Thursday, July 31, 2008

fun fest fireworks

A couple of weeks ago, I promised pictures of the Fun Fest fireworks. I'm finally following through on my promise. :) Nelson had read about a camera technique for taking photos of fireworks, and he tested it out that evening. He took 154 pictures! I don't think Blogger would be very happy with me if I posted that many pics, so I've been trying to pick some of the clearer shots. They still don't do it justice--nothing beats being there in person. But I think he did a great job capturing the colorful displays.

I was actually pleasantly surprised by the Fun Fest fireworks. Most towns spend their "budget" on the 4th of July show, and if there's an event meriting fireworks at some other time it tends to be pretty lame. Not so with Kingsport and Fun Fest! I was expecting a short, cheesy event, but that's not what we got. It was a great display, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Sarah especially liked the fireworks that made a smiley face. :) If you live in a big metropolis, you probably wouldn't be impressed, but we had a great time watching a surprisingly good show.

So here are some highlights.

Yeah, so this isn't actually fireworks. But we thought the moon looked really cool that night!

fun with bubbles

A couple of nights ago, while I cooked supper, Nelson took Sarah outside to play with her new set of bubbles. Truth be told, I think they both had a great time. :) Check out all of the bubble fun!

No, Sarah was not the one who created this rather large bubble. ;) Nelson's handiwork is now immortalized. :)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

drat those fairy tales!

Yesterday morning I made gingerbread. It was a whole grain version, not super-sweet, so paired with a cup of coffee it made a lovely breakfast. Sarah, however, had spent the night with her Mike and Mumsy, so she was not home to enjoy said gingerbread when it came out of the oven. When I woke her up for church this morning, I told her there was gingerbread for breakfast. She grew very excited and eagerly headed toward the table. I brought her a glass of orange juice and a piece of the gingerbread. She stared at it in consternation, then looked up at me. "I don't want a brownie for breakfast!" she exclaimed.

"It's not a brownie," I assured her. "It's gingerbread."

"No, that's not for breakfast! That's for dessert," she protested. "I want other gingerbread! Not a brownie!"

I didn't know what "other" gingerbread she meant, so I said again that this wasn't a brownie--it was gingerbread. Furthermore, it was the ONLY gingerbread we had.

"But I want it like a man!" she all but wailed. And then it clicked. It's been awhile, but we've read the story of The Little Gingerbread Man many times. So when I said gingerbread, that was her frame of reference.

She never would eat that gingerbread; she ended up with cereal for breakfast. Maybe after supper, this "brownie" can be her dessert. Sigh.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sarah's party

Jeannie, you'll want to pay special attention to this story; you play a pivotal role! ;)

Sarah has a toy shopping cart and several cardboard boxes of "food." Today, she brought all of her food boxes into the living room, along with her pretend money. She set up all the groceries on the table and handed me the money. "Mommy, you've got to buy my groceries! I need them for Grandma!" We went through this several times, until I had bought all of her groceries. She then loaded them into her cart and headed for her bedroom saying, "I've got to go get ready! Grandma's coming for the party!"

So she set up all the food for a lovely party with Grandma. Tell me, Jeannie, was she a good hostess? ;)

where tightwad and environmentalist collide...

Normally I just use this blog to post Sarah stories and family news. Every once in awhile, though, I get in a musing mood (the political ramblings post, all the posts about Lent…). This is one of those posts, so if you prefer to give today a miss, I understand. :)

My sis-in-law Tara is our family’s raging environmentalist (every family needs one, you know). ;) I am our family’s raging cheapskate (every family needs one of those too!). I do all kinds of things to try to stretch a dollar a bit further or save a buck or two. “Pinch those pennies till Lincoln squeals;” that’s my motto! In many ways, I will never be as dedicated to the cause of environmentalism as Tara. I think global warming is a lot of hooey, with poor science and falsified proofs. And I prefer the safety and protection of a large vehicle in case of an accident, rather than the fuel-efficiency of a smaller car, bike, or scooter. Truth be told, I still mourn the loss of my beloved Buick Edward—a large sedan that did a very good job of keeping me and Sarah safe when we had our wreck.

But all that said, I do think God calls us as Christians to be good stewards of the world and its resources. I believe in conservation, and I abhor wastefulness. I’m all about “reduce, reuse, recycle.” And although being “thrifty” and being “eco-friendly” can sometimes seem to be mutually exclusive, there are many times when the two actually mesh quite nicely. Some of the things I started doing simply to save some hard-earned cash can actually benefit the earth as well. Pretty cool, huh? Nice side benefit there!

What, you want examples?! Oh, all right. None of these things are going to make us millionaires, and they won’t win us any accolades from Greenpeace, but they do stretch our budget and help conserve a little bit. Since “reduce, reuse, recycle” is the catchphrase of conservation, I will organize my ideas according to that.

Reduce. My mom read somewhere that the average American family goes through two rolls of paper towels a week. This blew my mind. I barely go through one roll in a month! Dishcloths work quite well, and they can be tossed in the laundry to be used again (hey, that’s reduce and reuse in one easy step!). I also buy the thicker Viva paper towels, so for those times when I DO need to use one, I'm likely to need only one. I use far fewer this way. The majority of the time, however, a dishcloth is works great—even for cleaning mirrors and windows. Save your paper towels for the truly nasty messes.

When Sarah was born, I was given this set of disposable snack cups. The idea was that you used them on the go, and then just tossed them when you were done. How very wasteful! I still have those little snack cups. They have been washed many times, and they haven’t made it into the landfill yet.

Reuse. For years, I have washed and reused Ziploc baggies. Again, this is a two-for-one deal; you reduce the number of baggies going into the trash, as well as getting another use out of them. Honestly, they are quite easy to wash. Just turn them inside out, and scrub the inside while you are washing your dishes. For you lucky folks with a dishwasher, turn them inside out, and clip them to the top rack with a plastic clothespin. Leave them inside out to dry, then turn them back the right way and stick them back in the box to use again. *Note: I DON’T reuse baggies that have held raw meat of any sort—there’s just no guarantee that I can get them clean enough to prevent someone from getting sick. But for all the others, I keep washing and reusing until they get holes.

The editor of the Dollar Stretcher ezine says his yardstick for gauging whether someone is truly an environmentalist or not isn’t whether they drive a hybrid or use a refillable water bottle. It’s whether they attempt to repair a broken item (large or small) before tossing it and buying a new one. He said you would be amazed at the number of self-proclaimed environmentalists who stare at him blankly when he asks them this. Whereas a tightwad who doesn’t even consider himself eco-friendly is probably likely to have tried to fix even the smallest and most inexpensive gadget—and if unsuccessful, he’ll see if it can be used some other way before trashing it.

Recycle. I have to admit, this one is my weakest area. However, I’m getting better here. When we moved to Kingsport, along with the big trash container we were given a blue recycling box. On Tuesdays, a garbage truck comes by to pick up the trash, and a recycling truck comes by to grab the recycling. The first few weeks, I wasn’t entirely sure what went in that blue box. I knew Coke cans and water bottles were candidates, but frankly we very rarely have either of those. I tossed in a couple of magazines, but it would take us weeks to fill up that box.

Now, I am scanning packaging carefully to find out if it can be recycled. Our box grows fuller each week, even as the trash can’s load gets smaller. I don’t know that this actually saves us any money (maybe a reduced cost for trash bags? Oh, wait, I reuse the plastic bags my groceries come in for trash bags!), but I feel good about it nonetheless. Maybe this cheapskate does have a little baby environmentalist in her somewhere!

Oh, and check out This is a great site for combining money-saving (EVERYTHING is free!!!) and environmental causes (the site was started for the express purpose of keeping unwanted items out of the landfill). I love it! There are local groups, so just enter your zip code and have fun! :)

Psalm 150

No comments; just the Psalm. :)

1 Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty expanse.
2 Praise Him for His Mighty Deeds;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.
3 Praise Him with trumpet sound;
Praise Him with harp and lyre.
4 Praise Him with Timbrel and dancing;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe.
5 Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with resounding cymbals.
6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

a bit of good news :)

Most of you know that Sarah has been on daily medication for acid reflux since she was 3 months old. This medicine has been costing us about $80 each month. I know that isn't as much as what some people have to pay for necessary medicine, but it sure felt like a lot to us. We've never let her go without it, but we have definitely felt the pinch (some months especially).

Well, Nelson's new, employer-based insurance kicked in last month. :) Not only are our premiums a bit less than before, but our cost for Sarah's medicine has gone down as well! We filled her prescription the tune of just $15! :) I think we can handle having an extra $65 a month back in our pockets (actually it's more like $130, when you toss in the reduction in premiums as well. And who knows what the tax savings are?). :)

In other news, Sarah has been enjoying her Kindermusik instruments (although she informed me that I played too loud!). She has also been having a good time working this Dora and Diego puzzle her Mike got for her. In fact, she's so proud that she can do it herself that she asked me, "Mommy, can you put this on the blog?"

So, per Sarah's request, here is the completed puzzle. :) (Yes, she did it by herself--no help from me or Nelson).

Bonus pic: Sarah and her beloved Scooby Doo...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Fun Fest, part 2...and other stuff from this weekend

Yesterday was the last day of Kingsport's Fun Fest. We missed the car show (Nelson didn't quite feel up to going; he was rather tired after mowing the lawn in the heat), but we did manage to catch the evening hot air balloons and the fireworks. We also made a stop at Office Depot, just to enjoy their air conditioning! :)

Hot air balloons...

A balloon being deflated...

Although this has nothing whatsoever to do with Fun Fest, we did take some goofy pictures while we were at Office Depot. :) So I threw them in as well. :)

May I help you? The next generation of business...

I like the big executive-style type desks...

My dream office....Isn't it pretty? :)

We have pictures of the fireworks as well. Nelson got some really great shots. However, he got so many really great shots that we are going to have a hard time choosing which ones get posted here! So be patient as we try to figure out the cream of the crop! :)

P.S. Don't expect this many pictures of me in one week again any time soon! :-p

some pictures that never got posted

Sometimes things don't get blogged as quickly as they should. :-p Here are some pictures that we had taken on our cell phones but never managed to get them off on to the computer. They aren't really in any particular order, but I will describe the situation for each picture as best as I can. Hopefully I won't have forgotten anything important! :-p

This is from our backyard. Nelson was outside with her. Sarah said she was taking care of her garden. Hopefully she won't inherit her Mommy's black thumb! :)

Having fun trying on a hat in a store...

This is from yesterday. We were at Wal-Mart, and the greeter nearly always gives Sarah some stickers. Sarah is the one who decided to tape her mouth shut!

These last two pictures are actually from awhile back, when Nelson was lawnmower shopping. Sarah liked this lawnmower at Lowe's. Alas, this isn't the one Nelson selected.

Hope you enjoyed! :)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

bonus pic

Two posts in one day! Don't you love it? ;) I took this picture this morning. I heard Sarah moving around, getting ready to get up. But after a few minutes, I didn't hear her anymore. So I went to check. Apparently, she didn't quite make it out of bed! She started to but fell back asleep instead! Lol.

Fun Fest

Fun Fest is an annual tradition in Kingsport. There are a myriad of activities in which to participate--everything from a petting zoo for kids, wine tastings, a classic car show, several musical concerts, and an 8K race in which world records have been broken a few times. The week concludes with fireworks. To see all the goings-on check out

One of our favorite Fun Fest traditions is Taste of Tri-Cities. It is the one thing we always manage to attend (well, that and the car show--Nelson loves looking at all the cars!). Several area restaurants set up booths, and it's like a big community picnic. :)

On Tuesday, a card arrived in the mail for Sarah. It was from my dad, and it contained a twenty-dollar bill and a note saying "You can take your mommy and daddy out to supper sometime." Sarah was sooo excited about this "dollar" and about the prospect of being able to pay for supper for us! So last night we headed off to Taste of Tri-Cities...Sarah's treat. :)

Here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure.

Just some random crowd shots...

The booth of a local barbecue joint. The sign cracked us up! :)

Sarah loves Dippin' Dots.

She's pretty fond of Sprite too!

Sarah says, "I'm patting Daddy on the head!"

Yes, she's a camera ham.

Posing with Daddy...

Posing with Mommy (it is VERY rare for me to get in front of a camera, so enjoy this shot!).

The movie screen. Later in the evening, when it got dark, they were going to show Horton Hears a Who. Sounded like a lot of fun, but it was way too late for Sarah and for Nelson, who has to get up early for work. :(

The Marines booth. There was an Army booth as well, but we didn't get a picture of that. Sorry, Nick!

I just thought the tree and flower were pretty and interesting-looking...

A climbing wall.

We have lots more pictures from the evening, but that's probably enough for one post! :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

cool pic

Nelson's mom picked up a new skill today. She used it to create this beautiful picture which she titled "Smokey Mountain Sarah." Enjoy!

Thanks, Jeannie! :)

political ramblings

Yeah, I know...two main rules of polite society interaction are "Don't discuss politics or religion." And here I am getting ready to do both in a single post. :-p Apologies in advance!

One thing I pray for each day is revival. I think our nation desperately needs it. Not "revival services" like some churches hold, but a real revival. The kind where humans have little to do with it; it's all God's word being the water that cleanses and the Holy Spirit being the fire that falls. The kind that leads to the conversion of nonbelievers and the repentance of those who are already saved.

I have heard much weeping and wailing among Christians over the upcoming elections. Neither of the candidates suit. Much is said about choosing "the lesser of two evils." And the election of either candidate is bemoaned as the downfall of the country. Either one will bring it into ruin. The debate is which will do so more.

I must honestly confess that I do have my fears about the upcoming elections. I haven't even decided for whom I am going to vote. I am wrestling with many issues--what would be the best for the country? More importantly, what would God have me do? It's all confusing and troubling.

But this morning, as I had my prayer time, I pulled out a card I got from Pray magazine called "Prayers that Birth Revival." Since today is the 15th of the month, I went to number 15 on the list of things to pray for. And its suggestion for today's prayer was this: "Pray that we [Christians] would not trust in military strength, financial might, or political power to solve our difficulties. Pray that the Scriptures would guide all decision making." (emphasis added).

I still don't have any answers for the upcoming election. But God is still sovereign. I will continue to pray for revival, continue to pray for the church to trust Him rather than political power, and continue to pray that the Bible will guide all my decision making.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Roger Miller and Aesop

I have posted previously how much Sarah loves Roger Miller. She still frequently listens to his music. She also likes the Disney Robin Hood movie, where Miller voices the minstrel. The minstrel is a rooster (all the characters in Disney's version are animals).

So why I am bringing all this up again? Well, the other day Sarah received a book of Aesop's fables. As we read the fable of The Rooster and The Eagle, Sarah studied the pictures. She was especially interested in the picture of the rooster. "Is that Roger Miller?" she wanted to know.

Um, no. Not exactly. Poor Aesop--his fable has been hijacked.

On a side note, Sarah can sing almost every line of Miller's songs. And if you've never heard a three-year-old girl singing "Chug-a-Lug", then you've definitely been missing out! ;)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

or perhaps coffee chronicles...

No one has to know me for long to know I love my coffee. :) I've never made any secret of the fact. And apparently the coffee addiction is just as genetic as the guacamole addiction is...

Last night, after purchasing a part Nelson needed to repair his car, we made a stop at Starbucks for a special treat. We enjoyed our drinks, and as we were on our way out the door we were offered a free venti-sized Mocha Frappuccino. Apparently they had made one by mistake and needed to get rid of it. I didn't need any more coffee last night, but I'm not one to turn down a freebie, so I accepted. I figured I could enjoy it today. :)

I didn't count on Sarah though. I've gotten about half of my lovely treat down. Guess where the other half has gone? Yep, you got it. Sarah LOVES it.

Good thing she's already had a nap today!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

a few more pictures...

Sarah has been keeping busy this summer, so I thought I'd post a few pictures of our activities. :)

Kindermusik continues to be one of Sarah's favorite things. The summer class has included a weekly craft. Here is a picture of the monkey mask Sarah made:

The take home materials also included some story board pieces to use for imaginative play (especially storytelling). The teacher suggested gluing flannel to the back of the pieces and attaching to a flannel board. Sarah and I attached adhesive magnets to the back instead, and she creates her tales on the refrigerator instead.

And finally, we have added a new dress up outfit to our collection. Believe it or not, it's not a princess costume! :) Check it out...

fun with painting

Today has been kind of wet and rainy. Has Sarah minded? No, not at all. She has had too much fun with her newest toy! A trip to the toy store with her Mike yesterday netted her this fun paint-your-own-tea set...

The new item in question...

The various pieces and parts, just begging to be painted...

Since I didn't have a shower curtain or old bed sheet to donate to the cause, I taped grocery bags together to form a plastic sheet to protect the floor. Clever, huh? My years teaching preschool have come in handy! ;)

Sarah, posing before she begins her big project (I didn't have a paint smock either, so we protected her clothing by not wearing them!).

The artist, hard at work (sorry, I should have rotated the picture. Oops!).

The finished products...

All in all, a fun way to spend a rainy, dreary day! :) Thanks, Dad!