Thursday, July 31, 2008

Questions...another biggie

When are we going to have children and start a family? Matthew and I get this question a lot from inquiring minds. It doesn’t really bother me. I have thought about posting on this topic many times before but always decided against it.

Matthew and I have been trying to get pregnant for over a year and a half…almost 22 months to be exact. As of today, that has not happened for us. We have been through very basic testing and it appears that everything is working as it should. Part of my desire to check into my low blood pressure and have blood work done was to see if there was anything that could be preventing me from getting pregnant. We received a referral to a fertility specialist several months ago, but we just aren’t sure that is the route we would like to go. However, neither have we felt an urging to begin any adoption paperwork. At this point, we have no direction either way.

It took me quite a while to get here, but most days I am not devastated about our current situation. We would both LOVE to have children…in fact, if it were up to us we would have a house full. I do, however, have my moments of self-pity. I get quite emotional - frustrated, upset, hurt feelings, jealous, judgmental, etc (sometimes the ugliness in my heart shines through loud and clear). More than anything, I wish I just understood what was going on. Why has this not happened for us? Will it ever happen for us? Would we be bad parents? Would we not love a child like we should? Would we not provide a loving and stable home for a child? Did I do or not do something that caused this?

We both understand that God is in control. If His desire is for us to have children, we will. If it is His desire for me to give birth, I will and I don’t believe He needs me to see a fertility specialist (although He does work through medicine as well). If it is His desire for us to adopt, He will give us the funds to do so.

In the meantime, I don’t mind if people ask when we’ll be starting our family. I guess I never shared before for several reasons.
  • I don’t want people to tip-toe around the issue with me.
  • I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. Like I said before, I know that God is in control.
  • I don’t want people to feel uncomfortable sharing about their own children or even about the difficulties or stress involved in having children and being a parent.
  • Pain, frustration, things not going as I have planned them, and not understanding are a part of life. Even though I have not had the joy of expecting a baby, neither have I had the pain of losing a child during pregnancy or afterward.

The most difficult thing I have dealt with is knowing that I could live my entire life without being a parent. It has taken me a long time to have that thought without almost falling apart. Even if things don't turn out my way and I never have the chance to parent a child, God is still God, He is still in control, and He is still a good and loving God worthy of all my praise.

I hope that one day I can look back and see God’s hand in all this because while I know He is in control it is sometimes hard to see His hand in the midst of the situation.

Random Bits

I was recently accosted (not really) by a friend for leaving my readers (all 2 or 3 of you) hanging about things that have been going on. This post is for you.

  • Nothing has happened with my blood pressure. Every time I go to the store, I forget to check it there. I also forget to add salt to my food. I just really don’t need salt to flavor most things and don’t think about it except when I’m not eating. I guess since my doctor was not concerned, I decided I didn’t need to be concerned either. My blood tests all came back normal. So apparently there is nothing causing the low blood pressure (at least nothing that could be detected via a blood test).
  • After several weeks of taking it slow last summer, Matthew recovered from his concussion. I thought all was well until recently he said, “Mindy can I tell you something without you getting mad at me?” That is generally not a good way to start a conversation, but my curiosity was peeked. He told me that he hit his head recently and it really rung his bell. We now wonder if the concussion will cause that kind of reaction any time he hits his head on something. Other than that, he’s recovered though.
  • Carolyn had her surgery last Thursday. So far it looks as if the surgery was successful. She is feeling better. It is hard to know exactly what is going on without being there to see for ourselves. We are leaving tomorrow to visit her. It will be nice to see her and know how she is doing in person.

Let me know if I have left you hanging about anything else!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

One slow step at a time

We are finally getting around to doing a little bit of decoration. We certainly are not rushing into anything. I would have to say that I am challenged in the area of home decor. I have done a few things recently though that I am going to share. We both like simple and clean lines and don't like clutter. Even though this isn't much, this is what we have at the moment.

I added several items above the cabinets in our kitchen.

Yesterday Matthew hung these doilies in our front hallway. One is a doily my grandmother made for me when I was a kid. I wanted to preserve it when I was in college and framed it very cheaply. I recently had it re-framed for our house. After I got it framed, I remembered the doily my mother had made for our wedding gift. Thankfully they both had blue mats (which match the bathroom they are outside), but I had to get a different frame for the gift from my mom this week. I ended up finding one at Michaels that was on sale. I was thrilled! It was hard to get a good picture of both because I had to stand in a tiny corner to be able to see them both. I think it looks nice and am glad to have something else on the walls. These were the first nails that we have put in our walls. (We used sticky stuff for the black MERRITT letters downstairs.)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Have you ever done something someone asked you to when you didn't want to?

We had another good weekend. It went by so quickly!

Friday night we went to some friends' house to celebrate the wife's birthday. There weren't many people we knew there so Matthew and I spent a lot of time together.

Saturday Matthew's family friends came through town again and stayed the night with us. I went with the woman to Boulder (a 2 hour drive from our house) to help their daughter pack for her big move next weekend. We drove all that way to pack 10 boxes of books (while she was camping and hiking). We had dinner in Boulder and then drove back to the house. That was 6 hours of my Saturday that I would have rather done something else.

Sunday we had a lazy day. We went to see "The Dark Knight" with our neighbors. We saw it on the IMAX. It was a good movie but really dark. I did enjoy seeing it though. After dinner at Red Robin, I went to work for about an hour. Then we FINALLY hung something on the wall! We have been here over a year and a half and just hung the first something on the wall. I cannot believe it took us this long. We are going to hang a frame around these letters, but we're still working on that. Matthew is building the frame and then I will paint it. I was so excited to finally have something up. Yeah!!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I don't think he knows...

Max is 11 months old today! I can't believe he's almost a year old. Time goes by fast...boy is that true!

I am not sure that Max knows he was neutered yesterday. It hasn't really slowed him down much. He hasn't been lazy or pitiful. He has wanted to play since Matthew brought him home yesterday. We made him wait until after work today. Matthew played with him a bit.

He looks like the same, cute, fetching-obsessed pooch, doesn't he?

Toe Update

I have had several inquiries about Matthew's toe so I thought I would post an update.

Matthew went to the doctor a couple of weeks ago and was completely released to do whatever his heart desires (although I would like to rule using the chainsaw off limits).

The podiatrist did say that while the ER doctor should not have sewed his tendon(s) and toe back together and Matthew should have been taken directly into surgery so it was repaired correctly, his toe is as good as it is going to get at this point.

The bottom line is although his toe does not work like it used to, it is still attached and working.

I would love to show you a picture of his toe, but Matthew told me that was silly and would not let me take one. I will just let you know it looks much better than the last picture I posted of it and he has a nice battle wound that will be fun to share for many years to come.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Snip, Snip

Poor Max.
Today (just 1 day shy of 11 months old) Max went under the knife and was neutered. Even though we planned to wait until Max was at least this old (because of the conflicting information we read about neutering a dog too early and stunting his growth), we felt terrible having this done today. Especially after signing a document stating that I realize something could go terribly wrong during his surgery causing even death, we both worried about him all day. We didn't worry only about the surgery but also wondered if he would be the same ole' Max afterward.

He apparently did well. I dropped him off around 7:45 this morning. He weighed 83.3 pounds which is actually lighter than I expected him to weigh. I visited with the vet for a few minutes about some questions I had. Max has some places under his chin that we have been wondering about. We had no idea where they came from and a while back they were bleeding. The vet said it is like acne (at least that's the closest thing to compare it to). He told me just to keep it clean and that I could use peroxide to clean it. He said some dogs have it even worse and it's all around their mouths. He said it is pretty common. I hope I'll be able to keep it clean so it doesn't get worse.

They told me to call around 2 this afternoon to see how Max was doing and what time we could pick him up. I didn't ask how long the surgery took or what time he had it. Matthew picked him up around 4 this afternoon. He said he came out of the back just tugging on his leash like normal. He's a strong dog with bad leash manners...and he was the same ole' guy when Matthew picked him up. We haven't put the cone on him up to this point (which we had to buy at the pet store - this proves that nothing is free anymore, I would have thought the vet provided the cone). We are supposed to keep him from incessantly licking his wound and jumping. Other than that, he is not really limited to what he can and can't do. We'll see how that goes.

He whined a bit tonight, but I think it's because no one would throw his toys for him to fetch. He kept getting toys and tossing them at me. When I wouldn't pick them up and throw them, he would pick them up and toss them at me again. That dog is persistent. He hadn't eaten in about 24 hours so when I fed him tonight he just gobbled it all up. I added a can of green beans to his dinner just to see if he would eat them. They add filling and moisture to the food without any other fat or many calories. I thought I would try this now and again when he won't eat his food to see if it makes a difference.

Here are the before (the first picture) and after pictures (the second one). He really doesn't seem to be in pain or anything yet. I'm glad to see things went well and hope we won't have to make a return visit to the vet this week or next.

Productive Weekend

I would say we had a fun and productive weekend. Friday after work, our neighbors came over to eat blue cheese burgers and watch Firefly. If you haven't seen Firefly, I would recommend it. It is a science fiction tv series that only ran for one season. I am not the biggest sci-fi fan, but this show is hilarious to me. I would describe it as something between science fiction and western. It is quite entertaining.

Saturday Matthew worked on staining the fence. You should have seen Max while this was going on. Matthew put him in the backyard while Matthew was on the outside of the fence. Max generally wants to be as close to a person as possible. So he laid against the fence which meant that he got stain on him. I wanted to take a picture of this, but I knew as soon as I opened the door Max would come running. So I didn't even attempt the picture of Max laying next to the fence. It was funny though! While Matthew stained the fence, I ran some errands and played with Max. I went to PetSmart while I was out. A rescue organization was there for pet adoptions. I saw THE CUTEST puppies there (of course, I say that pretty much any time I see puppies). They were a mix of sharpei and rotweiller. I seriously considered bringing one home. You should have seen them. We then cleaned out the window wells. A couple of them were filled with tumble weeds and trash. While Matthew was in one of the wells, he found a tiny frog. I have no idea where it came from, but we freed him into the yard. Hopefully, he hopped away to a new home. We spent the afternoon with our neighbors at the movie theater watching "Hancock." I really enjoyed the movie, but Matthew wanted more background on the main character. We all wanted to go see The Dark Knight but knew it would be crazy to do so over the weekend. We'll have to go another time. Saturday evening some Merritt family friends stopped by on their way through town. The couple and their daughter (who now lives in Boulder) took us to dinner and then stayed the night at our house. The couple is going on a motorcycle trip and will be staying the week in Pagosa Springs. They left their truck and trailer here and took their motorcycle to Pagosa Springs. They will come back through next Saturday and stay the night again. It was nice to see them (I met them a little over a year ago when they came for a ski trip) and here funny stories about Matthew's growing up years in Tennessee.
Sunday morning our friends took us to breakfast before they left town. Afterward, Matthew and I had a semi-lazy day. We were both exhausted for most of the day. Matthew finished staining the fence while I hung curtains on our sliding door. I can't believe it took me a year and a half to get anything hung over that door. It is completely silly. I would still like to hang other curtains over or around the door as well, but that may never happen. It is seriously amazing that we have chosen anything for our house as Matthew and I have polar opposite taste in most things. We may never find a compromise for the curtains. I'll let you know if/when we do make that compromise though. After hanging the curtains and playing with Max in the backyard (during which I had to get the ladder to retrieve the Flying Squirrel that I threw onto the roof), I dislocated my knee (for the 4th time) while heading into the house. I have no idea what happened because it happened so fast. So I've had a sore knee this week. We took Max up to the pond to let him swim (and to clean him off a bit). That is definitely the easiest and most fun way to "give him a bath." Even though no soap is involved, he always smells nicer and is so soft after swimming. He had a great time as usual and this time Matthew got in the water with him. He didn't know what to do about that. He would retrieve the ball but didn't want to get out of the water while Matthew was still in there. When we got home, I watched "The Memoires of a Geisha." I thought it was an interesting movie. I'm not sure if I would recommend it or not. I did enjoy it though and thought the main characters eyes were beautiful.
All in all, it was a fun, relaxing, and productive weekend; however, Matthew is responsible for most of the productive-ness. I think the things he took care of have really made an impact on how the place looks...and that makes me feel nice and at home.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cancer Update

**Update - The surgery has been postponed until Thursday morning.

Matthew’s mother found out several weeks ago that the cancer in her bones has spread to her liver. She is experiencing several uncomfortable side-effects resulting from the liver damage. The doctors that are treating her will be performing surgery tomorrow, the outcome of which will determine what treatments, if any, they can use to treat her. If the surgery is not successful, she may not be able to continue her treatments.

Please pray that God would heal her, that God would renew her strength, and that the surgery tomorrow would be a success.

Please also keep Carolyn’s family and doctors in your prayers. It is our hope that God will make Himself known to those who do not know the peace of God our Father at this time.

Thank you for praying with us and on Carolyn’s behalf.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Weekend with my Folks

My parents came into town last Thursday for a weekend visit. For some reason I expected them around dinner time, but they didn't get here until around 7:30 or so. I am always excited to see my parents and this weekend was no exception. I couldn't sit still inside, had done all the cleaning I was going to do, and couldn't even eat dinner I was so excited. So I paced around the yard waiting for them.

Friday they did a little sight-seeing around town while Matthew and I worked. We all met up for lunch at Mimi's. If I haven't mentioned it before, I really enjoy eating at Mimi's. The highlight of a meal there for me is the buttermilk spice muffin. It is delicious! I told Matthew that I daydream about that muffin. He thinks I'm weird, but it's true! It's not a daily daydream, but I think about that muffin from time to time. Friday after work, we ate dinner and then just rested at home. It was a nice and relaxing weekend.

Saturday morning we slept in a bit and had breakfast. While my mom and I went to a fabric store and did a little other shopping, my dad and Matthew worked in the garage. Matthew started a work bench with his dad over Thanksgiving. After the holidays, we bought some workout equipment that stayed in the garage until last weekend. Since it was now out of the way, Matthew had room to finish his work bench and start organizing the garage. It was a beautiful day - I believe the high was in the 70s. So it was a nice day to be outside and working in the garage. Once we got home, mom and I played with Max and then fixed lunch. We hung around the house for a couple of hours and then went to the Pikes Peak or Bust rodeo.
I always enjoy a good rodeo. It's been a couple of years since I've been to one. We had a good time! (Don't Matthew and I have the same smile? That's a little weird.) I have to say there was an interesting prayer before it started that I didn't quite understand. One minute the guy was praying about Americans supporting our military and the next he said something about everyone else shutting up. I have to say I have never heard the words "shut up" in a prayer before. I also have never heard people cheer so loud during a prayer. It was quite interesting. My favorite event was the Mutton Bustin'. It is hilarious if you've never seen it. Little kids wear helmets and try to ride sheep. They basically lay on the sheep's back and hold on for dear life. Generally, they slide around and end up falling off pretty quickly. It is one of the funniest things I have ever seen. I took some pictures. This is the best one I got. Hopefully you can see the little guy riding the sheep. We also witnessed something funny during the steer wrestling. The first guy to participate in the steer wrestling got off his horse to wrestle the steer but landed in front of the steer. The steer just jumped right over him and trotted off. My dad said in 50+ years of going to the rodeo, he has never seen that happen. I'm sure the cowboy did not think that was funny, but it was one of the highlights for us. And while this was a PRCA rodeo and not a ranch rodeo, they had teams participate in a wild cow milking event. That is generally entertaining, but this time all the teams competed at the same time. Everything was happening so fast, I pretty much missed the whole event. I'm not sure why they planned it that way or if anyone else saw anything that happened.

Sunday we went to a breakfast buffet at a local hotel (one of Matthew's favorite things to do). Again, we had a lazy day at home relaxing. We spent some time at Home Depot getting some stuff for Matthew to continue his work and organization in the garage. I'll have to take a picture at some point so you can see how nice it looks. We also stopped by Smoothie King which has recently opened here. This was Matthew's favorite place when we lived in Austin. He was almost heart-broken to find there were no Smoothie King's in Colorado when we moved here. Thankfully, our good friends N and M saw it when they were here over Memorial Day. We had no idea it was here. Sunday evening, I took Max out to do his business and found two dogs in our yard. One was an older golden retriever and the other was a puppy. I probably walked around our neighborhood at least 30 minutes trying to find their home. It turns out they belong only a couple of houses down from us. That puppy scratched up my back pretty good by jumping up on me as I was walking. They were very good at following me around. The older dog would stop every few houses to rest. I felt so bad once I learned they lived so close. I was happy to have found their home though. The thanks I got for delivering them safely home..."Where's our third dog?" "Umm....I only found two of your dogs in my yard. Sorry." It turns out the third dog was still in the backyard. When I got home from that adventure, we watched "Something the Lord Made". We all really enjoyed the movie based on a true story. Those tend to be my favorite movies.

I have to say that no matter what we do, I always enjoy spending time with my parents. I think the older I get, the more true that statement is. I really appreciate the people they are, the way they raised me, how they have taught me what is important by the way they live. I like to hear about how they grew up and stories from their childhoods and adult lives. I have known it all my life, but it is still good to know they love me. And even though she probably wouldn't admit it, I think my mom likes Max. Several times during the weekend she played fetch with him and it was her idea.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Did you see that????

I am a baseball fan. When I lived in Dallas, I worked for a company that had season tickets to the Texas Rangers. I grew up watching baseball with my dad and going to a Rangers game or Astros game on a few vacations. My LOVE for baseball, however, did not really begin until I started going to so many games at the Ballpark in Arlington. I just could not get enough. One season, I think I went to 50 to 60 of the 81 home games. When I couldn't go or when the team was out of town, I would watch them play on tv. Since getting married, I haven't watched as many games because (1) Matthew couldn't care less about baseball and (2) now I cannot get many Rangers games on tv. Matthew knows I love baseball though and took me to Wrigley Field for our first anniversary.

Last night, I watched the Home Run Derby. It was awesome! I cannot believe Josh Hamilton did not win the competition, but he sure did put on a show. He hit 28 homeruns in the first round of the derby. It was seriously incredible to see. Even the other major league players there were “wowed” by his ability. His pitcher last night was his mentor who is 71 years old. That guy threw more than 50 pitches in the first round.

What is even more exciting is that Josh is the real deal. He came back to baseball after a 3 year hiatus of drug and alcohol addiction. He is a believer and uses his platform to share his story and how God has made all the difference in his life. He also shares his story about his drug abuse with kids in school. I have heard that he is a fan favorite and is really good about connecting with the fans and giving autographs.

You can read about him and last night here, here, here, or here (or just do a search on his name).

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Goodbye to the green Honda

We said goodbye to the green Honda this week. Matthew got this car when he was in college. It definitely served him and us well. He got in a couple of weeks ago, shut the door, and the rearview mirror fell off with a piece of glass. He took it to the body shop to see what it would cost to have it fixed. It turns out after they removed the windshield, they found the frame below the windshield was corroded. If they replaced the windshield, they would not warranty the work because of the corrosion. We debated about getting it fixed. Matthew was going to drive it to save us gas money. However, it was going to cost $500 or more to get it fixed. And even then, they weren't sure how much time we would get out of it.

A lady who works at the body shop mentioned that her son was looking for a car. So we told her we would sell it to her if we could get $x for it. She called Matthew on Tuesday and said she would like to buy it. When he dropped off the keys and the title, I asked him to take pictures of the car for me. Here it is without the windshield.

We have many good memories in this car...getting stuck on my first trip to snow ski, taking many road trips, my learning to drive a stick shift (never very well), picking up the car in Chicago and driving it to Austin (Matthew's mom had the car for a couple of years), etc. We are thankful to have gotten so many miles out of it. I wish we could have made it to 200,000. Oh well...hopefully, the Saturn will make it that far.

Goodbye, green Honda!

Our 4th

I worked a normal 9 hour day on July 4th. While I was at work, Matthew tilled part of our backyard. Unfortunately, it is still in this state which is making it really fun to let Max out. Once I got home, I played with Max a while before we left for a Sunday school party - or a 4th of July party at someone from Sunday school's house. It was a nice sunny day. We enjoyed eating grilled burgers and dogs, some yummy sides, and about 5 different desserts for the 5 people that were there (I think I tried them all - you can't say I don't take one for the team when necessary). We had a great time visiting with some folks we didn't know very well. We also saw a fire break out in the field behind their house. It wasn't very close but not too far away either. I have to say that's the first fire I've ever seen. All in all, it was a nice day, and we are both so thankful to be able to celebrate our freedom.

It once was lost...

but now it's found!!!

I apparently left my cell phone by the computer Monday night. Last night, I got on the computer to order some floor cleaner off the internet. Then I went upstairs. Then I came back down to the computer room to file some bills I had paid. Low and behold, my cell phone was right by the mouse pad. Somehow I overlooked it at least 3 or 4 times.

I couldn't believe it was right there the whole time.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Oh where is my cell phone?

Oh where is my cell phone? Oh where? Oh where? Oh where? Oh where? Oh where…is my cell phone?

I have lost my cell phone. I remember the last time I had it but cannot for the life of me find it now. I had it Monday night when I was pulling weeds in the yard and playing with Max. I am 97.3% sure that I brought it inside and placed it somewhere. BUT I cannot find where that somewhere is.
  • I was outside again last night pulling weeds and playing with Max so I briefly looked around for it there. No phone.
  • I looked on the counter in the kitchen. No phone.
  • I looked on the dining room table. No phone.
  • I looked on the bathroom counter. No phone.
  • I looked in the dirty clothes hamper. No phone.

I have no idea where to look next.

I have never lost anything like this before. I am not sure what to do about it. I do know that most of the phone numbers I use are in that phone and nowhere else. Fun times.

I have given my husband countless hard times due to losing things, but even then he only temporary misplaces things. I'm not sure that he's ever lost anything like I just have. I can no longer sit up on my pedestal and tell him that I don't understand how someone could lose things so often. Now I'm the frustrated one looking behind every nook and cranny and racking my brain for some memory of what I did with my phone. Man is it crazy!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Happy 10th Anniversary!

Happy 10th anniversary to our friends N and M! We are celebrating with you today!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Top 10 List - why it's not the end of the world to work on July 4th

This is my top 10 list, in no particular order.
  1. knowing Matthew has a day completely to himself (and Max) to enjoy and sleep in a bit
  2. somehow getting up earlier than any other work day and getting to work before 7 am
  3. knowing I will not get many calls at work today and will have fewer interruptions
  4. seeing 4 hot air balloons on the way to work with the mountains as their backdrop
  5. seeing the antelope (grown ups and a baby) running in the field I drove by
  6. ZERO traffic
  7. enjoying a beautiful morning after rain last night
  8. absolutely NO line at Starbucks this morning
  9. hearing God Bless the USA on the radio on the way to work
  10. recognizing that MANY Americans work 365 days per year all over the world to ensure protection, safety, and freedom for me and all of America

Happy 4th of July!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Visit from Friends

Some friends of ours are camping this week in Colorado for their vacation. I hoped we could go meet them at the camp grounds, but things did not work out that way. Maybe next year. So they decided to drive to our house (2 - 2 1/2 hours from where they're camping) to visit. They came over last night for dinner and stayed the night. It was so much fun for me to see them. I couldn't tell you the last time I saw them - it had to be at least 2 years ago.

Andy is one of my oldest friends. He's not one of the oldest age-wise, but he's one of my longest friends. That sounds weird, too! I have know Andy for most of my life. I can only think of one other friend I have had for that long (Julie who I blogged about a long time ago). We grew up at church together, went to high school together, went to college together, and then both moved to Dallas after college. We even went to the same church and singles group in Dallas for a while. We go way back. You can see in this picture that Andy and his wife Amy are expecting their first child in October. It was so good to see them and spend even a little bit of time with them.

This is what we had for dinner.

Pork, Apricot, and Red-onion Kebabs
Everyday Food, July/August 2008 p. 26
4 servings

vegetable oil, for grates
1/4 cup apricot jam
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound), cut into twenty 1-inch cubes
8 apricots (about 1 pound), pitted and quartered
1 small red onion, cut into 2-inch wedges, layers separated

1. Heat grill to medium; lightly oil grates. Soak four 12-inch wooden skewers in a shallow dish of water for 15 minutes (or use metal ones).

2. Make basting sauce: In a small saucepan, heat jam, cayenne, and 1 tablespoon water over medium-low until jam is liquefied; season with salt and pepper.

3. Onto each skewer, alternately thread 5 pieces of pork with 8 of apricot and 4 of onion, beginning and ending with pork. Grill kebabs, turning occasionally and brushing with basting sauce, until pork is cooked through and apricots begin to char, 12 to 14 minutes.

I used chicken breasts for this rather than the pork. It seems like we've had enough pork lately. I also doubled this recipe. I wasn't sure that one skewer was going to be enough for everyone. And I like to have leftovers so we can take our lunches to work with us. Matthew and I really enjoyed this. This was my first experience with fresh apricots. They were so easy to pit and were really tasty. I will definitely make this again...probably sooner rather than later. Matthew was surprised that he enjoyed the apricots as much as he did, too.

I served this with the bean salad below (which I also doubled) and asparagus cooked in the oven. I like to heat the oven to 400 degrees. I put the asparagus on a cookie sheet with some olive oil and crushed red pepper. I think I cooked it between 15 and 20 minutes. This makes the ends a little crunchy and it has a little bit of a kick to it. As much as I fix asparagus, I think this is Matthew's favorite way to eat it. Matthew was not really a fan of the bean salad. He didn't think it had much flavor. I really enjoyed it, but for some reason I just love beans.

Warm White Bean Salad
Weight Watchers, Cook Smart flyer
4 servings

4 teaspoons olive oil
4 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 onion, minced
1/4 cup each diced green and red bell pepper
2 tablespoons fresh (or 1 teaspoon dried) minced sage
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 (16 ounce) can cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed and drained

Heat the oil in a medium nonstick skillet. Add the tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, sage, garlic, salt, and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Take off the heat and stir in the beans.

July 2008

These are the lyrics to my favorite patriotic song by far. There are so many that are fun to hear around this time of year.

Happy July!

God Bless The U.S.A.
by Lee Greenwood

If tomorrow all the things were gone, I’d worked for all my life.
And I had to start again, with just my children and my wife.
I’d thank my lucky stars, to be livin here today.
‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom, and they can’t take that away.
And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.
And I gladly stand up, next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land, God bless the USA.

From the lakes of Minnesota, to the hills of Tennessee.
Across the plains of Texas, From sea to shining sea.
From Detroit down to Houston, and New York to L.A.
Well there's pride in every American heart, and its time we stand and say.

That I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.
And I gladly stand up, next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land, God bless the USA.

And I’m proud to be and American, where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.
And I gladly stand up, next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land, God bless the USA.