Sunday, August 31, 2008

A few words from El

Yo! El here! This is my first official guest blog! Won’t find this entry any where else. This is a once in a lifetime chance people!!! (That is, if I don’t become a famous author. Then you’ll know me!)

Yeah, this is El, Stefanie’s daughter. One day she (mom) came up to me and Mo and asked us to come and write a guest blog. So I’ve been thinking. And thinking. And thinking. So here’s what I came up with. NOTHING. Zip. Zilch. None. Nada. (or how ever you spell it.) Mom wants me to write about myself, but how much can I say that won’t attract those creepy stalker-ish weirdo’s?

So I’ll write a very little bio about the El bel.

I like green. I like blue better.

Now that we have gotten to know each other better….

I wrote a poem! Or two! Yay!

Poem Numero Uno:


A poem by El

Why do we get to choose our husband

When there are other girls who are arranged

Or sold to a man?

Why are the nicest people we know

The ones who have been



Or neglected?

Why do we get to stuff ourselves at every meal

While there is a child somewhere

Dying of hunger

At this moment?

Why do we have the privilege to choose our president

When another Man is being beaten to death

Just because

He disagreed with a dictator?

Why do we ignore our families

When there is a mother who has to give up

Her child

Since it is against the law to have

More than one?

Why do we get a fancy heating system

When a man in colder weather

Can’t even afford shoes?

Why are we so spoiled

When the only difference

Between us

And the rest of the world

Is that we were born

Somewhere else?

Why can’t it be fair?

Why are we so different?

I like that poem better than this one….

Poem Nomero Dos:

My Way

A(nother) poem by El

If I had it my way

Best friends and parents would never die

But if it was my way

Their love wouldn’t be as unique

If I had it my way

Everyone would have a happy ending

But if it was my way

Fairytales wouldn’t warm our hearts

If I had it my way

Summer would never turn to fall

But if it was my way

We would always be over-heated

If I had it my way

There wouldn’t be such thing as a frown

But if it was my way

Smiles wouldn’t make our day

If I had it my way

There would be no learning in school

But if it was my way

We wouldn’t have the modern comforts that we have today

If I had it my way

A broken heart would be easily mended

But if it was my way

A scratch would be an extreme injury

If I had it my way

The world would never run out of chocolate

But if it was my way

Candy wouldn’t taste as sweet

If I had it my way

Boys would make sense

But if it was my way

There would be a little less mystery in the world

If I had it my way

There wouldn’t be any war or violence

But if it was my way

Peace wouldn’t be our goal

This concludes El’s guest blog. Hope you enjoyed it!!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

I did. I'm gonna. I was. I am.

Steve coached Mo's lacrosse team for two years. 7th and 8th grade. He had no experience with lacrosse, no history with lacrosse, and absolutely no desire to coach lacrosse. Somehow, as happens when dads show up at sign ups and are interested in their daughters' lives, he ended up the coach. He deserves an award, but instead he got a valuable skill.

He returned home with our daughter after that first practice of that first long season, and as we sat down to eat dinner he asked,

"Are all middle school girls so rude?"

"Duh." An understatement.

As discouraging as that particular coaching experience was, the language skills he acquired were priceless. He started to learn Teenage Girl that day. It has served us well, since the language of Teenage Girl is a pretty handy language around here. Sometimes we, the adults, even speak it.

Here is how you learn a language best. Immerse yourself. Use it in conversation. Practice. Practice. Practice.

Lacrosse practice.

"Keep your stick high." Spoken as she, any she on the field, is just standing there.
"I did."

"Try going behind the goal."
"I'm gonna."

"Stop talking and listen." At halftime.
"I was."

"Get lower. Bend your knees. You'll..."
"I am."

I did 11 push ups the other day.
I did.

It's time for me to do Week 2, Day 3.
I'm gonna.

I was gonna do them earlier.
I was.

Right after this post.
I am.

Your turn.

Monday, August 25, 2008

< / s t a y c a t i o n >

Our staycation is over, and today was back to the working world.


After work, Mo and I went to the grocery store and while she was picking out some hair clips and hair bands and who knows what else hair stuff...

She said, "After 20 years, you deserve a new curling iron."

My curling iron is a round brush with like 6 rows of spiky things sticking out of it. Many of the spiky things are broken off. It hurts when they poke my head. The remaining spiky things are slightly caked with hair product. It has been a while since I cleaned it, now that I think about it.

BUT it is not 20 years old. More like 15.

"Do you really think I need a new one?"

"Yeah..." Spoken in the tone of DUH.

"OK, thanks for taking care of me."

Got myself an anniversary present today. At the grocery store. I deserve it.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


This month I had planned to write 20 posts about being married 20 years. I’ve discovered that I can’t separate living, parenting, and marriage experiences. I didn’t write 20 posts, but here are 20 things that time has revealed.

1. Things gained: 1 lifelong companion, 2 incredible girls, peace with God, experience, perspective, wrinkles, a stamped passport, a new passport that needs to be stamped, 20 pounds, many fish, 1 dog.

2. Things lost: a toolbox left on a moving truck, money in bad investments, all the secret hiding places where I stash candy.

3. Preferences acquired: drinking coffee, getting up early, reading the Bible.

4. Tendencies conquered: *bleeping* in creative combinations and more often than a fisherman (I’m not proud of it-- I’ll tell ya about it someday), the assumption that dog hair in the food indicates I’m a bad housekeeper, mistrust.

5. Hobbies discovered: photography, writing, computer geekdom.

6. Skillz honed: cooking, apologizing, accepting apologies, cleaning, thinking, giving without expecting thanks, sharing, waiting for the bathroom.

7. Nightmares shared: 91 degrees in NE at 2 am in a car with no air conditioner, Black Hills in August in a car with no air conditioner, moving a 3 week old baby from NE to UT in a car with no air conditioner, living in CO, NE, UT, CO, PA with a car with no air conditioner, renting a house with a hole in the roof and a landlord in the basement.

8. People fondly remembered: my mom, grandparents, uncle, cousins, friends.

9. Favorite gifts given: 1st Anniversary cake, surprise dinner for wives made by husbands, under-sink roll-out trash can, manicure/pedicure gift certificate, car detailing.

10. Romantic walks taken: THE aisle, Culver Falls, Red Feather Lakes, our neighborhood.

11. Medical interventions: extraction of corn from nose, large sliver removed from tiny foot, stitches in finger and knee, one head injury, one concussion with bonus matched set of fractured arms, pneumonia, surgeries to remove bone growths, lymph nodes and a random fat globule, adult tonsillectomy with all possible complications, and a few kidney stones to pave the way.

12. Heads of hair brushed, pony tailed or braided: too painful to remember.

13. Children’s concerts endured: 21. Elementary School. Glad we’re done.

14. Children’s concerts enjoyed: 9 so far. Districts, Middle and High School. Worth the wait.

15. Moves made: 8.

16. Homes made: Colorado – 3, Nebraska – 2, Utah – 3, Pennsylvania – 1.

17. Years invested here: 9.

18. Laughs shared: too many to count.

19. Home movies watched: not nearly enough.

20. Regrets: none.

Friday, August 22, 2008


On Wednesday we went to the Brick Hotel for dinner to celebrate our anniversary. Some friends had given us a gift card several months ago, and we saved it for this week. We ate fantastic food and we had a great time together.

Mo took our picture before we left. Didn't she do a great job? Too bad my gray roots are showing...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

20 Years Ago...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What did I do this summer?

As the parent of teenagers, I get to measure what I did this summer by what my kids did.

Mo and a friend started the summer by going to Williamsburg with our friend Grace the Youth Leader and her two little girls. Mo didn't take any pictures of herself, but she did take pictures of things like this.

El helped me make a tutorial on the best way to shuck corn, but I never posted it because I didn't like any of the pictures. Except this one. Maybe next year...

El helped out at soccer camp at church for a week, and then both girls helped at Vacation Bible School. El worked with 2nd grade. Mo helped to lead music, and sang a solo at the closing program.

Then Mo took what she learned at our Vacation Bible School on the Bridesburg Missions Trip. She is the leader on the right with the glowing zombie eyes. Not sure why her eyes came out this way in the picture, but she was as tired as a zombie at the end. Did she rest? No, she went to be a counselor at Tel Hai Camp. I'm not adding any pictures of that since I don't have parental permission of the children.

While Mo was away, we went boating with our friends.

El and I were stopped by the local migratory birds. The more than 50 geese regularly cross the road. I was amazed by how mad people got when they had to wait. El and I just laughed and counted geese.

Once Mo recovered from her busy weeks, she decided she wanted to learn to drive. Steve gave her a lesson in the church parking lot while I sat in the back seat and got the giggles.


El went to MD for ELFS Camp. The ELFS were formed in 4th grade when E, L, F, and S were all in the same class. The next year, L moved to NY, leaving the group to be known as the EFS. L moved to MD last year, and her parents graciously invited the EFS to join them in MD for ELFS Camp. This picture at the National Zoo is actually the NELSF, since they have L's sister N with them, and they are out of order. They had lots of fun. One of the reasons we went to Baltimore last weekend was to bring the EFS home. It was loud in the car. I cannot imagine how loud ELFS Camp was.


Steve and I were in Baltimore seeing the sights, staying in an awesome hotel and playing kissy face in the elevator. That was the best part of my summer.

Friday, August 15, 2008


We're on staycation.

Steve and I are going to Balitmore for the day (and night).

Next week we will be home, but we won't be going to work.

Did I mention that we are on staycation?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008



No, I didn't get the red pen out again...this was just too fun to resist.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Breaking Dawn Break - 2nd and Final Attempt

This time I really am taking a break from writing about 20 Years. I think.

Go here, then here if you have no idea what I'm talking about.

I read these books because Mo was reading them. They are quite compelling. I can see how so many girls (and women!) are captivated. There are some interesting themes. It's all well written, even the one I didn't like. I guess I didn't get so emotionally caught because I was filtering my own reading in preparation to talk about it with Mo. We had a lot to talk about.

I related to Breaking Dawn on a personal level more than the others. I was a bit surprised by that. Even though I figured out a lot of what was coming, there were still some surprises. There are holes too, but I'm not going to go there now. I also have some issues with the worldview presented, but I talked about them with Mo. I'm good with that.

The thing that most intrigued me in this book was that Bella spent a lot of time figuring out her 'gift', and in that, discovering herself. Through the whole series, she did not realize that she had something to offer that was unique and powerful. Before she completely understood what it was, she began to perfect it. She got lots of help from friends too. Up to that point, she isolated herself from all but a select few. That always bothered me. I was glad that she also recognized it was something she shouldn't hide behind. She learned to use it and she learned how to put it aside.

Maybe, just maybe, Bella has reminded me of myself a bit.

My last Wall post to Rachel. Saturday night.

at 9:54pm on August 9th, 2008


liked it best.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

20 yrs = 20 lbs

I gained 20 pounds in the last 20 years.

Steve says, "It took you 20 pounds to gain 20 years?"

I love him.


Our family is going to do one hundred push ups together.

So far, I can do 2.

My friend Mary is going to join us too.

Will you?

I first heard about it here. Since I am a procrastinator, it took me a while to get going.

I wonder if doing push ups will help me to lose some of my 20 pounds.

I'll keep the 20 years, thank you very much.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Breaking Dawn Break

I'm a reader. I read everything I can get my eyes on. I love books. I love cereal boxes. I love blogs. I have over a hundred blog subscriptions on my Reader. I read some of them once a week. Some I read every day. There are some that I am not reading until I finish Breaking Dawn.

Yes, I admit it. I am reading the book that all the girls were screaming about last weekend. Yes, I even read the three that came before. I actually wrote about Twilight here. The rest of this will probably make more sense if you start there.

In the spirit of that thought provoking facebook Wall-turned-blog rant review, I will bring you up to date on my thoughts about the following two, in chronological order, copied and pasted from Rachel's Wall. Thanks for not deleting your Wall, Rachel!

at 6:28am on May 11th, 2008
Slogged through New Moon. Still annoyed with Bella. I just like her less and less. The last 100 pages is a stupid argument, and a waste of trees. The rest is enjoyable enough. I think I must be the only one who thinks werewolves are much more interesting than vampires.

at 7:20am on June 21st, 2008
reading Eclipse. am about 1/2 way thru. so far it eclipses the others. tee hee. glad it finally went somewhere. bella's only making me kinda mad. only a few stupid conversations, and they're shorter. motorcycles are way better than volvos. werewolves are much more fascinating than vampires.

at 8:30am on June 22nd, 2008
couldn't sleep last night because i took an allegra d at 4:00 and they make me a bit wired. I knew better, but I chose sleep deprivation over the sniffles. so guess what I did? I finished Eclipse. Oh I wish I would have just had some one give me twilight and new moon cliffs notes, so I could have just read this one. so glad I stuck with it. Bella is still annoying, but I guess we just have personality issues and I'm not going to hold it against her. Except that she is exceptionally dense. And werewolves rock, btw. Warm is way better than cold.

now I have to wait to read the next one. better be worth it.

As a bonus, I'm including what I wrote about Eclipse on my facebook Visual Bookshelf, probably the same day as above.

Much better than Twilight, and much much better than the 2nd one (New Moon? I can't remember...)

As a mom, I wish I could tell Bella

Wake up!
Warm is better than cold.
Relationships are real. Obsessions are nightmares.

Since she is a fictional character, I tell my daughter these things instead. Glad we read these books so I could talk about it and you could pretend that you weren't listening!

Mo holed up in her room all weekend and finished the book late Monday night. I started yesterday.

Her facebook status: has finished Breaking Dawn and needs to talk about it!!!

She has promised not to tell me what happens...but I'm avoiding some blogs anyway, just to make sure.

When I started writing this, I thought I was taking a break from writing about 20 Years. I don't think it is a break though. I know that Breaking Dawn is a work of fiction. I suspect that the frighteningly obsessive nature of the relationship in the book will probably not be addressed there. I'm sad that there are many girls reading the book who will never have an opportunity or even a desire to think it through, and will experience it only through their emotions. Yes, it's great that kids are reading, but reading should also promote thinking.

One of the many things we need to teach our kids is that relationships that begin as healthy relationships have a much better chance of thriving. If a work of fiction will help me teach that, read on girls!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Sometimes you gotta put away the red pen

I think I learned to put the red pen away pretty quickly. Steve may think otherwise.

Before I met Steve, I had completed two years of college, quit, moved to another state, and worked for about 2 years. About the time I met him, he had just completed his 2nd year of college. He also quit, and he went to work in the Real World too.

We dated and got married and lived happily ever after.

Oops, I skipped something. No one lives happily ever after without a lot of hard work.

About a year after we got married, we both went back to school. We realized the Real World wasn't where we wanted to work. That is, the jewelry store at the mall, and the grocery store/mall electronics store/pizza place were getting a bit old. So, we got some student loans and we moved into married student housing. We sold my car for $40 (1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme with a Hurst In-Line shifter, a rusted out trunk and no brakes...apparently we should have held on to it because it was a rare and special thing), and we rode our bikes to school. We drove on Sundays, and we drove to the grocery store. We shared one car for the next 7 years as best as I can recall. The car was red. Like my pen.

I knew a lot more about spelling and grammar then. At least, I thought so.

Steve is dyslexic. He doesn't enjoy reading, and writing back in those dark ages was brutal. You hand wrote your draft, and if you were lucky, you could get a computer in the lab for typing your papers. It had a magical thing called 'Spell Checker.'

Otherwise, you had to use the electric typewriter. Two words. White Out.

Writing was also brutal for Steve for another reason. He gave me his papers to proofread. I was not patient. I was not kind. I did boast...but the amazing thing is that he forgave me, and he persevered.

Let's just say, putting the red pen away probably saved our marriage.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Mrs. Smoothie? Nope.

It's been said that opposites attract. I mentioned earlier that Exaggerating Accurately is a pretty good example of our opposite natures. Another example is the yearly phenomenon known as PJ Smoothie. Steve is known by the kids at church as PJ, but as the Vacation Bible School host, he morphs into PJ Smoothie. Here are some pictures...

...flashing some churchy love gang signs...

...making a big entrance...

...ending the week with the 'surprise' pie in the face...

I really am boring in comparison. I like to read books. I prefer to sit in the back row. I'm happiest when no one notices me. I wouldn't care if I never had to speak another word in front of a listening crowd.

When Steve was first considering leaving his career to go to seminary and possibly into ministry, I asked my friend Heather if she felt 'called' to be a pastor's wife. I didn't. It scared me. She gave me very wise words.

"You are Steve's wife. He may end up a pastor some day, but you will still be Steve's wife."

I'm not married to the ministry. I'm married to my husband. He happens to be a pastor. When we were married 20 years ago, I was a student 'on break' who married a student 'on break'. Degrees, jobs, babies, another degree, a career change and 3 states later we find 20 years has gone by.

I am Stefanie
Wife of Steve only
Mom of El and Mo

But I'm not Mrs. Smoothie, I just look like her.