Monday, December 29, 2008

Moms Go Where Angels Fear to Tread by Joan Wester Anderson - Newly Released Book by Guideposts Publishers


One of my firmest beliefs is that every couple contemplating holy wedlock should be required to undergo intensive training. We have schools to teach every other skill; why not demand a mini-diploma before John and Jane are permitted to register their preferences at Target, and check honeymoon rates to Cancun?

Yes, there are already marriage preparation courses and computerized tests, mostly church-sponsored, and that’s great. But I can’t help wondering if the instructors deal mainly in theory, or if they themselves are battle-scarred veterans of the two-merging-into-one-kitchenette scrimmage. If I were to design a truly practical course, for example, I’d require all engaged couples to wallpaper a room together. There’s nothing like a joint decorating project to really get to know one another. Couples would pick out the paper (looking through a minimum of twenty-five sample books), measure the room (one with plenty of windows and uneven crevices), calculate the cost, faint, look through another twenty-five books, consider using only border paper, order the paper, back-order the paper, phone the manufacturer about the paper, assemble tools, mix paste, spill paste, cut, weep, reorder…well, you get the idea.

Follow-up classes might include arranging furniture together, hanging pictures together or for a chance of pace, hosting a dinner party for both sets of in-laws together. Couples who are still dewy-eyed after these encounters should probably teach the next session---they’ve obviously got something special.

Another session would involve sick husbands. When a male contracts a cold, flu or other death-defying disease, he’s a changed creature from the stalwart male with whom she recently exchanged “in sickness and in health” vows. Saying he reverts to childhood is less than accurate---how many children whimper at the sight of a digital thermometer? No, the ailing husband is rarely dealt with in depth, yet his bewildered bride needs much advice during this crisis.

She should know that, depending on his temperament, a man will react to a sore shoulder or the sniffles by a) blaming her and being surly, b) convincing himself it’s the plague, making out his will and being surly, or c) pretending he feels fine, carrying on as usual, developing pneumonia, blaming her and being surly. All three types will require special menus, including foods which previously elicited no interest, a pyramid of tissue boxes (yes, even for a pulled muscle), frequent servings of lemonade and plenty of reassurance. Especially since he insisted she phone the doctor and now demands to know why she didn’t ask the following questions: “Is it contagious? Is it terminal? Where did you get your medical degree?”

Her strongest ally here is time: soon Husband will emerge from the Valley of the Shadows and bounce off to work, while suggesting that, in the future she not get so overwrought about illness.

My ideal marriage course would also encompass a seminar on finances. How will he deal with the fact that his conservative wife has not yet discovered that one can take money out of a savings account? How will she cope with a mate so addicted to the sound of ringing cash registers that he cannot mow the lawn without taking his Visa card along? Engaged pairs would learn that whoever handles the money worries about the money; the other partner gallops through life yelling, “Charge!” And unless bankruptcy is a distinct possibility, the twain rarely meet. Nor should they, since one of the pair can’t rest until the checking account has been balanced, while the other figures that if the total looks reasonable, why fret? “How much was the check for on the twenty-ninth?” Wife asks Husband.

“The twenty-ninth? Let’s see…What was the amount?”

“That’s what I’m asking. Who was it to and for how much?”

“Hmmmmm. Was that the week the tire blew? Or wait a minute---weren’t we celebrating our anniversary that night?”

“Our anniversary is next month.”

“Oh. Actually I must have been thinking of your birthday.” The room temperature has suddenly dropped forty degrees.

“That’s in August!” Slammed door. Unbalanced checkbook.

There should be at least one class devoted to timing—that little detail that wreaks havoc between even the most devoted duo, especially when Punctual Patty links up with Late Lester (and they usually do). I have never seen a bride actually walk down the aisle, or a football team with clean uniforms---my husband’s idea of “being on time” is loosely translated as “arriving before anyone is saying goodbye.” And there’s the matter of inner clocks: when we were dating, neither of us noticed that he was a night owl and I an early bird. After our “I do’s” I realized that waking him involved four alarm clocks and, occasionally, a tap-dance routine on his chest. At parties, however, I’d prop my eyes open with one hand and give him desperate “let’s go home!” signals with the other, which he always ignored.

“What kind of a man has never in his whole life seen a sunrise?” I once shrieked in frustration.

”What kind of woman spends a night out exchanging tuna recipes and dozes off during the Super Bowl?” he countered.

Over the years we have adjusted----he’s now the early riser and makes the best coffee in the neighborhood. But wouldn’t it be nicer if we had been primed beforehand?

And what of belongings, especially when one partner is a casual sort and the other goes quietly berserk at the drop of a dust mote? It’s not long after the honeymoon when his socks tossed in the middle of the coffee table, his wet towels on the bedroom carpet or his closet stuffed with high school sports gear plunge her into cardiac arrest. Or her compulsive attachment to the vacuum cleaner and her collection of aerosol cans send him out searching for an all-night poker party? Hammering out a compromise can take months of re-reading the marriage vows, looking for loopholes.

Finally, couples in my ideal marriage class would be willing, nay eager, to make God the center of their lives. He certainly is primary in this labor of love and is only waiting to be asked to pull his share of the load. There would be evening prayer, of course, a quiet time when husband and wife join hands and ask for guidance and forgiveness. But couples would also learn the fine art of brevity in heavenly sharing. There are very few family situations that “Help, Lord! Right now!” won’t cover. And it beats talking to yourself. God can also touch you gently with hope (and a reminder that love is not a feeling, but a commitment).

Marriage Class would emphasize that similar backgrounds and values are important because they provide a firm foundation on which a couple can build. But those differences in tastes, temperaments and opinions, while perilous, can also add spice to a shared life. A Republican can co-exist with a Democrat, Arlene Athlete can merge happily with Sedentary Sam, and a red-and-orange personality can thoroughly enjoy a blue-green mate. All it takes is compromise, honesty, give-and-take, patience and plenty of love.

And perhaps a course to explain it all.

“For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe. Plans to give you a future full of hope. When you call me, when you go to pray to me, I will listen to you. When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, you will find me with you, says the Lord, and I will change your lot.”

---Jeremiah 29, 11-14

Moms Go Where Angels Fear to Tread
by Joan Wester Anderson - Newly Released Book by Guideposts Publishers

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dad

My dad turns 79, Tuesday, December 23!
Happy Birthday Dad, You're My Hero!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

As a Mom, I promise I will improve in 2009

Mom's 2009 New Year's Resolutions, Two Months Later...

January 1st: "I will learn to sleep standing up."
March 1st: "I won't fall asleep behind the wheel."

January 1st: "I will find at least one pair of matching socks."
March 1st: "Finding one pair of matching socks is statisically
identical to being hit with a meteor, while vacationing in Florida."

January 1st: "I will use only one email address."
March 1st: "I will go from eight to seven email addresses."

January 1st: "I won't send SPAM to anyone this year on my computer."
March 1st: "Why can't I send SPAM if I want to? I grew up eating the stuff."

January 1st: "I will serve only totally organic meals to my family."
March 1st: "I will limit serving fast food at our family lunch table, to just twelve meals a week."

January 1st: "I will exercise every single day in 2009, for at least one hour."
March 1st: "I'll buy a DVD of the 2008 Olympics and watch it for 30 minutes a

January 1st: "I will not only wash, but also dry all our dirty dishes,
immediately after each meal."
March 1st: "I will train my cat to dry dishes, the dog already washes them."

January 1st: "I will remember my own birthday and celebrate in a special way."
March 1st: "I will somehow forget how old I am."

January 1st: "I will make a time for reading each day in 2009."
March 1st: "I will read the back of grocery store receipts to see if I have earned
enough points to get for free, the featured Teflon cookware."

Friday, December 12, 2008

Homemade Pizza Company - Cutie Pie Kit (Kid's Party in a Box) - Product Review

Listen -- our kids and their friends just enjoyed the ultimate Pizza Party last Friday night – and they did it with the help of the ultimate good-tasting, one of a kind, difficult to believe it's for real, Cutie Pie Kit from Homemade Pizza Company. It’s literally a party in a box! It’s perfect for the family that’s really big on pizza that tastes home made, but doesn’t want to leave the kitchen a disaster area. For a very reasonable price you can stop by your local Homemade Pizza Company and pick up your own Cutie Pie Kit. In just minutes you’ll be on your way to becoming Mom or Dad of the Year.

Though our girls used the Kit for their Christmas party, the Cutie Pie Pizza kits will work famously well for your family’s next Hanukkah Party, birthday get-together, sleep-over and any other excuse you come up with to eat home-made pizza without all the hassle of shopping or making it all at home. It's simple, uncomplicated, and taste tested by us!

This is how our first Official Cutie Pie Pizza party went down (it really was several slices of heaven).

First, we stopped by our conveniently located local Homemade Pizza Company and picked up our very own Cutie Pie Kit. By the way, the secret behind the HomeMade taste is disarmingly simple – they make it in their restaurant, like you would at home with natural organic ingredients.

So what came in our official Cutie Pie Kit? Look at all this! Inside this joy in a box we found:
1. Five Cutie PieTM pizza dough rounds (just the shape of a child’s smiling face).
2. Ruby red HomeMade tomato sauce (the kind that makes your heart glow red).
3. Freshly grated Mozzarella cheese (the melt in your mouth kind).
4. Your choice of three of the following tantalizingly tasty ingredients:
Italian sausage, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, tomato, basil, spinach,
pineapple, green pepper, and black olives (substitutions extra). We chose Italian sausage, Canadian bacon, and extra cheese (and we loved this combination).

But that’s not all! Inside this creative container of culinary surprises we found chef aprons, chef hats, and kid-friendly instructions to help theim create their own HomeMade master-pie masterpiece.

The pictures below tell the rest of the story….

"As you can tell the party goers were were ready for their own version of “Iron Cheffette America.”

That’s right – there were smiles all around with the dough!

Yet having this much fun can be serious work.

You heard of the Three Tenors? They would definitely sing the praises of this pizza.

A truly good pizza is worth 1,000 words.

Here is the face of a truly satisfied customer. The fresh organic ingredients in the Cutie Pie Kit made for amazing pizza! HomeMade Pizza gave us way too much of everything in the Cutie Pie Kit – which is why everyone ate way too much and enjoyed it way too much! Like any self-respecting pizza they ended up stuffed!

If you’re looking to build memories to last a lifetime with your kids and their friends we suggest you go out and buy your own Cutie Pie Kit from Homemade Pizza Company:
Buy Your Own Cutie Pie Kit

Cheryl's Christmas Salad

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Salad Dressing:
6 Tbsps. olive oil
2 Tbsp. white vinegar
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsps. apple juice, concentrate

1 avocado, chopped]
1 stick celery, washed and chopped small
6 c. torn spinach leaves or 1 bag (10 oz) washed spinach leaves
1/2 c. craisins
1/2 c. almonds, silvered (optional: roast in a saucepan for 7 min. with 2 tsp. apple juice concentrate)
1 tomato, washed and chopped or 15 cherry tomatoes
red apple, washed, cored, and chopped small
green apple, washed, cored, and chopped small

Whisk oil, vinegar, apple juice concentrate, salt, and pepper in a small, deep bowl. Toss remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Pour dressing over salad to coat. Serve on pretty Christmas plates

December Comedy

I'll be in Valpraiso, Chicago, Dekalb, Joliet, Kankakee, and Niles this month making you laugh!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

10 Free or Nearly Free Christmas Gifts to Make & Give

                            Can you say vintage?  Check out the cool old car in the background!

Maybe you don't have as much money as you did last year to spend on gift giving? Did you know that truly the best gifts are homemade? Maybe we need to be reminded this year. Share your heart with others on a deeper level this year through homemade, personalized gifts for everyone on your list.

During the Great Depression, everyone HAD to use their ingenuity to create gifts conveying their heartfelt love. Here's some ideas to get you thinking now, during the Great Recession. You could even make a couple of these homemade gifts for each person on your list.

1. Know a child learning Spanish? Save several sizes of clean tin cans with unique labels in Spanish, with any jagged points bent safely down. Fill with slightly used pens, sharpened pencils, paintbrushes, markers, and dried flowers. These make great decorative storage for your el esponol student's desk or dresser top.

2. Write a letter to your child, niece, or nephew telling them how excited you were before they were born, about their upcoming birth. You could even frame the letter, for a gift, showing your anticipated love.

3. Print out your favorite Bible verse as a small poster. Add a label at the bottom that reads, "Mom's Legacy Bible Verse" or "Dad's Legacy Bible Verse." Others, including your children, love to know what's on your heart and in your head. Share yourself with them at this level and they will cherish your gift.

4. Give a gift of a picture of you and the gift recipient. Write at the bottom of the frame, "You are Loved." It could be Grandpa/Grandson, Mom/Dad/You, Daughter/Mother.

5. "I love you all year long." Write a letter about the year just ending. Make it twelve paragraphs long for each month. Tell the person just how much they meant to you each month of 2008, including a special memory from each month and a canister of homemade granola (granola takes a long time to eat)!

6. "What I'm going to Change, to Love you More." Write a card to those on your list, with something that you intend to change/improve, with God's help, about yourself, in your life this year. Make it something that will make you an easier person to live with. (Now, that will be a welcomed surprise gift to the recipient, a gift that keeps on giving all year!)

7. Shine everyone's shoes for Christmas morning. Under the tree, have everyone's shoes lined up looking brand new. It's an act of service that will be appreciated. Or, give another act of service, such as car detailing. "Borrow" someone's car a day or two before Christmas and detail it for them by hand for a Christmas morning surprise.

8. Give a gift of your professional services. Maybe you are a teacher and could offer to tutor. Maybe you are an accountant and could offer tax services as a gift. How about a plumber, carpenter, or electrician for some home repair services? Perhaps you are a great writer and could help a family member with an updated resume.
Perhaps, you have nice handwriting and can address envelopes as a gift.

9. Regift books you have already read. Wrapping it up beautifully, adding a small letter, detailing why this book was special to you and why you want to bless them by sharing it.

10. Give each person on your list, a souvenir of your life or heirloom. Give them something of your's, that they would enjoy having. Clean it up, fix it up, and wrap it up.