Kids make good accountability partners.  Whether you ask them to be or not.

As a SAHM mom, I am with my kids pretty much all day and evening.  With the exception of an evening out here or there.   And my kids are watching me.  They are taking in what I listen to on the radio, how I respond when I am tired, stressed.  They are there for it all.

I have been impressed and sometimes surprised with how carefully they are listening to the words of the lyrics we listen to.  It’s not just background music for them.  For the most part, in our home, we listen to Christian music.  There are some exceptions, but I make sure to screen the music I put on my ipod. Not just for them, but for myself as well.  I want to fill my mind with things that are pleasing to God, not that which will distract me from Him. 

With my careful screening, I was surprised one day when my son asked me to turn that song off.  When I asked him why he said he did not like it because the mom died and why would I want to listen to a song about a mom dying.  The song in question was Alabama’s “Song of the South”.  I had put the song on my “upbeat fun” playlist because I particularly liked the chorus.   But in one line it says, “Well momma got sick and daddy got down” and though it never says outright that she died, my son told me, “Mom, it said momma got sick and daddy got down so she died and why would I want to hear a song about a Momma dying?”  And, how does a Momma argue with that logic?  I promised to take it off my playlist. 

Another day we were driving in the car and “Give Me Your Eyes” by Brandon Heath came on the radio.   My 3 year old daughter said, “Hey Mom, that’s silly why did he ask for a heart.  We already have a heart!” 

These aren’t just random words floating around the their ears.  My kids are listening and thinking about the words to the songs they hear. 

And I want the soundtrack of their lives to be one that glorifies our Lord.  Often my son will ask me when we’re listening to a song if they person is singing to God.  “Mommy,” he’ll say, “Are they singing to God or just people.”  And if it is a hymn playing, he almost always thinks it’s the angels singing.

That is why I absolutely LOVE the CD my daughter received from a friend for her birthday.  It is called Seeds Family Worship.  We were given the Seeds of Faith CD.  Each song is right from Scripture.  All of the lyrics are Scripture verses.  At the beginning of each song they tell you the reference.  They are not annoying kids music either.  They are great worship songs.  Listen here. I like that the tempo changes from song to song.  You’ve got a great mix of fast and slow and different vocals.  We have the cd in our minivan and play it every time we drive anywhere.  We are listening to God’s words as we drive out and about.  And I find myself dwelling on Scripture throughout the day.   The first time we listened to it, I found myself almost choked up as I heard God’s words being sung to us.  In a sense, it brought them to life, or personalized it for me.  Then my son said, “Hey Mom, you gotta put the windows down so everyone can hear this.  The people need to know that God loves them.”  (Yea, then the tears spilled over).  Every time the John 3:16 song comes on, he begs me to put the windows down.

As they listen to and digest these words, we’ve had some great discussions.  For example, “What’s the witchesofsin"?”  Wages of sin I corrected them.  We then had a great discussion on Romans 3:23 and how wages means cost and what our sin cost.   I really can’t say enough about how great these CD’s are.  I plan to purchase a few more soon.

Whether we realize it or not, our children are listening and watching us all the time.  Let’s take advantage of that opportunity to minister to them while they still value our input and opinions.

It’s been a few years since we’ve had a good snow fall here in MD.  And by good I mean accumulating enough so that you don’t see the grass poking through the snow. 

This is the only snowman we were able to scrape together this winter at the circus.  Don’t the kids look kind of forlorn? 


Seriously, take a closer look at our “snowman.”  I am sure my friends up north are rolling on the floor with laughter at our patheticness.


Since Old Man Winter, didn’t provide us with much of the white stuff here, we decided to have our own snowman day.  I’d been planning to do it in Jan and then suddenly I found myself a week from March and panicking b/c a snowman day in March with the St Patty’s decor up, just wouldn’t have the right feel.  Originally, I had planned to invite a bunch of the kids friends over and have a big party with snacks and crafts and the like.  But, I was running out of time and out of social energy, so we settled on a low key snowman day at home.  

We started the day snuggled up in our pjs watching Frosty the Snowman.


  After naptime our family friend stopped by and joined us in making our own indoor snowman out of ivory snow detergent and water.  The super easy recipe can be found here.  (tip: I found I had to keep adding in a lot more of the detergent though to get it to a thick enough consistency to form our “snowballs”).  I really think that these turned out cuter than our “real” snowman.

  IMG_4372 IMG_4376


IMG_4389When Daddy got home, he helped us top the day off by fixing snowman pancakes for dinner. IMG_4394

   So even though it looks like we’ll go yet one more winter without a “scrapbookable”  snow fall here in the middle east coast, at least we can say we had our fun with snowmen!


“A sister shares childhood memories and grown-up dreams.”



Check out 5MFM for more Wordless Wednesdays.

Scott and I enjoy watching those “thrill drama series” such as 24, Alias, Heroes…  I can remember when we would watch Alias, I would often have dreams where I would save the day with my mean back side kick and my “kickn” purple air.  Ya, if only…

Well this morning I woke up and told Scott I had the strangest dream.  In part of it we were going away for our honeymoon only it wasn’t really because we already had the kids and we were staying in this hotel like room underground in my parents yard.  A safe house perhaps? 

Things are a bit foggy as dreams usual are, but I vividly really being at a school and figuring out that there was a terror plot underway for bombs to go off in every school across America when they said the pledge.  Apparently, all the schools in America pledge of allegiance at exactly the same time every day.  I was trapped but somehow was able to secretly text a message which said, “no pldge” and somehow whoever received this message understood and was able to stop the terror plot.  I have a fuzzy recollection of agents bringing the bombs out of the school buildings across America…none of them able to go off since they children never said their pledge.

Back to my romantic getaway.  Before leaving for our “safe house” I recall telling my parents, “Only call us if there is a problem with the kids or a matter of national security.”

Yea because in matters of national security people always turn first to Crystal, stay at home mom. 

Hmmm, guess you can’t tell what I watched last night before bed?

Today a dental hygienist visited my son’s class at preschool. 

In the car he told me we needed to get him some dental cloth. 

“Floss?” I asked. 

“Yes,” he told me, “We gotta get rid of Mr. Black.”


My son then commented, “I have no idea who Mr. Black is but we gotta get rid of him.”

I suggested maybe he was a cavity.

“Yea or dead food.” he replied.

So, this week at the circus we are tackling dental hygiene.  He even told my husband before bed tonight that when he wakes up he’s gotta brush his teeth.  “Of course I’ll come into your room first, b/c I always come into your room when I wake up, but then I gotta brush my teeth because we need to brush in the morning and night.”

I am so glad we have him to keep us all in line.


Check out 5MFM for more tackles.

I have been going non stop the past several days.  Friends over for dinner, going to other friends homes for dinner, attending a party, hosting a surprise party…it has been social function after social function for 5 days straight.  I have enjoyed each experience greatly, but I am an introvert and after spending time with people I need time alone to recharge.   I have one more event tonight (a MOPS Family Fun Night at our church…being as I am the coordinator, I need to be there and be fun).  Tomorrow I have big plans of staying home all day to recharge my batteries.  The kids and I are going to make snowman foods, watch Frosty and do some crafts.  Just us.  I am looking forward to it greatly.  Somewhere in there I also need to do some laundry b/c if you knew what my poor husband went through to find a presentable outfit this morning to wear to his presentation, well, if you knew than you would know that I will not be nominated for woman of the year anytime soon.  Somewhere in the mad dash to find clean work clothes, I uttered the phrase, “Hey, I found matching socks… that’s good right?”  Yes, a good indicator that you are at a low point.

And in the midst of all this “socialness”  I have been absent from blogland.  Typically the weekends are quiet time for blogging.  Not this weekend…  I leave the blog roll for a few days and come back to find that Monica’s husband is on his way home for R&R, Rebecca was out for a week due to the cold and returned as Martha Stewart, Jessie goes to Ca and sees Kirk Cameron, and M. has made it to her 100th post already! 

I have had so many thoughts and post ideas rolling around in my head and yet when naptime is here and I have a chance to sit and compose I am finding it difficult to formulate it all.  I have some funny kid anecdotes which I just may collect together in a a post if for no other reason than to ensure I “write” them down so I don’t forget them. 

IMG_4231 I’ll leave you with two pictures from the weekend.  This is the kids trying to keep Scott from going to work on Saturday.  As he picked our youngest up to hug her goodbye, the older two grabbed his legs to try to keep him from leaving.  Sometimes they hide his keys or wallet or badge in the morning.  Scott and I will be scrambling around the house looking for them and then out of desperation ask the kids if they’ve seen Daddy’s keys only to have them go and pull them out from under the couch cushion where they hid them.  When we ask why they did that they reply, “so Daddy couldn’t go to work.”  Some mornings it is quite cute and endearing…other mornings when he is late for a meeting it is a little less cute. 

And my last picture will also not earn me the “Woman of the Year” award.

IMG_4240 Like our new nightstand?  This summer when I was cleaning and reorganizing the master bedroom I turned Scott’s night stand into the printer stand and moved his alarm clock to the file cabinet in the corner.  On more mornings than I care to admit I find this as I am making the bed.  Classy don’t ya think?  At least it is multifunctional.  When Scott’s not ironing his clothes in the morning, the ironing board serves as a place to put his reading lamp and book. 

Sometimes it takes very little to turn the ordinary into something memorable.  If your willing to change things up a bit, you can have fun with really, very little effort.

The other day the kids and I baked some cookies for a care package, but we saved some to enjoy with Daddy after dinner.   While we don’t have dessert everyday, a chocolate chip cookie after dinner is not all that memorable.

The kids had the idea of eating our cookies under the table. 

This simple action turned the ordinary into extraordinary.

They were delighted to have all 5 of us crammed under the table enjoying our treat.

We started with a girls side and a boy side.


This didn’t last for long as the girls soon enjoyed climbing over the “gate” in the middle to be with the boys.


I love this picture because of my youngest.  You can totally tell she is saying cheese as she shows off her mouth full of chocolate!



“Life brings simple pleasures to us every day. It is up to us to make them wonderful memories.”
Cathy Allen

Have you ever been singing along to a song in front of your friends when you learn that the lyrics you thought you knew weren’t quite right?

I can remember in high school singing along to Amy Grant’s “Baby Baby” and when she says, “Baby Baby, I’m taken with the notion to love you with the sweetest of devotion”  I instead belted out “love you with the  sweetest talk of ocean.”  My friend looked at me and laughed and asked what I just sang.  “Sweetest talk of ocean” I replied, “Why?”  It never occurred to me that it didn’t make any sense.  To this day when I hear the song it is hard for me to hear anything but “Sweetest talk of ocean”  

Another high school lyric gone bad was Better Than Ezra’s “Good”  I can remember belting out “It was good livin’ with you warthog” in front of some of my youth group friends instead of “It was good livin’ with you (wahow).”  I even remember asking why they are singing about living with warthogs.   This of course was met with much laughing at my expense (as was much of my high school experience, but that is another point for anther time).

I think it is funny how I would just sing what I thought I heard never even considering how little sense it made or that perhaps I heard incorrectly.  It also troubles me that I would sing in public so often as I do not have a good singing voice. 

Recently Scott was singing Jingle Bells with the kids and had an epiphany as he sang one of the lines.  He always wondered what a “sopen sleigh” ways, assuming it was a certain type of sleigh used in sleigh riding.  It wasn’t until this January that he realized it was a one horse open sleigh.

The last misheard lyric I will share with you is another recent one.  I had given the kids a Go Fish CD for Christmas and as I was jammin to the Mom song I thought one of the lines was kind of odd.  While praising mothers, the song says,

“You’re the boss, the driver, The ultimate survivor    A doctor, a cooker  Your man thinks you’re a looker”

Only I heard, "“your man thinks your a hooker

At first I just went with it.  I even repeated the line to Scott to which he just shrugged his shoulders as if to say, “Well I wouldn’t put it exactly that way, but…”

But then I got to thinking,  “I hope my son doesn’t ask me to explain what a hooker is.”   Which made me take pause and listen again as this was a CD by a Christian band targeted to preschoolers.  Surely they don’t want little kids singing about their moms being hookers. I was so relieved when I listened again a few days later and heard it correctly.  I think I even wrote as my face book status that night “Crystal is laughing at herself”

What about you?  Have any misheard lyrics you’d like to share in the comments below?  They are often good for a giggle or two.  When checking the correct lyrics for one of the mentioned songs I stumbled across a site entirely devoted to misheard lyrics.  A few had me laughing out loud.  I’d love to hear yours. 


Check out 5 Minutes for Mom for more Wordless Wednesdays!

You ever ever start playing a game without even realizing it until it’s well underway?  Two years ago the kids and I were shopping in the candy aisle at Rite Aid looking for cheap V-day candy after the 14th, when we stumbled across this guy selling on clearance for a little over a dollar.



My son was big into motorcycles and Snoopy, so it was fun gift for him. 

What we didn’t tell him was that there was candy hidden underneath the chair.  He liked it as a toy bike and there didn’t seem any reason to tell him about the treasure inside.

My husband and I have gotten quite a chuckle out of this as we’ve seen him playing with it.  We would joke with each other about the day he would finally dawn on him that there is actually candy inside.  It became a game for us.

Today, two years after we bought the toy, my son brought it to me very excited and said, “Hey Mom, did you know there is candy inside this?” 

Turns out he was showing the motorcycle to our 9 year old neighbor when he pointed out to my son that there was candy in the motorcycle. 

I gotta admit we were a little disappointed that he didn’t make the discovery on his own.  But, my son wasn’t too disappointed when I told him he couldn’t eat the 2 year old candy.  He thought it was kinda funny that there was candy inside his motorcycle.  I thought it was funny that for a full two years he didn’t realize that his toy was actually a candy dispenser.

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

While I was posting about my true love story each day last week, a whole circus load of activity was going on around here.

I did not

  • put my kids to bed without having them brush their teeth because we got home late from a church meeting and I was trying to rush the bedtime routine.
  • I certainly didn’t forget to bring their fluoride in like I had promised resulting in my son waking up the next morning and saying, “Mom, you never brought us our fluoride, do you want us to get cavities?”
  • take a picture of my son’s nose after he ran smack into the baby gate/wall on his way to bed


(please note I only took the picture so I could compare it later to see if it looked better or worse in the morning)  (it looked worse…got a nice shade of black and blue a few days later too)

Back to my not me list.  I also didn’t…

  • show up at my pediatrician’s office on Wednesday with all three kids dressed and looking nice (I was feeling so proud of myself) at 8:57 for our 9:00 appointment only to learn that our appointment was actually Friday at 9:30. 
  • Take my son to the grocery store on Friday morning in his pajamas to buy his valentine cards for his party that morning. 
  • And I certainly didn’t give his teacher a gift which I used reinforcement circles to attach the card to because I couldn’t find tape in my rush to get everyone out the door in time for school.  Classy, huh?

Yea… I know it looked like me, but it must have been someone else doing those things, because I was busy reminiscing about how Scott and I met and fell in love. 


What?  Give them chocolate fondue for dessert?  Let them dip the fruit themselves??  No way, NOT ME!!

Scott asked the kids their thoughts on the new stimulus bill that’s been passed.  Let’s just say they are a little less than enthused.  We had no idea this conversation would end in tears.

Have no fear.  Scott consoled him right after we fade to black.  He really does "get it" but there is no reason to let him continue to worry about something he can't yet control.

Thanks for sticking around this week for the last installment in my week long saga of how the circus began.

It was spring break of our junior year.  The plan (or so I thought) was to spend the first part of break at my parents house and the last part in MD at his parents house.

Wednesday we drove to MD and Thursday we had plans for a fun date in DC.  We were going to see what was left over from the Cherry Blossoms and have a picnic lunch in the city.  The sun was shining and it looked like it was going to be a beautiful day.

As we walked around our nation’s capital, hand in hand, Scott kept remarking how neat it was that everyone had a story.  He say things like  “Look at that lady, I wonder what her story is.”  He even said something at some point about how it would be great to meet up in DC years from now and share our stories.  Yea, I just loved that comment.  “Meet up?” I thought to myself.  I let it go though, no use starting a fight.

Other than those annoying life story comments, it was a perfect day.  We had gone into DC to see the Cherry Blossoms when we were newly dating in high school.  It was a nostalgic, “remember when” kind of day.  Several times throughout the day I thought to myself, “Today would be the perfect day for him to propose.  I wonder if he realizes what a good day this would be to propose.”  But I told myself I couldn’t ruin every good date day hoping he would propose.  I needed to just enjoy the day for what it was and not ruin it hoping for more.

After a full day of walking around, we went to take the Metro out of the city and were going to go out to dinner.  I believe we even discussed trying to catch the sunset afterwards in Annapolis.  When we got to the metro things got held up.  There was a fire on one of the trains and there was a huge delay.  We waited it out.  I had no idea how much it was killing Scott though, since he had further plans for our day of fun.

Since the trip home took longer than we had expected, I suggested we go to the sunset first and then dinner.  He was quite happy with my suggestion.

We went to what is now deemed “our park” to watch the sunset.  This is the park we frequented many times during our dating days.  From one side can see the Naval Academy across the River and from the other, you can see the sunset over the river.  As we sat down beside each other in the sand, I remarked to him how this park is “kind of our park, don’t ya think?”  He told me later he was thinking, “You have no idea.”

We sat together, his arm around me watching the sunset when he sat up a little and looked over at me.

“Crystal,” he said “I love you, with that forever kind of love…”

I instantly jumped up and gave him the biggest hug ever squealing, “You do?! That is great!”

Funny thing is, I didn’t realize I was interrupting his proposal with my joy and exuberance.  He had the ring in his hand ready to give to me,  not quite expecting me to be so excited just to hear he loved me.

He then went on to get down on one knee and ask me if I would marry him.

I couldn’t believe it.  This was really happening.  I really was getting my dream come true.  I of course said yes right away.

We went out to dinner afterwards but I couldn’t eat a thing.  I was so excited (much like those days after I returned from Harvey Cedars) and love sick that honestly, I barely ate for days.  Those butterflies of excitement were so strong.  We went back to his parents house and sat up and talked for hours.  We talked about things like budgets and kids and dreams for the future.   It was one of the best nights of my life.

IMG_4059 You might be wondering why he waited to propose when he did.  What was so special about April 20, 2000?  He wanted to propose in Annapolis at “our park.”  He picked the Thursday of spring break because he knew that all of my friends from HS would be in town that weekend and I could tell them all at the Good Friday service at church.  He wanted me to have that time with my girls.  And we ended up going back to my parents house on that Saturday so that I could spend some time with my parents, filling them in on the excitement.  If you were wondering, he did ask my father first at the beginning of the week before leaving for MD.  Even though he had the ring for months, he didn’t ask permission until the last minute, because if he had the ring and my Dad’s blessing, it would have been really hard to wait for his perfectly planned day.

IMG_4054 On our way to my parents house he stopped and bought me my first Bride’s magazine.  I was free to dream and plan as much as I wanted at this point.  And he wasn’t one of those guys who just left the planning up to me and showed up on the wedding day.  He was a part of everything, helping to pick out invitations, flowers, and the DJ.  He picked out his tux and the grooms man tux’s and said that if I got to keep my dress a secret then he got to keep his tux a secret, and so it was.

And so almost 3 and half years after he came to watch Toy Story after school, he told me he loved me.

With that forever kind of love

And a little over a year later, we became man and wife.  We each made little count downs for the other out of post it notes.  It started at 401 I think and each day you ripped off one as it counted down the days till June 2, 2001.  We’d have little notes written to each other on certain milestones (like under a year, or less than 100 days, or single digits).

Our wedding day was another dream come true day, but I’ll save that post for a later time.
IMG_3994 I have been having a ton of fun on my walk down memory lane this week.  (click here to read the beginning of the story).The other day I opened up a hat box which I have filled with Every.Single.Card and note Scott wrote me from our pre-marriage days and our first 2 years of married life.   I told you my love language was words of affirmation and if you needed the proof, it is in the box.

I knew I loved Scott long before he felt that way about me.  And being a words person, I told him.  Because I couldn’t help but tell him.  I felt that way and I felt he should know.

My sweet man was taken a back and replied very honestly that he appreciated that but in his mind those words meant something very special, as in forever kind of love, and he wasn’t ready to tell me that yet.

So, he didn’t.

For years.

He told me very specifically that he wouldn’t tell me he loved me with the forever kind of love until he was ready to put a ring on my finger.

So, I waited.

For years.

IMG_3989 We had our ups and downs.  He went off to Grove City for College that fall and I went to Towson.  We were 5 hours a part.  To make it worse my parents moved that year to western Pa.  So, when he went home for breaks, he went to Annapolis and when I went home, I went to PA.

We e-mailed and called, but not as often as I would have liked.

I had my doubts at times about his feelings for me.  But I kept remembering my mom telling me as I was growing up, that “Love is a decision, not a feeling.”  And I knew I loved him.

My sophomore year I transferred to Slippery Rock University in Pa because my parents move meant in state tuition moved to PA.  I loved Towson and had some great friends there, but I didn’t love it enough to pay out of state tuition rates and I wasn’t ready to move from home to declare residency on my own in MD.

I picked Slippery Rock b/c it was a state school (read affordable) which had a good education program and was 7 miles from Grove City. (yea, that was really the number one reason).

I spent every weekend at Grove City that fall.  Thanks to Scott’s sister and her room mate for letting me stay in her dorm room.  I even recall sharing the top bunk with her on many a night.  Part way through that first semester I realized, that I wanted to be at Grove City and the big thing keeping me from applying to transfer was pride.  So I swallowed that and transferred YET AGAIN that January.

IMG_3982 That spring semester was also rough for Scott and I as I thought now that we went to school together, we could see each other all the time.  And I didn’t have many friends of my own, so I relied heavily on Scott.   He was an engineering student which meant insane hours of homework and when he wasn’t studying he did want to spend time with me, but not all of his time with me.  He had other friends. It took some adjusting for me to realize he wasn’t going to spend every free minute with me.  I credit him with keeping us from being one of those couples that was glued at the hips.  He kept us in balance.

We spent another summer a part, him in MD and me in PA.  But we called, e-mailed and visited each other when we could.

IMG_3995 Our junior year was when our relationship really started to grow.  Many couples started talking about getting engaged.  I had friends that had their entire weddings planned out, even knowing what day they planned to get married, before they were officially engaged.  It should come as no surprise to you that Scott was not one of those kind of guys.

He was very clear that he didn’t want us to be engaged before we were engaged.  No looking at bridal magazines or talking about wedding dates before I had a ring on my finger.

That Christmas he told his parents he was going to start shopping for a ring.  He bought it sometime that winter and told me later he had it in his dorm room for months and would take it out and look at it often.

He had decided when and how he wanted to propose to me and patiently waited for that time.  It killed him when two of my best friends called to tell me they were engaged.  I was naturally thrilled for them, yet there was this part of me that wondered when he would be ready.  I remember when the second phone call came he was in my room.  He heard the shrieks of joy as I chatted with my friend and inwardly groaned.  When I got off the phone their was some awkwardness in the air.  He later told me it killed him that night b/c there he was with the ring in his room and he knew I was wondering why I hadn’t been asked.

But my man had a plan and he stuck to it, wanting to ask at just the right location and just the right time.

Come back tomorrow, on Valentine’s Day to read the story of how and when he asked me to marry him.  (I know I said that yesterday but I felt I had to first fill you in on the 4 years between his first holding my hand to his asking for my hand in marriage…and it just took more words than I had initially thought).
I am sucker for holidays and tend to go all out for them.  Valentine’s is no exception.  We’ve got the heart shaped clings on the windows, our wedding picture on our entry table and big plans for strawberry milk and heart shaped pancakes for breakfast on Saturday morning.

This isn’t anything new.  Back in high school I looked forward to the day even when I didn’t have a boyfriend to celebrate with.  I’d have fun girls nights with my friends, watching sappy movies and going out for ice cream, all the while dreaming of a day when I’d have a boy to celebrate the day with.

So, as Valentine’s Day approached in 1997 I was really looking forward to my first real date on the big day.  And I made no secret of this anticipation.

Scott, however is a wise man.  I am sure he felt the pressure and was afraid of disappointing his overly enthusiastic girl friend.  So, he went with the approach of, “make her expectations low, so you can’t disappoint her.”  Much to my dismay, he kept making sarcastic comments about how this was a silly holiday created by Hallmark.  I can’t remember why, but I remember him telling me he’d try to find black roses because they were really beautiful and unique if you took the time to really look at them.  Keep in mind it was obvious his comments were all in jest, which most of me knew, yet part of me was a bit discouraged that he wasn’t as into the big day as I was.  The night before Valentine’s Day I was staying late after school working on the yearbook.  He stopped by the office to talk to my teacher and me.  She mentioned that she had to stop and get a card for her husband on her way home.  His response – with a big smile on his face?  “Hey, can you pick up a card for me too?  I don’t have one yet.”

Nice, huh?

Come Valentine’s Day he came to my house in his mom’s minivan bearing a single red rose and a cute card (which I still have).  He took me to a nice dinner at Macaroni Grill and then ice skating at the Naval Academy.  As we skated around the rink, he grabbed my hand, for the first time.   And I had been so afraid he wasn’t going to do anything special for Valentine’s Day!

As we skated around the rink, I started to get a blister on my ankle from the skates.  But, I was so excited that he was holding my hand for the first time, that I didn’t want to tell him for fear he’d stop.  “What if he’s only holding my hand because we are ice skating, “ I thought to myself.  I didn’t want the magic to end.  So, I skated on until eventually the blister was too bad for me to continue.  When we sat down on the bench and took off our skates, I was bleeding through my socks.  He felt horrible and asked why I didn’t say anything.  I sheepishly told him I didn’t want him to stop holding my hand.  I am pretty sure he responded with something sweet and romantic like, “That was dumb!”

Much to my delight we went for a walk outside along the rock wall and he held my hand again (Hooray, I didn’t have to skate in order to get him to hold my hand)!  It was a truly magical evening…just like I had dreamed of.

I’m sharing my love story this week in honor of Cupid’s Big Day on Saturday.  Please come back tomorrow to hear how he proposed a little over 3 years later.  It’s the stuff dreams are made of (at least my dreams).

I left off on my love story yesterday with the note my husband wrote me on the back of his senior picture.  A few weeks later we did in fact “spend time together after school.”  It was the day before Thanksgiving and we had a half day of school.  The plan was for him to come to my house that afternoon to watch Toy Story.

I was both nervous and excited.  I spent the ride home from school figuring out what I would wear, how to do my hair and other such pressing matters.  Then my dad told me he needed me to drive him to the car dealership to pick up his new car.  The dealership was about 30 minutes from our house.  Being the self absorbed teenager that I was I replied in utter despair, “Dad, why on the one day I have a date, do you have to buy a car?”  I was so upset, convinced this would ruin everything.  Woe is me.  I was certain that if Scott got to my house and I wasn’t there he would leave and that would be the end of everything.  I am pretty sure I whined the whole way to drop him off.  Every time I think back on this day, I shudder with embarrassment at my behavior.  I complained so much that my dad offered for me to just drop him off at the exit and make him walk to the dealership.

And the self absorbed teenager that I was, I took him up on it.

Yes, I really pulled off on the shoulder of the highway entrance ramp, kissed my dad goodbye and made him walk up the hill to the car dealership.  No waiting to make sure he got there ok.  No waiting to make sure his car really was ready.  Just, “See ya Dad, I gotta get back before Scott gets to our house!”

Do I have a loving and patient Dad or what?


When I got home, Scott wasn’t there yet.  Still had time to sit and wait anxiously for him to ring the bell.

As we sat on the couch watching Toy Story that afternoon with my dog Dee Dee sitting between us on the couch, my brother came into the room and said, “Wow, I’ve never seen Crystal hold Dee Dee that long!”  Thank you brother…

(Scott is a dog lover so when he sees a dog he naturally invites it up onto his lap and pets it.  When I see a dog I typically ignore it).  So glad my little bro got that out in the open right away.

Despite all my worry and nerves, we had a great afternoon and he even invited me out for a real date shortly after.

One month later we sat in the church parking lot when he told me “he liked me” and I figured out that I could call him my boyfriend.  Incidentally this happened after we had spent the entire day together and I had neglected to call my parents to tell them where I was.  I, the girl who would run inside the house to tell her parents she was going to the back yard, went 12 hours without touching base.  I didn’t have a curfew, I just had to keep my parents in the loop on where I was and what I was doing. On that day I failed at both. So I came home floating on cloud nine in this la la land of, “Scott likes me and he is my boyfriend” to find my parents sitting in front of the door with looks that could kill.  Way to burst that bubble!  The only reason I didn’t get grounded was because I offered up as my excuse, “Guys, I am so sorry…I know I messed up, but guess what?  Scott likes me!”  And they graciously forgave me and celebrated my big news.

December 22, 1996 was when I became Scott’s girlfriend and I have been ever since.

This is only the beginning.  The story just gets better from here.  I am posting the rest of the week about our love story.  Stop by tomorrow to read about our first Valentine’s day.  And check out Kristen’s carnival below to read more love stories.

In honor of Valentine’s Day I thought I’d share my love story with you all this week.

I mentioned before that prior to being voted “Most Congenial” Scott and I had only had 2 conversations with each other throughout high school.  After the 4th  photo shoot, we got one acceptable enough to put in the yearbook, and I started to notice what a genuinely nice guy he was.  Sadly though, we had no classes together.  Then we went on the high school leadership retreat at Harvey Cedars Camp in NJ.  We ended up riding in the same van (something we both take credit for) and talking quite a bit on the way there.  I say I noticed he was in that van when I willingly got in it over the one with all my friends.  He takes credit for moving to the front of the van so we could talk.  It is safe to say that we both took notice of each other and spent most of our free time together during that retreat.  On the way home we sat next to each other in the van and talked the entire time.

I was love sick when I got back.  I had butterflies in my stomach and couldn’t eat for days.  I remember gushing to my mom about this guy Scott who was such a gentleman and wondering if he enjoyed the weekend as much as I did.

I was worried that once we got home, it “whatever it was” would end.  I wrote him a casual note to the effect of, “I really enjoyed talking to you at the retreat and hope it doesn’t end now that we are back.”  Yea…I remember the words I penned 12 years ago because I read and reread and agonized over them before tapping him on the shoulder and throwing it in his locker (and then running down the hall…yea that’s me calm, cool, collected) a few days after we got back.

It’s so funny to me that there was a time when I didn’t know how Scott felt about me.  A time when I worried if he liked me and wondered whether we would talk again.  A time when a date with him was just a dream, a “wonder if we’ll ever.”

He got the note I chucked into his locker and returned it with one of his own (in a more civilized manner, handing it to me as he walked by).  We passed notes in the halls for a few weeks and talked at lunch and between classes.  Then the time came to exchange Senior pictures.  I gave him mine and he took days before giving me his.  (Guess I wasn’t the only one agonizing over what to write).

And then finally, he gave me his picture, with this message on the back.


This line right here made my heart skip, “we can always get together after school”…could this possibly be the hint of a date?

We did get together after school a few weeks later.  Come by tomorrow to read all about my calm, cool, collected teenage self on her first “date” when I link up to Kristen’s special Valentine’s carnival.

We celebrated my daughter’s third birthday last weekend and in honor of that milestone, I thought I’d write her a letter.  Perhaps I will take Wilma’s idea and pen it out to give to her at a later date.  Until then, at least I will have the thoughts preserved.

Dear Daughter,

8eeda4fd-ca35-44b5-af8e-ab46f32eb3ee I can’t believe it’s been three years since you entered the world.  You are a tiny girl with a lot of spunk and you’ve always had a connection with your daddy that only daughter’s can have.  Just last week you told me, “Mom when I was a baby and I cried, I was crying because I missed Daddy at work.”

You have grown up a lot this past year.  Somehow in the blink of an eye you transformed from a baby tot to a little girl.  You go potty and get dressed all by yourself.  And I love your sense of style!  I have seen you grow to become more compassionate and sensitive this past year.  You seem to look out for those who are hurting or who need a friend.  Many moms at church have come up to me to tell me their child talks about what a friend you were to them in Sunday School.  This truly warms my heart.  I pray this spirit of compassion will only grow stronger as you grow.  May you have an eye for the friendless and broken hearted and bring them joy.

IMG_1555 You are a beautiful blend of tom boy and girl.  You can hold your own in a sword fight or wrestling match with your big brother and his friends, and yet you carefully tuck your baby doll Emma in her crib each afternoon before naptime.   You are uniquely you and don’t seem to go with the crowd.  You remind me a lot of the fiction characters Ramona Quimby and Punky Brewster.  I love your spirit of individuality.

I admire your strong will.   You can really dig your heels in and hold strong to your convictions and desires.  You are teaching me a great deal about patience and Daddy and I are working with you on respect and obedience, but still I admire your strength of character.  You know what you want and how you feel and you aren’t easily persuaded otherwise.  It is my prayer that as you grow you will hold strong to the truths found in the Scripture and that you will stand up for the truth.  The world is a dark place, especially for a tiny girl.  May you not be swayed by the lies the world tries to feed us.

You are a tough cookie.  You’d struggled with asthma since you were 6 mths old.  You’ve had to deal with nebulizers and medicines and you take it like a champ and with a smile on your face.  You got glasses when you turned 2 and you wore them so readily, never complaining or fighting them.  You’ve always been small in height and weight, but tough and strong.  When you would get your shots at the doctor as a baby, you would sit there and not cry.  I am continually impressed with your tolerance for pain.

IMG_3621 You adore your big brother.  Each night you lay in bed and talk to him in your room.  I can hear you guys giggling and singing and it warms my heart.  On nights when he falls asleep first you cry because “he’s not talking to me.”  You want to be just like him and are so eager to go to school and play soccer just like him.  You also love your little sister.  When you hear her crying you rush into the room and give her a hug (sometimes knocking her over with your enthusiasm) and tell me, “I saved the day Mom!”  You love to hold her hand as we walk in the parking lot and you grin for ear to ear with pride at the responsibility of helping your little sister.   I pray often that the three of you will have a close bond of friendship that will only grow throughout your life.

IMG_3284 I love snuggling with you when you wake up in the morning of after a nap.  You are so cuddly then.  I also enjoy your help in the kitchen.  You are quite the little helper.  I pray that as you grow our bond will grow as well and that you will know I am always here for you, you can talk to me about anything, and nothing, nothing will change my love for you.

I thank God for the blessing and privilege it is to be your Mommy.

Happy Birthday sweet girl!

Happy 3rd Birthday

As we finished up dinner tonight a song came on the ipod that made Scott want to dance and he invited me to join him.  So we did a little swing dancing in the living room with the kids watching from the table.

Then my son got up and grabbed the “point and shoot” we sometimes let him use to take pictures with and took some pictures of us “to put on my wall” he said.


After Mommy and Daddy’s dance was finished the kids wanted in on the action.  So we taught them how to properly “cut in” and they so cutely tapped us on the shoulders to “ask for this dance.”

Who could deny such a request?


Then they suggested we all go put our “dancing clothes on” and so we quickly changed clothes, pushed the toy box out of the way and enjoyed a truly priceless evening of dance.



IMG_3797 IMG_3794

I couldn’t help but think of these lyrics as I recall our evening of spontaneous fun.  It’s definitely one of those moments I’ll store up in my heart and treasure.

“And these are the moments,
I thank God that I'm alive.
And these are the moments,
I'll remember all my life.
I've found all I've Waited for,
And I could not ask for more.

I could not ask for more than this time together,
I could ask for more than this time with you.
Every prayer has been answered,
Every dream I've had's come true.
Right here in this moment,
Is right where that I meant to be.
Here with you, here with me.”

My oldest daughter has been demonstrating her growing independence and her new sense of style these days.  

IMG_3094Her new favorite pants are these orange leggings with candy corn on them that she got at Halloween.  I don’t know what made her take such a liking to them this January but she wants to wear them EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. 

When she wanted to wear them to the park a few weeks ago with her purple sweater, I started to try and persuade her to change.  Then I recalled a comment I had made recently on a friend’s blog about how I just love the outfits preschoolers put together and how great it is to let them just be themselves.  She insisted she wanted to show Nana her “candy pants” and I couldn’t be a hypocrite, so I complied.  


She’s  also begun to take a liking to layering her shirts. At first I was pretty impressed.  She came out one day with a green long sleeve shirt with a cute orange shirt on top that had green in the print.  It looked really cute and coordinated well and I thought perhaps she was taking after her Aunt Karen with the layered look. 

But, then the layers kept piling on.


We’ve got the long sleeve tee underneath, with her favorite soccer tee shirt on top.  Then we have her pink Steelers jersey followed by the inside out Elmo pajama tee.  To complete the ensemble we have the super hero cape hanging from the back. 

I am sure that one day she will look at these pics and post them on Kristen’s Fro’ Me To You carnival asking what her mother was thinking letting her dress like this and then taking pictures of it.

But, I can’t help it.  I think she looks adorable.  And I love the quirky looks she comes up with.  I know one day this too will pass and so I am enjoying watching her personality shine through and letting her just be herself. 

To find more pics that leaves girls asking, “What was I thinking when I wore that?” check out We are THAT Family.

This is what I found after my daughter was playing with her doll house.



Visit 5 Minutes for Mom for more Wordless Wednesdays.

Home made chocolate chip cookies are my favorite!  I am partial to the recipe my mom got years ago. 

Perhaps you’ve seen the recipe as well.  The story goes someone asked for Mrs. Fields cookie recipe and was told it cost two fifty.  Upon receiving the recipe, she learned it cost two hundred and fifty dollars rather than two dollars and fifty cents.  Outraged, she went on to share this recipe with the world to get back at them for charging so much. 

I gotta confess until a month ago, I believed this little story.  Thought I was going around with Mrs Fields very own cookie recipe.  I’d see her store at the mall and think, “Why bother paying for the cookies when I could go home and make the exact same ones and even get to eat the dough?” 

Yes, I am that gullible.

(I was the girl in high school who believed the line that gullible wasn’t in the dictionary too).

Last month I was craving me some cookies and couldn’t find my “secret” recipe anywhere.  I thought I’d check online since you can pretty much find any recipe you want online.  And that is when I read this nice little anecdote about how that was an urban legend, documented on 

What a disappointment!

Though I did track down my most favorite recipe and in the process gleaned three tips for making your cookies taste even better. 

I tried them and the results were amazing. 

These cookies were already a favorite staple here at the circus and yet when I made this batch, my husband noticed right away and asked what I did differently. 

  • The first trick is to melt your butter before creaming it together to make your cookie dough.  It changes the consistency of the cookie and gives you a much softer, chewier cookie.
  • The second trick mentioned was to double the amount of vanilla called for in the recipe.  I did this as well, and I noticed a difference in taste.  It seemed to enhance the flavor if you will.
  • The third trick was to add a tablespoon of milk to the dough at the last step when you are stirring it all together.  Again this is to make a softer, chewier cookie. 

I would assume you could adapt these tips to your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, or you can try the not so secret recipe I’ve been enjoying for years! 

These tips worked for me.  Visit Rocks in My Dryer for more great tips.

Well, January came and went and I exercised one day in 2009.  This is why I have to set goals for myself.  Without a race in my future, I lack the discipline to get off my butt.

So, I’ve set my sights on a Half Marathon in May in one of my favorite cities…Pittsburgh.  I am really excited.  I checked out the route online and it looks great…we cross two bridges, run downtown a bit, run along the river overlooking the city and my highlight, we run by Heinz Field (home of the Superbowl Champs)! 

I went here and found a training routine.  It’s the same one I used last summer to prep for the Annapolis 10 Mile.  Although last summer I pretty much skipped the cross training, stretching, and strength training days and just ran 3 days a week.  I did ok, but I’d really like to try to follow the schedule this time and see if I can improve my race.

Monday was day one and it called for strength and stretch.  So, I got out a DVD and did some yoga and ballet.  This of course looked like a ton of fun to the kiddos, so they joined me.  It was the most fun I have had stretching, ever!


Hmm, it appears none of us are keeping up with the video, myself included. 




This week I tackled day one of my new training schedule.  From past experience day one is the hardest in that you have to get out of the rut and get started again.  I hope to stick with the plan and run the half marathon this May in a faster time than I did it last October.   To see what others are tackling this week, check out 5 Minutes for Mom.

Since you’ve seen the decor at the circus for the big game, I thought I’d give you a glimpse of the cast members as well.

We had some fun last night, that is FOR SURE!!!

My daughter and her Papa wore their Steelers jackets to church Sunday morning.


The kids had their faces painted for the game to show some Steelers pride!


Great Grandpa snapped a picture of the hang celebrating during half time!


We also took a new family photo.


At the end of the game we woke the two oldest kids up to share in a celebratory sparkling cider toast! 


Some were a bit harder to wake than others.


I got my love of football from my Dad.  I have many fond memories of cheering on the Steelers with him over the years.  It only seemed appropriate to take a pic together on the big day.


IMG_3572And here I am with the love of my life.   We have had many, many fun times this year cheering on our team.  We went to training camp in Latrobe this summer.  We watched every single game of the season thanks to NFL season ticket.  We then went to the AFC Championship game and had the time of our life, watching the Steelers beat the Ravens and earn their spot in Super bowl 43.  And then we watched our boys bring home one for the other thumb as they won their 6th Super Bowl victory.  What a good season it’s been!  We’ve made memories to last a lifetime and there’s no one I’d rather spend the season with then Scott!