Friday, November 28, 2008

Baby Pool

Nope. My nephew's not here yet, he's taking his time and making us all wait - impatiently - for his arrival. So yesterday, I started a baby pool. No money on the line, just for fun.

Here's the rules. Points will be awarded for guesses in four categories as follows:
10 points for the correct date
5 points for the day before or after
20 points for a guess within 5 minutes of the actual arrival time
10 points for being within 1 hour
5 points for being within 6 hours
20 points for a guess within 1 ounce of the actual birth weight
10 points for guesses within 3 ounces
5 points for guesses within 5 ounces
20 points for guessing the exact length
10 points for being within 1/4 inch
5 points for being within 1/2 inch

Winner will be the person with the most points after Charlie arrives!

Here's the official list of guesses:
(Click on the link to the original post to see the list of guesses: )

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful Thursday #28: Thanksgiving 2008

A year ago during Thanksgiving season, I realized that I was not spending enough time being thankful for the blessings in my life, so I decided to start writing a weekly post to express my gratitude. Well, my intent was to post weekly and by the title of this one, you can do the math and easily determine that it's been more like biweekly. I'm just going to just assume that represents an increase in thanks-giving, and consider this experiment a success.

More than that, I fully intend to continue Thankful Thursday posts, mostly as an act of faith and obedience a reminder to myself that gratitude is in important act of faith. An act of obedience even, as the Bible tells us:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus
- Philippians 4:4, 6-7

Today, our entire nation pauses for a day designed to give thanks, and so, I join in with a list of just a few of the many blessings that I will give thanks for today.

* * * * *

I am thankful for God’s gift of grace and forgiveness, that although given freely, was not without great cost to Himself.

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought,
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, Oh, my Soul!
- It is Well with My Soul
(When Peace Like a River)

I am thankful for God’s perfect timing, for his faithfulness, and for the gift of believing He has a plan for me.

He has made everything beautiful in its time.
He has also set eternity in the hearts of men;
yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
- Ecclesiastes 3:11

I am grateful for God’s provision and for His meeting my needs in unexpected ways before I even dared to ask.

And my God will meet all your needs
according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
- Philippians 4:19

I am grateful for the gifts of friendship and fellowship, and the innumerable blessings this has brought into my life this year and every year. I am thankful for being placed in a community of believers at my church where I am loved, challenged, taught and allowed to slearn the joy of serving.

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
- Proverbs 27:17

My friends, may you grow in grace,
And in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior
My friends, may you grow in grace,
And in the love of Jesus Christ.
- Benediction

I am thankful for this verse, shared by a friend this year:

My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
- Psalm 73:26

To this great God, who has indeed blessed me abundantly, I offer this:

Now to him who is able
to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
according to his power that is at work within us,
to him be glory in the church
and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations,
for ever and ever!
- Ephesians 3:20-21

* * * * *

May you and your loved ones be blessed on this day of Thanksgiving.
-- Originally posted at: --

Friday, November 21, 2008

Family Photos

About a month ago, our family had pictures taken together for the first time since my brother's wedding three years ago. My friend Sara, our photographer, and her hubby Chris put together this slide show of some of the best photos.

It was a gorgeous day at the beach, and it was so much fun to hang out together. The photo op also served as a maternity portrait session for my sister-in-law, so there are lots of shots of her and baby Charlie (who is due to arrive any day now, as the 25th is his due date.)

Originally posted at:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thankful Thursday: 4 to 1

Sometimes it's the little things. I was downloading some new podcasts this week, something I couldn't really do until about six months ago because, yes, I was stuck with dial-up internet. It's not that we didn't want to upgrade, but just that there is literally no cable or DSL on our street. That is one of the downsides to living in this beautiful, rural, corner of the world.

Technically, I'm still on dial-up, but now it's a broadband wireless card. Now I have internet anywhere I can get a cell signal.

So back to podcasts. I was watching the timer click down "2 minutes remaining" and realized that in those two minutes I was getting about 8 MB of podcast... a ratio of 1 minute to 4 MB. If you have "real" high-speed, you're probably not impressed by that. But for comparison's sake, on the old dial up the ratio was more like 4-5 minutes per 1 MB - exactly opposite.

It's the little things.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Check out these Birthday Freebies

Today's my birthday! Yippee!! Over the last week, I've been getting some great Happy Birthday e-mails, the kind where I get something free because it's my birthday, usually from a restaurant. I thought I'd share my list, now you can sign up and get freebies, too!!

Naturally, if you have other tips for birthday freebies, I would love to know about them, so please leave a comment!

Here's what I've got so far:

Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill
Only in the a few western states so far, but their fish tacos are Yummy! The birthday freebie was for a free meal up to $7, no purchase required. This freebie was the first to get consumed, kicking off the celebration 3 days early.

Coldstone Creamery
Can you say "Yumm!!!" ? I almost never go to Coldstone, but will make an exception for a free 'Like It' creation of my choice, again, no purchase required. The best part is that you can register everyone in your family with just one login.

Well, this turned out to be a disappointment since our local one closed, and I'm not going to drive an hour for a free dessert, but if you live close to one you might want to check it out.

Buca di Beppo
I love Buca, but it's not very close by, unfortunately. If I can, I'll try to take advantage of the free dessert with entree purchase, though, because ALL their food is good, and I have an incurable sweet tooth. (I wonder if I can get it to go?)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Book: The Time Traveler's Wife (Re-read)

My second round of midterms was a bit less stacked than the first round, so during a break in the study schedule, I took time out last weekend for a book. I've read this book before, but somehow it didn't make it onto the blog, perhaps it's just been longer than I thought since I read it.

I don't read too many books more than once, but in a recent purging of the bookshelves, I knew I wouldn't be able to part with this one. The other half of the title character involuntary time travels, and the book explores the effect of life-meets-science-fiction on a marriage relationship.

Terrific writing and a fascinating narrative if you enjoy thinking about questions like, "What would happen if time travel was possible?"

On a side note, in a search to find what other books might be available from this author, I learned that movie rights were sold and filming took place this year for The Time Traveler's Wife. No release date yet, but the film stars Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana as the main characters Clare and Henry.

Thanks to Sarah in Elgin, who originally recommended this book!

The Time Traveler's Wife
by Audrey Niffenegger

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thankful Thursday: Eternity

I don't really have any idea what to write this week. Our country has selected a new president. I have mixed feelings about some of the election results, and about many of the conversations I've had over the last several weeks with people. I have surprised others and myself with some of the conclusions I have come to. I have grown weary of defending first my indecision and now the decisions I've made. I have been encouraged by some conversations and been angered by others. I have to remind myself that God's grace is more than sufficient for the shortcomings of sinners... and that I am constantly in need of that grace.

Yesterday, a friend and I were discussing faith and the election and some of the tougher questions Christians have faced this week. (In California, we voted on state propositions about abortion and gay marriage.) I'm reasonably certain that we voted differently on some issues, but we didn't talk about our differences. Instead, we talked about trusting in a great God and about the challenges we face as Christians in an increasingly broken world. About how we each bear the responsibility of being the hands and feet of Christ in the world.

At some point, the conversation turned to eternity. My friend mentioned anticipating a time when there will be answers for all the mysteries beyond human comprehension. I commented that when my heart is heavy with the weight of sin and brokenness in this world, I find myself longing for eternity, for a time when all things will be set right and there will be sin and brokenness no more. Ahhhh. My soul is calmed by this thought. My soul was calmed by a conversation that rejoiced in the sharing of a belief that God is good and in thankfulness for His blessings, instead of yet another stressful discussion about politics.

I am thankful this election is over. I am more thankful for a God whose wisdom and guidance and love transcends time and place.

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end."
Ecclesiastes 3:11

Monday, November 3, 2008

Democracy Isn't Easy

I voted. Finally. I've literally struggled for weeks and months over how to vote this year. I've discussed the candidates and the issues nearly endlessly. I've agonized to the point of feeling sick, more than once. I've argued and questioned and wondered if I'm doing the right thing.

As I consider that democracy isn't easy, I now worry that this is the first time I have given this much consideration to my vote. I feel the weight of responsibility not to just cast a vote, but to cast a very carefully considered vote. Because it really does matter. Sure, it matters to me. It affects my life, my home, my taxes, my rights. But it matters to a lot of other people too, because it is the will of the majority that in fact affects the entirety.

When I went to Calvin College, I remember it being said that Calvin endeavored to teach students not what to think, but how to think. I first understood this when I encountered some dissension between the college and a local congregation of the college's sponsoring denomination, and the case in question was an objection to some academic discussion where admittedly the answers could not easily be separated into right or wrong.

At the time, I came to understand that a belief becomes stronger when it is questioned and tested. Therefore, I must be willing to withstand questions of faith and even ask them, if I am to hold strongly to what I believe. I can't ignore or discredit dissenting viewpoints, I have to engage the people who hold them, and find out what I can learn. I must be willing to step outside of the assumptions I have always held, so that when my vote is cast, I know it is out of true conviction and belief.

I've done my best. I'm human and fallible, but I have tried to be faithful to my responsibility to make an informed decision. I always get excited about election day, and now that I've finished agonizing, I will enjoy it. I think it's fabulous that for one night every four years, democracy is the star on every TV channel. While the outcome matters, it is the process of democracy that I believe in the most.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

24 Days and Counting

Everyone around here is eagerly awaiting the arrival of my new nephew. He's the first baby for my brother and his wife, a first grandchild on both sides, and a first niece or nephew for me as well as for my sister-in-law's brother and sister.

Today her family threw her a baby shower, and seriously, it's a good thing there is not a practice of actually raining gifts on the mommy-to-be, because she would have been swimming in all the blessings. Also a good thing there is no statutory limit on "oohs" and "ahs," for all the cute onesies and blankets and toys and nursery decorations. Giraffes and elephants and lions, oh my! (The nursery is being decorated in a jungle theme!)

I can't wait until little Charlie gets here. His scheduled arrival is November 25, but of course we all know babies come on their own timetables, so could be anytime (don't tell his mommy, she's not quite ready yet!)

Anyway, here's a photo of the day, from left: my grandma Emmy, me, Genevieve and my mom Janny.

And, just to prove how good I am at poking fun at myself (why do I think I will regret this?)...

I was recruited to play a game of an unspecified nature, which turned out to be a "drinking game" and which I am proud to say I won!! Here's proof: