Favorite things drawing result

This was so much fun!  I think we should make this an annual thing, don't you?  I can choose a couple of new favorite things each year, and always the chocolate.  

Anyway.   Now to this year's drawing.  I can't wait to tell you who gets the gift!

41 names...  

And the name we drew?


Yay, Koe!  I'm so happy it's you!  

For the rest of you... a little about Koe:  Koe had four children (all boys?)  Their ages?  2, 4, and two 5 year-olds.  Of those four children, Koe and her husband were in the process of adopting three of them through the foster care system.  

And *then* they found out these three children had four other siblings, also in need of adoption.  And so Koe and her husband are now in the process of adopting four more children, for a grand total of eight children!!!  

Last I heard they were trying to close on a new [bigger] home to house their expanding family! Isn't that wonderful?

Koe, would you be willing to leave a comment and share an update with everyone? (Or correct me if I got the details wrong!)  I know these readers would love to hear your story!  

And in the meantime, I will find some Lindt chocolate for you (but no hazelnut!)  Please email me your address and I'll arrange to send it.  (But I know you're close and I'd love to meet you, so if you'd rather, I can deliver it in person!)

Have a wonderful weekend, all.  And thanks for participating!


Thursday night.  We are due at small group by 6:00.  Mark is leading the study.  

5:00... I am frantically trying to get dinner in the oven.  Watching the clock impatiently...Where is Mark?  

5:10... I place dinner in the oven.  It is barely in before I have to pull some out to put on the kids' plates. 

5:20... They eat while I rush around and pack up the bag, grab Bibles, notebooks, set clothes out for Mark.

5:30... Mark is still not home.  We have to leave in 15 minutes and he's not here yet.  I refill drinks, get Ella more enchiladas, get myself ready.

5:35... Mark calls.  He's on his way home.  He'll walk so we won't have to pick him up.  I get the kids cleaned up.

5:45... We're supposed to be leaving right now and Mark is still not home. 

5:50... I hear the door, run for the shower, turn it on for him.  Remind him that we need to leave.  NOW.  I help with shoes and jackets, and get a plate ready for Mark.  Out the door we go.  It's 6:04 when we get into the van.  I drive, Mark eats, the kids point out all the Christmas lights. 

6:17... We arrive at small group.  The passage is James 4.  What causes fights and quarrels among you?  Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?  You want something but don't get it.... 

In preparation for our study I'd read something by C.J. Mahaney.  He wrote: "Whenever there's conflict, there's a sinful craving that hasn't been satisfied yet."  He suggested that when you enter your next conflict, stop and ask yourself, "What do I want that I am not getting right now?"  The answer to that question will reveal what is fueling your quarrels.  We talked about that tonight at small group.  Getting to the heart of the issue; the sinful craving, and then dealing with that.

8:20... Heading home.  It is already past the kids' bedtime, *and* my parents want to come over when we get home so that they can give Ella her birthday gift, early.  I just want the kids to get some sleep.  I am already grumbly in my spirit when Ella pipes up from the back seat, where she has just finished her small-group snack: a cracker and half of a muffin,  "Mommy, I'm hungryyyy.  I want more to eat."  So Isaac chimes in: "And I'm hungry too!"  Isaias would have whined about that, too, probably, except that he was already whining about the fact that I'd taken his snack away from him for his disobedience on the way out to the van.

And me?  Well, I responded with something along the lines of [insert snapping, crabby tone here]:  "You know what?  I happen to be hungry too.  I've not eaten since lunch.  You each had a plate of enchiladas and the snack you just finished off.  I have not eaten anything.  So please stop whining about it.  If you'd like something to eat when we get home, we can figure it out then."  You know, something kind of... quarrelly.  And grumpy.  And I stew about it the whole way home.  Me and my martyr self.

We walk in the door, Mark and Isaias head to deal with the discipline issue, I dial mom's number and pass the phone to Ella so that she can tell them we're home.  And then I pull stuff off the couch so that there's actually seating when they arrive.  Grumbly me. 

And then I head into the other room to unload our stuff, and hear Ella dragging the chair across the kitchen floor and clattering around.  A few minutes later she walks towards me.  She's holding a plate with a heated enchilada.  She'd popped it into the microwave herself.  In her other hand she had a glass of iced tea.  And she had a smile on her face.  I knelt down beside her to receive her offering.  And I cried.   I was reminded then of that other verse we'd read tonight.  The sixth verse of James 4:  "But he gives us more grace."  More grace.  Unmerited favor.  Such grace, this.  God's love for me in this outstretched offering.  Before I'd even acknowledged my sin before him.  

Mahaney's question was,  What do you want that you aren't getting right now?  What I had wanted was some peace.  Mark home by 4:30, dinner in the oven on time, and a nice, unhurried meal together as a family.  And then I wanted recognition for the sacrifices I'd made for everyone.  You know, all the running around I'd done-- neglecting even a meal for myself-- to get everyone ready and out the door on time.  Oh, and I would have liked an apology from Mark, too.  Though I know he worked hard today and couldn't help the time he arrived home.  I wanted an apology anyway.  And I wanted to be able to arrive at small group early, maybe, for once.  I.  Wanted.  

And yet, with my sinful, icky self fully evident to all, most notably God, He gives grace.  It came tonight in the form of a plate of reheated enchiladas and a glass of iced tea.  

Odds and ends

1.  All of a sudden I really want to learn how to embroider.  Simply for the purpose of whipping up something like this.  Or this.  But maybe I should finish the four projects I have on knitting needles first.   Not to mention the bag I have the pattern and material for but haven't begun sewing yet.

2.  Twice, now, (here and here) I've heard about this movie.  Of course it's not playing anywhere near me.  But do follow that link and click on the "Eduardo's Story" part.  And if it's playing anywhere near *you*, go see it, would you?   

3.  This right here is Isaac's favorite thing to do.  Amy-and-family bought him the Africa puzzle for his birthday and he does it everyday, at least twice a day.  We are so getting the rest of these.  My mom bought him another one for Christmas.  I plan on getting all of them, eventually.

4.  Ella has recently begun to knit.  Really, she knits.  She is five years old and she knits.  How cute is that?!?!  She is knitting a light blue scarf for Isaias, and it's about 5 inches long so far.  But she'll just plop down on the couch and knit a row or two.  It is the cutest thing ever.  Or she'll say, "Mommy, will you knit with me?  Let's knit together."  And so we will.  And so I say for the zillionth time: I absolutely love having a daughter.  Add to that the fact that when this girl unloads the dishwasher, she ORGANIZES my drawers.  Seriously.  Those teaspoons and tablespoons are never stacked neatly unless it's Ella's chore.  Love her.

5.  We got our Christmas tree this weekend.  (!!!!!!)  It was a much calmer experience than last year's adventure.  [No tree in the shower.]  The house is all decorated.  I love turning off all the lights except the ones on the Christmas tree and snuggling up on the couch.  Pure delight.  [Especially if there's a bowl of something snacky on my lap,too.]  

6.  We recently joined Netflix.  If that's even what you do, "join".  [I'm not sure of the proper term.  Join?  Like join a gym?  Um...?]  We're trying it out right now, with the cheapest $4.99/month plan, but with our first month free. Here's what sold me on the idea: Doing this would mean that I'd never have to set foot in a video store again.  And that makes me very happy. I have come to DREAD the video store.  Really.  All those icky movie boxes creep me out.

7.  Isaac says things like, "Let's snuggle with beach other."  Instead of each other.  Beach other.  I will never ever correct this.  And because I haven't, Ella has begun saying it, too.  And that's perfectly fine with me.  

8.  I don't know if I've divulged this fact here on the blog yet, but now I will: I am the world's biggest klutz.  I could tell some pretty funny stories about the ways I impressed Mark before we began dating.  And every single one of them would involve me tripping.  Not just stumbling and tripping, mind you.  As in, falling-down-flat-on-my-face tripping.  [Mark would like to add, as he reads over my shoulder: "Or falling over backwards.  Across the coffee table."]  Yes, thankyouverymuch, honey.  [Amy, are you laughing right now?  I know you have those images firmly implanted in your mind.]  I still do this.  Daily.  Not always the tripping, but if it's not tripping it's dropping, falling, or crashing into something.
9.  I am SO making these this week with the kids.  (Aren't they cute?)

One more thing:  If you haven't entered the drawing yet, leave a comment here.  I'll be writing down each of your names and will have one of the kids draw one of them on Friday morning.  

Have a wonderful day! 

He hears and He answers

There is a framed letter that hangs on the wall in our kids' room.  Mark wrote it one summer, years ago.  It was written during a period of time when we were trying to conceive.  Those years were filled with month after long month of disappointment, intermingled with hope and prayers.  And then grief and tears and such heartache. 

It was during that season that Mark wrote this letter.  It's a long letter-- two pages worth-- so I won't type the whole of it here, but here are a few excerpts: 

I miss you, our child.  We have both hoped and dreamed for you for so long.

I want to hold you in my arms.  To touch your little hands and have you wrap them around my fingers.  To tickle your toes.  To kiss your forehead.  I hope I am never stingy with affection towards you.  I want to always kiss you, hug you, tousle your hair and wrassle with you. 

Our dear, beloved child, do you know that you are loved even before you exist?  We love you because we have always wanted you and because we want to have the privilege of watching you grow up.  If we have this place in our hearts for you already, I can only imagine how much more  we will love you as you develop and grow.  

I will be so proud to be your daddy.  I will always protect you; you can rest assured of that .  I will try to teach you everything that I have learned in this life.  With my words and with a little discipline, I will try to help you avoid the sins of your father, and I will forgive you and comfort you when you struggle and stumble. I will always love you.  

I long to watch you grow up.  Who will you be?  What will you look like?  Will you be dark and beautiful like your mommy?  Will your eyes be brown like hers or blue like mine?  What will be your favorite game?  Will you like sweets like daddy or salty snacks like mommy ? What will your little voice sound like and what will it sound like when you're mad or upset?  Will you be reserved or outgoing?  Will you join in when daddy dances silly?  Will you enjoy helping mommy with whatever household tasks she has each day?  How old will you be when you start praying before our family meals?  Will you like to curl up on my lap for a Bible story after a bath and getting into pajamas?...

I would ask who you will be when you grow up: what job you will have, who you will marry, what the world will be like then, but I don't want to think about that right now, because that means that you will leave us, emptying this house that is too empty right now.  


Next week our Ella will turn six years old.   Six.  This morning I remembered this letter Mark wrote so many summers ago, and I sit here marveling at God's incredible graciousness to us.  

He hears and He answers.  Don't ever doubt it.  

I know there are some of you who are also struggling with infertility.  Or maybe there is a prayer you have offered up to Him over and over and over and over again, and He seems silent.  He hears and He answers.

I know this to be true, although even I need to be reminded of it.  All those questions Mark asked in that letter, those who will you be questions?  We know the answers.  God has given us six years with this precious girl.  Not to mention four years with our Isaac and nearly two with our Isaias.  I am positively overwhelmed with gratitude.  He heard and He answered.  He is so good.  

The Lord is faithful to all His promises
and loving toward all he has made. 
The Lord upholds all those who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down. 
The eyes of all look to you, 
and you give them their food at the proper time.
You open your hand
and satisfy the desires of every living thing. 

The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and loving toward all he has made. 
The Lord is near to all who call upon him, 
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; 
he hears their cry and saves them. 
The Lord watches over all who love him.
Psalm 145:13-20

Thanksgiving journal 2007

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise; 
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Psalm 100: 4-5

To read more about our Thanksgiving tradition, from last year:
Our Thanksgiving journal

A few of my favorite things

Because it is Thanksgiving week...
And because I am thankful for *you*, dear readers...

..A drawing!

First ever! And I'm very excited.

I decided awhile ago that I would like to have a drawing on my blog. The question was: What should I give? The best "theme" I could come up with was to give a few of my favorite things. 

I liked the idea of sending something handmade or homemade, but most of what I make in the realm of "homemade" is food. And while I love food and would love to share food, it would be difficult to mail.  

Since I love to cook, I thought about sending you my favorite cook book. But I don't actually have a favorite. I pick and choose my recipes from all sorts of sources, not from one particular book. So that was out.  

I love to read, and considered sending you one of my favorite books, but then... what if you've already read it? Or what if you don't like the type of books that I do? That wouldn't be much fun.  

I thought of yarn, candles, or bubble bath, but decided against those.  

I briefly considered a gift card from Amazon, but that is so impersonal I immediately crossed that off the list. 

I finally settled on these two things:

The item on the left is one of the Seeds Family Worship CDs. I discovered these CDs several months ago, and we LOVE them around our house. Each song is upbeat, catchy, and straight from Scripture. I find myself reaching for these Seeds CDs often. Because I like 'em just as much as my children do. We own a lot of Scripture memory CDs, but this series is hands-down my favorite. So, for you (and your kids, if you have them)... one of these.

The second item is one of Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day products. I was introduced to Mrs. Meyer's a few months ago when I entered a contest over at Jewel's Eyes of Wonder blog. And I won! I received a package containing some of these products. And can I just say... I LOVE THEM. They just smell *good*. I have the Liquid Dish Soap by my sink and I find I always use it to wash my hands because I just love the scent so much. So for you... some lavender hand soap from Mrs. Meyers.

But I can't send a gift without some sort of food. And I think we've all already established that we like chocolate. So the third item YOU get to choose. Tell me your favorite kind of chocolate, and I'll include that in with the gift. When you enter this drawing, by leaving a comment with your name, make sure to list your favorite chocolate treat. (Tell me what kind you like and I'll do my best! Having said that, please make it semi-easy on me and don't tell me about some chocolate you want that I have to order from Belgium or something, okay?)

I'll draw a name next Friday, November 30th, and announce the winner then. If you win, you'll get the Seeds Family Worship CD, the Mrs. Meyer's hand soap, and the chocolate of your choice.

And a Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Children's Book Monday

Of the teetering stack of library books we've collected over the past few weeks, this one is my favorite:

The Little Ships
by Louise Borden

The story is set in the year of 1940, during the second World War. Half a million British and French soldiers were trapped by the Nazi troops on three sides. Their only way out was the sea. But because of shallow waters, the larger Navy and Marine vessels could not get in close enough to evacuate the soldiers.

On May 14th of 1940, the BBC made the following announcement: "The Admiralty have made an Order requesting all owners of self-propelled pleasure craft between 30' and l00' in length to send all particulars to the Admiralty within 14 days from today if they have not already been offered or requisitioned".

Borden's The Little Ships follows the story of one such smaller ship, the Lucy, a fishing vessel from Deal. The Lucy belongs to a fisherman, and Borden's story is narrated by the daughter of this fisherman. She tells us:

My brother, John, was a British soldier,
fighting in France.
Maybe he was in this trouble too.
Maybe he was trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk
and was waiting for a navy ship,
or a fishing boat like the
to bring him home.

Our young narrator tucks her hair under a cap, puts on a pair of her brother's old trousers, and sails with her father on the Lucy, eager to do her part to rescue some of the soldiers waiting in Dunkirk.

I love this book. It is one of those living books that draws you into this period in time and makes it come alive. The story itself is remarkable. Borden's note at the end of the book indicates that 861 "little ships" gathered off the beaches of Dunkirk to ferry the soldiers from the beach to the larger ships of the British Royal Navy. We pulled the globe onto our laps and found Dunkirk, and followed the route of these little ships with our fingers.

The illustrations are well done, full of boats and waves and big Navy vessels. I admit, I was a bit wary of my little ones' eyes seeing blood and dead bodies on the shore of Dunkirk. But my fears were stilled as I turned the pages. While it is clear there are wounded soldiers, the scenes are appropriate for little eyes. Your boys will love the rescue effort-- enemy planes are attacking as the rescue goes on-- but even your girls will love the story of this young girl and her father, searching amongst the faces of the soldiers for the face of the one they love so dearly.

Oh, and the result of the efforts of these little ships? Over 338,000 British and French troops were evacuated.

Track this one down at your library, and enjoy!

For more book recommendations, head on over to Elise's blog at A Path Made Straight. [Thank *you*, sweet Elise, for hosting Children's Book Mondays.] Note to readers: Elise has *great* taste in books, and she has introduced us to many of our favorites over the past several months. Happy reading!

Note: Some of the information for this book review came from this site, The Association of Dunkirk Little Ships.

Seafood Chowder

It's been a very long time since I posted a recipe.

Here's one of our favorites. I make this only occasionally because it's a bit more expensive than our usual fare, so it's a treat when we do have it. We had this tonight with some warm sourdough bread and it was *perfect*.

Seafood Chowder

1/4 cup butter
1/2 chopped onion
1 tsp garlic
1/4 lb shrimp
1/4 lb scallops
1 small piece of white fish

Saute above until cooked.

1/4 cup white wine
Simmer 1 minute.

1 T flour
Stir until thickened, 1-2 minutes

1 (8oz) carton heavy cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan

Stir in 2 cans of canned clam chowder and 1 soup can of milk.

Simmer uncovered until ready to eat!

This is quick, easy, and delicious. The only notes I'd give you are these: Basically, anytime a recipe lists garlic as an ingredient I multiply it. We love garlic, so I used four cloves tonight. Mmm! For the fish, I buy cod. Also, If you can afford more seafood, that will just make it all the better! Just double the amounts listed.


Snacks, anyone?

Yesterday morning. Isaac, getting dressed, halfway through putting his shirt on. I walked into the room, noticing that he's just put something tiny into his mouth.

Me: "What's that?"

Isaac: "Some things are in my eye that I can eat."

I'm still laughing about it. It was just so matter-of-fact. As if he said, "God put things in the corner of my eye just so that I could have an occasional snack!"

We implemented a fabulous idea tonight

Five minutes after we'd put the kids to bed, we crept downstairs, barged into their room, and announced, for the very first time: "Get up! It's time for a Pajama Ride!!!"

One of the best ideas ever! Thank you, Renee-- for sharing your family tradition so that we can do it in our family, too!


Yesterday we headed to the store to go shopping for our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. I love doing this with my kids. They find so much joy choosing gifts for a child exactly their ages. It makes it easy to shop, too-- they just choose what they like. $42 later, and with bags full of toothbrushes, toothpaste, washcloths, soap, notebooks, markers, pencils, activity books, barrettes, socks, toys, candy and much more, we headed home to pack up the boxes. Amy and her kids met us at the store so we were able to shop and pack up the boxes with them.

This morning the kids each made a card for their gift box, carefully spelling out "Jesus Loves You!" and coloring beautiful pictures and signing their names.

Then we prayed for the children who would receive our shoeboxes. We prayed a few things:
>That when these children received these gifts, they would also hear the gospel.
>That they would know how much God loves them and that they would choose to love Him all the days of their lives.
>That they would particularly like the gifts we chose for them. That God would deliver these three boxes to *just* the right child who would be delighted by the gifts within.

We love doing this. My kids talk about it for weeks before and after. For some reason my children are convinced their boxes are going to children in Africa, so they talk incessantly about Africa and what the child will think when they open their box. And Isaac is always a bit confused that we won't actually get to watch the child open the gift we give, so that takes a bit of explaining. But they love it. What a wonderful opportunity for our kids to think of others in the world and give a gift-- lovingly chosen, carefully packed, and earnestly prayed over.

Just so you know...

If you have a Mac and desire to upgrade to their new Leopard, you really should go ahead and back up all your files. Otherwise you might lose everything. I repeat: everything.

Ask me how I know.

I was in tears only twice today, but oh, friends: ALL MY PHOTOS. Well, all the ones I've taken in the past 3 months. But that's a LOT. That's the worst. Yes, I'm bummed about all my Word files that are also completely gone. And all the various things I've bookmarked. But the photos? Those are what I cried over.

Add to that the fact that we discovered ants in our kitchen this morning. Our home is old, so this is not our first ant sighting, but this was the first time they were so... shall we say... *prevalent* in the kitchen. [Mark tells me he found some on the kitchen counter this morning.] Being the wise man that he is, he removed those prior to me seeing them there. That might have put me completely over the edge.

And that was all before the computer issue. And the hour and a half I was on the phone with the Apple guy. Or the hour I spent at the store nearby finding out that Yes, I'm afraid everything you had on here is now completely gone.


What I was thankful for today:

-Mark had the day off. He took care of those ants. I said maybe ten times today: "I am so glad you're home and taking care of this!" In "taking care" of them, he cleaned my entire kitchen, including pulling out the oven and fridge and cleaning beneath them. (Isn't he the greatest?!)

-I lost photos of my children, but their dear sweet selves are right here before me. (Thank you, Jesus.)

-My computer is fairly new, so I only have 3 months worth of stuff on here. (Still. But I'm thankful nonetheless.)

-We've had VERY stormy weather lately, and two trees fell in our neighborhood. Neither fell on our home or property.

-I called Michelle today on the phone, and she let me bawl about my computer woes. (Thank you!)

And I'm sure there's much, much more, too, but it's time for dinner!

The bug drama

Once upon a time, in elementary or middle school, my class went to a local Chinese restaurant for lunch. The one-and-only thing I remember about that experience is this: at one point during my meal, I glanced down and witnessed a little green inch-worm crawling along one of the tines on my fork. [Tines? Well, the part of the fork you put into your mouth.] I'm sure I mentioned it to at least the person beside me, and then simply slid my plate away and sat out the rest of the meal.

Tonight we were all out running errands when we realized it was past dinnertime and we should probably stop and get something to eat. And then we have this discussion about how it should be something quick, but not fast-food. [For the most part I detest fast food. Just slightly more than I detest Chinese food, after tonight. But we haven't gotten there yet.] We settled on stopping at a nearby grocery store where they have one of those Chinese food places within the store. Quick, ready-to-eat, but not fast food.

We ordered, paid for our meal, and settled down at a nearby table to eat. Mark and I had ordered enough to share with the kids. About halfway through our meal, Isaac was putting a bite of rice up to his mouth and Mark suddenly yelled, "Isaac! Stop!" For Mark to yell anything at all it's a big deal, so we all halted to find out what was going on. Mark said, "I'm pretty sure there's a bug on that rice." Mark took Isaac's fork to take a closer look. He wasn't sure-- it was still embedded in between some sticky white rice [rice that had come from Mark's bowl] so it was hard to tell. Mark sort of shrugged and said, "I can't really tell..." so I took over the dissection. I used the fork to poke off the white rice, which left the black object in the middle of the white napkin. I rolled it over once, only to discover the wing of said bug, and we all concurred, "Yes, this is indeed a bug." A black, beetle-y looking bug with wings. About the size of a fruit fly. Ew. [I shudder]

So we looked at each other, Mark and I, as if to say,"Now what? I asked Mark, "Will you be eating the rest of that?" to which he replied, "Uh, nah.. I've sort of lost my appetite." Say no more. I scooped up the napkin and headed back to the little Chinese eatery. I waited for a moment where there were no more customers, and then I leaned forward and quietly said to the girl behind the counter, "We were about halfway through our meal when we found this bug [at this point I opened the napkin to display the bug] in our food." And then I just waited for a few seconds, expecting her to say this:

"Oh, I am *so* sorry you found that in your food."

followed by maybe this:

"What was it that you ordered? Let me get you a new one."

But instead, I got nothing but a blank stare, a slight shake of the head, and other than that: no communication whatsoever.

So I tried again, a little less bold this time: "I thought you'd like to know...."

And then she leaned forward just the slightest bit to view the bug I still held before me. She then said, "Yeah, well. It could have flown into the food either back here or over there [indicating our table], so...." (she trailed off and then just looked at me again.)

Okay, I wasn't going to argue the point with her, but PROBABLY NOT, since, you know, the bug was embedded into the rice and looked *very* dead, as opposed to the still alive but flopping around because it had just flown into your food variety.

So then I thought to myself, "Wow, maybe I'm being really petty about this. And this isn't an actual restaurant, so maybe they don't really do that kind of thing here...?" So I offered a weak, "Well, maybe you should at least check your pot of rice..." [you know, in case there was a infestation of sorts going on in the pot of rice? I know, it was a totally dumb thing to say but I was a bit befuddled at this point at her complete lack of care about this issue and was very obviously floundering.]

She just shrugged.

So I left, tossing the folded napkin in the garbage can as I walked back to our table. When I got there I muttered, "Well, that went over real well. She sure wasn't overly concerned about it." And I really planned to let it go at that point. But then I sat there looking at Mark's half-eaten entree and our kids who had been eating off of it, and I asked, "Do you think I should go talk to a manager?" Mark wasn't volunteering for that task, but he was fine if I did, so I got up, walked back over to the garbage can where I saw my folded napkin lying on top (I know, that is so gross but I did want proof that there was an actual bug), and walked over to an employee and asked where I could locate the manager.

He kindly pointed me in the right direction, and I set out to find him.

When I found the manager- Mark was his name- I introduced myself and explained the circumstance, again showing the bug [which as I now type this I think is awfully funny. There I am, traisping all over the store with this little hard black bug in a napkin, offering it up for proof. Oh boy.] Anyway. I said something to the effect of, "I really don't know what you do about this kind of thing. I know that if I were at a restaurant they would probably give me another plate, but maybe you don't do that here. I'm not sure. But I don't think my husband will be eating his remaining portion and we did pay for it... and...? Could we just maybe have another entree? Or half of one? Without the bug?" I did tell him that I'd already been to the eatery and they weren't much help. Mark-the-manager examined the bug, said, "I'm sorry you've had this experience. (There! Someone who cares! Or at least knows enough to pretend to care.) And I will talk with that girl. Here's what I'll do: I will go with you to get another entree, but first we're going to stop by this register right over here and refund you that meal." Except for when he got to the register and explained to the lady behind it what she should do, he decided, "Actually, you know what? Let's just go ahead and refund the whole order." At this point I interrupted and said, "That is very nice of you, but I am more than happy to pay for our meal. I just really would like that one entree replaced. I don't need you to refund the entire ticket. Really. That is above and beyond the call of duty." He insisted, and I thanked him profusely, [and thought he should be awarded Manager-of-the-Year] and then he walked me to the eatery. I had to take a detour over to my Mark to find out what he'd ordered, and then sent him to take meet up with the waiting manager and take over from there. I wasn't thrilled about the upcoming awkward encounter with I-Could-Care-Less Girl. So my Mark met Mark-the-manager in front of the Chinese place where the manager was speaking quietly to the girl.

Mark-the-manager told my Mark to order anything he wanted, but my Mark, having already eaten half a meal, only ordered one of the two things he'd previously ordered, whereupon the manager instructed the girl, "Make that a double portion, then." (I know, don't we just love Manager-Mark?) When I asked Mark later what the girl was doing, he said, "Rolling her eyes." Me: "What? Are you serious? Right in front of the manager?" And he said, "Well, practically. She might as well have been. She was visibly perturbed."

Mark thanked the manager, brought his meal to the table and resumed eating while I filled him in on my conversation with the manager and what he'd done (in refunding us the $22). And I kept peering over at the Chinese place to see if the girl might be glaring at our table. I didn't see her. So then I had to analyze the whole ordeal. Out loud. I just couldn't get over the fact that she was so perturbed that there was a bug in our food. I mean, what did she think? That we'd brought the bug from home and placed it into their napkin so that we could try to get ourselves a free meal? I kept asking Mark, "It's not unreasonable for me to expect our food to be bug-free, is it? I mean, we paid for the dinner. I like to think I'm paying for food-without-bugs. I don't think I was being unreasonable. So then why was that girl so upset? It really did bother me that she was so upset. And I didn't want to get her in trouble, either. I did ask Mark before we left. "Do you think I should go try to talk with her? Make sure things are okay between us?" He didn't quite think that was necessary, so we finished up and left.

And that's the end of the bug drama. But no more Chinese food for me. [Thank goodness it wasn't Thai food.]

Mark is making fun of me because this is the longest post ever. "You're still writing that same post?" And truthfully, I'm sure none of you care about the bug that was in Mark's food tonight or the ordeal that followed. And I don't even have a spiritual application for you. My mind just doesn't usually find a parallel like that.

I'm going to go watch a video with Mark now. But I do want to know one thing: What would *you* do if you found a bug in your food? (Great. Mark just said, "What would Jesus do if He found a bug in His food?) So you may answer either question. Or neither. Because you probably haven't lasted this long in the post anyway.


Pictures at the park

Every year during the month of October, we head to our favorite park. We make big piles of leaves and play! This year we even smartened up and brought a rake. And we sort of go hog-wild with the camera. Here's a peek.

Last year we got such a good shot of the kids together and individually that we got prints and gave them out to family members. This year?... Not so sure about that plan. *grin* But we had a blast and got lots of fun pictures anyway.

Simmering on my stove today...

1 satsuma orange, halved
1 cinnamon stick
6 whole cloves, poked into the orange halves
a splash of vanilla

The whole house is fragrant with the smell.


Freshly baked

Years ago a store in town carried a candle with a scent called Freshly Baked.

I loved it.

Mark thought it was ridiculous. "Freshly baked? Freshly baked WHAT? You can't just call a candle 'Freshly baked'. I mean, is it a freshly baked pie, freshly baked bread, or.. what, exactly?"

It mattered not to me. I bought the candle and let him poke fun each time I lit it.

Freshly baked anything smells delightful to me.

This evening our house smells like bread. Two loaves, freshly baked.

I love baking bread. I keep telling Mark, "I may start baking all our bread." [He thinks that's a great idea!]

This week I'm practicing. Ella and I are going to bake two loaves again tomorrow, using another recipe. (The one you recommended, Annie!) I haven't decided yet if baking our own bread is a good idea. My *only* hesitation is that having freshly baked bread in the house means I'll eat it. Lots of it. I like homemade bread even more than I like ice cream. And that's saying a lot.

Update on Shelley

Thank you, dear readers, for praying for Mark's sister Shelley...

She had her surgery Friday afternoon, and they removed a lump the size of a fifty-cent piece, as well as five lymph nodes. Mark spoke with her last night, and while she is *very* sore and heavily medicated right now, she is recovering and hopeful that the cancer is now GONE. Her spirits are good, and they are being well taken-care of. Meals are planned out for the next several weeks, a cleaning schedule has been made: one focus area each day of the week, one volunteer to clean that area.

She will begin radiation in another month, I think.

Thanks again for your prayers!