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Mar 27, 2011


Oh, how I love weekends. Here's a glimpse of how we spent the last two...

Last weekend, chilling after church.

And making snickerdoodles.

Notice Lena's braids. French braids. Could she be any sweeter?

This weekend, Sam trying to figure out the pattern on his Leapster game.

Lena snuggled next to Rich, feigning interest in what he's showing her just to be close to her daddy.

Me wearing my ugly comfy socks, still in my pj's after noon. How awesome is that? Sam can't stand to let me take a picture without him in it, so that's why his smiling face is next to my ugly comfy socks.

Sam kneading his adorably giant stinky feet next to me in the big chair as I crochet, incessantly, but sweetly, asking what I'm doing.

My (slow) progress on my Project Linus blanket.

And lastly, the lemon cranberry scones I've been wanting to make all week (photo and recipe from Gina's blog in my "blogs I follow" list). I forgot to add the cranberries at the end, so mine turned into just lemon scones, but they were DELICIOUS! We all dug into them before I could take a picture, but this is now one of my new favorite WW approved recipes!

Mar 25, 2011


Mom's appointment at the James is today. The story of how she came to the decision to make this appointment is a testament to her faith and how unwaveringly she hears and follows God's guidance. She truly is a remarkable woman.

My mind and heart and PMS-ing emotions are with her today.

Pastor Mike's sermon last week was about praying and how fasting can concentrate your prayers and give you a clearer path to hear God's answers. So I'm trying to do that this morning. I've tried fasting many times, but I don't believe my heart was ever in the right place. But today, thanks to Pastor Mike's leading, I feel like I'm there.

So every time I feel hungry or hear my stomach growl this morning, I'm thinking of Mom and praying that:
  • Mom gets the help she needs at the James
  • God gives her the strength and courage and confidence she needs to conquer this
  • The doctor develops a heart for my mother
  • The doctor makes wise and compassionate recommendations and decisions about Mom's cancer
  • God gives Dad and all of us the strength and courage we need to help and support Mom
  • God gives Dad and all of us the peace and comfort we need to assimilate and deal with this

If you're reading this, please pray for those things, too.

I know I've written about Jonny Lang before and how his Grammy award winning album Turn Around is such a blessing to me. I highly recommend it for anyone in need of a little bluesy inspiration.

There is a song on that album called Thankful that touches me every time I hear it. It reminds us not to judge people; that everyone has things they're struggling with that we don't know about; that if you have people to love and people who love you, you're blessed; that it's so important that we love each other; that if it hadn't been for grace and mercy who knows where we'd be; and that the secret to life is to be THANKFUL.

On this day of uncertainty and hope, I am thanking God for his grace and mercy, for all the blessings and opportunities to grow and to reach others that are intertwined with this life-changing event, and I'm trying to remember to thank him for everything, even struggles and fear, because it makes us lean on our father more - and nothing bad can come from that.

Mar 18, 2011


My mom has breast cancer.

It is so strange to read that on the screen...

She was diagnosed this week with stage 1, very small and centralized, breast cancer. It's about the best you could hope for as far as devastating news goes, though the “c” word conjures up terrifying stories and images.

But is also invokes inspirational tales of the strength of women who fight this hideous disease with grace and courage and faith, one of whom my mom is about to become.

Mom is a strong, healthy, happy woman, and I'm certain that she'll survive this. Honestly. I have no doubt of that. Not one shred of hesitation.

I didn’t feel like this for her biopsy. I was worried about that – just had a feeling. I blamed it on my alarmist mentality, but who knows. This time, though, my feeling is strong and unshakable that this will be but a blip on her radar, that she’ll proudly call herself a cancer survivor, throw herself deeper into the Relay for Life that she’s already been a part of for many years, and go onto help and inspire women who find themselves in similar shoes for years to come.

My certainty of a positive outcome doesn’t diminish my anger and heartbreak that she has to go through this. I hate cancer. And I hate that it’s attacking my mom. My mom. I would like to meet cancer in a dark alley someday and show it what I think of it. I can’t write how sorely I hate cancer, since I gave up cussing for Lent. But believe me when I say my loathing runs to a deep and dangerous place.

Especially now that my mother has come face to face with it. I’m certain she’s got enough moxie to kick cancer’s...rear end (can you sense my self control here?)…all by herself. I’m just glad she doesn’t have to, as we’re all behind her, supporting her, cheering her on, praying for her, eyeing down that dastardly cancer alongside her doctors.

Mom, just think that now you can add one more word to your already lengthy and impressive resume, which has you rated as the very finest: mother, wife, grandma, daughter, sister, cousin, niece, aunt, friend, mentor, teacher…and now survivor.

I love you, Mom.

Mar 17, 2011

This Week at the Coles

Instead of making cookies on Tuesday (because we were out of butter), we made playdough instead. Our real playdough was dried up and hard, so I called my trusty mother for her recipe and Sam and I whipped up a quick batch. It's THE BEST playdough ever! Thanks, Mom.

In other news, I've officially become dependent on coffee, thanks in large part to the mocha peppermint creamer that's now available all year around, and thanks in another large part to the fact that I'm 36 and need caffeine to keep up with my kids. I only drink the caffeinated Taster's Choice in the morning (don't judge me - I'm not a coffee connoisseur. I'm just in it for caffeine and the creamer. And the mugs - these are my favorite three). I'm enjoying some decaf right now. Come to think of it, I'm not sure I've had anything other than coffee to drink today. That can't be good.

And today, Grant came over in the morning and played with us all day! Sam and Lena had a blast with old Granty Pants, playing outside and running themselves ragged. At lunch, Grant gorged himself so much (he ate six pieces of pizza!) that he and Lori had to leave early because his stomach hurt. I'm happy to report after a couple of righteous belches, however, he's all better this evening.

Mar 14, 2011

A Kid Leash? Seriously?

After our trip to the zoo this weekend, I am seriously considering a kid leash for Lena.

What? Did that just come out of my mouth?

I've always thought they were barbaric, lazy parenting devices. But then, I've never had a kid like Lena. We call that a paradigm shift.

The problem isn't just that my sweet little Lena is kind of wild, although that is part of it. She is a darter. A run-away-er. A hider-and-thinks-it's-funny-er. I've even hidden from her in a public place (where I could still see her) to see if she panicked when she couldn't see me. She was totally oblivious and laughing herself silly. That scares me to death.

The pinnacle was at the zoo on Saturday where she continually ran away from us every chance she could. Once, near the polar bears, she let go of my hand and bent down to look at something. I looked down at her and then looked back up at the polar bears for exactly 2.3 milliseconds, in which scant amount of time she managed to run about 100 feet away and around a corner. Seriously, she could have broken Olympic time on this sprint. I thankfully caught a glimpse of her pink coat and bouncy piggy tail rounding the corner just in time to see where she was and run after her like...well, like my kid had just run away from me at the zoo toward a crowded bathroom.


So here I am, at a kid leash crossroad. Just the thought of it evokes an old SNL skit from the Mike Meyers days. I'm not really one of those parents who coddles her kids. After I've told them 1 zillion times, I'll let them fall down a couple stairs to teach them that lesson, or lay down and tantrum at the zoo. I don't run to their aid every time they trip. I make them pick up their own toys and help me clean up messes they've made. Sam even sets the table sometimes and helps me wipe up his pee when he misses the toilet. I want them to learn the right way.

But when it comes to a wild darter, a run-away-er, what lesson can I teach her here? I want her to experience some fear when she does it, but not at the expense of some wackado grabbing her or her getting lost or wandering into the polar bear feeding area at the zoo. And I don't care what anyone says, you CANNOT keep your eyes on them all the time. You just cannot.

So would a little wrist leash as a back up to my eyes, only to be used at the zoo or the fair when she's in a darting mood, really be all that bad? I don't think I could stand those terrible harness kind, but something she couldn't wiggle her tiny wrist out of that hooked onto mine wouldn't automatically submit my name to the who's who of bad, lazy parents, right?

I reiterate, ugh.

Mar 13, 2011

Sunny Days, Sweeping the Clouds Away...

Yesterday was the day my kids and I have been craving for months.


We were planning our belated annual Valentine's Day trip to COSI for this weekend but, as soon as we heard Saturday was going to be low 50's and sunny, straight to the zoo we went.

After a quick trip to my friend Heather's craft show, and then some lunch, we got to the zoo around 1:00 and left, with two worn out babies in tow, around 4:00.

It was the perfect zoo day. It was warm-ish and sunny and not very crowded, so the kids could run full speed around the zoo, which they did. It also meant that we could actually see the animals, especially the polar bears, who have remained hidden from us since they arrived last year due to dense crowds. The kids were so excited to see them, as was I. They were very entertaining, diving for fish, jumping off of the rocks into the water - the polar bears, not the kids.

Not much is better than quality family time at the zoo...Thanks, Mom and Dad, for the membership that makes it so easy for us to share this special place with the kids!

Mar 11, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today is Mom's birthday. Today is a great day.

Today is the day when God said, "I think earth needs this angel more than I do. I think I'll send her down there to do my will each day and to touch people's lives with the love and light she shines so brightly up here. Yeah", God said with a broad smile, "I think I'll bless the earth with Connie today".

And did he ever bless us!

My mom is a saint right here on earth, if you ask me. She isn't perfect - who of us are? But she is about as close to perfection as any human woman on earth has ever been.

She is beautiful. Inside and out. Through and through.

She is compassionate. She gives to others until it, literally, hurts. Her back kills her, she has headaches, sinus issues, weird nerve stuff...but you would never know it. There she is at church every Sunday, children's choir, VBS, babysitting gads of sweet active little ones at her home, driving over here to see us when she's exhausted, visiting her mom every chance she can, supporting my dad's choir and other hobbies. But she's not a martyr. She does this all with a smile and a twinkle in her eyes. She defines compassionate, happy giving. She gives not because she knows she should. She gives because she loves others so much it would hurt her more not to give.

She is forgiving. Lord knows I myself have forced her to forgive too many times. But I never worried whether or not she would. It's just in her.

She is funny. We laugh every time we are together, even if it's not such a happy occasion. And it's because my mother has a wonderful sense of humor. She would not admit this to be one of her strong suits I'm sure, but it is very true statement.

She is smart and sensitive and faithful and loyal and a good listener and an advice guru and affectionate and loving and kind and exceptionally appreciative of her many blessings.

But she is too humble to admit any of this, which makes her even more saintly.

She has given up a lot to raise her family, to be the outstanding mother and wife and daughter and sister and friend that she is. She had dreams just like we all do when we're young. And I'm sure some of those dreams included us and the life she's leading now. And I'm sure some of them did not. As a mother now myself, I am able to recognize that sacrifice a little more. And appreciate Mom a lot more.

So, on this most wonderful of days, I thank God for deciding to bless us all with Mom, to share with us one of his most precious creations.

Happy birthday to my mom, the strongest most nearly perfect woman I know.

Saint Constance has kind of a nice ring to it, don't you think?

To Cuss or Not to Cuss

A couple of years ago I gave up cussing for Lent. Last year it was bacon (Jesus and Bacon) but this year I’m revisiting cussing. It worked two years ago and made me more aware of my words long after Lent had blessedly come and gone. But those little words have pushed themselves out again, and the sacrificial symbolism Lent provides is the perfect motivation for me to rein them back in.

This may not seem like much of a sacrifice for a Christian woman, but believe me, for this Christian woman, it is wonderfully difficult.

I curse like a sailor. Always have.

It started in high school in hopes that it might bump up my coolness quotient, which admittedly was in need of some major elevation. But once I started, I began finding beauty in a perfectly placed cuss. It became like an art form for me; using an ordinary cuss in an uncommon way became fun and made people laugh and, darn it, just felt good sometimes.

I also love words and enjoy peppering my writing and speaking with good examples of such. Unfortunately, some of my favorites are not, shall we say, proper for use in certain company or situations.

As I rediscovered my faith years ago and, later, became a mother, I began noticing others’ and my own language more and more. And though I have attempted many times to hold my tongue in whatever company I may be; old habits die hard. And this one just keeps resurfacing like a movie monster’s inexplicable and inevitable resurgence (see Friday the 13th parts 1-12).

Part of me has always thought that the fact that I cuss and am Christian made me more accessible to my non-Christian friends. I figured they could see that you don’t have to be seemingly perfect to love Jesus and to believe in God. That he loves each of us, faults and all, just like we love our kids…even when they cuss like sailors. And I still hold onto that belief to an extent.

On the other hand, I also think that people who know me, but don’t know me well, might hear how I speak on any given day (especially if it’s a stressful one) and be surprised to find out that I’m a Christian. And that’s not cool either.

Let’s face it. I cannot be bubbling over with joy every moment of every day; I wouldn’t want to be that way because it would be phony and just plain annoying. And though I am normally a joyful person and believe that is what often draws people to me, I also know I need to be more careful with my words, especially because I have the responsibility of representing Christian-kind to many people in my life.

Like everything else in life, I suppose there is a balance to be found here. I honestly don’t feel the need to extricate every last cuss word from my vocabulary for the whole of my existence. But maybe the hard-core kind. Maybe the more cutting kind. And giving all of them up for Lent (as a hugely disproportionate shout-out to Jesus for everything he gave up for me) is the perfect way to give weight to every one of those words so, later on, I can intelligently and spiritually strike the proper balance with them in my life.

Mar 10, 2011


Lena's hair is long enough to braid now. Well, the sides aren't long enough to French braid, but I can braid little low piggy tails in the back and they stay all day. And she lets me do it, if she's occupied with something else.

You can't see them very well in these pictures, but I had to post them.

Hooray! I love braids.

Mar 9, 2011


My sweet husband went on one of his many milk runs one evening last week and came home from the store with not only a gallon of fresh milk for the kids, but also with a big, beautiful bunch of tulips for me. For no other reason than he saw them and knew I would love them.

Tulips are my favorite flower.

Rich is my favorite husband.

Enough said.