Saturday, March 29, 2008

Cute Conversations

Yesterday I took Baby Blue Eyes out to lunch. Nothing fancy, just the salad and hot bar at our new local Giant. He's a joy to take out - anywhere. As long as he's with someone he loves (and yes, he loves me most! I know this because he tells me all the time!), he's happy and pleasant to have around. Taking him to lunch is always a hoot. Here's a snippet of our lunch conversation to share with you all:

BBE (digging into his fruit): "Mmmmm, Mommy, this pinealoupe is reawwy yummy."

Me (hiding a smiling and reaching for my phone): "Is it? It looks juicy and fresh. And that's pineapple, BBE."

BBE: "Who ya cawwin' Mommy?"

Me: "I'm calling Daddy. He likes it when I call to tell him the cute or funny things you say. It makes his day happy and gives him a laugh."

BBE (ridiculously matter of factly, and with supreme confidence!): "Yeah. I make Daddy happy."

I just love that kid.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Favorites Friday is back!

I know, you've been waiting all week for Favorites Friday to return to the blogosphere. You've been on the edge of your seat, holding your breath and begging God for your weekly dose of pithy, quirky and uplifting looks at the world around us. I know. So, to reward you all for your patience and your loyalty, I present to you this week's installment of Favorites Friday!

My Favorite Things About Celebrity Apprentice
(I know, it's deep and meaningful, and could very well change your life. You're welcome.)
  • Stephen Baldwin - He conducted himself with a fair amount of grace, integrity, and flair. And he kept his cool with a light-hearted demeanor that impressed me, even when other competitors were getting nasty, too personal or too edgy. Can I also say, I thought some of his marketing input was genius! I've documented my respect and admiration (obsessive fanaticism?) for him here and here. Read with care. It's not a pretty look into my world.
  • Carol Alt - She was the most gorgeous, savvy, and talented women of the whole kit and caboodle. She totally got gypped of the opportunity to compete in the finals, just because "Piers vs. Trace" would bring in more ratings. And does that lady look great for her age, or what?! Ironically, this is also one of the things I hate the most about Celebrity Apprentice. Does that make me shallow? :)
  • Celebrity Fundraising - no matter my own personal feelings about "The Donald" (and believe me, I have enough of those feelings to write another whole post entirely!), I love that he gathered some big names from all walks of celebrity-dom and put their names and their notoriety to work for something good. For things that will make an impact for thousands of people, and now ultimately for so many of our soldiers who need care, support, and a second chance at a new life after service to our country.
  • The Tasks - I thought this round of tasks was really well-planned and very interesting. I enjoyed seeing the celebrities using their skills, some of which they probably hadn't used since they just started out. For example, Trace Adkins running the entertainment portion of the final task - I'm guessing at the start of his (now!) huge career, he did most of his own set ups and stage managing. Brought some of them back to their roots, I bet.
  • Finally, Trace Adkins - yes, I'm a huge country music fan. But until CA, I've never been a big Trace fan. Some of his music can be downright earthy and raw. But this is a man's man, and a big man. I don't mean in stature, although he certainly is that! His demeanor, his integrity, and his passion for his cause shone through everything he did. I especially loved how simple and straight-shooting he is - no fuss and bother about him. No special maintenance required. And I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard as I did when he said "Here's the world's most heterosexual cowboy out with the boxing champion of the world going out to buy nail polish for a GUY." Priceless!
One last thing, Promises Fulfilled is running a fun give-away this weekend on her blog. Don't stop by - The Boss and I really need a date night out and I need me some lamb chops. But to play the contest fairly, I had to link back and tell ya all about it. Just. Don't. Go. There. Please :)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Cookin' Up For Spring!

I found a great recipe that seems super versatile and light for Spring. The variations are mine, but the basics came courtesy of a free subscription to All You magazine that started coming to me in January. This recipe is in their May '08 edition. Give it a try and let me know what you think. It's a winner for me!

Grilled Salmon With Yogurt Mint Sauce

1 ½ c. plain low fat yogurt

½ cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced

2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh mint leaves, plus some for garnish

1 small clove garlic, finely chopped or pressed

Salt and pepper to taste

4 (6 oz.) salmon fillets, about 1” thick

Pour yogurt into a strainer and set over a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for about two hours, to allow to yogurt to drain and thicken. Discard liquid in the bowl and spoon the remaining yogurt into another bowl. Stir in cucumber, mint, garlic, salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat grill on high, for about 10 minutes. Oil a grill rack or a fish tray. Sprinkle salmon lightly with salt and pepper. Place salmon, flesh side down, on oiled rack or tray and cook with grill closed for about 4 minutes. Turn salmon only once and continue to grill for another 4 to 6 minutes, till just cooked through.

Serve with yogurt sauce as topper or on the side. Garnish with some of the reserved chopped mint leaves.

My Variations:

1. Go Greek!

  • 2 Tbsp. fresh chopped dill in place of mint
  • 4 (4-6 oz. each) medium quality grilling steaks, pounded to tenderize
  • Pita bread on the side or with steak thinly sliced for a new twist on a traditional gyro sandwich

2. Spring Chicken!

  • 2 Tbsp. fresh dill in place of mint
  • 1-2 tsp. ranch dressing powdered mix in place of, or in addition to, garlic cloves (remaining packet will be used for marinade below)
  • 4 (4-6 oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to tenderize
  • Marinate chicken overnight in equal parts of olive oil, white or wine vinegar and the remaining packet of powdered ranch dressing mix

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

How I Spent My Spring Break

An essay for the teacher, by The Gang :)

It's been a while since I've taken the time to sit and blog - the week has just flown by. So, rather than bore you with a blow-by-blow account, I'll catch you all up "bullet style," in no particular order or importance. That would require way more thought than I am capable of this a.m.
  • I got in at least 3 work-outs at my local Curves, that I can remember! Not that these in anyway combated the ridiculous amounts of sugar that I inhaled this weekend.
  • The kids got LOTS of time to play outside, with neighbors, with cousins, and with Uncle Li'l Bro.
  • Dr. Doolittle FINALLY got his new glasses back from the eye doctor. No more crooked sideways glances!
  • My side of the family spent Saturday together, minus The Norwegians. My favorite days are when I get to be with my family all day like that. But I did miss The Norwegians terribly.
  • We watched The Passion Of The Christ with the older boys - seeing it a second time was no easier than the first time. A smaller screen, but certainly not a smaller impact.
  • The older boys got their first introduction to Indiana Jones - we watched Raiders of the Lost Ark. 25+ years later, the tarantulas and snakes are JUST AS GROSS. And Indy is just as handsome and rakish!
  • Pastor Bro-In-Law preached an awesome sermon on "Resurrection to Restoration." Lots to "take home" on that one.
  • Dr. D worked on his Science project, testing the effect of different genres of music on his heart rate. I didn't have the heart to tell him that most music won't budge his heart rate, he's too steady and laid back like his Daddy. There was some spiking when he listened to Arena/Hard Rock.
  • LadyBug started her Science projects - two experiments with vinegar and one to grow sugar crystals. The whole house reeks of vinegar.
  • I went way overboard on candy for the Easter baskets. Next year, I think The Boss should just do the minimalist thing. And definitely NOT buy peanut butter eggs or malted Robins' Eggs.
  • The Boss transplanted a ton of flowers from our neighbors' yard that they offered us before they turn their yard into play space from the previous owners' finely sculpted gardens. Free flowers!
  • Dr. D stayed home from school yesterday because he was up in the middle of the night with (ahem) stomach issues. From both ends. Enough said.
  • I hung out (on the couch closest to the powder room!) all afternoon yesterday, with 1/2 the stomach issues that Dr. D had.
Finally, there's a cool contest going on over at Fully Alive. . . Ready to Smile - for those of you who enjoy cooking up creative yummies for your family and friends. Thanks to TCC for the heads up!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Sad News

Recently, I posted a request to pray for a little girl named Ana. You can read that story here, or go to their family website, here, for more information. Well, we got news this week that little Ana went to Heaven to be with Jesus on Sunday evening. While we rejoice in the hope that we have as Christians, knowing that she is whole and healthy and healed completely in the arms of Jesus, our hearts are very full and very sad for her whole family. Please join us in praying for this precious family as they heal and move forward without their little Ana in their arms. Thank you very much.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mmmm, Mmmmm, Good!

Okay, so a couple of you have recently asked for some more food posts. I was kinda hoping that meant you wanted to hear more about all the ways I love my coffee, or just how incredibly divine real popcorn with real butter really is! But I know that's not really what you had in mind. I know this because you are most likely a mom just like me: you HAVE to feed your family something edible every night (otherwise the Hoovers turn into SHOP VACS on speed!!) And you have HAD-IT-UP-TO-HERE! with the same 10-15 (or 8?!) meals over and over. It's an insidious syndrome. One that we all experience. With far too much frequency. It's called a "cooking rut." (ack, gasp, oh no! What shall we do?!)

And quite frankly, the only cure I've found for a cooking rut is to. . . . cook! Something different and something new. Even if it's only a different shape of macaroni from the box of macaroni and cheese sitting on my shelf. Come on, I know you have at least one box of this nasty stuff sitting in your cupboards too. Get crazy: next time you shop, buy the shells. Or the wheels. Or the SpongeBob pastas. On second thought, leave SpongeBob in the store. He's not going to do any of you any good on your pantry shelves.

So, here's a great recipe to get ya cooking. It's super yummy and ridiculously easy. It started as a side-dish from my SIL over at Lessons and Life (ooops, Rob, sorry! Last time I called you Life and Lessons! My bad!). In my quest to ease my dish-washing load, I turned it into a one-dish meal. I present, for your cooking rut therapy:
~ Mexi-Corn Chicken Casserole ~
1 box (8 oz) yellow rice or Spanish rice, prepared as directed
2 cans (11 oz. each) Mexi- or Fiesta-corn, drained well
1 can (11 oz.?) black beans, rinsed and drained well
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) can of cream of chicken soup
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
plus 1/3 cup to sprinkle for topping
2 cups (+ or - to preference) cooked, chopped chicken

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Pour into a greased 9x9. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until heated through. Top with remaining 1/3 c. cheese. Bake an additional 10 minutes.

Serve with chips (It's especially great to use the lime flavored ones!!), salsa, sour cream, avocado or guacamole, and any other Mexican type toppings you like.

This recipe freezes exceptionally well. Just be sure to thaw it completely and cook it about 45 minutes total to allow the excess moisture to cook off.
As you can imagine, I cannot make a single batch of this recipe. In fact, I actually quadruple it most times and freeze several portions for busy nights that I don't want to cook. It's a huge hit in our house, and I've found out recently that it's making its way around our church family, as gals are requesting the recipe and making it for new moms or sick families through our Meals Ministry. Not gourmet for sure, but it is simple and satisfying. And fills up the Hoovers for at least a couple hours!

For more great tips on getting out of the "cooking rut,"
please check out Reluctant Gourmet's post on the topic
and his chef friend's following comments. Good stuff!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Several exciting things going on here in The Gang's household at once. First, I wish you all a Happy, Lucky, and Blessed St. Patty's Day! I love this holiday - the fun, the heritage, the music, and the food!

Which brings me to one of the exciting happenings here: my Li'l Bro and his wife are cooking an Irish feast for The Gang tonight. All the supplies and recipes are in the fridge right now, and I'm trying my best not to peek. They left my adorable niece with me and Baby BlueEyes for a while, so they could squeeze in a lunch date, then they are taking over my kitchen and cooking away. As I'm sitting here, I can here Irish tunes being sung over my FIOS radio selections ("Songs Of The Season" has gone green today!) while the little cutie pie is babbling and giggling at BBE's antics.

Another exciting thing that's happening is GOTCHA Day for two of my blogger friends who are in China right now, bonding with their new daughters. You simply must head over to their sites to get a glimpse of these gorgeous little girls. And while you are there, please pray for them. These first few days are full of anxiety, high emotions and all the newness that comes with becoming a parent. But there's another whole element of leaving behind an old life and embracing a new one that few of us can fully comprehend or appreciate from their little spirits' perspectives. You can find their stories by clicking on the following two links:

Finally, I leave you with a popular Irish blessing. It's always been one of my favorites, as common as it is. It evokes memories of my Grandmother's kitchen and mental pictures of green, lush landscapes that bring my spirit rest and peace when I think on them.

An Old Irish Blessing
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

I Combed, I Shopped, I Conquered!

I ran out of time yesterday to post my Friday Favorites, because I FINALLY sat myself down and combed through my Giant flyer to prepare my grocery list. In recent months, I've fallen off the bandwagon of diligent home-management. Particularly in the area of grocery shopping and menu planning. This fall, we created a newer, tighter budget with an eye toward debt-reduction and adoption savings. It's been a challenge to take my cash and grocery shop for a two week period on the limit that we've set.

The first few months, I rose to the challenge by staying within the budget, creating meals on the cheap and utilizing the "stockpile" that we already had. Then came the holidays! Following quickly on the heels of the holidays came nasty, cold rainy winter days - the perfect days to stay home to bake and cook. And then came three weeks of colds, viruses and fevers. Thus, the current dilemma: my stockpile has been seriously depleted. For January and February, my grocery trips consisted mainly of quick runs to get what was completely depleted plus the obligatory milk, eggs, and bread. This is not working - my two HOOVERS (Shaggy and now Dr. D) prowl around the house with their stomachs growling and roaring for more. The most commonly used phrase in this house has become, "Is there anything else to eat?" No matter what I make or purchase, I. cannot. keep. up. with. these. appetites.

So, this week I set out to reclaim my territory. I updated my whole coupon file, worked on a comprehensive list of grocery needs, and prepared my list. Making a grocery list is a daunting task for me. I have three primary goals: to save the absolute most money possible, to provide a quantity of healthy foods that fill up the HOOVERS, and to give me some room for creativity and variety in the kitchen. (Because I love to cook, you know!) Dovetailing all three of those goals into one lump sum of cash is overwhelming, and requires all of my concentration when I am this behind and this depleted. Certainly not my favorite way to spend a Friday.

Here's my process: I sit down with my coupon file, the sales flyer, a notepad and a pen. I read through each section of the flyer with a fine-tooth comb, noting sales and searching for matching coupons. If I get a sale item to match a coupon (and it's a product we use regularly), it goes on the list with an "s" and a "c" circled beside it. I also briefly note the sale details for quick reference in the store. If I get a Buy One, Get One Free item and a matching coupon (or two!), I note the item and mark "BOGO" and "c" next to it. That, my friends is my jackpot! If it's an item that's really discounted but there's no coupon, it just gets an "s." Finally, I note the items that we need, regardless of sales or coupons. As I'm noting these things, I'm brainstorming meals that I can make with the ingredients on the list. This is why I tend to put off this task to the last possible minute: it represents the ultimate in my multi-tasking skills and my family sees precious little of my face on "list day." Especially when it's been so long since I've done a real trip.

But the efforts paid off big time, my friends. I talked The Boss into joining me for this Friday night outing, to calculate as we strolled. We filled the cart to overflowing, coordinated coupons, adding to the list and deleting from it along the way. The extra bonus? He got to see up close and personal the exact process I go through to fill our pantry twice a month (not always in this volume, I admit!).We unloaded the cart, The Boss started bagging (and filled two carts!) as I watched the screen to note prices and errors. I purposely held my BonusCard till the clerk was done ringing up my whole order cuz I LOVE THE THRILL of seeing all the Bonus Buys coming off the original price. Then, I triumphantly handed him my coupons. This week, I utilized all four of my $1 Doublers, plus several receipt-driven coupons and manufacturer's coupons. Here are the results of my labor:

Total Cost before any sales, discounts, etc.: $311.89
Total Bonus Card savings: $97.47
Total Extra Rewards savings: 6.00
Total Manufacturer Coupons savings: 24.40
Doubled Coupon savings: 3.25


And that's not even including the raincheck at Acme that I redeemed on the way to Giant, where I saved 55% of my bill on pre-made Pillsbury pizza crusts that were on sale last week! Woooooo Hooooooo!

I Combed, I Shopped, I Conquered!

P.S. Please don't be afraid to come back
and visit The Gang again. I don't usually
go on this long in one post!!!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Leavin' On a Jet Plane!

Okay, all you bloggity friends who know how to PRAY! There are two mamas heading to China today to get their girls. (The daddies are going, too, but I don't really have a ton of male readers, do I now?!). Please feel free to run over to their sites, read their back-stories, and join The Gang in praying for safe travel, for smooth connections between flights, and for un-complicated paperwork finalization. Additionally, please pray for supernatural bonding between these anxious parents and their sweet little girls. This journey represents years of longing (on the part of the parents) for these daughters but it is also full of huge transitions and new experiences and uncertainties - for both parent and child. Pray for these little girls to find supernatural peace and comfort in the arms of their new mommies and daddies. Pray that they begin even now to experience the deep-seated "knowing" that they will be loved forever, unconditionally and thoroughly, in the heart of their new home.

I "met" Elissa Harrell through blogging, simply by checking out some comments she made on another blogger's site. I don't even remember where that originally was, but I quickly recognized her as a sister in Christ, awaiting news on the daughter God had birthed in her heart. Her blog is delightful, honest, and often very funny. (And it doesn't hurt that sometimes she blogs about her brother who works for Blake Shelton, an adorable and talented country music star that I sometimes enjoy!) When I took the time (one rainy afternoon) to read all her archives, I was so blessed to peek into the depth of love and passion that she has for family, for Christ, and for this little girl that she didn't even know yet. If you check nothing else out, PLEASE check out the referral pics of her sweet baby girl. Their "Gotcha Day" is slated for Monday, the 17th - so their St. Patty's Day will have whole new significances :)

Vonda and Phil are fellow Living Hope adopters. We met them (in person!) at a training session offered by our agency last year and instantly connected with them. It may have been the copious amounts of tears she and I both shed when sharing our personal stories of adoption! They are a loving family with three biological children, close to our own children's ages. She's been a huge encouragement to me along the way, as our LID's (log-in-dates to China's adoption program - the official date that counts for everything!) are so close. Additionally, hearing their hearts as they moved toward a special needs adoption is part of the impetus that got us talking about it for our own journey, after letting the file sit on our desk from October till January!

Both families get the unique experience of celebrating Easter Sunday with their new daughters while still in China. I find that incredibly moving, and certainly not coincidental in God's economy. These girls will be celebrating a completely new life, a new family, and a new journey that sets them into loving Christian homes on the path to their Heavenly Father - in the same week that we celebrate the Resurrection that secured for us the open door to everlasting relationship with Our Father. How cool is that!

So, blogging friends, would you please pray with us for these families? They take flight today, winging their way toward their beautiful girls across the world. As I get updates on their journeys, I'll link you up!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

I've Been Tagged!

My friend On Fire tagged me for a fun meme. At least, it started out fun. By the last question, I was choking back the tears. But thank you, Fire! It was a great exercise and forced me to think a little. And reminisce a lot!

“What If” Meme

What if I could meet someone in the art world to chat with?

Well, I don’t really know the names of anyone in the current art world, so I will go historical on you. I’d love to meet Michelangelo in person. His attention to detail, his mastery, persistence and his obvious passion for his art are very inspiring to me.

What if I could have one wish granted for the benefit of all mankind?

Since world-wide salvation was already mentioned, I would wish for every child to have a safe, loving home with parents who provide for them and nurture them into caring and loving adults.

What if I could travel anywhere in the world?

This is a no-brainer! I’d jet off to China to pick up my beautiful daughter. But that’s not really a “what if” cuz I AM GONNA DO THAT! Hopefully sooner than later. So then, I’d travel to Ireland with The Boss for a couple weeks of exploring my native homeland :) and visiting the quaint Bed & Breakfasts of the Irish countryside.

What if I could live in a period other than the present, for 24 hours?

Send me back to the colonies! I’d love to marinate for 24 hours in the post-Revolutionary War era, listening to the stories of the colonists. What dreams they must have held, to brave the ocean passage, to leave behind all that was familiar and then to go to war for those dreams. And the textiles? I love the linens and the quilts and the fabrics of that time.

What if I could make over three areas of my body?

I’d go back to my pre-baby body, with a trimmer tummy, hips and butt. And I’d tell myself that THAT was not fat! That was healthy and that was normal! I’d also make over my “I hate exercise and healthy eating” genes.

What if I could become an animal for 24 hours?

I think I’d like to be my diva kitty, Maggie. Every night she curls up into The Boss’s lap, purrs and stretches and enjoys at least one t.v. show’s worth of his petting. :)

What if I could bring someone back to life for 24 hours?

I’d bring back my Grandpa Sam, Grandpa Ed and Grandma Gert. I’d hug them again, smell their unique scents deeply, and listen to their stories again and again, in their voices. I’d get Gram to make me her coconut macaroons. I’d introduce them to my amazing kids. And Grandpa Ed to The Boss. I’d thank them for the part they have played in making me the woman I am today. And for the wonderful things they have left behind, little things I see in me and my siblings and now in my kids. And I’d beg them to stay a little bit longer.

So, now I tag my friend over at God's Grace in Practice, my sister-in-law at Life and Lessons, and the proud new mama from The Five Of Us to jump in on the fun. Tag, you are it and you have to pass it on when you are done :)

By the way The Five Of Us has some great new pics posted
of their daughter who is waiting for them in China.
And stay tuned, I'm going to be introducing you all
to a couple other new moms-to-be
who are traveling SOON to hold their baby girls
in their arms for forever!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Favorites Friday

Over at Politics for Moms, my friend Natalie has a regular Friday feature, called Freedom Friday. Today's feature is a picture of our kids, celebrating the freedom that we have to raise our kids to be kids. To allow our kids to become whomever God calls them to be. I've been thinking about it a lot, like in Wednesday's post on that great Chinese proverb. My favorites today are in honor of the freedoms we enjoy, as a family and as a nation.

Favorite Freedoms of The Gang:
  • The freedom to worship. We are unabashedly a Christian family. We worship weekly with our local church family. We gather regularly with other believers to pray, to study the Word, and to share our Christian journey. We do this without fear of reprisals at work, or from our local governmental officials.
  • The freedom to grow our family. As a pre-adopting mom of a little girl from China, this is especially important to me. We have the freedom to have as many or as few children as we desire or as the Lord gives us. We are free to add these blessings to our live through birth or adoption. We even receive benefits and breaks from our government in recognition of the effort and expense that children incur.
  • The freedom to travel. With family spread out all over the East Coast, we are free travel to see them and connect in ways that are unique to our family group. We can travel to Big Boppa's & Grandma's "cabin" to fish and swim. We can travel to Tiny Boppa's and Grandma's to hike and relax in the Shenandoah Mountains.
  • The freedom for the kids become ANYTHING they want to become. I love that in this nation, my kids can be doctors, lawyers, pastors, teachers, electricians, or cowboys. Even my girls. I love that they can explore all kinds of career options, that they can study lots of things on that journey. And in this stage of life, I especially love that they can read lots and lots of different kinds of books that will open their eyes to the many ways they can serve the Lord and His church as they grow.
  • The freedom to celebrate our heritage. March is a fun month to me. I get to make a big deal of my Irish heritage. I pull out lots of Irish music, make Irish meals (U.S.-Irish traditions & Irish-from-Ireland ones alike, Li'l Bro!), and fly my shamrock flags. But I also get to celebrate, at any given moment, the pride I feel in being Italian, in my Christian heritage, and in being an "O'&%(&" or a "W*^)@%^" (No, I'm not swearing! These last names are disguised to protect the innocent!). Additionally, I love that The Boss and I get to infuse our own flair for what it means to be part of The Gang. We get to make our team's rules and form our team identity!
So, here's my pic of The Gang, in honor of Freedom Friday. And this is my take on my Favorite things about being FREE! What about you? What do you value about your freedom?

(First photo with the digital camera)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

What I'm Thinking Today

I saw this great quote on a friend's adoption website. I've been thinking about it all day.

“If your vision is for a year, plant wheat.

If your vision is for 10 years, plant trees.

If your vision is for a lifetime, plant people.”

~ Chinese proverb

Oh, Lord, that I might plant people. Grant that I might sow strong and mighty oaks that provide shelter from the winds and shade from the bright sun. Move through me that I nurture and protect these mighty oaks-in-the-making, in way that honors their individual grain. Stir in me a passion to push those roots down deep, to teach them to seek sustenance from the deep and living springs of Eternal Water that brings LIFE and thus produces more LIFE. Oh, Lord, that I might plant people.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Derby Dudes

This Saturday was the annual Pinewood Derby for our denomination's boys' ministry. It's always a very loud, chaotic, and crazy event, with lots of junk food, loud music, and sweaty, hyper little boys. This year was no exception. But I learned my lesson in previous years, and LadyBug and I showed up just in time for the finals. The Boss was supposed to call me periodically throughout the morning to keep me apprised of our boys' progress, so I wouldn't miss their cars racing down the wooden tracks. He never called, and I just assumed that meant that both boys made it to the finals. Boy, is it a good thing that was the case, or Baby Blue Eyes would have been crushed. As it was, apparently he was asking for me all morning. The finals began after lunch, and my Derby Dudes made us all proud!

Baby BlueEyes made it to the finals in his younger boys' class, of about 50 or so kids. When I arrived, he was ranked 12th in the standings of 16 finalists. His car was a souped-up bright blue little number, with hand-painted flames dancing across the hood of the car. He named it "The Blue Shark." (The number "5" is in honor of his favorite Eagle, Donovan McNabb.) The Shark did an admirable job of gobbling up the competition, because Baby BlueEyes place 6th in the finals. I was so proud of him: losing was hard, but the realization that there would be no ribbon or trophy for 6th place was even harder. He cried a little, burying his head in my neck to avoid the looks of the other boys. My heart broke for him, knowing how much he wanted to bring a ribbon or a trophy home for his room. But he dealt with the disappointment quickly and was able to cheer his brother along with gusto a few minutes later.

Dr. Doolittle also made it to finals in his class, ranking 3rd in the group of 50 boys. His car was a finely decorated "Screamin' Eagle" complete with our team's logos and colors. He worked really hard to make it extra classy, as it was carrying the Eagles name. The "Screamin' Eagle" flew down the track very well but these finals are double elimination and the races were incredibly close. I'm awfully glad there was an electric eye to judge that last race he ran, it was that close! Dr. D finished the day in 6th place also.

It was bittersweet for The Boss, as this is the last year that he had two cars to prep and two boys to bond with over the experience. I told him, maybe next year, he can do an Open Class car with LadyBug - or maybe even Aidan. Can you just picture it? A bright red lady bug car, complete with spots, flying along? Or maybe a bubble-gum pink car with sparkles racing down the track with The Boss jumping up and down cheering for it?! Maybe, just maybe!