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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Brunch at my sisters

My sister invited all of us to her home for a
Mother's Day brunch: Our Mom, my three sisters, and my niece....
and all our children.
Here's just a little peek of the beauty that surrounds you.
A feast for the eyes, the soul and the belly!!

a table set for a queen.
if you have the honor of being served in her home,
you will feel such love and peace
your heart will sore.

beautiful "song birds" that she made.
they are so lovely. she gave us each one.

"O, heavenly Father: We thank thee for food and remember the hungry.
We thank thee for health and remember the sick.
We thank thee for friends and remember the friendless.
We thank thee for freedom and remember the enslaved.
May these remembrances stir us to service,
that thy gifts to us may be used for others. Amen."
~Abigail van Buren “Dear Abby”~

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Dinner Guests and expectations

I am sincerely looking forward to this evening.
One of my dear friends from high school is coming over for dinner,
along with her husband. The last time I saw her was when she treated me for my birthday.
We've stayed in touch through the years and yet I'm ashamed to say I haven't had them for dinner in all these years. I guess I could make up some excuse,
but I don't really have one. Well, except that there may be some (unspoken)
expectations on me:
A.) her husband is a huge eater, (will I have enough to fill him up)?

But, the real reason may be,
her Mother is an amazing cook.
And I don't use those words lightly.
She's authored BOOKS about cooking.

New York Times Best Seller Books!!!
Like this one:
("Phyllis Pellman Good is a New York Times bestselling author whose books have sold more than 8.5 million copies. Good has authored the national #1 bestselling cookbook Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook: Feasting with Your Slow Cooker (with Dawn J. Ranck), which appeared on The New York Times bestseller list").
I can vividly remember spending time at their home and standing in amazement at the leftovers in their refrigerator. And looking back I have to laugh because it's the first time I ever saw or tasted quiche....and in my ignorance I called it "Q-ech", (um, dork)!! That's almost as bad as calling quesadillas "quas-ah-dillas".
Actually, I know for a fact that they could care less about what is served tonight, it's the company and conversation that are most important.

Well, I better get going if I want to serve them something other then mac n' cheese
and dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets!!

Hope you enjoy this lovely weekend.

"Cooking is like love.
It should be entered into with abandon or
not at all."
Harriet Van Horne

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sink Baths

There are many things I love about having a little one around the house,
*there are many things I DON'T love as well*

Giving my babies Sink Baths is one of my favorite things.
It slows life down, forces me to focus on bathing ONE child & watching them discover the world around them....the glorious, confined world around them!!
It makes for some stinkin' cute pictures too.....
one can only fit in a sink for so long and then it's all over.

If you know me, you know I like quotes/verses.
And quotes by my sink just make sense as it's the place I spend
most of my, as you can see here....they have overtaken my little
corner of the world and I love it! Here are just a few:
"parent out of peace"
"control and force do not elicit respect"
"God has created this home to be enough for my children"
"The Lord, the Lord gives me strength and makes me sing." Isaiah 12:2
"Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you."
"We make choices all day long that, strung together, culminate in the life we living."

And note to self: do not eat brownies after 10pm or you will be wide awake
and blogging at 12:19am!!!
Oh dear!!!!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mother's Day Morning

What a beautiful Mother's Day I had. Thanks to the long-standing tradition of having breakfast in bed! Jake started that when I was pregnant with Tyler, (my first Mother's Day of sorts). It's been a special time each year and now as the children get older they too can join in the fun! They were so excited to open the door and bring me my tray of food and their little hand-made cards.
My heart was full.

After breakfast we went to church and then home for naps. For dinner we went to Ruby Tuesdays and then did some shopping. Jake bought me a lovely purple dress and the blingingest pink *diamond* watch, it's huge and gaudy and just perfect!! *We'll just all pretend they're real okay?? Pretend with me, won't you?* It has my initials on it!!!

Okay, okay, it's actually the name of the designer, Jaclyn Smith, but one again, we're pretending's actually made JUST for me!!!

As I went to bed on Sunday night I realized I hadn't opened the refrigerator door ONCE that day.....I can't remember the last time that happened, or if it EVER happened before!! I was served all day long! Thank you Baby for my AWESOME DAY!! I love you to the moon and back.

Speaking of loving to the moon and back....I haven't even begun to talk about MY MOM and how wonderful she is. Only now, as I get older and have more children do I realize HOW AMAZING MY MOTHER IS. For Mother's Day I told her that I'd like to host a "high tea" for her and 3 of her friends. It will be an HONOR to SERVE her for once!! Even just last week she came by with jars full of homemade strawberry jelly. Ever faithful in her kindness toward all 8 of her children. WE RISE UP AND PRAISE HER!!!! I love you Mom and nothing I could ever do could "repay" you for all you've done for me, for our family and for all of those that have the joy of knowing you!!!!

Well, it's 2:30 on Thursday and I better be on my way. I'm going to the beach this weekend with 9 of my girl-friends and I don't have a thing packed. Oh well, if all I have is my new purple dress and my blinging watch, I'll be just fine!!!

Happy Weekend to you each!!

"No painter's brush, nor poet's pen
In justice to her fame
Has ever reached half high enough
To write a mother's name."
~Author Unknown

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day twenty-ten

It's been a lovely day so far, the children are napping and I'm getting some "me" time. The boys made me breakfast in bed, (the bed that was given me last year for Mother's Day). And thank you children for not being sick on Mother's Day this year!! You remember a few years ago, when one threw up on me during my once-a-year-breakfast-in-bed-athon?

I took some time to read a passage this morning about Mothers.....about Jesus' Mother and how, with His very dying breath, He made sure his Mom was cared for. It touched me so much as I laid there in the sunshine this morning, HOT eggs and fresh fruit in front of me. This is what the verse says in John 19:26-27: "So Jesus, seeing His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing near her, said to His mother, 'Dear Woman, See, here is your son!' Then He said to the disciple, 'See, here is your Mother'! And from that hour, the disciple took her into his own keeping, his own home." And do you want to know what it says just TWO VERSES LATER, (I could cry just thinking about it). He died.

The LAST thing on His mind was His Mom!
Oh, I fell in love with my Jesus all over again this morning.

So, after hugging the boys and thanking them for my breakfast and their rainbow scribbled papers, everyone got dressed and out the door to church. And wouldn't you know John 19:27 was the SAME scripture we studied this morning, it was beautiful. Pastor Mark spoke so eloquently about it and gave us word pictures that were piercing.

Did you know that if Jesus was that close to death, (seeing as he died just a bit later after seeing His Mom was taken care of), the agony it took for Him to even SPEAK is unbearable. Even in His final moments He wasn't caring about was NEVER about Him....NEVER.

Imagine with me, as we did this morning, just for a moment, being the Mother to Jesus. Seeing Him bleed out on a cross, struggling to hear those final words He's trying to get out about His Mom. I would think, "STOP WORRYING ABOUT ME, I'LL BE JUST FINE!!" And yet, the gracious Man that He was, even unto death, He served. If I were Mary and I heard those FINAL WORDS being turned toward me, toward my care, my provision, my comfort....I would never be the same again. It would forever change me, long after my son was gone. Jesus' words IMPACTED her forever.

We too are called to speak words of impact over others. And who are we to say, "it's too hard," "it's uncomfortable" or "I don't feel like it?" WHO ARE WE TO SAY THOSE THINGS???
We are not strung on a cross with the life being sucked from us.
Maybe a cross of pride perhaps.

We have an opportunity to make a lasting impact with our words.

For many, Mother's Day is salt on a open wound.....or a closed womb.

I am struck with a grief this Mother's Day, unlike previous years.
My thoughts have turned many, many times today toward my dear friends who long to have their name changed to "Mommy." The endless years of missed periods, that turn into expectant wonder, only to be annihilated again. How long O Lord will tears be their food?
Bless them today with strength for their journey.

And for others it is a day in which they would give just about anything to answer the phone
and be able to say, "oh, Hi Mom" all casual-like. A day where they wish they could hear their Mother's voice I cannot imagine the empty part of a heart that feels this day and night, having no one on earth to call "Mom."
Bless them today with strength for their journey.
The thoughts of what could have been....what SHOULD have been fill others minds today.
The depth of "everyday" pain is increased on days like these....when it's all about Motherhood.
My friend Kara who said hello and goodbye to her son Logan within the same day, said to me not too long ago, "I just have to remember that today, (Mother's Day) is just like every other day, I don't look at the clock everyday at 1:06pm and think 'my baby died at this time', but on this day it's a fresh reminder of all that took place and all that never was."
Bless them today with strength for their journey.
And those who have a valley between them and their Mom....with no bridge in site.
You can see each other from across the way, all the memories lie below you, and yet no answers are given, no direction to be had. Just you on one side. And your Mom on the other. With an unnatural distance between the two of you. Not the way "it was meant to be."
Bless them today with strength for their journey.

Days that are no longer yours. You have divorced yourself, signing the papers with your own blood and the pen of their umbilical cord. Sleepless nights, snugly mornings, weary days, rewarding moments, selfish thoughts, awe, unending hunger, overworked, under appreciated, loved to the core, needed every hour, laundry piles, joy unthinkable, times of insanity and times of deep gratitude, funny phrases, being a ref, broken hearts, love unconditional, letting go and holding on all at the same time, being called "Mom."
Bless them today with strength for their journey.

"These are the days
These are days you'll remember
Never before and never since, I promise
Will the whole world be warm as this
And as you feel it,
You'll know it's true
That you are blessed and lucky
It's true that you
Are touched by something
That will grow and bloom in you."

~10,000 Maniacs~

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Country Mouse, City Mouse

Lest you wonder where I was on Monday night, click here.
I was a country mouse in the city.
And it was wonderful.

I love my friends.
I'm in high gear right now.....preparing for my time away
AT THE BEACH with 9 of my girlfriends, (leaving behind 31 children)
next Thursday-Sunday!!!!! Can I get a witness!!!!!!!!

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Check Chet~ Part III

Click here for Part I and Part II.....

Our nation and our state have committed to irrational levels of spending and debt, which is a moral issue. Yes, it is generational theft, and it must stop! How dare they rob our children in order to fund these “progressive” excesses? There was a time, thanks to the greatest generation, when our parents and grandparents sacrificed in order to give their offspring the opportunity to enjoy a better life.

This has been turned on its head, and future generations will be forced to pay the price through higher inflation, higher taxes, and a lower standard of living. Progressive fiscal policies have contaminated the bloodstream of our once enviable economy with yearly deficits reaching 12% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product). The national debt, now approaching $14 trillion, will exceed our annual GDP this year. This is the stuff of which banana republics are made.

Policy makers cannot betray fundamental free market principles with impunity. Adam Smith’s “invisible hand”, that productive unleashing of human potential, which cannot possibly be orchestrated by a central command, must be untied to do its magic or our prospects for prosperity will continue to fade. Just ask the former Soviet Union.

Short-sighted progressive policies eventually result in a society where more people have a stake in welfare than in producing wealth; where high unemployment becomes a normal way of life. In this grey environment, the spirit of risktaking and enterprise is smothered by the unavoidably excessive taxes required to sustain increasingly liberal hand-outs.

Webs of regulation discourage innovation as the government grows at the expense of free markets. Thomas Jefferson’s famous quote about good government should be more carefully considered: “A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth
of labor the bread it has earned – this is the sum of good government.”

Our 30th President, Calvin Coolidge, strongly resisted the progressive ideas of the early twentieth century. At one point he stated, “The wise and correct course to follow in taxation is not to destroy those who have already secured success, but to create conditions under which everyone will have a better chance to be successful.”

The reason I am running for PA Lt. Governor is to help foster an economic environment where all Pennsylvanians “have a better chance to be successful.” I firmly believe Pennsylvania can become an economic powerhouse. Our proximity to the greater markets of the New England States, the Midwest, and the Mid-Atlantic region, combined with bountiful natural resources, boundless energy assets, a relatively sound infrastructure, top-notch schools, and a terrific work force, provide every possibility for our Keystone State to become the seed of the nation’s economic recovery. A thriving private sector will generate the jobs we desperately need.

But this can happen only if Pennsylvania returns to pro-growth, free market, fiscally responsible solutions and turns away from big government, progressive policies. History proves that the American spirit, when uninhibited by government, is quite capable of producing many “Naomi’s Cleaning” stories. Small businesses like this will make Pennsylvania a job creating economic powerhouse.

Isn't he well-stated? I guess that's part of being a politician right?
Seriously, though he knows what he wants and he has a good head on his shoulders.
I can confidently say to you THAT HE HAS MY VOTE
ON MAY 18TH!!!!
*mute music at bottom of page*

Check Chet ~ Part II

Click here for Part I.....

Thousands of small businesses with equally inspiring stories can be found all across our Keystone state of Pennsylvania. I’m relaying these details to, not only provide some background for my strongly held convictions regarding free markets, but also to offer some encouragement to those who are suffering through the current severe economic downturn.

In trying times like these, finding something you can do to add value to others will open doors for you. Meet a need. What you do, do it well and with a positive attitude. Hang in there. Perseverance is the key. Your efforts may take some time, but you can do it. At least for now.

But how much longer will free market dynamics generate success stories like Naomi’s Cleaning, Amish Country Gazebos, Auntie Anne’s, and Kreider Farms which grew out of difficult, yet promising circumstances, if we continue to encourage an entitlement mentality? Is it possible that our well intentioned safety net is actually stifling innovation, limiting creativity, and reducing productivity?

How much longer will the remarkably productive spirit of enterprise and creativity, which defines America, survive? With steadily encroaching progressive policies of higher taxes, bigger government, more debt, and increasingly burdensome regulations, there may not be much time. An ever-expanding entitlement mentality appears to be poisoning the American spirit. It is making us soft. Progressive policies which use the tax code to create benefits that cannot be sustained present a serious threat to free enterprise.

Sir Winston Churchill’s instructive words ring true: “The inherent advice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.”

Big government policies, which find every possible justification to fund an assortment of “good” programs, diminish economic growth and kill jobs. Eventually, misery rises. If we do not reverse course soon, the result will be the antithesis of what our Founders envisioned; a welfare state where most people rely on government benefits. The alarms should be sounding as we close in on the tipping point where nearly half of all Americans pay no taxes while the other half pays for everything, except the outrageous debt. Our children will pay for that. (to be continued tomorrow....)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Check Chet ~ Part I

Hello All!! Over the next few days I'll be posting a series about my brother Chet. He's running for Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania!! I'm proud of him and wanted to show him my support by posting a bit about who he is, what he stands for and the things he hopes to bring change to. And don't worry Chet, I won't post any embarrassing pictures........or maybe I will!!!

Fire trucks surrounded our tall silo on Sunnyside Farm that late spring day in 1981 as I returned from a fun week at the shore with some friends. I had just graduated from high school. The smoldering fire that had engulfed the feed supply for our fifty cows was about to change my world. College would have to wait. Working hard to help our family survive and recover would take over the lives of my parents and their eight children.

As my hard-working parents tried to save our family farm in the wake of the Carter recession, this silo fire was the last straw. Forced to sell everything, our family of ten moved in with relatives and struggled to regain our footing and find a new place to live. Those were dark and frightful days. My parents, each with only an 8th grade education, had very limited options. Working the land was all they knew.

Unemployment was not available since they had been self-employed farmers. Welfare was not an option because they had an aversion to government handouts. Dad, dealing with a deep sense of failure, took a part time job painting houses for minimum wage. Mom found a few houses to clean for a meager amount each week. I worked the night shift at Donnelley Printing because this enabled me to be available during daytime hours to help my parents deal with the banks and creditors to establish a repayment plan for their staggering debts.

They were determined to avoid bankruptcy. My mother would often say, “If we each do our part, and if we work together, we will make it through. Let’s trust that God ‘will restore the years the locusts have eaten.’" After dedicating two years to work with my family, I was awarded a scholarship to Pepperdine University where I studied economics, business, and government.My room and board were not covered by the scholarship, so I worked two jobs to make it through. That kept me focused.

During my four years away at college, my mother often cleaned more than fifteen houses each week….by herself. Upon graduating from college I returned home, determined to help my parents build a business around my mother’s impressive cleaning system. We duplicated her skills by training others. Today Naomi’s Cleaning, named for my mother, serves hundreds of homes down the Main Line toward Philadelphia. Mom and Dad were eventually
able to repay their debts, and also build a house which is now nearly paid off.

Now they make it a priority to help individuals who encounter desperate circumstances similar to their own experience. After helping my parents build Naomi’s Cleaning, I founded another business, Amish Country Gazebos. When the gazebo business grew nationwide, my three brothers and I developed a trucking company to more efficiently deliver gazebo kits to homes all across America. Building these and other enterprises has been challenging but, even more, it has been rewarding. Not all of my business ventures were always successful. But, that’s how a free economy functions. Other family businesses such as Auntie Anne’s Soft Pretzels, owned by my cousin, and Kreider Farms, built by my wife Sharon’s family, were birthed out of difficult circumstances and have weathered many storms.....(to be continued).

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Romeo Save Me!!

*mute the music at the bottom before playing the video*

"Love seems the swiftest but it is the slowest of all growths.
No man or woman really knows what perfect love is
until they have been married a quarter of a century.

~Mark Twain ~