Friday, February 27, 2009

Let Me Tell You About My Mom

I want to tell you a story. It's a lengthy story, but I hope you will bear with me. The reason I am writing this story is because CVS Pharmacy has asked people to write about a caregiver in their lives for the "For All the Ways You Care" contest. I would LOVE to win this contest, because my mom is still a caring and compassionate person. She is a foster mom, and currently has 10 kids who she cares for on a regular basis, including my 9 year old sister, whom she and my dad adopted a couple of years ago. She also gets up to 3 more kids on the weekends, and needed to purchase a 15 passenger van. I would LOVE to be able to help her pay that van off, because of all the love and care she has given to me, my son, my husband, and now our new little guy, down through the years.

My story begins long before the "meat" of this story. I grew up in a home with lots of siblings (5 to be exact), and lots of rules. You kind of have to have a lot of rules with that many kids. As a teen, and even as a younger child, I thought my mom was pretty strict. There were so many phrases that started with "you may not do...", and "If you do this, you'll...". I hated the rules. We were a Christian family, and so we had to follow the rules.I thought for sure that no one else's parents were this strict. Of course, later in life I realized why my parents instilled these rules in our home.

So, let's skip forward to 1992: I was 22 years old and living high on the hog, doing whatever I pleased, without a thought to my parents' rules. I was single, attractive, making fairly good money, living in my own apartment, and going out at least 3 nights a week. I was not living the good and Godly life that should have reflected my 8 year old decision to accept Jesus in to my heart. I knew the difference between right and wrong, but at that point in my life, it was so much more fun to NOT follow the rules. I rebelled against those rules since I was in the 2nd grade! If you ask my mom, she would probably tell you that she never would've dreamed that her sweet little baby girl would grow up to be such a defiant and rebellious person.

Then it happened. I ended up getting pregnant because of not following the rules. I eventually lost my job and had to move home with my mom. She pretty much did not speak to me my entire pregnancy because she was so ashamed of what I had done. It was awful! I was ashamed of what I had done too, but it sure didn't help to have my mom not speak to me. It was an uncertain time for me, and I needed someone to lean on, and talk to. I had just walked away from my former lifestyle, friends included. I basically went into hiding. No one knew where I was or what had happened, and no one called either.

I ended up having my baby, a sweet baby boy. He looked so beautiful and healthy. But he was not. The day after he was born, the doctors were doing the discharge physical and realized that he had a heart murmur, so they decided that he needed to have some tests done to see if it was anything serious. It was. They weren't able to get the full story yet, but they did find out that not all of his heart had formed. They wanted us to come back in three months so that they could do a cardiac catheterization...they wanted a better look at what was going on with his heart.

So three months later, my sweet little guy was admitted to the hospital for the first of many surgeries. The results of the cardiac cath? The doctors found that most of the right side of his heart had not formed, and that there was a hole in the middle of all four chambers. He had a lot of "blue blood" in his body because of leakage. His heart was working overtime because only one of his pumps worked.

I was devastated. My family was devastated. We prayed and cried together, and very quickly, my mom and I got very close. We had never been close, but this "tragedy" forced a bond between us that we would've never expected. We knew that God was in charge, and that He would give us the strength we needed to get through all of this. It wasn't easy.

At age 8 months, my baby boy had his first heart surgery (the first half of a Glen shunt operation), after it was postponed because of bronchiolitis (and another hospitalization). He was in surgery for nearly 8 hours, but came through it wonderfully. They took one of the main veins that takes de-oxygenated blood to your heart to get to the lungs to get oxygen, and attached it right to the main pulmonary artery, bypassing the right side of the heart altogether. My mom was by my side the entire time. In the waiting room. In the hospital room. She even stayed overnight with me, on an uncomfortable makeshift chair/bed in a room down the hall.

We noticed an immediate improvement in his coloring and his activity. He was monitored by a wonderful pediatric cardiologist, who had been his cardiologist since birth. The next year and a half, he did so well. He did so well, that I decided it was time to go back to work. My mom offered to keep him while I was at work, so that I didn't have to pay for childcare. That in itself was a HUGE blessing. I still had 3 younger siblings at home, so he was well cared for.

Then, when he was 2-1/2 years old, it was time to finish the second half of the Glen shunt operation. By this time, he was a little firecracker. He was talking really well--in full sentences; and he had wrapped all of my family around his little finger. Our worlds revolved around him. He was a smart, charming, and sweet little boy...not to mention, very handsome!

So, off we went to the hospital for his second heart surgery. Things went well, and we went home after a week's stay. Then, something happened. I was at work, and my sister was getting him ready for a nap. He started shaking, and he went very limp. Through loads of panic and heartache, and quite a few medical tests later, we found out that he had had a major stroke: one that paralyzed his entire right side. He was walking within three days, but he would always have impaired mobility on the entire right side. At this time, the doctors were able to determine that this stroke was actually his FOURTH stroke! He had had three minor strokes earlier in the year, that were completely undetectable.

We were out of the hospital within a week. Again, my mom was with me the entire time. Until she had to get ready for her annual trip to the Navajo reservation to do VBS (Vacation Bible School) for a week. She didn't want to go. She was worried about her daughter and her grandson, and kept asking if I wanted her to stay. I knew this trip was her heart, and I encouraged her to go. So she went. To a place where there were no telephone lines. It was a 45 minute drive to the nearest phone. She took a team of kids, who all slept in sleeping bags on hard concrete floors the entire week. They also had no showers, and water was scarce, so they really had to conserve.

Halfway into my mom's trip, my little guy had another MAJOR stroke. This time, it took his hearing and his speech. I freaked out. My mom wasn't there, but my dad was, so he took us to the Emergency Room. He stayed with us as long as he could...until midnight. Then he was so tired, and had to work the next day, so I sent him home. I cried and cried that night, because I needed my mom so badly. A wonderful and motherly nurse came into the room, and put her arms around me. She prayed with me, and spoke comforting words, and even cried with me. But she wasn't my mom. I desperately needed my mom. We tried to call her. Several times. We had to call to this trading post that had the nearest phone. When we finally got through to someone, they said they would get the message to her.

The message never got to my mom. She came home on the date they said they would return, only to find out that her grandson was back in the hospital. She was horrified, because no one had been able to get ahold of her. She showered, changed her clothes, and rushed in to the hospital. She stayed there with me and my little guy until we were discharged. We took turns staying in the room with my son. She had not slept in a comfortable bed for a whole week, and here she was, taking this on again, without anywhere comfortable to sleep, and with the PA system going off every few minutes, paging someone in the hospital.

Eventually my son got out of the hospital, having regained his hearing (only by a true miracle from God--even admitted by the doctors!). We settled into our routines again, but with things being slightly different. We had to teach this toddler how to talk again. My mom started learning a little sign language so that she could teach him something that would help him remember. We went through some seizure episodes during the last hospital stay, and so we were also dealing with the side effects of the seizure meds, which meant my son was usually up until midnight or later. Much of that time, my mom helped by staying up with him, because I had to work.

Down through the next few years, my mom was always there. She helped with the re-potty training, and the re-learning to talk. She faithfully administered medications, and took my son to doctor's appointments when I wasn't able to get off of work. She helped with the therapy he needed to get better. And when he was 4 years old, she started teaching him his colors, letters, numbers, and more. She began homeschooling him, and homeschooled him up until the time that I got married, when my son was 10 years old.

There is no way I could've gotten through the first 10 years of my son's life without a faithful and strength-giving God, and without my son's caregiver: my mom. She was and is a huge blessing to me, and because of what looked like a tragedy, something really good came out of it: My mom and I became best friends. I am SO thankful that my mom was there for me, even after at least 15 difficult and rebellious years from me. I know that God can take something that is tragic, and bring good out of it. The good is my mom. She has always been this good, but it took me going through a devastating time with my own child, for me to realize what a wonderful mom (and Grandma) she is!

Thanks for sticking with me long enough to get this far in this post. I hope this will encourage you to think of someone who has been a caregiver in your life, and that you will take the time to let them know how much you are grateful for what they gave/give you.

Have a great weekend!
Mama Bear

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Freezer Full of Meat

I have the very best family. Papa Bear's Mom and Dad came over on Sunday, in the pouring rain, to bring us a large cooler plus a small cooler FULL of meat!!! I mean FULL!!! We got ground beef, ribeye steaks, ribs, pork chops and more! I couldn't believe it! My mother-in-law had called me earlier in the previous week to let me know about a sale on ground beef: $1.67 a pound at Raley's. WOW! I said "We will definitely have to go and get some, because we are pretty close to having an empty freezer, so we can stock up." I didn't make the statement for any reason other than mentioning that we had plenty of room to stock up.

But Papa Bear's parents felt bad for us, because, see, Papa Bear's company normally gets a bonus this time of year, which amounts to about $3000 for Papa Bear. Because of the downtrodden economy, the company announced they wouldn't be getting the bonus this year. OUCH! We had plans for that money. Well, my in-laws, like I said, felt bad that we wouldn't be getting it, so they, in their usual generosity, filled our upright freezer!!!

I am so thankful that God has given me such an amazing and generous family...my parents and Papa Bear's parents. They are SUCH a blessing to us. I just had to share.

Have a blessed day!

Mama Bear

Stretching Myself Out of the Costco.com Comfort Zone

Have you heard of Winkflash? I just found out about it recently because I design photo greeting cards, and am always on the lookout for inexpensive printing options. One of my customers told me about Winkflash, so I decided to check it out for myself. And guess what? They have REALLY reasonable printing charges!! 4x6 prints are $0.08, 5x7 prints are $0.25, etc. Their shipping is reasonable as well.

Yesterday, I ordered 10 5x7 prints, because I am building a portfolio of my work. I am used to using my local Costco for all of my photo printing needs, so I am anxious to see how Winkflash stacks up. The shipping on my 10 prints? Only $0.89! So it was still cheaper to order 10 prints through Winkflash, rather than through Costco. My Costco charges $0.40 per 5x7.

I will come back here and let you all know how my order turns out.

In the meantime, Winkflash has this great deal: 50 FREE Prints!!! Give us a try and get 50 4x6 prints free, just use coupon code WF95WF27 when you place your order. Click HERE for more details.

Winkflash has free image hosting and unlimited storage space for your photos. They have all sorts of photo gift items that you can order, and they even have photo contests. I hope that you will check them out, and let me know what you think. Also, if you have used Winkflash, I'd love to hear from you!

Have a great day!
Mama Bear

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Bittersweet Farewell

Yesterday was our last day at our church, where we had been worshipping and serving for over four years. It was a bittersweet farewell. Why? Well, we have grown a little attached to some of our friends there. We know that we will continue to see them still, so we are happy with that. It was hard to say goodbye though. While we've had our ups and downs there, we know that God brought us there for a reason, and we believe that His hand and His will are in us leaving. We left with the prayers and the blessing of our pastor and the elders.

What does this mean for us? Are we quitting church altogether? Are we moving?

No, we are not quitting. We love the Lord, and we will not forsake the assembling of ourselves with other believers. No, we are not moving (although we ARE praying to find a larger home to rent!). We are simply changing churches. We feel that Papa Bear has possibly been called to be a pastor, church planter or assistant pastor. He loves the Lord so much, and He loves to preach the Gospel. He's really good at it too! We feel, that with the move to our new church, there will be a greater accountability, training, development and possibly a window of opportunity for him to follow his calling. Our new church strongly believes in church planting, and training pastors, church planters and assistants from within. We have spent almost a year praying about the move, and more time than that praying about Papa Bear's calling. We wanted to make sure that this was the Lord's will, and not just our own. We really feel that it is God's will, and so we are very excited about the move. We believe that regardless of his passion that if that is really what the Lord wants for us, then by loving, submitting and serving our new church, God will put us whereever He wants us to be, whether it is by picking up trash, cleaning bathrooms, teaching a Bible class or anything in between.

I'm not quite sure I'm the best choice to possibly be a pastor's wife, but I know that the Lord brought Papa Bear and I together for a reason, and I know that his calling is true, so I know that God will and has equipped me with everything that I need to fulfill my calling. He will give me the strength, the grace, the meekness, etc., that I will need. Thank you God, for showing us so clearly, what you want for us, even if it means moving way out of our comfort zone. We trust you with our lives.

Mama Bear

Sisterhood


It's such a blessing when you have a girlfriend with whom you are so close, you can call her "sister". I have a friend like that. She is such a blessing to me! We are exactly two weeks apart in age, and we get along so well.
I was surprised to find out that Kim over at Caldwell Cuties nomintated me for the "Sisterhood Award". What a blessing! Thank you Kim!
The rules of the Sisterhood Award are...:
1. Put the logo on your blog or post.
2. Nominate at least 10 blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude!
3. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and link to this post and to the person from whom you received your award
Unfortunately, I don't get a whole lot of time to read a lot of blogs, even though there are a LOT that I love to visit! I'll try to choose different ones than the ones I chose earlier in this blog. But I still can't come up with 10, because I'm not able to read that many, and I have a horrible memory! Here they are:
4. Octamom (not to be confused with "octomom" the gal who had 8 kids all at the same time!)
Have a great week!
Mama Bear

Thursday, February 19, 2009

We're Adopting!

Some of you may already know, but WE'RE ADOPTING!!!!! Baby Bear will be officially ours on March 12, 2009. He came to us in May of 2008 through our county's foster care system, after 2 years of praying and waiting. We are SOOOO excited!!!! We set the date with the caseworker today. Yes, we will take pictures...yes we will share them on the blog. We would appreciate your prayers as we still need to "raise" the money for the $500 adoption fee. We are praying that God will provide it through my business: www.RioOsoDesigns.com.

Thanks!
Mama Bear

A Rite of Passage for Brother Bear -- His First Shave

Note to Self:

Rinse anything used to dispense cough syrup, or you WILL have ants!
Not just 5 or 6, but at LEAST a hundred!
Mama Bear

I Want This "My Husband Rocks" Tee!

How funny! I just wrote a post about how my husband rocks, and today I found this website because of Twitter.com! @Praiseandcoffee (Sue) had a link to the website on her blog.
Just click on the image above, and you can see how you can order one of these tees, or other "My Husband Rocks" apparel. Guess what!?! They also have "My Wife Rocks" apparel!
So go shopping!
Mama Bear

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Family Favorite Recipe -- Zesty Chicken Oregano

Zesty Chicken Oregano
2.5 - 3 pounds chicken pieces (I like using thighs)
1/2 cup EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1/4 cup lemon juice (or more, if you're like me and LOVE lemon)
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 clove garlic, chopped
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Place chicken in a 9x13 pan. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over chicken. Cook uncovered at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Baste chicken occasionally. Turn chicken and cook another 30 minutes or until done.
Serve with tomato rice pilaf or brown rice.
**********
Mama Bear

Adoption Fundraiser


Here is our third outfit that we are selling in order to raise funds for the adoption finalization of our little guy. As with all of the outfits we have, this one was only worn for the "photo shoot". It is made with 100% cotton. All seams are French seams. Neckline is elastic. The size is 3/4/5, depending on the size of your child, and how long or short you like it. The little girl who modeled it for us was 5 at the time. For best results, machine wash cold, and tumble dry low.
I will be glad to pay shipping to anywhere in the USA when you purchase this dress!



Pink Cotton Peasant Dress Size 3/4/5 -- $25.00




Kids Say the Cutest Things

I got an email from my mother-in-law today, and it had some little "Sunday School Funnies" in it. I thought I'd share them with you, so you could laugh a little today too.
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Attending a wedding for the first time, a little girl whispered to her mother, 'Why is the bride dressed in white?'' The mother replied, 'Because white is the color of happiness, and today is the happiest day of her life.'The child thought about this for a moment then said, 'So why is the groom wearing black?'
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A little girl, dressed in her Sunday best, was running as fast as she could, trying not to be late for Bible class. As she ran she prayed, 'Dear Lord, please don't let me be late! Dear Lord, please don't let me be late!' While she was running and praying, she tripped on a curb and fell, getting her clothes dirty and tearing her dress. She got up, brushed herself off, and started running again! As she ran she once again began to pray, 'Dear Lord, please don't let me be late...But please don't shove me either!'
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Two boys were walking home from Sunday school after hearing a strong preaching on the devil. One said to the other, 'What do you think about all this Satan stuff?' The other boy replied, 'Well, you know how Santa Claus turned out. It's probably just your Dad.'
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Have a good day!
Mama Bear

I Have the Best Husband in the World!

Seriously! None can compare. Baby Bear is sick. I am sick. Papa Bear is sick. Brother Bear is just getting over being sick. We all have this runny nose, sore throat, cough thing that is going around. Not fun! Papa Bear went to work yesterday after a three day weekend. No Valentine's Day dinner out at the little fondue restaurant in Saratoga. No church on Sunday. No marriage class either. No Monterey Bay Aquarium visit with a lunch of sourdough bread, roast beef, and Cottswald cheese on Monday. We were pretty bummed.

But what does Papa Bear do? Everything he can to make sure I have to do as little as possible. He has been washing the dishes and doing all the errands lately, because he knows I haven't been feeling well at all. Plus I have the whole day with Baby Bear who is also not feeling well at all, and is not showing his normally joyful and happy side, for really the first time since he's been with us.

Papa Bear, you rock! And I love you so much! I'm so thankful that God brought you to me. He knew that I would need someone like you. I'm sorry I haven't been myself lately. I hope that we're all over this ickiness soon!

Mama Bear

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Sweet Love Story -- or "Mr. Wonderful"


Happy Valentine's Day!

Today marks my sixth Valentine's Day with Papa Bear, aka "Mr. Wonderful". I am so blessed that God chose this man for me, and in such a typically "unconventional" way.

I met my husband on eHarmony.com in June of 2003. I had been on eHarmony before, but it was expensive, so I ended my relationship with them. Then a year and a half later, they wanted to kiss and make up, by offering me a whole year for $100, instead of $50 a month, so naturally I accepted. After all, I was living WAY out in the country, commuting to and from work, and away from home for about 11 hours each day. I had a little boy, so I really didn't have time for "dating". Plus, I didn't want to just "date around". I was tired of the games. I wanted a husband. And I knew that was what God wanted for me to, otherwise he wouldn't have given me the desire, right?

So, I hooked back up with eHarmony.com in April of 2003. I had gotten quite a few matches, but after going through them, I was quickly weeding them out. There were a few that got to actual email communication, but not much past that point. There was one that I spoke to on the phone several times, and we even went on a date, because he was actually from the same 100 mile radius as me.

Enter "Michael" from San Ramon, CA. Where on earth is San Ramon? Is that near L.A.? UGH! Well, this probably won't work, because there's now WAY I'm moving to California. That's one of the last places I would want to move!

Unbeknownst to me at the time, Papa Bear had gotten a FREE month of eHarmony for taking some personality test on Tickle.com. We were matched in his 2nd or 3rd week. There was something about his pictureless profile that made me want to find out more about him. There was a question that asked something like this: "Who is the person that you admire the most?" or "Who is the person that has influenced your life the most?". One of those two.

His answer? "Aside from Jesus, it would be my dad....." We don't quite remember what the rest of the answer said....or if that was it. But it piqued my interest. I thought, "Wow! A guy who seems to have a GREAT relationship with his dad!" That's pretty uncommon these days. Usually you will find loads of guys who have good relationships with their moms (and he does!), but not with their dads. My brothers don't. (I didn't have a good relationship with my dad until God changed my heart.)

So I had to find out why. I sent the first contact. I found out later that he wasn't even sure about making contact back. He was a little on the shy side, even though he was on eHarmony!

Well, one thing led to another, and soon we were emailing one another. I was really starting to like this guy. In the meantime, I went on the date with that one guy who lived in my area. We went miniature golfing, and he didn't even let me win! But I was already hoping that it wouldn't work out with us, because I was already starting to fall for Michael. It didn't.

Now, normally I am the one who wears my heart on my sleeve, but I told myself to take it slow...pray...not rush things...pray...take it easy...pray...don't make a fool of myself...

But it was Michael who slipped an "I think I love you" in the middle of a conversation on September 11, 2003. Out of the blue. Like, "WHAT?" I mean, I had been feeling that way, but I wasn't about to say it. And when he said it, I didn't know what to say! I said "Thank you, that's very sweet!" WHAT? That's all I could think of???? Well, I was caught off guard. So I ended up writing him this long letter explaining why I reacted the way I did. Silly me. He hadn't even noticed my weird reaction.

Soon we were talking on the phone every single night. (Before it was only once a month, because he didn't have long distance, and neither did I.) By November, we KNEW that we wanted to get married. We had never even met in person, but we knew. It was just one of those things. I think God gave us all that time together, but apart, so that we could really get to know each other, without things like "physical affection" getting in the way. Trust me, after we met, that was not even an issue! But I think that God really wanted us to get to know each other on a very deep and intimate level. And we did. We talked about everything under the sun, including discipline and parenting, our favorite cereals, money, dreams, etc.

In January of 2004, I had my gall bladder removed. Michael drove out from California in a bad ice and snow storm, so that he could see/meet me and meet my family. He drove about 18 or 19 hours straight! San Ramon is in the SF Bay Area, so he had to drive the full length of CA, PLUS all the way across Arizona and halfway across New Mexico, to where I lived. And I was not at my best...I was still recovering from surgery and from added vertigo.

He was there. There was about 20 minutes of akward tension. Then it was as if we had known each other our entire lives. We fell in love all over again...seeing each other. He loved my family, and my son, and even asked my parents for my hand in marriage. We had a romantic "early" Valentine's Day dinner, complete with steak, baked potatoes, rosemary garlic bread, chocolate covered strawberries, and sparkling cider.

I cried when he left.

I couldn't be gone from him for long. I had to see him again. We made plans for me to fly out to California for a week for his birthday in March. I met his family, took a studio photo with him, and got officially proposed to, all in one day! The next day, we told his family that we were engaged. Their reaction? "That was fast!" What I didn't know, is that, while I had told my parents about him in July of 2003, he didn't tell his parents about me until February of 2004. No wonder they thought it was fast! :-)
I cried, and he cried, when I left.

Well, we planned a wedding, in between two more trips out to CA, including one with Brother Bear so that he could meet the family. We got married in New Mexico on July 17, 2004. He drove out with his mom, dad, sister, grandma, and nephew. His brother and sister-in-law flew out. His groomsmen drove out together. His dad was his best man. My sister was my maid of honor. His sister was one of my bridesmaids. We had a wonderful wedding, of which I don't remember much, except the fact that he gave a ring to my son (who was 10 at the time), signifying that he was now Brother Bear's dad. Everyone cried during that part of the ceremony! We had a quick reception with everyone, and then a small, more intimate BBQ with close friends and family.


We had no honeymoon. We spent one night at a bed and breakfast, and then we moved 1100 miles to California.

I cried.

This was the first time I had ever been this far away from my mom. But I was with my husband, and I loved him, and I still love him. More and more each day.

Why I love Papa Bear:

He loves the Lord with all of his heart, and wants to serve Him in all that he does.

He loves me, and is a good provider.
He loves me, and he makes me laugh.

He loves me, and he loves Brother Bear as if he were his own biological son.

He loves me, and takes care of me when I 'm sick.

He loves me enough to be ok with the fact that, since he taught me to fish, I have caught more fish than he has.

He loves me enough to never yell at me or our children.

He loves me enough to want to live in a small 2BR apartment in order to be 5 minutes away from his work.

He loves me, and his favorite time of the day is at night when we can finally get in bed together and snuggle.

He loves me, and he brings me chocolate!!!!

He loves me, and he works hard at his job, so that we are provided for.

He loves me, loves my family, and loves his family.

He loves me, even though we haven't been able to get pregnant.

He loves me, so we made the decision to adopt, so that we would have more kiddos.

HE LOVES ME, even when I'm PMSing and moody!!!
I love my husband SO much. Thank you God, for giving me such a wonderful man!


Do you have a special Valentine love story? I'd love to hear it.

God bless,
Mama Bear

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Adoption Fundraiser

Here's the second outfit I am listing for sale to help us raise money for our adoption fees.

It's a 5 piece Patriotic Minnie Mouse twirl skirt set in size 3/4/5 (depending on your child's sizing of course), complete with a VERY full elastic-waisted twirl skirt, an appliqued tank top (Minnie's bow comes off, so it won't go through the wash), a pair of elastic-waisted capri pants, and two matching hairbows. For best results, wash in cold water and tumble dry on low heat. We will ship this outfit for free via USPS Parcel Post.













Patriotic Minnie Mouse 5 Piece Set -- $100

Thanks for looking!

Mama Bear

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Reviewing Ice Cream? Absolutely!


Around our house, we LOVE ice cream. Yesterday, Papa Bear brought home a new kind of ice cream....Blueberry Pomegranate Sugar Cone Ice Cream from Sunnyside Farms. It's described on the carton as "Vanilla Ice Cream Sprinkled with Milk Chocolate Covered Artificially Flavored Sugar Cone and Laced with Pomegranate Blueberry Ripple". It's a very creamy vanilla ice cream with just a light ripple of the pomegranate and blueberry. We tasted more of the blueberry than the pomegranate. The sugar cone was amazing! Just like if you got a chocolate dipped waffle cone from Cold Stone Creamery. So yummy! I mean, pretty much any ice cream with chocolate covered something in it is good in my book!

Papa Bear's Verdict: Oh! It was goodlicious! I really like the crumpled up sugar cone in it. That was a good idea!

Mama Bear's Verdict: Pretty yummy! I like the chocolate covered sugar cone. The only thing that I would like to see different is having a bit more of the "ripple" in it. There's not a whole lot of ripple. Maybe it's just this batch, but I would have loved to have tasted more fruit...especially the pomegranate. Not to where it would overpower it or anything, but there was really not a lot of ripple...I'm not exaggerating.

(Brother Bear was sick, and therefore not able to give his verdict.)

Will we purchase this flavor again? Most definitely.

Mama Bear

Adoption Finalization is Just Around the Corner!

We will soon be able to begin counting down to the finalization of the adoption of Baby Bear! Woo Hoo! We are so excited! But there's something that we need to do...we need to raise the adoption fee. It is said that it will cost us between $250 and $500 for the adoption fee. So, I have some wonderful boutique children's clothing that I have made, and I am wanting to sell. If you are interested, you may purchase it right here on the blog! I will be glad to pay shipping on any item that sells. Here is the first item (I will list other items at later times.):

Summer Lovin' Twirl Skirt Set (Size 4/5) -- $45
A fun layered twirl skirt with appliqued denim and calico hearts and buttoned "up gathers".
A size 4/5 white tee appliqued with a ruffled denim "pocket".
Two matching hairbows.
(This set actually matches the Gymboree "Bubble Fun" line.)













If you have any questions at all, please don't hesitate to email me. This set is machine-washable. For best results, please tumble dry on low heat.



Take care!

Mama Bear

Monday, February 9, 2009

When Sinners Say "I Do"


I am a sinner. My husband is a sinner. We said "I Do" on July 17, 2004. Together, we are going through a study for couples at our church, called "When Sinners Say 'I Do'". Yesterday afternoon was our first session. It was really good. We just went over the first chapter of the book by Dave Harvey.

There is an accompanying study guide, and there are small group questions, as well as reflection questions for me to do, and then some for Papa Bear and I to do together.

Here is one of the questions:

Think about an ordinary experience from your marriage this week--a change in plans, a conflict, an unexpected surprise. How did you handle that experience (in words and deeds)? And what did that even reveal about your view of God in that moment?

Here's how I answered:

Last week, my husband was notified that their company's western division would not be getting their annual bonuses. This means that loads of people will not get close to $2000 bonus. When my husband called to let me know this, I nearly cried. We had really been counting on this bonus, so it was really disappointing. Hubby's answer to my disappointment was "The Lord is our Shepherd", to which I readily agreed. I KNOW that God will take care of us no matter what.

Then my husband called me back about 10 minutes later and asked me to pray for him. I could hear the sadness in his voice as he let me know how disappointed he was.

This is so different from something that happened about a year and a half ago. Hubby called to let me know that some friends who had JUST gotten married a couple of months previously, were pregnant. I cried. I said "It's not fair!" My thinking was we had been trying and praying and that hubby and I had done things right and we were married and Christians, so why wasn't God allowing us to get pregnant? It really hurt. Then on top of that, he said "How can you say God's not fair? Why are you so upset?" NOT what I wanted to hear!!! I really felt like I had just been caught with my hand in the cookie jar, so to speak. Like I was being chastised...parent to child. I hurt so much that I said I had to go, and hung up the phone. (Now, you must know that Papa Bear and I do NOT do things this way. We rarely have "fights", and when we do have disagreements, they are resolved quickly.)

I didn't answer the phone the next few times he called. I didn't answer his email. I went into the bedroom and cried and cried. I couldn't call anyone, because I just don't do that. I won't bemoan or badmouth my husband to anyone. I prayed a lot. Then a few hours later, I wrote him via email, letting him know how I felt, and I asked him "Why is it that your reaction is always so good? Why can't you just show me your NORMALNESS...your humanity? Why do I have to feel like I'm going through this heartache of not being able to get pregnant by myself?"

I did answer the phone the next time he called. He apologized, and said that he had already had about an hour to process the information he got about his friends' pregnancy. I said "Well, why couldn't you let ME in on that piece of information???" He said that he felt hurt and disappointed at first too. But why couldn't he show me that side of things? Why did he just have to show me the "super-spiritual, it's all God's plan" side of things? I don't deal well with that when I hurt so profoundly. My husband explained that he loves me and reminded me that he is in battles constantly dealing with pressures to perform, provide, the worlds values, the immodestly dressed women, daily doubts, daily failures and simply fought with this in his mind like he does with most other problems and distressing events. He refers to it like a mental hand to hand combat or Jiu-Jitsu with Bible verses that help him gain resolve and a spiritual footing quickly and bring his mind to where it needs to be. I told him that I am not used to thinking that way and process things differently, even though I believe those things but just it just takes me longer to get there but I could really understand why he has to be that way.

So back to last week....I was very happy that he called and let me know that he was disappointed and sad too. It made me feel like he really cared about my feelings and also let me know that he IS human. It made me realize that this wasn't one of those things that he was going to chalk up as "That's just how I am, and I'm sorry if you don't like it. Deal with it." That's not in hubby's character at all. I realized that he had heard what I said and felt a year and a half ago, and wanted to show me that he wanted to change how he did things...for me.

What did that reveal about my view of God? That He knew what kind of man I would need for a husband, and He was and is faithful, and He loves me. God knew that I would need a man who wasn't so full of pride that he couldn't change his ways to make me realize how much he loves me. He knew that I would need a man who would pick me up out of my sorrow and my self-pity and point me to Jesus, and to the promises of God, which are always faithful and true.

I hope this made sense. I highly encourage you to pick up this book. If you are single and engaged, or if you have been married for 40 years, this is an excellent book to go through. I am so excited to see what it will bring over the next 4 weeks!

Take care,
Mama Bear

A Family Favorite Recipe -- Dill Dip

Dill Dip
1 pint mayonnaise
1 pint sour cream
3 Tbsp. dill weed
3 Tbsp. diced onion
1 Tbsp. seasoned salt
Stir all ingredients together with a spoon. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours before serving, for best flavor. Great with veggies or chips!

Mama Bear

Friday, February 6, 2009

Digital Scrapbooking Vs. Paper Scrapbooking

I have been "paper scrapbooking" for about 13 years now...having started when Brother Bear had 5 strokes at the age of 2, and we needed a way for him to "re-learn" things. Scrapbooking seemed like the natural way to go. I think that I have come a long way with the paper scrapbooking. But now, I have found a new love, and there is a closet shelf full of dusty "tangible" scrapbooking supplies that are feeling sorely neglected. Anyone in the market for some scrapbooking supplies? :-)

My new love, which I discovered about three years ago, is digital scrapbooking. I LOVE it! No glue, no paper scraps, no messes ALL over the dining room table, no having to clean it all up when hubby comes home because we want to eat dinner, no glitter that hangs out on the carpet and your socks and your skin and your husband and son!

My favorite place to buy digital scrapbooking kits is Designer Digitals. They have a HUGE amount of kits, elements, brushes, and more, to choose from. I also like Shabby Shoppe and Little Dreamer Designs.

Here are some of my scrapbooking pages. Oh, and which style of scrapbooking do YOU prefer? I'd love to hear why...and I'd LOVE to see some of your layouts!





Valentine's Special Sale

Click on image to get to our shop!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I've Received an Award!


My first blog award for this blog, has been awarded to me by my online friend, Michele of Sweet Irie Originals. Michele, you're such a sweetie. Thanks for spreading some love!
Now, there are some blogs which I really enjoy, and I want to pass on this award to them. I don't get to read them as often as I would like, but I'm hoping to change that. I'm supposed to do 10, but I'd rather do quality than quantity, so here they are:
What to Do Now
I want to say congratulations to all the winners.
Please share this opportunity with your favorite bloggers by doing the following:
1. Put the logo on your blog or post.
2. Nominate at least 10 blogs, which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude! Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
3. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
4. Share the love and link to this post and to the person from whom you received your award.
Have a great day!
Mama Bear

We Can No Longer Postpone the Inevitable

We need to move the crib mattress down to its last position. It was inevitable that our little guy would be comfortable enough with his safety in our home, that he would eventually try to fly out of the crib. Seriously...they must be thinking, "If I can just get over this rail, I can FLY!".

In order to get a shower on Papa Bear's work days, I have to put Baby Bear in his crib, which is STILL in our bedroom, and then hop in the shower. I'm close. The bathroom is right there. I turn on Sesame Street, thinking that will be more than enough to keep this little guy mesmerized. WRONG! He has to think about escape. About flight. About anything other than being a sweet and good little boy by staying in the crib while Mommy gets her shower.

I'm halfway into shaving my left leg, and I hear this THUD!, and then "WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Yep, he took a flying leap out of the crib. I'm probably a bad Mama Bear, but I couldn't feel any sympathy for him. We have told him over and over not to try to climb out. We catch him with one foot stretching toward that railing, and we say "NO! You can't climb out!". Oh yes he can! And he did!

I have to laugh about it now, but I'm sure he hurt for a few moments. I had him sit on the bathroom floor until I was done, which in and of itself, is a HUGE temptation for him, because he loves to play with the bathroom scale. The one that we have programmed to record our before and after weight, along with the percentage of weight lost. Yep, he loves to push buttons.

So, I think this weekend, we will be moving the crib into Brother Bear's room, and we will be lowering the mattress to the next notch down...the lowest notch. I know, it will only keep him in for awhile. But that's a whole 'nother story for sometime later down the road..."Looking for Toddler Beds".

Take care!
Mama Bear

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Best Musical Rendition of "The Lord's Prayer"

Have You Heard of Scrapblog?



This is fun, and right now it's free! Check them out at Scrapblog.com.

I created this Scrapblog to show one of my favorite recipes: Fantasy Fudge. It's a tiny bit difficult to take pictures while you're making fudge, but I did it!

Mama Bear

My "Mommy Brain" Needs a Smart Shopper


Check this little gizmo out! It's called "Smart Shopper", and you can win one over at Play Date Picks. I love that I don't have to write anything down...I could just touch a button and say what I want to add to my grocery list. The Smart Shopper has 2500 pre-entered items in its database, but that doesn't mean that you can't add specialty items that aren't in the database. The Smart Shopper also doubles as an "errand list", allowing you to record the errands that you need to run. All you have to do is print out the list! Pretty cool, huh? I've entered to win...now I'm crossing my fingers!
Mama Bear

Monday, February 2, 2009

Rag & Bone Bindery -- Fabulous Fabric Covered Books!


I found Rag & Bone Bindery by way of Sandi Henderson's blog, Portabellopixie, which is on my blogroll over there on the left.

Rag & Bone Bindery takes gorgeous designer fabrics and creates wonderful heirlooms that you can treasure forever. Whether it's for Baby's First Book, your guestbook at your wedding, a Day Planner, a photo album, or even an address book, Rag & Bone Bindery is the place to buy! Personally, I LOVE the Green Topiary (shown in the photo above--the one in the center), the Little Birdie Green, and the Red Henna choices. You can view all of the fabric cover options available HERE.

While a little pricey for my current pocketbook, it is definitely a site I will be keeping in mind for future purchases. I would love to get a journal or photo album, and possibly even a day planner.

These hand-covered fabric-cover books would be the perfect gift for your best friend's birthday, for Valentine's Day, for a graduate, a new mommy, or a new bride!

I'd love to hear what your favorite item is over at Rag & Bone Bindery.

Mama Bear

FRS - Healthy Energy



I'm not much of an "energy drink" person. Papa Bear can down a Monster, or Rock Star like it's nothing. I don't really care for the "shakes" that those drinks can bring. They also have this "sickly sweet" sensation...kind of like Tab soda did when I was a kid. It just was one of those feelings that made me feel icky.

Lately, I have just been feeling like I need an extra little boost of energy though. I have been walking a LOT, and eating better, but I still needed some more energy. So Papa Bear decided to try FRS energy drinks. These drinks do not contain caffeine, but have a "patented blend of Quercetin and Vitamins: B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C, and E.

So far we have tried the Wild Berry and the Orange, which are both non-carbonated. I didn't care for the berry one very much. It was just too "berry". And it had little chunks. The Orange is better, but it still tastes like a blend between Sunny D and Tang, but healthy. I have to admit that it does give that extra kick of energy that I need, without making me feel yucky. And it helps with my mental focus, which has been in sad disrepair for oh, about the past 8 months!!!

They also have a Peach Mango flavor, as well as two carbonated flavors: Lemon Lime and Orange.

Here is what the back of the can says: FRS is a healthy energy drink that takes you up a level and keeps you there. FRS contains quercetin - a natural, powerful antioxidant found in blueberries, red onions, apples and cocoa. Quercetin helps extend your body's natural adrenaline as well as neutralizes the oxidants in your body that cause fatigue. Joining quercetin to keep your energy on the level are key vitamins and potent antioxidants from green tea leaves. Inside one can is a daily allowance of enhanced mental focus, increased performance and the energy to keep you going.



Click on the nutrition information above to make it larger so that you can actually read it.



Have you tried FRS? If so, what do you think? Do you think it works? Do you like it? Let's hear your thoughts!


Mama Bear

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Graduation -- An Exciting Time in a Teen's Life


We still have 3-1/2 years before Brother Bear graduates from high school...kind of a scary thought. We pray for him on a very regular basis. His life is so NOT normal, compared to other high schoolers. Having been born with only 1/2 a heart, and having had 5 debilitating strokes at the age of 2, he faces so many more challenges than the "normal" teen. I am so proud though, to be able to say that he is really growing in a love for God, and he has a very tender and compassionate hear for the less fortunate in this world. Thank you Jesus! We know that God has a very special plan for this young man, even though this mother's heart just wants to cry out and say "God, can you give him a miracle?" at times. I'm not ready for him to leave us just yet. How will he make it on his own? God, we know you have a very special girl in mind for our Brother Bear. Please be preparing her to be the Godly wife we wish for Brother Bear, and please help us to be preparing him to be the Godly husband we wish him to be.

I know there are other Mama Bears out there, who are looking at this year as a tough year. You have a kiddo in their senior year of high school...maybe it's your firstborn, maybe it's your baby, or maybe it's your only child. Your heart must be twisting and turning, along with your tummy, at the thought of your baby growing up. Where has all the time gone? Are you treating each day as precious? Are you "redeeming the time"? Time is one of those things that you can't get back, no matter what you do. I look at Brother Bear, and think "I haven't spent as much time with him as I should have.". It's time to remedy that. I need to go and love on my "baby".

What are you doing to spend time with your high school senior? What "last minute" messages are you hoping to pass on to them as they get ready for "flying the coop"? What do you hope to have taught them, that will help them in college and in life? I hope that you see every minute as precious, and that you take the time to just love on your kiddo, even if they say "Awwww, MOM!".
Mama Bear