"As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
Joshua 24:15

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Our Christmas Letter...if I had written it.

That's right. Stephen got a hold of the blog again. This is what our Christmas letter would look like if I had written one...

Our family is like the heart. Forgive me, but I'm a med student. So you're getting a med student analogy.

Joshua is like the right atrium. The right atrium receives blood from the entire body, taking basically everything that is given to it. Joshua has this problem as well, as he has to deal with his rambunctious big brother, a sometimes crabby daddy, and an overworked mommy.

I (Stephen) am like the right ventricle. The right ventricle takes the blood from the right atrium, and pumps this deoxygenated blood to the lungs for the future needs of the body. I am always thinking about the future - what the needs of our family will be, what we need to do now to plan for the future. Also, as a med student, I am often "deoxygenated." Like the right ventricle.

Jeremiah is like the left atrium. The left atrium receives oxygenated blood back from the lungs, and delivers it into the left ventricle to be pumped to the body. Further, the left ventricle is often the source of problems, such as blood clots (which will pass through the left ventricle) or increased pressure (backing up on the right ventricle). Jeremiah is like this in that he can cause problems for both mom and dad.

Erin is like the left ventricle. The left ventricle is the workhorse of the heart, providing for the needs of the entire body. Erin is definitely like this in our house, managing the needs of our entire family, always making sure we have what we need. Further, she deals with the problems of the other three chambers, making sure our family runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

I love you, Erin. You too, Big J and Little j.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Safe and Sound

On this Christmas Eve, when we want to be focusing on our Lord Jesus Christ, we were doing just that.
Only not in reference to His birth.

His mighty name was uttered many times in prayer on a road trip that took us almost twice as long as it normally does due to weather.

Nasty weather.

Stephen says it was the worst drive of his life.

The interstate was closed in the middle of our drive, but we were able to continue on to our destination.

And the Lord was with us every step of the way.

Calming our nerves. At times, even calming the winds.
Guiding us home through blizzard conditions that easily could have sent is into the ditch.

Along the way, we even saw two different lit-up crosses we had never seen before - signs of hope in dire circumstances.

The children were calm for the most part, which was a blessing in itself.

And now, this Christmas Eve, we are safe and sound and stuck - giving the Lord all of the glory for getting us here.

And ready to focus on Him as the reason for the season. As our Savior.

Merry Christmas and God's blessings to each of you!

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
Luke 2:4-14

Monday, December 21, 2009

Not Me! Monday

I think it is about time for a Not Me! Monday! It has been too long!

It was not me who was a little relieved to only put up a small three-foot Christmas tree this year. No, I was not even a little pleased that I didn't have to get all of the ornaments and lights out this year. And it is not me who has become quite fond of the tiny little tree in our living room.

It was not me who both called and sent a lengthy e-mail to the customer service of a company who failed to honor a mistaken price they had listed on their website and CANCELLED our order, resulting in us having to scramble at the last minute to find a different present for one of our children. No, I was not at all fired up by the whole situation and and I did not tell pretty much anyone I came in contact with about it. That was not me.

It was not me who let my children play in the children's section of a small store while I shopped last week. And it was not me who came back to this section to discover that my youngest had pulled CDs off of an entire half of a shelf. And to top it all off, it was not me who had to pay for two pieces of candy my oldest son opened and ate in the store while I was trying to check out. Nope, not me.

And it is not me who is completely THRILLED to have my hubby home for a 16-day break!

Ok, yes that is me and I think there are two boys who completely agree!

Check out more true confessions over at MckMama's site today!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

6 Times in '09

It's time I spoke up for something about which I feel very strongly.


No, I'm not a vampire. I have not even read or seen anything from Twilight.

I mean donating blood.

Did you know...

...every 2-3 seconds, someone needs blood?

...on any any given day, an average of 38,000 units of red blood cells are needed?

...blood must be available to the patient at the instant it is needed?

...donating blood only takes one hour of your time every 8 weeks?

Many people donate blood in times of disaster, but what about the man in the hospital right now needing a transfusion during surgery? Or the little girl who lost a lot of blood in a car accident last night? They need blood too. And they can't wait.

I started donating blood as soon as I was old enough - 17 is the current age limit - and a blood drive was held at our school. The whole process didn't bother me one bit, so I figured I'd just keep doing it as often as I could. Didn't hurt me and helped lots of people. Good deal.

I continued giving through college, after we got married, while I was teaching and only stopped when I was pregnant. Darn babies have hampered by giving in the past few years! Only kidding, of course.

But - not being pregnant and all - I was happy to be back giving this year. And every eight weeks, we head to our Community Blood Bank...

We get lots of smiles when they see us coming. We are quite a sight making our way in.

The workers are so friendly and accommodating for a mom with two small children. This week, Katie was the one taking my donation...

...and taking pictures of me...

...and getting the information I wanted for this post. Thank you Katie! You rock!

Here is the whole process of donating one pint of blood...

The actual blood donation part of your visit takes about ten minutes, but from registration...

to the cookies and juice afterwards...

...you'll be there about an hour. I even get free lunch out of the deal!

I bet you're wondering "Didn't you say your children go with you? What do they do during all of this?" Great question.

This is what they do...

They eat. They entertain the workers and other people donating. And they love it.

I told Big J we were going to the blood bank a day ahead of time and he asked me all day - "Are we going now?" "No, tomorrow buddy." "Maybe tonight?"

One time, I left the kids with a friend to make the whole process a little less frantic. The first question I was asked when I walked in the door - "Where are your kids?" And the last thing said to me before I left - "Make sure you bring those kiddos with you next time!"

I guess they enjoy the kids too.

To be honest, I like giving blood because it is something I know I can do to help someone, but if it weren't for workers like Katie and Dale (one of the kids' favorites), I don't know that I would keep going back so regularly. So I want to thank all of the workers at our community blood bank for making it such a wonderful experience for all of us...

And I give them some of the credit for the fact that I reached this milestone...

I know some of you might get creeped out by the whole thought of donating blood. And that's ok. It's not for everyone. But if it doesn't bother you or you've never given it a shot, call your blood bank. Make an appointment. NOW.

Each time you donate blood, you may be saving up to three lives.

There is no easier way to make a life-saving difference in someone else's life.

Thank you to the Community Blood Bank for providing me with statistics for this post and allowing me to take pictures at their facility.

In our area, there is currently a critical need for O negative blood donations.

To make an appointment to donate blood in your community, visit your community blood bank or the
American Red Cross.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Conversations with Big J

Conversation #1:

In the car on the way home from church...

Big J: Rylan was baby Jesus today.

Us: Oh yeah, in Sunday school?

Big J: Yep.

Us: Who was Mary?

Big J: Emma.

Us: Who were the wise men?

Big J: Mr. Jon and Mr. Sam.

Us: Who were you?

Big J: Jophus.

Conversation #2:

(As relayed to me by our MOPS childcare workers)

A bunch of Big J's friends are crawling around like kitties...

Worker: Big J, are you a kitty too?

Big J: No, I'm a whale.

Worker: Oh really?

Big J: (pointing in his mouth) Yeah, see Jonah?!

I love that kid.

Potluck Survival Guide


This is a Mama Buzz review. The product was provided by:
Five Star Publications for this review.

Potluck Survival Guide by Cherie Kimmons

Price: $18.96, regularly $24.95 - go here to order

I love cookbooks.

No, I really LOVE cookbooks.

I know I can find millions of recipes online and I do use the internet quite often to find them, but there is nothing quite looking looking through a cookbook.

I was thrilled to get this cookbook - really so much more than a cookbook - to review!

Potluck Survival Guide: Care and Feeding of the Athletic Supporter by Cherie Kimmons is a manual for feeding large groups of people - athletes, adults, kids, anyone! The book is full of tried and true recipes and tips for hosting any gathering - even feeding the kids at the ballpark after a game!

Now, my children are not old enough to be involved in organized sports yet, but this book actually makes me excited for the day I have a team dinner at our house or organize the band potluck.

I could make a whole post on the yummy recipes in the Potluck Survival Guide, but I will just name a few that peaked my interest:

*Nana's Garlic Brisket
*Flank Steak Pinwheels
*Chicken Paella
*Fried Bread
*Nutty Cereal Snack
*Apple Pockets

Now, an experienced soccer mom might say that the ideas in this book aren't anything new - but that's not the point. For someone like me who is new to this style of cooking for the masses, this is EXACTLY the book I need.

I love the suggestions for food bar ideas - Baked Potato, Chili, Waffle, Sundae, etc. - as well as buffet tips and guidelines for feeding athletes. There are basic recipes with lots of listed variations and helpful notes on every recipe page.

One of the most useful sections to me is the "Numbers Game" - a guide for calculating the amount food based on the amount of people! How many times have I tried to figure that out, only to be WAY off in one direction or the other?!

The only downfall to this book for me is the lack of food pictures. I really enjoy seeing a picture of what I am making, and while this book is very colorful and well illustrated, it does not include pictures of the recipes.

Other than that, I find the Potluck Survival Guide to be a very useful tool for any large event involving food! I cannot wait for the next church or MOPS potluck to try something out! Maybe even over Christmas with my family!

Thank you to Ms. Kimmons and Five Star Publications for including me in this review tour!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I Heart Faces: Pets Only

I've been taking a little break from the photo challenges at I Heart Faces, but this week was too tempting!

We don't have any pets, but my hubby's parents have four dogs. And the boys just adore them! And so do we :)

This was taken over Thanksgiving and I just love the look on Little J's face as he looks at Oliver, the oldest of the "boys"...

I wonder what each of them is thinking...

Be sure to check out more pet photos at I Heart Faces this week!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Coffee Confession

When people used to ask me if I liked coffee, my answer was always...

"I don't like regular coffee, just mochas and lattes, and usually just once a week or less."

Not so anymore.

I have now become a coffee addict and I blame several things for this...

1. It's been cold here. Coffee is warm. And yummy.

2. I have found several recipes for making mochas and lattes at home, which makes them more accessible. And cheaper. Bad combo.

3. I recently discovered several creamers in very yummy flavors at the store - Peppermint Mocha, Caramel Apple, etc. Now I can actually use my coffee maker at home and have the mocha taste with just one pour - too easy.

4. A Caribou Coffee was just put inside a grocery store I drive by frequently. I love Caribou Coffee. But before, both Caribous in town were quite out of the way so the temptation was low. now it is high - very high. They even gave me a punch card. Darn you Caribou.

For the record, I usually only have decaf, so no caffeine addiction here.

Just coffee.

That's right - my name is Erin, and I am a coffee addict.

Thank you for listening.

Have a nice day.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Snow Days!

Well, it started snowing here on Sunday, we haven't left the house since Monday morning and it is FREEZING outside. This is third day in a row school has been cancelled, but not for Stephen - apparently medical school NEVER closes. Thankfully, he has made it to and from safely every day - praise the Lord!

Yesterday afternoon, I finally decided to brave the weather for a little bit and take the boys out in the snow. Like I said, it was freezing, but I'm glad I did because Jeremiah had such a good time (except for the one picture below where he got some snow in his coat!) and did NOT want to go inside. Joshua wasn't crazy about it - he just stood in the middle of the sidewalk the whole time - but he did love watching his brother make and throw snowballs!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Wedding Wednesday!

Highlights of wedding dress shopping with my little sis!
Yes, she found her dress! No, it is not shown here!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

5 Reasons I'm Proud to Be a Husker Tonight

We may not have won the Big 12 Championship on Saturday night, but I am so proud to be a Husker for many reasons, among those right now...

5. I'll start with the totally non-football related. My hubby and I went to the Huskers first-round NCAA tournament match Friday night and watched those ladies take the match in a sweep! There is nothing quite like sitting fifth row at a match in the Coliseum! They followed with another sweep the next night and are headed to the Regionals in Omaha next weekend! Love that Husker volleyball - you ladies rock!

Now on to the football...

4. In this article, Nebraska fans are referred to as "too nice and polite." I didn't know that was an insult. I believe we are also referred to as dull, but Mr. Kelso, I will take dull over rude (as you were) any day. I am quite proud of our fans and how they represent themselves, thank you very much. (On a side note, I'd like to hear what this "writer" has to say after the game!)

3. We made it back to the Big 12 Championship! That is always something to be proud of!

2. Our defense - known as the Blackshirts if you hadn't heard - was stellar Saturday night. I was in awe. They continually shut down one of the top offenses in the nation and played their hearts out all night. NINE SACKS?!?! Amazing. The Blackshirts alone deserved to win that game, but alas, it was not to be. So proud of those young men.

And the #1 reason I am so proud to be a Husker right now...

Ndamukong Suh.

No, I did not just switch languages on you.

Suh is the 6'4", 300-lb. defensive tackle who made Colt McCoy's life a nightmare Saturday night. 4.5 sacks, 12 total tackles. He was on fire. He has been the whole season. And not too bad last season either.

And now, with just cause, he is a serious contender for the Heisman - the award for the most outstanding college football player in the United States.

This year, that was Suh. Whether he wins it or not.

For all these reasons, and many more, I am SO proud to be a Husker.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Matthew 25:40 (and some fabulous jewelry!)

And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,you were doing it to me!’
Matthew 25:40

Every once in a while, we stumble upon something that inspires. That uplifts. That shows the goodness of humanity.

This is one of those things.

I met Nancy when I taught her children, but I didn't really know much about her amazing story until this past year.

I'll let you read about it in her own words...

While on a mission trip to Mexico 9 years ago, I met a then 15-year-old girl hanging around the park waiting for her mother. Her name was Patti, she went and stood beside me and with leftover wire the women had been using for crafts, Patti stuck a piece of wire in her mouth and out came a beautiful flower. I recognized there was something special about that flower, went and got an interpreter and suggested that Patti try to make jewelry.

That was 9 years ago. Today Patti, her brother and aunt are creating beautiful one of a kind jewelry, not with their teeth but with jewelry making tools, spools of wire, and beautiful gemstones.

It was not only my dream that Patti would never go hungry, but that she would improve the quality of her family’s lives. By selling her jewelry, learning a trade, working hard, and by being an example and serving their own people in the community, they have definitely achieved this dream.

With the sales of the jewelry, they have first of all been able to feed their families. They have bought a stove for their parents. They have purchased an old car, which many don't have, so it has basically been used for a taxi, especially for the elderly in the community.

They paid for their grandfather’s funeral. They put new bathrooms in their elderly grandmother’s home and aunt’s home which previously were using dangerous outhouses.


and new...

They paid for two of their brothers’ weddings and Patti was able to get a new guitar. She gave her old one to a cousin who wanted to learn and now Patti gives lessons to others in the church. Most importantly, Patti graduated last month with a degree in Industrial Engineering. Her sister-in-law is now in college.

It is my vision that Patti will be able to help all the young people in her family go to school. At a very early age, they have to pay for their education and if they can't there is nothing for them to do.

She told me that they loved me because for the first time I gave them hope. I have been way more blessed than they ever thought about being! There is no other way to put it but that this whole project has been a God thing, I couldn't have dreamt it up and I have been way more blessed then them! I went on a mission trip and came home with a full time job!

We might not be able to change the world but helping one person has certainly changed many lives in one community.

Isn't that an incredible story?!

Nancy has a plaque in her house that says...

"Never look down on someone unless you are helping them up."

She has really lived that out and the result is Ana Patricia Jewelry. Take a look at these gorgeous pieces...

Seriously, I want all of it! Patti and Jon are exquisite artists!

And Ana Patricia has added purses and other accessories to help benefit the families in Mexico as well - they are all fabulous!

Tonight I am headed to their holiday open house and I can't wait to see all of the new pieces they brought back from their trip in November!

If you are interested in more about Ana Patricia Jewelry, you can become a fan on their Facebook page or shoot me an e-mail (link in the right-hand column) and I can provide you with contact information!

Or better yet, if you are in our area, head to the open house today!

Nancy, you are an inspiration and a perfect example of doing what you can to help! God bless you!