Monday, December 29, 2008

The New Year

The Schneck family has been traveling and visiting like crazy banshees over the past week or so. Not much time for blogging. Liam and I are headed out to Gatlinburg where we are meeting Jon and the boys until after the first of the year. So, I thought I'd do my new year's blog between napping and packing and laundry and such.

2008 has been a year of extremes. It's been about as much sorrow and as much joy as my weakling heart could take. My beloved Paw Paw passing away in March amongst deaths of several other friends and family members, surgeries, illnesses, family issues and the economic rollercoaster are just a few of the things I could complain about. But in the face of all the blessings we have received it seems juvenile to even mention them. God has provided. God has protected. God has shown us a deeper level of His infinite mercy and love. How could we have ever known the vast amounts of joy and love that would come our way with the birth of our first born, our baby boy, Liam. If you have never had a child, I literally cannot tell you what it's like. My physical body can barely contain the wealth of emotion. Sometimes I think I'm going to squeeze him so tight that his eyeballs are going to pop out. All the sleepless nights, super stinky diapers (just wait until table food....oh dear...), medical bills, breastfeeding woes, etc... have all been well worth it. I would rather be in the situation I'm in with Liam than have the money, freedoms, alone time, etc... I had before. It's no contest.

I try not to make resolutions because after the first month or so goes by and no one is talking about "resolutions" anymore, I forget what it was I resolved to do in the first place. I'm easily influenced. So, I've decided to call my resolutions "goals" instead. Here are my goals:

1 - Lose the weight that I gained back after I stopped nursing (thank you egg nog lattes, christmas cookies, etc...)
2 - Make a concentrated effort to finally make Nashville my home instead of having one foot in Atlanta.
3 - Love more, taking the time to build real and lasting relationships and improve the ones that I have already made.
4 - Convince my husband to eat healthy and actually exercise!
5 - Watch TV less and read, craft, exercise, etc... more.
6 - Start singing again. Watch out TVC choir! Here I come!
7 - Practice contentment instead of materialism.
8 - Travel to see family and friends who are far away!
9 - Cook more.
10 - Pursue God.

Baby steps, people, baby steps...

As always, I am really looking forward to the coming year and all the blessings and challenges God has planned for us. By nature of Jon's profession, we can always count on the excitement and anxiety of an ever changing music industry. Our sweet son Liam is sure to bring a whole new load of experiences, perspective, and lessons in his second year of life. I wish you and yours a very joyful and blessed 2009. I pray that through Christ you are tested and challenged to be better than you were in 2008 while still making it joyfully and peacefully to 2010. (Are we really about to hit the '10's???) Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee. Israel's strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art; dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart. Born thy people to deliver, born a child and yet a King, born to reign in us forever, now thy gracious kingdom bring. By thine own eternal spirit rule in all our hearts alone; by thine all sufficient merit, raise us to thy glorious throne.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Excellent Gifts

I have always loved giving gifts. It has honestly been one of my great joys in life. When I was little and I would go on a field trip, my mom would give me "spending money" for the souvenir shop or snack bar or what have you. I always came back with presents for everyone - mom, dad, brother, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins... I would spend as long as I could, perusing each item up for sale and deciding which one would be most appreciated by each person. I would try to be as frugal as I could while not skimping or being stingy. I did want to walk away with something for myself, after all! On the ride home I would get so excited about sharing my gifts with my family. This carried on into my adult life. I actually bought gifts for family members on my honeymoon. I knew that my mom would love a coffee cup from overseas, that my grandparents would love coffee and spices from abroad. I don't say this to tout my ever generous character...barf... But, the very timely subject of gifting is something that I am passionate about and I think is very important, especially when it comes to our children. I think it is important to teach our children the time honored lesson of "it is better to give than receive." This has proven true in my life, and I am hoping it will be in Liam's too. One way that we as parents can teach our children these character building qualities is through giving gifts ourselves - and more specifically, the gift of reading. We have some amazing women at our church, The Village Chapel. I am lucky enough to be able to be mentored by some of these seasoned mothers while I myself am in the process of mothering. Derri Smith wrote this email to our mother's group today, and I loved it so much that I wanted to share it with all of you.

I’m a big fan of reading to children, as I’m sure many of you are. I grew up in a totally dysfunctional home, but I was an avid reader. A children’s librarian gave me weekly guidance, suggesting excellent books to read. When I’d read everything in the children’s section, she took me upstairs and started me on excellent adult books. Unknowingly, she shaped my character. From the books she recommended, I learned to admire what is admirable, to dream of noble pursuits and to picture the consequences of choices, both good and bad.

Just as we take great care to give our children the healthiest foods, we give them a great gift when we offer them fine reading fare.

In the weeks ahead she is going to be giving us different ideas on how to use books to help develop our childrens' character. I can't wait to see what she has in store!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Relient K on Jay Leno tonight!!

I just wanted to let everyone know that Jon & the boys will be on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno tonight! This is their 4th time on late night TV and, ironically, there always seems to be something outrageous said or done on the particular night they are on. Por ejemplo, the last time they were on Conan there was clip from a movie shown with a ridiculously long kiss between 2 girls. I'm really glad my grandmaw was watching that one....sheesh... Well, tonight Jim Carrey and Rosario Dawson are on the show and as far as I can tell their current projects rank low on the "racey" factor. I hope you guys stay up to watch or at least set your TiVo!!! I know I will :)

Below is a picture of Tom Wilson aka. "Biff" from Back to the Future . There's also two videos of his comedy. Really, really funny. You'll see what this has to do with anything if you watch tonight :)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Let it snow!

Nashville got its first snow of the year tonight. It started out as a slush shower around 430 and ended up as real snow by around 6 or so. We got a little over an inch tonight, which is the real deal here in the mid-south. We never measure snow here in feet. Fractions are too confusing. Inches are where it's at. I had a friend who actually got stranded on the side of the road. In only an inch of snow. That's right. And he's from Ohio too. I guess he's gotten soft from all his time in Middle Tennessee.

Now Nashville is moody about its winters. It's hard to believe that this will be my 8th winter here. Some winters we've only had one day of snow the whole time and some winters it has been much more. I remember my junior year at MTSU it rained and then sleeted and then froze over and then snowed and then froze over again. We were literally stranded in our house for days. The university cancelled classes for the first time since the early '70's. It was crazy and fun all at the same time. Below is my attempt at photographing snow at night with a sick child on my hip. I don't call it bad, I call it artistic. Obviously, you just don't GET it.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Advent Conspiracy

Let me start off by making a confession...

...I am a post stealer. If you post something on your blog and I like it, I'm going to steal it. Sometimes I even plagiarize. Hate it for ya. I will try to remember to give you credit if that's any consolation :)

I stole this from my friend Melissa's blog because it is A-MA-ZING. Although I have already purchased most of my Christmas presents, I am talking to Jon and praying about doing something with this organization, regardless. Whether you decide to participate or not, this is definitely a good lesson for this season and all year 'round, for that matter!

So powerful, right?! Melissa, the aforementioned victim of my thievery, is doing an advent reflection on her blog this year that will knock your socks off. Check it out! I love this season!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Long Time, No Tag

So, Rhondi tagged me AGES ago to do a Christmas question thingy. Due to my fierce loyalty to Thanksgiving, I put of my response to a more appropriate time, thank you very much! Let me start off by saying that I am perfectly aware that there is a fairy tale land that only exists in my head where every holiday is perfect and I am Martha Stewart. I will have you know that while I repeatedly try to make this place a reality every year, I am in no way shocked when it doesn't quite turn out as planned. I also have no delusions about actually being Martha...only in my dreams... I know you have all been waiting in knots for my Christmas tradition autobiography. Well, writhe in agony no longer my anxious ones. It has arrived!!!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? One of my great joys in life is seeing a sparkling Christmas tree under which sits droves of gifts wrapped perfectly in coordinating papers. One year I used all paper from Crate and Barrel. Be still my heart. While this is obviously the ideal, I am very likely to use all gift bags this year due to a) lack of time, b) lack of cash, and c) Liam Jude.

2. Real tree or Artificial? I love the idea of a real tree. Jon and I had real trees for our first 3 Christmases. We wore scarves and got Starbucks and went to the tree lot and convinced our friends who worked their to give us free stuff. After 3 years the prices were jacked up too high and our friends got real jobs and we gave into the reality of a little one coming along and ingesting pine needles and getting water all over the place. So, now we have a lovely artificial pre-lit tree and I light one of those Christmas Wreath candles from Yankee Candle Co. It will have to do :)

3. When do you put up the tree? Growing up we always put our tree up the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Now, we normally don't get back to Nashville until that Sunday night, so my goal is to get the tree up sometime that following week. No earlier I tell you!!!

4. When do you take the tree down? New Year's Day. No later. Come on people.

5. Do you like eggnog? LOVE LOVE LOVE it. I know some people think it's nasty. I totally get that. I like fruitcake too, so sue me.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Dear Diary. I don't remember much about it other than it was an electronic diary. It was really my favorite present because I knew my Paw Paw looked all over to find one for me because I wanted it SOOOOO bad :)

7. Hardest person to buy for? my father-in-law....any hints???

8. Easiest person to buy for? little kids. toys and more toys.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? No, but I REALLY want to start the Willow Tree nativity.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? I prefer mail. I like buying festive postage and using my cute return address stamp as often as possible. However, our Christmas card list is RIDICULOUSLY too long. So, we are going to do a combo this year. Mail to our family and those friends who share my love of stationery (Court and Katy) and email to everyone else.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Um, one year Jon got me a Rocky action figure that he really wanted because he saw that I had one more box under the tree for him than he had gotten me. True story.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Charlie Brown's Christmas

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? You're lying if you say you haven't.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? My Nanny's southern breakfast spread! Biscuits and gravy....mmmmm...

16. Lights on the tree? Yes, white. What is the alternative to lights? Candles? I'm confused by this question.

17. Favorite Christmas song? O Come O Come Emmanuel (traditional hymn) & Labor of Love (new song)

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? We always travel to the ATL. I don't know how much longer we'll be able to do that with little ones, but we'll keep trying!

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen....Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen...but do you recall...the most famous reindeer of all?? Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer!!! If you want me to remember something, put it in a song.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? We have this retro spire looking thing, but I would have to pick a star over an angel. Welcome to the 90's.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas morning!! How can you open presents if Santa hasn't even brought them yet??

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? When people say "holiday tree" or "holiday lights." I mean really. You aren't fooling anyone.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color? For aesthetic purposes, I love a green tree with all silver, white and red! Our tree is a mix match of ornaments with lots of memories and sentimental value, so I love that too.

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Growing up my grandmaw always had a honey baked ham and stouffers mac'n'cheese. I know it sounds strange, but this will always be my favorite Christmas combo!

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? What don't I want!

26. Who is most likely to respond to this? Hmmmm...not sure...

27. Does Santa wrap your gift or leave them unwrapped? Traditionally my parents never wrapped our presents, but I like the idea of a mixture. Some unwrapped for instant wow factor and some unwrapped to extend the surprises.

I tag Michelle and Hannah.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Grow old along with me...

...the best is yet to be.

Who knows where the road will lead us,
Only a fool would say,
But if you let me love you,
I'm sure to love you all the way.

Happy Anniversary! Four years and going strong... I love you :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It's beginning to SOUND a lot like Christmas!

I have posted my Christmas music playlist! Hooray! I know some people are annoyed by blog playlists, but I love them, so I'm keeping mine up. If you don't like listening, there is a pause button on the player at the bottom of the page. Feel free to stop the music while reading if you'd like :) I'm not going to lie, this is an odd playlist. It's balanced equally by Sufjan Stevens and Bing Crosby with a little Kenny Rogers to fill in the gaps. (Watch out for Kenny, ladies.) I LOVE this playlist. Sufjan is my obvious current Christmas fave, but there are lots of sentimental songs in the mix. Bing, of course. The Chipmunks, a given. But very few share my memories of decorating the tree and baking cookies with the Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton Christmas album serving as the soundtrack. Oh yes. Think "Islands in the Stream" on egg nog. So nice.

I'm also doing a little shameless promotion by sportin' my own tunes. Well, not technically MY tunes, but Jon's. Relient K's Christmas album "Let it Snow Baby...Let it Reindeer" is really good. You really should check it out! I am a little annoyed at because I couldn't find all the songs I wanted. "Labor of Love" sung by Jill Phillips on the Andrew Peterson Christmas album is such an amazing song. It talks about the conditions surrounding the birth of Christ. Last year I was super preggo during Christmas and I bawled and bawled every time I heard it. I think it was part hormones and part sheer terror at the thought of giving birth, but mostly it was because it is a killer song.

Well I hope everyone is having a great time getting in the spirit! I hope everyone is remembering the true REASON for the SEASON. Many thanks to my friend Courtney who chastised me for texting "xmas" instead of spelling out "CHRISTmas." Now to make up for it, I have vowed to text "CHRISTmas" - actually capitalizing the "CHRIST" part - every time I text that word. So, if you get a text from me like that, I don't think I'm better than you, I'm just serving my sentence.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ok NOW it's time!

Now that I have amply given thanks and have spent 12 hrs at the mall on Black Friday, the Christmas season has officially begun! Hooray! As much as I love shopping and food - mmmm...fooood...- obviously the season is about our Savior. While I am putting the final touches on my Christmas playlist (oh yes!) I thought I would start the season off with this wonderful reminder of what this time of year is all about. Don't cry too much. Tears are not good for the mac book.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Save Thanksgiving

I am starting a campaign to save thanksgiving. Too many people I know and love have already put up their tree and other decorations, started playing Christmas music, etc... Not to mention the stores and restaurants. Santa is already at the mall, for crying out loud! It's just not right. What about the turkey? What about the dressing and sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie?? The Mayflower...hello?!?!?! Don't get me wrong. I totally get that sweet baby Jesus trumps food. But, I don't think He'd be angry in the slightest if we celebrated our holidays in order. It's not like we are forgetting about Him. We are THANKING Him on THANKSGIVING for all the blessings we received from Him throughout the year. Plus....IT'S A HOLIDAY ABOUT FOOD, PEOPLE! And you're trying to skip that... Are you SERIOUS?? Well, until Friday, you will not here one Christmasy word out of my mouth. Not a Christmasy thought will even cross my mind. I am going to celebrate and enjoy my holidays in chronological order. Yay for pilgrims!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Naturally Nora Contest

Naturally Nora is a brand of baking products that is all natural and allergy free! I found a link for a contest where you can win a year's supply of cake mixes and such. Who doesn't want free dessert! Click here to enter to win a year's supply of allergen free baking products!

Monday, November 17, 2008

TOMS shoes

I just read my friend's blog about shoes and was inspired to write about my new shoe obsession. Now, let's be clear. I am no fashionista and I am not claiming to be one. Most of my clothes are for practicality and comfort. Sure, I like to look cute just like any girl, but lately the budget and the little tyke trump the cute card a million times over. These shoes are both comfortable and practical and happen to be pretty hip looking, if you ask me. If that isn't enough for you, they are a company with a cause as well! For every pair of shoes that you buy, they give away a pair of TOMS to a child that cannot afford shoes. That's reason enough to buy a pair! To learn more about the company and view all of their styles go to Liam has a pair of Tiny TOMS and they are sooooo cute! Below is a picture of my beloved hunter green canvas TOMS that somebody - who will remain nameless but I may or may not be married to, ahem - left at a hotel in Pennsylvania.

May they rest in peace. So, go buy yourself a pair or buy them as gifts for friends and family this holiday season! Happy shopping!

Friday, November 14, 2008

The End of an Era

At 9 1/2 months of age, my son is officially done breastfeeding. I have been battling this for a long time because the nursing experience was not one without its complications for us. Liam and I battled thrush from approximately 6 days old until about 3 months old. Then the dreaded diagnosis of "milk and soy allergy" where I had to basically eat grilled chicken, rice and steamed vegetables for 3 months. Right about the time I could return to a normal diet was the time when Liam decided that he could look around the room and possibly roll over while eating...not so much... Then the teeth came...oh dear...

All the while, I never wanted to stop doing it. The determination was two fold - my desire to give Liam the best I could possibly give him and the bond that we had built through the rather difficult process. I figured, why stop now when the finish line was in sight? I was forced to start weaning at about 7 months due to illness and a decreased milk production, but had maintained at least 2 feedings a day since then. A couple of weeks ago I knew the end was drawing nigh. Now six teeth deep in the process, he had become increasingly restless and painful during feedings and I could tell that my milk production was waning. Then one night this past week I looked down at his sweet little face and realized how much he had grown from that tiny premature infant that I held in my arms not too long ago. It became clear to me that my sweet baby boy that had been transitioning from infant to toddler was composed of much more toddler than infant and that it was time to give it up. I wasn't sad, I was ready and I could tell he was ready too. Then, almost like a sign from God, he reached into the opposite side of my bra, squeezed my boob and cracked a smile. That was it. No more boobie for you kiddo. Sorry La Leche League, but if you're old enough to feel me up, you're old enough to get a bottle! And that was that.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veterans Day!

Thank you to everyone who has served and is currently serving our country through the armed forces. Your sacrifice is one that is greatly appreciated. And a special thanks to my favorite veterans, my Paw Paw who's in heaven and my Grandaddy who I'm lucky enough to still have here with me. I love you!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Hope and Change

Eloquently spoken, I am not. Lucky for you guys, our pastor's wife and women's minister most definitely is. This is what she writes on this day after election day:

"On this important day for our country, I hope that you find yourself neither fearful, nor angry, but held in the promise of our redeeming God. May I remind you that the voice that began the world is still speaking and holding all of creation in its place today, no matter who's name is pasted on the oval office tomorrow. We are children of a covenant God, who has chosen us and sealed us in his love, and while we participate in building his Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven, we are ultimately made for something greater than this earth. His purposes will be established, we just haven't seen the calendar of his appointed days.

As you contemplate the political future, may I bring your mind back to your spiritual calling? Dear ones, in as much as you feel uncertainty about our economy, or political surety, there are still those around you hurting to know the gospel of Christ's redeeming love. You, like a small boy's lunch, have been chosen, broken, blessed, and have the opportunity to give the love of Christ to those around you. If you feel at the end of yourself, or despairing, or uncertain, be given. Listen and look for the needs around you, and offer the love of Christ to the hurting and hollow eyes you come in contact with today, tomorrow, and all week. It is a beautiful opportunity to be the beloved of Christ for the glory of God to an anxious people.

William Wilberforce, after a lifetime of fighting slavery, won the battle at the end of his 28 year fight. The slave trade was abolished in England. He said with great conviction, that what he learned was that change is not to be brought about in the halls of government, or legislation, but in the hearts of people surrendered to the work of the Holy Spirit. Words of deep spiritual truth for us today.

Be God's people, wherever, whatever, he allows you to encounter. It is an honor, an act of obedience, and the truest source of courage and hope for our own tired souls."

~Kim Thomas

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Real Reason to Vote

For those of you who aren't motivated by duty, patriotism, gratefulness to the trailblazers before know the is a voting privilege that is sure to have you running to the polls this tuesday...FREE FOOD!!!! If you are like me, you are arguably poorer than you were in college. I went from one person on 3 incomes - scholarships, campus job, ma and pa - to 3 people on one income. So the "Free Pizza at the BSU" sign still makes me want to act like I'm 19 and join in on the Bible study so I don't have to buy dinner. Likewise, the participating restaurants have me running for the polls. If you are fretting because you don't know who to vote for, give me a call and I'll make your decision for you. Then you can fill your belly without emptying your wallet. Happy Election Eve!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Easy Pumpkin Spice Cake

1 box Spice Cake mix
1 can pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

Preheat oven to 350. Put pumpkin and cake mix in a mixing bowl and beat on high for 2 minutes. The batter should be lighter and fluffier. Pour batter into a greased bundt pan and bake for 30 - 45 minutes or until a knife or cake tester comes clean when inserted into the cake.

You can serve this cake warm with ice cream or whipped cream and/or cooled with cream cheese icing or sprinkled with powdered sugar. It is also good chilled overnight in the refrigerator with whipped cream to accompany it or just straight out of the pan with your fingers :) I read somewhere that this cake needs to be kept in the fridge. I'm not sure why, but I did anyway. I also found this super cute idea for a pumpkin bundt cake. They have special "3D pumpkin cake pans," but I think you could just double the recipe and use 2 regular bundt cake pans. You would just need to let the cake cool completely and then level the bottoms before assembling.

This is SUCH a cheap and easy recipe and it really is very good. The consistency is more like a muffin than a cake, but is very moist and perfect for this Halloween weekend! I think this recipe would be great as a sheet cake or cupcakes too. I would just check it after 15 minutes and then again every five minutes just to make sure you don't overcook it. I think this recipe would probably dry out if overcooked. Have fun and let me know how it goes!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Such a slacker...

I'm in Atlanta visiting family and participating in wedding festivities for my cousin. I have neglected my blog. Oh dear. Stay tuned for that pumpkin spice cake recipe I promised. So good and so easy. I swear! As Blayne would say, holla at yer boy. I miss project runway :(

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Election '08

I promised myself I wouldn't do a political post. Apparently I lied to myself. I just can't take it anymore. I have to let it all out.

There are signs of fatigue among Christians on this issue. Some argue that the sanctity of life issue is simply one among many important issues. Without doubt, we are faced with many urgent and important issues. Nevertheless, every voter must come to terms with what issues matter most in the electoral decision. At some point, every voter is a potential "single issue" voter. Some issues simply eclipse others.
This is the case with the sanctity of human life. I can understand the fatigue. So little progress seems to have been made. So much ground has been lost. So many unborn babies have been aborted. The culture has turned increasingly hostile to this commitment, especially among the young. There is a sense that many want to get on with other issues.

There is fatigue and frustration with the Republican Party and with limited progress. There is frustration with mixed signals and missed opportunities. There is the acknowledgment that we have too often been told what we want to hear and then ignored.

There is the sense that the battle has grown old -- along with those who are fighting it. There are signs that the culture is closing its ears. We all have other concerns as well. Can we make any progress on those if we remain tenaciously committed to opposing abortion?

Yet, there is the reality that we face a choice. This is a limited choice. And we cannot evade responsibility for the question of abortion. Our vote will determine whether millions of unborn babies live or die. The Freedom of Choice Act, if passed, would lead directly to a radical increase in the numbers of abortions. The abortion industry has told us that themselves.

The question comes down to this: How many lives are we willing to forfeit -- to write off as expendable -- in order to "move on" to other issues of concern? There is no way to avoid that question and remain morally serious. The voting booth is no place to hide.
~Al Mohler

I'm not going to act like I have any idea who I'm voting for, because I don't. I do, however, know who I'm not voting for. I am not voting for Senator Barack Obama. Geez. Don't gasp so loud. You might suck all of the oxygen out of the atmosphere. I have been inexplicably ashamed to say this out loud to anyone but my husband lately. I don't know why. I usually just say "undecided" and move on. But thanks to my friend Melissa and her amazing blog I feel like I can come out of hiding and reveal my true self to the world. Thanks Melissa!

As far as reasoning goes, there is really only one reason. Abortion. That's not to say I don't disagree with other policies of his, but this one is a deal breaker for me. It really is. I can't get past it. I have heard so many arguments on the issue - about how all life is sacred and abortion and war both take lives so voting for one against the other doesn't pan out - about how the real way to save these babies is education over legislation - about how the president doesn't really decide these issues anyway, so voting won't make a difference. I respectfully disagree. I'm not that eloquent, but my friend Thomas is. He went to law school people. He passed the bar. Watch out. So, in light of his amazingness, I'm using his words:

Abortion policy in this country is set by the Supreme Court. The American people have no way to affect abortion policy other than voting for a president and sentators who we hope will appoint and confirm justices that will, someday, make pronouncements from the bench that we agree with. There are a lot of "ifs" in there.

Roe v. Wade, and the more important case that came after it, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, take abortion policy away from the people and vest it in the courts. Defending Roe is not defending abortion, it is defending a system in which it is impossible to even have a debate about abortion. For all the talk about "choice," defenders of Roe and Casey do not want the American people to get to cast a vote that reflects their choice.

Overturning Roe would not outlaw abortions. It would merely allow states to pass laws and regulations governing abortions, including laws that could prohibit the practice.

So I have a hard time with calling Roe's defenders "pro-choice." The overall thrust of the abortion lobby's agenda has been to insulate abortion policy from democracy.

Moreover, let me echo Melissa. I am a single issue voter, not because I ignore all other issues, but because I have weighed the issues and found that none of them even compare in importance. If you believe, as I do, that a newly-conceived embryo is a person, then abortion is murder, and murder on a truly horrifying scale perpetrated on the weakest and most defenseless among us. Every other issue is fluff compared with a million murders every year.

And I will assert with some confidence that if a candidate supported slavery or preemptive nuclear war, most of you would be single issue voters, too. I believe it is our mere familiarity with abortion as a policital issue that keeps us from seeing how horrible it is. We are, I am, calloused to its horrors.

I will end by showing that Senator Obama's view on this matter is absurd. In his conversaion with Rick Warren, Obama said that the question of when life begins is "above my pay grade." That sounds nice and humble, but remember that Obama supports abortions at least in the first trimester (he actually voted to support outright infanticide, but we'll set that aside). If he is unsure about when life begins, shouldn't he be concerned that it might begin at conception or at least sometime in the first trimester? If you are unsure if your fly is down, you double check. If you are unsure if your chicken is fully cooked, you leave it on the grill for a few more minutes. If you are unsure if there is a car in your blind spot, you look over your shoulder again. If you are unsure whether there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, you wait before invading. But it's fine to abort your fetus, even if you're unsure.

The glibness reflected in this answer appalls me. If you are willing to abort something, you had better be sure that you are not killing a person. I fear that the ease with which he punted that question reflects the fact that abortions do not primarily harm the mother, but rather cause the baby. If a doctor is unsure whether you have cancer of the right or left lung, would you prefer he know before operating? Or, if it were impossible to know whether a certain kind of drug could ever be administered without creating a large risk of sudden death, should the FDA approve that drug?

To those that support Sen. Obama: I encourage you to answer the question of when life begins. If you are unsure, consider whether you should err on the side of caution.

If you are like me, you have pureed green beans in your eyelashes and crusty snot on your jeans and you can barely find the time to pee let alone research presidential candidates. At the very least, you haven't found the time to do your research. Here is some reading for you - and all in one neat little package :) These links speak on Obama's record on the topic of abortion as well as discussion on the topic from some highly respected people. Please take the time to look into it. It is so important to educate yourself.

Info on Freedom of Choice Act

Obama on the Born-Alive Legislation (an article by Dr. Robert George)

A Blog By Randy Alcorn
An Interview with Donald Miller
Albert Mohler article

ProChoice America Stats on Obama

With that said, I just can't do it. I just cannot support a person that would rather risk murder than infringe on a woman's "right to choose." As a woman myself, I honestly don't believe that I have the right to choose life over death in any situation, regardless of legislation.

I hope you aren't offended by this post, but if you are I can only hope that the initial offense subsides and deeper thought is provoked on the topic. Many thanks to the Richies for letting me plagiarize :) Happy voting peeps.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Tastes as good as it smells!!

Sorry for the post hiatus. I know, I know. You've been crying yourself to sleep at night. It's okay, baby. I'm here now. I'm here... Liam and I were out of town visiting "Daddy" and I was just too busy to do much of anything but take care of business. Now it's back to the ole routine and, luckily, a little time for blogging :)

A friend of mine asked about possibly drinking the fall brew recipe that I posted last time. While it will not kill you, the fall brew is not meant for drinking and would probably taste nasty. This next recipe for Russian Tea is something that smells AND tastes like fall. As far as I know this is a southern staple. I'm not too sure about other parts of the U.S. I asked my friend Michelle in Ohio if she had ever heard of it and she had not. You should try it, regardless. It is a warm cup of autumn goodness, for sure.

Russian Tea

2 cups Tang
3/4 cup instant tea (unsweetened)
1/3 cup lemonade mix (not unsweetened)
3/4 tsp ground clove
2 tsp cinnamon

Mix 2 Tbs of powder per cup of boiling water. Add cinnamon stick stirrer if desired. Store left over powdered mix in an airtight container or bag.

First off, yes this recipe calls for Tang. Tang is awesome. Don't hate. Secondly, I have seen recipes that call for up to 3 1/2 cups of sugar in addition to the above ingredients. I personally don't think it needs any sugar, but if you make it and don't think it is sweet enough, know that you can add sugar. It's up to you. Let me know what you think!!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Do you smell that? I think it's autumn!

As you all know spices are one of my favorite parts of the fall season. Sure, we all have candles and that do their best to make our home smell like we are baking a homemade pumpkin spice cake (more on that later), but nothing beats the scent of real cinnamon, cloves, and other yummy ingredients permeating the air. My good friend Rhondi gave me this recipe a couple of years ago and I make it every year. We shall call it "Harvest Brew."

Harvest Brew

1 lemon
1 orange
3 short cinnamon sticks
6 bay leaves
1/2 cup whole cloves

Cut lemon and orange into quarters. Combine fruit, spices & 2 quarts of water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, & simmer as long as desired. Add more water as needed. Any leftover mixture can be covered & refrigerated for several days to be re-used.

I personally have cut the cloves down to 1/4 cup. Since we don't have a large house I found the clove overpowering at 1/2 cup. Also, cloves are not cheap so I wanted to use as few as possible. Make sure you store the brew in the refrigerator when you are not using it. Since it uses fresh ingredients it can go bad. Believe me, you do NOT want the smell of rotten oranges making its way into the pores of every soft surface in your house. I don't know if there's enough Febreeze in the world for something like that.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I'm thinking we should just direct deposit our paychecks right into Publix's bank account. When selling things at a garage sale I should just say "Oh, you can make that out to Kroger please." Can you believe how expensive food is lately?? My word. My jaw literally drops every time I check out. I'm naturally averse to the concept of money as it is, but now I'm just getting downright irritable about it. I like to buy organic, especially for Liam, but my ability to do that is dwindling. So, in an effort to balance frugality with wellness I did a little searching and researching. I found that Earthbound Farm Organics has a guide on their website that directs you to the produce that most commonly contains pesticide and herbicide residues in order from the highest levels to the lowest.

Go to to see the full list.

For a quick reference, here are a few of the common types of produce with the highest levels of chemical residue -

Bell Peppers
Imported Grapes

These lists are really helpful to me as I am debating whether to knowingly poison my child or drop my life savings on a piece of fruit. Okay, that's a little dramatic. But you know what I mean... Now I will know that if I'm buying peaches, I should opt for organic. Frozen corn, not so much. Thanks Earthbound!

Happy shopping!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

When describing myself, I prefer the term "quirky"...

So I've been tagged by Rhondi and Melissa to list 6 quirky things about myself. (I know. I'm pretty popular...)

Here are the rules:
1. Link back to the person who tagged you.
2. Mention the rules on your blog.
3. Tell 6 unspectacular quirks of yours
4. Tag 6 fellow bloggers by linking to them
5. Leave a comment for each tagged blogger to let them know they've been tagged.

1. I already know what I'm going to order before I get to most any restaurant that I've been to before. The chances of me ordering the dish exactly how it is listed on the menu is very slight. When you think of me ordering, think of Sally in "When Harry Met Sally." If I have never been to the restaurant before then I will probably go through the menu 87 times, make everyone else order before me, choose something, and then complain the rest of the time that I REALLY should have ordered the other thing I was thinking of ordering. Too much... I know...

2. I have a specific order in which I get ready in the morning including a very precise routine of what gets washed/shaved when in the shower. If the order is disrupted I don't feel fully clean the rest of the day. (I have become more flexible since having Liam because cleaning time is limited, but it still bothers me.)

3. I will swim in any lake, river, ocean, or stream, but I will not go barefoot in a hotel room, including the shower. To me, people germs are much more disgusting than nature germs. Now, this rule is up to interpretation at my whim. There are some inside places that are clean enough and some outside places that are not. I was watching Jon & Kate Plus 8 last night, and Kate mentioned word for word that she also has this "quirk." Lucky for me, Jon was watching with me and can no longer say that I'm the only person in the world that acts this way :)

4. When using ketchup packets, I put the ketchup on one fry at a time. If it is a regular fry, it goes on in a straight line down the fry. If it is a waffle fry (from chick-fil-a, of course) it goes on in straight lines down each crevice. If the ketchup is pumped into one of those little platic cups, I stir black pepper into it. Sue me.

5. Anytime I'm in the car I feel like I have to have a drink with me. Lately it's been Arnold Palmers from Chick-fil-A. I don't know why. Automobiles make me thirsty.

6. I cannot watch scary movies AT ALL. I can't even see trailers for scary movies. I once had a nightmare because I saw the cover of the movie "Hellraiser" at blockbuster. True Story.

I tag
1. Allison Portas
2. Hannah McBrayer
3. Ryan Hester
4. Megan White
5. Jen McGowan
6. Michelle Rigsby

Saturday, September 27, 2008

"Goodbye Golden Age" - Jon Black

I heart folk music or "Americana" as the kids are calling it these days. Not only is this one of my favorite albums of the year in this genre, but one of my favorites, period. While more on the Ryan Adams end of the genre than, say, Gillian Welch, "Goodbye Golden Age" is still the perfect fall album - one you imagine relaxing to by a camp fire, or on an afternoon drive through the country with the windows down, or on the front porch in the cool of the day sipping a PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE!

Now, I'm not going to lie....Jon Black is my friend. He is from Cobb County (Big Chicken! Holla!), he and my husband ichat like tweenage girls about music and gear and comic books, and he was at my house a-pickin' and a-grinnin' a couple of days ago. Regardless, I would buy this record. If you played me this record and I had no idea who the guy was, I would still listen to it from start to finish at least once a day. I can't even narrow down my favorite tracks to list for you. It's that kind of record. Go here and listen to it and then go and buy it on itunes. It's only $9.99. I swear you won't regret it.

Jon will be in the Nville and other places near you very soon wearing a beard as black as his name and sharing his musical love for all to enjoy. Go see him! He'll rock your socks off.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

Yay Fall!

It's fall! Hooray! I think that most people in the south anxiously await the arrival of the autumn season. Summer in the south can bring a lot of great things like night swimming that you just can't enjoy anywhere else, but right around mid-August the heat and the humidity can be down right suffocating. This past week or so has been a wonderful and refreshing change. These area few of my favorite things about the fall:

Cute fall clothes!

Large Tennessee Oaks with Fiery colored leaves

Pumpkin Spice and Chai Lattes on cool mornings. (non-fat of course!)

Holidays and all the event planning that comes with them!

Holidays and all the delicious food that comes with them :)

Crisp breezes at dusk as the smell of bonfires fill the air.

Candy Corn


Pumpkin farms, hayrides, and corn mazes

Basically anything with the words pumpkin and/or spice in the description.

Football (in small doses of course.)

Soups and Stews and other warm and filling comfort foods.

Gourds and other fall decor.

Babies in pumpkin costumes.

Miniature Take-5's

Popcorn Balls

Shopping in the middle of a weekday without having to battle loitering teenagers EVERYWHERE!

Lunching at Chick-fil-A midweek without elementary school kids running rampant through the restaurant.

Cuddling under the covers with my honey on a crisp night while we're trying to save money by waiting as long as we can before we turn on the heat :)

Happy Autumn Everyone!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Making Baby Food - part 3 - Actual Food!

And now, the piece de resistance -- the edible food part of this whole process :) My go to guide for making food has been There really are some great ideas and information on this site. There are also a ton of books on the topic with recipes and suggestions and such. I personally have one called "Mommy Made." It was given to me by a friend and has recipes from first foods all the way to toddler friendly meals that the whole family can enjoy. Regardless of your resource, you will need to check with your pediatrician for a food schedule. I know different resources suggest different schedules for introducing new foods. Liam is on an even slower schedule because of his history of GI problems and food allergies. Just double check to make sure that you aren't introducing something that will give your little one a belly ache or cause further digestive issues such as food allergies.

Here is the cooking gear I use/have used:


It has been said that steaming food is the best way to cook food while maintaining the highest nutritional value. Steamers are definitely great to use, but not absolutely necessary. If you don't have a steamer or know you probably won't use one for anything but baby food, I wouldn't buy one of those big steamer/rice cooker combos. Maybe opt for a bamboo or metal steamer or choose a different method. One of the benefits of baby food making is the money you save. If you buy every gadget or piece of equipment you come across, you will end up spending more than you save. There are many more ways to prepare baby food using kitchen tools you already have.

Pot for boiling

I have definitely used these, especially when preparing frozen fruits and vegetables. Definitely a perfectly fine option for cooking all of your food.

Pan for baking

I use glass pans for baking fruit. You already have them anyway, so why not use them!


A must have to get the fine texture necessary for more fibrous foods.

I ran across this super cool set with a stand and a pestle which would be awesome if I had the $100 to drop on it. If you already have one of these or are a trust fund baby, use away, my friend, use away...


It is very important to make sure your fruit and veggies are nice and clean and free of pesticides, herbicides, waxes, and other contaminants that may be on the outside of your produce. Fit is 100% natural and gets the job done. I already had this because I use it on the produce my husband and I eat anyway.

Now that that's over, I'll share with you some of what I've been up to. I always buy organic produce for Liam. Always, always, always. I just want him to have the simplest food possible, so I choose the ones with the least pesticides, herbicides, genetically modified ingredients, nitrates, etc... It's just a personal preference, not a prerequisite. I just figure if I'm going to go through the trouble of making his food to ensure it's purity, I don't want to negate that effort with other contaminants. Here are the foods that I did with Liam:

Sweet Potatoes
Green Beans
Winter Squash
Summer Squash/Yellow Zuchini
Green Zuchini
Prunes (never made these because of the rehydration involved - always bought the prepared variety)

Bananas and Avocados are the easiest of all to prepare. You just peel and mash or puree. You can add water if you need them to be smoother, but chances are you shouldn't.

The rest need to be cooked in some way to be soft enough to further prepare. We'll start with the fruit. You need to do your best to buy the ripest fruit you can find. Unripened fruit is typically more tart and less palatable for a baby, especially more acidic fruits like peaches and plums. It is often hard to get really ripe fruit because of the modern grocery store set-up, so I choose to bake my fruit to enhance the flavor and sweetness. I also read somewhere that baking preserves more of the nutrients than boiling because they don't leech into the water as much. I'm not a scientist, so I have no idea if that's true, but I figured I'd go with it. I start by preheating the oven to whatever I feel like, usually around 350ish. Then I get a glass baking pan (either 9x13 rectangular or 8x8 square depending on how much fruit I'm making) and fill it with an inch or two of water. I use glass pans because I feel like it is cleaner and with non-stick pans I wonder if the non-stick is leeching into the food. (I'm certain I saw a dateline or 20/20 about that somewhere...) I then clean the outside of each piece of fruit with my trusty bottle of Fit and cut them all in half. I then core/pit/seed each piece of fruit and slice an X in the skin of each half. (This makes it easier to peel once the fruit has been cooked.) Each half is placed flesh side down in the water and baked until tender. Then I remove the fruit and place it on a plate to cool before peeling and pureeing. I do not peel the fruit before I bake it for a couple of reasons. You want the fruit really tender so it will be easy to puree. If you bake "skinless" fruit in a pan of water it has the tendency to begin to disintegrate into the water while baking. Also when the flesh is exposed to the dry heat of the oven it gets tough on the outside. Then instead of being able to use all the flesh, you have to remove the tough part. That could be a whole serving of fruit you are getting rid of! As you are pureeing, you may notice that you need a smoother consistency. I just use the same water that I cooked the fruit in to thin it out. This water contains any of the nutrients that have escaped the food, so it's a great way to add it back in while receiving the texture result you are looking for.

Now we have veggies. Veggies are very good for baby, but a little harder to prepare because they are usually much more fibrous than the fruits. When preparing veggies, you often need a strainer. It is essential to have one for peas and green beans. Both of these have hulls and or strings that babies can choke on. Other foods that I have found may need one are winter squash and sweet potatoes. They sometimes have a stringy quality that is not acceptable for baby food. With the exception of sweet potatoes, green beans and peas, I peel, seed, dice and either steam or boil my veggies. My mother-in-law was sweet enough to give me a steamer, but I know that not everyone has one. Boiling is perfectly acceptable. I also steam or boil the peas and green beans, but obviously they don't need peeling, seeding or dicing. I mean, you can peel your peas if you want to, but I'm not :) When it comes to the sweet potatoes, I scrub the skins really well and then bake them. It is so much easier to turn the oven on 400 and throw a potato in the oven then going through the trouble of peeling and dicing and such. A sweet potato will take about an hour or so to get really soft in the oven, depending on size. Then all you have to do is scoop out the pulp, add water if desired, and strain if it needs it. You don't even need a pureeing device for this one! After pureeing and adding the appropriate amount of reserve water to any of the other vegetables, make the judgement call and see if you need to strain. With the exception of peas and green beans, this all depends on the produce itself and your babies development. Please, please, please don't pass up the strainer because it is more work. It is not worth making the food yourself if your baby chokes on it :)

Time Savers!

So, all this is fine and dandy if you have the time. If you are a mom, chances are you are strapped for time. I know I am. So, I often use short cuts.

Frozen Produce

This is probably my most used short cut. You can buy pretty much any organic produce peeled, deseeded/decored, cut up and frozen. My fave is spinach. I honestly do not prepare spinach unless it is frozen. It's too much work. The downside is that often times the selection is more limited.

Canned Produce

This is a little bit trickier considering all the stuff they usually add to canned foods, most notably MSG, sodium, and sugar. These are no-no's for little tykes. The only canned products I have used have been organic canned fruit in organic pear juice. Other than the fruit and juice, I think there is only ascorbic acid (aka Vitamin C) added for something...I don't know what. As long as you read the labels and are okay with what's in there, go for it. I promise I won't come and get you :)

Jarred Foods

Let's have a little heart to heart here. Lately, this is what I use most. Oh goodness...the cat is out of the bag! I started Liam on cereal at 4 1/2 months because of his reflux, so he was ready for more options right after he turned 5 months old. I always started each food with the jarred variety just to make sure he could tolerate before I made a load of homemade. Once it was a go I whipped up batch after batch after batch... This was until I was at home alone with Liam for three weeks straight. Up until then I had been staying with my parents, so time was a little easier to find. Once I got home...not so much... I spent the first few days making a ton of food to stock up and hold me over until Jon got home. Boy was I a frazzled mess! I used the homemade until each type started running out. I hadn't made enough to last me the entire 3 weeks, so slowly more and more jars entered our cabinet. I personally decided that spending quality time with my son was more important. At that point it had become a "one or the other" situation. I needed to simplify. So I did my research and settled on Earth's Best organic. It was the best option quality and cost wise for us. There are many brands of frozen fresh baby foods that may be a good option for you if you aren't pinching pennies like we are. Basically these companies make the food like you would at home and just package and freeze it for you to buy. If you can get these, do. You can usually find them at specialty or health food stores like Whole Foods. Unfortunately this was not an option for us, so Earth's Best was the way to go. Whole Foods and Babies R Us have the best variety, but Target is definitely cheaper. I try to buy as much as I can at Target and then get the other flavors from Babies R Us since they are often running sales making their prices better than Whole Foods. There are a couple of compromises I had to make here in terms of ingredients. Any jarred food with bananas has citric acid and ascorbic acid to keep it from oxidizing. Some of their mixed vegetable varieties have potatoes and/or corn in them which tend to have less nutritional than caloric value. Some of their fruit varieties have berries in them which can be allergens. So, I just waited a little longer on these options until I felt comfortable feeding them to my son. Liam is almost 8 months old and I literally started the berry varieties a week ago just to be careful. I have also bought "adult versions" of organic applesauce, pear sauce, etc... as it is cheaper per unit than buying the individual baby food jars which pretty much contain the exact same thing. With that being said, I love jarred food!

Finger Foods

I only exclusively used jarred food for a couple of weeks. Then he started finger foods, so I have been slowly working into that. Liam is now well on his way to being solely a finger food baby. I have stopped making the purees altogether because he is growing out of them and am replacing those with homemade finger foods. These are prepared the same way minus the pureeing. I'm just going to hold off on the peas and green beans until he has more teeth and can chew up those skins really well. I like making finger food a lot more because you get to cut out the mess and hassle that comes with pureeing, which I think is really the hardest part about making baby food. Aside from bananas and avocados, I'm still cooking the fruits and veggies, so check with your pediatrician on when you can start raw foods. I also am waiting until after Liam's 9 month appointment to introduce meats. Again, check with your pediatrician.

Well, that's the long and sh...long of making baby food! I really suggest you at least try it out. It is much cheaper than purchasing prepared foods and can be a lot less wasteful. As long as you think through everything, take suggestions from friends who have done it, and make sure you have everything you need, I think it is very doable. Good luck and happy pureeing!
Designed by Lena