November 30, 2009

The One with the New Hat

I have been running on the YMCA's bike path this last week.
It's felt so. good.
I am beginning to realize that I feed off of other people's workouts.
Not in a creepy way.
But in a "hey, I'm not the only one in the world kicking my own butt right now."
It's a strangely encouraging feeling.
And I like passing people.
Knowing I'm doing well.
And seeing others who are waaaaaaay more experienced (errr..disciplined) than I am.
That spurs me on.
And the chill in the air.
It's just perfection.
I'm freezing for the first 10 minutes but then it's glorious.
And watching the sun rise.
Nothing beats it.
Even if it is blinding me.

My ping pong skills have increased at a surprising rate these last 2 weeks.
You see, up until a month ago, I stunk.
Totally and completely.
I stayed away from the ping pong table that was in my youth group room in high school.
I knew it wouldn't be pretty.
Especially with everyone watching.
Kevin convinced me to play with him a few times way back when.
His grandparents have a table in their basement.
And sure enough.
No good.
I couldn't keep the stupid little ball on the table.
I blamed it on "depth perception."
And the white walls. Blending in with the white edge lines.
Those were probably just lies.

Now we have a ping pong table.
Well, since last November when my dad donated it to the youth group room.
Kevin is always wanting to play.
And I always groan.
I never feel like playing ping pong.
Running after the ball is not fun for me.
I decided to try to serve my husband in a language he understands.
And I knew that meant asking him to play ping pong with me.
I did this.
Many times.
It worked.
He was very happy with me.
Get this.
I'm becoming a really good ping pong player.
You'll never believe it.
I'm starting to like playing with him.

We helped paint the church fellowship hall last night.
That too was fun.
In a very different way.
The teens volunteered to help with the Christmas decorating of the sanctuary as well as with any painting left in the fellowship hall.
A group had worked all Saturday getting the first coat on this large room.
Around many windows.
Two of the workers were our teens.
Way to go!
So last night was a real encouragement to me.
Seeing teenagers work alongside the adults of the church.
This is what I've been hoping for.
And now we can all say this was our project.
That felt good.

Know what else felt good?
Besides running.
And painting.
And ping ponging.

Vacuuming both of our cars out this morning.
Opening the mailbox to find a package.
From one of my best friends.
For my birthday.
A gorgeous hand crocheted hat & scarf.

November 28, 2009

The One with Things We Did Thanksgiving Weekend

Having my parents here Wednesday night was great.
It's nice they've come so frequently.
It makes it feel like we're not three hours away.
Though I wish it were more like 15 minutes.
The four of us drove to Kevin's family's house.
We drove our "new" car.
Mom and Dad brought their truck.
And Cooper.
The Bichon.
We arrived with plenty of time for preparation and relaxation and conversation before the BIG dinner.
I had a victory.
I resolved NOT to overeat.
Nor feel the need to eat one of everything.
I had 1 slice of turkey and maybe 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes.
On my side plate.
And a large veggie salad filling my dinner plate.
It was great.
And I totally didn't anticipate so many compliments on a salad.
But I was happy.
I made my own croutons for the first time.
They turned out so well.
And of course I mixed my own Italian dressing.
Everyone loved it.

Mom and I looked at our family pictures online.
The boys made bird houses with grandpa.
I opened my belated birthday presents!
We all played Catch Phrase.
And laughed hysterically.
There were tears.

I was the first one awake.
At 5:30 am.
But I went back to bed (not to sleep) until 6:30.
Then Daddio and I went on a dark brisk walk.
It had snowed.
The first of the season.
We watched the sun rise.

Kevin's mom made an abundance of breakfast goods.
My favorite was the cardimum bread.
SO good.
Faintly sweet.

The women made live evergreen wreaths.
I was done in about 30 minutes.
I'm not sure why.
But I'm a speedy Gonzales in whatever I do.
Sometimes that's a great thing.
Sometimes it might be haphazard.
But I like being quick.
And I LOVE my wreath.
We hung it up as soon as we arrived home.
Well, as soon as I could remember where I put the wreath hook last year.

We ate and ate.
Too much deliciousness.
The boys played frisbee.
I would have gone.
But I was making the bow for my wreath.
The women shopped my AVON catalogs.
I shopped the amazingly great deals on my favorite website.
We got almost all of our Christmas shopping done in 20 minutes.
And at GREAT prices.

The ride home was filled with good conversation.
But then I got a migraine.
And was crazy nauseated.
And that was the end of the goodness for the night.
I have a headache again today.
It's one thing to have a headache when you're having a bad day.
But when the day is just wonderful a headache just ruins it.
And where does it come from on a stress free day?

Saturday we slept in.
Till 8.
I went for a glorious run in the park.
I passed a guy along the way.
No, he wasn't some crazy cross runner.
No, he wasn't 75.
He was just some guy.
And I was running faster.
That was a confidence boost.

On my way to make breakfast, I got sidetracked.
I totally reorganized the bathroom closet.
All those extra toiletries and tiny hotel shampoos.
They have a place.
In a lovely plastic bin.
And I'm in love with that.
The plastic three drawer unit that was holding all those miscellaneous items is now in the office closet.
Holding the printer.
And printer paper.
And other things.
That "big" move led to a complete restructuring of the office closet.
And breakfast became lunch.
It's hard to believe that an organized person still needs to reorganize.
What's up with that?
But I did.
I spent a few hours on the office project.
It feels great, though.
And Kevin tweeted something like:
"I'm loving my lazy Saturday. Mel is celebrating an open day by doing her thing...organizing everything in sight. I love her."
That made me jump up and hug him.
He's too cute.

Many many episodes of Friends were watched.
It's a great background show.
We've seen all 10 seasons at least 4 times.
I think I finally have them memorized.
I'm a slow(er) learner.

This wasn't what I thought the afternoon would hold.
I didn't have plans.
But I thought I might put up Christmas decorations.
And go grocery shopping.
We're out of milk.

November 25, 2009

The One with the Thankful Turkey

No, the turkey I'm referring to being thankful isn't the holiday bird.
I did not spare the turkey.
It will be eaten and enjoyed.
The "Turkey" is me.
My Papa Vern always used to call me "Turkey."
And when Ash was born I was "Turkey One" and she was "Turkey Two."
I liked that for some reason.
But yeah, this turkey is thankful.

::for these teens. who I love like crazy::

::these girls. my sisters::

::a beautiful home. a wonderful gift for our work with those teens::

::the amazing family I married into. I could ask for nothing more::

::MY family. seriously the best mom, dad, and sister in the whole world::

::the man of my (undreamed) dreams. he surpasses my wildest expectations::
(even when I may not act like it, darling.)

My heart overflows.
Thank you, Jesus.
For providing.
For throwing open the floodgates of heaven.
And pouring out so much blessing that there is not room enough for it.
Micah 3:10

The One with the Cheap Gas for our "New" Car

I needed to get gas.
We meant to stop at Meijer's gas station but we totally forgot.
So when I went out again I stopped at the little podunk station known as Admiral.
I am SO glad I did.
Gas was just $2.41 while it was at least $2.53 EVERYwhere else.
How awesome is that?!

Yesterday our living room chair stabbed me.
I grabbed it under each armrest as I went to move it.
It seriously stabbed me.
Skin was broken.
Blood was spilling.
It still hurts today.
Stupid chair.
Although I guess it taught me a lesson.
The same kind of lesson my sister taught me when she was around 2 years old.
"Don't pick me up unless I want to be picked up.
If you pick me up and I don't want to be picked up I will bite you.
And then you will never pick me up again."

The reason I was moving the chair was simple.
I was pulling it over beside the piano bench.
Because I was teaching my first lesson to my second piano student.
How great is that?!
Twelve year old Michaela started lessons and I'm so excited.
She knows a bit of music from her saxophone experience in band.
And she's eager to learn.
She's the one who's been after her mom to get her started on lessons for quite some time.
And she's the reason I started thinking about teaching in the first place.
When her mom asked me last December.
(Eeek! It took me almost a year to gain the courage for this?!)
It was a great first lesson.
I was proud of her.
And proud of myself.
Especially because I didn't buy the one book I needed the most...the lesson book.
I only had the theory book and the performance book.
Both of which coordinate with page EIGHT of the lesson book.
Poor girl having to deal with me figuring out where in the world I should start. :)
But it went well all things considered.

Today, before the great gas find Kevin took me to Coldstone.
To cash in my free "Like it" sized treat with one "mix-in."
He decided he didn't want to share it with me.
I was ok with that.
I chose the Fudge Brownie Batter ice cream.
With Reese's Peanut Butter Cups mixed in.
And OH. MY.
The ice cream was Amazing!
I do love the creaminess of Coldstone's ice cream.
And I loved this flavor.
Sooo chocolately.
Just like brownie batter.
And Reese's make everything amazing in my opinion.

After getting home from Coldstone, we got a call from my mom.
I was laughing hysterically as I overheard Kevin talking with her.
As we both realized we had no idea my parents were leaving for our house TODAY.
Not meeting us at his parents' house tomorrow like we assumed.
I'm sure I heard this somewhere along the way.
But evidently it went in one ear and out the other.
I quickly threw together a pot of chili and started a loaf of bread in the bread machine.
A crazy change of plans that went all too smoothly.
We're excited to have them here tonight.
And then head to his parents' house tomorrow.
Woot, family.

Want to know something else that's awesome about my parents coming?
We're getting a new car!
Well, definitely not a new car.
But new to us.
And a SECOND car!
I'll actually have freedom to leave my home when Kevin's gone all day.
After a year and half of complete strandedness.
Well, you probably know we can't afford a second car.
But my Grandma Mary just decided she wanted to buy the Sonata from my parents.
(They just put it up for sale after getting Ash a different car.)
Grandma then decided to just give us her car.
Her little 1994 Ford Escort.
It'll be great on insurance.
Just fine to get around in.
And it's got under 90k miles on it!
Our 98 Civic has 169k miles and it's still going strong!
(But it's good to have a backup!)
And let's face it.
Honda beats Ford any day.
In my opinion.
And I don't really know anything about cars.
So let's forget I said that.
But how awesome is this?!
What a blessing.

November 24, 2009

The One with the Cheapest Date Ever

I'm still full from yesterday's linner.
(Linner=lunch & dinner.)
I guess my birthday has not yet passed.
Which I'm totally ok with.
We decided to check movie showings at the Dollar Theater.
(Dollar Theater=best invention ever.)
Julie & Julia was showing!
I was SO excited!
I have been waiting to see this show since I saw the previews in June.
Our local theater wasn't showing it when it came out in August.
(And besides that, I would never pay $7.50 per person for a movie.)
The Dollar Theater was only showing it for a few more days and we (well I) didn't want to miss out!
We ate a late pancake breakfast and hit the road at noon.
When we arrived at the Theater we learned that shows before 6pm are just $1 instead of the $1.75 for "non-Matinées" (which you still can't beat.)
BUT it gets better.
Matinées on Monday and Tuesday are only 50 cents!
Can you believe that?!
The Dollar Theater just made it's way onto my "top five favorite things" list.

I loved the movie.
Well, actually I didn't really think of it as a movie.
I felt it was more like a depiction of my life.
Not even kidding.
Julie Powell and her husband (and even Julia and Paul) are so much like Kevin and I are.
Julie and her emotional breakdowns.
Her husband there to support her and push her to do something great.
He believed in her.
(Minus the one scene when he walks out for a night.
I hated that scene.
I cried.
And I begged Kevin to promise he would never leave me.
He did.
I kept crying for a while.)

But seriously, a great show.
Hysterical at times.
I loved it!
And I loved it even more because it cost us $1.00 TOTAL!

After the movie we drove to a nearby Red Robin.
To cash in my gourmet birthday burger coupon.
We had decided to split the burger (because we assumed it would be huge).
And order a side or appetizer to share.
Well, we got way more than we bargained for.
I didn't think my burger came with anything on the side.
But I really wanted to have some of the bottomless steak fries I've heard so much about.
I consider myself a french fry aficionado.
Not necessarily a good thing.
But the truth nonetheless.
Our waitress said, "No! the steak fries come with your birthday burger!"
And she said we could share everything.
We decided on the Bleu Ribbon Burger.
"A juicy burger basted with a tangy steak sauce and topped with crumbled Bleu cheese.
Served with onion straws, lettuce, tomatoes and zesty Chipotle mayo on an onion bun."
Oh. my. word.
And then get this.
The waitress recommended that we make it a double.
Adding a second patty was $1 extra.
But she went on to say since it's my birthday burger it would all be taken off the bill.
We were splitting a double burger.
Thus getting a whole burger after all.
I still could only eat about half of mine.
It was a.mazing.
We ordered the chili cheese nachos.
Because appetizers were half off.
And because otherwise we wouldn't be spending any money.
Which seemed like way to big of a cheapskate.
These were the best nachos I think I've ever had.
We were both nearly full after the appetizers.
But then the burgers and fries came.
And I already told you about the burger.
The fries were possibly even better!
Kevin raved about them.
And he's not a fry guy.
But these were perfectly crisp.
Perfectly seasoned.

After we plowed through all that food, we were both groaning.
I haven't eaten that much food in I don't know how long.
It was definitely a case of gorging ourselves.
I wasn't too proud of that.
I could have eaten 3-4 of those big steak fries and been more than fine.
I ate way more than that.
I probably could have stopped after 2-3 bites of the burger.
But I didn't.
And just as we were asking for the check the waitress proceeds to announce that the birthday girl gets a birthday ice cream sundae!
I totally would have stopped eating way sooner had I known ice cream was involved.
I got a hot fudge sundae which was delicious.
Don't worry, we split it.
And luckily it wasn't that big.
Our bill came.
It totaled $4.23.
And that's only because we got the appetizer.
Neither of us has ever seen someone reel in so much free food for their birthday.
Red Robin is THE restaurant to go to for your birthday.
(It's pretty pricey otherwise.)

I spent the rest of the evening on the floor.
With a stomach ache like none other.
And a horrendous migraine that had been developing since 1pm.

But I'll try to focus on the the positive.
And I plan on spending the next year signing up for every birthday club I can find.
And don't worry.
I'll let you know about my finds. :)

November 21, 2009

The One with the Grinch Who Hates My Extra Long Birthday

My birthday has extended into the weekend.
Besides Nevercast singing me "happy birthday" from the stage, my husband continued to love on me in extra special ways.
Today he went on a walk in the park with me.
It was the best.
I ended up running by myself back to the car because his foot injury flared up.
But I really appreciated his effort to make me crazy happy.
Then, this afternoon, Ohio State won THE game against the University of Michigan.
The biggest rivals in college football.
And my team won for the 6th season in a row.
Happy birthday to me.
(And yes, I actually paid attention 80% of the time.
I'm beginning to make sense of football.
Though I still say 4 hours is just too long.)
Tonight we had homemade pizza.
My first slice in months.
And watched Remember the Titans.
My favorite.
I can seriously quote every line in the entire movie.
So can Kevin.
You don't want to watch this film with us.

Oh, and more on the OSU versus U of M game.
Back in October for Pastors' Appreciation month, we were each given a tshirt.
Commemorating this game.
And detailing the last decades of the tradition.
Since the sizes were an XL and a M, I decided Kevin should have the medium.
And I'd morph mine into a size able night shirt and/or crazy long mini-dress tshirt thing.
It worked.
I pinned it in on myself.
And stitched it up.
It's a bit rudimentary.
But it works.
And it actually looks pretty cute I think.
All cinched up and gathered.
I wore it in public.
So at least I'm hoping I'm not crazy.

And before the game and after our walk, I decided to pamper myself.
Glenda, the church's secretary totally spoiled me.
I couldn't believe she got me a birthday present.
It was so sweet of her.
There was Midnight Pomegranite body cream from Bath and Body Works.
Along with two gorgeous glass jars of bubble bath.
One for stress relief and relaxation.
And one for "sleepy time."
I figured since I was still exhausted from the youth rock concert Friday night, an extra dose of "sleep" wasn't what I needed.
But relaxation was (and always is) right up my alley.
So for the first time since moving here, I drew myself a hot bath.
Full of eucalyptus suds.
And filled the room with the sounds of Christmas.
It was absolutely glorious.
I'm not normally a "bath" person.
I'm in too much of a hurry to relax like that.
And I didn't want to lay in a tub where I knew other people had bathed.
But after last week's intensive bleaching of the tub, I felt the germs were sufficiently tackled.
I am so glad I deep cleaned.
I needed that bath.

My ears are still ringing.
Our youth group hosted a concert at the church last night.
It was a fundraiser for our Summer '10 mission trip.
The bands came free of charge.
We fed them dinner and they were content.
The band members were simply awesome to hang out with.
We had a blast talking with them.
I loved Matt Moore's music.
Nevercast was great, but a bit too "hard" for my taste.
Burn the Ships is straight up screamo.
Which is straight up NOT my thing.
But the teens loved it.
We all had a blast.
It was a long night though.
Kevin and I and the Kaufman's were at the church before 5.
And we left at quarter till 11.
And I'm not kidding about my ears.
They're STILL ringing.

And what's with the sun.
This week it's felt like 6 o'clock when it's only 2:30pm.
And we ate dinner at 5:30pm tonight and I could have sworn it was 8.
Ahh, yes. Winter. It's coming.

Dr. Seuss's The Grinch Who Stole Christmas!
It's on tv right now!
I remember as a kid that movie seemed to be hours long.
But it's less than 30 minutes.
Such a classic.
I can't not watch.

November 19, 2009

The One with the Birthday Account

Not sure if you noticed my updated WFMW post.
After announcing the goodness that is free DQ and Coldstone, I was informed of at least three more venues with Birthday Clubs.
I signed up on the evening of the 18th.
In hopes that I would still reap the benefits of restaurants on my birthday.
Just a few hours away.
I knew it was wishful thinking.
But guess what?!
Two out of three restaurant emails were waiting in my inbox this morning!
Three cheers for a free stir fry at BD's Mongolian BBQ.
And a free gourmet burger from Red Robin.
(That "yum" is from the commercial.
I've never actually been to Red Robin.
But my mouth waters every time I see an ad.
I'm a sucker for a good burger.
And fries.
Bad habits, really.)

It's official.
I feel as though I've finally reached the age of an adult.
I'm twenty-four (24).
I believe I've acted like an adult for approximately 9 years now.
And I also believe I still don't look like an adult.
There are definite downfalls to the "baby face."
But, as my Gram's friends have informed me, I'll appreciate that in about 30 years.
Nonetheless, I think I'm out of the post-high-school-college-age group.
I think.
In fact, I've just decided.
I'm not gonna lie, I totally understand why Timothy writes what he does in his first letter.
Chapter 4.
Verse 12.
"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young,
but set an example for the believers
in speech,
in life,
in love,
in faith
and in purity."
It's hard being a leader when you look like you're 12.
But alas, I press on.
And I'm so thankful to be 24.

Although you want to know something funny?
A month ago, Mom and I were talking about my birthday.
And she said, "You're only going to be 24? It's seems like you're older than that."
I'm not sure how to react to that. :)
Not sure how my mother could add years on to my life.
But I am glad she seems to think I'm older (acting older) than I am.

Unbeknownst to me, Kevin had set his phone alarm for midnight on the 18th.
It's his tradition to wish me "happy birthday" as the clock strikes twelve.
(Freshmen year of college--pre-dating--he called me room.
I had to take out my retainer to answer.
Sophomore year he called from outside my bedroom window.
He met me with a kiss and a 1 pound Hershey bar with Almonds.
My favorite.
Junior year he threw a tennis ball at my window.
Over and over again.
I was confused and annoyed.
At first.
Then I was giddy.
Senior year he used the tennis ball trick again.
Which was riskier given the state of my on-campus house.
Not so sturdy.
By this time, I was expecting it.
Still thought it was adorable.
And met him on the front porch.
He gave me my present--the ESV Bible I had requested.
We exchanged Bibles that year.
Last year, I'm pretty sure he woke me at midnight as per usual.
But honestly I can't remember.)
But this year we didn't get to bed until 11, so he opted to tell me early and not have our sleep disturbed.
At 5:15am Kevin rolled over and whispered "Happy Birthday."

When my lazy bones finally rolled out of bed at 8am, he told me his potential plans for the day.
Make a delicious breakfast together.
Go for a walk in the park with me.
(I'm constantly asking for that!)
Shop for the ingredients for whatever dessert I want to make.
Make the dessert together.
Watch Remember the Titans after worship team practice.

Are those not the sweetest plans in the world?
He just wanted to spend time with me all day.
It's my thing.
And we still spent all day together.
But most of his plans didn't go as planned.

I worked out later than usual.
So we didn't have time to make breakfast before his meeting to get his substitute teaching certification.
Those coupons changed Kevin's plans a bit.
But believe me, he was totally stoked.
He came back and really wanted to take me to BD's Mongolian BBQ.
We headed up I-275 and had a lovely lunch together.
He loves BD's.
And so do I.
But it's a rare occasion that we get to dine at said Mongolian BBQ.
Because it's just plain expensive.
I mean, yeah, it's unlimited.
It's amazing.
But at $14.99 per dinner buffet, it's just not something we like to afford more than once a year.
In fact, I think the last time we ate at BD's was my birthday last year.
And I'm pretty sure I wore the same exact shirt.
But I hadn't worn it since.
And Kevin figured the restaurant people wouldn't remember.
So I wore it anyways.
But back to the coupon.
I got an all you can eat buffet for FREE!
And since we went at lunch, Kevin's was $12.99.
And we both got water.
Because that's what we do.
Well, it's what I've always done.
I've since converted Kevin to the frugal way of dining.
And yes, he's converted me to the "good tipper" way of life.
I was a bit of a stingy tipper before.
But we gave our waiter the tip as if we had paid for both meals.
It was an amazing meal.
I have to say, we're both pretty awesome at stir fry creations.

And then we walked around IKEA.
Just because.
Because I hadn't been there in a few months.
And because we didn't have money to spend, it was a rather short trip.
But, hey, I can dream, right?

It was nearly dark by the time we got home.
Around 4pm.
I couldn't decide what I did or did not want for dessert.
So I didn't get any dessert.
(It's really hard to want to be spoiled on your birthday with tons of calories but really really not wanting to undo all your self-control from the last couple weeks.)
I was overcome with my emotions (which had been running rampant all day, I must admit).
I went to bed to sulk for a while.
He came in and snuggled for a few minutes.
We went to worship practice.
Pastor Dale and Chris had brought me a CAKE!
It was so nice!
So I got cake after all.
(Had we made a dessert earlier, I wouldn't have wanted to eat that cake.
So it worked out.)
We came back after setting up for Friday's concert.
And decided to put on Remember the Titans.
I was being lame and whining much of the night.
After all those nice efforts, I almost managed to ruin them.
But alas, I have a forgiving husband.
I love him.
And I know he loves me.
Though sometimes I'm really not sure why.

November 18, 2009

The One with the Piano Music

Things that need to be documented.
The Chocolate Overload Blizzard from Dairy Queen is A.mazing!
You don't feel nearly as guilty downing 700 plus calories when you walk the mile and a half to the campus of EMU.
And back again.
Because you're took cheap to pay for parking.
So you leave at the Dairy Queen.
Can you believe Blizzards have THAT many calories.
Oh. my. goodness.
But it was lunch.
So I'm ok with that.
And it was for my birthday.
A day early.
And birthday calories don't count.

I could hang out in a music store all. day.
It's one of my favorite activities.
Finding music I'd love to play.
Songs I've mastered.
Books I learned with.
Et cetera.
It's seriously ridiculous how much I loved it.
It probably helps that my husband is also a musician.
And we can share in our excitement.
I wished I could have browsed for another few hours.
But alas, DQ couldn't be left waiting.
(The above scenario is one of many many many reasons to call me Adorkable.
In case you were wondering.)

Today was a great day for mail.
A new Real Simple. Just before my birthday.
How fitting.
(Speaking of Real Simple, you should sign up for their "Recipe a Day" email.
And the "Cookie Recipe of the Day" email from now until Christmas.
It's great.
I have a whole folder in my email account designated to "FOOD."
I get those recipe emails.
And Kraft Foods.
And Betty Crocker.
Good stuff.)
And besides my favorite magazine waiting in the mailbox there were three actual birthday cards.
One from my Grandma Mary.
She's so adorable.
One from my "bonus" grandparents--Grandma & Grandpa A.
They're so great to me!
And one from one of my bffs, Britt.
She sent a card LOADED with amazing scrapbooking items.
I was so thrilled!
Thanks, Britt.
Have I mentioned that I love my birthday? :)
(Though I must be getting old or something.
Cause I haven't had a countdown.
For the last year or two actually.

The One with the Free Ice Cream

This particular tip is about to work for me today!
Kevin and I are going to cash in my birthday Blizzard coupon from the one and only Dairy Queen.
Yes, that's right.
Because my birthday's tomorrow, the DQ has sent me a coupon.
Buy one 16oz Blizzard, get one free!
Rock on!
And not only that, but if you're a Blizzard Club member, you get multiple coupons a year.
The last couple months I got the same BOGO coupon for the Blizzard of the month.
Which, for November, happens to be the Girl Scout Tagalong Peanut Butter Patty Blizzard.
If you love ice cream (who doesn't?) then you'd better sign up. Now.
Except can I just say, it's quite a struggle to find a DQ in Michigan.
Especially in the winter.
Boo, Michigan.
My hometown has more DQs than all of southern Michigan.

And here's another "must sign up for."
Coldstone Creamery Birthday Club.
They send you a coupon for a free "Like It" sized ice cream cup with one "mix-in."
It's tiny but it's free, and you can't beat the uniqueness of Coldstone's ice cream.
So sign up for the Birthday club.
You won't regret it.
It's the only time I'll ever eat Coldstone, because I simply can't pay $2.59 for a scoop of ice cream when I could buy a whole half gallon for $1.99 at my Aldi.

When it's your birthday you deserve all the free stuff you can find.
So go sign up!
And if you find another great birthday club, let me know!
For other tips and holiday tricks check out THAT Family.

ps. I have learned of other great birthday clubs.
This is me hoping that signing up today will get me my birthday goods by tomorrow.
Wishful thinking?

November 17, 2009

The One with the Trilogy of Pancakes

So many things.

We signed up for yet another health insurance plan.
After Kevin's contract at WSU ran out, we lost HAP coverage.
Which I'm really sad about.
Because it was phenomenal.
So we're back with Blue Cross.
It's a great plan.
But paying $300 a month for issues that may or may not be issues is really painful.
Mostly because of the whole uncertain income thing.
But we can't risk it.
And God will provide.
He always has.
Always will.

I have been whipping up the most fantastic pancakes this last week.
Every morning, we've been trying to have a more filling and more nutritious breakfast.
To help stave off the mid morning munchies.
It's been working.
The whole wheat walnut banana pancakes were a.m.a.z.i.n.g.
THE fluffiest pancakes I've ever eaten in my entire life.
I made those again yesterday. sans walnuts.
Still amazing.
Today we tried a new whole wheat oat pancake.
Again. perfection.
I love whole wheat.
(I'm on a whole wheat kick if you can't tell.
It's heavenly after 7 months gluten free.)
I love oats.
I love pancakes.
It's just good.

I have fingernails.
I mean, I've always have fingernails.
My hand aren't freaky.
But I have only had nice, feminine fingernails once or twice in my life.
I have had a problem with nail biting for approximately 20 years.
Probably since I had teeth.
And I have lots of problems because of this bad habit.
Such as the "W" word.
But that's a story for the next paragraph.
So I'm not sure when or why this happened.
I didn't resolve to stop biting my nails.
It just happened.
One day I had nails.
Nails longer than the tips of my fingers.
And I'm happy.
So excited.
But I need to get used to these things.
They can double as weapons.
And they have. Totally on accident.
Sorry, babe.

And about the "W" word.
They're dying!
Completely and totally on their own.
They had spread all over my hands.
It was getting disgusting.
Even for me.
But I just couldn't bring myself to go to the doctor about it.
Especially now that we have no extra money for luxuries such as "W" removal.
But God--my Physician--is taking care of them without anyone's help.
Mine included.
I think I'm even more excited about this than I am about my lovely nails!

We finished Hobbitses last night.
Yes, I call The Hobbit "Hobbitses."
Because Gollum does.
And I think adding an "s" to words makes them adorable.
But we finished.
Kevin had read it before.
He wanted to read it again.
And I really wanted to read it for the first time.
So I read it aloud to him.
And can I just say J.R.R. Tolkein is an astounding author.
I absolutely positively loved this story.
And not just the greatness of Bilbo Baggins and the dwarves and Smaug and Gandalf.
But Tolkein's writing style is just plain entertaining.

It was so much fun.
My "reading aloud" skills have improved tremendously.
I can't wait to start the next book.
Neither of us have read Jane Austen so that's a must.
And I'm leaning that way because hearing something he's not read before will keep Kevin's attention better. :)
But I also need to read the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy.

November 16, 2009

The One with the Concert

After many weeks "off" while taking care of her dangerously ill baby boy, MckMama is back.
(Stellan's story is a miraculous one. You should definitely check it out.)
And she wants to know she's not the only one who leaves her laundry piled in the clothes baskets.
Or picks a wedgie during church.
Or blames an embarrassing noise on her child.
I know I certainly wouldn't do any of those things.

Speaking of wedgies, I certainly would never pick one.
In fact, I would never even get a wedgie.
And if I ever did, I would not pick it while I sat at the piano bench. During church. While the congregation was praying.

I would never question my husband's housekeeping skills.
Especially after asking him to help out in many more ways than I usually do.
(Aka: Taking advantage of him while he's home.)
When I asked him to sweep the bathroom floor and shake out the rugs, I definitely wouldn't keep track a few notable pieces of dust/tissue/who knows what, in order to check his work.
And after hours of waiting, I wouldn't condemn him of not following through.
And when he said he did sweep, I wouldn't continue to refute him.
Or change my reply to say, "Well, you certainly didn't do it well."
Nope, I'm always a patient appreciative wife.

And when heading to hang out with friends I wouldn't wear heals.
As if I have something to prove.
And then get stuck wearing said heals out to a bonfire.
Nope, not me.
I'm always properly dressed and never trying to impress.

What about you?
Any embarrassing things you didn't do this week?

Yesterday was just plain awesome.
I'm not sure what in particular made it so awesome.
Everything was just "right on."
Ever have a day like that?
Not very often, I'm sure, especially when it comes to Sunday morning worship team that never goes quite as it should.
But this Sunday was just good.
The sermon on joy was challenging.
The people were engaging.
We turned in our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.
The youth group filled 10!
We got to show off our awesome Bible quizzers in the service with a "mock mini quiz."
*still so proud*
I organized paperwork and finances (much needed) all afternoon.
I ate a grilled cheese.
My first grilled cheese in...I can't remember how long...
Two of our youth group girls came a half hour early and hung out for a bit.
I love those girls.
I really do.
And I love being able to connect with their parents.
A group of 11 teens joined the adults and headed over to Salvation Army shelter to serve a potluck dinner.

The time at the shelter was just plain awesome.
I sort of took charge at the beginning when it seemed no one knew exactly what was supposed to be happening.
That's always fun.
Well, sometimes not so much, but last night it was.
We outnumbered the residents 3 to 1.
Yay good turnouts!
I took the initiative and stepped into the dining hall to mingle with the residents.
I was in my element.
Building relationships.
Loving on people.
That's my thing.
I had such an amazing time.
And I was super proud of how our teens interacted and worked.
We plan on serving in a shelter once a month now!

And the teens are getting geared up for the awesome concert we're hosting this Friday.
It should be amazing!
Three local bands.
Christian rock/alternative/pop/hardcore music.
Concert is at 6:30.
Tickets just $5 at the door.
All proceeds go to the youth group mission trip fund.
You really should come.
Or at least invite everyone who likes this type of thing to come.
It's going to be excellent!

November 14, 2009

The One with the Sidewalks

I am bursting at the seams
I feel like a proud parent of sorts.
My Bible quizzers (a team of three) won ALL three of their quizzes today.
Capturing the FIRST place trophy!
One of the team members experienced his first quiz last month.
Today he quizzed out in two of the rounds!
(Meaning he answered the maximum of 5 questions per teammate per round.)
And the other two teammates were at their very first official quiz of all time.
They didn't think they knew anything.
They were nearly shaking with nervousness.
But they proved to be irreplaceable parts of a great team!
I am so extremely proud.
SO proud.

And not only did their rounds of quizzing go wonderfully, but Kevin and I just really love spending the whole day with such high quality teens.
They're great!
And they happen to like hanging around us, too.
Not sure why, but I'm sure glad. :)

Besides the wins and the fun, today also happened to be in the 70s.
Beautifully sunny.
Perfect weather.
Twice during the quiz day I was able to head outside.
Soak in the sun while walking around a block or two of a neighborhood that seemed to have an endless supply of sidewalks.
This makes me miss suburbia.
I grew up with sidewalks.
Nice neighborhoods where you could ride your bike.
Walk safely (not half a foot from passing cars.)
Stand between your house and your neighbors', spread out of your arms and nearly touch both houses at once.
Close knit, trusting neighbors.
Maybe out of necessity, but nonetheless.
It was great having friends a few doors down.
Hearing a knock on your door and a little voice saying, "Can Melanie come out and play?"
Picture perfect.
I loved that.
And it's been years since I had that.
Spring Arbor is a neighborhood all it's own.
A totally different sort of suburbia.
A Christian college town.
And we have nice neighbors here but no sidewalks.
And traffic racing by at 45 or 55 mph.
I just plain miss sidewalks.
Is that a crime? :)

November 10, 2009

The One with the Tuesday, the WFMW, and other Pivotal Thoughts

Update: I just need you to know that I'm really hoping I win.
This is a great prize.
I've never seen a giveaway like it.
A Bob Evans Farmhouse Feast!!
Thanks, $5 Dinner Mom!

God is answering my prayers.
I have needed someone.
A woman who understands.
Who knows what I'm going through.
Struggling with.
Why the victories are so thrilling.
The failures so devasting.
A woman who is dealing with the same.
Who wants to grow.
To learn.
To press on.
Thank you, God, for listening.

The monthly pastor's morning in SA was great.
It had been months since I was last able to make it.
And I was encouraged.
Not only did I resist the cinnamon rolls.
But I met up with some great old and new friends.
(I'm finally feeling "known.")
I was moved to action by the Superintendent's message on discipleship.
And I absolutely loved the time in our breakout groups.
With the other youth pastors in the conference.
For the last year I've felt like the odd guy (slash-only girl) out.
I was completely untrained.
Brand new.
Slashing around fiercely to stay afloat.
No clue what I was doing youth pastor.
For the first time (well, since the NYWC), I felt like I had something to contribute.
I had a few experiences under my belt.
Some good ideas.
And most importantly I had gained confidence.
My fellow youth pastors (one of which is a woman...yay!) were listening to my thoughts.
Directing questions my way.
What in the world?
It was a new sensation.
It was encouraging.
And having some fantastic brainstorming time together was just plain great.
We simply cannot do this alone.

How did I not know about the gloriousness that is Quiznos?!
I had been to this lovely little sub shop once or twice.
When it was a novelty in my small "city."
Probably around 2002 or so.
But I remember the options being slim.
The sizes smaller (than Subway).
The prices (sans coupons) much greater than comparable sub joints.
But on our way home from the monthly pastor's meeting in the Arbor, Pastor Dale generously offered to buy us lunch.
He chose Quiznos.
I wasn't sure what to expect.
but I was pleasantly surprised.
The menu was quite vast.
Prices were varied.
Options and combinations were nearly endless.
I settled on the Italiano "Sammy" on flatbread.
And Oh. My. Word.
Was it every amazing?!
I'm drooling all over my keyboard as I recall it's amazingness.
It was just the right size.
The amount of bread wasn't overwhelming (as tends to be the case with sub buns.)
The toppings were, well, perfectly Italian.
The pesto dressing was a surprise of goodness.
And choosing to throw extra banana peppers and jalapenos on top just made it perfect.
all that for something like $2.39.
And you can do the 2 for $5.00 (like at Panera only cheaper).
With salads. Sammies. Subs. or Soups.
Oh! And we highly recommend the chili.
That was certainly not the last time we will visit the Q.

For something completely different. And brief. And cryptic.
I recently developed some crazy new ideas in my head.
Stuff that would never in a million years occur to me on my own.
Thus, I believe them to be from God.
But what does He mean?
I shall wait.
And something that works for me?
I proved it this morning.
We needed to return something to Aldi.
And another something to Kohls.
(Coincidently my two favorite stores.)
I opened my desk drawer.
Found the receipt file folder.
Opened it up and sorted through the last two months worth of receipts.
I found exactly what I was looking for in no less than .45 minutes.
Keeping receipts (for at least a year).
In one folder.
In one drawer.
Works for me.
You never know when you're going to wish you had saved (or could find) that darn receipt!
Especially now that holidays are approaching and that brings gift giving and receiving.
And returning.
Because it broke.
Or didn't fit.
Or you just weren't thrilled about the penguin and unicorn sweater.

November 9, 2009

The One with the Fast

Today was rough.
Want to know why?
I'm so glad you asked.
Well, it all started yesterday around 4pm.
It has been at least a month of feeling just plain "heavy".
Weighted down.
Larger than my body has ever felt.
All of my pants are too tight.
That is a definite indicator that we have a bit of a problem.
Especially the two pairs I just bought this summer that fit perfectly.
Let alone the pairs from last year or the year before.
Now, I realize that I can't expect my body to stay in the exact same form for the rest of my life.
But I also know I can't just give up.
I exercise enough.
I'm not adding anything to that 6 or 7 day routine.
But evidently I've gotten into some bad eating habits.
I've dealt with this for as long as I can remember.
I'm sure none of you know what I'm talking about.
But this time, it had gone from a bit unhappy to just plain unhealthy.
I had far exceeded my limit.
So when I stepped on the scales yesterday out of sheer frustration and curiosity,
let's just say I was a tad bit (read: completely) disappointed.
I had stayed away from the scales because I know the "number" is not what matters.
But I had seen all the other signs and I guess I needed to know.
It was not my favorite moment.

That night I set serious goals and day to day expectations with Kevin.
I have enlisted his hard core help.
He has always gone easy on me in the past when I ask for help in this area.
He admitted it was because he never ever wanting me thinking it was because he thought I needed to lose weight.
So he made sure I understood that whenever he's "harsh" with me in the future it will be because he wants me to be happy.
Something I'm definitely not experiencing right now.
I need that.
I won't like that.
But I need that.

To start things off right. clean. fresh. we decided on a fast.
From 8pm Sunday until 8pm Monday we have been standing alongside one another.
Throughout the struggles and the temptations of crazy hunger.
It has been eye opening in a few ways.
Though not my first fast, it's my first day long fast in at least 8 years.
I learned how much I depend on food.
How I'm afraid to be hungry.
How I eat when I'm bored.
Or stressed.
Or excited.
Or frustrated.
How I eat way too often and way too much.
There are so many more reasons I'm sure.
But we have resolved to just crack down and make the change.
And it's hard to believe this can change, I'm not gonna lie.
I feel like a failure.
As I've seen myself fall short over and over.
But I can do this.
With God's blessing. His sustenance. His support.
And Kevin's encouragement.
I can do this.