Sunday, February 27, 2011

Where is Keithsburg, IL?

I have no idea.

But that’s where my boys went this weekend and raced bikes. Want to see pictures?


Story of the day: Ben hit a tree. And the tree fell over! Not That Tree

Not this tree.

Through the Trees

That would be something, wouldn’t it?


The riders: 1st place to blue, 2nd place to red (Ben’s blue)!!!!!!

Riders and Their Trophies

Oh, Bill also rode, but no one was there to take pictures of him. In his class, he was 2nd! In his own words, Bill raced a beginner old man class, so he is kind of embarrassed about the trophy. However, Ben is so proud and excited, I’m putting this one up here for him. A toothy grin= very excited in the Bill/Ben book of facial expressions.Proud Together

Caught Ben taking a self-portrait.DSC_0578

Self- Portrait


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Game Night

We had an impromptu game night last night. Monday through Wednesday evenings are always a bit rushed so when Thursday rolls around, we are all ready for a good family supper and being together. After a supper of pork chops and sweet potato fries, we played Rummikub. I used to play it when I was a kid and loved it. I have my parents’ game, so I pulled it out and we taught Audrey and Ben how to play. Luke helped draw my tiles and flipped the timer over. We nibbled on Girl Scout cookies while we played.

Lining Them UpTiles on the Table

Boys and Bikes

Just so you’re clear, this isn’t going to be the last on motorcycles. In fact, the snow is but a breath away and here’s what my garage looks like. Notice anything?


Let me help you… no car.

It won’t be back in there until next winter when I threaten 3 boys that I must be able to park in the garage or I’ll haul every motor, tire, fuel can, wrench and so forth out to the curb with a free for hauling sign.

Tire Work

Bill is changing something with a tire because he told me he didn’t pinch the tube.  Oh, it’s a tire for Ben’s bike. That’s all I’ve got, guys. (Are there any guys reading this? I mean, besides Bill? Thanks, honey.)

Muddy Bike

And this is not the last of the mud. Bill went riding last weekend. The snow might be gone, but the mud. Oh, the mud. Bill doesn’t care- het got to go riding in February!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

He Leads Me

Our last few weeks with Victoria before we took her home were the most difficult weeks Bill and I have ever had. Once she left, there was no sigh of relief. There was no “Phew, glad that’s over, let’s get on with the rest of our life.” There was nothing. We were drained, empty. I was practically sick on the way home. We needed away time, down time, alone time. The Sunday after I selfishly dumped the boys on Bill and I escaped to my room.

I knew I needed to turn to the Lord. I was a wreck. I had a million voices crashing through my mind, fighting for validity, but I was through. I just simply tried to quiet my own thoughts and let Him speak to me. The hymn “He Leadeth Me” strolled through my thoughts. I could faintly hear my grandma singing it in her thin voice and it brought comfort. Here is my journal entry from that time. When you are in the depths you may not need this because you know. But when you come out of the depths you will be assailed from every direction and then you will need this.

I am lost, floundering around in sadness. Knowing that you are goodness. Knowing that you are in control. Knowing that you work all things for the good of your name. But I am sad and in turmoil. A million things swirl about, all of them good or true, but none can calm but you. This sadness pulls and tugs me down. It wants to pull me away from you. So where do I start? Should I begin by counting my blessings? Should I extol who you are? Should I list my thankfulness?

I should turn to you. I will let you lead me where I should go.

You will guide me. To quiet waters, to pastures green.

You will restore, heal my soul. My path will be righteousness. I will stay on it.

If you lead me through the valley, you are with me.

You will comfort me. You give to mind your truth. I will repel evil with what you have provided.

Every need I have is taken care of. For you lead me. Psalm 23


He leadeth me, O blessed thought, O words with heavenly comfort fraught

Whatever I do, Wherever I be, Still tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

Sometimes mid scenes of deepest gloom, Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom

By waters still, over troubled sea, Still tis His had that leadeth me.

Lord, I would clasp Thy hand in mine, Nor ever murmur no repine

Content, whatever lot I see, Since tis my God that leadeth me.

And when my task on earth is done, When by thy grace the victory’s won

Even death’s cold wave I will not flee, Since God through Jordan leadeth me.

He leadeth me, He leadeth me, By His own hand He leadeth me

His faithful follower I would be, For by His hand He leadeth me  -Joseph H. Gilmore

Monday, February 21, 2011

I Found This

I found this picture the other day while rummaging through things. I just had to share it with you because I cannot stop looking at it. This is Luke around 14 months or so. I love every widdle bit of it. The chubby cheeks, the crusty nose, the drool laden lips, the little roll on his neck. sigh.

14 month Luke

And, yes, it is a picture of a picture. My photos are a bit discombobulated because this was when we were transitioning from a regular film camera to a digital camera. (Getting pictures organized once and for all is on the to-do list.)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

You Can Help Right Now- part 3

Matthew 6 warns us that when we give, do not give to show off. When we give, do it in secrecy, for our Father will see.

I am not writing this to show off what we did. I am not telling you about this to have you praise us. I’m writing this to help be an example to you. If you praise anyone, praise our Father, who has given us all things in the first place. That, if you have relationship with Him, he will help you to desire and to do His will.

Moved by the story of the refugees and their needs, I realized that this was an good hands-on family serving time. So with the early dismissal of school on Wednesday, I gathered the kids together, briefly explained the situation and said we were going to do what we could. I was met with a bit of resistance. Why did we have to give up our stuff? What’s a refugee? Why can’t they just spend their own money that the government has given them? WHY do my kids complain and fight me when this is a good thing and is what He asks us to do if we say we love Him?!!!! (this is a good example of how not perfect, not holy we are!) sigh.

But I determined I was still going to do it, even if no one was on board. We had extra things that we could give. I started going through each room, with the list in mind, and pulling stuff out. I had help sacking stuff up. But I also had more concerns. What if we run out of toilet paper or soap? Answer: We’ll just go to the store and get more. We have the money to do that. They don’t have ANYTHING. It still did not really go anywhere.

I waivered a bit by the next day as I hadn’t been able to drop the stuff off yet. Maybe I shouldn’t. The kids will just fight me on it. But no, if I want my kids to someday have generous, servant hearts, then they’ve at least got to see me do it. Besides I already had most of the stuff piled together and it was just a matter of getting to the drop-off. What a difference a day can make.

I had pulled an unused sleeping bag out to give away. Luke noticed and was upset that it was going. I reminded him that he already had one and if we could give it to someone else who didn’t have one at all. “Yeah!”, he cheered. “I want to give it to a boy!” Then he went into his room and came back out with a Lightening McQueen car and said he wanted to give it to them. I told him that this was making God so happy and that God tells us that He loves a generous giver! WooHoo! Well, Ben picked up on this and down he went to retrieve a few items, also! He was spurred on by Luke’s actions! (Audrey gave some stuff away, too.)

These are small efforts, small sacrifices, small tangible things my kids can grasp and do. I hope they will have a cumulative effect over time as they grown in relationship with God. Luke gave up two things which he loves a lot- a Lightening McQueen car and a hot wheels car! He was saw from his little perspective just how much he had. He was overwhelmed by how wonderful it is to love God back.

Now here again is the problem I wrestled with at the beginning. Am I boasting about our good works for all men to see (via this blog?) or have I spurred you on by our example? My purpose is the latter. I felt God’s leading for us to do this. I was being obedient. I wanted to share this with you to “spur you on towards love and good deeds.” It is to His name and His glory that all praise should go!  

Friday, February 18, 2011

You Can Help Right Now- part 2

Part 2 right on the heels of part 1. Maybe you’ll be spurred on by the pictures from Janel.
First Arrivals!

WOW…the donations are already pouring in!!! Thank you to everyone who is spreading the word about this need and dropping off donations at the gym. We are getting so much great stuff! Just wanted to do one more post on this so that you could see this organization in action! On Wednesday, the first family of refugees arrived at the Des Moines airport. Valerie shared some pictures with us and said I could share them here on the blog.
Here is the little family from Burma. Their total travel time was 22 hours! Their little girl is 10 months old.

And here they are being shown the ropes at their new apartment in Des Moines.

And here is a collage of items that were donated and set up in their apartment (table & chairs, baby clothes, bed frame, mattress, sheets, comforter, pack n’ play, and toys). Just wanted you to see that your donations are going to be used!!!!!!!!!!!

For this family USCRI had to purchase the couch, lighting, toiletries, a few of the kitchen items, and food with their government allotted money (most purchases were made at the Salvation Army). Now that the word is out, I think there will be no problem in getting every single item donated that is needed for the refugees apartments.
Thanks again for contributing to this need and for spreading the word!

What a blessing for these families!

You Can Help Right Now- part 1

This is directly from my friend, Janel. It is an opportunity for us to help out with refugees coming into the Des Moines area.


Refugee Resettlement in Des Moines

Jake was contacted a little over a month ago as someone who may be able to contribute help to this organization’s branch in Des Moines: U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (UCRI). The director of the Des Moines branch happened to be in church the day that Jake gave the sermon during a service in Knoxville last August. Valerie, the director, has faced challenge after challenge in finding someone to partner with her organization to assist refugees as they begin their new lives in Des Moines. Recently she decided to get in touch with Jake and see if he would be interested in helping her organization. I believe the tangible needs of this organization can EASILY be met by all of you blog readers out there! I will get to that in a minute. First let me give you a little background on this organization….
What is a Refugee?
A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Refugees differ from other immigrants in that they do not have the choice to remain in their home country. Refugees flee their countries to save their lives. They run from war and persecution, often losing beloved family members along the way. Many refugees then spend years and sometimes decades in substandard refugee camps. Less than one percent of all refugees get the chance to leave a camp and resettle in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, or other countries that resettle refugees. (Source:

LESS THAN 1%. It’s literally like winning the lottery. Refugees living in camps in various countries can go to their Embassy and fill out a series of refugee service paperwork in which they can apply for a visa to the United States. Then it becomes a lottery process as to who is granted visas. Literally the luck of the draw so to say.
What is Refugee Resettlement?
Each year, Americans welcome refugees to the United States. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement partner with agencies like USCRI Des Moines to assist refugees through the resettlement process. When a refugee arrives in America, he or she usually comes with little more than the clothes on his or her back. Organizations like USCRI Des Moines meet refugees at the airport and help them to begin building new lives. (Source:

USCRI receives only an extremely small allotment of money from the government (Office of Refugee Resettlement – ORR) to help these refugees get on their feet and become self-sufficient. Because of this USCRI has to be extremely wise in how this money is spent. AND HERE IS WHERE YOU COME IN! The less money USCRI spends on household items, the more they can spend on finding the families vehicles, housing, ESL programs, etc. Currently USCRI is in desperate need of household donations and also for volunteers from the community as refugees have already started arriving just this week. Between now and September USCRI is going to be helping approximately 110 refugees resettle in Des Moines (from Zimbabwe, Burma, & Iraq). Below is a list of the items needed that must be in the homes once the refugees arrive. As you do your spring cleaning this year, PLEASE consider USCRI as a possible donation site for old furniture, clothing, and other household items. Donations can be dropped off at Jake’s gym in Ankeny starting today (3305 SE Deleware). Drop-off times are Monday through Thursday 4pm-9:30pm, or if you need to drop off at a different time get in touch with Jake to arrange this ( There will be large signs directing you to the storage/drop off area once you enter the main door. USCRI will also pick up any donations that you cannot bring in! Here is the list of items needed, and volunteer information is outlined below:
-Mattresses (twin, double)
-Box springs
-Bed frames
-Dressers, set of drawers, shelves, or other unit appropriate for storage of clothing
-Kitchen tables
-Kitchen chairs
-Couches or equivalent seating
Kitchen Items
-Tableware (forks, knifes, spoons)
-Dishes (plates, bowls, cups)
-Pots & pans (sauce pans, frying pans, baking dishes)
-Mixing/serving bowls
-Kitchen utensils (spatulas, wooden spoons, knifes, serving utensils, etc.)
-Can opener
-Baby items
Linens & Other Household Items
-Bath towels
-Bed sheets and blankets
-Pillows and pillowcases
-Alarm clocks
-Paper, pens and pencils
-Light bulbs
Cleaning Supplies
-Dish soap
-Bathroom/kitchen cleanser
-Sponges, cleaning rags, and/or paper towels
-Laundry detergent
-Waste baskets
-Mops, brooms
-Trash bags
-Toilet paper
-Ready to eat food
-Baby food
Come on, let’s start knocking out these items so that Valerie and USCRI Des Moines can use their government money allotment for things greater than household items!!!!!!!! Let’s get Jake’s gym packed to the brim!!!
USCRI Des Moines is also in desperate need of manpower - people willing to serve their TIME and volunteer! Valerie has had a very difficult time finding people who are willing to help refugees. As families pour in USCRI needs volunteers to help set up apartments, aid in transportation, and mentoring these families as they acclimate to their new environment and life. An interest in volunteering does not require a commitment ahead of time. Rather, your name will be placed on an email list and notification emails will be sent out for the needs as they arise. As a volunteer you will also receive a newsletter with updates and an opportunity to attend an orientation for this specific volunteer work. If you are interested in volunteering email Valerie at and you will be added to the volunteer email list.

This is such a great opportunity to help out. When you are going through those drawers and cupboards in the kitchen as you organize, give it to the refugees. How many tubes of toothpaste, rolls of toilet paper, school supplies do you have to stock pile, that you can’t replace when the next sale comes around or just when you go to the store the next time? Rifle through your house right now. What are you holding on to that really could be used by someone who has NOTHING?! Be generous!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

We Know

“Wow, and it seemed like things were kind of looking up for you guys.”

That and other similar statements have been expressed in the last couple of weeks as Bill and I share with others that Victoria is no longer living with us, but it back in South Dakota.

We know, it was surprising to us, too. This was not at all what we expected would happen this semester and especially not so soon into the semester.

We drove her back home a couple of weeks ago. I’m just telling you about it now because we are starting to get back on our feet after dealing with her so intensely. I couldn’t write about it until now because I was lost for words. I may still be.

The exchange program works two ways. One, a family is willing to provide, care for and build a relationship with a student in purpose to give hope- earthly and eternally. Two, a student comes under the agreement that they are here to be a part of a family and a part of a school.

Yes, that leaves a whole lot of room for how that will play out for each family and each student. But, very simply put, no matter the family or the student, if one party is unable or unwilling to do their part, it doesn’t work. Sheesh! Sounds so legal, so general.

What our situation came down to is that Victoria reached a point where her part wasn’t working out. Believe me, we did everything in our knowledge and power to help her want to change that. But she wouldn’t.

This is sounding so harsh, like we just kicked her out, but we didn’t. I’m just working through trying to explain to you.

I had such a hard time grasping it as we sorted and struggled through every issue with her. Bill summed it up by pointing that it came down to two factors- heart and actions. If there is heart, but bad actions, one could work with the bad actions. If there is good decisions, but no heart, one could also work with that. But when there is neither heart to work or change and there is no good actions, then there is nothing you can do.

Our time with her now is over. We don’t know what the future holds for her. We know that the Light has been brought to the eyes of her heart and she has gotten to experience being surrounded by those who live in the Light. We know that life on the Rez is very dark, but it is not too dark that the Light cannot pierce through. We know: In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. John 1:4

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cousin’s Day Valentine Style

You will want to read this if you need last minute Valentine’s Party ideas.

Ah, yes, the 3 week rotation of cousins. It was my turn again this week. I wasn’t going to do anything big because I’m worn out. But I couldn’t help it. I had all the stuff except for one thing. It just came together. Here’s what we did.

The day before I made some cookies. These are called Chocolate Waffle Cookies. My mom made these for us when we were growing up. I just turned them Valentine style.

Chocolate Waffle Cookies

  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 c. butter (the original recipe said oleo!)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Cream the sugar and butter. Add the eggs, then the rest of the ingredients in order listed. Mix together. Drop by spoonfuls onto hot waffle iron. Frost when cool.

Chocolate Frosting

Melt together:

  • 3 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 3 Tbsp. shortening

Then add:

  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • up to 1/3 c. milk

Beat until smooth. Add enough milk to make slightly thinner than usual cookie frosting.

The waffle cookies come out kind of thick. Or at least mine did this time. Just add sprinkles to turn them into something really fun.

Chocolate Waffle Cookies

The special drink (which I especially don’t do all the time) came from my friend Angie, who got it from Lisa. We asked Lisa what was the official name of the drink and Lisa said they call them “Drinky Drinks”. So here is my version of Lisa’s Drinky Drinks!

Drinky Drinks

For each glass:

  • 1 lime slice
  • 1 Tbsp. raspberry flavored syrup (like Torani)

Add ice, fill with Sprite or other lemon-lime flavored soda.

That’s it. It’s tasty and fun. Get the raspberry flavored syrup in the coffee aisle or at World Market.

Drinky Drinks

For a craft, all I had to buy was clear contact paper, which I picked up at our Hardware Hanks! If you decided to do this for a class project, you need quite a bit, depending on the size of your hearts. I got the idea from her who got the idea from her. I am not a creative crafter. I am a copy crafter.

Obi's Heart

This was a fun project except for wrestling the contact paper; separating the paper from backing was a little exercise in patience. And some hearts came out bubble free and others not. All the kids had not cut a lot of hearts free-hand so I had to draw the half heart on one side. It is very good practice in cutting without having to be accurate. (I didn’t bring up symmetry- I was busy monitoring 6 pairs of scissors.)

I am not normally this crafty with my kids. I really liked this one because I had everything except the contact paper, it could cover a wide range of ages, and the directions were very easy. The finished product was something each one could be proud of because it was their own and there was no ideal that they could compare it to.


Friday, February 11, 2011

One Year in Blogland

January 31, 2010 was the first day of posting for my new blog. It was dull and un-momentous for everyone except me. My second post was not very exciting either. Gradually my wings started to spread and here are some things I’ve learned about me and blogging in one year (in no particular order).

The going advice for bloggers is to find your own voice. I’ve thought this kooky over the last year, but the more I write, the more it is true. And really the companion advice should be, don’t compare your blog to another’s. I read a variety of blogs, some which are listed on the side, but there are actually only a couple I might think I should try to be like. In reality though, I’m never gonna be the Pioneer Woman (we live in the middle of Iowa, my husband’s sexy alright, but I don’t get to take pictures of his butt while he’s engineering at 3M, etc.). I also love Meg Duerksen from Whatever, but again, I’m never gonna be her. My voice is my voice.

Amazingly, I can be okay with no regular scheduled features. I love to plan, but carrying out that plan is a different story. It’s a lot of work to write a blog (I’m not asking you to feel sorry for me) and those that post a recipe on Monday, craft on Tuesday, cute kid pic on Wednesday, etc., go to extra lengths to make that happen. That is not what mine is about.

I’m glad I decided up front that I would write when I could and not feel obligated in anyway. I titled it Best Energies Best Affections because I knew that this along with everything else in my life must be balanced carefully. When I spend lots of time preparing music for students, something else doesn’t get done. If I spent lots of time on here, writing about every little detail, LOTS of things would go un-attended to. And in never apologizing to you, I don’t have to meet your expectations of my blog. I can write more freely.

I’m also glad I chose the name for my blog that I did. Our pastor, Paul, was teaching from Philippians and he drew out the point that you share most easily what you are most excited about. That is what I find has happened here. I write about food because I just like to eat. I write passionately about music and piano because it is what I do. I write about my kids because I love them more than I can even describe. I write my thoughts on my time in the Word and my walk with God because I cannot deny Him, not even to the blog world. It all comes at you randomly and maybe you don’t like that. But here’s the thing. I kind of don’t care. You don’t have to agree. You don’t have to embrace it.

Particularly when I write about my walk with God, it often comes by inspiration alone. I hardly ever start to write, put it away to edit or finish later. I’m not saying I’m highly spiritual at all. In fact, some might find me handling Scripture too lightly. But I do know I am careful to put out here what I do say. I’m often compelled and then it just comes rolling off my fingertips. And at times it may feel a little like my heart is on my sleeve/blog and you’re uncomfortable. Again, not sorry.

I love the fact that I’ve somewhat chronicled a year of my family. I’ve taken more pictures than ever. I’ve never really written down all the things we do until now. This has turned into almost a “count your blessings, name them one by one” thing for me. My grandparents met on a blind date. That is romantic. The cousins manage to make memories together quite a bit actually. I would gloss over the small events and miss them. It has also allowed me indirectly to be more celebratory with my kids than before. Just writing about it and sharing pictures makes each time more eventful to me. I get to reflect and I realize this is my life and it is pretty darn great!

The word “blog” drops from the lips of my family regularly. It’s funny. Starting out from (imagine yelling this) “Grandma, it’s a blog. B-l-o-g. You can see pictures of the kids on it.” To “Hi! We read your blog today. Praying for you guys.” Both sets of grandparents are Google followers, by the way. Sometimes though, I think to myself, “If you mention your blog one more time, people are going to throw you out the door!”

That being said, I still don’t write about everything we do. I just don’t have time. And there are plenty of things that get left unsaid and not shared. Our time with Victoria has taught me a lot of things but blog writing takes a good chunk of time to say it. And, I’m discovering, often an initial thought take time to develop and mature. And what seems like a good topic for a post doesn’t always mean it’s necessary. It’s Best energies Best affections. But I do know, blogging can be powerful. I have read many posts, especially by Janel and Lisa that encourage me in my life. I want to best take advantage of this communication medium to encourage others.

I don’t have to “have” things in order to blog. Blogger is free. I don’t have to have Photoshop. Picasa is free. For once in my life, I’m trying to keep it simple. I am not going to compare. I’m going to learn and do as I can. I am not going to be obsessed about building a readership. 

I’m looking forward to another year of blogging. It is a lot of fun. I might add a couple of extra things here and there. I waffle back and forth between all sorts of options: should I feed each post into Facebook? should I make a button? All will tell in time. For now, I’m working to keep balanced. I have many affections to pour my best energies into!

Thanks for being along with me this past year!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chocolate and BBQ

I’m a little behind in sharing this with you. These longer posts take longer to write and I just haven’t had the time to get to it until now.

Two Fridays ago, my daughter and I got up at 4:30 am to meet some other crazy women who were also up. No we weren’t going to go running (done that before, though) and no, we weren’t hitting some odd time of the year super sale, either. We were going to the Van and Bonnie Chocolate Breakfast!

Van and Bonnie

Yes, you read that right. We got up at 4:30 am to have chocolate for breakfast. The radio station, 1040 WHO, sponsors a chocolate breakfast the last Friday in January and it is free to go to. This is my 3rd year to go to it and Audrey came along.

5:00 am, we meet my sister-in-law, Jessica, niece, Cora, and mom, Linda, and other sisters and relatives on Jessica’s side (they’re important, too, I’m just not going to list them) to carpool down to Des Moines. I had made Audrey and I an egg-in-a-hole each  beforehand along with some grapes and almonds. You must eat something protein before you go! The car ride was kind of quiet. We kind of kept up small talk just to keep the driver awake, but personally, I would have preferred to sleep.

5:30 am: The Chocolate Breakfast is held at the Hy-Vee Convention Center. It’s a nice big area for a line to wrap around and wait inside. Thankfully, the line moves fairly quickly.

This Better Be Worth It

This is Audrey, barely awake, thinking this better be worth it, although last year she didn’t come and was grumpy that I didn’t take her.

Grandma, Girls and Chocolate

Now here’s Grandma with Audrey and Cora. If anything, she is determined to leave a legacy of loving chocolate to her granddaughters.

Ritchie Lee

Here’s Ritchie Lee and the Fabulous 50’s band. If you can’t guess, he plays and sings music from the 50’s. I just snooped around a little bit and found out that he’s only 19! He’s pretty good. But it’s also a little weird seeing someone dressed up like that. I tried to snap an inconspicuous photo but he saw me.

So Embarrased

Here’s Audrey reaction to him (and to Grandma singing along). She’s totally embarrassed.

Our 1st Chocolate Breakfast

Audrey and I right before we start consuming chocolate. If I look a little puffy, it’s because it’s barely 6:00!!

Once you get to where the chocolate starts, it’s 3 aisles with booth after booth of tiny chocolate samples. You are tired and lethargic, but excited before hand. Once the first bite of chocolate hits your tongue, you instantly feel your blood sugar rise. Your spirits lift. A smile spreads across your face.

Perking Up

My personal chocolate breakfast tips

  1. Bring water. They don’t supply any and you will want it.
  2. Pace yourself. Skip the Hershey’s Kisses, if you must. Slip those into your bag because you can eat those later, but you can’t save the ice cream.
  3. Eat some solid breakfast pretty quickly afterwards. If you don’t regulate your body with some real food, you are going to have a major blood sugar crash and get sick.

Chocolate Leftovers

See here is what you can tuck away for later. Included in this pile are two chocolate bacon fudge samples. I was going to eat it, but then I saw Jessica’s face and decided not to. Later, I decided to try it. After all, a mouse bite wasn’t going to hurt me and I didn’t want to confess to you that I didn’t at least try. I would say by itself it wasn’t that great, but it also wasn’t as horrible as one might imagine chocolate and bacon together to be.

Now if that wasn’t the perfect segue way to the next part of the day, I don’t know what is. You remember I told you about the new bbq place in town. Well, that Friday also happened to be B Fabulous BBQ’s grand opening and I was not going to miss it. I called my mom and invited her to come along for lunch. After chatting in line and picking up our meals, we signed up for some drawings, and each of us got a 5 minute massage from the ladies at Huxley Massage and Bodywork! We really needed it too. We were having a rough day of… um, eating. Smile


Luke spun the wheel for prizes and got a tattoo and a balloon. Then we headed home to dig in! But before we could eat, I had to take pictures! (again, complaining by my meal companions- I guess they get hungry and want to eat, not have their food photographed)

Mindy's LunchMom's Lunch

I had the smoked pork loin and the BFF burger along with broccoli salad and fresh fruit salad. I also got some fried chicken for Luke. Drumsticks are his favorite from there, but they were out. My mom got pulled pork, pulled chicken and brisket along with the broccoli salad and coleslaw. We all gave it double thumbs up!!

By the way, I stopped by there for lunch the other day (What can I say? I have a weakness for brisket!) and got the mac and cheese corn. OH MY GOODNESS!! If you need your mommy, if you need comfort food, if you just need a gosh darn so yummy, warm your tummy dish, you HAVE to try the mac and cheese corn!! ‘Course, this is just my opinion, though I have confirmed it with at least 1 other person, right Heather?

Oh, I almost forgot to mention who my favorite chocolate vendor was: Cake Me, I’m Yours. They have this flourless chocolate cake/ bite of chocolate heaven. It has been my absolute, hands down, favorite the past two years.

Remember, the last Friday of January, every year. Yum!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

Painful but Prepared

I’m sorry to show this to you if you already saw it live, however, as a piano teacher, I must make comment on it.

Oh, to forget the words of our national anthem. On live tv. At the Super Bowl. And now on YouTube for the world to see over and over and over…Perhaps the only worse thing that could happen to a performer would to be forget them at at presidential inauguration!!

I will defend Miss Aguilera.

1) Have you ever sung the National Anthem by yourself in front of anyone, let alone a Super Bowl audience?

2) Did she show her mistake?

3) Did she sing off key?

4) Did her mistake show that she was lip-syncing or in any other way enhanced?

5) Could you sing, right now all the lyrics to the National Anthem ALOUD, and I don’t care if you do it by yourself, locked in your room (or in the bathroom where you will sound better) and get all the words right? Huh? Could’ya?!

6) Did her mistake prove in any other way that she was unprepared for her performance?

7) Are you or she perfect?


My piano studio is about ready to enter the recital season. They will play two pieces from memory in front of mom, dad, a couple of dragged along siblings, other random relatives and perhaps a few friends who may have just come for the cake. Despite the friendly audience, it is no less nerve-wracking. I, myself, sit there with shakes and jitters for them and pretty much break down after the last student is finished.

I am going to show them this video at their next group lesson. Christina Aguilera does a fantastic job of showing grace under pressure. Yep, she messed up, it happens to the best. In no way should one think that just because you are a famous whatever, you don’t get nervous and that your body won’t do something it never does. In fact, her entire performance, memory slip aside, shows her to be completely prepared. It was one of the better Super Bowl National Anthems I’ve seen in quite a while- well-intoned, entertaining but not overly done, with plenty of character to make it her own, not someone else’s. She sold it to the end. If she realized what she had done, she never let on! How many of us could do that?

I tell my students when they worry about making mistakes and others hearing it, that there are really a lot of things going for them.

1) Could the audience do what they are doing? No, they are the audience.

2) Who in the audience know their pieces? Who has lived it, breathed it, seen it in their dreams? Maybe Mom and Dad, but they’re not actually playing it.

3) Does the audience actually know the piece? Are they going to know when you made a mistake? Sometimes the answer is yes because the mistake is evident, but so many times the answer is actually no.

4) Who’s doing the playing, you or them? You! If they want to be overly critical, then they can get up there and do it!!

We talk about being prepared. There is nothing to replace the time you live and work through your music, or whatever you endeavor. You must work to be prepared. But just in case a mistake happens…

1) Don’t let it show. No contorted facial expression, no slumping body posture.

2) Find the next on ramp. Know where you can jump to in the music to go forward. Repeating the section usually will result in the same mistake being made.

3) Enhance other features- bring out the louds and softs or wonderful melody line to draw the audience to the shiny things.

4) Know the end of the piece. Seriously, you can mess up big portions, skipping over sections, but they will always remember the ending.

5) Always take a bow. You did it, for better or for worse. You did it! Receive your applause.

Did the Super Bowl performance match my advice? Yes. She’s going to have to live with the onslaught of criticism and, you bet, she’s going to wrestle with herself to the point of madness. The stakes are bigger the higher up the ladder you go. But if she’s the performer I think she is, she’s also going to learn from it. She’s going to take steps to ensure her preparedness even more. I hope Christina Aguilera comes out on top- she’s come too far to back away now.

As for the other Super Bowl performance- well, I’d just like to focus on the lessons learned from the aforementioned highly talented performer. Though, I thought Slash did great- he knows how to play his guitar. He must practice a lot with a girl draped over him. Smile

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Taking Care of Some Energy

The other day I had the cousins for a short while and it was starting to get chaotic inside. You know how it goes: the boys pick on the girls, the girls run to their room and scream “go away!”, then the girls tease the boys, boys love a good teasing and before you know it someone is crying, yelling, fighting, etc.

School was dismissed early because of the impending blizzard like weather but it wasn’t that bad out yet. So I devised that I could get the kids outside for just a short bit to divert some energy. I told the girls this plan: They have to come up with 3 treasures for the boys to find and they had to figure out where to hide them outside. The girls were delighted to be in the scheme. They came up with 3 Powerade bottles, got dressed, and went out to hide them. Only occasionally did they scream at the boys to stop peeking. Of course, the boys had no idea what was going on so this just made them more curious.


The girls come in, tell the boys about the treasure and you have never seen 3 boys get dressed so fast! They found 2 of the 3 bottles, then I went out and helped find the last one (which was buried not buried next to the dog house- the girls delighted in the fact that they tricked the boys on this one).


Athan wanted to go “ou-side” like the others. Luke wanted to stay inside.