Friday, November 30, 2007

O! Susanna!

Something wonderful happened on February 15, 2005. I went in to the hospital with my 5th or 6th case of false labor, and my doctor once again sent me home with instructions to come back at 7:00 a.m. so they could induce me and end my pregnancy suffering once and for all. Instead of obeying him, I went home and then commanded Tony to take me back to the hospital about 90 minutes later. My ever-frugal and insurance-minded husband tried talking me in to waiting another 4.5 hours so it would be after midnight and we wouldn't be stuck with a full day's charge for the 3.5 remaining hours of February 15. I was pretty insistent, though, and assured him that if he wouldn't take me, he'd be delivering his second child any moment. For those of you who know Tony, you know he is a creature of the law, obeying all commandments (usually...we won't talk about two specific instances in Menagha since we've been married...). He usually drives about 5 miles below the posted speed limit. But not that night! I was so proud of my husband as he was tearing down the darkened streets of Park Rapids going what seemed to be 80 mph. I egged him on, telling him if any cop tried to stop him, they could just follow him to the hospital and he could deal with them there while I dealt with the pretty much non-stop labor pains. Thankfully, that's not a situation he had to deal with...and it was a situation that I got to deal with (the labor--for me--not the cop).

He dropped me off at the ER entrance while he parked and I waddled in, commanding the first person I saw, "Get me up to maternity RIGHT NOW, this baby is coming!" They did have time to call my doctor (again, at my insistence...they were going to wait and try to find the hospital doctor to check me out first...I told them they better call MY doctor and they better call him NOW -- I wonder how many nurses have to deal with patients like me? But...I was right). Doc Fredell arrived 20 minutes later, and he told me it was just a short matter of time. I remember, not too long after he arrived, that he told me, "don't push, it isn't time yet," as I was sobbing, "I'm sorry, I can't help it!" and felt that terrible pain finally cease as a baby cried and my doctor called out, "It's a girl!" Tony told me later he thought Dr. Fredell was going to drop her...the doc wasn't ready, apparently from what he told me I really shouldn't have had her quite that soon, but there was no stopping our Susanna! (My doctor told me later he highly doubted I'd make it through the night before delivering, but he didn't expect me back so soon...but was waiting for the hospital to call about my being back in and ready to deliver.)

Susanna has been a little whirlwind ever since. She loves to spin, to go full-force, to be on the move (unless a Quigley's Village video is on or Cinderella, either of which will stop her and hold her attention for the entire time it's playing). She is a sweet pea, a living doll, a joy and delight, and a strong-willed child who, thankfully, has a tender heart.

Like her brother, Susanna had the type of jaundice that comes from certain blood types, especially when different from the mother, where nursing initially increases the billiruben, which was really hard on me emotionally...knowing that the nourishment I was giving her was raising her levels the first several days while going through the horrid swings of hormone fluctuation (that only another woman who has given birth can truly understand), getting to go home from the hospital with her only to go back in with her the next day was not very good for my sanity. However, it was easier to understand and live through, since I'd gone through it not much more than a year before with her big brother.

From the time Susanna has been able to show any kind of preference to anything, she has always favored pink, dresses, frilly things, dolls, and anything pertaining to the stereotype of little girls. But she also loves tractors, farming, and almost everything that boys enjoy, too. She loves to draw and I'm amazed at the tiny circles and little detail she deliberately does, especially given that she is only two (and started doing this before her second birthday). I've found life is much easier if I give her a crayon or pencil than when I have to discipline her for taking pens and markers from wherever she can find them. She's learned not to write on walls (hand spankings and having to scrub her art work aren't very fun), and she has finally learned to ask if she can write on something before actually doing it.

She loves music (usually) and for the last six or so months, she's taken to humming as she goes throughout her day. She'll also make up songs or sing others that she knows, but she actually stays on key and has a slight vibrato to her songs and humming. Nothing deliberate, just natural...and beautiful. And while she'll sometimes tell others to "stop singing! No music!" she'll often tell Luke to sing "Banjo on my knee," a song she's heard since the first time Grandpa Carter first saw her.

Susanna loves Disney Princesses, but especially Snow White, Belle, and her beloved Cinderella. She often insists she IS Cinderella, but she is falling in love with Barbie, too, no matter how much we tried to discourage this. One of the girls from church babysat this summer, and Susanna immediately took to her, something that is pretty unusual, until it dawned on me that pretty, blond Katherine looks very much like a teen-age live Barbie doll. When she is around other children, they almost always flock to her and immediately start taking care of her, babying her, etc. She soaks it all in, as if it is her due to have a royal court waiting on her every whim.

One of the roughest things I've had to deal with regarding Susanna is that for almost the first six months of her life there would be times she'd look at me and immediately start crying. So when she did the same thing upon seeing her doting Papa and a few other family friends, I assured them she did the same to ME...and I was responsible for just about every aspect of her life at that point. We also went through the jealous stage where she would cry and scream any time Tony and I would show affection to each other. That was HER daddy, and no other female was allowed to go NEAR him!

When we came home from the hospital, there was a very curious little boy who wanted to see what this thing was that Mama kept close by. I worried that there would be jealousy, that he wouldn't take to her very well, but it was all for naught. He was and remains quite fascinated with her. I'm not sure who has more influence over the other, but I know that it just makes my heart sing when I see them coming down the stairs or walking at church or home or anywhere hand in hand, without anyone telling them to. They are very protective of each other, but they are definitely siblings, too! There are fights and arguments that I need to break up every so often, but when I remind them that by hitting the other or by saying unkind things it hurts the other, that causes the offending party to really stop and think...and almost always cease what he or she was doing. I love hearing Luke tell her, "Susanna, I love you. You're my favorite girl."
My Susanna is a bright girl, and I crack up at some of the things she comes up with. Luke has always been up to the challenge of trying new and difficult words. With Susanna, I'll ask "can you say harmonica?" And she'll just reply, "no." I'll try pointing and asking, "What's this?" Luke will come up with his usual pronunciation of "harmogiga" while she responds with "Music." Any difficult word you get her to say, she'll think of a synonym in place of the tongue-twisting word. Just amazing.

And this little girl is sneaky and at times very devious, unlike her brother who cannot lie even if knowing the truth with get him in deep trouble. However, Susanna is learning the painful way that telling a lie is not the best option. Then there was this morning....she didn't want to finish her cereal that Daddy gave her, although she was more than happy to eat the pears. However, as I was cleaning up, I encouraged her to eat "three more bites, because you're almost three!" "Two, Mama, only two!" Thinking I could out-smart her, I told her, "Okay, only two and then one more." Her mathematician brother piped in, "But Mama, that would be three!" Thanks, Luke. But it was a good comprise, and I was pretty gleeful and sure of myself when she agreed "okay, only two then one more!" So I was even more surprised when a few minutes later she asked, "May I be excused please? Look at my bowl, Mama!" She had her cereal bowl and her pear bowl neatly stacked, empty, with her spoon atop them." I asked, "where is your food?" And she proudly announced, "in my tummy! I did it, Mama! I ate it!" I gave her a big hug and kiss, high five, and excused her from the table as I took her bowls over to the sink and went to put them in the dishwasher and empty bowl on the top, and a bowl with milk and cereal still in it right below the empty bowl. Hm. "Susanna!" "What, Mama?" "Come here, Susanna, and tell me what this is." A horrified look on her face as if saying "good grief, what IS that???" then her matter-of-fact reply: "Um. Oh! That's just cereal, Mama! Bye-bye." Huh. Lil bugger!

She is one stubborn girl, and motivation does not work with her. Forget the stickers or treats or anything when it comes to potty training. If she wants to go in the potty, she will. If not, she won't. And there are many times I'll tell her to go do potty only to have her sit for a few minutes before hopping up and shouting, I DID IT! However, I've learned that the quickest way to find out if she REALLY did potty is by saying, "Luke, go look in the potty." If she continues on her merry way, it's a guarantee there is something in the potty, but more often than not, it's a race of children over to the potty, usually with one showing a bare butt and screaming, "NOOOOOO!!!!!!" as she pushes her brother out of the way to sit down before he can look in.

She is pure girl and happiest when she is wearing a dress. If I give her a choice between dresses, I can expect to have to wait for quite awhile while she decides which one. "ummmm, that one. No, that one! No, wait, that one." She loves to put on play jewelry (most of which is stored away now), and she'll often insist on "putting on make up" before leaving the house (and is quite happyand satisfied just brushing a make up brush or pad along her cheek). She will also inform you that she is BEAUTIFUL (I booteeful!), but I'm thankful that she really doesn't know what the word means. And I can also assure you as beautiful as she truly is, she is even more so inside where it counts. And yet, she also comes up with the funniest, silliest faces you'd ever imagine. Although Tony doesn't like it, I call her my little "Jim Carey" as her face is just as rubbery as his with all the ways she can contort it.
And that girl is just like her Mama....she enjoys her food, but she's picky about what she eats (but not as picky as many other kids). She's also hilarious in that she doesn't like to have dirty hands, but she won't hesitate to get right in the dirt and "help" on the farm or with my flowers. She also melted my heart (again) one afternoon a few months back when I laid down beside her on the floor and asked, "Susanna, what would YOU like to do with Mama today?" She looked at me quite seriously then told me, "Bake in the kitchen, Mama, with you." So we made cupcakes.

It's been about three weeks since this has started, but something triggered Susanna to start referring to herself and Luke as "the little ones." It's adorable, and the only thing I can think of that has precipitated this is the line from Jesus Loves Me "little ones to Him belong..." We were talking about Christmas one day, and I asked them "who is excited about Christmas?" to which there was a loud chorus of "MEEEEE!" from two short people in our home. I then asked, "who knows why Christmas is special?" Now, they know, but I didn't know if they'd put Christmas together with the celebration of Christ's birth yet. There was silence, then a little high-pitched voice firmly stated, "Mama, the little ones don't know." That phrase has popped up several times in the past few weeks, and it brings a smile to my face each time.

Susanna...she is our princess, she has her daddy and brother and Papa wrapped firmly around her little finger. I don't know who has more pain....Susanna when disciplined by Daddy, or Daddy when having to discipline Susanna. And that little sweetheart gets away with alot when it comes to her Daddy. And I understand more now why I got away with so much when it came to my Daddy, too....
She brings joy to the lives of everyone in this household and many others who come in contact with her. Ah, Susanna! How we really love you!

(there are more photos of Susanna down below in "Out of the mouth of Babes")

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sunday afternoon reflections

Once again, this isn't a vey recent photo...but it is a picture of Luke and Susanna dressed and ready for church.

It's another lazy Sunday afternoon; the kids are napping...well, at least one is while the other chatters to himself and sings "Lord's Army," "The B-I-E-L-E" (no, that's not a typo, that's what he's singing), and "Happy Birthday" (someone must have had a birthday in Sunday School today!). Tony also had a great the kids room while they were out of bed and playing games (until he was alerted that something wasn't quite right...), and I, too, was snoozing away until the phone rang.

Check out the following link (I hope it works!). It is today's BC comic strip and hits close to home for me.

We had a great sermon today (like each Sunday). We're starting in to the Christmas season, and this year's theme appears to be "Voices of Christmas." Last year, we had different families come up front before the start of the service and light Advent candles as they related what each candle symbolized, both in order and color (first candle is purple/royalty, the Candle of Hope and Light -Romans 15:12-13. Second is purple, the candle of preparation or Bethlehem candle -Luke 3:4-6. The third is pink, the candle of joy -Luke 2:7-15. The fourth is again purple, the candle of love -John 3:16-17, and the fifth is white, the Christ Candle -John 1:29 & John 3:1-8.) It was fantastic!

This year, as we finished up the opening songs, prayers, congregational greeting, and offering, one of the young men stood up front (okay, this is aging me....Eric isn't THAT young, he's in his early 30s, but that to me is now young!) and started talking. Luke, who wasn't really paying attention (and very rarely does, partially because he's 3), whipped around when he heard "I am Gabriel!" It was a great, um, what's the word I'm looking for? Not really narration, but he spoke as if he were the Angel Gabriel and told about his three great announcements regarding the first Christmas. It was wonderfully done, very informative, humor mixed in, and it kept everyone's attention (well, not Luke's FULL attention, but for most of it!). Pastor Marty continued the theme by preaching on Gabriel's message to Zechariah, Mary, and Joseph (at least I'm assuming he continued with Joseph....Susi had a messy diaper, so I missed the last 7 or 8 minutes). If you're interested in listening, here's the link to our church's website, specifically the sermons -- you'll have to scroll to the bottom of the page (and as of 3:45 on Sunday afternoon it wasn't posted yet), but there are also some other great messages that you can listen to. (Marty just finished a lengthy series on Man and his money -- which was followed by a short series on Legacy of Faith. A couple other sermons I found really interesting was the message by Paul Jorgensen, a missionary to Austria, and the latest message by Pastor Ken Polley given last Sunday -- Disciplines of a Godly Mother by Pastor Marty was also a great series.) I can't wait to hear what Christmas voice will be next!

I'm thankful for our church. I wasn't sure what to expect when I first moved here. I'd always attended small (under 100 members) churches, and here I moved to a small town and attended one of the largest churches -- at the time there were probably about 450 - 500 regular attendees (today I believe there are more than 600 that attend each week). Yes, I know, for some of you even that is small. But I have come to dearly love this church family and love the different ways I can know them and serve both God and them through AWANA, Christmas programs, Fun Food and Fellowship, and other things. I've been blessed to be able to get to know people of all ages, from the kids (usually 1st thru 6th grade) through Christmas programs and AWANA to the parents (through the same ministries) to families and couples of all ages through FFF, and many of the older couples, especially the ladies, through my in-laws.

Today, however, we are saying goodbye to another of the older members of our church family, Barb Chaney, who passed on to a better place this past Wednesday (last year, we had another sweet lady go home to heaven the day before Thanksgiving, Marian Theriault...greatly loved and greatly missed, and just a month or so ago, we had to say goodbye to another dear one, Bessie Amundson).

I'm thankful that we have solid Biblical teaching and sound leaders, from the pastors to the deacons to the trustees to the teachers and all the many people that make up the committees such as finance, nursery, Christian Education, etc. And I'm thankful that friction and church politics are not allowed to influence our church. God has given us a wise pastoral and leadership staff that does its best to stop things like that before they even start and members that for the most part don't want to let things like that even get a start in our congregation.

I love that we have five or six choices each quarter for adult Sunday School classes, except when there are five or six classes that I want to take at the same time! We finished the fall quarter today, wrapping up our adult Search for Significance class -- wonderful! Of course, that meant that I missed the class on the book of Matthew taught by a very brilliant man who blends together historical events and writings along with the Bible so people can see what was going on in the world at that time, what some of the world beliefs were, things that people faced at that time. His two-quarter series on the book of Isaiah was fascinating! (plus, he's British, so he's got that cool accent to listen to! -- and a hilariously dry sense of humor where you never know what to expect, like the time he casually threw in to the conversation about his mother being in the insane asylum and being pretty sure that he and his siblings helped put her there.... or how his son refused to let some knife-wielding gang members rob him of his money because he knew he'd be in deeper trouble with his mother if he came home without that money!). And right now I'm torn between what class to take starting next Sunday -- the second half of the Matthew class (same teacher I was talking about), the class on Revelation, taught by a pastor/highway patrol man (another fascinating and very learned teacher), a class taught by good friends of ours about biblical teaching on personal finance, or the ladies class on recognizing Spiritual warfare (a Kay Arthur series, I believe). I don't think the men's class is for me "Measure of a Man" for one very obvious reason....

I'm also very thankful for the stewardship of our church. We are expanding in both building and church membership. The biggest commitment our church made for the expansion is that we would not go into debt for any reason. We build as we have the funds. In not even two years, the Family Life Center is almost complete. You can see it and read about it on our church website (given above).

Well, the kids are awake (okay, Susanna woke up), Tony is down working at the farm, and it's time to get these two little ones away from the many distractions in our room.

Have a happy, lazy Sunday afternoon yourself!

Friday, November 23, 2007


First of all, these photos are NOT from this Thanksgiving....they are from last year. Read on and you'll understand....
I trust and pray each of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving; a time of relaxing, spending time with family and/or friends, and reflecting on the many blessings God has given to each of us. My cousin Liz (check out her blog, linked on this page) does a great job of listing three things she's grateful for each day on her blog. From the unexpected to the things we often take for granted to some really great sounding foods, just looking at the things she lists helps me remember to be thankful in and for all things.

It was a hard thing for me to do this Thanksgiving though. Since Tony and I have been married, and even the year before, we have spent Thanksgiving in Iowa (except for the first year we were married when we went to Ohio to visit my family instead) with his brother Paul and sister-in-law Lori. I love spending time with Paul and Lori, whether it is in Iowa at Thanksgiving or here in Minnesota. I greatly treasure my friendship with Lori, especially. And Paul, like Tony, tends to be on the quiet side, but his contributions to conversations and on email are something I truly appreciate and anticipate, along with the wisdom Lori also shares.

This year we had planned an extended trip down "south." We'd planned to head down to Omaha first, spending the night in neighboring Council Bluffs, stopping in at the Bass Pro Shop there (my brother Tim works for Bass Pro and is always getting us all kinds of goodies -- we usually stop at Cabela's, a rival store, since it's on the way to Iowa, but this year was going to be all Bass Pro!), which just HAPPENED to have a class on creating fly fishing lures (and Tony LOVES fly fishing, an activity he has not found time to do since we've been married), and then taking Luke and Susanna to the Omaha Zoo. Years back, a group of Carter relatives headed over to the zoo on Thanksgiving, and Tony still talks about what a great zoo it is. After a busy Wednesday at the zoo, we'd take the 1.5-2 hour drive over to Paul and Lori's, spend the night, visit with them, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving, as usual. Tony's cousin and his family would drive over from Omaha, there'd be laughter, fun, a football game outside with Billy's rapidly growing boys, wonderful food (mostly prepared by Lori, pies by Chris), visiting, and as the day would wind down, board games inside. Time spent with the Thanksgiving history book that Barbara Rainey wrote, seeing what's on TV, Thanksgiving songs led by Paul (since Dad Carter wasn't plannng on making the trip this year), talking about what we're thankful for, all the stuff that so many people do on Thanksgiving.

Well, Tony's trip to the hospital last week changed all that. An unexpected two days out of commission set everything back, and we reached the hard decision that we needed to stay home in Park Rapids this year. I didn't understand why I was so glum Saturday afternoon and on through Sunday and Monday morning until it hit me.

To me, Thanksgiving isn't just a day to remember to give thanks. I do that every day. I am so thankful for even the things I usually take for granted. My Grandpa and Grandma always replied "I'm thankful" when asked how they were. Luke and Susanna always say "thank you" for just about everything, even when they pray when someone is sick ("Dear God, thank You for my owie, and thank You that You will make it all better....).

Thanksgiving, for me, is more about family. Not just my family consisting of my wonderful husband and children, but extended family. Not just my parents-in-law, whom I am truly blessed to have living so close to us (TRULY blessed!), but extended family from both sides of my marriage now -- Tony's family and mine. Those that we don't see often. Those that we see only once or twice a year. Those that I haven't seen since we were married....and some since even before then. Those that are able to join the rest of the gang every so often, like Dad Carter's sister Gloria and her husband Ken (Billy's parents), like Andrew who spent Thanksgiving this year in Iraq. Granted, none of those "extra" blessings were able to join the group at Paul and Lori's this year, but still, us not being able to be there was really disappointing.

Growing up, we spent so much time with family. We lived about an hour away from most of the relatives on my mom's side and several on my dad's side (although quite a few of his siblings lived in California while I was growing up). We spent time with cousins and grandparents and aunts and uncles at least two or three times a month, I think. Many of my cousins were my best friends. As we all grew up and started going our separate ways, we still lived within reasonable driving distance to each other, or at least when we were still single, we were able to spend more time with each other. Now, almost all of my cousins are married and have families of their own, like me. We keep in touch with occasional emails and phone calls, and are even able to occasionally connect if we're all in Ohio at the same time (which isn't often). Trips to Ohio now are even more special since two of my dad's sisters moved back, and I'm able to spend time with them after getting to know them so much better from when we all lived in California.

However, this year has been a year of difficult changes for me regarding family. Two of my three grandparents passed away, and my last remaining grandma was very recently diagnosed with throat cancer. They have all lived long (in their 90s) wonderful lives, loving God and passing on that love to their children and grandchildren, but it's sad saying goodbye and knowing there will be another goodbye, whether from the cancer or just from the results of old age (but there will also be a "forever hello!" sometime in the future, praise God). When someone has always been there and no longer is, it's difficult to even think about. One of my cousins moved to Indonesia with his family to work as language translators. There have been several serious bouts with illness, disease, and trauma throughout my extended family, and even closer to home with Tony last week. Tony and I have also been unbelievably busy with the farm and the market this year, and we haven't been able to get away for our 2-3 day family break, which we try to do each September or October. I was REALLY looking forward to getting away from everything here, uninterupted time with my husband and children, just having a break, but most of all visiting with relatives who are also dear friends.

After spending quite a bit of time in tears ("Mama, why are your eyes dribbling?"), talking with Tony, talking with God, and truly examining my heart, I realize even more how important family is to me. If you're family, you're important (okay, if you're "just" a friend, you're still important to me!). Life changes as we get older, and it isn't always easy to accept. However, we are still linked as family, and if you have also given your life to Christ, we are even more importantly part of God's family.

I felt a bit guilty as I was having my little melt down. My sister-in-law had a big birthday this year (on Thanksgiving! Happy birthday Carla!)...and she's half a world away from her family (other than her husband and children...). One of my favorite cousins hasn't spent a Thanksgiving in the States for who knows how long since she lives in Paraguay (Kar, when's the last time you had turkey and all the trimmings?) with her husband and boys. Another dear cousin spent his Thanksgiving even further away in Indonesia (do they have turkey there, Rog?) with his wife and boys...and another was up north in Canada, like the last several years, with her husband and boys. To top it off, those three cousins are from the same family...when's the last time their parents had all their children home for Thanksgiving...or Christmas? My nephew is far away from all family as he serves our country in Iraq and probably didn't even have time to think about Thanksgiving.

Why am I so sad? God blessed me with a new family five years ago when Tony proposed. The two of us grew to four, and I am thankful and blessed we were able to spend yesterday together, as we spend each day together. We were able to have a wonderful dinner at Tony's parents', and while Jon and Julia were unable to join in the festivities as their children were sick, we had a relaxing day with family (but no board games, bummer!).

I love my family, whether I grew up with you or whether I joined your family five years ago. I love spending time with you. I missed that this year, but please know I treasure the times we're able to spend together...and always will.

Thank You, God, for family and friends, even when I can't be with them all. (and for those of you reading this, please post a comment and tell me about your Thanksgiving!)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pumpkin Party Music

You'll be treated to some down home music when you come on out to Carter's! (you can tell how good it is by the look on my father-in-law's face! -- actually, I think he does enjoy it....) So...whatcha waiting for? Scroll on down the next few blogs, check out the fun we have, and make your travel plans for next year!

Pumpkin Party Fun

Here are some shots of some of the activities at the pumpkin parties...the crow shoot, the giant pumpkin boats, bow and arrows, etc.

More pumpkin party photos

Here are some more shots....hope you enjoy them!

Pumpkin Party Pictures

Awhile back, I mentioned having a bunch of cool pumpkin party photos I wanted to share with everyone but wasn't able to because I couldn't download from our new (to us) digital camera. Well, I finally got the photos on disk, so enjoy the glimpses of what life is like for us every Saturday in October.....and plan on joining us next year!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Update on Tony

Thanks, all, for your prayers and notes. Tony came home from the hospital Friday afternoon after lots of tests; not all results are in, but those that are show great results! The kids were quite excited to see him when they woke up from their naps (even though we'd been in to visit earlier that day).

So many things to be thankful for!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

My Tony

Hi all -- I have another prayer request for you; this one even closer to home.

Tony is at the hospital right now, just admitted to ICU from the ER. Yesterday his heart started doing funny things (and I wasn't even in eye sight!), but he neglected to let anyone know until this morning when he informed me he thought he should go to the clinic. Upon calling the clinic, they told him he should go directly to the hospital due to his symptoms (irregular heart beat, lasting more than 24 hours). He told me this has happened twice before when he was in his 20s; both times they could find nothing wrong, so he didn't say anything figuring it would work itself out.

The hospital informed him if he'd have come in right away, they could have given him some medication to see if that would regulate the rhythm, but since he waited so long, there was a danger of clotting and they'd have to give him blood thinner first. He spent about 3 hours in the ER before they finally got him up to a room and opted to put him in ICU because things involved the heart. By the time he got in his room, he was quite hungry and his heart rhythm seems to have regulated, praise God! He thinks they won't let him leave today, though.

We were able to spend a bit of time with him in the ER before the kids got to squirrelly. I was surprised they weren't phased by seeing Daddy hooked up to all kinds of monitors and with an IV in him. Susanna's greatest concern was why the doctor took his clothes and made him naked (waist up); Luke was more concerned with getting back to the lobby to play with all the toys. I pray God will help me to remain calm so that the concern I do have isn't transmitted to the kids.

Right now it appears as if everything is back to normal. They are doing some blood work for Lyme's disease, mainly because he had a deer tick attached in mid-October and want to rule out that possibility.

I'll let you all know more as I know.
Thanks for your prayers.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Out of the Mouth of Babes

We have several different forms of punishment in our household, and I'm thankful we don't often have to employ them. One of my favorite punishments is the most dreaded one....the "naughty spot." A couple years back, Tony and I tuned in to watch "The Nanny" for the first time and she was explaining to the parents about putting a child in the naughty spot, on the naughty step, etc. We both kind of laughed at it, what kid is actually going to STAY in a naughty spot? Well, we put it to use the next day, and Luke started howling, "I don't WANT to go to the naughty spot!" But....he did....and surprisingly, he stayed.

The naughty spot is used for disobedience, disrespect, when someone takes things away from a sibling, screaming and yelling (especially when Mama has had it "up to here!"), and light to moderate torture of a sibling (blatant teasing, name calling, and sometimes physical bullying...although that's usually when my brother's solution of a "bully spanking" comes in to whack on the tush for each year they are...that, too, is a torture punishment mainly because, I think, of the name of the punishment -- and thankfully, it is very rarely used). The naughty spot is sometimes under a spare table we have downstairs, sometimes next to the kitchen entrance, and sometimes just in the middle of the floor (they know the naughty spot can move, so they know it can apply even if we aren't at home!). While in the naughty spot, they are not allowed to talk to anyone else, play with toys, and if they do talk to either Tony or me, we generally don't even acknowledge them until their time is up. I think that's the most torturous part of the naughty spot!

When someone is sent to the naughty spot, they stay there one minute per year they are (I sometimes wish I could be sent to the naughty spot! and I confess there have been too many times I forgot to release them from the naughty spot after their time was up only to be reminded by Tony or at times a little voice asking "May I come out now?"). Afterwards, they must come and tell Daddy or Mama why they were sent to the naughty spot (it's used often enough where I just have to look at them without asking before they spill the beans on why they were sent to the naughty spot). After confessing to one of us, they must next go to the offended sibling (or sometimes offended parent or cousin) and tell them "I'm sorry I _____ (hit/pushed/took away/etc.) you. Please forgive me. I love you." before hugging them. By this time, both children are usually laughing, and the hug turns into a wrestling match (although sometimes it ends with a follow up kiss, which is so SWEET!).

Yesterday Susanna took a book away from Luke that he was reading. She then refused to even acknowledge me when I told her to give it back. To the naughty spot! "NOOOOOO!!!!!! I don't WANT to!" Of course she doesn't want to seems like Mama is the only one who WANTS to go to the naughty spot (sit in seclusion for 40 minutes? Nobody talking to me? Oh yeah!), but she had no choice and off she went. After her two minutes were up, I hunkered down next to her, hugged her, and she told me, "I was in the naughty spot because I disobeyed you and didn't listen. Oh yeah, and I took away a book from Luke." I then asked the question I've started recently asking: Do you think that made Jesus sad? Then the eye-opening clincher. "But Mama, Jesus died on the cross. For me! And He loves me. And He cried on the cross for me, too." Oh, my heart melted. She is processing the simplified talks we've had about sin and how we need God to forgive us and how Jesus died on the cross so our sins would be forgiven.

Thanks, God, for giving me that reassurance that my kids are listening and learning and holding on to You in their hearts. Thanks, too, for the reminder of the wonderful work Your Son did on the cross for me, too. Help me to grasp your simple truths as easily as Susanna does. And I pray that these two little blessings to me will always love You!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Various stuff

Okay, I cannot stop laughing at my cousin Martha's blog the link and check it out. For any of you mom's out there, you will REALLY appreciate her budding artist story! Drop her a comment if you have any suggestions. Oh, I wish I could see the artwork in person!

Hey, if you're in the area this weekend (or if you already live here), come by our house Saturday between 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. I'm having a Watkins open house and sampling literally dozens of items. Okay, some of them are things like the room fresheners and shea butters and wonderful new chemical-free cleaners, but I've also got some really yummy things on the menu like chips and salsa, tomato-basil tossed noodles, fat-free chocolate almond pudding dip, mandarin orange dip, apple spice muffins, orange spice bread, zippy breadsticks, cranberry mustard with pretzels, four different hot cocoas, several different dips, barbecue shredded meat, shortbread cookies with peppermint-flavored sprinkles, baked potato soup, a really good honey butter spread that tastes just like Cinnabon, and so much more! Can't make it but want to try some of the things? Email me or send me a comment; I typed up all the recipes of things I'm making. Want to stock up on some gifts or items for Christmas baking? Check out my website at (or click the link at the upper right on this page) -- you can order online and have things shipped directly to you, or you can give me a call if you're from this area.

And on a sadder note, today I hit a dog. The kids and I had errands to do (well, I did...they were along for the ride), and as we were driving down a back road, a black lab darted in front of our van. I slammed on my brakes, but there was still a sickening crunch and thud. Two ladies rushed out of a yard and told me the dog was their neighbor's -- I went to the house as they tried to find the dog...I'd heard him whimpering and howling, then silence. As I'm talking to the owner (who reassured me it was okay...I think I felt worse than he did!), the neighbors are still trying to find the dog. Freaked me out enough to make me check under the van to see if he was stuck there some how (yuck!). We looked all over and couldn't find that dog! Then a neighbor across a corn field came over to tell us she'd seen him loping down the road and off on another road. I was amazed he could still move, let alone was alive! Not sure if they ever found him; the guy kept reassuring me everything was okay, nobody could find the dog, so we continued on our way. Then I was met with little voices "Mama, do you think we can find the dog?" Um. Well, the neighbor ladies are looking for him. "Mama, what do you think happened with the dog?" Ummmmm. Well, he was hurt because he ran in front of a car without looking. That's why you must ALWAYS stop and look before going anywhere near cars and you must always hold Mama's hand. "Mama, where is he?" Sigh. Do you think the grocery store will let you have a cookie today? "I want a cookie!" "No, I want a cookie!" The questions will come again. They always do. And what DID happen to that dog?

So my latest poll is going to expire pretty any ideas for questions? My cousin Liz has a great Thanksgiving themed one that I want to do, but I don't want to copy. Oh well, maybe I will! I've come to think, based on my last couple questions, that those taking the time to answer like to read just about anything and want to know more about Watkins, and they are mainly my friends and not family.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Andrew is my oldest nephew. My oldest nephew used to be Nathanael, but when I got married almost five years ago, I acquired an additional family with many more nieces and nephews...of which Andrew is the oldest. For those of you who don't know Andrew, he has a very dry, sarcastic sense of humor which cracks me up. He also has an impressive vocabulary which is due largely in part, I'm sure, to his parents Paul (Tony's oldest brother) and Lori. Andrew also loves his family and is a great big brother to his younger sisters (who probably didn't always think so growing up).

The first time I met Andrew, it wasn't really Andrew. Tony and I were still dating (if you could call it dating, considering we lived 2,000 miles apart and only visited each other five times before he popped the big question on that fifth visit) and he asked me to come out to Minnesota for Thanksgiving. Well, I came out to Minnesota, and we drove down to Iowa to spend Thanksgiving with Paul and his family and several other extended Carter relatives. His adorable niece Carrie met us at the door with a young man who was introduced as Andrew. It wasn't was a friend of Andrew's. They all got a huge kick out of it, but what did I know? I'd never met the guy before!

My mother-in-law often calls Luke "Andrew" and I consider it funny...but also an honor. I didn't know Andrew when he was growing up (although I've heard some funny stories), but the young man I now know is very impressive. He's a goof ball (notice I put that first), he is a deep thinker with some really great and challenging things to ponder, he loves God and puts his trust and life in Him, he enjoys spending time with his much younger cousins as well as his older aunts and uncles and grandparents, he is protective of those he loves and in some ways he reminds me of a teddy bear, but he also loves his country and is serving in the Army to protect the freedoms and this country which we all too often take for granted.

So why the write-up today about Andrew? We just got word that he was sent back to Iraq a few days ago. We all knew it was coming, but it just seems he was sent sooner he should have been. Andrew already served one tour and did some incredible things over there, had some incredible experiences. He is in a unit that has one of the highest percentages of injuries and fatalities due to the missions they are assigned. While it wasn't one of his favorite things to talk or write about, it was amazing reading and hearing about some of what he went through. This is a young man whose life has been and will be indelibly changed by his service to our country, like everyone else who has served in the military. Regardless of your personal opinions about the war in Iraq, Andrew is one of countless men and women serving our country and doing what many of us couldn't even imagine doing....

I truly respect and honor Andrew, his commitments to God, family, and country, and pray that God will keep His hand of protection over Andrew, giving him wisdom, courage, good health (mental and physical), and peace with all he is experiencing, however difficult that may be. I pray that he will continue to positively impact the lives of those who come in contact with him, whether here or in Iraq or wherever God directs his path. Please join me in praying for Andrew, as well as the many others who are serving our country.
(photos are of Andrew and Luke in 2004, and Andrew, Paul, Carrie, and his friend Erin a few months ago)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Update on Al

Thank you all for your prayers. Carla recently emailed that Al is doing well after surgery. The doctors did find just gall stones and an enflamed gall bladder, nothing more serious than that, praise God! They requested he remain in Canada for a few weeks during recovery, so please continue to pray for a full recovery as well as for Carla and the girls as they are in Uganda without him for the next few weeks (although he often travels for work, so there have been other times he is gone).

First accumulation

Luke came down stairs this morning quite excited, "Mama, Mama, I looked outside and saw the red van and it was clean with soap on it!" (okay, so we live on a dirt road...this posting isn't about how clean or dirty the van is!) -- after looking out our bedroom window, he realized it was snow and asked if it's Christmas yet.

Susanna, on the other hand, knew right away what was going on. She'd come down about 15 minutes earlier, looked outside, and with all the wonder and awe of a child breathed, "Mama, it SNOWED! I must go tell Uncle Tim!"

Snow forecast for today and tomorrow...50s on Sunday.

Earlier this week we had our first snow fall; they did in Ohio and Canada, too. If you want to read and see something hilarious, check out my cousin Liz's blog (link on the right) -- her kids were REALLY excited about the snow!

My brother-in-law

Just a request to pray for my brother-in-law, Al Kehler. He is Tony's sister Carla's husband -- works for the World Food Programme in Uganda. Tuesday he awoke with stomach problems and stayed home from work. After being quite ill, Carla took him to the clinic where they gave him some meds and did an ultra sound. Results were that he has gall stones and an unidentified "mass" and recommended surgery to see what was going on. He was flown back to Canada close to where his "home base" is later that day.

We are still awaiting word on what the latest news is, but he did go right to the emergency room (after one quick stop) where they were waiting for him.

Please pray for Al and his entire family, and especially Carla and his three girls who are still in Uganda through this emergency, as well as the medical personnel that God will give them all peace, wisdom, and knowledge of what is going on.

Many thanks!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


okay, so I was just checking the fox news website when I saw a hilarious and strange story. This Michigan couple was in Washington state celebrating their first anniversary and as they were driving along, a cow landed on their van. Yes, a COW! Hilarious!!!! Turns out that somehow the year-old cow fell off a cliff 200 feet above and crash landed. Egads, celebrating their first anniversary in Washington? Strange!!!! (okay, it's been years since I've been there....and it is a beautiful place)

Here's the story link:,2933,308676,00.html

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Hunting Season

Well, today is the hunting season opener (deer, rifle) here in our area of MN. My brother Tim comes up each year, so he and Tony are out with other friends and relatives right now. Please keep them (and all hunters and those around them) in your prayers...and also, that they get lots of deer! I don't want them going after my flowers and the farm garden again next year! (the deer, that is...)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

"Orange Fluff"

I mentioned in a previous blog about my Watkins booth at our county fair. I was excited when they showed me where my location would be...second booth from one of the two main doors! Then as I looked to see who my "neighbors" would be, I started laughing. The event organizer asked what was so funny, and I told him I loved the location, but my father-in-law wouldn't be too happy with it...I was right next to the DFL booth! Keith asked who my FIL was, and upon hearing the name "Russ Carter," he immediately told me he was going to change my location. I assured him it was fine, but he told me he knew Russ, and he thought it would be better all around if he moved me. I ended up third booth from the other main door...right next to the Republican booth. Another good location, with lots of other great vendors surrounding me.

Anyway, the Republican's rotated who manned the booth every 2-4 hours, and I enjoyed getting to know most everyone who took their turn. However, my all-time favorite was a Carter family friend, Dr. Chuck Fuller. Chuck's turn happened to be during the supper hour, and I encouraged him to try some of the Watkins dip samples I had made. Well, he took one bite of an apple dunked in the mandarin orange dip...then another...and another...and knew he had to have a bottle of his own. Chuck didn't stop there, though. Every person who walked near by, who stopped at either of our booths (and many who probably didn't intend to) was treated enthusiastically by my newest Watkins testimonial and encouraged to try the mandarin orange dip for themselves. Chuck sold quite a few bottles of mandarin orange dip for me that night...and has bought quite a few since! He is also responsible for many more sales to others. He offered to share with you his story:

"We were introduced to what we call "Orange Fluff" this summer at our county fair. This was a landmark day for us as we have been eagerly eating this delightful dip with thin fresh apple slices daily every since. If you don't eat enough fruit, which most of us don't, the "Orange Fluff" with apple slices will remedy that as the combination is absolutely addictive. We have experimented with other food items to dip, i.e. cashew nuts, and have come to the conclusion that any thing dipped into the "Orange Fluff" is a delightful taste experience. Judy makes the dip with Watkin's Mandarin Fruit Dip Mix as follows....Two 8 oz. packages of Philadelphia Creme Cheese, 4 oz. of Kraft marshmello creme, three rounded tablespoons of Watkin's Mandarin Orange Fruit Dip Mix, ...put the creme cheese and marshmello creme in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave until soft...then sprinkle the Watkin's Mandarin Orange mix on the softened creme cheese and marshmello creme, and stir until well combined. What ever is left over ...refrigerate between uses..Enjoy!!!

This Watkins Mandarin Orange powder is available in easy to use 4.6 oz large mouth bottles. You know the old saying " An apple a day keeps the doctor away".

Dr. Chuck and Judy Fuller
Park Rapids, MN

I do need to let you know that the mandarin orange dip is a limited seasonal item...but upon seeing how well the sales took off on this delicious product, I made sure I put in a huge order before it was removed from the line in August. I'm not sure when Watkins will make it available again; perhaps next summer, perhaps in a few years from now, but I currently have a good amount of it in stock. If you'd like to see what all the excitement is about (AND follow doctor's orders about an apple a day), post a comment or give me a call. It is $8.49 a bottle (plus s/h) and will make at least 4-6 batches. It really is scrumptious!

Thanks, Chuck!