Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"Wii Fit"ness??

In order to do our part to stimulate the economy, Jason and I are planning to buy a Wii when our (let's call it what it really is) 2008-tax-advance-check hits the bank. To go along with our economically-stimulating purchase, I pre-ordered what I thought was going to be a little slice of fun. However, this hysterical video is causing me to wonder if it's too late to cancel my order with Amazon...

I can't figure out how to embed the video directly on my blog, so you'll have to follow the link. It's worth it, trust me!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Gourmet It's Not

It's no grand secret around our household that I'm not a cook. It certainly won't hurt me to miss a meal or two and a bowl of cereal for dinner makes me happy enough. However, most people frown upon not providing proper nutrition to one's own children, so preparing well-balanced meals is a forced activity around here, at least for me. Fortunately for me (unfortunately for my waistline), Jason is a wonderful cook. Practically gourmet! Seriously. More than once, when I complained of not having any groceries on the shelves, Jason would walk into the kitchen, throw open the pantry doors, pull out a bunch of unrelated food items like bread, ketchup, a can of soup, and some seasoning and thence prepare a 3-course meal. It's truly a gift. I rarely even venture into the kitchen without a recipe and every single requisite ingredient.

The boys are especially fond of daddy's cooking. A couple of years ago when Jason was in school in the evenings and the responsibility of dinner fell on me one evening, the boys promptly informed me that PB&J with chips and a cut-up mango was NOT dinner. They matter-of-factly defined dinner for me according to what daddy makes: chicken, noodles, vegetables, rice... and the list went on. See what I'm up against?

Since Jason has started a new job with Ginormous Defense Corporation, I have to "cook" dinner more often than I would like. So far I've tried out some interesting recipes and some that even tasted decent. I was trying to decide what green vegetable we needed to round out our meal this particular evening, so I called Jason. He suggested that I buy some fresh green beans, cook them up in a little olive oil, then gather them in small bunches, wrap some bacon around them and bake them in the oven for a few more minutes. We both agree that everything tastes better with a little bacon grease! His suggestion sounded easy enough, so I agreed. Mind you, the only beans I've ever "cooked" have either come from a can or a bag in the freezer, but Jason, the gourmet, made this feat sound easy enough.

When I got home, I put the main dish together (which didn't turn out that great. Surprise.). A bit later I started the green beans. I know enough about fresh produce that I had the wherewithal to know I needed to rinse the beans first. Beyond that, I'm a blank page. I put the oil in the pan, like Jason instructed and cooked them for a few minutes. However, when it was time to put them in "bunches" I began to wonder what kind of masochist I had married. Those suckers were HOT and the oil they were soaking in was even hotter!! And I was supposed to use my delicate bare hands to gather them up and wrap bacon around them? I think not! I momentarily considered using my rubber gloves, but since they are primarily for cleaning, I worried about chemical film or grungy gunk rubbing off and poisoning the whole family. So I did the next best thing I could think of- I used a spatula to put the beans in the baking dish and laid a few pieces of bacon across the top of them. I figured they would still get the same tasty bacon-y flavor, which would be just enough to cut the yucky green bean flavor.

When Jason got home, we began dishing up our meal. He took a look at the green beans and made some comment eluding to the fact that I obviously had not understood what he meant about the bacon and the green beans. I told him that I in fact had understood, but how in the he!! was I supposed to gather hot green beans into bunches and hold on to them long enough to wrap them in bacon? Jason thought this was the funniest thing in the world at that moment- apparently, I was supposed to "blanch" (a fancy word for cooling them off in cold water) the green beans before bunching them, a little step he had neglected to mention. I guess he isn't as masochistic as I was beginning to believe. He just ASSumed I knew that. HA! At what point has he ever thought I knew two-cents-worth about cooking? His job must really be making his brain fuzzy.

Then we sat down to eat and Jason, once again, began to chuckle. I was already a bit self-conscious for missing the blanching step, not to mention that the chicken I cooked was dry as a piece of cardboard, and less flavorful. Now let me just throw this out there- Am I the only one who didn't realize green beans have stems? Because I didn't know that I was supposed to chop the little ends off before I cooked them. In my own defense (this bears repeating!), this is my first time making green beans from "scratch" (as in not already prepared). I look over at Jason's plate and he has a small pile of green bean stems stacking up on it. To make my own point, which was that green bean stems are clearly edible, I just swallowed mine down as quickly as possible.

Jason was actually quite encouraging, bless his heart, assuring me that the meal was quite good. Are precious lies like that still sins? The best I can say about tonight's meal is that it was filling, green bean stems and all. I didn't even care that the children didn't eat it. Honestly, I could hardly blame them. Thankfully, breakfast starts in just a few hours!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Life and Death

The funeral for my friends' baby was today. I feel emotionally exhausted. Something our pastor said at the service struck me- he said times like these are reminders that life and death are daily issues. This sums up what I've been trying to convey rather succinctly.

We equate "daily issues" with things like parenting, work, and marriage. We take life as though we'll live it forever and assume that death is far from us or meant for someone else. Parenting, work, and marriage are daily issues, but in order to deal with those issues properly, we have to deal with life and death.

How differently would we live if we knew exactly how limited our time on earth would be? I want to live like that. I want to love my children, my husband, my friends, and, most importantly, my Christ with the same fervor that I might have if I could see to the end of my days. I think facing death, as difficult as it is, causes us to wrestle with life, causes us to wrestle with God and come up with a better perspective on both, thereby enabling us to live our lives to the fullest to the glory of the Lord.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Great Fun!

Today was a such a fun day! Jason and I were both off so we went to lunch and to see the matinee of Baby Mama- let me tell you, it was HI-larious! I teared up a couple of times, too. By my (lack of) standards, if a movie makes you laugh and makes you cry, it's probably a pretty good one! But this review is from someone who isn't a huge fan of No Country for Old Men (Yes, I know it was a book first, and I haven't read it) because it had a ton of deeper metaphorical meaning and I'll confess- that isn't why I watch movies. If I want metaphors, I'll read Animal Farm.

Since we didn't go to the boys' school's open house on Tuesday, they (Micah more than Cade) were very disappointed. In fact, Micah, ever the creative problem solver, suggested that we take him to open house, drop him off and then come back and get him when it ended. While it was an interesting idea, we had to break the news to him that it really wasn't plausible. He cried. To ease the disappointment a bit, we promised them a special treat later in the week. So after we picked them up today, we took them bowling. They were so excited I thought they might pee in their pants. They may have, actually... Even if you added up all 4 of our scores, you still wouldn't get a perfect bowling score. None of us broke 100. I actually came in 3rd, after Jason and Micah, respectively. To be fair, though, I would have scored higher than Micah if I'd had the bumpers like he did. HA!

After bowling, we went to eat Mexican food. By the time we got home, the children were on fun overload (read: cranky), so it was to bed with them. Jason rented us another movie- Sweeney Todd- that was the most disturbing thing I've seen in awhile, which is the reason I'm still up blogging at almost midnight. I'm watching Friends re-runs and trying to replace all the ST images with happier ones before I fall asleep. Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

On Blogging

I'll be honest, I'm not sure how to transition into a new post after the last one. Is there an appropriate amount of time one should wait before moving on? I am praying for my friends, but at this time there is little else I can do.

Blogging is much harder than I thought it would be. To those of you who disagree that it's difficult, I counter with an intelligent and resounding, "Is too!"

Am I taking myself too seriously? Probably. Since I started blogging last weekend, I have no less than a half dozen partially-written posts in my blogger "queue" just waiting to be chosen, completed, and published (oooh, kind of like a work of grace... hmmmm...). I'm actually a little obsessed with my blog right now. Even though no one is really reading (if you are reading, are you catching my passive-aggressive plea for affirmation?), I still want it to be something worthwhile should someone actually decide to check it out regularly.

I do find myself holding back quite a bit on posts I actually publish, but it's nice to have a place to put all my thoughts down even if I never actually turn those thoughts into an actual post. Just getting it out there is very cathartic. I didn't realize I had so many thoughts! I do seem to be having trouble articulating some of them to make them post-worthy. Also, I've never been very good at journaling, but this seems easier- probably b/c I type at a decent rate- most likely faster than I could write legibly. And it's faster to go back and edit on the computer to make it sound just like I want it to.

Today was not a great day, considering the news we received about our friends. However, there are a couple of random things I did today that I'm happy about (because it's all about me, right?):

1. I made Piper a great lunch. We had to make our daily trek to the store-who-must-not-be-named and I thought about getting her something quick and easy, but also full of preservatives and other non-food items. But I didn't- I cooked her a chicken breast, with an organic apple and some cheese. I wouldn't say I was exactly crunchy, but maybe a little crispy. I'm trying to make small changes in the things my family eats, and this was just one step on the road.

2. I spent time with the boys individually at bedtime. Sometime a week or so ago, I instituted a new piece to the boys' bedtime ritual. I lay down beside them each night and just chit chat. It gives me a chance to listen to them, pray with them and tell them how much I love and adore them and it makes our last interaction of the day much more pleasant. Bedtime can be frustrating for several reasons. Usually, by bedtime I've had my fill and I'm ready for them to pass out. By nature of their ages, they just want to play and be silly. I tend to lose my cool, but I was feeling convicted about frequently sending them to bed on a negative note. So I decided to try to get a minute or two of quality time in at night and send them to bed with sweet thoughts. Some nights we get home too late, but I got to talk with them tonight. It was precious.

3. I had a great talk with Micah about obeying the Lord. He's so smart and his heart is so sensitive. I pray that Christ will draw Micah (as well as Piper and Cade) to himself and that they will follow Him all the days of their lives.

An Incomprehensible Loss

A couple in our church family lost their baby last night. She was born at 24 wks. gestation due to a placental abruption. Although initial reports and examinations were promising, something obviously went very wrong. I don't have any details beyond the fact that it actually happened. And I don't have any words to describe my own sadness for their loss. As I write, I pray my words don't appear flippant because I honestly can't wrap my mind around the sense of pain and loss they must be feeling.

Once again, it's mere seconds that change the course of our lives. But those seconds are in His hands.

There must be comfort in God's soveriegnty or I'm not even sure the cloud of pain and loss would be survivable. That our very God, the giver of life, experienced the loss of his own Son for the ultimate glory of the Lord~ what heartbreaking grief, yet what indescribable righteousness and grace.

1 I cry aloud to God,
aloud to God, and he will hear me.
2 In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
my soul refuses to be comforted.
3 When I remember God, I moan;
when I meditate, my spirit faints.
4. You hold my eyelids open;
I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
5 I consider the days of old, the years long ago.
6 I said, "Let me remember my song in the night;
let me meditate in my heart."
Then my spirit made a diligent search:
7 "Will the Lord spurn forever,
and never again be favorable?
8 Has his steadfast love forever ceased?
Are his promises at an end for all time?
9 Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he in anger shut up his compassion?"
10 Then I said, "I will appeal to this,
to the years of the right hand of the Most High."
11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
12 I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds.
13 Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is great like our God?
14 You are the God who works wonders;
you have made known your might
among the peoples.
15 You with your arm redeemed your people,
the children of Jacob and Joseph.
16 When the waters saw you, O God,
when the waters saw you, they were afraid;
indeed, the deep trembled.
17 The clouds poured out water;
the skies gave forth thunder;
your arrows flashed on every side.
18 The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
your lightnings lighted up the world;
the earth trembled and shook.
19 Your way was through the sea,
your path through the great waters;
yet your footprints were unseen.
20 You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Psalm 77 (ESV)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, right? If that's truly the case, I must be headed there in a handbasket. Last weekend at a conference I attended, one of the vendors was distributing a seed mat as a free gift for visiting the booth. Don't worry if you have no idea what a seed mat is- I hadn't heard of one either until I saw these. Basically, it's a huge piece of paper (5' x 1') and you're supposed to dig up a plot of earth approximately 1/4" deep and bury the thing. Add some water and voila~ you have a flower garden. I picked up 4 of the things because no one else wanted them and was planning to plant them with the boys today as an Earth Day project. Unfortunately, I had to stay at work a bit late, then once I picked the children up from their respective schools I realized we had nothing for lunches for the rest of the week, not to mention dinner for the children tonight while Jason and I had dinner with friends. By the time I made it home from the the-chain-superstore-that-I resent-due-to-their-super-low-prices-that-force-me-to-shop-there-and-directly-support-their-unfair-labor-practices-and-their-surreptitious-attempt-at-world-domination-therefore-I-refuse-to-name-it-here (minus one bag that I managed to leave there and will have to go back and get tomorrow~ how I forget things with 3 little angels who stand by so sweetly polishing their halos while I check out is beyond me.)~ it was after 5:00 (sorry- that was a long sentence. I was ranting. It's my blog.). I had to bathe all the children and start their dinner before the sitter came, so planting seeds was out the window (no pun intended).

However, before you accuse me of being the sole antecedent of global warming, be encouraged that Earth Day was not a lost cause in the Sturgeon household! In the store parking lot, on our way into buy the aforementioned groceries, I look down and see the my oldest son had picked up a rather nasty looking, albeit empty (except for some crumbs), Pringle's can. Having a temporary memory lapse of exactly what day it happens to be, in my most nuturing, yet affirming mommy voice I immediately said "Micah! Put that down!" Here's where it gets good- if you're a parent you know how humbling it is to be put in your place by your child. Micah quickly responded, "But mommy, it's Earth Day!" So here I am with 3 children in the parking lot of the-store-who-must-not-be-named trying to figure out how to encourage my children to take care of the earth while simultaneously giving them the message that litter is perfectly happy laying where it lands. Just so you know, it's not possible. I had no choice but to agree that Micah could carry the Pringle's can to the trash can near the store door. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your view of litter, Earth Day and global warming, allowing him to carry one piece of trash set off a chain of events that led to both the boys picking up every single piece of trash in the parking lot from our car to the door of the store. And there was quite a bit, including a piece of paper Micah picked up from a rather suspicious looking puddle. In my happy place I choose to believe it was just water.

Looking back, I know they did a good thing. I'm glad the boys want to be good stewards of the earth's resources. We said a short prayer together tonight thanking God for the earth and asking Him to show us ways that we can continue to take care of His creation. I guess we'll get to the seeds another day. Now that I think about it, we don't even have a shovel, so how exactly was I planning to dig up that plot of earth? Happy Earth Day everyone!!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Meaning of Names

Before our oldest child, Micah, was born, Jason and I discussed (sometimes rather heatedly) what we might name him. Jason liked names such as Mordecai (not to sound like an anti-Semite, but it was a little to Jewish for my tastes) and Ezekiel (but this was already our dog's name. Too bad.) I preferred classier sounding (or as Jason called them, preppy) names like Preston and Reid. But naming a child is hard because not only is the child pretty much stuck with the name his/her entire life whether (s)he likes it or not, but also the name lends itself to some preconceived notions regarding the child's personality. It's not an easy decision to make. You know the kid is going to be around awhile and you want the name to suit him/her just right. You throw out all the names of people you once/currently hate, you throw out names used by family members or close friends, you throw out names that will get your child beat up on the playground, you throw out names that no one can spell or pronounce and you throw out names from the aformentioned scenarios that made your spouse's list. Honestly, once you get through that, you're not left with much, especially if you have the creative genius of a peanut. Once you decide on a name and the baby is born, it can even take some time before the name truly "fits" the child. When our second son, Cade, was born, it took forever for me to get accustomed to calling him that. I didn't have any better suggestions, but 'Cade' just didn't seem right at first.

Naming my blog was a similar experience, except I basically got to do it on my own. As I mentioned previously, I agonized over it. I didn't want it to be too corny or too dull or too complicated. And it needed to be meaningful. For whatever reason, I kept coming back to one of my favorite quotes from Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird: Thus began our longest journey together. I was leaning towards the long journey part, when I realized this life isn't my longest journey and I hope it isn't my longest journey with those dearest to me (who may or may not be reading). My longest journey will be spent in eternity worshipping at the feet of my Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ. This life is only my first journey- a chance to worship and glorify him here on earth for as many days as He chooses to bestow on me. So, at Jason's suggestion, I just took the first part of the quote as my URL- maybe it will cause people to wonder at the deeper meaning or maybe they'll just blow it off b/c it doesn't really make sense- and changed around the journey part to make a good title.

Like Cade's name, I'm not sure it fits right now. I'm not sure I'm thrilled with it yet. Maybe my blog will grow into it, or maybe I've just butchered an immensely famous work by a brilliant writer. We'll see.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

On Jumping and Bandwagons

Here it is: the not-awaited first post on my brand new blog. I've put off blogging for a long time, except for a few perfunctory posts on myspace, for a few reasons. First of all, blogging seems to be the "thing" to do. Now I'm not one who automatically chooses NOT to do something with the sole justification being that everyone else IS doing it. But in this case, I didn't want it to seem like I was doing it just because everyone else was. I needed a more significant reason. Secondly, I've discovered over the years that I'm not a truly insightful person. It's a weakness. I follow several blogs of people who have such amazing insight into themselves and others and I'm overwhelmed by the truths they uncover. I think I'm fairly intelligent, but insightful- not so much. So I didn't really feel like I had anything to add to a community of bloggers already commenting life, love, religion, politics, and so on. Finally, and most honestly, I couldn't come up with a clever title or URL. Seriously. I've been agonizing over this for days. As if I don't have enough "real" things to agonize over, coming up with a short, catchy, meaningful phrase was next to impossible once I started comparing my ideas to all the others out there. I think my lack of titling ability goes hand-in-hand w/ my lack of insight.

However, whether or not my URL is memorable or even if no one reads what I blog, I felt the need to start saying something. I've never been good at reflecting nor have I felt a need for engaging in it on a regular basis. When I was teaching, I had a fabulous principal- she was a great leader and supporter. She was also big on reflections. All of our professional developments had some sort of reflection piece that, quite frankly, I felt I would rather have had bamboo shoots shoved under my fingernails than take the time to "reflect" on what I had learned. I was too busy. I wanted the bottom line. I wanted to get back to work and not waste my time on what I perceived as "fluff."

However, in recent days I've had a moment of clarity. I discovered the significance (for me) for starting a blog- I need reflection. Without reflecting, I'm just going. Never stopping to think on what I'm doing or what has happened causes me to "do" life rather than experience it. I often react rather than plan. In several instances the past few weeks, I've been faced with the "finite-ness" of life and I'm actually glad for those moments, not because I like to be sad or worry about my own life's end, but because I find that it forces me to reflect on my own life and I take fewer moments for granted. These finite moments have helped me to understand that my life needs reflection so that I truly can do all things for the glory of God. If I may borrow a few lines from Rob Thomas's song Little Wonders:

Our lives are made
In these small hours
These little wonders
These twists and turns of fate
Time falls away
But these small hours
These small hours
Still remain

I want to stop "doing" and grab on to the small hours, the little wonders of life. Thus, my blog.

PS: If you're interested in the handful of blogs I posted at myspace (although everyone knows myspace is sooooo 2006. Facebook is where the action's at now!), you can find me at, but you have to be my "friend" first.