Monday, March 30, 2009

Where Happiness Grows

I woke up this morning and felt exceptionally happy.  Almost giddy.  Don't get me wrong, I'm usually quite a happy person.  But today felt different.  

Maybe it has something to do with this:

Steve built these raised beds to go in the open space behind our house.

The beds are surrounded by chicken wire and covered with netting to keep the wildlife out!

I spent most of yesterday afternoon digging in the dirt, planting vegetables in my very first garden.  I lost track of time, and only came in when the kids started complaining they were hungry (it was past 6:00 after all!).

I'm not one to have an extraordinary green thumb.  Most of our houseplants have died over the years.  But this year feels different.  I have been tending my little seedlings growing in an egg carton.  I ooh and aah over them every morning, congratulating them on their overnight growth.  

These are my beans and sugar snap peas!

Jack planted this canteloupe at school, can't wait for this one!

My daytime thoughts have been almost consumed with thoughts of my garden.  Eagerly anticipating the day when I can walk outside and pluck that first red ripe tomato off the vine, or make a salad from home grown lettuce and carrots.  My dreams have been filled with gardening ideas.  (I know, a little obsessive.  But there are worse obsessions, right?)

When I read my morning calendar thought, I suddenly knew why I felt so happy.  It said 

So as I dig in the dirt, and tend to and nurture the emerging plants, I'm not just growing vegetables.  I'm growing my very own garden of happiness.  And those seeds of joy will be harvested and shared daily!

Adding To The Fleet...

For those of you who know Steve well, you know his love of anything "auto".  In our 13 years together, we have gone through 12 cars and 6 motorcycles.  And we have had both my mini-van and Steve's truck for 5 years.  

In the last couple of years, off-road vehicles have become a bigger interest in the family, and we have acquired a dune buggy and little quad for the kids.

For Christmas this year, "Santa" delivered a battery-operated quad for Grant. 

He loves it.  Jack loves it more.  

Yesterday, Steve woke up, looked at me and said "I think we should buy a bigger motorized quad for Jack to ride around the driveway and yard."  I looked at him and rolled my eyes, (which is my usual reaction when he tells me he wants a new vehicle.  I know it's a battle I'll never win.)

We went to Toys R' Us to check them out.  The quads were cool, and not too overpriced.  And then, Steve peeked his head into the back store room to see if they had anything else not on the floor.  

And in the end, this is what we came home with:

The afternoon was spent assembling the beast, and giving driving lessons.  A couple of near misses occurred when first, Olivia tried to back out of the garage and nearly crashed into my car, and then flew in reverse down the driveway, did a 360 and crashed into the curb at the mailbox.  Luckily, the seatbelts were secure and no one got hurt.  Except for Steve, when Jack proceeded to drive right over his foot while he was trying to stop it.

The beast can only go 3mph in low gear, and 7mph in high gear.  So technically, we should be able to catch it if the kids go crazy.  And Steve keeps assuring me that it will be great driving practice so by the time they are old enough to actually drive, they'll have mastered the art of steering.  We'll see.  

In the meantime, I'll close my eyes and pray each time one of them gets behind the steering wheel.  

Monday, March 23, 2009

You're a Good Man, Johnny Blue...

Even though this event happened several years ago, I have told this story often over the past few months.  It hasn't been written down anywhere, and it's one of those memories that I don't want to forget, so it's being posted here!

When Olivia was about 3 years old, we were walking through the grocery store in the aisle with various granola bars and fruit snacks.  It was right around Halloween, and we'd recently watched "Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin" (or whatever it was called!).  

Olivia spotted a box of Charlie Brown fruit snacks and excitedly called out in her adorable chirping voice "Look mom, it's Johnny Blue!"

It took me a few seconds to figure out what she was talking about - and then I couldn't control the giggles.  She had known it was a boys name and a color together, and in her mind, Johnny Blue was the equivalent to Charlie Brown.  And that's been his name in our house ever since!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Grass Really IS Greener!

We are in the process of fixing up our backyard. There's not too much we can do, as most of our yard is concrete and decking. We have some nice trees, and a few shrubs. 

This is what our backyard looked like last March:

Earlier this year, we decided to rip out our old, rotting wooden fence and replace it with a wrought iron fence, to make the yard seem more open. I had an ulterior motive as well...I wanted to use some of the open space behind the house to plant a garden.

This week, our old fence was ripped out, and the posts cemented in place for the new fence. 

This is what it looks like now:

(The wooden crates covered in chicken wire are my new raised garden beds, waiting patiently to be put into place sometime this week!)

The rest of the fence should be installed this week, and the barb wire will be relocated to barricade off my garden and protect it from the wildlife that roams the hills.

I can't believe what a difference it has made to have the old fence ripped out. I can look out the window and see GREEN. Not just shrubs or fence, but actual GREEN! I realize that this lush green will turn brown by summer, but there is still something peaceful and cathartic about looking out into the open space. It invites me outside. Makes me WANT to be outside, digging in the dirt and soaking in the sun.

You know the old saying "The grass is always greener on the other side"? Well, in this case, it's really true!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Meet Me At The Shack...

I finished reading a book over the weekend that profoundly inspired my soul. It came at the recommendation of my Pilates teacher.

I won't give the plot away, but it is the tale of a man who suffers a horrific loss, and the healing process that ensues. It is a deeply spiritual tale, and while it goes against some of mainstream religion's ideas of Deity, the story struck a chord deep within my soul. What would it be like to spend a weekend with God or to have a face to face conversation with Jesus? I've asked myself that question at various times over the years. Yet I've never really had an idea of what that might be like. Until now.

The lessons of unconditional love, sacrifice and forgiveness contained in this story really can change lives. The book is listed as fiction, but I can't help but think that it's based on a real-life event...

To find out more about the book, visit

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Because I Have Been Given Much...

We live in a society conditioned to constantly be in pursuit of more...of better...a bigger house, a faster car, a more stylish wardrobe, nicer furniture. You name it, we want it, right?

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Wondering why it is, that we as humans, have such difficulty in being satisfied with what we have. What is it about our nature that pushes us towards this constant desire for more? When I look at the current economic crisis that our country is faced with, it has become quite clear that much of this could have been avoided by simply "simplifying" and being happy with what we have. This includes the government, not just us as individuals.

I know there is no easy fix, changing our innate urges and desires is a challenge. But at least for today, I'm grateful for what I have - and I know that I am blessed beyond measure.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Continuing the Education

While you may be growing tired of my posts regarding my digital scrapbooking skills, I can't help but boast just a little.  I just can't believe that I actually created these...from a blank white canvas!


Jessica Sprague's online courses are amazing, and I'm loving the end results. My only complaint is that I don't have enough hours in the day to dedicate to practicing and creating. After all, while I could survive on chocolate and Diet Coke, I just don't feel right about feeding the kids the same. And so now, it's time for me to sign off and go cook dinner!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Meet Our New Puppy!

We're still working on the potty-training process with Grant.  Some days are better than others.

Last weekend, Saturday was a great day.  Underwear all day, no accidents.  Sunday morning, same thing...even at church!  Over the course of the afternoon however, he had four accidents...on the family room carpet.

As I was cleaning up the carpet for the fourth time, the phone rang.  It was my younger brother Shepard.    We hadn't talked in a few weeks, and he was quick to say "What's new?  What are you up to?"

The irritation came through the phone line as I said "I'm cleaning pee off the family room floor for the fourth time today!"

He paused for a minute, then asked "Oh, did you guys get a puppy?"

Enough said.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


I find great joy in watching the accomplishments of our children, and today was no exception.

The day started out with carpool to the pouring rain.  While I was outside Jack's class, waiting for him to go in, his teacher, Mrs. Rad motioned to me and told me that Jack would be reading a "Book Talk" over the school-wide intercom system right after the bell rang.  She asked if I'd like to stay to hear which I replied with an enthusiastic "Yes!"

At 8:40, Jack, another classmate, and Mrs. Rad left the classroom to go into the office.  I sat down on a miniature chair with Grant and waited anxiously.  Would he do it?  Would he bow out at the last minute?

I heard the announcement that it was time for the morning book talk, and then heard my sweet son:

"My name is Jack Whitaker and I am in kindergarten.  The book I read was The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss.  

It is about a cat who visits a brother and sister on a rainy day when they don't have anything to do.

I liked this book because it is fun to read and it is funny."

As soon as I heard his name, the tears started flowing.  I didn't even try and hide them.  They were tears of complete joy.  My sweet boy was able to speak clearly and with confidence and actually read for the entire school to hear.  

After we left school, I had my preschool registration appointment for Grant.  Unbelievable that it's time to even think about that, let alone actually do it!  The teachers remembered me, and came out asking about Jack, and in utter disbelief that Grant will be attending in the fall.  The time flies.  And my babies aren't babies anymore...and I'm a happy mommy.