Thursday, January 31, 2008

Kai-versations: The Bedtime Edition

Mom: Okay, Kai, it's time to go to bed.

Kai: Um, no thanks, Mom. I'm not really interested in doing that.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I had this coming...

Kai is obsessed with tattoos. In fact, she has me draw one on her every chance she gets. She also has been asking to dye her hair purple. When I explained that she couldn't have a tattoo until she is at least 8 (just kidding...) she accused me of "trying to make her sad forever." Gee...I thought I had at least 10 years before I got to hear that.

Total Truth Tuesday...

My kids watch WAY too much TV. It may very well make me a bad mom, but I cannot resist turning on Blue's Clues or Dora when I need a moment's peace. Sure, I try the playroom. I want to engage them in some productive play time. But, despite the fact that they have a million toys (believe me, if you've seen the playroom messy you'll know that is not an exaggeration) they only end up yelling and screaming at each other if I'm not in there to act as a referee. Then there's always arts and crafts. But, they end up gluing each other or drawing on their hands and arms and faces until I need Clorox bleach to clean it off. So, on those crazy days when I am about to pull my hair out, I go straight to Comcast On-Demand and steal 30 minutes (or an hour) of sanity.

When I do, it is miraculous. There is quiet. The screaming stops. And the girls sit, peacefully on the sofa and are utterly spellbound. It is positively glorious.

And, even though I feel guilty the whole time, I don't feel guilty enough to stop doing it. Here's hoping I don't ruin them forever...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

My Seven Random things by Tal.

1. My dogs farts smell like meat loaf burning. She farts often. It ain't pretty.

2. I recently viewed the movie 'Sunshine' and have reconsidered my trip to the sun.

3. Concerning the upcoming presidential election, I'm undecided who to vote for and wonder what difference does it really make anyway?

4. Of all the drinks in the world, the drink I wish I could have everyday is POG (Passion Orange Guava juice) but they don't sell it on the mainland.

5. Thunder Bluff is my second home. If you know where that is then you're a geek-loser just like me. Welcome to my world!

6. I love it when my daughters laugh and hate it when they shriek, unfortunately there's a very fine line between the two.

7. Lately my clothes make me feel claustrophobic.

Tag, you're it.

My next vacation destination...

I was surfing for some info on elephants when I came across this town in New Mexico. One I'd never heard of, but one I instantly loved. It is...are you ready for it? Elephant Butte, New Mexico. Isn't it great?! Okay, so I am fully aware that it is probably pronounced more like the beaut in beauty, but still a girl can dream can't she?

Just try googling the name and reverting to a elementary school kid mentality. Elephant Butte camping. Map of Elephant Butte. Discover Elephant Butte. And my personal favorite, Elephant Butte Reservoir. Actually, it's a tie between that and Elephant Butte Lodging. They're both so great...

Friday, January 25, 2008

7 Random Things - Jenna

I got tagged by Katie to tell 7 random things about myself. So, here goes!

1. I just got my first tattoo in September and I'm already jonesing for another.

2. I think the Blackberry is just about the best invention ever and I can't remember what I did without it!

3. I love junk shops and think the tackier something is the better it is.

4. I am already getting the baby bug again even though everyone thinks I'm crazy.

5. I feel guilty about being a stay-at-home mom with kids in preschool (okay, I mean, daycare) but I also think it makes me a better mom.

6. I am embarrassed to admit I'm a SAHM when people ask me what I do for a living.

7. I am a compulsive oversharer. I won't have anything for this week's Total Truth Tuesday. Okay, so now I tag Thomas, and the soon-to-be Ericksons, and anyone else who reads this blog and has one of their own. If you share 7 things be sure and post your link in the comments!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Not-so-Good Housekeeping

Be sure to click the picture to enlarge it. You don't want to miss this article! Thomas and I saw this at a friend's house last weekend and had a good laugh...I'd been meaning to post this for the past week. Take a minute to read the "suggestions" from this 1955 article in Good Housekeeping. Then, take a minute to read the Proverb below.

The article truly reminds me of alot of some of the Christian marriage books that have been written for women recently. I think there is a big push to return to a more traditional home because the 1950's have been romanticized by our current culture. But, the truth is, while there were obvious perks to women being more present in the home, there are also big perks to having women present in the work force and the home. (I know, I know. Sayeth the SAHM...but still I'm not oblivious to the importance of a working mom). There is a tendency to demonize the working mom as if they have chosen their job over their family. But, working mom's have simply chosen to serve their families in a different manner.

Neither is a more Biblical woman because of it. Because being a virtuous woman is not about whether you work at home or outside the home. Being a virtuous woman is about so much more. And, if you want to use a Biblical model, this "good" 1950's wife is far from what is described as a "Virtuous Woman" in Proverbs 31. I love the description in Proverbs:

10 [c] A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 "Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all."
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Give her the reward she has earned,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

She is a woman who definitely works. She buys a field. She trades. She is, as one of my good friends put it, a "Bad Ass"! She is the farthest thing from the door mat wife described in the article.

I love that this is the example God has set out there for women. This just proves to me that God does not have a desire to have women sitting massaging their husband's feet and not talking since "what he has to say is more important" than what she has to say (seriously, check out the article). God created women strong for a reason. He created them to partner with their husbands in a way that brings honor to Him. I'm pretty sure He didn't envision slippers and a stiff drink at the door as the way women would honor Him. He has so much more in store for us...

Just a side note, I got this email just this afternoon from a friend who has a different perspective on the whole thing. I just wanted to make a note and make sure she knows that this was written after reading it a week ago and is not a personal attack on her beliefs/recent email. Thomas and I discussed this whole thing almost a week ago and I've been meaning to post this since. It just took me some time to get my thoughts together. I fully respect your right to have a differing opinion!

Some Creative Dressing

The other day Ivy took some time out of her busy day of coughing up a lung to disrobe in the living room. I asked her to please put her pants back on and apparently she understood me. She just didn't fully understand how to do it. Of course, our children are nothing if not creative and she had a creative way of putting her clothes back on...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

More snow!

The Lovings LOVE snow! It snowed Saturday morning and we spent the day hanging out in it, eating warm comfort food, and just relishing the cold wintry goodness.

Best Tomato Soup Recipe

We were supposed to have some good friends over tonight but Thomas wound up in bed with 103 degree fever and miserable. So I broke out my favorite tomato soup recipe and whipped up some grilled cheese. Perfect comfort food for the ailing. I thought I'd share the soup recipe since it is SO good and easy. My Grandma got it from the country club kitchen where she lives and it is just the best way ever to make tomato soup.

Here's the recipe:

1 Jar Chunky Marinara Spaghetti Sauce
1 container Heavy Cream
1 can of diced tomatoes (undrained)

Pour above ingredients in a pot and heat through until nice and warm. Serve and enjoy!

**you can get creative and add all kinds of spices and extras to this. I usually do it just like this because I either lack creativity in the kitchen or I am too lazy. Still, this is perfect for adding cool stuff to. Let me know if you do try some things. I'd be curious to see how it turns out!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

By the way...

It is SNOWING!! And I mean for real snowing. Big huge flakes. And, even better, it's sticking! Look for more pics of us all playing in the snow later!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Literary Goodness: Water for Elephants

It's been a while since I've caught the reading bug but in the last couple months I've been on a reading frenzy. I'm waiting to review my First Thursdays book, Songs of the Humpback Whale, until we actually meet (my fault, long story) but I will go ahead and give you a peek at the one I just finished, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.

This book is really a delight. I read it so fast and it was one of those books you just are so sad to finish because you hate to leave the friends you've made in the characters. I actually picked this book up because of the subject matter (a traveling circus during the Great Depression). In fact, since there was no book blurb on the back cover that was all I knew before I started it. It was a risky decision, but I think it made the whole book more of an adventure.

The book follows the life of Jacob Jankowski a Polish-American veterinary student whose life takes a crazy turn when tragedy strikes his family. What follows is his entry into the foreign and complex world of the traveling circus. I have to say, I never gave circuses too much thought or much credit for being a real business venture. But, if Gruen's novel has any basis in reality (and it seems credible enough to me) then the world of the traveling circus was very much a world of complex social mores and drama. I suppose any time you collect a group of such eccentric characters and performers you are bound to have drama ensue. And these characters were no exception. Though some people might think the book moves too slow at points, it is the depth of the character development that really drives the book. Even when the action seems a bit slow the reader finds themselves just enjoying hearing about the lives of the characters. It gives the reader the feeling of catching up with a new friend. Perhaps most surprising of all is the book's unlikely heroine. A beautiful and silent character that seems to serve as an almost omnipresent figure in the book. She exists in the midst of everything, often driving the conflict, but with seemingly little control over the events surrounding her. She is, at once, the most powerful and powerless character in the book.

If you are looking for a thrilling trip back into one of the most fascinating times in American history don't miss out on this book...I loved it!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


We were so THRILLED to have snow tonight! Kai finally got her Christmas wish. We had such fun playing around outside in it and even managed to make snow balls for a snow ball fight. When we came in we had some delicious hot cocoa and all cuddled up on the couch together. It was the perfect winter night...

Thanks Perez Family...

for the delicious and entertaining blue yogurt covered pretzels with sprinkles. Who knew a pretzel could be quite so fun? The girls absolutely LOVED them! : )

In case you ever wondered...

Pimento Cheese sandwich spread is not the same as other sandwich fillers (i.e. tuna salad, chicken salad, etc.). It cannot be eaten on its own from the container without causing an immediate gag reflex from dairy overload. Nor can it be eaten on tortilla chips for a tasty snack. Alas, Pimento Cheese is an excellent addition to white bread slices with the crust cut off, but it is not suitable for any other purposes. In case you were wondering.

So, if you ever find yourself starving and trapped in a showroom downtown with a refrigerator containing ONLY pimento cheese spread and tortilla chips. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT try to pull a Top Chef maneuver and combine them for a meal of some sort. Opt for the chips alone. Or go ahead and starve. Anything else will only give you recurring nightmares of food gone horribly, horribly wrong...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Total Truth Tuesday Returns!!!

I got way off my blog schedule during the holidays and missed SEVERAL of my Total Truth Tuesdays. In an effort to make up for lost time, I am going to give you 3 embarrassing truths this week...

1. I call "the news"- It should be noted I did not say I think is the news. It's more like I am surfing the web, looking at gossip on TMZ and someone will ask what I'm looking at. To this I inevitably say, "Oh, you know, just reading the news." That way I sound like I am informed and not some silly gossip hound!

2. I can barely tell time. When I was in elementary school our classrooms only had digital clocks. And then I had a digital watch. And now I use my cell phone to tell time. So, if for some reason someone asks me what time it is and I am faced with an analog clock/watch, I am gripped with fear. If I can get away with it I almost always try to say the watch/clock doesn't have the right time and encourage someone near me with a cell phone to tell the time. But, if I really have to, I stare at the face until it makes sense. That sounds even worse described than I thought it would be. So embarrassing.

3. I like spam. Yep, I do. Until I met Thomas I was terrified of Spam. In fact, I refused to even taste it until we'd been married more than a year. I just thought it was horrible. But, Spam is a huge part of Hawaiian culture. They LOVE it there. So, I tried it and you know what? It's not horrible. In fact, it can even be good depending on how you prepare it. Last night I actually made Spam and Mac Casserole. The girls loved it and Thomas loved it. And when served with a delicious tube Popsicles as dessert it is the epitome of class and sophistication. You know you wish you were as classy as us...

So, there you have it. Three truths to make up for 3 (maybe more) weeks of missing Total Truth Tuesday.

Oh yeah, here's the recipe for the above mentioned gourmet meal:

1 small box of Macaroni, cooked
1 12 oz can Spam, cubed
1 can Cream of Celery or Cream of Mushroom
1/2 cup Milk
Canned or frozen peas
shredded Cheddar cheese
2 Tablespoons Butter

Brown Spam and Butter in skillet. Add Cream of Celery Soup and Milk. Add Peas. Add cooked macaroni and desired amount of cheese. Mix together. Sprinkle cheese on top and cover for about 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Party Pager

So ever since my mother passed away I've been telling everyone not to feel too sorry for me because she had a strong faith in Christ, as do I, and that we'll be united again in Heaven. I was thinking about seeing her again in Heaven this evening when it began to dawn on me that she is probably doing all sorts of things there. 

She always loved to sing, and though I don't believe Heaven is a 24 hour choirfest, I believe she's found some time to sing or take in an angelic musical or something. I also thought she'd probably be spending time with her mother who passed away a long time ago. Then it struck me, if she's running around doing all sorts of things when I reach Heaven, how will she know I'd arrived. Granted, I'm not planning on arriving any time soon but the thought grew legs and began to run. What if I get there and no one I know is waiting in the, eh, arrival lobby. I mean how are they going to know when it's my time? Sure they can probably look in on me down here from time to time, but if you're in Heaven do you really wanna watch earth 24/7 to see if a loved one is about to make the journey?

Well, what if you just knew when someone got there? That would be way too many to keep up with plus it's kind of bordering on the whole omniscient thing and I think God has a monopoly on that. Well, what if an angel would fly over and tell you when someone entered eternity? That's a lot of work when I'm sure they have better things to do then let you know when specific people have arrived. Plus they'd have to keep up with anyone you thought you'd like to see Heaven-bound. I think they have better things to do, don't you?

So, what if you could get a pager for specific people? As soon as they crossed the pearly gates your pager would buzz you so no matter where you're at you could hop the nearest cab on the streets of gold and rush off to meet them. It would be Heaven's Party Pager. "Paging Natalie, your son Thomas has arrived by Jacobs ladder via the Asher Pearl Gate." 

You could have them strung on a cord and where it on your robe. Or have small ones beaded together like a rosary. Maybe they would be small and thin like a credit card so you could just keep them in your wallet. Whatever they look like, my mom must have a bunch of them, and I'm sure a bunch of people had one for her too.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Super Easy Scarf

I got really productive while Thomas was in Hawaii. Maybe it was some manic holiday/tragedy survival mode or maybe I just get more done when I'm not totally distracted by his devastating handsomeness... either way I made some really easy scarves and forced Kai to model them for some pictures. My sister, Eryn, makes them for grown-ups but I thought I'd give a kid's version a try. They are really cute and easy to make and in less than an hour you have a new scarf!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

So totally robbed!

I may not have it in me to watch the rest of Project Runway now that my number one pick, Kevin Christiana, got Auf'ed...

Boo, Project Runway!

And, yes, I did just blog an entry about a tv show. My gosh, what has happened to me? I need to go read a book or something...

Kai-versations: the "totally break my heart with how precious you are" edition

Kai keeps talking about Heaven. She's really having a hard time with understanding all about it, where it is, who is there, and whether or not she'll have fun once she gets there. And tonight, she asked us,

"Um, mom, when I get to Heaven do I have to hold your hand?"

"No, Kai, when you get to Heaven you can run all over the place and never hold my hand."

"Well, mom, when I get to Heaven can I hug God?"

"Yes, Kai, when you get to Heaven you can give God a big hug."

"That's good. Mom, can I watch Blue's Clues now?"

I love how kids can totally make tears come to your eyes one minute and in the next breath turn around and ask for something that would be completely inappropriately timed if coming from the mind of anyone but a three-year-old.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Cool Fake-it Recipe

I think Shepherd's Pie is a great comfort food. It's always been one of my favorite "English" dishes and I've found an awesome Fake-it recipe in Real Simple. I made it tonight for Thomas and the girls and I thought I'd share it in case you're interested in trying it at home. Its as easy as it is delicious...

Sorry there's no picture. It was actually a really pretty dish, but everyone gobbled it up before I got the chance to grab my camera...

1lb. ground beef (I use Boca vegetarian meat crumbles)
frozen or canned peas, carrots, and/or corn
frozen or refrigerated mashed potatoes (This late time I used the boxed flake kind, but the frozen kind are much easier.)
1/3 cup ketchup
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Brown beef in skillet. Add veggies, ketchup & Worcestershire sauce. Prepare mashed potatoes as directed on package. Add meat & veggie mixture to casserole dish. Add potatoes on top. Sprinkle with shredded cheese if desired. Bake for 15 minutes at 250.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Best and Worst of 2007

I'm so thankful 2007 is over. It was a tough year for the Loving family (and, come to think of it, lots of families we know) and we are looking forward to a clean start this year. But, for now, let's look back at the best and worst of 2007.

Best of the year:

1. God's amazing provision even when things looked hopeless
2. Thomas' new job at Coke
3. Our wonderful trip to Hawaii
4. Aunt TeeTee gets married and Aunt BooBoo gets engaged
5. Jenna starts sewing and crafting like a madwoman thus unleashing years of pent-up creativity
6. Our small group retreat
7. Newer/easier blog site
8. Our wonderful friends from small groups past & present
9. Getting group health benefits for the 1st time ever

Worst of the year:

1. The loss of Tutu Natalie, Thomas' mom on Christmas eve
2. Ivy's scary/dangerous RSV experience
3. The closing of AppForge and Thomas' subsequent search for employment (which incidentally lead to #1 on the "Best of" list)
4. The eviction/default of two separate tenant leases on our rental house and the subsequent 4 month stint on the market before we relented and released the house.
5. Losing group health benefits from AppForge and going back to the horror of self-employed health benefits

Looking at the list, it's been rough, but I know that compared to the troubles of others we sound like babies whining about this. So, yes, 2007 wasn't fabulous, but we've managed to survive and we are looking forward to a new year with new opportunities...

New Year's to-do's...

Okay, so a resolution is tres overwhelming to me and I like to think of these things more as to do's.

1. Get back in the gym and get into pre-baby condition. I'll most likely be doing it to prepare for a new baby but still I'll enjoy the body changes while I can.

2. Become a more purposeful person. My goal is to be proactive vs. reactive. I am wanting to make decisions based on who I am and want to be. This will include but not be limited to decisions about: parenting, work, entertainment, clothing, relationships with friends and family.

3. Develop greater patience. Crap, I can't believe I said that one. I've pretty much guaranteed a super stressful New Year. But, I want to be a more patient and calm person. Without medication.

4. Create more MARGIN in everything I do. My scheduling, my finances, my personal obligations. Everything.

5. Blog, blog, blog. Every day at least and I'll even try to make them interesting!

6. I saved the best and most important one for last. It's less of a to do than a must/will do. My goal is to be a better mom. I want to be a good, kind, loving but firm mom. One that is patient in public and when no one is looking. I want to be gentler to my girls, because sometimes in my frustration I forget how little they really are. I am going to be a better mom to them and it is something I am going to wake up EVERY morning resolving to do. I will accomplish this goal even if I don't accomplish any other because I realized something. They are the most amazing and wonderful blessings in my life and if I fail to realize that then they might too. And that would be an unforgivable tragedy on my part...

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Why I love, love, love small groups

For those of you who aren't familiar with our church, North Point Community Church, one of the church's number one goals (besides the obvious mission statement to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ) is to get its members/attenders into small groups. See, when you go to a church as big as ours, it is easy to be as anonymous as you want. But, life change doesn't really occur as easily with anonymity. So, we form small groups. Official definition of a small group is a group of 6-8 individuals or 5-7 couples who meet together once a week to do Bible study and share their lives. The groups last 18 months-2 years and then divide to create more groups. The goal is to multiply constantly.

In reality, a small group becomes so much more. Since Thomas and I married 6 years ago, we have never not been in a small group. Or we've always been in a small group. However you say it, the fact is small group is a huge part of our marriage and the success of our relationship and family.

When Thomas and I returned from Jamaica we were fairly isolated. We had deteriorated relationships with family here, no strong friendships, and no real involvement in church. We had allowed ourselves to become an island and we knew that was not how we wanted to start our life together. So, our first Sunday back we went to church. Of course, we were the only ones there because we'd forgotten North Point doesn't hold services the 1st Sunday after Christmas, but the next week we came back and got started in a engaged/newlyweds group. Within a month we had joined a small group. And, unbelievably, the relationships we formed in that first year and in that first small group are some of our strongest relationships that we have with friends today. Since then we've been in several more small groups meeting awesome people and having the privilege to be a part of their lives.

Our current small group is no exception and maybe it is because of our age or stage of life, but we've had more go on in this group to bring us together than any other group we've been in. There have been the loss of jobs and loved ones. There have been new careers begun and new lives added to families throughout this group.

This past week as we've suffered our own loss in our family, we've been amazingly blessed by friends from small groups past and present. We've had love and generosity and prayer poured out on us from friends in ways we never could have predicted. It is wonderful to have friends who are there for you when the bottom drops out of your world.

I was talking to our small group coach this past week and was able to tell him how blessed we'd been by friends from both our first ever small group and our most recent small group. If I could give people just one bit of advice I would say join a small group, grow with people, and allow others to share your ups and downs. There are always other things to do and reasons not to make time to meet weekly with a group of men and women who also have a thousand things going on. But, the truth is, when something happens, good or bad, you'll be thankful you made the effort to "do life" with others. I know we are...