Bumpin’ Up & Down in My Little Red Wagon

You know the phrase, “falling off the wagon”, well, I’m pretty sure at this point not only have I fallen off the wagon, it’s backed up and run me over a few times.  At least that’s how I’m feeling about a certain vice of mine these days.  Not to worry, it does not involve Nyquil.  It’s the whole cooking thing.  If this were a vlog, you could have seen the way in which my mouth curved derisively when I typed the word ‘cooking’. 

In most families it’s the mom’s job to cook the meals. It’s so 1950’s cliché, but it’s still true.  There are those rare and allusive men who enjoy cooking and do it well.  I however, did not marry one of those types…my husband will admit he can’t even boil water.  Which is surprising considering the man was a bachelor for 10 years prior to us getting married.  From what I understand he lived solely on bologna sandwiches and cereal eaten out of recycled margarine tubs.  But I digress.

Today I’d like to confess my failure in the area of cooking.  I hate it.  I really, really hate it.  I was hoping that by signing up for E-mealz I would magically become organized and consistent in meal preparation.  Not so much.  Through no fault of their’s, I assure you!  For most people, I’m sure E-mealz works great (I however am not most people.)  It could also work for me, if you know, I actually prepared the recipes.  In an effort to exonerate           E-mealz, I’d like to give you the top 5 reasons I hate to cook.

  1. Picky Eaters– There’s a difference between being ‘preferential’ and ‘picky’.  I’d say my husband prefers certain meals over others (he hates roast beef and spaghetti…which I can only think comes from the fact that when he was in the Navy that’s ALL they served on the air craft carrier upon which he served), but will generally eat what I make without complaint. Oh, and he puts ketchup on everything. I mean e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.  The kids are harder to please.  One of them doesn’t like rice, but the other two do.  One doesn’t like stuffing, but the other two do. No one likes pork chops.  I can’t keep straight who likes what.  Alisha is by far the pickiest, and very few things I make meet with her approval.  I’m old school when it comes to how I like things to be…I cooked it, you eat it or go hungry.  My husband, the softy, has never played by those rules.  If they don’t like what I make, they are free to make their own something to eat instead.  A lot of cereal is consumed for dinner in this house. So I submit that I hate to cook, because no one (except myself) enjoys my cooking!
  2. The Right Tools– Because I don’t like to cook, I have a hard time justifying buying cooking tools.  I used to lie to myself (especially at Pampered Chef parties) and convince myself that if I just had that garlic press, I would totally cook more often. Wrong!  I do have drawers and cabinets full of things that  make dinner prep a little easier, but they certainly haven’t helped me be more diligent in cooking regularly.  Now I don’t even bother lying to myself.  No matter what new kitchen gadget temps me, I resist it.  Although, I DO need a new serving spoon as I left the one I had in a pot on the stove and it melted.
  3. Cooking is Dangerous (at least when I attempt it)- You can ask my family to verify this, but nearly every time I use the oven to cook or bake, I burn myself.  I’ve melted plastic spoons (see above), set tea bags on fire, set a pot holder on fire, and I drop knives and heavy dishes regularly.  I’m a danger to myself and anyone who dares venture into the kitchen when I’m cooking!
  4. Meal Planning– You know they say without a plan, you plan to fail.  Well, once E-mealz came into my life, I thought my cooking woes were over.  It really is an awesome plan, however, this goes back to having picky eaters.  Each week when I get my E-mealz meal plan, I look over it and have to determine what my family will eat.  Alisha won’t eat anything with chunks of tomato or onion in it.  Marissa doesn’t like anything that smacks of meat in a loaf form, and none of them will eat any fish or seafood.  I still try to make use of my E-mealz plans and just choose the meals my family WILL eat. However, it takes a lot more work to figure out my grocery list when I’m only making half the meals they suggest for that week. Someone did make the suggestion that I can just substitute chicken breasts in place of the fish in certain recipes.  I’m not sure it’s a good idea for me to try that as my culinary skills are severely lacking, but I like the idea.
  5. I’m Lazy– If I had to think back to the best time I’ve ever had (at least food-wise) I would say it was the Disney Cruise we went on when the girls were younger.  The food was amazing!  And it was just there…all the time.  Perfectly prepared and available with no effort on my part.  Oh, to live like that all the time!  All the picky people were satisfied as there was a plethora of choices, and since Disney goes out of it’s way to accommodate even the pickiest of eaters, if you wanted a variation on something, they would make it happen.  We’ve been on other cruises, but none of the food on those even comes close to the quality of the Disney Cruise.

So there you have it! My top five reasons why I fail when it comes to meal preparation.

Got a recipe to share? (just remember, no onions, tomatoes, fish, pork, mushrooms, etc. 😉


The New Normal

One of the perks of being a teacher is that I get the summers off.  I have no idea how people work year round and not lose it.  I would.  Shoot, it’s pushing it for me to work part time only during the school year!  I was offered a full time teaching position and turned it down, because I know my limitations.  Even though I’m “off” for the summer thoughts of next school year loom large in my head and I can literally hear the summer minutes ticking away.

The weather has been crappy too.  It’s currently 62 and cold.  Really?!?  So much for days spent swimming in the pool.  I know, summer just “officially” started, but it’s really making it hard to enjoy the time off.  This summer I gave myself 3 goals: 1. to be more sociable- invite people over, spend time with friends, make new ones  2. organize the entire house- get rid of everything we don’t need  3. get back into running regularly.   So far I feel like I’m failing miserably at all of these.

I got a good start with the running a few weeks ago, but I’ve lost the drive.  That could be because the past few days I haven’t been able to breathe when sitting down, let alone moving.  I’m pretty sure it’s allergy-related, but I’ve used my rescue inhaler more times in the past 2 days than in the past 2 years! It’s that bad.  So, I guess I can give myself a break on the running.  As for having people over, well, I need to get this house cleaned to do that and to get the house clean, I feel like it needs to be organized.  Which it’s not.

When we came home from camping in Kentucky, we threw all of our damp camping equipment in the garage in a pile.  It’s still there.  It all needs to be taken out, set up, and cleaned.  That sounds like fun, huh?  I’ve managed to get through most of the laundry, but that pile of camping stuff mocks me every time I go through the garage.

I thought when summer came my days of running back and forth across town ferrying my children to and fro would end. Ha! With Bekah in Les Miserables and Marissa having a summer babysitting job (and always wanting to go somewhere, anywhere but home) I’m just as busy being a taxi.  Bekah has 2 friends who need rides to and from rehearsals also, so I’m the “Les Misarabus.”  I don’t mind doing it, it’s just that I need to keep reminding myself that it’s the new normal for our summer.  Poor Alisha is just bored.  She has no job and no summer activities and no friends that live close by.  I’m not one of those moms that kept my kids entertained, and I don’t intend to start now!  She’s been helping with the organizing a little bit, but even I get sick of doing that.

What’s your summer ‘normal’ look like?

Ichthus 2011: In Pictures

Setting up camp is always a good time.  No matter how many times we’ve set up a particular tent, we always forget which poles go where.  Marissa is an expert tent setter-upper!  One of her friends from school came with us.  Her name is Charis and she’s a lot of fun. I always wonder what people who have to spend any amount of time with our family really think about us.  She seemed to have fun, and not be too traumatized by our quirks.



There were numerous severe storms that blew though Wilmore, Kentucky during our stay.  The tent Phil and I were using did nothing to keep out the rain, and all of our bedding got wet.  What to do when the nearest laundromat is 30 min away?  You use your vehicle as a clotheline!  Notice the semi-truck behind our van? That’s the ice truck. They sold ice there during the day, and at night the stupid generator would run every 30 min or so to keep the truck cold.  Between that, the screamo bands, and the crickets, I don’t think I slept well the whole time we were there.




Chik fil a is the official food of Ichthus Festival!







This is one of our new favorite bands, The City Harmonic. They kicked off Ichthus Festival on the main stage Wednesday night.  The thing I love about this band is that they were around the whole time.  They didn’t hide back stage where only artists were allowed, they didn’t ride golf cars all over (they walked like we did), and in general they just hung out like normal people.  I had a couple conversations with these guys, and really enjoyed chatting with them.  They’re from Canada, and super personable.  Their cd is great! Can’t say enough good things about these guys.  Singing their song, “Manifesto” with thousands of people was pretty amazing!  A glimpse of heaven for sure.



Check out those clouds and the sea of tents. I didn’t hear any official numbers, but unofficially, I think there were something like 18,000 people at Ichthus Festival (at least that’s what someone tweeted, and we all know tweets are accurate 😉  Either way, there were a LOT of people at this event.


If you’re my friend on fb you can check out all the other pics I took, but my friend Shelly got way better pics than I did!  Some of the highlights were things I didn’t even see or get on camera, but other people did.  You can check them out here:

SoulGlow of FamilyForce5 surfing the crowd in a giant gerbal ball .

Matthew West (err…I mean Justin Bieber??)

Red and their pyro (so awesome!)

Skillet always puts on a great show!




Our 2011 Ichthus Campsite


transitive verb
a : to grasp the nature, worth, quality, or significance of   b : to value or admire highly
Five things I appreciate after five days of tent camping at Ichthus Festival:
  1. Indoor Plumbing–   Flushing toilets are an amazing thing.  At Ichthus they only have porta-potties!  I’ll give them credit for being the most well maintained porta-potties and thus not as horrific as they could have been, but a porta-potty is a porta-potty, and sharing them with thousands of other people…ick.
  2.  Showers–   At the Ichthus Farm where the festival is held, there are two shower houses with about 10 shower stalls in each.  On Wednesday I was able to take a warm shower.  On Thursday the water came straight from the Arctic circle (and I had to wait in line for half an hour for that cold shower!)  There was a ministry there raising money, the Christian Appalachian Project, who had a semi-truck thing that had showers with hot water, but there was always a line for those.  Besides, showering in the back of a truck would kind of weird me out. I managed 2 showers in 5 days, and ‘trail baths’ for the rest. (trail bath = baby wipes and baby powder)
  3. Shelter–  Tent camping is not for the faint of heart…or anyone who can’t deal with being uncomfortable (or if you’re a light sleeper.)   The joy I had waking up in my bed this morning not damp and covered in morning dew…words cannot express. While we were at Ichthus 4 severe storms came through Wilmore, Kentucky, the last of which ripped up our new tent and broke a couple of poles.  Every time a storm was headed our way, the National Guard and the police would drive around the grounds using megaphones telling everyone to seek shelter in their vehicles or a hard topped camper…but whatever you do, don’t stay in your tents.  We got this as a wake-up call two different mornings at Ichthus.  Not fun.  The lightning in these storms was the biggest issue, and no lie, one lady working in the artist hospitality tent got zapped when lightening struck the pole she was resting against.  Craziness!
  4. Cleanliness– I always complain that my house isn’t clean enough.  After 5 days of being outside in a mowed field, my house looks amazingly clean!  No bugs, no dirt, no grass sticking to my feet.  No sharp weeds sticking up and poking me, and there are many surfaces to sit down on.  And my bathroom looks really good after those porta-potties!  Just having clean feet is such a beautiful thing. Wearing flip-flops for days in the dust and dirt, my feet look like cracked leather. 
  5. Temperature Control– I’m burnt.  Despite putting on layers and layers of sunscreen, my skin still burned.  Some of the stages were under huge tents, but once you get a few hundred people crammed in that tent, the breeze doesn’t flow, and it’s just hot and icky.  Keep in mind the shower situation for all of us, and things could be quite pungent as well.  After the sun went down, it would get pretty cool, so I’d wear a sweatshirt and socks to bed, but then when the sun would come up in the morning and the dew would start to burn off, it was like waking up in a sauna.  My house is a beautifully, constant temperature with a roof shielding me from the elements. 

These are things I usually take for granted. Not so today!

Ichthus Bound!

Today is my first ‘official’ day of summer break!  My students were done on June 1st, but it’s taken me almost 4 days of working all day to clean out my classroom.  There are some big changes on the horizon for the school, and I needed to sort through ten years of teachers’ stuff.  And teachers?  Well, there could be a show along the lines of “Hoarders” about the stuff we keep.  Over the years when a teacher would leave the school to move on to other ventures, they would kindly donate their stuff to the other teachers remaining.  Ten years of that, people, and I’m telling you there was a LOT to sort through. 

My classroom is now a beautifully sorted and labeled mess of furniture and boxes.  I even had to leave a label de-coder so anyone who comes in would know what belongs to whom.  Some stuff belongs to the daycare center, some stuff to the school, some stuff to the specific Pre-Kindergarten or Kindergarten programs, and then all of my stuff.  If I brought all of my personal stuff home, I would literally fill our garage!  As my girls would outgrow toys, I would take them to school and use them in my classroom.  So, you can see why I have an especially hard time parting with some of the stuff.  Blocks we bought for Alisha.  The dollhouse and all the accessories the girls played with when they were little.  Just lots of stuff and lots of memories.  It was a big job, but I’m glad I did it!

Now I have the summer stretching before me like a blank (ok…semi-blank) canvas.  Our schedule is already filling up with activities.  Bekah will continue her piano lessons this summer, and she’s in the chorus of another production; Les Miserables.  The practices seem less trying to me since I’m not working.  She loves it, and that’s what’s important.  I’d love to find a violin teacher for Alisha, but all the ones who are taking students are super pricey.  I don’t need the best, I just need someone to teach her. 

Our first (of only 2) trips of the summer is coming up.  Last year we experienced Ichthus Festival for the first time.  This year we’re going again, and this time Phil is going with us!  Since he doesn’t like too much down time, he signed up to serve on the security team. I think he’d make a good bouncer in front of the stage making sure no one tries to rush the stage for Skillet 😉  Marissa is also bringing along one of her friends that she made at school this year.  She’s a sweet girl whose family will be moving to Africa soon as missionaries. 

It’ll be an interesting trip to be sure.  We need to take 2 vehicles to fit all the people and stuff.  I’m voting myself to drive the van full of camping equipment and let Phil drive his Trailblazer with 4 teenage girls.  Hahaha.  Maybe not.  That would just be mean.  I’m a little OCD about planning camping trips.  In my defense, it is a lot to plan.  This particular type of camping is different from say, camping in a state park or campground.  The festival is held on a huge, empty field.  You just set up your tent (or 3) in an empty spot.  There’s no electricity (although, we may have some friends we can borrow some from for the important things…like the coffee pot 😉  and only port-a-potties for facilities.  There’s one shower house with maybe 10 stalls that run water straight from the Arctic.  If you do want to take a shower, you wait in line for an hour to do so. 

All that to say, I have to get creative in how we’re going to handle personal hygiene.  I’m thinking if I get one of those collapsible water containers for each of us and leave them sit in the sun all day, every night we can put on our swimsuits and at least wash our hair (and rinse off the sweat.)  The good news is everyone’s in the same boat.  We will ALL be sweaty and gross together!  And by all, I mean the other 10,000 people there. Good times!

The artist line-up for this year is great!  I can’t wait to see REILLY (#1 one my list!!), LeCrae, The City Harmonic, Josh Wilson, Family Force 5, Mikeschair, and The Tranform DJs

What are your summer plans? Do you camp? Any tips??


It’s been so long since I’ve even attempted to write anything.  Not that my head hasn’t written numerous posts, it’s just I haven’t gotten them down on paper or anywhere else.  My memory not being what it used to…who am I kidding?…my memory has never been good! Some of them are about lessons learned recently, and those are the ones that stick. I’ve filed them away for when I feel I can adequately share and make sense of them.  Anyway…

Where have I been you ask?  Oh, around.  The end of the school year for my class was last week.  Our program and awards ceremony was as successful as anything can be when counting on volunteers and children to make things happen.  It was cute!  I will miss ‘my’ kids this summer.  I did however, in a moment of nostalgic weakness, promise them we’d have a pool party/picnic this summer at my house.  I intend to keep that promise!  The only hitch is that our pool is still in its winter state.

Which brings me to a point of great contention with me lately.  It seems as if I’m not doing anything, no one is doing anything.  If I’m not keeping my stuff in order, my family isn’t either.  If I don’t make my bed, they don’t.  I get it that I set an example for the family, but sometimes I just can’t be the leader.  The end of school is always a busy time for me, and especially busy this year.  The school is looking at some possible changes for this next school year, and a result, I’m not sure what room I’ll be in.  Which means I need to sort and pack up 10 years worth of teaching stuff. And we teachers, we have a lot of “stuff”!  It might look like junk to other people, but I really do need that bag of 200 drinking straws (we count them and sort them by color and cut them to strengthen our finger muscles.) Or maybe that bag of mixed buttons (same thing, counting and sorting.)  It’s just a lot to go through, which means things at my house have fallen by the wayside.  And as I said, if I’m not at home to lead the charge against dust bunnies and clutter, well, no one does. 

Another snag came up as well.  I got sick.  Sick is not really the right word.  I had an abdominal attack of pain that rivals the pain I had when recovering from my hysterectomy 2 years ago.  It started Thursday morning, and just this morning I woke up able to move without pain.  Glory be, that’s a good feeling!  I’m not sure what’s going on. I’ve had this ‘flare up’ before and I know I need to see a doctor about it, it’s just never been this bad.  Possibly IBS or crohn’s or some such thing.  Not pleasant. 

Just when I think I’ve been completely fixed, something else shows up!  Four years ago lasik surgery took care of my vision issues.  Two years ago other problems were taken care of with the hysterectomy.  Last year a life time of sinus issues were laid to rest with surgery, and allergy testing and the results have resolved a lot of issues as well.  My hip has been plaguing me for over a year, and that was just resolved recently and I’m free and clear to run and exercise again!  I’ve been getting back into running (and loving it), and now this?!? Really?!?  Can I not just be ok for a while?!? 

I know this too shall pass, and in the process I’ll learn more about life and walking the path I’m on.  It’s all good. Really.  I just need to remember that God is on my side, He has the best for me and I just need to trust that in His time, I’ll understand what’s going on.  The reality is whether or not it can be seen, we are ALL broken, and need Him.