Blogging Mama

Total Pageviews

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Trying Something New; the drawers of a well organized bureau

Good evening!

Yesterday I was putting the finishing touches on the laundry room remodel. I was thinking how much easier things are if you're organized. For the most part I feel like I'm pretty organized (of course there's always those one or two drawers or closets, but really...I said 'organized' not 'super human'). Long story short, I was thinking about a dresser, where you keep underwear in one drawer, socks in another, and blouses folded neatly in yet another drawer. In keeping with that analogy, my blogs is a dresser with disorganized drawers. My books and poetry are intermingled with my personal stories, business tips, and musings. As I learn more about search engine optimization, key words, and publishing in general I am realizing that if I want to be fair to my readers, followers, and myself - I need to organize the dresser. Now you'll be able to go to three different drawers/blogs for three different areas I am open to sharing. Here's the scoop: will be the blog for personal stories, musings, and encouragement. Stories of triumph, ideas about life, lessons learned, etc... will be the blog for business ideas, advice, consulting, and all things regarding Relax Consulting (powerpoint presentations, interview ideas and tips, resume guidance, etc...)

and now - announcing the newest "drawer in the bureau" (doesn't bureau sound sexier than dresser? I heard angels sing as I came up with that epiphany) which is the place for poetry, short stories, my novel as I work on it (it will be removed at the time of publishing - making this a LIMITED TIME **** today's social media post says it well: If you're interested in being one of the first readers of the new romantic fiction novel I (Crystal Casavant/Crystal Otto/Crystal Casavant-Otto) is working on, you can find it here (with changes and updates 2-3 times each week). The goal is to have it available on Amazon by the end of the year for less than $9.699 but you can read it now for free & provide your input as the story develops.

Please enjoy this new organization and feel free to follow only those blogs that appeal to you - this isn't about becoming the most popular blogger in the history of blogging. This is simply about friendship and community!

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and plenty of bureaus with organized drawers!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Every Mom Needs a Phone Booth

Oh yes! You heard me right - "Every Mom Needs a Phone Booth". Why? you may be wondering...


When I was a girl, Superman was a famous super hero who was synonymous with a phone booth. If you asked Superman followers "where does Clark Kent change into Superman?" most of us would answer quickly and tell you that he changed in a phone booth. My love of Superman didn't last long and I do not claim to be the expert on superheroes or Superman. I do however claim to be a bumbling idiot when it comes to being an adult. I don't say that because I want your pity - I say it because I am simply doing the best I can under the circumstances and when it comes to being a wife and mother, I'm usually just happy to have made it to bedtime without a visit to the ER. I no longer consider it a maternal crime to put children to bed in day clothes, and I've been known to allow macaroni and cheese for breakfast. Those examples may give you a clearer idea of why 'bumbling idiot' is suitable.

My children didn't come with an instruction manual that was specific to them. I lean on the Bible as my guide, but for some reason I cannot find any reference to teeth brushing or crayon eating and there is no map ready to guide me to whatever household monster has eaten all of our socks. Again, I am just happy that we are all alive at the end of the day. If you ask my children, it's an entirely different story. Their mother is their hero. I have powers beyond that of an average human. Here are just a few examples:

A single 'mommy kiss' can take the burn out of a paper cut or instantly heal a skinned knee.

Mommy hugs can help someone who isn't tired at all fall right to sleep.

A song sun by mommy right before bed can scare away monsters, dragons, and dinosaurs.

Mommy is all knowing and has the answers to every question imaginable.

Mommy is the best cook in the world and even cereal tastes better when mommy makes it.

That's a lot to live up to, and I didn't even mention that my son thinks I am the most beautiful girl in the world with the softest skin. This admiration leaves me breathless and speechless. I know as the children get older, they will come to the realization that I am simple. I do not have any super powers, and I don't even have a cape. In the meantime, I will enjoy every moment. In my mind I will be called "Captain Bumble" and my superhero outfit will be pink and purple with a sparkly cape and thigh high boots with sequins. Of course, I'll need a phone booth so I can change into my outfit ... I wouldn't want the rest of the world to know about the stained yoga pants I've been wearing since yesterday afternoon ...

I am no different than other mothers. You all deserve a phone booth, a super hero costume, and an alias. No matter what age your child is, or what they think of you, you are likely juggling a home, a job or career, relationships with friends, a husband/boyfriend/significant other, and all the demands of ordinary life. At 15, had you been given a video tape of your current life, you would have thought 'there's no way I can do all that'. But guess what? You are! You are holding it all together! Some days are easier than others, but the truth is you are amazing. Whether you recognize it or not, YOU are someones Super Hero!

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and phone booths!

**side note:
My Father traveled for work, and began to collect charms for my mother. She has since passed two heavily laden charm bracelets on to me. I am thinking it's time to buy just one last charm for those bracelets, what do you think:   ???????

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Winds of Change

"As the winds of change began to blow, she braced herself for the inevitable. The future belonged to her and she could taste it. It was sweeter than anything she had delighted in before." Crystal

This quote is my gift to you. If you are familiar with this blog, you may have read a previous post titled: Why A Lemonade Attitude Is A Must Have about the lemons to lemonade analogy where I explain that those lemony situations in life are nothing more than little moments of transitions or catalysts of change if you prefer to think of them that way. They are moments that make you question things, and they may even make you uncomfortable ... but in the end, you are a changed person (with a glass of lemonade - in keeping with the analogy).

I challenge you to think about the above quote each morning before you get out of bed. If you journal each day, maybe this is something you want to write at the top of the page as a reminder. When you find yourself concentrating on life's physical and emotional aches and pains, try to get yourself into the mind set that you are on the cusp of something great. This isn't just about positive thinking - this is about the realization that you really are amazing and this day is a gift and you will do great things today! You can smile at a stranger or say good morning at the grocery store. You can uplift a co-worker by thanking them for helping with something or recognize a job well done. You CAN do these things, but it's up to you...WILL YOU?

Will you fall in love with your spouse all over again today (even though they forgot to take out the garbage for the 47th week in a row)? Will you remember how excited you were the first time you held that child (who has now just thrown up all over your loveseat)? Will you walk into the office excited to have a job, a paycheck, and an opportunity for advancement (even though the log hours are frustrating)?

Do you realize that the future belongs to you? Do you realize you have the ability to make it more heavenly sweet than any sugar or agave nectar you have ever found in the grocery aisles? Do you realize that it's your decision if you are going to delight in this day instead of dreading it?

Feel those winds of change - smell them - and delight in every moment - you deserve it!

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and may the winds of change always delight you!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My Funny Valentine Celebration

You and yours are invite to join in the fun!

My Funny Valentine Celebration

When: Friday, February 15th 
Time: 7:30-10pm

7:30pm - Doors Open

7:30pm - Musical Entertainment Begins With Musical Sensation Rebecca Markvart 

8:15pm - Laughter Brought To You By Liysa Callsen 

9pm - Cake from Cravings & Kristy's Kakes donated by Relax Consulting &                     presentation of gratitude by Brake Coffee 

9:30pm - Thank You Raffle with gifts donated by local businesses including:

Motivation For This Event:

"I know there is strength in the differences between us.
I know there is comfort, where we overlap."
~Ani Di Franco

This event was created to share our time and talents with one another - to celebrate community and friendship. Gather with those you know, meet some new friends, and most of all enjoy your evening. Come for the entire evening, or stay for just a bit. Come as you are and simply enjoy!

The following food and beverage will be available for purchase:
Coffee Drinks (ie: Latte's, Chi, etc...)
Fresh Make Juices

**Cake will be complimentary

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Be Like The Turtle

Historian and writer, Bill Copeland is said to have given the following advice:

"Try to be like the turtle - at ease is your own shell."

Bill was also the author of several books (Ashes to the Vistula, and the Secret People's Trilogy) and poems which include a collection of Holocost Poems including the following titles that are particularly moving:

The Ravine

Nothing To Fear

Wiggling Earth


Bill held a Masters Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Georgia but did not begin writing until a decade before his death. He suffered a heart attack and underwent bypass surgery - it was at that time that his writing began. He was recognized by the National Writer's Association and in 2008 was nominated by the Georgia Writer's Association for the Georgia Author of the Year Award. Bill passed away October 10th 2010 after an extended illness.

Now that we know a bit about the man who we credit for the quote, let's look at the quote itself.

Does the shell represent our home? our mind? our body? What is it causing us to feel uneasy? For the teenage girl who is uncomfortable with her changing body and developing breasts, her metaphorical shell is her body and she should try to be comfortable in it. For the middle aged man who goes from work to the bar and spends no time at home, his metaphorical shell is his home and he should try to be comfortable in it. With these examples, there might be small changes that can be made to help feel more at ease in the "shell". The girl can practice more positive self talk, the man could remove the pictures of his ex wife that are making him sad ... just as a few examples.

What happens when the shell is our mind ad we aren't comfortable in it? When our thoughts are negative, cruel, or we see no hope for our future? Of course, if that is the case, we should try to be like the turtle. We should try to be at ease in our own shell. I'm not sure how we would do that - so I turn to the turtle as my example. If I were a turtle, some of the following would hold true:

----Turtles have a hard shell for protection
----Turtles can hide their head in their shell when attacked
----Turtles have existed for around 215 million years
----Turtles have been known to weigh over 1,000 pounds
----Sea Turtles have special glands to remove salt from the water they drink
----Turtles are notoriously slow movers

How can I use this information to enrich my own life? Let's take them in order...

----I need to make sure I'm adequately protected by surrounding myself by people that truly care about me. I need to choose my friends wisely.

----I need to protect myself from negativity by letting those thoughts to in one ear and out the other - I'll hang onto the positive and hide from the negative.

----I need to take pride in my age and not be ashamed of it - the experience is priceless!

----I need to embrace my weight and as long as I am healthy, take pride in my curves!

----I need to watch the salt!

----I need to slow down - if I keep moving so fast I'm going to miss things!

Wow! All this from a fun quote! I hope this quote and it's lessons bring you as much joy as they have brought me! I am grateful that I began writing before any health issues, and I am going to try to be more turtle like moving forward!

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and may your turtle shell be shinny and strong! ~Crystal

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Standing In The Storm - A Portrait of a Strong Woman; Elizabeth Edwards

A friend posted the following quote on Facebook this evening:

"She stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails."

I've also read these words paired with gorgeous backgrounds and nautical themes on Pinterest and sites specializing in motivational quotes. If you aren't familiar with the quote, or it's author, you might just think that it's one woman talking about another woman. Possibly a girlfriend with amazing strength and character being described by a long time friend or lover. There is so much more to this story, and it dates back to the 2009. Maybe you don't recall, or maybe you're too young to recall the book this quote originally appeared in or information about it's author. It's a story worth visiting, so here is a VERY abbreviated version. I would encourage you to read more and will include some links at the end of the article that will point you in the direction of more detailed works.

Elizabeth Edwards was born July 3rd 1949 in Jacksonville, Florida with the name Mary Elizabeth Anania. She graduated from UNC Law School in May 1997 and married John Edwards on July 30th 1977. Elizabeth as she was called, and John had five children together: Wade, Catharine, Emma Claire, and Jack. Wade was killed in a tragic automobile accident in 1996 at which time Elizabeth retired from her position with the law firm Merriman, Nicholls, and Crampton. She had been practicing as a bankruptcy attorney prior to the accident. She founded and ran a foundation in memory of her son. 

John Edwards was busy with his career and enjoyed politics. In 2004 he ran for United Stated Vice President with John Kerry and Elizabeth helped with the campaign. Edwards and Kerry were defeated and within the same year, Elizabeth was diagnosed with breast cancer. Elizabeth's cancer went into remission but returned in 2007. In 2008 John Edwards was running for President and Elizabeth was helping with his campaign - he publicly admitted to having an affair and fathering a child with another woman. John lost the election to Barack Obama and Elizabeth began serving as an adviser to President Obama.

Elizabeth Edward wrote a book titled: Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life's Adversities in 2009. The book talked about life on the campaign trail and her battle with cancer. In the book she described how she wanted to be remembered by her children. The full quote reads:

"I do know that when my children are older and telling their own children about their grandmother, they will be able to say that she stood in the storm...and when the wind did not blow her way - - and it surely has not - - she adjusted her sails."
~Elizabeth Edwards

After a courageous battle with cancer, and a life lived in the political spotlight, Elizabeth passed away December 7th 2010. I'm sure she would be proud to know that her resilient attitude lives on and is being passed along proudly through social media circles as well as with those fighting their own battles against cancer and adversity.

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, 
sunshine, and may your always be able 
to adjust your sails to find the wind!

Books and articles written by Elizabeth and about her include:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Gelato Virgin No More

Gelato Virgin No More

27 hours ago I was a gelato virgin. I had heard of it; my impression was that gelato was a term given to ice cream so they could charge an arm and a leg for it. I didn’t even know if there was milk in it, and I didn’t care to find out. For me, gelato ranked right up there with Manolo Blahnik shoes – nice to look at, but I would never spend the money …
My gelato world was turned upside down yesterday. I walked into an adorably quaint coffee shop (see picture to right) slash bike shop in my hometown of Two Rivers, Wisconsin.  Everything was warm and inviting for both my four year old son and myself. There were books and periodicals to peruse, bikes of every size and color to look at, a few different games to play (including chess), and then my eyes were drawn to the cooler. I think I was drawn in that direction because of the large furry man standing behind it. With his jovial smile and twinkling eyes, he quickly reminded me of so many others – my fifth grade teacher, my mother’s neighbor, santa clause, and even my cherished teddy from childhood. We said good morning and exchanged pleasantries as I walked over to the counter, the smiling man, and the cooler … I felt like I had returned home to the kitchen of a cherished friend. This man was a mere stranger, and yet I wanted to hug him. I was trying hard to stay in the moment and the cooler provided me just the diversion I was after.

I peered through the glass like I had done many times as a child in ice cream parlors. There before me was a plethora of gelato flavors. Vanilla and pistachio caught my attention first. My inner child was screaming “looks like icecream – let’s have some for breakfast” and in the back of my mind I heard my mother inquire “don’t they have fruit here?” Being a very decisive sort of girl, I looked at my new teddy bear friend and said “I’ll have the pistachio gelato please. After all, life is uncertain and I could die before lunch!” My new friend laughed which encouraged me to also announce the following “I am a gelato virgin too – and here I am having it for breakfast!” I’m not quite sure what he thought of me, but the twinkle in his eyes led me to believe he wasn’t uncomfortable. My son is quite accustomed to my ways, and we settled in to enjoy your breakfast of pastries, gelato, and coffee.

I used the odd little spoon to take my first bite and I was in love with the creamy smooth deliciousness in my mouth. The flavor was so intense I couldn’t believe my great fortune. I was torn between exclaiming loudly “this is amazing!” or keeping it to myself to avoid having to share. The yumminess was so intense I couldn’t keep it in. I proclaimed my gelato praises and soon ended up sharing with my son who obviously felt the same. He requested “can we come here every day for breakfast mom?”.  I had to listen to my inner adult for the answer to this one and promised him we would return later in the week.

This morning, I enjoyed my second ever cup of gelato. This morning’s flavor was vanilla. I was as impressed with the vanilla as I had been with the pistachio. When I was finished, I couldn’t help but wonder what made the gelato so much more amazing than ice cream … so I did a little research to learn the following:

·         *Gelato has 25-30% air instead of the 50% that you might find in ice cream

·         *Gelato has 5-7% fat instead of the 10% fat you might find in ice cream (the difference being ice cream uses more cream and less whole milk, gelato uses more whole milk and less cream)

·       * Gelato is not completely frozen and is served at a warmer temperature than ice cream

·         *Gelato doesn’t coat your mouth like ice cream so the flavor is more intense

·         *Gelato is lower in fat and calories than milk

·         *Gelato is high in vitamins and is a great source of calcium

·       * Gelato was first enjoyed in 3000BC in Asian Cultures and then enjoyed by Egyptian Pharaohs – then finally the Italians

·         *Gelato was brought to America (specifically New York City) in 1770 by Giovanni Basiolo

·        * Gelato ingredients include: Milk, Water, Sugar, Non Fat Milk Solids, Stabilizers, Flavor, Fruit, and Air.

If you haven’t tried gelato before, try some! If you want to learn more about gelato, check out: (I searched many sites and found this one to be most helpful). May shops will offer free samples, so don’t limit yourself to just one flavor – TRY THEM ALL – START A GELATO REVOLUTION IN YOUR WORLD!

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and new experiences! (particularly yummy experiences)

Getting Positive and Staying Positive

A friend recently told me about her worrying problem. We all worry, but it seems that she worries about worrying. Her physician had recommended a particular book and when we talked about it, I told her to buy the book because it's the type of thing you don't just read once. As I was searching for the book on the internet, I came across many book and article titles giving a certain number of easy steps to a positive attitude, a certain number of days to a positive self image, and the list goes on and on. It seems if you have any type of problem at all, someone has some steps you can take to rid yourself of the problem. If it really were that easy, don't you think we would all be frolicking in the daisies laughing with childlike glee? All of the therapists, life coaches, psychologists, etc.. would be out of business if there truly were just a few steps needed to change your life. It's no different than the belief that a few pills can end an obese lifestyle.

Well that's depressing, right? You read that and now you're ready to take a nap because life is hopeless, right?

Not hardly my friend!

I am telling you that getting positive is hard and staying positive is even harder. I'm telling you this, because you are not alone in your struggle and if you have a day when you aren't feeling happy, you are not a failure and you're not alone. If I told you there were five easy steps and you'd be cured, the first day you felt sad, you'd throw in the towel. Dottie Hinson and Jimmy Dugan said it best in the fabulous movie A League of Their Own

Dottie: "It's just got too hard"
Jimmy:"It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard ... is what makes it great."

Here are some suggestions to help you get positive:

1) Positive Self Talk - This is all about that little inner voice. If you're inner voice is screaming 'lose some weight' while you look in the mirror, you need to train that voice to shut up, but saying in an even louder voice "I have great eyes and a fabulous smile". Eventually you won't hear the little voice and you'll look in the mirror very confidently and say "I am gorgeous" or "I am handsome" or "Look at Me!"

2) Positive Influence - This is about deciding who in your life is on your side. There's no middle ground when it comes to friendship. People are either for you, or they are against you. If a friend never asks you how you're doing, isn't available when you need them, and doesn't make time to nurture your friendship .... THEY AREN'T A FRIEND ... yup, I screamed that at you - because it's pretty obvious although painful to hear. Rid yourself of those people that bring you down and fill your life with people that notice how amazing you are, how sexy you are, how intelligent you are, and those people who are ready at a moments notice to grab their pompons and cheer you onto the finish line!

3) Reduce Worry - Worry is you trying to control things that are uncontrollable. That's heavy - so let me give you an example: I want to give a kidney to a woman who will die without one. I have 2 and only need 1 - pretty simple, right? It is simple, until I start worrying and then the following doubts creep in:
-what if one of my kids needs one of my kidneys someday? won't I be upset that I don't have 2 anymore?
-what if one of my kidneys fail someday? won't I be upset that I gave one away and now I'm facing death?
-what if the surgery is painful?
-what if ... what if ... what if ...
Truth is, I can't control any of the things I am worried about. I need to just shrug my shoulders in response to those negative thoughts. I need to say 'oh well, can't  control it, so I choose not to worry about it' and I need to repeat this every time one of those negative thoughts comes to mind. Eventually, I will worry less and enjoy much more.

4) Repeat - Repetition is crucial to getting and staying positive. I can't get positive and stay there unless I continually tell myself positive things, surround myself by positive people, and stop worrying about what I cannot control. There are days that I do this nearly every ten minutes, and days when a handful of times is enough.

Now that you know what is going to help you get positive and stay positive, think about how you can help others. Are you the friend that doesn't make time? doesn't ask questions? doesn't give compliments? You might be - but it's never too late to become the friend you were meant to be. Pick up the phone and call someone, invite them to coffee. When you see them, help their positive self talk by giving them a genuine and sincere compliment, be the positive influence in THEIR life. Being good to others will help train your brain to be good to yourself!

Enjoy some improved friendships, new friendships, and more days filled with laughter and positivity! (by the way - I know positivity isn't a word...but it should please indulge me)

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and may you always know how amazing and wonderful you truly are!

Poem - No Longer a Child

I recently had the honor and privilege of listening to a book report and learning about the book titled: Vietnam - Book II 'Sharpshooter' by Chris Lynch

Below is a link to the Amazon site for the book, as well as the Amazon book description. Just under the book description is a poem I wrote about the book and the main character, Ivan's experience fighting in Vietnam. The poem is titled "No Longer a Child" and is written in the style of Maxwell Bodenheim's famous poem Death

Amazon book description:

Some things are worth fighting for.

Of all his friends, Ivan is the only one looking forward to war.

That's because he has never backed down from a fight - - especially when it comes to fighting for what's right. He has protected his friends from bullies for years. And now, as war erupts in Vietnam, Ivan wants nothing more than to fight for his country, just as his father did in World War II.

Enlisting in the United States Army, Ivan is trained to be a sniper. And he's good at it. Very good. But Vietnam is not the war he was expecting. Somehow the glory and heroism of his father's war stories do not come so easily in the jungle.

Now, for the first time, Ivan is forced to question what he's really fighting for ... and whether it's a fight he can hope to win.

No Longer a Child
~by Crystal Casavant-Otto

Leaving the safety of home and school.
In the footsteps of my hero, Dad.
U.S. Army Man -  marching to war.
My heart heavy death on all sides - feeling foreign.
Perched and hiding. Hoping. Zeroing in.
Secret missions, covering my men.
Innocent blood being shed.
My heart hardening with each spray of warm blood.
Fighting Christian morals of youth and rules of war.
How could I do it? Could I not?
Protecting my country. Innocence lost. Darkness.
Darkness without  sleep. I am no longer a child. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Award and Scholarship Opportunity in Manitowoc, WI

The Manitowoc Chapter of Women in Management announces that applications are available for:

Professional Woman of the Year

MANITOWOC, Wis.—Manitowoc Chapter of Women In Management, Inc. announces that application and nomination forms for WIMI’s Manitowoc Chapter Professional Woman of the Year Award and College Scholarship are now available. Forms can be downloaded from the WIMI website: ( or can be obtained via e-mail request:
The Professional Woman of the Year Award recognizes a professional woman who has made significant contributions to her company, employees and community. The award recipient will receive a complimentary one-year membership to the Manitowoc Chapter of WIMI.

The WIMI scholarship will be awarded to a female college student aspiring to a post-secondary professional, managerial, or entrepreneurial career. Applicants must have completed at least their first year of college with the intention of obtaining a degree. Preference will be given to applicants attending college in Manitowoc County, but those who reside in Manitowoc County, or who have graduated from a Manitowoc County High School will also be considered. Financial need, academic performance, community and extracurricular involvement will be considered. The top applicants may be asked to participate in an interview to determine the scholarship winner.

Applicants to the award and the scholarship are due April 1st 2013. Recipients will be recognized at the May 14th 2013 chapter meeting held at the Holiday Inn (4601 Calumet St. Manitowoc) starting at 11:30am.

Any questions can be directed to Teresa Satori, Awards and Partnership Chair: 920.684.1891 or via email:

Women in Management, Inc. is not a fund-raising organization. Our objectives are to promote growth and self-development of women through
educational programming, offer support and guidance, and provide women with the opportunity to exchange information, experiences, and ideas.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

10 Things Extraordinary People Say Every Day, by Jeff Haden

Article Share "10 Things Extraordinary People Say Every Day" by Jeff Haden

This is fantastic. If you don't have the time to read the entire article (attached), here are the 10 Things Extraordinary People Say Every Day:

1) Here's What I'm Thinking

2) I Was Wrong

3) I'm Sorry

4) That Was Awesome

5) You're Welcome

6) Can You Help Me?

7) Can You Show Me?

8) Let Me Give You A Hand

9) I Love You

10) Nothing

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and may you always be extraordinary!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Raining on the Inside

Raining on the Inside

If you're anything like me, you don't really enjoy crying in front of people. That means happy tears as well as those of pain and sadness. Such an outflow of emotion is something I feel comfortable doing in the shower, and on rare occasion, in front of my husband. This said, if you've seen me cry, I was likely incredible uncomfortable at that moment. If you've seen my cry more than once, you're probably a dear friend or family member (or a stalker with a stool who can see into my bathroom window).

I have plenty of emotions, but I prefer to share the happy ones and leave the tears for private. This morning I logged into my social media accounts (since I own a business where I help businesses with social media, I get to call this "work") - so I started 'working' and my news feed was flooded.

1) The mayor's grandfather died
2) A dear friend described herself as "broken" after the death of yet another family member
3) Another story about an abused child who passed away
4) Another debate about gun control and school safety

the list doesn't stop here...

I was overwhelmed. My throat was tight. I was brought back to the day my father passed away, the day my children were born and the cautious eye I still keep on them, and the day of the SandyHook school shooting. Then I was jolted back to reality by a "mommy, mommy, I finished my oatmeal" and I realized everything I have in the right here and now. I cannot control the lives and decisions of others. I wanted to cry for them, I wanted to cry for me, but yet I wanted to smile for all the amazing things taking place in the world around me:

1) A lovely young lady expecting her first child
2) A new puppy for my young son
3) A testimonial for a local coffee shop
4) The sunshine and weather that's conducive to sledding

this list goes on and on too...

I was a mess of emotion and the only way I can describe it is :

 I'm raining on the inside and smiling on the outside.

As I continue my day, I am raining, smiling, and praying. The best part of rain in nature is that it helps plants grow and washes away dirt and dust. Maybe that's why I'm smiling on the outside - because my internal rain is helping me grow and is getting rid of the gunk...

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemon, sugar, sunshine, and internal rain to help you cleanse and grow!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Women's Bible Study in Two Rivers Wisconsin

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Two Rivers Wisconsin invites you to join in a Women's Bible Study of the Book "Pew Sisters" by Katie Schuermann. This will be a 12 week Bible study starting Monday February 4th from 6-7pm being held at:

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
3234 Mishicot Road
Two Rivers, WI 54241

Do you know someone who has faces hurts and disappointments in life? Do you ever wonder where God is in that pain? Perhaps you want to know how you can better help a sister in the pew.

Look around you. We all have stories to tell of disappointment, suffering, and hurts. Come hear the tremendous stories of your Lutheran sisters from around the country and what God has done in the midst of their struggles.

Call or email Sarah Eiden with questions or to sign up: 920.205.8086 

Come for fellowship, and learn how we truly are "pew sisters".

Winterfest Activity at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Two Rivers Wisconsin

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Two Rivers, Wisconsin has scheduled a Winterfest Get-Together. 
When: February 23rd beginning at 1:30pm
Where: Meet at the church then head to Parallel 44 Winery in Stangelville

Details: Join Good Shepherd Lutheran Church on February 23rd for Winterfest at Parallel 44 Winery. We will meet at the church (3234 Mishicot Road Two Rivers, WI 54241) at 1:30pm and drive to the winery together. There will be samples of wine and gourmet foods as well as live music. Additional beverages and snacks will be available for purchase and winery/vineyard tours will also be happening for your enjoyment. Indoor and outdoor activities will be available, so dress warm to enjoy everything this great facility has to offer. Sign up in the church office, or by calling: 920.793.1716.

For more information about the winery:

For more information about Good Shepherd:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Speak Out Against Bullying and Abuse

Posting this on both of my blogs - because I am feeling so incredibly passionate about it right now!

Speak Out Against Bullying and Abuse

What would you do if your child came home and told you that someone in their class was being abused or bullied? I bake my worries away, and the first thing I would want to do is pop another chocolate chip in my mouth to give myself some time to think about what to say. The most important thing to do is listen, so whether you pop another chip, or pour yourself a cup of coffee, you should encourage your child to tell you as much about the situation as possible. Once you have the facts as your child knows them, you can make an educated decision about what the next step should be.
I’ll be honest with you, when my daughter came home telling me about one of the smaller boys in her class who was being bullied, my gut reaction was:
·         At least it’s not my kid
·         At least my kid knows it’s not right to treat people like that
·         I hate to get involved, doesn’t sound like this is my fight – maybe I can change the subject
I chatted with friends (some with children and some without) and ultimately ended up at the door of my Pastor. My argument sounded something like this:
“I understand that it would be the right thing to talk to a teacher or guidance counselor, but the next thing you know the bully will be picking on my kid. I don’t want to do what’s right for everyone, I want to do what’s right for MY family. I can’t save the world like I thought I could ten years ago. What’s so wrong with taking the easy road?”
My Pastor reminded me about recent news stories about shootings in schools and pointed out that I have a responsibility as a Christian to do what is for the greater good of my community. He didn’t say that today’s bully would become tomorrow’s murderer – but that’s where my mind went. If I allowed this bully to pick on the little boy, I would be sending a message to the bully that it was okay and to my daughter that it was okay to treat people this way. After some additional talking and some prayer (not to mention sleepless nights), I decided it was time to sit down with my children to talk about bullying and abuse.
Before sitting them down, I figured I better have a pretty good handle on what bullying and abuse is – so I looked it up and here’s the official scoop (thanks Wikipedia):

Bullying is the use of force or coercion to abuse or intimidate others. The behavior can be habitual and involve an imbalance of social or physical power. It can include verbal harassment or threat, physical assault or coercion and may be directed repeatedly towards particular victims, perhaps on grounds of racereligiongendersexuality, or ability.[2][3] If bullying is done by a group, it is called mobbing. The victim of bullying is sometimes referred to as a "target".
Bullying can be defined in many different ways. The UK currently has no legal definition of bullying,[4] while some U.S. states have laws against it.[5] Bullying consists of three basic types of abuse – emotionalverbal, and physical. It typically involves subtle methods of coercion such as intimidation.
Bullying ranges from simple one-on-one bullying to more complex bullying in which the bully may have one or more "lieutenants" who may seem to be willing to assist the primary bully in his or her bullying activities. Bullying in school and the workplace is also referred to as peer abuse.[6] Robert W. Fuller has analyzed bullying in the context of racism.
Bullying can occur in any context in which human beings interact with each other. This includes school, church, family, the workplace, home, and neighborhoods.

Now that I have all this great information, I am rehearsing what I can say and different scenarios to open up the discussion. The first thing I came up with was a graphic:

I am sharing this graphic through social media to hear how others have dealt with the topic in their families. The following steps seem crucial in combating the problem:
·         Listen Objectively
·         Work With Teachers and Those in Authority
·         Talk to Your Children About Speaking Up
o    and
§  The Importance of Being a Voice for Others
·         Keep Talking and Listening (don’t assume the problem went away)
·         Use All Resources Available to You
o    Ie:

Not saying that we do everything right at our house, but as Pastor reminded me – you can never go wrong when you tell the truth and do the right thing. It isn’t always easy, but it is always worthwhile in the end.
Don’t be afraid to speak out!

Andre's Caramel Corn Recipe

Who doesn't love a family fun project? We really enjoy a project that creates a treat, so we want to share one of our favorites with you. We found the original recipe on line and made some adjustments and changes to suit our family and we now refer to it as "Andre's Caramel Corn Recipe" since he helped me make at least six batches over the holidays.

From our family to yours - enjoy!

Andre’s Caramel Corn Recipe
·         7 quarts plain popped popcorn (we use an air popper)
·         2 cups dry roasted peanuts (optional)
·         2 cups brown sugar (we like the dark, but it’s up to you)
·         ½ cup light corn syrup
·         1 teaspoon salt
·         1 cup butter (doesn’t matter if it’s salted or unsalted and if you really like margarine better, go ahead … but since my hubby is a dairy farmer, we use real butter)
·         ½ teaspoon baking soda
·         1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.   Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt in a saucepan, do not heat until after the corn is popped.
2.   Pop your corn - place the popped popcorn into two shallow greased baking pans. If you don’t have a dishwasher, you may want to use disposable roasting pans. Add the peanuts to the popped corn if using. Set aside.
3.   Bring the butter/brown sugar mix to a boil over medium heat, stirring enough to blend. Once the mixture begins to boil, boil for 5 minutes while stirring constantly.
4.    Remove the butter/brown sugar mix from the heat, and stir in the baking soda and vanilla. The mixture will be light and foamy. Immediately pour over the popcorn in the pans, and stir to coat. Don't worry too much at this point about getting all of the corn coated.
5.   Bake for 1 hour, removing the pans, and giving them each a good stir every 15 minutes (this is when you want to make sure everything is evenly coated).
6.   Line the counter top with waxed paper, or if you are daring … just use a clean countertop (this is what we do to avoid any wax paper sticking to our treat). Dump the corn out onto the waxed paper and separate the pieces – this is the most fun for young helpers.
7.   Allow to cool completely, then store in airtight containers or zip lock bags.

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, and sunshine as well as sticky counters and full bellies!
~Crystal (and family)