Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thursday Thank You: Chocolate Chip Cookies

"If there's no chocolate in heaven, I'm not going."

Another Thursday, another day to give thanks.

Today I baked some chocolate chip cookies...and as I was popping one in my mouth - fresh from the oven - the one thought that went through my head was, "Mmmmmm.....heaven."

I love chocolate chip cookies. I think if you ranked desserts, it would be #1 on my list. Seriously. What could be possibly better than a hot, gooey chocolate chip cookie right out of a warm oven...with a tall glass of ice-cold milk??!

So, I did a little research on chocolate chips...I figure if I'm being thankful for it, I should learn a little about it, right? So, chocolate chip cookies were invented in 1933 when Ruth Wakefield added cut-up chunks of a semi-sweet Nestlé chocolate bar to a cookie recipe. She worked at the Toll House Inn near Whitman, Massachusetts at the time. So, the cookies were a huge success (duh!) and Wakefield reached an agreement with Nestlé to add her recipe to the chocolate bar's packaging in exchange for a lifetime supply of chocolate. Sweet! Now, that's a deal!

I could eat chocolate chip cookies every single day. For the rest of my life. And never get tired of them. Never.

Now, having said that, I think I'll go and um...just...sample another one. You know, I have to make sure they taste all right before I give them to the kiddies, right?


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

10 on Tuesday: Favorite Drinks

Another 10 on, 10 favorite drinks:

1. Chocolate milk

2. Chocolate martinis

3. Diet Dr. Pepper

4. Diet Coke

5. Champagne

6. Grape juice

7. Cranberry juice

8. Mike's Hard Lemonade

9. Root Beer

10. Any kind of any time. :-)


I'm Not Coming Into Work

A woman calls her boss one morning and tells him that she is staying home because she's not feeling well.

"What's the matter?" he asks.

"I have a case of anal glaucoma," she says in a weak voice.

"What the hell is anal glaucoma?"

"I can't see my ass coming into work today."

Monday, April 27, 2009

Grace in Small Things 6:365

1. Rainy days and Mondays....

2. NASCAR on Sundays...

3. Thankfulness that there weren't any casualties in Saturday night's tornadoes in Kansas.

4. Making a batch of warm, chocolate brownies (which I try to do EVERY Monday - because, you know, Mondays are "Brownie" nights at my house!)

5. Thunderstorms that shake you out of bed in the middle of the night - aren't they exciting?!


Monday Mission: Matthew 28 Project

Another Monday - another time to focus on a mission...

"Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you...." (Matthew 28:19-20)

The Matthew 28 Project is a unique, one-of-a-kind mission that was started at my church a few years ago, based on a vision that our pastor had. After a trip to New Orleans shortly after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he came back with a plan to set up a new project where the church provides funding for the deployment of volunteers in unique mission opportunities. Initially, we have been deploying individuals or couples into the mission field for up to 30 days at a time in the Gulf Coast area, but hope to expand this project into Guatemala, Greensburg, or wherever else the need is.

In New Orleans, our volunteers leave the comfort of their own homes and live up to 30 days near a Methodist recovery station, helping coordinate work projects for mission teams from all over the United States. The work involves keeping in touch with folks in New Orleans, rounding up tools and supplies for the incoming volunteer teams, and acting as a resource to assist in the recovery of the area from the devastation from Katrina.

Since 2007, our church has sent at least one volunteer a month to New Orleans. You don't have to be a member of our church to be our Matthew 28 volunteer - we've had people from as far away as Reno, Nevada go! I had the joy and privilege of being the Matthew 28 volunteer in June 2008 - and it was quite the experience - I certainly learned about tools...and I learned (to my chagrin) that when a volunteer calls for an 8" knife, it's not a hunting knife he wants - it's a mudding knife....I'll never live that one down. Live and learn, I always say.

Our group in 2008

Matthew 28 is a great experience - it's one of those "double blessings" in life - you're blessing others, but in turn, you're being blessed in ways you won't even know.

If you'd ever like more information about this - or any mission - let me know. Whatever mission you choose to do - just do day at a time, one action at a time.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Grace in Small Things 5:365

1. Fridays

2. Lunches with old girlfriends and lunches with new girlfriends

3. New handbags

4. The promise of spring and summer

5. Housekeepers who come on Fridays to clean your house so you can spend more time with friends and family


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thursday Thank You: American Red Cross

Hey, God? It's me, Sherri.

As you know, I recently took on a new role - that of co-chairman of Disaster Services with the American Red Cross. It's a volunteer position - and quite an honor for me. I took this on in February, and it's been a good learning experience for me, and also an opportunity to test my skills and expand my horizons a little.

I want to thank you for the American Red Cross. Thanks for inspiring Clara Barton to start this wonderful organization back in 1881. Thanks for "nudging" me to become a volunteer back in 2005. Being a volunteer now for the last 3 1/2 years has truly been life changing. Reading about disasters - and seeing images on television - does not do justice to the clients when you're actually at the disasters. Through my travels and experiences, I have met so many amazing people - besides the clients, I've met some of the most amazing volunteers from all over the world....people who have left the comfort of their own homes, their jobs, their families - to do what they can to assist others when they're hurting.

Sometimes, when I'm on an assignment, the clients assume we're being paid. No - we are NOT paid. It is strictly volunteers who are at the scenes of disasters. We're there - not for the money - but for the opportunity to put our faith into action and to offer hope and comfort to people in a time of need. Sometimes people think we're a government-led, we're not. We're an independent, volunteer-led organization. We do not receive funding from Congress - our funding comes from donations - either from corporations or from individuals.

Sometimes it can be scary when out on assignment during a disaster, but I know with You by my side, I can do powerful things. So, thanks, God - for the ARC.


I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

As I've gotten older (and wiser, perhaps?), I've realized how important girlfriends are.

Yesterday, I had lunch with three girlfriends who I have not seen in a long time. Back in 2001, one of the ladies got it into her head to start a play group in our neighborhood for the kids. My youngest was just 2 years old, and so the four of us "moms" began meeting every single Friday morning for a 2-hour play date. Without fail. Rain or shine. We would rotate hostess duties - and while our kids played, we would chat and gossip and laugh and share funny stories.

Play group ended as the kids got older and we got busier. Although we all still live in the same neighborhood, we just hadn't gotten together in a while. It was good to get together (without our kids now - they're all in school!) and reconnect.

Then, today, I was invited to a Ladies Spring Luncheon by a former classmate from high school. The luncheon was fantastic - good food, good drinks, good shopping, and then a fashion show afterwards. I had a lot of fun meeting new friends and sharing laughs...and then going over to Suzie's house afterwards for more socializing.

Girlfriends are very special - I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I am always telling my own daughter, as well as my Scouts in my Girl Scout troop, how important it is to keep your girlfriends close and keep the friendships strong. That support you get from them can be amazing. As I've been fighting this cold now for almost 2 weeks, that support has come in handy, for sure!

I like this quote I found: "Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born." - Anais Nin

So - get out there and explore new worlds, but keep your existing worlds close!

Here's to girlfriends...cheers!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Drama Queen in the Making

Okay, I'm a girl - or I used to be one, anyway - so I get all of the drama and histrionics and tears and such.

But - come on, already! Geesh! My 9-year old daughter is driving me CRAZY!

EVERY SINGLE MORNING before school, she goes into meltdown mode because her clothes aren't perfect - or they don't match perfect - or they don't fit perfect - or they aren't cool enough perfect...oy vey.

EVERY SINGLE MORNING I tell her to get over it, deal with it, learn to live with it, and if this continues, there will be consequences!!!!

EVERY SINGLE MORNING she eventually finds something that works, throws her arms around me and tells me she loves me, and then skips off to the bus stop, all forgiven and all forgotten and all smiles. Consequences? Ha...hardly.

I am SUCH a softie.


Here is this morning's reject pile:

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Grace in Small Things 4:365

1. Absolutely perfect spring days when the sun is shining, it's not too windy, and the temperature is perfect!

2. Successful meetings with financial planners who don't have doom & gloom written all over your portfolio.

3. A delicious lunch with your husband during the middle of the work week.

4. Writing & sending notes to send to people who have asked for prayers for themselves, their family or their friends.

5. Getting the mail and not finding a single bill to pay.


My 9-Year Old's View of Her Mom

I love this - this is the Facebook quiz where you interview your child about yourself and record the answers...actually, it's pretty fun! In this case, this is my 9-year old daughter's view of me, her mother. This could have been scary - but it turned out rather nice, I think!

1. What is something mom always says to you?
"Go clean your room." Okay, that's true.

2. What makes mom happy?
"Diet Dr. Pepper." See, it's the little things in life...

3. What makes mom sad?
"When we don't do what we're told."

4. How does your mom make you laugh?
"By tickling me and surprising me."

5. What was your mom like as a child?
"She loved to drink Dr. Pepper and she always liked to jump rope."

6. How old is your mom?
"46" She's got that right...

7. How tall is your mom?
"I don't know...uh...5 foot 49 inches" Boy, that education is paying off, huh?

8. What is her favorite thing to do?
"Play on Facebook." Oops, busted.

9. What does your mom do when you're not around?
"Watch TV - oh, and do chores, too."

10. If your mom became famous, what would it be for?
"Red Cross...because she's always on TV helping people...and they put her in newspapers alot."

11. What is your mom really good at?
"Typing fast."

12. What is your mom not very good at?
"Doing the splits."

13. What does your mom do for her job?
"Helps people."

14. What is your mom's favorite food?

15. What makes you proud of your mom?
"She's always nice and she always lets me do stuff."

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?
"Uh...Sakura from Naruto (Ninja cartoon) I have no idea who this is...

17. What do you and your mom do together?
"We do Tae Kwon Do together."

18. How are you and your mom the same?
"We eat a lot of Mexican food."

19. How are you and your mom different?
"Mom has hazel eyes and I have brown eyes."

20. How do you know your mom loves you?
"Because she's always tickling me and she always says, "What's wrong?" when I'm sad."

22. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?

23. If you could change one thing about your mom, what would it be?
"The age...I'd make Mommy in her 20's."

24. What is one thing you hope never changes about your mom?
"I hope she never changes helping people and being nice."

25. What is your favorite thing about your mom?
"She's fun."

So - what would YOUR kids say about you? Any surprises?


10 on Tuesday: Favorite Foods

Being a self-confessed "foodie", I could probably write every. single. day. about food. But I won't. Other blogs - that are far better written than mine - can do that. However, for today's "10 on Tuesday", I'll focus on my personal favorite foods. Difficult to narrow the list down to just ten - but I did my best. Enjoy!

1. Chocolate
2. Lays Potato Chips with French Onion Dip, especially while watching football
3. A veggie burrito bowl from Chipotle - with extra guacamole
4. A 7 oz. Flo's Filet with bleu cheese from Longhorn steakhouse
5. My husband's chili
6. My tacos - made for Friday night "Fiesta" nights at our house
7. Warm chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven
8. Salmon...especially with a light lemon cream sauce on top
9. A big homemade salad with spinach leaves, walnuts, feta cheese & raspberry vinaigrette dressing
10.Thanksgiving dinner with all the works - except pumpkin pie...yuck!


Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday Mission: Guatemala

A new series for me...a weekly focus on a different mission that you - or perhaps your friends or family - may want to get involved in.

For the inaugural post, I'm choosing the mission that is most near and dear to my heart...and that is Guatemala.

I first went to Guatemala the summer of 2004...and had a horrific time. Seriously. Remind me to tell you everything that went wrong on that trip...and how at one time, during the mission trip, I looked over at my DH and said, "Don't ever even SAY the word 'Guatemala' to me again." That's how bad it was...I had made up my mind right there and then to never return to this country.

Well, God works in mysterious ways...some times what WE have planned, is not what He has planned. Before I knew what was happening, I was being nudged - no, make that pushed - back to Guatemala in 2005. Two trips in 2006, one in 2007, one in 2008, and another one coming up this summer. And every trip since the 2004 experience has been wonderful, heartfelt, amazing, God-filled, inspirational...need I go on?

So - the basics: each trip is approximately 10 days long...although I've been known to 'extend' my own trips and stay with friends there. Each trip is approximately $1,800 - which includes all transportation, lodging, and most meals. We stay in a small village called San Lucas Toliman, which is on the shores of Lake Atitlan in the Western Highlands of Guatemala.

What do we do, you ask? Well, we've done various projects - nothing major or too difficult - but we've built schools, painted schools, picked coffee beans, mortared walls, bagged dirt, and played with children. However, I think the most important thing we do is build relationships - with each other, with other volunteers that are visiting Guatemala, and with the villagers. The projects we choose are just the 'tools' in the building of the relationships.

People ask, "Do I need to know Spanish?" Well, it helps - but it's not necessary. We always provide an interpreter, and enough of us know a little Spanish to get by. Another common question: "Is it safe?" Hmmm...I think it's safe as long as you play it smart. It IS a 3rd-world country, but if you don't go down and do stupid things (flash a lot of jewelry, money or expensive electronics, or travel late at night, alone!) then you'll be okay. The food is basic, but good - the water is not safe, but we provide bottled water - and there's a delicious pizza shop and an ice-cream shop nearby so you won't starve.

We try to do some other things, like hike a volcano, take a boat ride on the lake, and listen to presentations on Guatemalan & Mayan culture, to add some fun to the trip.

I've taken my 2 teenage sons for the last 2 years - and one son will be going again this summer for the 3rd time. Yes, he's caught the "bug", I did. This year, I'm taking my dad - that will be way exciting! I can't way to show him everything that I've talked about for the last 5 years!

If you're ever interested, let me know...I love to lead groups there and change people's lives...!

So - that's it for today's Monday mission moment. Be sure to do YOUR part today to change the world, one action at a time, one day at a time.


Grace in Small Things 3:365

1. High school baseball games - especially when your son is the pitcher - and even better when he does great....!

2. Spring days when the wind blows all of winter's cobwebs and dustballs away...

3. Mondays when the kiddies are back in school and the house is quiet again...

4. White chocolate raspberry truffle cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory for lunch...

5. Jeans that still fit after eating said cheesecake....


Homeland Security Severe Storm Response

Whew, what a weekend.

Saturday was very busy.... I had to be over at Blue River Community College by 7:00 am for the 2009 Homeland Security Severe Storm Response exercise. 7:00 am??!! Who the heck has to be anywhere at that ungodly hour? I usually don't even wake up until 7:30 am or so on a good morning....!

So, anyway - I drag myself out of bed and hit the road by 6:30 am to be in place. This exercise was a way to test real volunteers to see how they would respond in a "disaster".

There were hundreds of volunteers there - CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams), DART (Disaster Animal Response Team), Explorers, Red Cross, as well as FEMA and Homeland Security. By 9:00 am, we had been bagged and tagged with our official I.D.'s, given our briefings, had some donuts and coffee, and the exercise began.

In our briefing, we were told that a severe storm had hit the metropolitan area the night before. We had victims missing, we had victims who needed shelter, we had victims who needed assistance with debris removal....(remember, this was an exercise - not real).

Various "games" would now commence. One game involved getting some Police Explorer cadets made up with "injuries" and then having them go hide out in the woods - and then volunteers brought in numerous search and rescue dogs to find the "victims." The makeup on these kids was pretty good - some of them looked downright gruesome.

Another game had chainsaw gangs and debris removal teams go into the woods near Blue River and practice their skills.

The game that I was involved with was setting up a shelter after a severe storm. There were about 25 CERT volunteers who had been recently trained in setting up and running an American Red Cross shelter. My role in the game was "Controller". I got to control the game - watch how they were doing - and then throw various tricks and turns at them to see how they would respond. I had a couple of Explorers as my 'actors' and we would sit and conspire with different scenarios...for example, I had two girls break out into a fight - and then I would watch how the CERT volunteers responded. I had one Explorer pretend to be smoking; one pretended to try and smuggle a cat into the shelter; one pretended to be smelly and dirty and unkept. The volunteers did pretty good - they responded well, for the most part. We did catch them on one trick, though. We sent in a blond, male volunteer with a dark-haird women's photo identification badge on - no one caught that this guy had on obviously fake I.D. - until I called some of the volunteers and pointed at the guy and said, "What is wrong with this picture?"

I grabbed another Explorer in the hallway and sent him into the shelter as the "Health Inspector", there to do a surprise inspection. I sent another one in as a "reporter" from Good Morning, America - wanting to do a warm & fuzzy story on the shelter.

A group of CERT volunteers

We had a break for lunch, and then we regrouped to do a round-table discussion with our volunteers and actors on how they think the exercise went, as well as how well they responded to the different things being thrown at them. All of the 'tricks' I threw at them have actually happened at one time or another in a shelter - so it was a very good learning experience for them.

I left that afternoon, tired, exhausted, but feeling pretty good. It was actually fun to be a little devious and come up with ways of 'tricking' the volunteers. I know the Explorer teenagers had a good time; they were pretty imaginative in coming up with several of the scenarios themselves!

All-in-all, a good day. And it was indoors, at least, out of the rain. I felt pretty bad for the Explorers who had to go lay down in a wet field in the rain and wait for a wet Search & Rescue dog to come find them. I don't think that sounded like fun in the rain. But who knows - they probably loved it. I know the dogs that were there Saturday were pretty special.

Be sure to do YOUR part today to save the world...get involved in a volunteer organization, such as CERT, or Red Cross, and make a difference somewhere. As Saturday's "game" shows - being a volunteer can be really fun sometimes. You just never know what is coming at you.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Grace in Small Things 2:365

1. Beef on bun from Gates Barbeque for dinner...delicious.

2. Celebrating National Library Week...and all of the amazing books and pages that are found there.

3. Buds popping out on all of the trees.

4. Yellow daffodils in people's yards.

5. Robins, cardinals and other birds emerging from their winter hide-outs.


The Hand of God

Isn't this photo amazing?

The amazing image was taken by NASA's Chandra X-ray observatory, which is orbiting 580km above the Earth.

NASA scientists estimated the moment depicted here actually happened 17,000 years ago.

It has taken since then for the X-rays to reach Earth.

Quite a few people have dubbed it "the hand of God." I don't know what it is, actually -but it's cool, huh?


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Grace in Small Things 1:365

1. Sunshine and warm temperatures in April

2. Cats who purr and sit on your lap and melt into you, enveloping you with their warmth and contentedness

3. A glass of chocolate milk before bed every night

4. The newspaper laying by my pillow every morning when I wake up, put there by a loving and awesome hubby

5. Fresh laundry right out of the dryer, all warm and soft and smelling good


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Best Brownies in the World

“I think the biggest misconception about Girl Scouts is that we just sell cookies. A great amount of what we do is community service. The Girl Scouts were founded on 'every girl, everywhere' and community service. People don't realize that we are doing community projects all year long.”

Hey, God? It's me, Sherri.

Today, I want to thank you for Girl Scouts. I have the honor & joy & privilege of being my daughter's Brownie Troop leader. I have 8 wonderful 3rd-grade girls, who come to my house every other Monday for fun, fellowship, and development of future leadership potential.

I have so enjoyed getting to know each of these girls...their gifts, their talents, their hopes, their dreams. They are all a blessing to me, and I thank You for "nudging" me to get involved and take on the role as their leader.

I have watched these girls grow as the years have passed, and I consider them my own daughters.

Last night, we worked on our "Hobbies" try-it. We did pin-making with beads, and then we did some paint-by-numbers...a little messy, but certainly fun. The best part of the evening was talking with the girls about their own hobbies, as well as what their parents' hobbies are. One little girl, who has younger brothers, said, "My mom's hobby is keeping my brothers out of trouble." That cracked me up. These girls keep me young and they keep me laughing and they keep me smiling.

So, thanks God - for giving me these girls to work with!


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Sweet 16

Today is my son's 16th birthday. I love my son dearly - he has brought so much joy and happiness to my life. So - in honor of his birthday, here are 10 things you should know about my son:

1. I got to pick his birthday. The OB-gyn was going to induce labor, and originally picked April 13th, 1993. I put my foot down and said I didn't want my son to ever have a birthday on Friday, the 13th - so we bumped labor day back to the 12th. Good thing I didn't wait that one more day - DS (Dear Son) came into the world at 8 lbs 13 oz. Can you imagine what he would have weighed one day later??!! (Just kidding)

2. DS had a near-tragic accident when he was only 7 months old that involved a walker and stairs. He spent almost a week in intensive care at Children's Mercy Hospital with me camped out at his side. I don't know that I have ever been more scared in my life - or felt so helpless as a parent. I threw the walker away after that and became a strong advocate against baby walkers.

3. DS had the blondest hair and the most beautiful curls when he was a baby. He will kill me for saying this, but he really was one of the most prettiest babies I had ever seen. I finally relented and cut the curls off when people began calling him a girl - and the curls never did grow back. Darn.

4. When he was very little, DS loved to eat the croutons off my salads in restaurants. However - he couldn't quite say "croutons" - consequently, he called them "coupons" and they've been "coupons" ever since. I will sometimes catch myself at a restaurant asking the waitress to "hold the coupons - oops, I mean croutons!" You can imagine the looks I get.

5. Speaking of waitresses in restaurants, it became very apparent that DS was a flirt at an early age. He couldn't have been more than 3 years old, when one day, while seeing the blonde waitress at our table, said, "She's pretty".... He's liked blondes ever since.

6. It also became very apparent at an early age that DS had a huge talent with a baseball. He has been pitching since he was four...and he has made his school team every year that he has tried out. He has a decent fastball, and an amazing change-up.

7. DS is a huge fan of the Oklahoma Sooners. Don't ask me why. We've never lived in Oklahoma, we've never been to an OU game - he just decided at an early age to root for the Sooners, and there you go. It's a mystery to his family, who are all Mizzou fans. You will never see him without his OU hat or coat or backpack or sweatshirt....he's very loyal.

8. DS can tell you any sports statistic there ever was...he lives and breathes ESPN, and would make an amazing sports journalist one day, I think. If you ever want to know sports history or trivia, he's the guy to ask...he'll know the answer.

9. My son's smile can melt the snow off the ice caps.

10. My son is now 6'3" and is still growing. I don't know how tall he'll eventually reach - but no matter how tall, he'll always be my 'baby boy' and I'll love him forever and forever. He's very huggable and lovable, and so I am sending out birthday wishes to him right now.

Happy Sweet 16, Kiddo! I love you!


Saturday, April 11, 2009

A House on the Lake

Wow...the last two days have been very busy.

Hubby had the day off yesterday (Good Friday) and so he decided we needed to look at new houses. We have decided we want a lake house. A house right on the lake. Not 2nd tier. Not 3rd tier. But a house where you walk outside, and there's the lake.

So - we saw several houses locally yesterday. Didn't see anything that grabbed us. Not enough house for a heck of a lot of money. The usual.

Today, we woke up and decided to hit the road and drove 3 hours down to the Lake of the Ozarks. We've been in email contact with a realtor there - Matt met us and took us to about 5 houses on the lake. And two of them grabbed us. There are pros and cons with each house...but we had 3 hours to discuss on the way home, and hubby is downstairs right now, in the office, contacting Matt with an offer on one of them. We'll see.

My folks had a lake house when I was growing up. We weren't on the lake, though. We were 3rd tier up. It was still fun, though, going to the lake on the weekends. The thing I remember, most, though, is the maintenance that we had to do every time we arrived - mow the grass, rake the leaves, make the beds, clean out the refrigerator, restock the refrigerator....

I told Hubby that I would have a 2nd home if it didn't involve a lot of maintenance. Ha. Actually, one of the houses we saw is completely landscaped with small pebbles - no grass to mow - so that would be great.

Changing the subject....

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday. We'll get up - as usual - and head to church. Then, we'll come home, where the kids will hunt for the eggs that the Easter Bunny has hid. Sometimes the Easter Bunny hides the eggs so well that we can't find them all - it will be weeks or months later and an egg will turn up. Thank goodness the Bunny brings us plastic eggs now - can you imagine if you lost a hard-boiled egg? Although - I guess you'd find that one sooner - due to the smell. Ugh.

Anyway, the baskets will be filled to the brim, waiting for the kids on the kitchen table. Candy, toys, a new Easter outfit...the bunny will be generous.

Then, the whole family will be over at 4:00 pm for Easter dinner. We're celebrating birthdays, as well, though. My son will turn 16 years old tomorrow. Yikes...where did the time go? He is chomping at the bit to go on Monday to get his driver's license. I'm not. I can wait.

We'll have ham, potatoes, deviled eggs, jello salad, and birthday cake! Yummo. Then, we'll sit around the living room and let the dinner settle, and chit-chat. And it will be time to clean up. And send everyone home. My favorite part of the Easter dinner. (just kidding. No - wait - it really IS my favorite part). Because then I get to enjoy the quiet and solitude of the day and reflect what Easter is truly all about. And rejoice in Christ and the fact that He died for us. How amazing is that?!

Enjoy your Easter Sunday - no matter how you spend it. And maybe I'll see you at the lake.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Birds Twittering & Squirrels Flittering

Another beautiful day today.

Yes, it's cloudy. And it's raining (just a little). But - it's that wonderful, amazing "spring" rain that I love. Spring is so close - so tantalizing close - I can feel it, I can taste it, I can almost touch it.

I love this time of year.

I love the spring showers...I love the grass turning green...I love the days lasting longer and longer...I love baseball season starting...I love the buds popping out on the trees...I love seeing more and more birds flittering about in my backyard...I love seeing more and more squirrels twittering about in the trees...

I love the kids starting to venture back outside again, after being cooped up inside all winter long. I love to see more and more joggers, walkers, and pooches hitting the sidewalk, bursting with energy and anxious to get back into shape. I love to see couples lounging on the grass at the parks, absorbing the sunshine, absorbing each other.

I hope you enjoy the spring weather, too. Go outside and breathe in - everything is fresh, new, hopeful....feel the spring, taste it, touch it. Enjoy the moment.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Humans vs Zombies

Wow...two posts in one day...but such is the life of a proud mother. I had posted earlier tonight about my younger son and his amazing pitching prowess in his baseball game this afternoon. I was a very proud mother.

Well, I now have to brag on my older son....but first, a little background. Older son is attending Truman State University, where twice a year, he engages in the notorious "Humans vs Zombie" game played campus-wide. This semester, the game began last week, and my son was very proud of managing to stay Human for all this time. Today was to be the last and final mission - and my son's goal was to survive the mission today and be one of the last few surviving humans.

Being an anxious mother, I have waited all day to see how his mission turned out....and then tonight, he posted his story on his Facebook page. I am copying it below, word for word:


Our last & final mission is today in Ophelia Parrish – we shall conquer or die. Given that at the moment we’re outnumbered nearly 4 to 1, that prospect seems pretty grim, but in the next two hours, half of the zombie horde shall starve, making the odds about 2-1. Since we can mount ranged attacks, I call that even odds.

No zombie horde sightings yet today, which is odd, considering I have been outside often. The day is bright and sunny, and many zombies will starve without brains – but they are not hunting. Perhaps the handful of surviving humans have been so quick and so clever that the zombies have given up hunting in between classes? I can only speculate.

I reached Ophelia, and regrouped with the last remnants of the human resistance. There were perhaps two dozen of us remaining. 24 humans against perhaps 80 zombies. Our task was to activate the failsafe on the ultimate weapon we had spent the last few days preparing, activate the weapon itself, then race to the bunker that had been prepared Sunday before it detonated in 15 minutes, eliminating the zombie scourge.

We raced across campus to West Campus, moving so quickly the horde never spotted us. Hurrying through, I pressed the button to activate the failsafe, and then it was south, across campus again, to Barnett.

We hurried, and a force of ten zombies appeared coming down Patterson Street. They attempted to cut us off, but without reinforcements (the horde was rushing to West Campus at this time) they retreated, and we safely made it into Barnett.

Ten minutes later, we finished activating the weapon. In fifteen minutes, it would detonate, wiping out the zombie scourge and saving the human race. Our own survival depended on reaching a bunker prepared – Violette Hall. But there was a problem: Somehow, the timer only read ten minutes!

We stepped outside, and the horde confronted us.

Arrayed all amongst the parking lot, the entire surviving zombie force stood between us and safety. Nine minutes.

I nervously waited for them to engage, but they refused, encouraging us to come to them. Eight minutes.

Glancing up and down our line, I realized we would have to charge them. Again, I waited for someone to make a move. Seven minutes.

Then I realized it. Humans are a cowardly lot. They were edging back, trying to stay hidden behind each other. No one wanted to be the first to charge the horde. No one wanted to embrace almost certain death so that the group could survive. Human priority is first and foremost to survive.

I sighed. I’m not a fighter. I have never pretended to be one – I can handle one or two zombies, perhaps even three at a time, but I am not like those who casually stun six on their way to class. No, I have always been a strategist, one who can lead.

And right now, these humans needed a leader. No one would advance, they would sit there and wait for the detonation, rather than be the first, doomed human at the zombie horde.

I remembered the first day, the ambush that almost killed me.

I remembered the battle at the bridges, when human leadership had proven decisive.

I remembered Centennial Hall, when the inability of humans to be led had caused the deaths of many good men.

I knew what I had to do.

And so I stepped down in front.

I cocked my weapon.

I began to walk forward, and I began to sing.

“This was a triumph…”

I was munched there, leading the way out of Barnett, but the humans in front of the building received the jolt they needed and they began to move, fighting their way across the street, and then breaking up into small groups and racing for safety. Nine were killed on the way there, but would not become zombies – the corpses would be destroyed before they could reanimate. They died as humans. Three were unable to reach the bunker in time and were consumed in the blast. But twelve humans survived, triumphant.

-------- son gallantly and bravely laid down his own life to save the human race. As I sit here in my grief tonight, I cannot help but be so proud of him. He died, fighting the zombies, in order that the few remaining humans would survive. It doesn't get much better than this.

(And to think this is what we're paying for when we send our kids to college.)


Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Just came from my son's baseball team.

He is on the JV team for Lee's Summit West - the Titans. He's a pitcher. And he pitched today. And he did awesome. We played Raytown - and the final score was 19-0. We won. The game was called after 5 innings, due to the spread. Taylor did great - he gave up only 3 hits, and I lost count of the strike-outs. I am a proud mom.

I love baseball. And I love watching my son play. I've been watching him play now since he was 4 years old - and he'll be 16 on Sunday. Our summers have always included being at a field somewhere - someplace - watching Dear Son play. That's how I know that summer is coming - being at the ballfield again.

The Royals had their first game today. They didn't win...but the season is long, and I still have hope. Baseball always brings hope.

It was a good day today in my world.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Backwards in High Heels

Saturday night was our season-ticket night at the American Heartland Theater. We saw "Backwards in High Heels" - a musical based on Ginger Rogers' life.

Have to say - it was pretty good. I thought the choreography was pretty clever in how they told they story of Ginger...and I also liked the fact that Fred (as in Fred Astaire) did not show up until the 2nd half. The focus was really on Ginger - and especially the relationship with her mother. Here's some interesting trivia - did you know Ginger was born in Independence, Missouri? Yep - practically right down the street from here!

I enjoy theater. Hubby and I have season tickets to Starlight, American Heartland, and New Dinner Theater. We used to also have season tickets to the Missouri Rep, but...I guess you need to cut back somewhere, right?! Actually, we gave those up because we had the Sunday at 2:00 pm show - and it was always conflicting with family get-togethers or church events. So, we kicked those tickets to the curb.

I love the anticipation of the show - right before the curtains rise and the theater goes dark...I like escaping into the plot, and seeing how the actors bring the characters to life. I like the choreography, the lighting, the blocking - it's always neat to see how the director brings everything together.

So - my review for "Backwards" - is a definite thumbs up. Great, great show. And a great night spent with the DH - we had a great dinner at Milano's, and then saw a great show. A great homecoming for me - I was glad to be home from Fargo!


Sunday, April 5, 2009


I need to get a life. Anyway, it's Sunday night - I'm poking around Facebook, and came across this quiz.

The directions: Answer the questions, and title it with your name followed by "ology".

What is your salad dressing of choice?
The pink and yellow dressing at Hereford House

What is your favorite sit-down restaurant?
American Restaurant

What food could you eat every day for two weeks and not get sick of?

What are your pizza toppings of choice?
Hmmm...don't do pizza

What do you like to put on your toast?
Hmmm...don't do toast, either


How many televisions are in your house?
I'm embarrassed to admit it - probably 9 or 10

What color cell phone do you have?

Are you right-handed or left-handed?

Have you ever had anything removed from your body?
Wisdom teeth, appendix, 3 children, some cancerous moles

What is the last heavy item you lifted?
My suitcase

Have you ever been knocked unconscious?

If it were possible, would you want to know the day you were going to die?
No way

If you could change your name, what would you change it to?

Would you drink an entire bottle of hot sauce for $1000?
Absolutely not

How many pairs of flip flops do you own?
None - hate them

Last time you had a run-in with the cops?

Last person you talked to?

Last person you hugged?



Day of the week?


Missing someone?
My son (he'd get mad if I didn't say him)


What are you listening to?
The news

The news

Worrying about?
Getting everything done


First place you went this morning?

What's the last movie you saw?
The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the original)

Do you smile often?
As much as possible

Sleeping alone tonight?


Do you always answer your phone?

Its four in the morning and you get a text message, who is it?
My friend Johnny from Galveston - he's the only one who texts me

If you could change your eye color what would it be?
Wouldn't change it - it's a mix of brown, blue and green. Some people call them "rainbow" eyes.

What flavor do you add to your drink at Sonic?

Do you own a digital camera?
Yes - 2 of them. One of them is pink. Of course.

Have you ever had a pet fish?
Yes - "Bluebeard" was his name. He was a great fish. He could do tricks - and he'd wag his tail when I came home from work.

Favorite Christmas song?
O Holy Night

What's on your wish list for your birthday?
A fabulous dinner in Rome - which is where I'll be this year for my birthday

Can you do push ups?
Yup, do em everyday - thanks to Tae Kwon Do

Does the future make you nervous or excited?
Always excited

Do you have any saved texts?
No - I don't know how to text

Ever been in a car wreck?
Small ones - never my fault.

Do you have an accent?
Someone in Minnesota last week said I had the "cutest" accent. Never heard that before.

What is the last song to make you cry?
"When My Heart Finds Christmas" by Harry Connick, Jr

Plans tonight??
Yeah - lots of sleep

Have you ever felt like you hit rock bottom?

Name 3 things you bought yesterday?
A new scarf, a new blouse, and a Jade pendant

Have you ever been given roses?
Just last week, actually. Hubby spoils me.

Current worry?
No worries - but trying to plan some trips for this summer.

Current hate right now?
Whiners, complainers, and people who don't take responsibility

Met someone who changed your life?
Lots. I know some amazing people.

How will you bring in the New Year?
With family and friends.

What song represents you?
Amazing Grace

Would you go back in time if you were given the chance?

Have you ever dated someone longer than a year?
Yes - a few

Do you have any tattoos/piercings?
One tattoo on my right shoulder - and my ears are pierced

Will you be in a relationship 4 months from now?
I'll be married for at least another 50 years!

Does anyone love you?
Yes - of course! (I'm so lovable, you know!)

Ever had someone sing to you?
Don't think so - maybe my mom sang me a lullaby once

When did you last cry?
When I saw the floodwaters last week in Fargo

Do you like to cuddle?

Have you held hands with anyone today?
Yes - with my son and my hubby at church today

What kind of music did you listen to in elementary school?
The Partridge Family - LOL

Are most of the friends in your life new or old?
A good mix of both

Do you like pulpy orange juice?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

There's No Place Like Home

After a 9-hour drive yesterday - I finally am home! I love that word - home!

Wednesday night, we had 8 people in our shelter. All of the mandatory evacuation orders had been lifted, and most of our clients had returned home. When we got off of work at 7:00 am Thursday morning, our manager told me to check in around 2:00 pm to see if the shelter would continue to be opened.

I crawl into bed at 8:30 am and fell asleep. I awake at 3:00 pm when Ted calls me to see if I've heard anything from Frank. I am astounded and amazed that I had slept that long - I really AM beginning to adjust to the night shift!

I call Frank - and good news - the shelter is closed and we are free to go! Woo hoo! I call my team and we make arrangements to head over to HQ and outprocess - and we will then head home Friday.

We had an uneventful drive home yesterday - it's always nice to be heading home, and so we made good time. We checked in at the chapter, left our paperwork, and then dropped the rental cars off. I got home right before my kids got home from school - boy, weren't they surprised to see mom standing at the door!!

Last night was spent with unpacking, doing laundry, going through the mail that's piled up, cleaning the house a little - and just lovin' on the pets and family.

Life is good. All is well with the world. And there's truly no place like home.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Fargo Floods: Why Am I Here?

Events of Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Location: Fargo, North Dakota/Moorehead, MN area

Disaster: Red River Flooding

It's almost 1:00 am in the morning, and I am sitting at Moorhead Senior High School, in Moorhead, Minnesota.... I'm managing an emergency American Red Cross shelter which was set up on March 26th due to the flooding of the Red River.

I have been doing the night shift for a week now. I'm tired. I'm cranky. I haven't been eating right. And I'm not getting my normal exercise.

Why am I here?

I have dealt with sick children, crying babies, drunk men, angry women, anxious homeowners, and one client who spoke only Farsi - not one word of English.

Why am I here?

I haven't seen my own family in a week. I'm lucky if I catch four hours of sleep in a dumpy motel, listening to the pounding on doors and the hesitant, "Housekeeping" every five minutes as I bury my head under my pillow, praying for darkness and sleep.

Why am I here?

I arrived in a blizzard on the night of March 24th, when six inches of snow hit the Fargo area. Another blizzard hit Monday, lasting for almost 48 hours, dumping another 14" of snow on top of the snow from below. And a fine, sheen glaze of black ice covers every walking surface around. I tiptoe to my car so I don't fall and break my neck.

Why am I here?

I'm here because I'm a volunteer with the American Red Cross, who vows to provide relief to victims of disaster. I'm here because every year the ARC responds to over 70,000 disasters - including over 150 house fires each day. I'm here along with hundreds of other ARC volunteers who want nothing more than to provide that relief during a disaster - and put our own personal comfort and needs aside for the moment.

I'm here because my hero is Mother Teresa. She once said, "Each one of them is Jesus in disguise." So, when I deal with the sick child, or the drunken man, or the angry woman, or the anxious homeowner - I remember that they are Jesus - in disguise - and I smile and listen and comfort and assist.

I'm here because I'm a Christian, and the Bible says, "But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?" And so I go out to assist those in need, ignoring my own needs - whether that be a need for sleep, or food, or warmth. I know my needs will be met later.

I'm here because it's the right thing to do.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Fargo Floods: March 28 - 31

Events of March 28 - 31, 2009

Location: Fargo, North Dakota

Disaster: Red River Flooding

One day is beginning to blend into another. Heck, when you're working the night shift, you don't even KNOW when it is day and when it's night. Everything is mixed up and upside down and out of whack. I don't even know what day it is anymore....Tuesday? Wednesday? Shoot...I give up.

However - I actually think I am now beginning to - God forbid - adjust to this schedule. Today, I miraculously got a whole 5 hours sleep - uninterrupted. I am very happy with 5 hours...that is a good thing.

My team made an observation the other day that we are all appearing to lose weight. We sit down one night (oops - I mean morning - it was 4:30 am, after all!) and we talk about when one is supposed to eat while working night shifts.

So, we sit down and begin trying to figure this out...Our observations...we "wake up" to go to work around 6:30 pm... and work begins at 10:30 pm. So, somewhere in there, we should be eating...dinner? Breakfast? What do you call it? Not sure. Anyway, we are at work from 10:30 pm until 7:00 am. We don't eat, because there's nothing but snacks & junk food for the clients during the middle of the night, and we're all trying to stay away from the junk.... We get off at 7:00 am and head back to the hotel - where, just maybe, we'll grab a granola bar or something. Then, around 11:00 am, we're all settling down in our hotel rooms for some attempted shut-eye.

As my team was trying to figure out why we're all losing weight - it hits us - we've eliminated "lunch!" Our lunch should be some time in the middle of our work shift - maybe around 3:00 am....? Well, who the heck wants to eat at 3:00 am????!!! For the last week, we've all eliminated an entire meal here - duh. No wonder we're all looking a little gaunt. On Tuesday night, I went out with Ted before our shift to grab a hot meal for dinner. It was the first meal I've had in a week that didn't come in a package, wrapper or box.

My work here at the shelter is becoming pretty routine...I'm in the groove, so to speak. I check on my clients - I walk around, assessing the needs of the people, making sure they have everything they need to be comfortable. I guess I am what you'd call the "Midnight Mom." I have tucked people in, cleaned up puke (an 11-year old boy ate too much of that junk food!), felt someone's forehead checking for a fever, assisted an elderly lady to the restroom...all that "mom" stuff. And then there's the paperwork - lots of reports and "counts" and bed checks that have to be filled in.

I like to go around and talk with the clients. The stress is getting they've not seen their flooded houses in over a week, and they really want to go check on the damage. So, some listening and talking and hugging becomes part of the job. I've learned some neat things - such as, if I put pepper between my toes, it will keep me warm. Huh. I don't know if I'll actually try it, but it's good to know.

My team is excellent. I have Evie sitting at registration, manning the front door. I've got Ted at information, reconciling bed counts and doing some of my paperwork. (He's a retired accountant - it's a perfect position for him!) I've got Mike managing the floor - checking trash, moving furniture, keeping the cot area clean and organized. I've got Lee over in the kitchen - keeping the coffee fresh for all of the state troopers and firemen who come in at all hours after working on the levees. And I watch over them all and make sure they all have what they need to do their job.

I'm beginning to sleeping is getting better, I'm on a first-name basis with my clients - heck, I'm even dreaming about the levees. And a foot of snow that came yesterday doesn't even register on my Richter scale. I've become a true Minnesotan.

A photo of the work on the levees during the blizzard yesterday

So goes life managing an emergency Red Cross shelter during a disaster. And on the night shift, no less.

Now - it's 1:05 am...almost time for me to start thinking about what I'm going to have for lunch. Yummo.