Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Step Into The Time Machine

Set the dial for September 1989. (and don't laugh at our hair!) There I was walking around Montclair State University. A transfer student from MCCC, 20 years old and feeling a great sense of freedom. I must have joined every club on campus. That is how I get to know people. I was on the College Life Union Board, Photography Club, Conservation Club, Ski Club (that is a riot, because I only ever skied once and it was a horrible experience)! On this particular September morning I was walking in the student center and there was this little table in the corner with a few guys sitting at it. It was Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship. I was already involved in so much...then one of the guys came up to me and handed me a tract. Oh the tract. "I am already saved...thank it for someone who needs Jesus" is what I said to him. He then proceeded to invite me to their Thursday night meeting. (Ok...I mean since I was from an Assemblies of God church down home...might as well).

Here is where I wish my husband would blog because his blog would go something like this: "I was sitting in the student center when what doth my eyes behold...the girl of my dreams." HA!! Well, maybe not exactly like that, but I did find out that the other guy at that table (my Mike Engel) did tell the guy that gave me the tract that he was going to "marry that girl someday." Yes he did say that!! (shhh..I didn't even notice him that day..well I knew he was at the table..but that was it)!

This is Mike & I at the Chi Alpha S.A.L.T. Retreat in Indiana Jan. 1990

I will fast forward now. I went to that Thursday meeting. I met Mike Engel (we called him Mike Engel because our campus pastor was Mike was just easier) he was the President of Chi Alpha..he was a skinny klutzy guy with a heart of pure gold. I ended up going to his church (it was the closest AG church near my apartment in Montclair). He was a leader in the church. He lead worship, taught Wednesday night Bible Study and preached occasionally on Sunday morning. Seriously, he was awesome. Come that January we went on a Chi Alpha Retreat to Indianapolis. It was here that I started to fall in love with this man. I fell in love with his precious heart. He told me about his call to ministry, his love for people and his love for God. He was one of the most respectful men I had ever met. He loved deeply and cared deeply. I remember going for a walk and it was snowing, he sat down on the curb and just cried when he talked about his love for God. It moved me beyond words. When I got home I told my father that I wanted to marry someone just like Mike Engel. I would never have dreamed that Mike Engel would have picked me.
One of our 500 attempts (before digital cameras) at an engagement picture! June 1990!
February came and it was Somebody Loves You Night at Chi Alpha. Mike picked me up for the meeting and gave me a rose and a card (Valentine's Day). We started dating that night. The rest as they say is history. We were engaged by June and married by December all in the same year!

December 15, 1990

Nineteen years later, he is still the most amazing man I know. We have had our growing pains like every couple, but one thing is constant...our love for each other continues to grow. People ask me what makes my marriage work. I tell them our secret (well not all of them), but this one is what we have always lived by: the Bible says "don't let the sun go down on your anger." We have never gone to bed angry. Not in 19 years. We have stayed up to see the sun rise...but we always resolve our differences before going to bed. How do we resolve our differences? We pray! I remember our first big argument. I was clearly right and he was clearly right! Hmmmm? I was mad as the mob, he was angry too! (Can't remember what was so important 18 years ago). It was a long night, finally my husband says to me, "We have to pray!" What? Pray? UGH!! He got down on his knees right there in the living room and uttered the most humble beautiful prayer! I just melted. He asked for forgiveness, and asked the Lord to bless me. He told the Lord how much he loved me! OH I was so moved I could barely get words out of my mouth. When it was my turn to pray...I already felt so much love for this man (the same man I think I was so mad at I could spit nails)...I remember crying and asking God to forgive me, then I started praying blessing over this man that I loved. Well, praying for someone, who you don't like at the moment, is the best way to resolve conflicts. It melts your heart and makes you love all over again! It is our has worked for 19 years! Now we teach our children the same thing!

Mike & Lisa Engel - 19th Wedding Anniversary!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Do My Eyes Deceive Me?...

Yes and no! We are still trying to hold to our keeping one day a week sacred to our family. One day where we just do something fun...just the 5 of us. Yesterday, after church, we had one of the most memorable fun family days yet. We headed straight for Downtown Disney and walked around. The boys created their own Lego men and we saw so many beautiful Christmas decorations. The music was playing and we just had a wonderful festive time walking around.

Then we sat down for a pretzel and got to see an amazing show of the famous Yoyo People from Boston. This guy was on the Discovery Channel show "Time Warp". He is amazing. He holds a record in the Guinness Book of Records and was the World Champion in 2007. (I didn't know that there was such a thing as a World Champion Yoyo guy!) Needless to say, he was so much fun to watch!

Then we made our way to Celebration Florida...not far from Orlando. It was beautiful. On Market Street, every hour, it snows. My children had a blast. Again, the carols were playing, there were horse drawn carriages, yummy food, Christmas lights! (Real snow???? Well...let just say us northerners need to use our imagination.)
The best part about our whole entire day was that it was FREE!!! Yup...FREE fun!
Oh this was one of my favorites. I felt like I was in the middle of a Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol")...This group was amazing. We finished our night with a Starbucks coffee (shouldn't every night end that way)!
So once again fun was had by all! We went home and got a good nights sleep.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

While Some Were Shoveling Snow....

We were shoveling sand. That is right, after school yesterday, my boys and I headed straight for the beach. I try to do this as much as I can in the winter...just because one of the things I disliked the most was scraping my car windows when they were icy and I really didn't enjoy shoveling tons of snow just so the snow plow guy could come and block me in again.

So we went to the beach for a couple of hours. We walked and walked and my children got wet (of course) because how could you possible find the perfect shells if you didn't get close to the water.

The boys dug holes 'till the hearts content and I sat in the sand in the warm sun. was peaceful. Then we went for a walk and collected a nice amount of shells which we put in a jar to remind us of our winter sand adventures! We will be adding all winter! OH...I love Florida in the winter!

Don't worry, I haven't gone off the deep end. I know that snow is beautiful and fun too. In fact I really want to drive my boys up to Georgia or South Carolina if I hear that there is going to be a good amount of snow. I figure we could do it in a day. One of the sad sights at the beach is when my boys get this wet sand and pack it, and then the roll it in the dry sand, like a snow ball. They throw them like snow balls (only not at each other, because that would make a mess). So they would love to see Shane has never seen snow and my other boys were too little really to remember it. So we will hopefully see snow at some point this winter, but for now, I'm enjoying the fact that we have beautiful sand!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Oops What Happened To October & November?

Let's start on Kyle's last day of public school....October 31st. Above you can see them in their costumes for our Harvest Party at church. Shane is a cowboy (he wants to be a Cowboy Math Teacher when he grows up), Brendan is Albert Einstein (he as markers in his pocket with E=MC2 on his jacket - of course he wants to be a scientist when he grows up) and then there is Kyle the Lenni Lenapi Indian (he wants to be a zoo keeper when he grows up, but that doesn't require paint of his face so he opted for the Indian!)

November brought lots of field trips and park days and nature walks with friends! (shhh... I think that is going to be my Christmas card picture...yes even with that pesky straw hanging in front of Kyle's face.)
The birds cracked me up! We were covered in them. Shane did not like it at all....Kyle loved it...Brendan liked it too, but he was sure to cover his head!

Our great homeschool buddies. We do a lot of our homeschooling with them. We live a few streets away and I just love their Mommy!! I am so grateful to have such a wonderful friend in Aleatha...God place us in each other's lives on purpose!! We see each other at least twice a week and I love it!!
Here is my boy...he just had to read ahead!! In that book Kyle was reading...these two boys shot a BB gun and missed their we went to our friend's property and learned to shoot a BB gun! Kyle, Brendan and Shane all hit the you see that L there...that would be me! So proud!

It's Mario and Mario....a little too much Nintendo influence! HA!
Ahhh...Dinner with our small group! Don't look too closely at our food...this was so not WW friendly. Mike and Elinor made an amazing dinner of lasagna and homemade meatballs!!

So, this is why I am homeschooling him now! This is my Kyle...the one that we missed so much! The happy Kyle!

This past month we did a lot of hiking and bird watching! Oh this trip was the first time I ever used a portable potty too. Not an experience I ever want to repeat! UGH!

Lots of park hopping! We have to get that energy out!!!

Oh yea...and we finally did a 550 piece puzzle together in just 4 days! I was so boys absolutely loved doing this. Believe it or not...not one piece was missing! We can't wait to do our next! We've been studying birds in our Science curriculum and there are at least 4 species in this puzzle!

So that should catch you up quickly. So much more many wonderful surprises! We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with our family in Jacksonville and now we are ushering in Christmas! Lord, please help it to slow down a bit!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Monday's Menu

The pressure is on. My Weight Watchers friends wrote down my blog address this past Saturday, so now I absolutely MUST get my menu on screen. It is always on my refrigerator, but since Thanksgiving, I have had very little time to type. (I also have to share a computer with my three squeezing some quality screen time not so easy these days!)

Remember if you add anything like butter to your veggies, you have to count that too. I typically do not, however when I do I always count it. We use the Smart Balance butter and it is 1 point for a whole tablespoon. I rarely use that much!

Pork Chops & Potatoes in Creamy Gravy
6 WW points
Click Here for the Recipe (I did include a picture though!)
5 Spice London Broil, Green Beans, Yam
3 oz. of lean beef for 4 points, 7 oz of yam for 3 points = 7 WW points
(I don't use butter on my veggies, just a little salt & pepper)

Recipe to follow (since Bev did request it!)

Biscuit Topped Chicken Casserole with a Salad
1 1/2 Cup serving for 6 WW points

Grilled Pork Chops, garlic mashed potatoes and green beans
I rub some adobo seasoning and throw these on the grill. (BOGO at Winn-Dixie this week)
3 oz pork chop for 4 points, 3/4 cup of garlic mashed potatoes (WW recipe) for 3 points = 7 WW points

Friday - Crock Pot meal: (This is a GREAT winner in my house)
Meatloaf with Mushroom Tomato Sauce - from the Slow Good Cookbook
Garlic Mashed Potatoes (left over from Thursday)
Broccoli & salad
1 slice of meatloaf with 1/4 cup sauce is 3 points so this meal = 6 WW points

5-Spice London Broil
Weight Watchers TurnAround Cookbook

1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 lb. lean London Broil

(I put mine on the grill...the recipe calls for the broiler)

Simply combine all the spices and rub it on the meat. I let it stand for about 15 minutes and then place it on the grill. It is really that simple. My family likes their meat a little just keep an eye on your time. Remember to let the meat stand after you take it off the grill so that the juices don't all run out on you. Slice it thinly on an angle against the grain.

Enjoy...let me know what you think...leave a comment if you would like me to post a recipe! Don't forget to check out my friend Michelle's blog for more menu ideas!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Best Way To Celebrate...

is with friends! We had our annual anniversary date night with our dearest friends the Bradleys! We are so grateful to the Lord for placing them in our lives. We have been friends for a few years, and these past two years our friendships have just flourished! Mike and I count Don and Linda as family and seriously, when we talked about what to do for our anniversary we didn't have to think but a moment...we wanted to double date with the Bradleys!

So I wanted to show this year and last years pictures, (let's be is mainly because I'm proud of the fact that I am 57 lbs. lighter this year!) well, because you know, I love tradition!! ;0)
This is us last year!

I find it so funny that we sit in the same spots. Do we always sit that way? I guess so! Oh..and the scarf...that cracks me up! I have got to ditch the scarf next year. But, it was very cold (you know in the 60s) both times!
Then it is as if we don't ever get Starbucks! HA! I can't help it! That is what happens when your husband worked for the company for 8 years! This is Mike and I last year:

Ahhh...after 19 years we are still drinking coffee together!
Before we left for our night out...Pop (our almost 92 year old grandfather) says to me..."Wow, 19 years, you don't look old enough to have been married for 19 years!" That made me feel so good, doubled with the fact that since I homeschool all of my children, a night out with adults is SOOO couldn't wipe that smile away if you tried!

So what do two middle aged couples who are not into drinking or "partying" do when they get a chance to go out (and they live in Volusia County Florida)? They go out to dinner, have coffee and sit in the driveway and talk for two hours. (Hey, the alternative would been to go to Walmart!) We had such a wonderful evening! Thank you Don and Linda for celebrating with us again this year! So, we are on for next year right? I can't wait to see the pictures!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

This Is What It Is All About

The shopping, the busyness, the baking, the caroling, the is all part of it, but really this picture makes me want to slow down and cherish the meaning of Christmas. It is my goal this year to soak in as much Christmas as possible this year. My children are still young enough to really enjoy all of the traditions (and we have so many) of this time of year! So we decided to add a few new traditions. Like reading a Christmas story every night before bed. Believe it or not I have 16 Christmas books (a couple of them are very long so they take up two nights) and we will end with The Night Before Christmas of course! We are also trying to watch as many Christmas movies as we can...last night we snuggled up for the Alister Sims version (old version) of A Christmas Carol. So here are just a few more things we have done so far and it is only December 5th today!

Here we are making a Christmas chain to count down the days until December 25th! Each day a different person gets to rip the chain and also push the button on our musical advent calendar.

The finished product!

Decorating the Christmas tree is laden with tradition. Each and every one of our ornaments have a story to tell. My husband had a new ornament every year as a child so we continue the tradition and tell the stories of each one every year. It is a great way to pass the memories down from generation to generation.

Here we are at our homeschool Christmas party. The children were able to make their own cookies and decorate them. Twenty seven children play games, singing songs and learning to sign "Silent Night"....what a sweet way to start off the month.

Then we had our annual tree trimming at the New Smyrna Beach Sheriff's office. What a fun time for the kids. They look forward to this every year! This year one of the officers took pictures of them with a Polaroid camera...they thought it was magic! Remember Polaroids!

I pray you enjoy your traditions and remember the humble beginning of our Savior's birth!

I Am Embarassed

A few months ago, I received this amazing honor...remember the one...this one! Well, now I totally feel as though they should come back and strip me of my title! HA! Seriously, it is most difficult to write when you have so much to write about. That is why it is 12:15am and I am starting this post (can't sleep with the guilt). I think that if I just get this out of the way, the words will flow in some logical sequence and I can get my thoughts back on paper (well not paper exactly). I have been working on my book during my very limited free time, but mostly my absence has been to life circumstances.

Homeschooling my three amazing superheros -- this has been an experience that words are difficult to describe. Full of emotion and literal awe, all I can say without detail is that bringing home my third son has made this family, this experience and my life feel complete! The other time consuming drama in my life has been living with my husband's grandfather who is suffering with dementia. This has consumed me these past couple of months. The challenges and emotions that surround this situation is like no other. The busyness of this season (as much as I don't want it to be) seems to strip me of those precious minutes that I can sit and type my thoughts. The onset of a new ministry, the birth of a dream, like any other birth, consumes so much of my time as well.

So there you have it. I have so much to write about, but where do I start? I guess I start right here. I have, in essence, typed a beginning paragraph in the first chapter of what is to come. Stay tuned for a hopeful continuation!