Monday, June 29, 2009

Organically Grown Baby Giveaway

Now that Mr. Smiley has turned one, everyone has been asking us when we are going to have a baby girl.

Hold the phone! I'm still nursing.

I'm just not ready . . .yet.

I got a taste of a little girl when my old high school friend stopped by with her precious new baby. Meet my Organically Grown Baby Apparel Giveaway models, Beth and Baby G. Hearing Baby G's sweet baby noises was like listening to a good song. Memories of being a first-time parent flooded the movie screen of my mind. Honestly, I don't know if I will be ready again (to have another baby, that is). I am being stretched currently with three. However, a little girl would be a precious addition to the family. We do have one more seat left in the van. She would have three big brothers to protect her. Mr. Smackdown and Mr. Me-Too regularly ask when we are going to have a baby girl. It would be an answer to prayer for them.

Let me get my baby weight off and then the Hottie Hubby and I can talk.

But if I had a little girl or even a little boy . . . I found an outfit for them to wear (and you can win one).
I am quite obsessed with either the "take home" outfit if our child was born in a hospital or the "first time out of the house" outfit if they were born at home. It is a magical, photo opportunity moment when you get to dress your newborn for the first time. In the past, I have scoured the stores for the perfect outfit, even though newly gifted clothing awaited this child at home. This prized outfit has to be my choice, my purchase, almost as if to say, "I am your mom. I am protecting you on the outside now."

With each child, I have grown even more diligent about protecting my newborn. Eliminating as many toxins, harmful procedures, and intrusions as possible has been my goal. It has always bothered me that many of the "take home" outfits that I almost purchased have a big label on them stating that they are flame retardant. (Like I was going to stick my newly born child near a fire.) If I wouldn't lather the flame retardant on my skin for fire protection, then why would I want it to brush up against my child's skin all day long? My babies are always close to me, where they should be. Not near a fire.

OK . . . so if I had a baby, I would purchase my newborn's first outfit from Organically Grown. Organically Grown is a company that just launched their line of baby apparel, from newborn to 9 months of age that is currently found at Sear's. Eliana Stern, a mom, from Organically Grown Baby states:
Our clothing line is made from 100% certified organic pesticide-free brushed terry and velour cotton. We proudly select the softest cottons, so our clothes feel luxurious and cuddly against your baby's gentle skin.

Organically Grown Baby believes in your right to affordable organic clothes, so our items retail from $12 to $38. In today's tough economy, you shouldn't have to compromise on high-quality, cozy, safe, organic babywear because of price.

Finally, I have found an outfit that I could put on my baby, and allow her to wear, without wondering what chemicals are being rubbed into her skin. I also don't have to spend a lot of money or search high and low to find such a great organic garment. I can either drive to Sear's or let my mouse click on Organically Grown Baby. Either way, this clothing line is worth my time and money. After washing the outfit Baby G modeled, I decided that I want an outfit like my imaginary babies! Talk about soft and luxurious!

Eliana shares the same passion that I do regarding the importance of incorporating organic products into our family life. But an organic lifestyle can be expensive, which is probably why our family doesn't have much in the way of organic clothing. Eliana shared with me,
I always associated "organic" with "expensive" and "extreme" until all of those studies came out about BPA and parabens, right around the time my daughter was born. The more I read about all of the harmful chemicals in our food, shampoos, lotions, and clothes, the more I realized how lucky we are to have the choice of organic. The single most important thing to wrap your baby in is love. Organic clothing is a wonderful way to express your love.

Are you ready to win an luxurious Organically Grown Baby product now sold at Sear's?
Contest ends July 9, 2009 @ 2:06 PM

Contest Rules:

1. Leave your name, email address, and blog url (if you have one) in the official entry form

2. For optional extra entries, visit the Organically Grown Baby Shop and tell me which outfit you like the best.

3. Come back here and comment in the official entry form.

4. Leave an extra comment in the official entry form for any extra entries.

Open to US Only

extra entries:

1 Extra Entry if you visit Sear’s and pick another Organically Grown product that you like and share it with me.

1 Extra Entry if you link back to The Granola Mom 4 God on my blog. Grab the code on the left!

1 Extra Entry if you blog about this contest with a visible link back to this post

1 Extra Entry if you subscribe

1 Extra Entry if you become a fan of my blog

1 Extra Entry if you become a follower on Twitter

1 Extra Entry if you tweet about this contest

Friday, June 26, 2009

I want to Win . . . the Dyson DC25 All Floors

I ruined my fur eating, crumb sucking, insect gathering, dirt bagging appliance. My vacuum is in such a disgusting state, that I don't even want to touch it. My vacuum is very sick. I put her in the garage.

And I am telling you this because I REALLY want to win a Dyson Vacuum Cleaner from 5 Minutes for Mom.

It all started when we picked up Mussie's sister, Sadie, last weekend. (For those of you who don't know Mussie, she is our furry lion hunter dog.)

In a matter of two days, Sadie acquired a common female condition, the dreaded bladder infection. The reason that I know this is because she peed and bled on the carpeting in several locations.

Of course not one to use chemicals (that would be way too easy), I poured some baking soda on the pee to soak it up and freshen the carpeting. (It works for puke, why not pee?)

Here is the problem. When you pour baking soda on puke, it soaks up the expelled stomach contents better than a towel and takes the stain out of the carpeting.

Mental note for next time, pee doesn't dry as quickly once it is in contact with baking soda. But having three active boys, one of which crawls, I needed to vacuum the now yellow baking soda up. After all, Confucius say, "Never eat yellow snow."

I momentarily thought that maybe this wouldn't be such a good idea as I began lifting the baking soda off of the carpeting with the same vacuum that used to clean my husband's little boy bedroom. . . but Mr. Me-Too needed back into his room for a nap where this dog transaction first occurred. Thankfully my MIL's vacuum suctioned it all up without leaving a crumb.

The other two piles were allowed to saturate the baking soda. 24 hours later, plenty of time for the carpeting to dry, I vacuumed the rest of the baking soda hills.

Man it smelled funny around that appliance. It also didn't seem to have its normal suction power. I took the hose nozzle off of this beast and noticed that some baking soda had caked around the tubing. No problem. I grabbed a crayon conveniently lying on the floor and helped the baking soda move further down the tube with a Crayola push. Situation under control. I proceeded to vacuum up the rest of the pile and then moved on to a new mom task.

Yesterday, I got struck with a desire to tiddy up my house and vacuum downstairs, where Sadie had only pooped 3 times, not peed. When I turned the vacuum on, the foulest smell poured forth from that green machine that used to be called my vacuum cleaner.

I wanted to hurl.

I mustered up the courage to once again look inside the vacuum hose. The baking soda that was once white, then yellow, had now turned black.


I panicked!

I had vacuumed! What nasty filthiness had I infected my entire downstairs with? What small bacteria or mold would settle on Mr. Smiley's precious hands as he crawls around only to later enter his mouth?

And this is why I need to win the Dyson DC25 All Floors. Check out the 5 Minutes for Mom Giveaway!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My First Wordless Wednesday!

Wordless Wednesday has given me the opportunity to post some photos from our first "camping with THREE kids" experience.

The Loser Cruiser (our van) was a little bit full. We almost didn't have room for the kiddos! Just kidding.

However, on our way home we picked up one more furry friend, Sadie. Sadie happens to be Mussie's sister and is currently staying with us while her dad is out of town. Wondering where she rested her paws? Mussie ended up sitting in the front seat with me, while Sadie sat with the boys wondering what she got herself into. Did I mention that both dogs are large?

Lessons learned from camping:
  • Make a checklist for each camping tub describing its contents and affix it to said tub. Leave your "stuff" permanently in that tub.
  • Bring your dog's leash.
  • It is easier to camp without your dog. Your dog can't go to the pool or into a cave or on a boat ride through a cave or into Starbucks. Your dog also tracks muddy footprints into your tent.
  • Bikes for your children are a must!
  • Electricity can be nice while camping. Don't be stubborn and cheap and use a primitive site. Electric campsites allow you to have fans and sound machines in your tent.
  • You CAN cloth diaper while camping!
  • It is possible to eat easily and healthy while camping. (But I am probably the only woman who would insist on bringing our raw milk, in a glass bottle, camping.)
  • Use Google Earth to pick out your campsite!
Let me explain this next picture. There is one aspect of me . . . and unfortunately my children, that isn't so granola. In fact, I even wrote to this certain business displayed in my son's hand, and asked them to put a store near our house. And I currently am sitting in that store. I'm not saying that I brought the store here . . . but maybe they did listen to my suggestion.

Check out Mr. Smackdown's face in back! I love it! Mr. Smiley isn't so smiley here. Poor guy, he was getting in some teeth during the duration of our camping experience. Praise God I am still nursing. That would have been a few long nights!

Go Camp!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Still Waiting For Ants

We are STILL waiting for our ants. Each day the trip to the mailbox is eagerly anticipated and met with great disappointment.

In the meantime, Mr. Smackdown captured a fine looking caterpillar with a ferocious appetite. The green caterpillar was enjoying Mr. Smackdown's tasty garden lettuce. Instead of being upset, at what I would deem an unwanted intruder, he saw God's creation, beauty, and wonder.

"Can we keep him?"

Sadly, we have killed our first outdoor pet. I thought we left him with plenty of lettuce while we were gone on vacation. Unfortunately, the caterpillar pooped too much and couldn't crawl away.

I know. It is a sad story. But I figured it would provide interesting reading material.

Stay tuned for . . .
  • a giveaway from Organic Baby
  • highlights from Father's Day
  • a review of the new planner from The Old Schoolhouse
  • tips for camping with kids that I learned this past weekend

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gone Camping

The family has grown a bit since this picture was taken . . .

Happy Early Father's Day!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My Crafty Sister

The great thing about sisters is you can't shake them.

You always have a friend, no matter what.

I'm sure that I peeve my sister a lot, but she keeps coming back! Praise the Lord! Even with my intense personality, she still loves me through thick and thin and despite the unusual endeavors that I pursue.

My sister is crafty and entrepreneurial.

She has a blog for creative play-dates with your kids. Great ideas for Mom's!

Check out her most recent creation for my Willow (you know, my camera). It is a camera strap cover. Now I look artsy and legit when I take pictures. It makes me feel powerful and sassy, like I know what I am doing even though I am an amateur.

For her other fun creations, visit her at Hi Mamma

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tot School 6--How Do You Exercise Your Kids?

Tot School ended up being an experiment in photo editing for me. I am loving my new discovery of Picassa 3 photo editing software. So if anything looks funny, it is because I am experimenting.

We have regressed to the letter "A" again. It is hard to move on, as we are STILL waiting for the ants to arrive. I pulled out some of my kindergarten folders from the old teaching days, specifically the Letter A folder that contains all things "A."
Mr. Smackdown learned a lesson in gluing. Sometimes a lot of glue isn't a good thing. I made an outline of an ant body. Mr. Smackdown was to spread glue within the pre-drawn shape. Except, he got a significant amount of glue outside of the lines. When he saw my ant, he wanted to start over.
We colored apples. We were supposed to cut them out and make an apple necklace, but sadly not everyone had happy hearts about this task and our necklace was never completed.

With a little coaxing later in the day, Mr. Smackdown worked on writing the letter "A." It was way more fun to use a dry-erase marker than write with a pencil.

We also incorporated some of our daily life into school, after listening to God tell me to lighten up. I was getting cereal boxes ready for VBS at our church. We had over 100 individual cereal boxes to take the contents out and carefully open the lid. I wanted to do it all by myself, but apparently this task looked like too much fun for the boys. So . . . after letting go of my Type A personality, I had them pull the cereal out of the boxes, stack the cereal and then line the boxes up. It became a lot of fun creating a domino line. So, without knowing it, the boys learned about motion and inertia (thanks Hottie Hubby).

The experiment with boxes continued and Mr. Smackdown wanted to be traced with boxes to see how big he was and what his body looked like. I thought that was clever.

A pop-up rain storm presented a wonderful opportunity to run around outside experiencing the weather. But what intrigued them the most was collecting rainwater, tasting the raindrops, and listening to the sounds water made when it fell into the watering can.

And because my kids were feeling a little cramped in our house, and I a little crabby, we are taking our exercise to the gym. Wow! Mr. Smackdown loves gymnastics as much as he loves ice cream. That is saying a lot!

How do you exercise your kids?

Tot School

Friday, June 12, 2009

Favorite Foto Friday (Thanks Christina!)

Last weekend some friends came over. I had bought a new pool. Our old kiddie pool didn't survive the winter. Now that we had three kids, I figured that a standard kiddie pool wasn't deep enough or wide enough. So for just $5 more, I could get an 8 foot wide pool. Being a very poor judge of size, I didn't realize how HUGE this thing would be. We decided that if we were going to fill this gigantic bathtub, we need to invite someone over to make it worth filling. (It took over an hour just to fill it 1/3 full.)
The evening only confirmed to me even more how God created us to be in fellowship with others, just as we are to be in fellowship with Him. Even though everyone was up past their bedtime, the evening ended with an afterglow that lasted long into the next day.

In fact, I kind of felt like Moses who had to cover his head with a veil after spending time with the Lord.
29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD. 30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them. 32 Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the LORD had given him on Mount Sinai. 33 When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. 34 But whenever he entered the LORD's presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35 they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the LORD. Exodus 34: 29-35

Moses face was radiant after spending time with the Lord. Imagine. Slightly convicting. I admit that recently my face has not emerged brilliant from my Quiet Times. The residual effects haven't lasted into the following day, let alone the next hour, like our time with friends did this past weekend. I haven't laughed with Him, like my belly shook with our friends. We feasted on good, grilled meat. When have I last feasted on solid food from His Word?

A good time was had by all. Thank you, God. Let it remind me to spend that kind of time with You. Lord, allow me to feast and laugh with you, like I can with the people you created.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tot School (5) Called Life

I warn you that this isn't your traditional Tot School post.

Sometimes the beauty of homeschooling is that you have a bit of freedom to experience life, or in our case, the loss of life. But because we homeschool, I think I am programmed to look for life learning opportunities.

One such moment presented itself this week. My deceased grandfather's wife, Pat, passed away, after a long full life of knowing her Savior, Jesus.

Part of my job as a parent is to help my children learn how to process feelings, circumstances, and choices in a healthy manner that honors and draws them closer to God. Because Pat's death will probably be Mr. Smackdown's first memory of death, I prayerfully approached how I would explain and introduce this concept to him, knowing Mr. Me-Too and Mr. Smiley probably wouldn't be too aware of their surroundings.

An excellent resource for the floundering parent is Focus on the Family. Founded by Dr. James Dobson, renowned child and family expert, this is where I turned.

I learned that it is best to not wait for a close and personal death, to introduce this rite of passage we all make. We see death daily, whether or not it registers in our brain. Sure playing cowboys and Indians initiates and awareness of shooting the bad guy. Every day, I end up having a wood gun pointed at my bottom, announcing that I am dead. But real death occurs when your child steps on an beetle and paints the sidewalk with smashed guts. What about the precious flower that wilts after being picked by toddler hands? Animals offer discussion as they lay on the side of the road. Have you ever stopped to look at one? Where do the flowers go in the winter? What about that hamburger that you ate at McDonald's (that has LONG been dead, even when it was alive)?

That reminds me one of my friends (Twin-Life) who has a dad that is a bit unconventional. On his way home with his grandsons, he stopped along the side of the road to allow his grandchildren (Superman and Mr. T) to pet a dead deer. The boys were able to see why this animal died and what death literally feels like. So, it was no surprise to their mom, Twin-Life, when Superman brought a dead bird to us while picnicking at a local park a few weeks back. Instead of freaking out, she very calmly used this incident as a learning opportunity, and then quickly washed his hands.

I doubt I have to tell you this, but just in case, never lie to your child. When someone dies, tell them that "Aunt Gertrude died." Don't wait to tell them and they overhear you discussing future plans. If you tell them that Aunt Gertrude went to sleep . . . do you really think your child will want to sleep at night? They might imagine never waking up, being put in a box, and having their face painted. Not fun for a four year old to envision. You might do well to avoid the expression, "Aunt Gertrude went away for a little bit." When the heck is Aunt Gertrude going to come back? Is she bringing a present? Should we leave the door unlocked for her (not a good idea if you live in the ghetto)? Does that mean Mommy and Daddy might go away for a little bit too?

If you know that your loved one knows Jesus as their Savior, then you can use this as an excellent opportunity to present the truth that those who love the Lord are with Jesus that very moment. Comforting and truthful passages to share with your child are:

1 Thessalonians 4: 13
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep (they were talking to adults--not children and asleep in the New Testament refers to Believers of Jesus who have died) in Jesus.
Revelation 21:4
And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain the first things have passed away.

Luke 6:23
Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven.

John 5: 24
Anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He will not be found guilty. He has crossed over from death to life.

Expect questions. You may not have answers. Admit that you don't know. But two things you do know.

1. Hope and encouragement is found in God's love letter to us, the Bible.

2. God knows the answer. Because He loves us, we have to trust that He knows how to take care of us and other people.

Death can be a fearful event to a child. Be willing to talk about your child's fears. It may be uncomfortable to enter a room full of people, many of who may be sad and crying. Your child may not want to get close to the casket or even look at the deceased loved one, should it be an open casket. Don't push them. Don't make them look or touch if they don't want to.

Yesterday, we entered the funeral home with one goal. See Nana. From there we sat and talked for a little bit with other family members lingering around. I then asked Mr. Smackdown and Mr. Me-Too if they wanted to go look at some pictures of Pat. The pictures were displayed near the casket, but far enough that they could glance at Pat without feeling pressure. Mr. Me-Too only desired to show everyone his Kleen Kanteen water bottle and run around grabbing dressed up legs with his sticky snack hands. However, Mr. Smackdown was excited to see the lady.

"Look at that lady lying down, Mommy!" he said jumping with the help of a vigorous tug on my arm and a nervous, slightly excited giggle. He was curious. Would it be appropriate for me to act like that? No. But was it age-appropriate for him? Yes.

If you need to cry. Cry. My husband has done a good job teaching the boys how to be compassionate and comfort someone when they are grieving. Often, they will come up to me and give me three pats on the back (I Love You) or a sweet leg hug. Sometimes they will say, "What can I do to help you, Mommy?" (Meaning a household chore needing assistance.) Or Mr. Smackdown will say to Mr. Me-Too, "Mommy is sad. Let's play quietly." It is important that your children see that it is OK to be sad and to cry when someone dies. You need to experience grief in order to process it and move on. If your child is sad, let them cry. Show compassion by snuggling with them, reading some Psalms, looking through old photographs, and/or offering a hug. If there ever was a time to be tender, this is the time.

So that was a bit of our school this week . . . we learned about life.

Tot School

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Homemade Mayonnaise

What did mayonnaise used to taste like? Ever wonder if this store bought item had a holistic origin? Do you even know what Hellmann's Mayonnaise tastes like or did you grow up on Kraft Miracle Whip Salad Dressing?
I am fortunate, I guess, that I grew up on plain 'ol mayo, store bought--but probably better than Miracle Whip due to the LACK of high fructose corn syrup and sugar.

Now, my grandparents always liked Miracle Whip Salad Dressing. I hated to have sandwiches at their house because this feast consisted of Wonder White bread, pimento loaf deli meat, American cheese, and Miracle Whip.
Amazing, even then my taste buds leaned more towards something slightly more nutritious, like the lime green Marshmallow Salad Grandma had made that morning!

There is nothing better that I like--well I like a few things better; but there is nothing more satisfying--well, a few things are more satisfying; OK, it is gratifying to actually know how your food is made and where most of the products come from.
Did you know that you can actually MAKE your own mayonnaise? The interesting fact is that it probably will take you longer to go to the store and purchase the mayonnaise, than to make it at home. And you won't get to experience the pride as you serve your guests and family mayonnaise that you made that will aide in the digestion of their meal.
You see, store bought mayonnaise is pasteurized, due to the raw eggs included in the recipe. Was that a gasp I heard? (Yes, I am encouraging you to eat raw FARM FRESH eggs. It will give you a chance to visit your local farmer's market.) By using raw and fresh ingredients, and a little bit of whey (remember, it is that yellow liquid that separates and sits on the top of your yogurt) you enable lacto-fermetation that increases the shelf life of your mayonnaise and provides essential nutrients. Give it a try!


1 room temperature egg
1 room temperature egg yolk
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tbls lemon juice, fresh or bottled
1 tbls whey (either make yogurt or buy organic yogurt at the store)
3/4 - 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
dab of salt


1. Separate your egg yolk. I use this handy-dandy egg separator from Pampered Chef.

2. Throw, dump or toss your room temperature whole egg, egg yolk, salt, lemon juice, mustard and whey into your food processor, Vita Mix or blender.

Please make sure to put the lid on your blender container. Eggs make good hair mousse, but I wouldn't recommend adding mustard to your hair.
3. Mix, beat, or whip ingredients until they are well blended. (Sounds rather violent, doesn't it?)

4. Add olive oil drop by drop while the blender motor is running, torturing the eggs to achieve the desired consistency you want. I don't always follow this painfully slow process, due to three children hanging on my leg. I have been known to dump most of the olive oil in at once, but it doesn't become thick as easily. Please note that homemade mayonnaise will be slightly more runny than imitation, non-nutritional mayonnaise.

Sorry. I am being harsh. And I have a confession to make--I have both store bought mayonnaise and homemade mayonnaise in my fridge!

Check out the cool view from the top of my Vita Mix. This is exciting kitchen action. Who needs a TV?
As you mix the oil in, the mayonnaise slowly changes color and gets thicker. The egg acts as an emulsifier, thus allowing the olive oil to blend in and all the ingredients to form one continuous substance. For this reason, you must thoroughly blend the ingredients in this recipe to achieve the desired result.

Once thickness is achieved, you may add more lemon or salt, depending on how you like your mayonnaise to taste. Allow the mayonnaise to sit at room temperature, covered, for about 7 hours before you place it in its cold new home. Your mayonnaise will keep for several months, thanks to the lacto-fermentation provided by the whey.

Here is a sandwich that I made for my mom . . .

And she even lived after eating it!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Temporarily Quiver-Less

"Too bad you are still nursing. It would be fun to get away for a night," said Hottie Hubby nonchalantly two days before our date night last week.

"What did you just say?" I asked dumbfounded, thinking that maybe I needed some hearing aides.

"Too bad you can't get away for a night. We could stay in a hotel downtown. It is our 10 Year Anniversary, after all. That only comes once in a lifetime," he replied as if we live this extravagant life regularly.

My wheels began to turn. Mr. Smiley just turned One. Hmm. . . how many bottles would it take? Could I be away for a little over 12 hours? There is no way I would go, though, if it meant packing all the kids' stuff and moving Mr. Smiley to a new bed.

Hottie Grandma offered to spend the night. I didn't even have to ask. Problem solved. God must want us to get away.

I could go. I had no excuse not to. Plus, my friend, Christina, would kill me if I didn't take this opportunity to be temporarily quiver-less and alone with my husband.

After all, a 10 year anniversary only comes around once in your marriage. Duh!

The grandparents arrived at 4:30 PM to three VERY excited little boys. The boys had spent the entire morning asking me when afternoon would be here. Nose prints are still on our windows and they learned how to unlock the front door to let Papa in. At 1 PM, I was informed that afternoon was a long time in coming and they {the grandparents} weren't here yet. It isn't everyday that the grandparents come to stay at THEIR house. Plans were made to ride bikes and wake Mama and Papa up VERY early for pancakes.
At 5:15 PM, Hottie Hubby arrived and came to my aide. He would do whatever it took, to whisk me away for our first time overnight alone in two years. He collected the necessary milking accessories and we were off. It felt like the boys pushed us out of the house and we hopped in Vic (our Honda Civic) with grateful hearts.
If I hadn't of looked down at the car seat before sitting down, I would have smashed the 1st of 10 note cards addressed to me, each titled after a Proverbs 31 verse. Each note card contained uplifting comments that inflated my ego. What an amazing blessing to have our evening be a spiritual encouragement, as well as a celebration. My Hottie Husband ROCKS!

We arrived at the surprise dinner location still in a stupor of disbelief--we were on a real, adult date, alone, celebrating 10 years of marriage. Our little car drove us to . . .

6:00 PM, we sat in a large, plump booth that surveyed the dining area and allowed us (me) to make up stories of incoming customers. Live piano music graced our ears, reminiscent of our wedding. 14 West has a superb dinner menu that was a dream to eat. We feasted on Red Garnet Yam Bisque, Spinach Salad, Seared Chilean Sea Bass (Hottie Hubby), Ribeye Steak topped with Blue Cheese (Me), and compliments of 14 West , a homemade ice cream with honey encrusted granola and Chocolate Mousse Cake, which might have been the BEST dessert I have ever eaten in my life.

I would totally recommend this restaurant!

After dinner we walked over to the theater and saw Wilderness Plots, 8 PM, a series of Indiana settlement stories set to music and sung by local musicians. It is based off of a collection of short stories covering the period of time spanning the Revolutionary War through the Civil War, by Scott Russell Sanders.

We were a bit leery attending this performance, because we knew so little about it. However, we were soon glad we had taken a daring leap to the box office. The folk musical performance made Indiana history fun and easy to remember. The artists sang humorous "manners of death" from these former Midwest residents, that probably couldn't be replicated if tried. I can't wait to use the songs (yes, we bought the CD--for posterity and because it was good) to teach the kiddos about their state (not death), that is once we hit 4th grade Indiana History.

After leaving the theater (10 PM--I didn't know life existed outside of the home at this late hour), Starbucks was contemplated but the nearby stores were closed. After crossing over many indoor foot bridges, sauntering through quiet hotel lobbies, and weaving through a convention center, we arrived at our bustling destination of the Marriott Hotel, bid for and booked on Price Line. Upon walking into our room, I was greeted by a bouquet of calla lilies . . . the very flowers I carried in our wedding. I tell you that Hottie Husband of mine pays attention to detail.

Now these last pictures need a bit of an explanation . . . you see, the ONLY time our children get to jump on beds is when we stay at a hotel. So it is a pretty big deal to stay at a hotel in our family and be like George, the good little monkey. In honor of Mr. Smackdown and Mr. Me-Too, we took turns jumping on the bed.

P.S. Don't tell Marriott Hotel.