Friday, December 17, 2010

Merry Christmas

Dear Ladies,

I just wanted to send you a quick note and wish you all a Merry Christmas. I also wanted to share two small thoughts with you. The first is just something to think about during this holiday season. I recently wrote this in an email and thought I would share it with all of you. Here is what I wrote:

Last night we had a women's Christmas party at our church. One of the young moms(Thanks Jill) that I mentor had her baby with her and I had the privilege of holding him for a long time. He snuggled his sweet head on my shoulder and was so peaceful and content. Holding a baby so close to Christmas made me think about how amazing it is that God sent his Son to earth as a baby. To think that Christ humbled Himself to become a helpless infant. The King of the Universe was a baby who needed His every need met. Wow, that is love.

If you are blessed to have a baby during the Christmas season take a moment while you are holding him/her and imagine what it must have been like to have held the Savior as an infant. Ponder for a moment what Jesus did when He stepped down from heaven to become a helpless infant.

the second thought I want to share with you is just a helpful holiday hint. It can be very embarrassing when you child opens a gift from a friend or relative and says "My mom wouldn't let me have this"(yes, my daughter actually said that about a gift her grandmother gave her). Or maybe they toss the gift aside and ask for another. Or maybe they open it and tell everyone they already have one, they don't like, or maybe they say "I had one of these, but my mom got rid of it." In years to come the embarrassing things your children say or do at Christmas will be funny memories, but for the most part we want to avoid too many embarrassing moments.

Here is an idea to try:

Find some of your child's toys, a few they really like and a few they don't like or have out grown. Plus find a few other items around the house like a can of green beans, a spoon, a bar of soap or almost anything that wouldn't be an exciting gift. Wrap all the items you collected in Christmas wrap and call the children in for a practice session.

Explain to your child that there is a correct way to respond to a gift, even a gift they don't like. If they open a gift they like they can respond with "I really like this, thank-you." If they open a gift they don't like, instruct them to just say "Thank you." Let you children know that we don't want to hurt people's feelings by saying we don't like the gift they gave. Once you have instructed your child in the correct responses, it is time to practice. Tell him/her the gifts are just old toys and things from around the house and that they are going to practice opening presents. Give them a gift to open and encourage them to say "thank you" or "I appreciate it" even when it is an item that would not be a fun gift to receive. Have enough items wrapped that you can practice opening one or two presents for several days.

I did this with my daughter and she enjoyed it, plus she learned what to do when she was given an item she already owned, didn't like or her mom didn't want her to have. The time you invest in teaching this lesson will benefit your child their entire life and will help to limit some of the awkward moments.

Have a wonderful Christmas,


Monday, November 1, 2010

Great Advent Books


The Christmas season is fast approaching and I wanted to share with you about a series of books that my family has enjoyed reading during the holiday season. They recently were advertised in the MomSense magazine from MOPS.

The books are designed to be read aloud to your children during the Advent season. The first book is called Jotham's Journey. Each day during Advent you read to your family a chapter about Jotham. As Jotham travels he has a lot of adventures and meets the characters who make up the next two books in the series, Bartholomew and Tabitha. Each book is meant to last the entire advent season, ending on Christmas Day when their adventures bring them to a stable in Bethlehem.

There is no need to buy all three books at once. The series begins with Jotham, next year your family would follow Bartholomew and the third year read about Tabitha during advent. Then you can start all over again with Jotham.

We were introduced to these books about 8 years ago and we still enjoy reading them each holiday season. It is a great way to remember what the season is really about. Each chapter only takes about 10-15 minutes to read, so they work well in the evening.

You can find the books at Christian Book Distributors or a local Christian book store.

Blessings to all,

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Life Long Friendships

Dear Ladies,

Summer is now in full swing. The sun is warm, the children are out of school and the pools are open. For us summer means hours at the pool for swim team and a chance to take a family vacation. This year we decided to drive to South Dakota to visit friends, Ci , Jon, Josh and Nat. We have considered this family friends for a long time. Eric and Jon were house mates in their bachelor days and Ci and I taught school together. They were married 3 months after we were married.

We have moved several times since we were married and have made new friends in each area. However, Jon and Ci are some of the only people that we have been able to keep in touch with over the years. They are the kind of friends that no matter how much time has elapsed between calls or visits we are able to jump right in and catch up on the what is new in our lives.

Friends that have known you for a long time are rare and invaluable. These are the friends that have a history with you. They are the ones who have watched you grow in your walk with the Lord, they have seen you go from a mom of babies to a mom of teenagers, they remember the struggles you had with your parents and the insecurity you felt when your mother-in-law came to visit. They have been through the joys and sorrows of life with you.

If you have a friend that has known you for over ten years, you are fortunate. Life long friends are rare and their friendship is priceless. Why not give that friend a call today and catch up for a bit, but mostly just let them know how much their friendship has meant to you. And don’t forget to keep that friendship alive with quick emails, short notes and the occasional card.

If you don’t have a friend that you have known for over ten years, there is still time. She may be someone you are just getting to know or she may be someone you met years ago. Whether this friend is near or far continue to keep in touch with her. Someday you will be able to say she is a lifelong friend and enjoy the beauty of having a friend who has been there through the years.

Blessings to all of you,


Sunday, May 9, 2010

You Can't Beat These Prices

Dear Ladies,

I was so excited when a new Aldi Food Market opened in Stafford. Eric first introduced me to Aldi when we were newly weds. There is an Aldi just down the street from his childhood home. At the time you could only find stores in the Midwest, so we would stock up on a few things and take it home. We found the canned fruit to be very cheap and we blended it up for baby food. Now Aldi has expanded and they are much easier to find, but I never thought we would get one in Stafford.

For this letter I just wanted to share a little with you about this unique store. You wouldn't find everything you need at Aldi, but for the staple items their prices are great. Be sure to a have a quarter with you to unlock a grocery cart and bring bags for your groceries. If you need to you can purchase bags for .05 for paper and .10 for nice large plastic bags that can be reused or pick up a box while shopping. The majority of the products are in boxes on pallets, nothing fancy in this store. Most products are the Aldi store brand, but for the most part everything is good quality.

The only product my family doesn't really likes is the cheapest spaghetti sauce, but it has been a long time since we have tried it. Below is a list of a few products and the prices, so you can get an idea of what items cost.
Large box of corn flakes $1.19
A pound of bacon $1.99
A dozen of large eggs $1.25
A bag of tortilla chips $.99
A 16oz of shredded cheddar cheese $2.99
A pound of butter $1.99
A large jug of 100% cranberry juice $2.49

Sometimes I buy my meat at Aldi, but I've found that when meat is on sale at Giant it is a better price and that Wegmans has the best price on ground beef.

Aldi also sells fresh produce, but if you're shopping for organic foods you wouldn't find much.

For those of you who don't live in Stafford, you can check the website for a location near you.

One last thing, you have to pay with a debit card or cash.

Happy shopping ladies. I would love to know what you think.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Soup for Dinner

Dear Ladies,

Soup would be excellent for dinner now while the days are cool, so I was going to send you the recipe for Taco soup. However, I already send that one to you. It is on the blog page for you to use any time.

Another easy dish for a cool night would be White Chicken Chili. All of the ingredients can be put in the crock pot in the morning and will be ready by dinner. Crock pots are great for days when you are going to be out all day. Either you can put it together the night before or in the morning before you leave. This chili isn't very spicy, so everyone should enjoy it.

White Chicken Chili
1 medium onion, chopped
3 Tablespoons oil
1 (4oz) can of chopped green chilies, drained
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 (15.8 oz) cans of great northern beans
1 (14.5 oz) can of chicken broth(I usually just use bouillon)
1 1/2 cups finely chopped cooked chicken

Put all the above ingredients in a crock pot and cook on low all day. Serve with Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese, sour cream, andtortilla chips.

We like corn bread with our soup, so I'm including that recipe for you also.

Corn Bread

1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup corn meal
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
1 beaten egg

Mix all ingredients together and bake in a 8x8" pan. I bake mine in an iron skillet.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

The following link has all the recipes that have been sent in past letters.



Monday, April 12, 2010


Dear Ladies,

Mondays always seem to be busy days. When my kids were little I always felt Mondays were the hardest day of the week. Because I hadn't done much housework over the weekend I had a lot of catching up to do. Now we have Sunday clean up time and everyone has jobs to help to clean up our weekend mess. Sometimes we skip our clean up time, like we did last night. We opted to watch a movie instead.

However, today I felt like there was SO much to do. Of course much of it is still undone. I was able to cross off a few of the items on my to-do list. I never seem to have enough time or energy to complete everything that needs to be done. I'm sure there are times when all of us feel this way. Was today one of those days for you?

I don't have any great tip for you today, but just wanted to give you a bit of encouragement. You are not alone. We all feel like we can't get it all done, we all get overwhelmed and want to quit. We all have jobs left undone when we head to bed at night and most of us probably have dirty dishes in the sink.

When you are completely overwhelmed, step back and decide which jobs are the most important and complete them first. But above all remember that your most important job is loving your family and sometimes that means leaving the laundry unfolded for one more day. Far more important are the bedtime kisses, the afternoon story, the time spent listening to a love one tell about his day or the opportunity take a walk together.
I love to hear from you, please add emailing Melissa to your to-do list. I'll understand, however, if that job never gets crossed off.

Blessings to all,

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Be Spontaneous-Have an Adventure

Dear Ladies,

I recently purchased a new laptop.. It is actually a netbook, just the right size to fit in my purse. We bought the one with a larger battery, so I will be able to use the computer anywhere I wanted. The best part is, the computer is a vibrant purple color.

So many days I want to write to you and send a bit of encouragement or a quick thought, but my time and energy is in short supply most days. We recently laid a new ceramic tile floor in our kitchen. It is hard to get much done during the week, so most of our work has to be done on the weekends. Yesterday, we spent some time outside replanting three fruit trees and some moving some plants in our front flower garden. It was a perfect day to be outside, so we put our school work aside and went out. Some days a spontaneous change in plans is a welcome change from the normal.

Are you ever spontaneous? Do ever just change all your plans to do something different? Spring is a great time for some spontaneous adventures. I love to take adventures with my kids. I call them adventures, but that can mean whatever I decide is the event for the day. Sometimes that means packing a picnic and finding a local park with a playground. Other times we may just go to a nearby park and hike or follow a stream. If I’m really feeling adventurous we will take the metro into DC and go to a museum, however, I wasn’t comfortable making the trip until my children were older.

For those of you who live in the North Stafford area, I put together a list of few fun places you might enjoy taking your children. If you don’t live in Stafford, scout your area for parks and recreation areas; make the hunt for these places part of your adventure. Remember to take along a pail for all the treasures the children find.

Happy Adventures,


Below is a list of 10 local places that are fun to explore with younger and older children.

1. Clair Brooks Park- The park has a Frisbee golf course that runs through the woods. It is a beautiful path to follow and at one point there is a little waterfall, with a small basin of water at the bottom. This is a fun spot for a picnic and playing in the water. In mid-summer the place is almost dry.

2. Smith Park- There is a nice playground and a path to the creek. We like to find places with water. There are always some fun creatures to find in the water.

3. Alum Springs Park in Fredericksburg-This is a wonderful little park set in the woods. There is a trail to the creek which leads to some rocky overhangs. During the Civil War the citizens of Fredericksburg hid under these rocky overhangs during the battle of Fredericksburg. Historical markers along the trail tell the history of the area.

4. Willowmear Park- This park is mostly sport fields, but there is a playground and a paved path. Children enjoy riding bikes and scooters along the path from one end of the park to the other. The park is located on Mountainview Road.

5. Prince William National Forest- There isn’t a playground that I know of at PWNF, but there are plenty of places to hike. There is a small entrance fee. Check the park’s website for more details and directions.

6. Aquia Landing-In the summer the park is open for swimming in the Potomac. The beach is sandy in places. There is a fee per person to swim. The following link has additional information about the park.

7. Leesylvania State Park- this park is near Dumfries and is along the Potomac River. Swimming is not allowed in the river, but you can explore along the shore looking for pretty rocks and other items that have been washed up.For more information check out the park’s website:

8. Funland/Chuckie Cheese-For a few dollars you and your children can spend a rainy afternoon playing games. The folks at Chuckie Cheese don’t mind if you just play games and don’t purchase a pizza. The children usually end up with a handful of tickets they can redeem for a cheap prize, adding to the afternoon fun.

9. Carl’s Ice Cream –Carl’s has been in Fredericksburg forever. I was introduced to Carl’s years ago, by a native to the area (thanks, Shelley). The line is long on hot days, but the staff is very efficient and the line moves quickly. A regular ice cream cone is very reasonably priced. Carl’s is at 2200 Princess Anne St, are open Sunday-Thursday from 11am -11pm and on Friday-Saturday from 11am-11:30pm.

10. Lunga Lake-This small park is part of Quantico. We enjoy taking walks near the lake and gathering pinecones. The lake would also be a good place for little ones to try their hand at fishing. There is a picnic shelter and a small playground. To get to the park drive out Onville Rd. When you arrive at the guard house, let the guard know you are going to the lake; they can give you directions from there. If you have a vehicle decal for military installations you shouldn’t have any trouble getting through the gate. Otherwise you may have to show your driver’s license and let the guard inspect your car, but I’m not completely sure.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Practical Ways to Love Your Husband

Dear Ladies,

We all love practical ideas, suggestions that we can put into to practice in our everyday life. We read magazines to find practical ideas to help us organize our home, scan the internet for practical ways to complete projects and read parenting books for practical ideas to help us raise our children.

One area of our lives that need constant attention is our marriages. With some practical ways to express love to our spouse we can enhance and strengthen our marriages. Below are a variety of easy suggestions that will give you a chance to express your love to your husband.

1. Wait until your anger or feelings of irritability have subsided before discussing a sensitive issue. Do not tell your husband how you want him to behave, instead share with him what feelings the issue aroused in you and why.

2. Ask your husband to pray with you.

3. Dream together- talk about what you want to do together in the future. Discuss where you would like to vacation this summer as a family. Talk about home improvement projects you would like to tackle, share personal goals with each other and encourage your husband in his goals.

4. Drop the word “divorce” from any conversation you have with your husband. Avoid using the word divorce as a threat during an argument. Determine that for your marriage, divorce is not an option. My parents are divorced and my grandparents on both sides of the family were divorced. Both my dad and mom’s family had a history of divorce. Often trends like this will continue in families for generations. About 6 years into my marriage I prayed and committed myself to breaking that cycle in my family. My husband and I never use the word divorce in any argument we have, we have both decided it isn’t an option for us, so we will not talk about it or threaten each other with divorce.

5. Avoid name calling-Whether you are speaking to your husband or talking about him in a public situation be careful about the names you use.

6. Avoid withdrawing from your husband physically and emotionally. It is easy to think I will never talk to him about this again, or to pull back when he tries to give you a hug, but these actions only begin to build up a wall between you and your husband.

7. Do something with your husband that he enjoys-Watch football, attend an event your husband enjoys together or take an interest in his hobbies. Eric has really enjoyed it the few times I attend a pigeon racing club (his current hobby is racing pigeons) meeting or attended a work related event with him. Taking time out of your schedule to attend an event your husband enjoys is an excellent way to silently tell your husband you love him and are interested in what he does.

8. Thank your husband for something he does- When he comes home at the end of a long day, thank him for working all day, thank him when he changes a diaper, fills the car with gas or takes out of trash. Even if it is a job that is normally something he does, or is job he should be doing, thanking him will encourage him and build him up.

9. Buy him a surprise gift- The gift doesn’t have to be expensive, maybe buy him a favorite snack or candy bar. The gift lets him know that you were thinking about him during the day.

10. Make his favorite meal for dinner.

11. Put a love note in his lunch or briefcase.

12. Tell him you love him often.

13. Give him an extra long kiss when he comes home at the end of the day- wouldn’t he be surprised and wonder what you are up to if you give him a long sweet kiss when he walks in the door tonight.

14. Plan a date and take your husband out for the evening. The expectation is that the husband will plan the date and the wife will get the sitter, why not try planning the date also. Think of somewhere your husband enjoys, even if it isn’t on your list of favorite places. For Eric’s 50th birthday I arranged a private tour of a small vineyard. The winemaker showed Eric around and told him about the process of making wine. Winemaking isn’t necessarily something I’m real interested in, but I know Eric finds the process intriguing. We ended the day with a picnic down by the river and for him it was much better than a big party. Eric was delighted with his surprise birthday outing.

15. Be kinder to your husband then you are to strangers or friends. Treating our friends nice can be easy, we don’t live with them every day. Show your husband that he is loved as much or more than your friends.

16. Initiate some romantic time alone-enough said. You know what to do!

17. Do little favors for him that you know he will enjoy, bring him coffee in the morning or a cold drink when he is working, or rub his back.

18. Help him with a project he is working on, even if you are just holding the tools for him.

19. Take a walk together; even if you have to take the kids along it will be time that you are spending together.

20. Say you are sorry. Apologizing can go a long way in restoring a relationship and tearing down the wall between you and your husband.

21. Bake him some cookies and make some extra for him to share at work.

22. When he arrives home from work or from being out, stop what you’re doing to greet him with a kiss. In fact, kiss him as often as you can.

Loving our husbands can be a chore or can be pleasurable; the decision is up to us. Loving a man that isn’t very loveable sometimes, can be difficult and there may be times in your marriage when you feel very little or no love at all for your husband. Feelings change; marriage cannot be based on feelings alone. If we went on feelings alone, our marriages wouldn’t last very long. Love has to be a decision. Each partner has to make a decision to love at all times, not just when it feels good.

Make a decision today to love your husband all the time, use some of the ideas given to show him that love. Whether you feel like it or not try a few of the ideas and keep trying. At first you may not notice any difference, but with continued effort you will see a change in how you feel and will notice a change in your marriage. Give some of the ideas a try and see what happens. Most likely the love in your marriage will increase, as you continue to show your husband how much you love him.

I would love to hear from you any ideas you have and to hear the outcome of your efforts to express your love.



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