Family Nights: The Book Launch

Today is the day I launch my first ebook!  How exciting!  (Notice I said my first ebook?  That’s because there will be more.  Oh yes, there will be more.)

The book, titled Family Nights : Summer Season, is filled with 12 weeks of Family Nights, just like you’ve seen my family do on this here blog.  I’ve split them up into June, July, and August, so you can start as soon as next week!  Some of the themes are Camping, Father’s Day, Going Buggy, and Christmas in July Family Night.  Each night is broken down into crafts (you get a couple of choices with a list of materials and detailed instructions), dinner and dessert ideas (with recipes included in some of the nights), and activities to do together as a family.  I told you, it’s just like my family nights!

So, here’s the deal.  I published my book on lulu.com.  It’s a great site if you’ve never published a book before.  First of all, it’s free, unlike a lot of the other sites out there.  And secondly, they have all these tools to walk you through formatting and all that biz-nas.  The second I clicked the final button in the publishing process, I was actually published.  Yes, I am a published author.  (I know, I know, self-published… but so was the guy who wrote The Shack, so take that one home to your mama.)

The format that it is currently in is an e-publication.  That means that you can download it to your computer and print it out, BUT you can’t download it to your Nook or your i-whatever… yet.  It’s in the holding stall of being approved by Barnes and Noble and the Apple Bookstore, and I just heard that it could take weeks for their approval.

WEEKS?!?!

Yes, weeks.

We don’t have weeks!  This is a SUMMERTIME book, hence the title Family Nights: Summer Season.

Calm down, Erin.  Let’s just publish it as an e-pub and then when you get approval (because you WILL get approval) re-launch it for the folks who are super attached to their Nook or i-whatever.

(You just got a little glimpse of the conversations that happen inside this here head.  The magic behind the music, if you will.)

So, here’s the deal.  The book costs a whopping $2.99.  That’s it???  Yes, that’s it!  Less than your favorite drink at Starbucks (unless you drink drip coffee, and to you I say, why don’t you just brew your own?  Much cheaper.)

All the proceeds of this book will go toward our missions trip to Honduras this summer.  Well, unless we exceed our goal.  Then all the proceeds will go into my pocket.

So, please, go buy my book!  Just click this little button right here:

Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

And please share it will your friends!  Post it on your facebook page or tweet it or blog about it, but spread the word!  I would so appreciate it!

And, finally, I just gotta thank you guys.  If it wasn’t for your constant comments and encouragement I would have never kept writing like I have and I definitely wouldn’t have written this book.  So thank you, thank you, thank you.

_____________________________________________

Don’t forget, Geric and I are going on a missions trip to Honduras in July. If you’d like to support us financially, click here!
Honduras Button

May the force be with you

And all the Catholics in the house say, “And also with you.”  Right?

We had a Star Wars Family Night last Friday.  What is it about little boys and Star Wars?  I swear my boys were fanatics before they had even seen a single movie.  And now that they’ve seen all but episode three, ONE TIME EACH, they literally know every single character name and could pick them out of a line up.  Weird.

Then again, maybe I’m raising geniuses.

Anywho, Star Wars Night…

While Caden was at school Jacob and I whipped up a batch (or three) of Wookie Cookies.    I’m not entirely sure what makes them “Wookie.”  Maybe the cinnamon or extra vanilla, but I told Caden that it was because Chewbacca delivered them to our door.  (Jacob and I also have Caden convinced that the Sparkletts guy is made out of water.  He’s always bummed that he comes when he’s at school.  I guess he’ll find out the truth this summer.)

Untitled

Elijah is so cute eating his Wookie Cookie.  My little ewok.

Untitled

After our after-school snack, we made our very own light sabers.  One of my good friends made these for the boys last year and we loved them.  a) They don’t break.  b) It’s a weapon that they can’t actually hurt each other with.  Win, win.

Untitled

They are very easy to make… and cheap!  I got all the supplies at the 99 cent store for a grand total of $9 and some change.  It’s just pool noodles and duct tape (black and silver.)

Untitled

Here’s Caden with his Yoda Ears posing just like the real thing.

Untitled

See?

194905-yoda_400x300_large

I know.  The resemblance is uncanny.

I was Princess Leia, of course.  Although the buns look a lot like Ewok ears, so I could’ve gone either way.

Untitled

Jacob didn’t dress up, but we decided Geric was Chewbacca because he’s the tallest.  He didn’t dress up either but he walked around making Chewbacca noises.  I almost video taped it for you guys but he wouldn’t let me!  Darn it.

For dinner we had this:

Untitled

It’s Han-burgers with Vader taters, trees of Endor, and Yoda Soda.  And then I died because it was all just too cute!!!

After dinner, I had a couple of cute games planned.  One was light saber practice, where we were going to use our new light sabers to keep balloons up in the air.  And then we were goign to play, “Don’t Drop Yoda,” where I was going to have strips of papers with different actions that we had to complete without dropping a little Yoda doll.

BUT, Geric became the hero when we unveiled Star Wars: Episode II, which up until that point, the boys hadn’t seen.  So, we forwent the games and watched a movie instead.

Sidebar:  I totally tried to act all grossed out when Anakin and Queen Amidala were falling in love by saying, “Ewww, close your eyes!  Soooo gross!” and things of that nature.  But Caden pulled the mature card and said, “Mom, stop.  They just like each other, okay?”  Ummmm… okay.  Sorry, son.

Another successful Family night for the DeVincenzos!  I’m getting so good at it, that I wrote an entire book about ‘em!  It’s actually already published!  (Crazy, right???)  I’m just waiting to hear back that’s it’s all formatted correctly for the Apple Bookstore and Barnes and Noble.  Hopefully soon you can download 12 fun-filled summer evenings of Family Night goodness to do with your own family.  Yay!

_____________________________________________

Don’t forget, Geric and I are going on a missions trip to Honduras in July. If you’d like to support us financially, click here!
Honduras Button

Family Nights: The ebook

I’m SO excited, peeps!  I was up until 1am last night finishing up the writing part of my ebook!!!  Did you hear me… MY ebook!

I’ve been neglecting Jacob all day today (but he just told me that he likes watching TV, so he’s okay) to figure out how to get this baby published.  Fingers crossed and prayers lifted, that it’ll be ready to go and in your nook/kindle/ipad/pdf-formatted by the end of the week.  Eeek!

But until then, here’s a little preview of the cover I made.

FamilyNIghtsCoverPhoto

What do you think?

Mother’s Day Weekend

On Friday afternoon I decided to use the youth of my children to my advantage. Right after I picked Caden up from school I announced, “Well guys, Mother’s Day Weekend starts now!”

I could tell they were mildly confused. Since we homeschool a couple of days a week we have a monthly calendar and we use it to count down to important days, like Mother’s Day. So they tried to argue for a minute that Mothers Day wasn’t until Sunday, but I just told them that, “Actually, here in America, we celebrate Mother’s Day all weekend long.” (Of course I made that up… along with the story about Jacob being born a monkey and trading my banana for him to come home with me.) So, starting immediately I was expecting things like flowers, and drawings, and songs sung in my honor, and foot rubs.

They were cool with everything but the foot rubs. Why am I the only kid that fell for that??? Was anyone else coerced into rubbing their moms stinky feet? Just me? Mmm kay.

Friday night was pretty typical. The only exception was after the big boys were ready for bed, when given the chance to watch a show, Caden chose Dancing with the Stars because he knows I like it. How sweet.

Saturday, however was all mine. I slept in and woke up to a fresh pot of coffee. Then we all put on our tennies and headed up Mt. Rubidoux.

Untitled

Afterwards we moseyed around the farmers market and ate lunch at a little sandwich shop downtown. We ended the day with church (our usual Saturday night) but when we came back home for dinner Jacob said, “Mom, do you know why we’re acting like we like you so much? Because its Mother’s Day weekend!” Thanks for the act, kid.

Honestly, I was SO looking forward to Sunday. It was going to be my day off. I woke up to breakfast in bed and the cutest cards and gifts a mom has ever seen. I was going to meet my sister at Glen Ivy but then we thought it would be pretty crowded and since she lives on the beach (literally on the beach) I decided I would just meet her at her house. So after I stopped at Target for a magazine (and ended up spending $100… Why Target?!?! Why?!?!) I met up with my sis for lunch and lounging on the beach. Ahhhhhhhh.

Untitled

The perfect weekend, right?

Here’s the thing. As I was driving home on Sunday evening I was thinking about how blessed I am and how I had SUCH a great weekend, but, if I had to pick one day to have been my Mother’s Day celebration day, I would have picked Saturday, the day with my kids and my husband.

Weird, right?

All along I thought my gift was going to be Sunday, a day to myself, and while it was wonderful (truly, truly, truly), my people (my husband and kids), THEY fill me up.

I love being with them. They have some crazy ability to love me like no one else.

How about you?

It kinda feels like (and I’m totally calling myself out on this one because I’m just as guilty as the next mom) it feels like it’s completely acceptable to not like your kids and husband, or at least act like you don’t. It’s almost expected to go on facebook and read status upon status from moms complaining about their kids. And if you get a group of women together discussing their husbands, it’s almost as if he’s the big dope that couldn’t make it to the dinner party.

I know there are times when we are having a particularly bad day, and maybe facebook or blogging is our only outlet into the adult world, but I’m talking about the habitual status updater or blogger. The one that is constantly venting. The one that you really start to question if they even like their kids. That one.

I don’t know when this became acceptable, but it has. But I’m challenging myself (and you, my readers) to stop “venting” and instead, let’s speak highly of our kids and husbands. Who cares if we sound mushy or sappy or we think we’re annoying people. They are OUR people.

So, what do you think? Have you seen this trend? When did it become okay? And are you guilty of it? Go ahead and call yourself out. I did. But just accept my challenge to stop right after.

……………………………………..

Don’t forget, Geric and I are going on a missions trip to Honduras in July. If you’d like to support us financially, click here!
Honduras Button

Why I Need a New Passport

I found my expired passport the other day.  And to be completely honest, I was HORRIFIED by what I saw.  Please, don’t comment with things like, “Erin, you’re being too hard on yourself” or “Erin, I don’t think it’s that’s bad” or “Erin, I think you look beautiful.”

Well, I guess you can make those comments, but then I’ll know which of my friends are liars.

Look.

IMG_4381

I heard the gasps.

Horrific, right?

And I have no excuse at all for that look.  Yes, those are straps to jean overalls on my shoulders that I am still wearing in 2000… well past their prime.  Yes, my hair… honestly, I’m speechless about that hair.  Each time I try to say something about it, vomit gets lodged in my throat.  And my eyebrows!  Why in the world are they waxed so far apart from each other?  And, the bags under my eyes!  What is that all about?  This picture was taken well before I had children.  Back in the day when I would lay my head on my pillow and not get up until I deemed so, which was usually around 10am, if I wasn’t working.  I have no reason to be looking that tired.

Thank God I’ll be getting a new passport soon.

Why are you getting a new passport, Erin?

I’m so glad you asked.  Gotta love a good segue.

I’m getting a new passport because I’m going on a missions trip to Honduras in July!

I love my kids.  I really, really do.  With all my heart!  To the moon and back.  Actually to the rock formerly known as the planet Pluto, and back.  (The moon is relatively close to us, if you think about it.)  Anyway, my heart overflows with love for my three munchkins, but the one thing I have completely missed since becoming a mother are missions trips.

I love traveling to new places and sharing the love of Jesus with more than just words.  I love providing for people’s physical needs, and running a VBS for the crazy kids, and helping to build homes and churches.  And as much as I say that I’m going down there to help the people, I know from experience that I will come home with my heart fuller than when I left.   I know that they will affect me far beyond what I can begin to imagine.  That’s how amazing God is, you know?

Honduras is just special to me.  I’m not sure if I’ll be able to explain it fully.  My first trip was in 1996 with my best friend.  We opted for a missions trip as a senior trip (crazy, wild, party animals that we were!)  And it was a hard couple of weeks of heat, humidity, and sickness.      But it was one of the first times that I was on my own experiencing people that had next to nothing, overflow with joy because of Jesus.  After I graduated from college, I was pretty much clueless as to what I was going to do with my life.  So I opted for Honduras, again.  I moved down there and worked with an amazing organization called Signs of Love.  They reach out to the deaf (who are largely ignored by society) and teach them sign language and also about the love of God.  That was when I first met my teamer, Robin.

There’s no better way to explain it than to say that she was (and still is) a sister to me.  We clicked from the beginning and she honestly modeled for me how to be completely and totally abandoned to God’s will for her life.  She gave up everything to just follow His voice.  Her reliance on Him alone and her passion to make a Kingdom difference with her life was something brand new for me. The time I spent with her represents a milestone in my life.  It marks a place where my love for God and my relationship with Him became real.  So much more than the dos and don’ts that I learned at church, or Bible verses that I memorized, or habits that I had formed.  It’s where I realized that God truly moves, and God is so alive, and that I really can live moment to moment for Him.

Last December the unthinkable happened to my friend, Robin.  Her husband (of less than three years) was killed in a car accident.  It was unimaginable, not only because the thought of anyone losing his or her spouse is unimaginable, but also because it was Robin.  She had waited and prayed for her husband for so long.  He needed to be a man unlike any other, that would give up everything he knew to follow the call put on her life.  Jeff was that amazing man.  And he was taken from her way too soon.

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there.  I wrote about Steve in an earlier post.  He is the father of a childhood friend of mine, and was like a brother to Robin.  Days after Jeff died, Steve traveled down to Honduras to comfort Robin and help her to recover.  But as they were traveling in a car together, men on the roadside shot and killed Steve.  As I wrote previously, Steve was an amazing person.  His love and generosity for people was unmatched.  He had a heart for Honduras and the ministry going on down there, so in some weird way, it makes sense that his last moments were spent there serving a friend in need.

While I am definitely going to be serving the Honduran people on this trip, through vacation Bible school and finishing a church building, this feels like more of a heartfelt mission than ever before.  This time it’s bigger than the physical service we will provide.  It’s that and more.  It’s bringing comfort to a friend who lost more that I can begin to imagine.  And it’s allowing the generosity of a man with a huge heart for the poor, to continue beyond his own life.

I’m putting all of this here on my blog, because I’m asking for your support.

First and foremost, please PRAY!  Prayer is so incredibly powerful!  I have seen the miraculous happen all because of prayer and fasting.  Pray for God’s will to be done while we are there.  Pray for the safety of each member of our team.  Pray for traveling mercies.  Personally, I would love it if you’d pray for my family.  My heart is definitely torn about leaving my babies to go so far for so long, even though it’s only 8 days.  Pray for God’s grace to be all over us as we’re far away from each other.  Pray for protection and peace while I’m gone.  A mama is not easily replaced!

Finally, please pray about supporting me financially.  We are going to be doing a group fundraiser (more abut that later), but the cost of the entire trip is $1800.  And, actually Geric has decided to join me!  (Praise God!) So, the cost of our trip jumped up to $3600.  I know that seems like an awful lot of money but as Geric told me, “Where God guides, God provides.”  And he’s so right!  I’m not going to put God in a box and say that this is too expensive.  I’m going to have faith in my God as a mighty provider!  If you feel led to support me through your finances, you can just click the Honduras Button to the right on my blog (or at the bottom of this post) and from there find my name “Erin DeVincenzo” from the drop down menu and give whatever amount you feel led to give.

Also, you’re always welcome to give the old fashioned way, by writing a check, and then you have a couple of options.  You can either wait until the next time you see me and slip it into my pocket when I’m not paying attention.  I love finding money when I’m doing my laundry, it eases the pain.  Or, you can make it out to North Hills Communtiy Church (thus making it tax deductible), put my name in the memo (or Geric’s!) and send it to P.O. Box 398, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91729.

Finally, I would, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it if you would leave an encouraging word or your favorite Bible verse in either the comment section of this post or in an email to me.  I know that there will be times when I’m feeling discouraged or missing home and reading a message from a friend can really bring strength.

Thanks in advance for all your support!  I’m already praising Jesus for the miracles that I will see!

Family Night: Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Hola!  Me llamo Erin.  Tengo cuatro anos de espanol en la escuela y vivo in Honduras para tres meses.  Tambien, I was una maestra para muchos ninos que hablo mucho espanol, pero no hablo espanol muy bien.  No se como conjugate verbs correctly, especially in the past tense.  Que horror!  But I try.

I thought it would be awesome to have un noche de espanol during our Cinco de Mayo celebrations, but no one else in this house speaks as well as I do.  And that’s saying something, folks.  So I just threw in my favorite spanish phrases from time to time.  Senora Funk (mi maestra de espanol en la escuela secondaria) would be proud… and she would probably call Geric a tortuga, because he tends to do things at a slower pace than most.

We actually celebrated Cinco de Mayo on quatro de mayo.  The boys had a tickets to an Angels game on Cinco de Mayo so the celebrations had to take place a day early.

And I don’t know if you know the history of Cinco de Mayo and why it’s actually celebrated more in the United States than in Mexico, but I read up on it.  You should too.  Que interesante!

Jacob and I started the day off early while Elijah was napping and Caden was at school  We prepared our dessert… mexican brownies, that turned out asi, asi.  Not my favorite.  Even forgot to take a picture of the end product.

The boys worked together to make a pinata out of a paper bag,

IMG_4396

and Caden helped me make our first batch of homemade tortillas!  They were super easy to make, but if I do it again I think I’ll invest in a tortilla press, just for kicks.

IMG_4398

For dinner we ate Chipotle Bean Burritos.  Que delicioso!  We found a bunch of funny cheap dress up supplies at the party store (a sombrero, a flower for my hair, maracas, and a mustache) AND for our beverage… Margaritas!  I made them virgin margaritas, so the boys could have some too!

IMG_4408

IMG_4410

IMG_4412

The best part was Saturday morning when I asked Jacob what he wanted for breakfast and he said he wanted a margarita with his oatmeal.  Perhaps I should’ve changed the name… ay ay ay!

After dinner we went out back and hit the pinata.  (Just a side note: Elijah had a meltdown right before dinner, so he did not partake of family night.  Pobrecito.)  I didn’t want to fill it with candy, so I had let them each pick a toy from the toy section at the grocery store earlier that day.

IMG_4421

IMG_4423

After the pinata fun, we went inside for a mexican hat dance.  So fun!  And so funny!  It started out with just some normal bailando, pero…

IMG_4445

Jacob got tired…

IMG_4448

and Caden chaneled his inner Billy Elliot!

IMG_4449

IMG_4450

IMG_4451

IMG_4453

This one I’m saving for his senior yearbook!

IMG_4452

Oh, the hilarity!

Elijah woke up just in time to bust a move… although I think he thought the maracas were microphones.

IMG_4462

IMG_4467

All in all, another fun family night!  To see the rest of our family nights, click here.  Feel free to steal one, I promise you will have a good time.  Que bueno!  

Claro que si!  

Adios amigos!

Hasta la vista!

Okay, seriously, bye!

 

 

Being Intentional… Again

I already wrote a post titled Being Intentional, thus the title of this post, Being Intentional… Again.  In my first post, I started out with this sentence:

There’s a lot of things I need to be more intentional about… mothering, eating well, exercising, bible study, etc.

Then I went on to write a post about being more intentional with my writing… because we all know writing is WAY more important than any of those other things.  Not!  (Have I mentioned that I’m bringing back “Not!”?  Because I am.  Geric and I just talked about it the other day.  We’re bringing it back.)

Part of the reason I’ve been so absent from this here blog is because I’ve been being more intentional in those other areas of my life.  And I like it.  So, I thought I would share.

EATING WELL:

I was living in ignorance.  And, as the saying goes, it was bliss.  Then I watched a little movie called Food Inc.  And another one called Food Matters.  And then I read a little book called Skinny Bitch.  And you know what, they changed me.  Number one, I felt nauseous. For days.  No joke.  What really got to me was the part in Skinny Bitch that talks about the treatment of animals in slaughterhouses.  Ugh.  So sad, and so disgusting.  I’m not getting into detail, because you should read the book, and because this is a family blog and I just can’t go there.  But honestly, to think that there are people out there that treat animals like that is just demented!  (Please don’t leave me a comment how there are people out there treating people like that, because yes, I do realize that, but it’s just not the topic of conversation right now.  Mmmm… kay?)

So, anywho, I went vegan for a minute.  That was rough.  I like cheese.  So, then I went vegetarian, and that lasted awhile.  I really like fruits and veggies, but don’t give me fake meat.  I’m now back to eating chicken once a week-ish, but I need to know it wasn’t in one of those dark chicken coops where they’re so fat their little legs break underneath them.  So, only free range and organic.

And we’re in the process of eliminating processed food.  Honestly, this one is really hard with kids in tow.  They’ll go Ghandi on you if you do too much too fast.  So, we’re easing into this one.

We aren’t food Nazis (there’s an example of people treating people similarly to the way people are treating animals in slaughterhouses, but still, don’t leave me a comment about it… maybe another post in the future… don’t hold your breath), we’re just trying to make healthier choices.  And so far, we’re feeling better about it.

MOTHERING:

This one is a biggie as far as my absence from this here blog.

Does anyone else feel like someone has pushed the fast forward button on life?  I mean, it was just yesterday that Caden was going to his first day of preschool, yet I just got a letter about ordering a cap and gown for kindergarten graduation.  (Which, by the way, is ridiculous.  Yet, I did it.  Because, God forbid my kid be the only one walking across that stage without them.  Yes, I still care what strangers think about me.)

So, I’m trying to relish the moments before they are gone.  And honestly, it’s changed my perspective a little bit.  I still have my days of wanting to rip my hair out (or pull my ears off, depending on the noise level) but mostly, I really, really enjoy my kids.  We went to the aquarium the other day, and I was caught up in a moment of realizing, These are my kids.  And they are great.  They are great people.  I really like them, and not just because I’m their mom and they grew in my belly and I have to love them.  I really like them.  I think they are funny, and smart, and compassionate, and joyful.  And honestly, I really like spending my days with them.

So we’re bringing back Family Nights.  Can I get a “woot, woot!”  (And not a girly “woot, woot,” more of an Arsenio “woot, woot.”  Thanks.)  The boys have been asking why we haven’t done one in so long.  So, I’m planning  Cinco de Mayo one ahora. (That means “now” in spanish.)

PRAYING:

I would LOVE to say I get up at 5am and pray and read my Bible, but then I would be perfect.  So there, you’ve found my weakness.  I like sleep.

But I am being more intentional about praying and reading my Bible.  And I’m kinda glad it’s not just a morning event for me.  It’s more of all day thing.  A moment to moment thing.  I’m getting good at listening to God’s voice and praying what He puts on my heart.  I also stumbled upon this blog called MOB Society (MOB stand for Mother of Boys.)  They are doing a 21 day prayer challenge that started May 1st, and it’s already so awesome.  Peeps, if you have boys, you must participate.  It’s that awesome.

The other thing that God has put on my heart is Honduras and my Teamer T, Robin.  I never wrote about it on the blog, but she lost her husband in a fatal car accident last December.  It was tragic and awful and all things bad.  But since then, she and Honduras have been on my heart on a daily basis, so when I was presented (that sounds so formal… it was more of a mention in an email about cakepops, but still) with the opportunity to go on a trip there with a team from North Hills Community Church, it was kind of a no brainer.  Actually, I had to make sure my babies would be taken care of while Geric works and that God really, really, for reals, not kidding, totally sure, write-it-in-the-sky, was saying to go.  And He was.  So I am.

But more about that in another post.

So, that’s what’s been going on.  Nothing big, or major, or earth shattering, but it’s good.

And just so you all know, I am planning on being more intentional about blogging, again.  And this is where I would normally say, “but don’t hold me to it.”  But you can.

And I’m not even gonna say “Not!”

Reasons to Stop Blogging… even though I never really will

Where in the world have I been?

It’s been way too long since a blog post, I realize.  And I was contemplating just giving it up altogether.

My reasons?

Well, for some reason, this blog puts pressure on me.  I can’t explain it.  But when I write something I’m putting myself “out there” and if no one comments, then I think I suck.  Or if it’s really good and I get a lot of comments, I feel like “how am I going to top that?”

And then there’s the whole idea of strangers reading my blog.  And honestly, complete strangers don’t bother me.  The mommies from other states or whatever.  That’s fine.  It’s the people who I kinda know that might find me through facebook or mutual friends and then they’re reading my blog and watching me live my life and not leaving comments, so I don’t really know they are there, but they are.  Like a stalker.  That I kinda know.  Okay I’m talking about ex-boyfriends.  It freaks me out that ex-boyfriends might be reading my blog!  We cut ties, people!  I don’t want contact.  Especially if they aren’t owning up to their stalking ways.  I don’t even know if they really are stalking me, but just the thought that they might be, freaks me out!  I mean, honestly, I’m totally stalkable material, right?  Right?

I sound crazy, right? But that’s not news.  Really.  Ya’ll knew I was crazy.

Then there’s the thought that strangers (not ex-boyfriends or mommies from other states, but weirdos) are really reading about my kids.  It’s just kinda weird.  And Oprah has gotten me all paranoid that there’s a child molester around every corner.  Which according to the Megan’s Law website, there kinda IS!  What if there’s someone reading my blog that IS a child molester and they’re printing out pictures of my kids like that one guy on Desperate Housewives who had that kid shrine in his basement.  *shiver me timbers*  Or the guy from Silence of the Lambs.  What if there’s a freak like the guy from Silence of the Lambs reading my blog?!?!  Then what?  Huh?  Then what?

I’m not the type of mommy blogger that is all discreet and only shows pictures of the back of my kids heads or makes up names for my kids like “Peter Pan” and “Simba,” because frankly there just aren’t enough cute male Disney characters, unless I start naming them after mice and ducks.  But if you sit and think about this stuff for too long, it’s just a wee bit freaky, right?

The world is a scary, scary place.

Alright, maybe not that scary, but still…

And finally, my kids are getting older.  I mean, my oldest is in kindergarten, but I have thought about how he’s going to feel one day if he reads my blog.  Is he going to be embarrassed about some of the stuff I’ve shared?  Or will he think it’s funny, as we all think it is, right?  Will he feel like we’re laughing with him, or at him?   It’s one thing to talk about my almost-5-year-old who still defiantly wets his pants on facebook to my 337 close and personal friends (haha) but putting it out in the blogosphere… kinda embarrassing… but maybe that’ll teach him to stop peeing in his pants, for heaven’s sake!

So, anywho, that’s what I’ve been thinking about and that’s why I’ve been gone for so long.

But it’s nice that some of you have facebooked me and said you’ve missed me, and the others that have “liked” that comment… that’s nice.  Those little blue “thumbs up” really make me feel special.

So, I’ll be back.  Me, Peter Pan, Simba, Nemo, and Sulley have a lot of updates to tell you all about.

I think I’ll adopt the name Mrs. Incredible for myself… for obvious reasons.

My Friends’ Dads

Growing up, there was a group of girls that I hung out with from junior high to high school and we were pretty tight.  I say “pretty” because we were still girls.  We did our fair share of gossiping or liking the same guy or creating completely unnecessary drama for the sake of creating completely unnecessary drama. (Thank you Jesus that I have boys!)  But, overall, they were my best friends.

I was thinking about them the other day and the difference between them and the close friends that I have today.  Besides the fact that we are no longer pimple faced teenagers, I think the biggest difference between my friends from my youth and my friends from today is that back then, I was friends with their entire family, and they were friends with mine.  It was inevitable.  We “hung out” at each other’s houses, so we got to know each other’s siblings (some of whom felt like our own) and each others parents (some of whom felt like our own.)

All of my friends had amazing dads.  Not a dud in the group.  They were all so different, but I loved each one.  Stef’s dad was the goofy guy who would meander through the kitchen while we were chatting with her mom, probably pick up something to munch on, and tell some cheesy one liner, followed by his goofball laugh.  Mindi’s dad was the tenderheart, which is weird because he was a cop, but he was the one who got called out for crying during The Lion King.  My dad was the sarcastic funny guy.  The one who told my friends to stop wandering around his house and made up crazy stories to get a laugh… and he always did.  Kim’s dad was the huge teddy bear with the biggest heart and the biggest smile.  He always made me feel like I was one of his own.

And Kim’s dad died last week.

When I heard the news I felt like I had been punched in the gut.  I could literally feel my body going numb from head to toe while at the same time feeling like I was going to throw up.  I hadn’t even seen Steve in years, but he was one of our dads!

When I think of Steve, I automatically think of Honduras.  His heart had strong ties to that country and to the people that lived there.  I had gone on two missions trips there, both of which Steve came, too.  My best memory of Steve is actually in Honduras.  I had moved there after college to be a full time missionary, but I was incredibly homesick (and thats an understatement.)  My 22nd birthday had just passed and I knew Steve was coming to visit us and he was bringing gifts from home, and I was so excited about my gifts.  I felt like they would comfort me while I was so far away from the people I loved the most.  So, he came and I got my gifts and I was happy, and blah, blah blah.  But the surprise came during his first morning at our house.  He had woken up before me, so when I came out of my room I saw him standing in the living room.  I can still see him as I’m writing this.  I remember his smell because he had taken a shower and smelled all zestfully clean, which was such a nice smell compared to the burning trash.  I remember him just standing there and smiling at me and he just said, “Good morning” and in that moment I realized he was “home” to me.  His smile, and his presence and his hug meant more than any of those gifts or videos that got sent to me.   I remember feeling like my own dad had come to visit.  And he never treated me less that one of his own daughters.  Never.

Although it’s tragic, it kind of make sense that he died while he was in Honduras, and that he died while serving a friend.  Like I said, he was a big man, and his heart was even bigger.  “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

So, tomorrow is Steve’s memorial, and just to be completely honest, I’m dreading it.  I know we’ll do our best to celebrate his life, and honor his memory, but it’s going to be sad.  Heartbreakingly sad.

Steve has left behind an amazing family; a beautiful wife, three beautiful daughters, and three amazing grandkids.  Pray for them.

The Candle of Hope: Family Night

Last year, we started a new family tradition of celebrating the season of advent, or the weeks that lead up to Christmas.

No, we’re not Catholic, but they’ve got some good traditions over there in their fancy churches.

Anywho, last year we got through three weeks and then I had to go throw a wrench in the plan and have a baby.  That put an end to the family nights for awhile.  This year, I am determined to family night it for all four weeks!

So, last night was the first candle in our advent candle holder. (We have a candle holder and not a wreath.)  It’s the candle of hope that symbolizes the hope the people had for the coming of a Savior, Jesus.

So, to start things off, yesterday afternoon I gathered the boys on the rug, and took their picture… because they’re so darn cute.  Right?

IMG_2933

Then we talked about how before Jesus was born, God had said that He was sending a Savior to the world and how the people were waiting, and hoping for that Savior to arrive.  I taught them Micah 7:7 from the New Living Translation as a memory verse (with hand motions that I made up to help them remember) and then we read the story of another man in the Bible who had hope in God, Daniel.  We read the story of Daniel and the lion’s den out of Jacob’s kid Bible and they were really into it.

Next, we did a little craft.  We made lion masks to help us remember that because Daniel hoped in God (not in himself or the king or the other men) God honored him by sending His angels and closing the mouths of the lions!

IMG_2944

Here’s the finished products.  Elijah was a little scared of the masks.  I don’t blame him.  They look a little more like cannibal warrior masks, than lions.  Maybe?

IMG_2947

Next, we prepared dessert for the night, zebra cake!

IMG_2941

We figured if the lions couldn’t eat Daniel, they were probably pretty hungry, so we needed to feed them lion food.  You know, zebras and stuff. I found this cake mix with chocolate and white cake in the same box, but you could easily buy a box of each and make it yourself.  Just prepare each batter and then take a 1/4 measuring cup and alternate scooping chocolate and white cake into the bottom of cake pan.  It should end up looking like a bulls eye, like this.

IMG_2942

We frosted the outside to make it look extra zebra-ish…

IMG_2945

and the inside looked really cool when it was finished!

IMG_2995

For dinner we ate meat, because those poor lions were starving.

IMG_2950

After dinner we talked about how Jesus is our hope for everything!  He is our hope for forgiveness (John 1:29), our hope for freedom (Romans 8:2), our hope for salvation (John 14:6), and our hope for all we need (Matthew 6:33.)  Then we worked together to make a poster titled “DeVincenzo Family Hopes for 2012″ where we wrote out all our hopes for the upcoming year.

This is the part where I totally underestimated my kids.

I thought they would think of all concrete things, like “I hope for new legos!” or “I hope for a fast bike!”  Things like that.  So, I decided to start them off and said, “I hope for a fun vacation so we can spend fun time together as a family.”  (A little concrete thinking, mixed with a little abstract, right?)  Then Jacob said, “I have one!  I hope Lauren gets healed this year!”  Tears.  Lauren’s doing great with her new heart but she has been in and out of the hospital with low white blood cell counts and low platelets and getting sick and getting better, and we’ve been praying for her everyday, and it just overwhelmed me that she was the first thing my 4-year-old thought of when we were thinking of our hopes for the new year.  We must be doing something right. 

Here’s our finished poster.

IMG_2986

Then we lit our candle of hope.

IMG_2998

So, far this is my most favorite family tradition!  What’s your favorite family tradition during the holidays?