Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Top Ten on my IPOD

1. God is With Us by Casting Crowns
2. Born in Bethlehem by Third Day
3. O Come All Ye Faithful by Chris Tomlin
4. The Chipmunk Song by the Chipmunks
5. Kay Thompson's Jingle Bells by Michael W. Smith
6. Do You Hear What I Hear? by Martina McBride
7. Away in a Manger by Faith Hill
8. I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day by Casting Crowns
9. Up on the Housetop by the Chipmunks
10. Let it Snow/Frosty by Travis Cottrell

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

a new favorite

God Is With Us
Performed by Casting Crowns, on their album Peace on Earth

The skies don't seem to be as dark as usual
The stars seem brighter than they've been before
Deep within I feel my soul a stirring
As though my hope has been restored
The shepherds say they've heard the voice of angels
Confirming rumors spread across the land
That a child protected well from Herod's anger
Is our Father's Son, and the son of man

Love is raining down on the world tonight
There's a presence here I can tell
God is in us, God is for us, God is with us, Emmanuel
He's the Savior we have been praying for
In our humble hearts He will dwell
God is in us, God is for us, God is with us, Emmanuel

I feel compelled to tell all who will listen
That peace on earth is not so out of reach
If we can find grace, mercy and forgiveness
He has come to save, He is all of these

You're the Savior we have been praying for
In our humble hearts You will dwell
You are in us, You are for us, You are with us, Emmanuel

© 2008 Amy Grant Publishing Designee, Bernie Herms Publishing

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ho Ho Ho

Andrew and Abby with the Legendary Santa

Monday, December 6, 2010

Nashville trip

Last weekend Rick and I had a nice little getaway to Nashville, TN. The main reason for going was for the wedding of my college roommate, Christy. Her wedding was Friday night and we flew in on Thursday to have a little time for some sight-seeing. I visited Nashville one summer while in college but Rick had never been.

We flew out of Richmond Thursday around 1 pm. I have not flown out of Richmond since high school and I was very impressed with the airport. It was super easy to park and make our way through security (no, we were not patted down and did not see anything like that). We had to fly to Newark for our connection to Nashville. It was a little out of the way, but at least we got to see the NYC skyline from the plane!

When we arrived in Nashville we headed to the Enterprise booth to rent our car. In front of us in line was a guy who looked vaguely familiar. I noticed that the staff was going out of their way to serve him, and a young military guy shook his hand and said "I like your movies, Mr. Reilly." It was John C. Reilly! He has been in a couple movies with Will Ferrell, including Talladega Nights. (By the way, he told the military guy that the pleasure was all his, and thanks for his service).

We made it into the city and checked into our hotel. We then headed over to the Opryland Hotel. Rick wasn't too sure why we needed to go to a hotel lobby to walk around, but as soon as we got in he understood! I've seen it before but decorated for Christmas it was spectacular! And to think they just re-opened November 15 from the flood. We ate dinner at the Old Hickory Steakhouse which was fantastic!

Some pictures:
The outdoor, life-sized nativity

In front of the hotel

The water show, to Christmas carols

On Friday morning we were pleased to see Christy's parents and another friend of hers down at breakfast. It was nice to catch up with them a little! We drove downtown and passed by some of the sights (Hard Rock Cafe, the Ryman, Tootsies, etc) and then headed out to Franklin. I had heard the historic downtown there was fun to walk around and explore and it was! So cute! We had lunch at a wonderful little restaurant called Dumplings (guess what we ate?). The food was great and they had this fabulous fruit tea (tea with pineapple, mango, and other fruit juices).

Not far from there is Financial Peace Plaza, where Dave Ramsey records his radio show. We went in and were able to watch him record. During the breaks he came out and we got to meet him! Several people were there to do the "debt free" scream so that was neat to watch and cheer about.

Then it was time to get ready for the main event! Christy's wedding was in a beautiful chapel near the Vanderbilt campus, where she works and her parents are alumni. The reception was in a nearby restaurant and was very nice. Christy's dad gave a great toast (introduced me as the person who kept Christy in line during college, haha!) and he and Christy did a dance that was obviously rehearsed. Christy sang to her new husband which was so sweet. We got a few minutes to chat with her and meet her groom.

the chapel

Mr. and Mrs. Jim Robb

All too soon it was Saturday morning and time to head back home. Our first flight was to Charlotte and we were on the plane with a few Hokies who were headed to the game. Rick was a bit jealous until we landed in Charlotte and it was 39 degrees and pouring rain. We know this because they are doing some renovation at that airport and instead of getting off at a gate we were let off right on the pavement and had to walk in the rain to the terminal. We were late leaving Nashville so we had a quick stop in Charlotte before we headed back to Richmond. A cool thing about that flight--Rick was sitting across from the president of RIR. Guess he had been to Charlotte on NASCAR business.

We got home to a quiet house since the kids were still in Emporia. We grilled some steaks and started to watch the ACC Championship. I made it until just after halftime then slept great and late in my own bed!

It was such a nice trip. Congratulations to Christy and Jim!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Up on the Housetop--Whittington version 2010

Up on the housetop the reindeer paws
Out jumps good old Santa Claus
Down through the chimney with lots of toys
All for the little ones Christmas joys

Ho Ho Ho who wouldn't go
Ho Ho Ho who wouldn't go
Up on the housetop click click click
Down through the chimney with good St Nick

First there's a stocking for Abby
Surprises are what she'd like to see
Santa knows what she would adore
a cash register for playing store

Ho Ho Ho who wouldn't go
Ho Ho Ho who wouldn't go
Up on the housetop click click click
Down through the chimney with good St Nick

Then comes the stocking for our Andrew
He's been pretty good--consider he's two!
Cars and trucks are what he'd like
maybe a shiny new red trike?

Ho Ho Ho who wouldn't go
Ho Ho Ho who wouldn't go
Up on the housetop click click click
Down through the chimney with good St Nick

There is the stocking for Daddy Rick
his own gifts he likes to pick
gift cards fill him with lots of cheer
or fill his sock with biking gear

Ho Ho Ho who wouldn't go
Ho Ho Ho who wouldn't go
Up on the housetop click click click
Down through the chimney with good St Nick

Mom's stocking hangs from its hook
she'd like money to buy a book
beads for her bracelet would be a treat
anything to make her smell real sweet

Ho Ho Ho who wouldn't go
Ho Ho Ho who wouldn't go
Up on the housetop click click click
Down through the chimney with good St Nick

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Honest Andrew

Andrew and I were at the mall a few days ago and he wanted to go talk to Santa. I strolled him over, and he and Santa had a few minutes of conversation. Then Santa asked Andrew if he'd been a good boy. Andrew answered, "I have a time out."

At church someone asked Andrew if he had a haircut, and Andrew said he had. I asked him if he was good for his haircut and he said, "No. I cry like baby."

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Thanksgiving Story

Me and My Turkey
by Abby Whittington

Me and my trkey will go to Plimith. Me and my trkey will dress like Peilgrms. We will have fun! We will play like the Peilgrms did. We will eat a big faest. We will go back home. We had a snack. We went to bed.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

2 1/2

Andrew was officially 2 1/2 years old on Saturday. I took him to his check-up today. He is in the 95th percentile for weight and 75th for height. (36 1/2 pounds and 37 inches tall) I asked if I should put him on a diet! (The doc said no, by the way. He is just a big boy!). She was very impressed at his verbal ability. He told her all sorts of things--what is was for Halloween, where Abby was, all about the Cars movie, and he counted the flags he could see from the window. Andrew wasn't too impressed with his flu shot, but the sucker he got made it all worthwhile!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Andrew pics

Silly Andrew...
PJ's, too-small hat, upside down glasses, baseball glove
now that's a look!

double trouble

Andrew loves his Cars bike helmet

the Elmo helicopter gets a lot of use

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween 2010

Click here to view these pictures larger

Halloween part one

Our friend Becca Hatcher turned 2 on Halloween. She had her Halloween-themed birthday party a week before so Abby and Andrew got to dress up for that. Abby decided not to debut her Egyptian princess costume and chose to be a cowgirl (thank goodness we already had cowgirl dress up stuff!)

the firefighter and cowgirl are more interested in TV than taking a picture

firefighter Andrew with his "fire dog"

pretty in pink cowgirl

the cowgirl and the birthday girl!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bible Funnies

Why were Adam and Eve kicked out of the Garden?
For raising Cain.

What kind of soap did God use to keep the oceans clean?

What made Abraham so smart?
He knew a Lot.

Why is w the nastiest letter in the Bible?
Because it makes ill will.

From Bible Trivia for Every Day, by Bob Phillips.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Columbus Day

In honor of his "day", a quote from Christopher Columbus: "It was the Lord who put into my mind (I could feel His hand upon me) the fact that it would be possible to sail from here to the Indies. All who heard of my project rejected it with laughter, ridiculing me. There is no question that the inspiration was from the Holy Spirit, because He comforted me with rays of marvelous inspiration from the Holy Scriptures."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Egypt Obsession Continues....

Ever since we had our Egypt-themed Vacation Bible School this summer (story of Joseph) Abby has been absolutely obsessed with all things Egypt and Joseph. She had this paperback book about science from a Chick-Fil-A kids meal and she saw on the back that there was a book in that series about Egypt. She talked about it so much that I finally tracked it down on amazon.com and got it for her. When it arrived I thought there was no way she would be able to read it, but sure enough within 10 minutes she was telling me about pyramids and mummies.

We went to Target and strolled down the Halloween aisle and she sees a Cleopatra costume. Well, she just has to have it. I told her she would be an Egyptian Princess since I really didn't want to get into who Cleopatra was. She is now very excited about Halloween. I am glad we have a few other Halloween events she can use it for.

Getting her Egyptian hair at VBS

Showing off Egyptian make-up

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What's up with the Whittingtons

Rick is busy with work but finding time to ride his bike and go to football games. Now that the Hokies have won two in a row things are looking up! He is teaching Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University at church.

Steph started Beth Moore's Bible study on Revelation and is LOVING it! She is enjoying having some "Mama and Andrew" time now that Abby is in school.

Abby is loving First Grade (except for doing homework). She started GA's at church this year and can't wait for the bake sale on Wednesday. She is very excited about her Halloween costume--an Egyptian princess.

Andrew goes to childcare at church while Mama is at Bible study and enjoys playing with his friends. He also goes to the peanut shop to play with Whitt on Thursdays. His favorite "DVDV" right now is Elmo Goes to the Firehouse.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Guess Who!

Last night was back to school night at Abby's school. Her teacher had covered up the names on their desks with a Guess Who! sheet. Of course, Abby couldn't wait to let me find hers on my own--she just took me right to it.

1. My hair is blonde.
Yes, this is true.
2. My eyes are blue.
Again, true.
3. I love to eat eggs.
Well, yes, but we never have them since Andrew is allergic. Interesting choice.
4. I love to play ball.
Really? She refuses to play both T-ball and Upward Basketball.
5. I have a dog.
Okay, I totally missed us getting a dog.

I guess it's a good thing she showed me which one was hers because I'm not sure I would have guessed based on her answers. Especially the dog one.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

THE game

On a cold and rainy September day
The Dukes went to Blacksburg, some football to play

Even JMU fans believed it would end
with orange and maroon securing the win

But the purple and gold put up a good fight
and overcame that great Hokie might

A house divided we were for a day
But now that it's over, I really must say

A diploma makes me a Duke for life
but I'm proud to be called.....a Hokie wife!

Saturday, September 11, 2010


A few words from Psalm 37 that give us hope:

1 Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;

2 for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.

3 Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

4 Take delight in the LORD
and He will give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in Him and He will do this:

6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.

7 Be still before the LORD
and wait patiently for Him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes

8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.

9 For those who are evil will be destroyed,
but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.

10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.

11 But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy peace and prosperity.

12 The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;

13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for He knows their day is coming.

Lord, be with those who are still grieving. Nine years have passed but for many the wounds are still fresh. Be with all of us as we remember the fear, and remind us that this world is not our home. Amen.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Beginning First Grade

Beginning football season

Beginning a new Bible Study

Beginning Fall

Monday, September 6, 2010

Beth's Message

I had the privilege and pleasure of getting to see and hear Beth Moore speak right here in Richmond a couple of weeks ago. I took lots of notes and wanted to get them on here, thinking I might lose the notebook someday! I'm sure this will not do justice to her message, but it's a try.

If you don't know Beth, I urge you to check out her website at www.bethmoore.org. She is a phenomenal Bible teacher.

Beth's topic for the weekend was John 1:1-18. It is the prologue to the gospel of John. A few tidbits of information about John's gospel: it is 90% unique, meaning that only 10% of the content in John's book is found in the other 3 gospels. It was written about 90 AD. At this time, the church is emerging with Christ as it's center. John had probably had the opportunity to read the other gospels.

John's theme is all about belief. He uses the word 98 times, compared to Matthew, who used it 14 times; Mark, 11 times; and Luke, 9 times. John wanted us to know that there is no life in Christ without belief. Abundant belief equals abundant life. John's purpose is found in these two verses:

30Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Beth told us that John gathers belief around eight miracles of Jesus. John also refers to Jesus by eight different titles in John chapter one (the Word, the Life, the Light, Only Begotten Son, Lamb, Messiah, King, and Son of Man). Several commentaries she used likened John's gospel to musical compositions, which have eighths or octaves. Using the musical analogy, Beth reminded us that in music you begin with middle C. As Christians, we need to get back to our middle C, which is Christ Jesus.

Following the eight or octave theme, Beth gave us eight ways to get back to our middle C.

1. We need to get back to the word.

Word meaning two things: the Word of God and Christ as the living Word. The Word is eternal--it was with God before time began. We can't hear God in a physical sense, and we can't see His nonverbal communication, so His Word is of utmost importance to us. It is how He communicates with us. Christ, the living Word, is the full expression of God to man.

2. We need to get back to the genesis.

Back to the beginning. In Genesis 1:1, it says, In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. God "WAS" before the creation. God's word does not seek to prove God's existence. It doesn't need to do so--God "IS". The burden of proof is on nonbelievers--to prove that God "IS NOT". Colossians 1:17, And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

This also goes back to our new life in Christ. When we give our hearts to Him, we are a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

3. We need to get back to the exodus.

Beth gave us four ways that John 1 refers to the Book of Exodus.
1. Verse 14: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The wording of this is the same that is used in Exodus when referring to the Tabernacle--when God came and was with His people. In other words, Jesus literally "pitched his tent" among us as God had.
2. Verse 14: and we have seen His glory. In the original language, this word for seen is more than merely seeing, it means a sense of wonderment. The disciples had seen God, as a man. All but John were executed for giving their lives to Him and spreading the good news of salvation through Him. John died of natural causes while in exile. This word for seen also refers back to Exodus 33, in which Moses asked God to show His glory.
3. Verse 17: For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came throughJesus Christ. The law has been fulfilled.
4. Verse 29: The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. In the time of Moses, a lamb was used as a sacrifice for the sins of the people. Jesus was the sacrifice for us.

4. We need to get back to the ultimate exegesis.

Exegesis is the interpretation of a text. But if we want to interpret God, we simply need to look at Jesus. John 1:18 says, No one has ever seen God, but the only begotten Son, who is at the Father's side, has made Him known.

5. We need to get back to grace and truth.

In John 14:6, it says that Jesus came from the Father, full of grace and truth. Beth talked about needing that balance between those two. Most of us tend to lean one way or the other. If you lean toward truth, you might tend to be legalistic. If you lean toward grace, you might take license with God's commands. The whole book of John is about grace, though he only uses the word two times. Grace is the not only unmerited favor, it is the opposite of merit.

There is a difference between The Truth and a truth. The Truth is Jesus Christ. A truth might be factual, but it is not The Truth until it has His word on it. For example--a truth about me might be that I am an alcoholic, but The Truth is that Jesus has brought me from that pit. Beth said, "The Truth makes a truth a testimony". The darkness of your life cannot overcome the light of Christ. John 1:5 says, The Light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

Jesus is The Truth, and The Truth cannot be detached from grace.

6. We need to get back to the gospel.

We are God's children. Jesus died on the cross for us. We cannot save ourselves, we need Him. John 1:12: Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, he gave the right to become children of God. This is the essential element of our faith.

7. We need to get back to one blessing after another.

In the Greek, blessing can be translated grace upon grace. It is like the phrases used in the Old Testament for emphasis: holy of holies, song of songs. The Word promises us that His grace is sufficient for us. 2 Corinthians 12:9: My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Jesus asks, "Do you want to be whole?" It is not just to experience the healing, but to know Your Healer.

8. We need to get back to the future.
But don't go back the same. Get back to middle C. Know Christ. Know His Truth. Know His grace.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How He Loves!

How He Loves
David Crowder Band

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us so,
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us all

Yeah, He loves us,
Oh! how He loves us,

Oh! how He loves us,
Oh! how He loves.

We are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If His grace is an ocean, we're all sinking.
And Heaven meets earth like an unforseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don't have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way

He loves us
oh, how He loves us
how He loves us all

Monday, August 23, 2010

Abby is six years old!

Abby is six years old today. Where has the time gone?
Here are some of my very favorite pictures of her.

"I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of Him".
1 Samuel 1:27

Click here to view these pictures larger

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Actual Conversation....

with Abby today.

Abby: I can't wait to go to Romp N Roll tomorrow.
Me: Do you know what tomorrow is?
Abby: Monday.
Me: Anything special about tomorrow?
Abby: We're going to open gym?
Me: Anything else?
Abby: Whitt is coming?
Me: Anything else?
Abby: I don't think so.


Me: You still don't know what tomorrow is?
Abby: MOM, it's Monday!
Rick: Do you know what the date is today? August 22. So tomorrow is....
Abby: August 23rd.
Rick: and.....
Abby: (long pause)....oh, my birthday!

I guess we could have let it go and she would never have known the difference. (She had a family party in Emporia last weekend). We could have skipped the whole Chuck E Cheese thing. Oh, well.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Woman Who Reads

My friend Cindy sent this joke to me....I love it and had to share.....

One morning, the husband returns the boat to their lakeside cottage after several hours of fishing and decides to take a nap.

Although not familiar with the lake, the wife decides to take the boat out.

She motors out a short distance, anchors, puts her feet up, and begins to read her book.
The peace and solitude are magnificent.

Along comes a Fish and Game Warden in his boat.
He pulls up alongside the woman and says, ' Good morning , Ma'am. What are you doing?'

'Reading a book,' she replies, (thinking, 'Isn't that obvious?')

'You're in a Restricted Fishing Area,' he informs her.

'I'm sorry, officer, but I'm not fishing. I'm reading.'

'Yes, but I see you have all the equipment.
For all I know you could start at any moment.
I'll have to take you in and write you up.'

'If you do that, I'll have to charge you with sexual assault,' says the woman.

'But I haven't even touched you,' says the Game Warden.

'That's true, but you have all the equipment..
For all I know you could start at any moment.'

'Have a nice day ma'am,' and he left.

Never argue with a woman who reads.
It's likely she can also think.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Steph's Favorite Books, Edition 4

Light Reads

1. Heavenly Daze series by Angela Hunt and Lori Copeland
Set in Maine, these 5 books chronicle the lives of those who live in the town of Heavenly Daze. The citizens are watched over by a group of angels who dwell among them.

2. Mitford series by Jan Karon
Enjoy life in Mitford through the eyes of Father Tim.

3. Heavens to Betsy/Earth to Betsy by Beth Pattillo
Betsy, a female pastor, has to prove to her congregation that she's as good as any male pastor.

4. These Boots Weren't Made for Walking by Melody Carlson
Interesting that another book by Melody Carlson is one of the most profound I've ever read (Finding Alice) while this one is light and fun. A young woman must move home after she has been fired, dumped, and scammed.

5. Harmony Series by Phillip Gulley
A pastor and his young family return to his hometown to pastor the congregation of Harmony Friends Meeting. This is quite possibly the craziest group of church goers ever! Pastor Sam gets frustrated but always learns something from them. I laughed out loud but also learned a lot about community.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Abby's Cheer "Performance"

Abby has been participating in a cheerleading camp this summer through Hanover County Parks and Recreation and Stretch-N-Grow. She enjoyed it despite how hot it was each week! They learned 3 cheers, 2 jumps, and a dance. Thursday was their "performance" for family and friends.
Enjoy some pictures!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dinner and a Book

Some of you may know that I lead a Christian Fiction book club at my church. We're starting up a new "year" of great book discussions and fellowship. We would love to have you! We meet on the first Thursday of each month, at 6:30 PM in the Pusey House located at the back of First Baptist Church in the fan. Bring your favorite dish to share (hence the name, Dinner and a Book!) Here is our list.

September 2, 2010 My Life as a Doormat(in Three Acts) by Rene Gutteridge

October 7, 2010 Abigail: A Novel (The Wives of King David) by Jill Eileen Smith

November 4, 2010 Breach of Trust (Call of Duty Series, Book 1) by DiAnn Mills

December 2, 2010 Dogwood by Chris Fabry

January 6, 2011* The Shepherd’s Prayer:A Christmas Novel by Richard M. Barry

February 3, 2011 Riven by Jerry B. Jenkins

March 3, 2011 Her Mother’s Hope: Marta’s Legacy by Francine Rivers

April 7, 2011 Journey to the Well: A Novel by Diana Wallis Taylor

May 5, 2011 Limelight: A Novel by Melody Carlson

June 2, 2011 Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Grace Whitson

July 2011 no meeting due to holiday

August 4, 2011 Stirring Up Strife:A Hope Street Church Mystery by Jennifer Stanley

*location TBA

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Heard on the monitor

Approximately 6 AM, Andrew singing. His selections included "Mighty to Save", "Life is a Highway", "Do the Look Around" (From Sid the Science Kid), "Blessed Be Your Name" (From the VBS CD), "Real Gone" (Cars), and "All of Creation". I'm very proud of his diverse musical taste.

Approximately 6:45 AM, Abby enters Andrew's room. They chat for a few minutes, then it sounded like Andrew was giving her a book to read (he's in his crib). She says, "No, Andrew, I'm going to read you Nursery Rhymes because you are a baby". She begins reading. Andrew very nicely says, "Read Bible. Read this. Read Bible, please" (He has a book about Jesus, he calls it the Bible. At least he makes the connection, right?) She ignores him and keeps reading the book she chose. He starts getting louder. "Read Bible PLEASE". Again, she ignores him. He's quiet for a few minutes while she reads. Then it's, "Read Cars. Read Cars. Read Cars, please". More ignoring and reading of nursery rhymes by Abby. "Read Cars PLEASE!" Then thump. Obviously he threw the book at her.

At this point Rick decided he better intervene.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

How is Martin's doing?

As many of you know, central Virginia grocery shoppers are adjusting to a major change. Our beloved Ukrop's sold to Martin's and the switchover happened in the spring. I did a very informal poll on my facebook page asking my friends to give me the pros and cons of Martin's.

The bad news first....

  • Customer service is not as good. Checkout is much slower, especially because you now have to sign a paper receipt. There aren't as many baggers and folks to carry groceries to your car. The new bagging carts don't hold nearly enough so many times it requires two carts to get purchases to your car. There are not as many workers in the deli and "fried chicken" area so there is a longer wait. The employees overall do not seem as happy as they did when it was Ukrop's.
  • Produce. The selection of produce is MUCH smaller than before (they took space from produce to add beer and wine). The produce is not nearly the quality of Ukrop's. Bananas in particular were mentioned several times. They are also not selling much local produce, which I always enjoyed purchasing (and eating!)
  • Pharmacy. Some complained of pharmacy mistakes and that you are no longer able to pay for your medicines when checking out with groceries. Having to wait in line twice is not fun with small children in tow.
  • While they carry a larger selection, the number of each items is much less. For example, they may only have 3 or 4 six-packs of a brand of bottled water. Often items are sold out.
  • Bag credit is often forgotten.
  • You have to check expiration dates. Ukrop's was always great about removing expired items so you didn't have to worry as much. There are also reports of moldy flower stems. The general upkeep of the store is not as good.
  • The shelves seem very cluttered with sale stickers, new item stickers, etc. It makes it hard to really find what you are looking for.
  • There are not as many people with disabilities working for them now.
  • Trouble with fuelperks! working.
  • They are open on Sundays and holidays, which means their employees don't get to spend that time with their families.

  • They still carry many Ukrop's items--bakery goods, prepared foods, white house rolls, etc.
  • Better prices and deals. They send coupons in the mail and have good discounts with their BonusCard--including buy 1, get 1 free deals.
  • Good selection of organic and specialty items, including Nature's Promise meats.
  • More variety and brand options. My friends from north of Virginia enjoy being able to purchase some of the items Ukrop's did not carry.
  • Efficient self-checkout.
  • Deli and Bakery are open until store closes (unlike Food Lion and Kroger).
  • Convenience of shopping on Sundays and the store is open more house in the day.
So there you have it. Martin's still has some work to do to completely win over loyal Ukrop's customers.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Steph's Favorite Books, Edition 3

Historical Fiction

1. Refiner's Fire series by Lynn Austin
A Civil War trilogy that I really enjoyed. The first one is set in Richmond!

2. Dakota Moon series by Stephanie Grace Whitson
These books chronicle the lives of missionaries in the Dakota territory and the Indians they encounter there. I found it fascinating, as this was a topic I didn't know much about. I believe these are out of print but they can possibly be found in libraries and from used booksellers.

3. Until We Reach Home by Lynn Austin
Three Swedish sister immigrate to Chicago in 1897. A moving look at what life was like for those coming to America.

4. Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers
These powerful books look at the persecution of Christians in Rome in the first century.

6. A Woman's Place by Lynn Austin
Four women work together in a factory during World War 2, each have their own issues to deal with.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Book Review: Chasing Fireflies

Chasing Fireflies, by Charles Martin

Have you ever read a book that just really sticks with you once you've finished it? This, for me, was one of those. It chronicles Chase Walker's search for his identity. He grew up in a wonderful foster home but was still searching for where he came from, who his parents were, and his real name. During this search he meets and helps care for a young boy, Sketch, who is in a similar situation. At the center of their lives is Uncle Willee, the man who raised Chase and is fostering Sketch. Willee is a man of many mysteries but is very wise.

The writing is amazing. It rarely mentions God or Jesus, but the book shows the very nature of them. Most of the wonderful quotes come from Uncle Willee's discussions with the boys. One of my favorites, though, is from Willee's speech at his niece's (who practically lived with Willee and his wife) funeral:
"....every day, no matter what I'd painted the day before, I got a new canvas, washed white. 'Cause each night the tide rolled in, scrubbed it clean, and receded, taking the stains with it." (Chasing Fireflies, pg 301).

Isn't that what God does for us?

Saturday, July 31, 2010

True Stories

The following has all happened WHILE I AM TRYING TO TAKE A SHOWER!

1. Abby comes in the bathroom to use the toilet. I tell her to go in the other bathroom. She says she can't because Andrew locked that door. Okay, first I really don't want someone pooping in the room where I am trying to get clean. Second, she did not mention that Andrew had locked himself in the bathroom. Thank goodness the light was on in there and the toilet seat was down.

2. At least one and usually both of them come in while I am in the shower to inform me they'd like something to drink. Because, sure, I'll hop out of the shower dripping wet with shampoo in my hair to go to the kitchen and pour you something.

3. It never fails---they are always either both engaged in something different and leaving each other alone or playing nicely together when I sneak away to take a shower. But the minute that water turns on it's "Mom! Andrew took such-and-such away from me" or "Mama! Abby!" (meaning Abby did something he did not like). I really don't care kids. Let me please wash my hair!

4. Abby comes in to tell me she has tried to get something out of the fridge and accidentally knocked something over and now it is spilled everywhere. Okay, that's worth telling me about. But could you just be patient and wait for me to get out before you get something in the kitchen? And didn't I specifically tell you NOT to even go in there and to keep the gate locked? Because of course since the gate is open Andrew went upstairs and is wreaking havoc in your room, dear!

I should really get my rear out of bed and take a shower before they get up.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Brutally Honest Bible Stories?

So we have been busy lately. I have really been trying to get ahead in my planning for the class I teach at church for kids with special needs (Sparrows). I've been working on a unit about King David. I was telling a friend I thought I'd just avoid the whole Bathsheba thing. Then I started imagining telling that story to my class. And laughing. Rick and our friend Derik used to joke about starting a line of "Brutally Honest Greeting Cards". For example, a birthday card might say, "It's your birthday. You're older, fatter, and balder. Have a good one". So what about Brutally Honest Bible Stories? It might go something like this...

"Kids, Bathsheba was naked on the roof. David saw her. I want to teach you a new vocabulary word. Lust. And here's another one...premeditated murder."

Somehow I think that would not go over well with the parents.

But here is a brutally honest Bible truth I could share with them. David made bad mistakes. Really bad. But he served a merciful God and when he asked for forgiveness, it was granted. God took a flawed man and used him for His glory. He can do it for you, too.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Vacation Bible School

Last week was Vacation Bible School at our church. Our theme was Joseph: From Prison to Palace. Abby had a great time in "Egypt". Andrew did, too. He loved his little class. I had a fun week with 6 sweet little babies.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Great things about being on vacation without kids....

--sleeping late
--eating a big breakfast and skipping lunch. This would never fly with the kids.
--not having to entertain anyone
--not having to cut up anyone's food
--not having to hear "are we there yet?"
--just sitting by the ocean
--getting to talk to each other without being interrupted
--no crying
--no poopy diapers
--only having to bathe yourself
--no watching Cars or anything on PBS
--reading books written for adults

That being said, we did miss them a whole lot, and were excited to get lots of hugs and kisses when we got back!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Vacation Part 4

So much of this is repetitive. Now that we've been here almost a week, we've figured out what we like to do and when! We slept late this morning, and actually just barely caught breakfast before it ended! We went to our massage, which we actually had today! It was very nice. We headed to the covered pool to relax. I finished book #2 and started #3. We swam for awhile.

Later on we got cleaned up and headed out to dinner. We went to the same neck of the woods as last night, to a restaurant called The Skull Creek Boathouse. That place was hopping! It was the first time we have had to wait for a table. For an appetizer we got crab and shrimp fondue, which was different and tasty. I had a pound of broiled shrimp and some hush puppies. The shrimp were perfect. Yum. I ate almost all of them! Rick had some sort of salmon that he enjoyed.

Then it was back to the hotel and out to the beach! We swam for a bit then sat in our chairs with our feet in the water. We read until we couldn't see then just hung out watching the waves. I don't think I mentioned earlier that Nick and Becca sent us a wonderful Edible Arrangement that we've been enjoying each night. We are always too full to eat dessert at the restaurant, so this was great for a late snack.

We have had a great week. I am sad to leave tomorrow, but getting anxious to see the kids.
I am getting ready to put the pictures on Shutterfly. I'll link when I do!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Vacation Part 3

This morning we planned our day around our scheduled couple's massage. We slept in and ate our big breakfast. My ear had been feeling funny so I set out to find a drugstore so I could get some of that swimmer's ear stuff. I finally got it but it is an adventure I don't need to relive. We went out by the pool and just relaxed and read (book #2 for Steph, Sports Illustrated for Rick).

Early in the afternoon we headed in to the Spa. They took us back, we changed into the robe and slippers, and we met in the lounge to wait for our therapists. After a few minutes the manager came out and said one of ours had car trouble and we would have to reschedule. It was a bummer because we were all ready, but then she said our massages would be complimentary! I'm betting they will feel even better tomorrow when they are free!

We headed back to the pool for awhile. We got cleaned up and headed to a different part of the Island for dinner--The Chart House on Skull Creek. It was a nicely decorated restaurant overlooking the Creek(part of the Intercoastal Waterway) and a marina. A couple of boats came in and out while we were there. We shared the calamari, which was delicious. We both had a bowl of she-crab soup, and I had baked shrimp stuffed with crabmeat with risotto. It was fabulous. Rick had a Mahi topped with some sort of peach glaze over mashed potatoes. We both agree it is the best meal we've had.

When we returned to our hotel we headed out to the beach with our chairs and books. I read with my feet in the water until I could no longer see my book! Rick went in the ocean for awhile. We ended our night with a dip in the hot tub and drying off on the deck overlooking the beach.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Vacation Part 2

Monday morning we slept late (which means 8 for me, 9 for Rick). Our hotel package included breakfast, which was awesome. It had a buffet with everything you could ever want for breakfast--including my favorite, omelets!

We headed out to the beach and spent a good amount of time under the umbrella, reading and people watching and just relaxing. Once we got good and hot we headed out to the ocean. It is surprisingly calm and warm! We just hung out enjoying the water for awhile, then came on back to the pool. Rick headed out to ride his bike while I was parked under the covered deck to read. While he was gone I finished book #1 (Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts--book 3 of 4 about women who own a wedding planning business). Once he returned we came back to the room to clean up and head out!

We ventured out to Sea Pines and Harbour Town. We ate at a great restaurant called Topside at the Quarter Deck, which overlooked the marina. While the boats were coming in and out we enjoyed calamari. I got the surf and turf which was a small fillet and 1/2 of a lobster tail stuffed with crab. It was delicious! Rick got some sort of blackened grouper which he really enjoyed too. We had mentioned to our waiter that we were celebrating our 10th anniversary and he brought out a complimentary chocolate lava cake! I did a little shopping at the little stores there, then we enjoyed the sunset on the little beach area there by the marina.

This morning (Tuesday) we were up and at 'em early. We had our breakfast then headed back to Harbour Town to catch our boat to Savannah. The boat ride took about an hour and a half. It was very relaxing and had some interesting sites--included riding right beside a huge container ship and seeing a couple of dolphins. We got off in Savannah and jumped on a trolley for a tour of the historic district. Our guide was very enthusiastic and we saw lots of sites in 90 minutes. I had been there once before doing the Girl Scout tourist thing (the founder of GSA is from Savannah) but I had forgotten most of it. The guide kept pointing out sites mentioned in the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. That motivated me to buy the book, which has become book #2. We enjoyed a nice lunch at the Shrimp Factory. Rick had shrimp and I had shrimp and crab au gratin. I did a little more shopping while Rick walked around the harbor and took pictures.

We boarded the boat and headed back toward HHI. The captain took a different route on the way back, going on the Intercoastal Waterway instead of the Atlantic. There were more sites to see on the return trip, mostly large, beautiful homes on Defuskee Island.

We stopped at a different area of the island, Shelter Cove Harbour, to eat dinner. This is the location of the Disney resort so there were lots of kids around! We ate dinner at Scott's Fish Market. I had bacon wrapped scallops and she-crab soup. Rick had a seared tuna salad. The food was pretty good, but it wasn't the best meal we've had for sure.

Upon returning to the resort we headed out to the ocean to swim for awhile, then enjoyed the pool and hot tub. We got our books and prepared to read while hanging out on the deck overlooking the water. Instead we met a nice family from Michigan--a husband, wife, and daughter who now lives in Raleigh and works at Duke. We somehow got on the subject of college football. They are Ohio State alumni. We did a little reading out there then headed in. It is now 10:53 pm and I am still up. I must be very well rested!