Zing, Zang, ZOOM!

CircusWe were able to take the children to see the circus through the kindness of a friend. Tristen has been counting the weeks down in anticipation of their surprise: “something Ansa hasn’t done yet”. The walk from the parking garage to the BiLo center was dark and there was a strong ICY wind blowing.

Ansa said she wanted to go home. Tristen read the sign on one of the many trucks and discovered for the first time where she was going. The grin on her face was amazing. She quickly ran to Haydn and whispered in his ear. He turned to me and began grinning from ear to ear. Then they both began jumping up and down in anticipation. It gave me much joy to see their excitement.

Cotton CandyOnce inside we headed to the one-hour pre-show on the circus floor. Rick and Tristen took advantage of the “wardrobe” while Haydn watched in amazement and Ansa clung to me in horror. Who was the strange man with the painted face and huge nose? She calmed down watching the acrobats and Asia the elephant. By the time the show started she was waving at the elephants and grinning from ear to ear.

They were all amazed and captivated. I enjoyed watching their faces more than what was on stage. They weren’t interested in sleep when we arrived home so they put on their own show with costumes, music, and acrobatics!

Rick said he hoped the kids never grow old. God brings much joy to us through our children.

Fun with Frugality

dscn026121The ultimate challenge: The CVS two day sale (Dec 21, 22): obtain $144 of product for as little out of pocket (OOP) cash as possible. Every challenge needs a plan so I wrote down how to roll-over my extra care bucks (ecb) so I would spend as little money out of pocket as possible. I made six groups of sale items, used my $16 ecb’s on hand  for the first group and then used the ecb’s from the first group to pay for the second group and so on. In the end I had $104.37 of products and spent $1.10 out of pocket. I also have $30.43 in extra care bucks left over to use in future weeks. Wow. It can be fun to be frugal!     

Hot Tamale!

We started out the gardening season on February 14 by planting sugar snap peas in the still cold ground. They do well in cool temps and were soon flourishing. By April we were eating peas to our hearts content along with strawberries. The pepper and tomato plants were started inside when the peas were planted. They didn’t fare so well as seedling because our spring was hot, cold, hot, cold. Once they were in the ground they rebounded nicely and have been providing us with peppers for five months. Today I picked red and orange bell pepper, banana peppers, mini red peppers, orange and red cherry tomatoes and the fourth harvest of purple basil. There is more in the garden!

The basil makes great pesto and freezes well so we will ll be enjoying the garden this winter as well. We mixed our cherry tomatoes with the roma tomatoes and canned 15 quarts of spaghetti sauce. God has given a bountiful harvest and we are grateful.

Making Faces

We have done our first decorating for Fall. The kids have been itch’n to use the “volunteer” pumpkins from the garden. Last fall we had several pumpkins that ended up in the compost pile and this spring we were surprised by dozens of plants from the remains. We kept five or so of the best located sprouts and the kids spent the summer watching the vines grow and counting how many pumpkins developed. Haydn, being the grand leader he is, picked out the largest one, Ansa favored the “babies” , and Tristen claimed the rest! The downside to the pumpkins volunteering to grow in the compost pile was that they matured in mid-August; we weren’t sure they wouldn’t rot before October. We ended up loosing five or six but they are in the compost pile and will hopefully surprise us in the spring.

We gathered around the picnic table with our carving utensils, spoons, and stencils. After cutting a hole in the top the kids scooped out the insides. One benefit from the pumpkins being almost two month old is that the insides weren’t slimy. In fact, several had seeds that had sprouted!

Not being even remotely artistic, it seemed best to have a guide for carving. There is a neat stencil tool at Better Homes and Garden. While Rick finished the carving, I took the seeds, rinsed them, and put them in a pan with olive oil and sea salt. After they started “popping” and looked crisp I cooled them on a paper towel. The kids enjoyed their first fried pumpkin seeds and I was thrilled to be sharing a memory from my childhood.

BIG SINNERS vs. little sinners

 

My Wife’s Journal Entry: September 6, 2003 

I can only attribute the glow I am beginning to feel to God’s graciousness and the teaching on what the gospel really is — all Christ’s work, none of mine. It is like spring after a long winter.

I was resigned to being spiritually unmoved forever toward the things of God, but God saw fit to use the teaching from Galatians to break through my heart. God quickened my heart, He drew me to Himself. For the first time, probably in my life, I realized I can contribute nothing to my salvation. That realization, along with seeing how all my wrongs are enough to crucify the Savior, has impacted me.

Rick is thrilled to have a dimension of joy added to our relationship. We have been discussing for some time now how I should have gratitude and joy even if I haven’t done drugs, theft, or “wild” living. Those are “big” sins. I have always seen how a “big” sinner could rejoice — they have been saved from much. I didn’t see myself as being saved from much. I viewed my sins of anger and laziness as acceptable.

Now, I am thrilled that my heart isn’t stone. I have a long way to go in realizing that I sin every day (and many times throughout the day) and even though it isn’t murder, it is enough to warrant hell and thus my need for a Savior. I am glad our local church will help me grow and point out how I can change. God has patiently brought me to a very good place.