of the Magi's trip to find Jesus as a child, but today most people just look for the baby in the cake for good luck or to see who picks up the tab. (We mostly made it because it looked yummy.)

Likewise many religious traditions can lose their meaning. People can "give things up" for Lent as a cultural habit more than a reminder to pray and come closer to Christ. Since my denomination has no "Lenten requirements" I have some freedom to think about how I desire to spend the season. So many of us overlook it or rush through it, even those of us who follow some prescribed ritual.

Currently I am in a Bible Study on Ephesians in which we look at only a verse or two a day. It runs contrary to my normal study of the Bible in which I devour large sections and look at the "Big Picture." Stopping after a verse or two sometimes feels awkward. But concentrating on one or two verses a day allows you to really stew on the verses if you allow your mind the time throughout the day. Today's verses were Eph. 3:17-18, part of Paul's prayer for the Ephesians.

The end of verse 18 is "that you, being rooted and grounded in love." Throughout the day I have contemplated whether or not my actions and words were rooted and grounded in love. Many of them weren't. So instead of giving up chocolate for Lent I am going to spend the season examining my thoughts and actions to see if they grow from love, watering the roots in my heart through communing with the Father, and fertilizing my faith through the reading of the Word. Join me on my journey!

Monday, February 6, 2012

My halftime show is better than yours

The high school party was fun, the food was great, and the devotional was inspiring... but I have to say I loved watching the 4th quarter in bed with my kids the best!

The video is grainy, but my halftime show was better than yours. Eat your heart out Madonna!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Karen, this one's for you

Caitlyn's speech Monday should have been a 2-3 minute speech on a famous scientist. I had an awesome children's book on Louis Pasteur all ready to go over with her! But I left it at home when we went to my parents' house. Instead of pulling an all-nighter with a 5 year old when we got home at 10 pm Sunday I told her she could just do her speech on anything she wanted to talk about. She chose the very scientific subject of my sister's new puppy, Jax. Here you go sis!

Elijah's opinion of the puppy:

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January recap

Since I'm swamped trying to sort through years of clothes and baby gear for a consignment sale, here's a quick recap of January. Caitlyn attended her first sleepover. My overprotective nature welled up and was a bit disappointed to never receive a call to come pick her up. Since the birthday girl had already spent the night at our house, I felt like I needed to say yes! Caitlyn loved it and stay up until 4:30 am! She only went to bed then because the mom made her. Somehow she was still well behaved in church the next day.

We also made a quick weekend trip to the mountains. Jamie took my nephew on his first skiing trip while I cleaned out some of my boxes in my parents' basement. The main reason we went up is to attend a reception honoring my Dad's decades of service at the church where I grew up. It was a bittersweet chance to say goodbye to many of the people who had influenced me in life. Don't my parents look great?

To see more pics from January click here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Up All Night

I finally turned on the TV so I
could finish working. You have
no idea how annoying Calliou
is at 1:45 am.
For my 100th post I bring you... insomnia man! Yes, this little fellow is not a fan of sleep. Last night he would scream like a banshee if I left his side. Even laying him next to Daddy, getting him to sleep, and rolling out of bed like a ninja caused him to instantly wake up in a panic. I finally brought him upstairs with me so I could put up the dinner leftovers and get my online Bible Study set up for today. A bit before 2 am I soothed him to sleep only to hear the pitter patter of little feet walking to our bed 6 minutes later. Exhausted and laughing rather than crying, I let him climb in bed with us. His mommy radar instantly went off when I got up just before 7, following me upstairs screaming loud enough to wake up his sister. Thanks Elijah.
Which one of my boys is the better sleeper?

One pot of coffee may not be enough today...

Shalom Seekers