Sunday, November 28, 2010

Before we say hello to Christmas, I must say thank you to Thanksgiving!

I cannot head into the Christmas season without taking time to reflect on Thanksgiving and share what I am most thankful for.  There is so much to be thankful for this year.  Two words sum it up quite nicely:

God's Sovereignty

I don't know that many of us think much about it until harder times come our way.  As storms swirled around me this year I found peace and comfort in God's sovereignty, knowing that God has a plan for every day and each situation.

Joseph, Jacob's son, faced terrible trials and was put in horrible situations and we when we read that, we find the most beautiful words in scripture:  "God was with him."  In the pit.  Sold into slavery.  Betrayed.  Victorious.  Blessed.  Falsely accused.  In prison.  A power ruler.  Whatever the circumstance, God was with him.  What a comfort!

This year brought some challenges my way... false accusations, a court battle, teens rebelling and chasing dreams of greener pastures... letting go, loving, trusting my Heavenly Father...

Growing is such a painful thing sometimes.  God uses our trials to teach us and shape us and sometimes there is no other way to learn those lessons.  I have fought growth in some areas because it is scary sometimes... but, back to Thanksgiving!!  (I'll blog more on "growing" later, I promise!)  Thanksgiving was such a beautiful week for me.

I love seeing her... watching each breath... marveling with deep emotion at such a gift of life.


And I got to hold her for the first time.  All 4 pounds of her!

Nope, that is not a double chin on this grandma... nope... I don't see it at all and neither do you, I am sure.  Chloe might be going home in a couple of weeks.  I thank God with all my heart that I am able to be part of this family!  To care for Chris, Sonia and their son, Christopher... to love them... I am so thankful.

Christopher joined us one afternoon to paint Christmas ornaments.  First he played with Nathan and the boys.



Corey stopped by and stayed a bit.  He had fun messing with Joseph, interfering with his wii play.  Here he is, testing to see how well Joseph could play while upside down!


And here are the painting pics...

And the winner of the painting ornaments event was Julie!!  Here are her prize ornaments:


And while I am being thankful... I love that I have a table that we can all sit around and do crafts on and not worry one bit about paint... or playdough... or pens... needles.. etc.  It's so nice to just go at it and have craft fun without a worry.  

And here are some more shots of us just hanging out around the house together:


Then it was turkey time!  I brined a turkey, following the recipe and baking instructions of Pioneer Woman.  Here's a shout out to my very dear friend, Rachelle!  She recently reminded me of Pioneer Woman's blog and from there I had a great time getting recipes and blessing my family with superb food.  This was the tastiest turkey we have even had... hands down.


We had Scott's parents, sister and her husband over for dinner, which was not just delicious, but was equally full of laughs.  


Each day I was blessed.  Everyone got along.  Any of you out there with multiple children know how amazing it is... how great the day is when your children get along with each other.  And those of you with blended families must know how much more it means and how saying that you "appreciate" the days or moments when the children all get along doesn't seem to be saying enough!   Many moments I just stood back watching, taking it all in... seeing everyone together in peace.  Another beautiful thing to be thankful for.

And to bring this back around, full circle... to know that there is a sovereign God, ordering each of our days... in charge of it all... with a master plan for each life... knowing that all is well... what a beautiful Thanksgiving.

Now, I end with a quote from our grandson, Christopher.   "Peace!"  (That's how he says good-bye.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Two days before Thanksgiving post

For three days I have waited for just the right inspiration... for just the right take on life at the moment.  I've sat here late at night writing about recent epiphany's and joys and concerns.  Then I just wasn't sure about what I wrote, so I saved it, shut down the computer and tried once more to sleep.

I give in... I am just going to have some random writings!!  

This morning is so beautiful!  It's 5:30 am and I just couldn't stay in bed.  Realizing that at about 10am or for certain at 2pm I will be sitting somewhere yawning, wishing for a couple hours of sleep, I snuggled down in the covers.  That was about 4:45am, I suppose.  Then I started thinking about the stack of firewood.  About how nice it would be to sit in front of the fireplace, sipping coffee in a quiet home.  (Here's a shout out to my son, Clayton!  Thank you for working so hard in the back yard to provide me with firewood!  You rock!)

Wow.  I love this morning!  Quiet moments are so personally nurturing.  I like to think that they come close to what Jesus experienced with his Father.  I know it's NO where close to that, but... still.  Jesus would draw away from the crowd to pray.  When life is busy and so full of others who have wants, needs and desires, I just want to slip away, too!  I have a lot more of these lovely times now that the children have grown.  And like many others who have said good-bye to toddler days and elementary years, there are those times that I would just about give anything to have a morning nursing my babe or waking up with a wee one... to hear their little voices... to fix her hair... to read him his favorite story... However, I do love these times right now, too.  I trade in that baby for a teen who wants to talk late at night.  Instead of teething, we have growing pains in knees and emotional pain of maturing.  Instead of squabbling over toys, we have boys jockeying for seating in the Tahoe... then arguing over turns in a game... and each one really just wants some attention and to feel good about himself.

Within the next two days the house will fill up with people, voices, laughter, arguing and to be perfectly honest... probably little bits of sarcasm that make me cringe... and some fighting that will have to be stopped.  But, such is my family.  I will sit and watch them.  Study their faces.  Note who has changed a bit more and is looking less young-ish and more mature. (You know... teens... they go through these growth spurts and changes and all of a sudden, you wonder, "Where did HE come from?")

Later, when boys are up, laundry started and the fire has died down, I will paint walls.  Just touch up.  Christmas music will fill the house.  Clayton will replenish my firewood stack.  Cody will brainstorm today's menu with me.  Joseph will stretch out and hope that his knee gets better soon (truly a horrible case of growing pains... he grew two inches since Aug. and one knee is in major protest... we even went to the pediatrician just to make sure everything was okay).   Victor will enjoy halo lego characters and remind me several times of those two shirts that he really, really likes at JCPenney.

This afternoon I will go pick up the fresh turkey that I ordered.  The other day I was telling my dad about ordering a fresh turkey from the store.  I could not remember what store I had ordered it from.  I think he was a bit amused by that.  I wasn't really too worried because this is a small area... I only go to two grocery stores.  If I go to pick it up from one and they say I didn't order it there, I just go to the other store.  But, I am pretty sure I figured out where to pick up the turkey.  My dad, however, has been quite concerned about me forgetting what store I ordered the turkey from.  He called a couple nights ago to check up on the situation and I have strict orders to call him this evening and let him know that they turkey is here.  That is just the cutest thing ever!  My dad is the dearest man ever!!  (Here he is out and about with us this past July)

This evening my three high school kids should arrive.  It will get loud.   But, I will  love their enthusiasm.  I will marvel... comparing bed time with teens to bedtime with toddlers.  I think it was easier back in the day... And one of them will ask to sit and talk.  I love that.  And after a bit of sleep I will enjoy another cup of coffee in the early quiet of morning. 

Tomorrow we will play games.  I will brine the turkey.  I will make up side dishes ahead of time.  I will fuss over my father-in-love's menu plan (diabetic and no salt).  I will try to keep 7 people fed and simultaneously not use any of the Thanksgiving food. (The Doritos are mine, though... mine!) (Just kidding... I might share.) I will thank God several times for Cody.  He loves to cook.  He is my right hand man in the kitchen.  Then my daughter-in-law and grandson should come over to paint Christmas ornaments with us.  And my daughter Bek and her special guy, Nick, will arrive.  More games.  We'll try to fit in getting floors mopped and tables and chairs arranged... maybe... We'll work on a puzzle.  Watch a movie.  Play cards or dominoes.  Video games will go on...and I'll tell them to turn the volume way down (or off!) because I have heard the aliens get shot and the battle has been won a few times here already, I don't want to hear it again!

Thanksgiving.  I remember my mom talking about how she loved Thanksgiving.  To her, it was all about family sitting around the table.  Having her kids all together.  Well, that's right!  Our numbers will increase yet again on Thursday and we will be joined by Scott's parents, his sister and her husband.  I am SO hoping that the food turns out simply wonderful. I will miss Shasta.  She is spending Thanksgiving with her fiance and their friends with their friends' family up in Oregon.

I actually thought (don't laugh) that I could get out of Black Friday shopping.  But, there's not a chance of that.  I have teen daughters, you know!  So, I am excited about that... I think.  Maybe not.  We will have a good time.  We will jump at the end of a long line and take turns walking around to pick out stuff, then show "things" to each other and hours later when we get to the register we will pay for whatever goodies we have decided on.  Then we'll go do it again at another store.  And I'll wish that I was one of those gals who has mini hand sanitizer in her purse.  But, I wont be that gal.  The coffee will be cold before I finish it.  I hope to catch some sleep when we get back home because I have to head to work that afternoon from 2pm until 10pm.  I am betting that I might sleep good that night.  (I really don't bet with anyone... that's just a figure of speech) (I think I am in the habit of explaining literal from figurative... comes from teaching children and raising a child who has aspergers) (Now days it's the aspie child who has all the wit and is way ahead of us most of the time when it comes to speech!)

So, that's how our Thanksgiving week is looking.  Looks great from this side.  I'll take lots of photos and breathe in every moment.  Sometimes taking deeper breaths that others.  And I am going to set out a Thanksgiving notebook and a pen.  It's going to be put out all week for us to write in.  Anything that we are thankful for.  And in  a few days I'll be back here sharing photos and those little notes that were written down by whoever about whatever.

Blessings to your homes this week!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Birthday to my grandson, Christopher!

Yesterday was a fun day off, spent with this little boy.  He turns 3 today.  It has been so much fun this year because he is such a smart little guy and remembers things and talks about them.  He knows me!  It's great to see his eyes light up and hear him call out, "Betty!  Lemme show you somefin"

He came over to spend a few hours with me while his mom went to the hospital to see his little sister (baby Chloe, who is now over 3 pounds!).  The boys were off to school and it hit me... I have a little boy here and no one else to entertain him except myself!!  He was such a good little guy, though.    It started out like this:


He really liked the soldiers, their uniforms and boots, the motorcycle and all.  Then, after a bit of playing it looked like this:


There's some unwritten rule... you don't get frustrated over messes that grandkids make!

We took out some supplies and made some muffins together... which held his attention just fine!




This afternoon I will head over to Chuck E Cheese, thankful to eat my own lunch prior... and deliver his birthday gift... Alphie, the electronic teaching robot.  Then I will find out if I am more excited about it than he is!!  You know, there's just nothing else like a 3 year old boy!  

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Time in the kitchen...

I'm loving the new look for my blog.  But, honestly, I still find it so funny to have a tab for "Meal Time".  Because it's so "not me"!  I guess the best thing about having a tab like this is to give hope to other ladies out there who don't like to cook...

You wont click on this tab and find me twirling a rolling pin... happily dusting pans with flour... excited about cookbooks.  My goal in the kitchen is to get out as soon as possible, but simultaneously feed my family.  They want food every day.  For some reason, they look to me to get in the kitchen and make the meals happen!

Well... what I do like is when I find something easy to do that tastes really great.  And this week I had success with that!

Walking through the produce area, I randomly picked up an eggplant.  (It's like a purple squash, but softer than a squash and it's a vegetable.) I remembered years ago when our piano teacher's daughter fixed eggplant parmesan.  Now, I like a good chicken parmesan.  Eggplant is cheaper than chicken.   So, I thought I would take a stab at it.  I present to you... Eggplant Parmesan!


I simply googled for a recipe and found one at that did not require frying.  It took very little time and turned out tasty!!   Knowing that the boys would be much more excited about macaroni and cheese, I added that as a side.

Here is a run down of what I did:
      Peeled the eggplant, cutting of the very ends
      Sliced about 1/4 inch thick
      Dipped in beaten eggs (2)
      Dipped in seasoned bread crumbs
      Baked 5 minutes each side
      Put spaghetti sauce into bottom of casserole
      Put slices of eggplant on top
      Spooned more sauce on top of that
      Skipped the cheese...
      Put some more slices on top
      Spooned more sauce to cover tops
      Sprinkled cheese on top
      Baked at 350 for about 30 min.

We all enjoyed it, with the exception of one boy.  Two boys asked for seconds.  That wasn't just for the macaroni and cheese, either.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Introducing "Seven Steps Up"!!!

For several months I have thought about the name of my blog,“Out of Oz”, and what it has represented in my life. Although I really love to write about life and it's lessons and my personal growth, I have not shared much about coming out of an abusive marriage, what that involved or what it was like to recover. One reason that I haven't written about these things is... not only is it very personal, but there are always two sides to stories and although I “know” what I've experienced and how wrong it was, to publicly share information that involves other people out there does not seem “okay”. Sometimes I will refer to a “dark time in my life” and I will continue treating this delicately. When I came up with my original blog name, I chose “Out of Oz” because it meant that I was free from that abusive relationship... I was “out”.

This spring a new chapter in life began and I have been learning so much about myself, my dreams, and the gift of strength that God has given to me. One day I was out sitting near the edge of stunning cliffs, overlooking the ocean... notebook and pen in hand, writing about other times I sat in the same place, aching... longing for stability... peace... wishing for time to speed by and take me to the day when this very difficult time was past. On this one day I started to brainstorm ideas for a new blog name. Because “Out of Oz” tells part of my story but does not represent the whole of who I am or what my life is about. Although ideas swirled around and a few were written down, it was months before the new name came to me.

Recently I have found myself in a new place. There is joy. There is contentment (well, isn't that always a work in progress? It is for me!). There is true hope and faith once more reigning in my heart. When you experience deep emotional pain and rejection, “hope” itself can really hurt. To think that life could be better hurts because you've stopped trusting. It hurts to hope because you don't want to be disappointed. At this time I have true hope once more. It is real and it is incredibly beautiful. There is also a strength that has come from “knowing”. Knowing who you are. Knowing that no one can take that from you. When you are driving down the road and it occurs to you, “No one can really hurt me”. Knowing that God is sovereign and that you really can trust Him. Knowing that whatever storms are ahead, you will be just fine. Wow! That's where I've been.

Back to my blog name... Several weeks back my therapist began planting seeds with me to work through memories from childhood and my first marriage in a way that would re-organize them in my brain to reduce the stress of the memories when they are recalled. The first step was to come up with a place or person that was safe. Like a beach or nature scene. A close friend who anything can be shared with. Well, for some reason (Don't you like that? “some reason”... perhaps God?), a place came to mind instantly. When I was a little girl, about 10, I would go up the neighbor's staircase, seven steps up and sit. From there I looked down at our courtyard and the patio where I played. I could see our front door and living room window. Many times I sat there and processed life... thinking about experiences and relationships. This particular time in my life was a time of peace... my mom and dad were married to each other, I loved 5th grade, my teacher, and friends, I loved church and what God meant to me... I loved sitting seven steps up. There have been other places that have been “mine”... up a tree in the yard... in the corner at the small table having tea in the quiet of the morning, reading... laying in bed writing... places where life gets processed... And that is where I am at now. I am seven steps up... looking down... reflecting on life and daily events... growing... learning... loving... and I believe that is a great name for my blog... Seven Steps Up. You can join me there. I'll share the stairs! Come on up and sit a bit.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

*** Important Announcement!! ***

I am changing the look and name of my blog.  It is still me.  It is "more" me!! 

The name will be changed from Out of Oz to Seven Steps Up.  I will be posting about the name change and what it means to me in a couple of days.  There will be a lot of red on my page... it's my favorite color... So, when you stop on by, don't think you've made a mistake... it's me! 

I'm very excited about the changes.  The actual web site will not change.  It will remain 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Time for the good ol' Smorgasbord again!

Well, life is in swirls around me, a little of this and a little of that going on.  It's been constantly busy and varied. 

Friday afternoon Victor participated in his schools Halloween parade.  He was a white ninja... something like an "assassin" to be more precise.  Boys.  Here he is putting on a move.  Mostly he hid behind this boy to avoid having his picture taken.

Julie and Stephen came for a couple of days and so did Shasta.  We mostly did ordinary things, like run errands.  And take photos. 

Shasta said, "Hey, mom?  We don't have a picture of you and I together!  You are always the one taking the pictures."  So, we are going to work on that during her next visit.

Then Shasta made these fun little white chocolate covered marshmallow ghosts!

And Julie carved a kitten pumpkin!

We went out Sunday and traded in my mini-van for another 7 passenger vehicle.  I loved my mini-van... sleek, comfortable, easy to drive... but it was worn out.  But, being myself, I had such a lump in my throat, saying good-bye to our van.  I hugged it.  Yeah, I even had tears in my eyes.  And now... to move on...

For "tackle a task" I did not get the trailer cleaned and this week I am supposed to work in the garage.  Looking at my schedule, I have Friday morning available to work in there... That was my target date to be finished!  And I wont be cleaning the trailer in my sleep.  So, I may outsource the trailer.  That is a fancy way of saying that I'll hire out one of the boys for one thing at a time and check to see that it gets done... as in $1.00 to get all the laundry out, $1.00 to pack up all items that were left by older siblings that are no longer wanted (worn out shoes and miscellaneous nuts and bolts... why do boys collect those things??), $1.00 to wipe down surfaces and maybe a couple dollars to vacuum... we'll see... The only thing I cannot hire out is the cleaning of mini-blinds... boys just don't "do" mini blinds... the "ruin" mini-blinds.

For fitness, I am  resolved to getting in 3 workouts this week... doing just a warm up, level 2 and level 3.  That's that.

Because, it's NANOWRIMO, baby!!  That stands for National Novel Writing Month.  And I am an official, signed up participant this year!.  I took the plunge.  Last night /this morning I wrote my first 1650 words.  The goal is 1770 per day for a total of 50,000 by the end of November.  It's exciting and fun, but, honestly, there's nobody sitting here next to me, cheering me on.  It's work.  But, I always have a novel floating around in my brain and it's time.

Blessings to you all this week, friends and family!