Saturday, March 31, 2012

Camp Rules

We take our maiden pop-up camper voyage in a few days.  With two teenagers traveling on a road trip, I've decided to enact Camp Rules.  I know, rules and vacation don't exactly go together but I believe it will make everyone happier in the end.  At least it'll make Mom happy and you know the saying....

Even though they're teenagers, we're going back to Kindergarten for lessons in how to behave.  And yes, even adults have to follow them.  My rules are simple - just remember your face.

  1. Mouth - If using it, SMILE.  Simply put, no whining allowed.  The words, "I'm bored" are illegal.  Complaints are only allowed on comment cards, which will not be read.  Attitude is everything so make yours fabulous!
  2. Eyes - LOOK....What's that?!  We are on vacation.  Soak up what is around you.  Take in the world.  If we're in the truck, look out the window.  Behold: scenery.  If we're outdoors, enjoy nature.  Interact with humans, not technology.
  3. Ears - Have ear buds, will travel.  If you don't like what we're listening to, insert ear buds.  Remember rule #1?  No complaining or whining about whatever old, outdated song these old parents might be reminiscing to on the radio.
  4. Feet - Everybody JUMP, JUMP!  (Ok, now you're laughing because you're envisioning me rapping.)  Anyway, back to topic - Get up on them.  Explore!  But don't get lost. 
  5. Nose - Do you smell that?!.  If it smells then I don't want it in our tiny space.  Pretend like you're on a date and take all the proper hygiene precautions.  Your family will love you for it.
  6. Hands - Lend one...or two. Help out. Yes, vacations are meant for relaxing but that also requires a little work when we arrive. Camping means everyone pitches in.  Insert ear buds, remember #1, use #4 and #6 simultaneously and see what can be accomplished.
(Ok, I realize hands aren't ON your face but I'm the mom and I make the rules.  Plus, I talk with my hands so they truly are an extension of it.)

Failure to follow rules 1-6 (and any random rules said parents wishes to add during said trip) could be detrimental to your health, or at the very least, your happiness.  Acts of embarrassment will ensue at a surprise public location near you.  When you least expect it punishment for broken rules may lead to parental PDAs, pop-up karaoke, or becoming the designated puppy pooper scooper for the trip.

Your expectations - do something besides stare at four walls for spring break.  Ours - follow the rules and have a fun, memorable family trip.  Consent to this binding and legal contract is assumed by the mere fact you actually took the time to read it. 


Your loving parental units

    Friday, March 30, 2012

    Faithful Friday: Pray Without Ceasing

    Noah came home with a bracelet last night that simply said, "Pray without ceasing," which he got from a local youth church event.  It surprised him that I knew the verses surrounding, as they instantly came out of my mouth upon seeing it.  I shared with him it was one of my favorite verses and why.  And it's been on my heart ever since.

    This morning, as I was preparing for Faithful Friday, I wondered if I'd ever shared the verse on my blog before.  With a quick search, I found a past post that was worth sharing again.  In fact, it hit home that, while I reflected on this near Thanksgiving, a difficult time of year for our family, it was fitting again.  With the season of graduation upon us, there are so many reminders of our loss.  I needed this Faithful Friday for myself, as well as to share.

    Thankful still  - original post 11/24/10

    "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances,
    for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

    I still remember where I was when I found this scripture the first time that it actually sunk in. It was shortly after our wreck and I was finding it still very difficult to get around. It must've been several months into recovery, as I was driving again. After what seemed a lifetime of hobbling through the house and out the door, pulling myself up into the truck by my arms, and finally getting situated, I was at the wheel. Out of breath, frustrated, and in pain, I wondered why I was being put through so much. Basically, I was having a pity party for myself.

    To ensure I kept up with reading my daily devotions now that I was back to work, I had moved a Bible and reading list into my truck. Most days back then, I took my lunch at the park and spent time reading. That morning, I decided I needed it in my driveway. I opened my bible and before even glancing at the daily scripture guide, my eyes fell on the verse above. It was as if God had taken his finger and pointed right at the line he needed me to see. Instantly, I felt his presence and was forever connected to that scripture. I decided then to make the most of the situation He had put me in, and to be thankful for it.

    That scripture spoke so loudly to me that I wrote it down on an index card and taped it to my sun visor. I read it to myself every morning - and sometimes several points throughout my day. Whenever I suffered a setback in my recovery or had an unusually painful day, I turned to it. I would rejoice in the pain, and be joyful always for the chance to still be here with my family....I prayed continually and learned to pray not only in need but in thanksgiving, and to pray for myself last, if at all....and I was thankful for every single moment from sunrise to sunset. The lessons from that wreck were many and although I'm weaker physically from it, it certainly strengthened me in more ways than I could ever imagine.

    This week has been a roller coaster of emotions, as I sway from appreciating the moments I'm given to clinging to memories of what once was.  There's a constant mix of a longing to have him with us and striving to remain thankful for all I still have, and to live in the moment. I turned to that familiar and comforting scripture again and paused at each verse. I am reminded to continue in my trust of God and not to question or doubt his wisdom and guidance. I'm reminded to remain joyful, to focus on the moment and to live fully. I am reminded to pray when I waiver, without ceasing, on good days and bad. I am reminded to remain thankful for ALL my blessings, both from the past and the present, and to believe God has plan in it all.

    Tuesday, March 27, 2012


    Some days the name of this blog (and my life) feels more like the last half of the word, instead of the first.  Some days, it's hard to be joyful.  Some days, it is all challenge.  Sometimes the day is much more raincloud than sunshine.  And I have to remind myself, it's ok.  Sometimes.

    With child loss, the pain is always present - just under the surface.  It can so easily be stirred, like a pebble tossed onto a still pond.  Once evoked, the pain ripples causing a visible upset and change.  There are certain times I know to brace myself for the pain, anniversaries or occasions in which I will be reminded of Austin.  Other times it may be a surprise, like a familiar song on the radio, and instead of providing comfort, it sends me back in a spiral of grief.

    As a mom, I do turn off the pain a lot.  Sometimes I just have to.  Though it would be easy to give in and let the sadness take over, I have a life to live and a family that needs me to be present.  It's part of where the idea for this blog came to life.  I knew the pain from his loss would never leave but I needed a way to face each day.  Focusing on the positive and finding the joy in every day is what keeps me moving forward. 

    But then there are other times when I feel as if the chair is knocked out from under me.  When the grief comes swelling back and threatens to take hold.  When the pain is so raw it hurts physically.  And often, that pain comes after seeing the grief in someone I love.  If Tim or Noah have had a rough time, for whatever reason, and are especially saddened with missing Austin, it hurts me to the core.  All the feelings I have pushed aside come welling up, battling with the hurt of knowing there's nothing I can do to truly ease their pain.

    It's such a harsh reminder of the masks we all wear in child loss.  And what I'm learning is that it is such a cycle.  Just when you think you've reached the top, that you've climbed out of the grief, something small can suck you back in again. 

    For us, the rest of this school year will be our struggle.  As so many families celebrate the milestone of their child graduating  - and all that goes with it - this season is just a painful reminder of what we're not experiencing because Austin is no longer with us.  So many dreams and plans of what could've been, ended too soon.  And it is hard...for all of us.
     - - - - - - -
    Below, is a portion of The Broken Windshield, I wrote just a few months after losing Austin , that's been three years now.  While I'm grateful to see areas now in which we are better and moving forward, it is still such a good description of what living with a loss is like for a family....

    Our family is like a cracked windshield. The initial impact of where it broke is visible but you can still see through to go forward. However, from that blow, tiny cracks and splinters now appear. They are thin lines, some hardly noticeable. I can feel them breaking and splitting our family ....

    ...It is a nightmare in slow motion. A roller coaster ride that you can't get off of. Most of the time you just try to remain numb and move about your day, robotically, to get through. ....

    You never know what might stop you and cause you to cry, to remember. Even you don't know how your body, mind and soul will react.  It is like you are held hostage. The old you is gone locked away somewhere deep inside. This new person has filled the space and is living your life. But this isn't your life at all. This isn't what you dreamed of, what your plans were. There is no happily ever after in this book.

     - - - - - - - - -
    Chapters of our book were torn out; against our will the story was rewritten.  While our fairy tale is changed, I'm hopeful because I know future chapters contain happiness.  Even on days it seems painfully sad.  Those days, I just need a little more prayers.  I'll forever treasure the past story of our life and the beautiful character that was Austin.  And I look forward because I do know how our story ends.   Our happily ever after will be at The End, written in majestic script up in heavenly skies.

    Monday, March 26, 2012

    Ultimate Sleepover

    This is what happens after a 64 hour, weekend retreat.

    full of teens...
    loud music...
    late nights....

    rowdy boys....

    and giggly girls.

    Sound wild and crazy? 

    Think a parent would be able to sleep soundly,
    after sending their kids away?

    I slept like a baby.

    My mind was at ease because I knew they were in good hands.

    ......Because their weekend was filled with community service,
    like free car washes
    and hugging puppies at the shelter...

    and packed with
    Bible Study....
    prayer groups...
    and worship.

    D-Now impacted teens in a positive,
    uplifting, soul-saving weekend.

    I'm so thankful to our new church home for
    partnering and providing such a wonderful event.
    And I'm blessed that our kiddos were a part of it.

    They haven't stopped talking about the weekend.
    Well, unless of course, they were asleep!

    Friday, March 23, 2012

    Faithful Friday: Season of Singing

    See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone.
    Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come,
    the cooing of doves is heard in our land.
    Song of Songs 2:11-12

    Spring has sprung!  I've been transfixed this week at how quickly the earth is awakening.  It seemed like overnight my pear trees changed from blossoms to bright green leaves.  The scent of wild onions and freshly cut grass envelop our neighborhood.  Everywhere I look, color is bursting forth.    It is truly a "season of singing!"

    Of course, one of my favorites about spring is that the first butterflies of the season are happily fluttering by.  Butterflies have been very special and symbolic to me, since losing our son Austin.  Actually it is a symbol of Austin for many of my family and friends now.
    My little yellow butterfly sends us these tiny messages, to let us know he's near. Those butterflies seem to float around at just the needed moments, whether it is a quick hello or a goose bump moment with perfect timing.  Spring brings us the promise that Austin is in a better place, yet always close by.

    The spring season floods our memories of Austin, complete with days at the ball field and mowing.  It was his favorite time of year and so there are many moments we find ourselves longing to have him a part of the season's activities. 

    Spring can be hard to face in child loss.  The sunshiny days don't always match our grieving hearts.  But I believe in the promise of Spring and that it is a symbol of our life anew in Heaven.  ...Where skies are always blue, birds are always singing, every beautiful display of God's work is filled with new life and color; it is where we are reborn.  And until we're connected there again, my happy little butterfly is but a glimpse of what awaits.

    Wednesday, March 21, 2012

    When I Grow Up

    Think back to your childhood.  Do you remember what you wanted to be when you grew up? 
    For me, I recall that I wanted to be many, many things....a clothing designer (thanks to fashion plates), a teacher (what little girl didn't?), a race car driver (I secretly envy Danica Patrick), and for a brief while, a psychologist (probably due to a love for movies like Sybil and Silence of the Lambs).  And yet a constant throughout, going back all the way to kindergarten, was the dream of being a writer. 

    I remember the first "book" I ever created, pasting pages together complete with artwork and attaching a hard cover made from the inside of a cereal box.  All these years later, I may not have a book on the shelves of Barnes & Noble, but I still hope and plan.  In the meantime, this happy little blog fills my need to write and pushes me to continue the dream.

    Noah's at this exciting stage in his life, where boyish dreams of what he wanted to be mix with his growing and changing self.  Though only twelve, he's already seriously thinking about his future and what he really wants to do in his life.  As any mom would say, as long as he's happy, so am I.

    My wish for him though is that he finds his passion.  Not just a job that pays the bills but something he loves to do every single day.  A career that excites and challenges him.  I know that's many years away, but being the little entrepreneur he is, Noah's already planning.  And I hope that even if he lands the perfect job, he never stops growing - that he always reaches for more, to become better, and to never stop learning. 

    Shouldn't that be what we all strive for?  We should never entirely grow up, at least not in our dreams.  Every day is a new opportunity and the possibilities are endless to reach them.  And it's never too late to learn something new.  At least, that's the attitude I'm keeping.  Who knows where and what I'll be when I grow up..... because I hope I never fully do!

    Monday, March 19, 2012

    Culdesac Camping

    We popped out our camper yesterday trying to prepare for our upcoming journeys this spring.  As I shared in an earlier post, this camper is "new to us" and we have many trips dreamed up to enjoy.  Our first will be an excursion to Kentucky Lake.  It will truly be a first for us to visit one of our favorite vacation spots - without the boat.  I'm hoping the water doesn't call to us too much and we stay busy as happy campers!

    Yesterday we practiced bedding and I quickly remembered how difficult it is to make a bed that you can't get all the way around.  For a momma with an old broken knee, this wasn't an easy task.  Thankfully I have a sweet hubby and son who helped out.  As a team, we got the camper aired out for our mock trial.

    Even though it was a Sunday, we decided we needed a practice night before we were miles away without the comforts of home literally in our backyard.  (We'd hoped to practice throughout the weekend but the weather was uncooperative)  Noah was thrilled and joked how funny it'd be if we overslept to see the bus coming around the curb.

    Supper kept with the camping theme, as we grilled out turkey burgers.  Instead of getting lost in a tv program afterwards, we donned PJs and headed for our second home.  For the next couple of hours, we played cards, giggled, and excitedly discussed ideas for the camping season.  Perhaps the sweetest moments of  our adventure was when Noah read his nightly devotion to all of us.  It was touching to share this and see him growing in his faith.  And I was thankful for the dim lighting in the camper, as admittedly I shed a few tears.

    Goodnight hugs and kisses later, we were tucked into our new beds and ready for the night.  I managed to stay awake long enough to take in the twinkling sky and hear my little guy softly snoring.  And although I did get a few good hours in, the unpadded bed soon had me tossing and turning.  It didn't help that the neighbors dogs were serenading us with howls and a stray cat joined in the chorus.  That mixed with the headlights from the ridiculous amount of night traffic our little cul-de-sac gets, plus the glaring glow from the street light, created a somewhat sleepless night for Tim and me.  Noah, on the other hand, never slept better!

    Some lessons learned.  Egg crates are a necessary addition to our packing list.  Our neighborhood, though it includes the word "meadows" does not a good camping spot make.  And finally, if last night's family time is any indication of our upcoming camping season - I'm already filled with JOY and anticipation!

    Saturday, March 17, 2012

    Play Ball

    Blairs and baseball used to go together like peanut butter and jelly. 

    Most of our year was spent at the ball field.  Spring meant the beginning of training.  Bats whooshing in the air to loosen young muscles.  The soft thud of a ball hitting glove, silent toss returned, a second thud.  Moments that felt like hours practicing the swing - miss...miss...and an occasional PING when ball met bat.  Summers under the hot sun, no shade on metal bleachers, but no better place to spend an afternoon.  The scent of hot dogs and popcorn mingled with dirt and leather.  The adrenaline of a close game, the way a whack of the bat could bring you to your feet cheering.  A short break before the new school year and then starting all over again with the coming of fall.  Only pretzels and cold RCs were replaced with hot chocolate and extra blankets on chilly evenings. 

    But that all changed a few years ago.  After we lost Austin, baseball just wasn't the same.  It was too difficult being on a field, remembering Austin's love of the game.  We waited the next spring, to see how Noah would respond.  Almost to our relief, he let us know he couldn't play.  Baseball and the Blairs would have to take a break.  And even though a part of me knew it would be too hard, I worried we'd never step onto a field again.  I wondered what Austin would think, seeing us unable to do something we'd all loved to share as a family.
    Austin & Noah 2007
    Then last year, the week of Austin's birthday, Tim won a set of tickets to nearby game.  I held my breath, wondering how we'd do.  Being back on the bleachers, surrounded by so many memories of him, certainly flooded our hearts.  Tears softly fell.  Yet we enjoyed the game.  As he always does, Austin gave us so many signs that night he was there. 

    Now, another step forward.  Noah's decided to play again.  Three years later and he's ready to take to the field.  This morning he and his dad went through our supply, Noah wanting to use Austin's bat and bag.  We went shopping for a new helmet and cleats.  He was excited and even though it still tugs at our hearts, and probably always will, we all are. 

    Friday, March 16, 2012

    Faithful Friday: Happy 3:16!

    Happy 3:16 Day!

    I struggled this week on which scripture to share with you on Faithful Friday (but isn't that a wonderful problem to have!?).  There were several on my heart and many timely for this season we're approaching.  In the end, I decided there won't be another 3/16 for a year so God must want me to share this one!

    John 3:16 is probably the best and most known verse of the Bible.  Though I learned it years ago as a child, it took on another meaning for me after losing Austin.  In fact, I wrote about it then on his memorial blog.  And so for this Faithful Friday, I'm taking you back there.  Click the link to  find out  What John 3:16 means to me and for the rest of your FF post. 


    Wednesday, March 14, 2012

    Disco Spelling Test

    On the way to work and school this morning, I popped in a 70s CD from the year of my birth.  The first song immediately took me back a few years to an afternoon at the kitchen table.  Homework help.

    Noah was learning to spell the days of the week and "Saturday" was stumping him.  For whatever reason, he'd always leave a letter out or add an incorrect ABC.  It frustrated him because as much as we'd study, he'd get it wrong every time.  Then I remembered this song. 

    The next afternoon I surprised him with a boombox waiting on the table.  Fresh off the bus and into the house, I hit play.  S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y NIGHT!  S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y NIGHT! I was foot stomping and singing along, and though he was half shocked, half giggling, he soon joined me.  S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y NIGHT!  S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y NIGHT!

    And that's all it took.  Without realizing it, he memorized the word.  Each time we'd go through the list, he'd perk up instead of pout when I'd recite "Saturday" and sing it back to me.  It was the first spelling test he actually couldn't wait to take.  We joked that he might get in trouble during it because he was likely to belt out the song in the middle of testing. 

    He, of course, aced the test and to this day remembers that song connection to the word.  Remembering a bit of his childhood and mine with one peppy tune was a fun way to start the morning.  He left the truck with song in his head and smile on his face and that always makes for a good day -for him and Mom.

    For those of you who have been humming along since reading this post......EnJOY!
    And yes, I realize I'm telling my age with this.

    Tuesday, March 13, 2012

    My Faithful Path

    Today's the day!  It's April 2 and my "first" guest post.  The timing is great, considering I'm deep in the woods this week, camping in all it's glory.  As such, this blog will be on a mini vacation.  I will, of course, return in time for our Faithful Friday, which I'm sure will be packed with inspiration from spending so much time surrounded by God's beautiful landscape.

    For now, please travel over to Sister's in Bloom for my Guest Post.  Show them some joyful love!  And feel free to get your inspiration-fix by browsing their great blog. 
    See you Friday.....have a joy-filled week!

    Saturday, March 10, 2012

    Looking Forward

    I've felt a little like Tigger the past few days, anxiously awaiting tonight's time change.  While I'm never a fan of losing an hour of sleep, I am hugely excited about extra daylight.  In the winter, my body seems to want to sleep with the sun.  It can be only 5:30 at night, but because it's so dark, I'm ready for bed!  More daylight means longer, sunnier afternoons and that makes this girl pretty joyful!

    If you were with me last spring, you'll know hubby surprised me and finally completed a long-time "honey do" request.  New window screens!  One of my favorite things about spring is opening up the windows and letting the outside in.  My radio of choice, listening to sweet melodies from happy little birds who join me in celebrating spring.

    And even though spring doesn't officially arrive for well over a week, the simple act of bumping up the clocks is enough to bring a smile to my face.  That and the bee-U-ti-ful sunshine that we've blessed with the past few days.  In fact, I think I'll keep this post short so that I can bounce off here and enjoy the day!

    Don't forget to move up your clocks and look forward to Spring!

    Friday, March 9, 2012

    Faithful Friday: Worry Not

    Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7

    Last Friday's post could have easily shared this scripture, as it was certainly on my heart.  It's just a little hard to write a post when you're fighting traffic to pick up kids early from school and seek shelter before the storm.  Plus, I'd already written a Suess-themed post, which was timely since it was his birthday.

    As last week kicked off meteorological spring, this scripture is especially timely.  Storms make many nervous.  Tornadoes can bring anxiety.  There is fear in the unknown, things you cannot control.  But worrying about an impending tornado does nothing to change it.  Stressing about the situation doesn't change it's path.  Preparation is certainly important to remain as safe as possible, but being anxious should not be part of the plan.

    I know that is sometimes easier said than done.  As a mom, it's my nature to worry about the safety of my family.  When a storm threatens that, part of me wants to crawl under my bed with them and worry it away.  A larger piece of me knows though the best thing to do in these situations is pray, safety measures aside.

    Although we were blessed with only minor tornado damage, I know others were not so fortunate.  Lives were lost.  Towns destroyed.  Homes, now an empty lot.  While I cannot relate to that type of trauma, I do know loss.  And I know that while answers aren't always there, peace can be found.  In the midst of the pain, the confusion, the heartache, God can provide peace. 

    Just as the scripture says, it passes all understanding.  I cannot explain the how and why, just that it arrives.  It was there in those excruciating first days of losing Austin and has been what has carried me through so many difficult steps since.  And it was there last Friday.  Throughout the chaos and uncertainty, there was peace.  In a constant connected prayer to Him, I felt shielded.  I knew our family was in God's hands, regardless of the tornado's path.

    For whatever worries are on your mind today, know that help is just a prayer away.  My hope is that you'll also find peace, in the midst of life's storms.

    Thursday, March 8, 2012

    Mix Tape

    My BG co-workers and I were jamming to some old school tunes yesterday on the way to lunch.  It's funny how a song from your past can take you right back to your childhood.  With the first few beats, you're transported back to your room, stretched across your bed, jelly shoes swaying to the song.

    This day, we were listening to old school rap.  Loved me some Run DMC.  Hearing her CD of random songs, I was right back in middle school, beat boxing with the best of them.   A skip in the song reminded me of old mix tapes.  Remember how when the tape would wear out, it would unravel into the cassette deck?  And you'd have to wind it back up with a pencil?

    Thinking of that just brought back many memories of being that age and making mix tapes.  Having the boombox ready, pause and record buttons pushed, so that at a second's notice I could tape my favorite song playing on the radio.  With expert practice, you could plan it so there was no back noise or carry over from the DJ.  After selecting just the right collection of songs, the end result was the perfect mix tape.

    If a time capsule were found from my childhood, this could be what they might hear on a mix tape I created....

    Sister Christian
    Every Rose has its Thorn
    Cruel Summer

    Fight for your Right
    Push It
    Call Me
    Karma Chameleon
    Kiss...or anything by Prince
    Living on a Prayer

    So, now that I have you remembering
    favorite songs from your childhood....
    what would you find on a mix tape from your past?

    Sunday, March 4, 2012

    Lunchroom Memories

    Ahhh, school lunches.  The thought evokes many memories, although many aren't fond trips down the lane.  Like the sugar-coated dates in a paper cup we called "rabbit pellets," which really need no further explanation.  Or the time the boy in front of me bit into his burger and found a bullet.  And, who could forget the day we were horsing around and I was bumped off my seat.  A few tearful minutes later, I was mooning Mrs. Taylor to show her my bruised behind. 

    Obviously, with moments like those the treasured memories I have from the lunchroom are few and far between.  There was one day on the lunch menu though that sparked joy each month.  One day I always brought change to buy extras.  One glorious day I watched the minutes tick away on the classroom clock.  That would be Rhode Island Burger day!

    I don't really know why they were called burgers, as there was no meat patty involved.  And after doing a short Google search, I don't even think the recipe came from Rhode Island.  In fact, if it weren't for a Facebook friend tracking down a friendly former lunch lady, the recipe wouldn't be in my possession.  But, it is, and it was dinner tonight.  Salty ham and gooey cheese sandwiched between layers of flaky, buttery crust.

    And although the kids enjoyed it, even went back for seconds, they didn't share the same nostalgic excitement Tim and I did.  Oh well, maybe tomorrow I'll try serving pizza and corn!

    Rhode Island Burger"
    Yeast Bread with Ham and Cheese Filling Baked to a Golden Brown
    (A Favorite in School Cafeteria for Years)

    Yeast Dough Recipe (For Top and Bottom Crust)

    1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
    1/4 cup warm water
    1 pinch white sugar
    Mix these three and set aside..

    1/2 cup white sugar
    2 eggs
    1 cup warm water
    1/2 cup vegetable oil
    1 teaspoon salt
    4 cups all-purpose flour

    Shaved Ham or thinly sliced
    American Cheese..Shredded or thin sliced
    (can add other kinds of Shredded Cheese)
    Melted Butter

    In another Bowl ..Mix Eggs,Sugar, Water ,Oil and Salt
    beat in 2 Cups Flour..Add the Yeast Mixture..then add the rest of the Flour beat until it forms a soft Dough..cover with a warm Damp Cloth
    ..let rise until Doubled..

    Roll out on Floured make thin Crust ..

    Grease a long Baking Dish..Put Bottom Crust in Pan..Layer Ham and Cheese
    (as much as you like to fill Baking Dish)

    Top with another Thin Crust..cut any extra Dough from sides so the Two Crust combine.

    Brush with Butter..Let set until Dough Rises again..
    Bake at 350 for about 30 Mins. or until Brown.
    This may be enough Dough for two small ones or one large one..

    Friday, March 2, 2012

    Faithful Friday: One Foot, Two Foot

    If there was one book I read to my boys over and over until I'd memorized each page, it was Dr. Seuss's "The Foot Book." The words from that story have been in my head all week, as Noah's had Seussical celebrations at school in honor of the Dr's birthday.

    "Left Foot, Right Foot......Red Foot, Blue Foot."

    I'm taken back to all those years ago.  And I see my little guys, hugged up next to me, repeating each phrase.  As I turned the next page, they'd already be reciting the line.  So many sweet memories of story time with Dr. Seuss.  Making them each their first batch of green eggs and ham.  Watching Cat in the Hat.  Them seeing Mom in a Cat in the Hat costume.  Yes, I'm that cool.  So many Christmas moments with "The Grinch."  Dr. Seuss just reminds me of my boys and their childhood. 

    "Feet in the morning....Feet at night."

    It was a nightly routine for us to have a bedtime story when they were little.  With their fresh from the bath scent lingering in the room, we'd tuck them into bed, PJ feet first.  Reading a book like this, which I knew without looking at the page, allowed me to focus on their small faces.  To watch their excitement, to see their imagination jump onto the pages and follow along was my favorite part of story time.  We'd then say our prayers and bookend the night with lots of hugs and kisses. 

    As my babies grew into towering boys, we transitioned from bedtime stories.  Austin began to read avidly on his own and loved for us to read the same book.  We'd have wonderful discussions about the characters, the plot, and our favorite chapters.  He'd pick a favorite book, then I, each of us sharing a piece of our worlds with the other.  At the time, Noah still enjoyed to be read to but in longer, chapter books.

    Thy word is a lamp unto my feet,
    and a light unto my path.
    - Psalm 119:105

    Over time the books changed.  We've moved from chubby picture books, to early readers, to chapter books to novels.  The only book that has remained constant in our family is our Bible.  From the sticky pages of their children's Bible to the dog-eared and worn pages of mine, we've shared scriptures and stories with them.  We've learned from devotionals.  We've prayed with them and for them.

    It's the one book that I'm grateful to have shared with Austin, for I know what Home is his, now that he's passed.  It's the one book that has continued to strengthen and hold our family, through every valley this life has taken us.  It's words have shown us the paths we should take, even on the times we've gotten a little lost.  And it is the One Book I hope our family will continue to read.  Over and over and over again.


    Thursday, March 1, 2012

    Fair Weather Meals

    Do your meals mirror the weather?  Our menu plans often reflect many things - quick meals on busy nights, special dinners for certain occasions, and yes, even meals based on the temperature outside.

    There's not much better on a chilly evening than a hot bowl of comfort.  Whether it be a soul-warming soup or the hug from a casserole, we love nothing more than sitting in front of the fireplace to enjoy dinner as a family.  Just the same, our bellies are also happy when we can dust off the grill, especially in February.  The beautiful temperatures we've had of late have led to many grilled dinners.  I'm already longing for dusting off the deck and opening up Blair's Bistro. 

    Yesterday, we shared our first picnic of 2012!  It was a great way to celebrate Leap Day.  Our Extra Day didn't begin as I'd planned.  Tornado sirens became our alarm clock and instead of waiting at the table for the bus, we were covered in blankets and pillows waiting out the storm.  Rather than a surprise family breakfast, we had day-old donuts huddled in the hall.  Our morning was stressful, a bit scary and certainly full of prayers.

    I spent the rest of the morning trying to catch up and many of the "extras" I'd hoped to do didn't get done.  Feeling a little defeated on the ride home, but enjoying the sunshine through my windshield, an idea hit me for the family.  Wednesday night dinners are normally short and sweet, as we have church.  Still, I wanted some type of Extra Day celebration to share with them.  Picnic, anyone?

    A quick swing into our favorite bakery for speciality cupcakes and a call to hubby set the plan in action.  Rounding the kids up early and into the car, they both questioned, "What's for dinner?" but I wouldn't say.  Noah eventually noticed my coupon for KFC and Tina mentioned it was a little different, since we never eat inside their restaurant.  With a grin, I pulled into the drive-thru. 

    Turning left instead of right back onto the highway, they were thoroughly confused, as I guess they figured we would just return home to eat.  Arriving at the fairgrounds, they quickly realized we were having a picnic!  Racing to the top of the hill, we celebrated our Extra Day over chicken legs.  It was windier than I'd prefer but we soaked up what was left of the sunshine - and the day - grateful for the extra time together.
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