Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A Red Bucket

Last night we took a family trip to Walmart. Mark's been gone so much with practice and games for the past couple of months, so the kids were really excited to go somewhere with him. Mark gave each of them a dollar and told them if we made it through the store with no whining or fighting (there's been a lot of bickering lately and I'm sure there are people out there who disagree with the bribing, but hey, desperate times call for desperate measures!) they could buy something that they picked out themselves. At the end of our successful shopping, the kids picked out boxes of little Christmas tree cakes. With Mark, everything is fun and exciting, so he showed them how to do the self check-out lane and had them insert the money themselves and then of course came the excitement of seeing the change come out the little slot. Jake was excited to put his change in his Ohio State piggy bank at home, and of course Rory imitates and talkes about everything that Jake does so she got excited about her Dorothy and Toto bank. On the way out of the store, Mark asked if they wanted to put their money in the red bucket instead. We explained to Jake how that money would help buy something for another kid who didn't have very much. I have no clue how much of that he understood. Most likely they were just excited to drop coins into the swinging red bucket (very cool!), but as they did, Jake yelled out "Merry Christmas" to the friendly man ringing his bell. My eyes filled with tears that he gave his little treasure away so easily. It was a huge reminder to me that it's my responsibility to teach these two little people about loving people (which is a new concept for me in life since I did not grow up this way.) Just an unexpected kind of blessing during my favorite time of year.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Holiday Books

I love books! I love old books, I love new books, I love the smell of crisp pages, I love the sight of old book bindings sitting on a shelf. And most of all, I love the tradition books create in a family. I grew up with a great old pop-up version of Twas the Night Before Christmas, and of all the Christmas objects we unpacked out of bins every December, that was my favorite thing to see each year. My mom even has a video of me reading it to Trina and Wayne when I was about 8. And I still have that book. I think my mom understood that it was most meaningful to me, so I got to take it with me when I got married. It’s sitting on my shelf of Christmas books right now, waiting to be read this season. I actually bought a new Twas the Night Before Christmas book a few years ago from Hallmark because it was so pretty—it’s a Santa and Coke version and I love the illustrations.

Some of my best memories of being a kid are road trips and my mom reading out loud to us from the Bobbsey Twins and Little House books. We took lots of trips to visit cousins and we always read our favorite family books along the way. I’ve been collecting vintage Bobbsey Twins books for a few years now, and I still have the Little House set that was mine as a kid. And I have found some great versions of American classics like Pollanna, the Little Princess, Swiss Family Robinson and other stories I loved as a kid. And I have extremely vintage copies of The Wizard of Oz (my favorite story ever, well, tied with Little Women) and Charlotte’s Web (shout-out to Gretchen and her annual book report!). I have boxes and boxes of children’s books.

Now that I have my own family, I’m trying to create holiday traditions through some books with them too. I’m probably going a little overboard though. I found great books of little poems for Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and Valentine’s Day by Jack Prelutsky. I also found Twas the Night Before Halloween, and other Twas books for Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, first day of Kindegarten, etc. by Natasha Wing. And I also bought a couple of other random books about the Pilgrims, Christmas and other things that just seemed so cute. I spend more online time on Amazon than anywhere else—books, movies, and music—my three favorite things on one great website.

People have told me I better hope and pray that Rory is a reader because I’ve been collecting classic books since before she was born. Well, so far, she IS! She’ll sit with books all day if she can. She loves being read to, she loves reading to herself, so far so good. =) And Jake is starting to come around too—the more he sees Rory with books, he seems more interested. Needless to say, we spend a TON of time reading together on the couch. Time will tell if they love their holiday books as much as I did.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Tim Horton's

Okay, okay, I finally tried Tim Horton's coffee. My honest assessment is this: the coffee was just okay, but I appreciated the festiveness of their cheery winter cup. (I'm now bracing myself for the comments to come...)

Monday, December 04, 2006

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

Well, we've had quite a Christmasy weekend. I've had the house decorated for a week or so now, but Saturday we went to get our tree and it was really fun because the kids actually knew what was going on. It was great watching their little faces in awe as the guy cut some off the bottom of our huge douglas fir and then netted it up and tied it to the top of our car. It feels so good to have a real tree again. Mark grew up with an artificial and thought that was the way we'd go in our own home. And those who know us know Mark is definitely the one who runs the show around here. But a real Christmas tree was not something I was willing to give on! It's in my blood. For over 70 years Christmas trees were our family business in Massachusetts, but this year is the first year it no longer exists. The business shut down last year and it's pretty sad to see it gone. But I digress. Anyway, last year was the only year we had a fake tree and that was because we lived in an apartment complex that didn't allow real trees. I'm so happy to have our huge real tree smelling all amazing in our living room.

After picking up our tree Mark and I set off on our afternoon adventure of putting up lights outside the house. We felt like the Griswolds. Mark was up on a ladder with staple gun in hand and I was fooling around with the extension cords and outlets trying to get everything to fit in somewhere and work. With all the icicle lights, the potted trees on our entry way, lights wrapped around bushes and a wreath in every window, it took us all afternoon. We had fun though--it's yet another memory of our first home.

Today I spent literally the entire day baking cookies. I haven't even chipped the iceberg yet--I am trying a bunch of new kinds this year, so I plan to bake a couple more days this week too. I've been stocking butter, flour, and sugar for two months now, so I'm extremely prepared. And I'm making double batches of our favorites, now that I have my new freezer in the garage. I've really missed cooking ahead with no extra freezer for the past couple of years.

When Mark got home from ball practice tonight we decorated the tree. It was pretty funny because the kids put every ornament I handed them in the same exact spot. There was a whole front bottom section of the tree laden down with ornaments and the rest of the tree was empty. Of course, my obsessive compulsive self had that fixed as soon as they went to bed, but it was fun watching them do it.

I was thinking back to last year's Christmas Movie Extravaganza (is that what we called it, Abby?) wishing I could do it again this year. But since we still don't really have a circle of friends to entertain yet, I'll have my own. I told Mark that the one good thing about him having late practices every night and me being home alone all the time is that I can watch Christmas movies any night I want to. And since we have Directv back, it's not hard to find one. Lydie and I have plans to go see The Holiday for a girls night out, so that will keep me in my tradition of seeing whatever Christmas movie is out every year.

So the holiday happenings are keeping us busy around here. Hope everyone else is having fun!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Thanksgiving Trip to Boston

Me and the kids goofing off with Christmas decorations.

The kids chased this rooster all over the tree farm we visited--it was hilarious!

Grammie took us to a Christmas shop for donuts and coffee.

Uncle Tommy and Jake sacked out watching a movie.

Auntie Treen and Rory--she's the spitting image of Trina as a little kid!

Grammie and the kids smelling the amazing New England Christmas trees.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Home Sweet Home

Today I finally got home from my 9 day Thanksgiving trip. Man, I HATE being out of touch with my cyber world. =) Since Mark had to stay here for Thanksgiving, my mom talked me into staying a while longer once I got to Boston. So I did. But I was dying to get home by the end. I'm so thankful for my safe trip too. There were a few moments where I was thanking God frantically for keeping me safe--I was driving with some real winners out there.

Anyway, once I get life organized once again, I'll be back to blogging my love of the holidays.

By the way, thanks for backing me up, Gretchen and Abby, as usual. Thanksgiving is never overshadowed by Christmas in my world. And do we have a blog clique? If so, you are totally part of it, Gretchen. I love that you comment now!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Get Your Kicks on Route 66

Last night the Chapman household had a premiere showing of Cars, including popcorn, jammies, and lights out. We all loved it. I was pleasantly surprised, even. I am a Disney freak—I love most Disney movies, especially the Disney/Pixar movies. But I wasn’t as excited about this one because I assumed it was mostly about a nascar type world, and that is a world that just doesn’t interest me in the least. Boy was I wrong! I mean, it had a little to do with car racing, but mostly it was about friendship and Route 66 and that old American way of life—something that I’ve always had a fascination with! I even have a vintage Route 66 sign in my kitchen, and several recordings of the song, “Route 66” (Nat King Cole, etc). It touched on life before Interstates, and how family trips were just as much about the drive, as the destination (a metaphor for our lives, really). I highly recommend this movie, and if you get the chance, watch the 15 minute documentary in the special features about how the movie was inspired. I was extremely touched, and even more so, when right smack in the middle of the movie, James Taylor started singing. Never am I NOT touched when I hear my old pal JT’s voice. I really want to pile the kids in the mini van sometime in the next few years, take a family trip without driving on any highways, and discover America. But that’s the romantic in me—the person who has always loved Americana and should have been born in a different time. I guess discovering America means not using the DVD player to keep the kids content, and that is not something I’m willing to give up at this point in time. Maybe in about 7 or 8 years. =) Anyway, see Cars. It’s fun!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Around Town

Well, it's that time of year. Everything is changing and becoming magical. Here are some signs of the season I've noticed as I live life around town lately:

--The Glorious Cornucopia of Wonders (also known as Target during the holidays) is more fun than ever
--Huge toy ads come with the Sunday paper
--Turkey sales and baking product sales are in all the ads
--Feeling an exciting hustle and bustle, rather than monotony as people take care of their errands
--Halloween candy in center aisles replaced by candy canes
--Icicle lights lit on a lone house here and there while driving around the city streets
--Some radio stations played Christmas music all weekend long as a preview for December


--Gingerbread and Peppermint Mocha coffee creamers arrive in grocery stores! Yaay!

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Well, here is our Princess and Mr. Incredible. Rory's costume was a no-brainer because she was in a wedding this fall. My mom found a tiara, and she was done. Jake's costume consists of a couple of pieces of felt glued together and pinned to his sweatshirt, a pillowcase for a cape, and a felt mask. (Now for those of you who are Incredibles afficianados, I know they don't wear capes, since it's specifically talked about in the movie, but he looked much more superhero-ish with a cape, so we just went with it.) He LOOOVED being Mr. Incredible. Jake showed Rory how to trick-or-treat, which was fun to watch. They've been wearing their mask and tiara around the house ever since. =)

I can't figure out how to explain to a 4 year old that Halloween is just once a year, because he asks to go trick-or-treating every night now.

I already checked a bunch of Thanksgiving books out of the library, so I guess I'll focus on that now and see if it takes. Did I mention that I love this time of year?

Monday, October 30, 2006

My Father

I have never put a lot of thought into God as my Father. I know He is. I know it's a fact, but I don't know that I've ever truly personalized that. I was thinking about it today and wondering if maybe I've never put a lot of thought into it because of the fact that I never had an earthly father. Since my dad died when I was so young, I don't really know what it is to have a fatherly relationship with someone. I've had a father-in-law for 6 years and he's great, but that's a different thing altogether. I don't think I've seen a father-daughter relationship up close until now because now I'm watching Mark and Rory up close and can see how much he really loves her and wants to protect her and take care of her. Don't get me wrong. I'm not feeling sorry for myself in any way, shape, or form. I have never felt sorry for myself because my mom made sure that we had a very happy lives. But I'm just kind of thinking about things in a new light now. I've seen God take care of me and teach me and guide me so much throughout life, but I've never really called Him "Father."

Last week was rough. I was lonely for a friend. I miss close relationships near to where I live and being able to call someone, make spur-of-the-moment plans and then talk the hours away. I know these things will come eventually, and most of the time I'm busy enough with the kids and our home and don't think much about it, but sometimes the lonliness takes over for a little bit. But with this comes a perfect example of God taking care of me, his daughter. Lydie, my new friend here (who also happens to be Mark's cousin's wife), wanted to go out for coffee. We made plans to meet at Easton for supper and some Christmas shopping. But we ended up talking the night away, and then at the last minute decided to see a movie too. We had a great time, and it ended up being a night that both of us really needed. God had a new friend (who happens to be my favorite person of all the people I've met here) call me out of the blue, exactly when I needed someone to reach out. Not only that, but she communicated to me that she's really thankful we moved here and has needed this relationship too. That is more of a blessing to me than I can communicate with words.

This may seem like a little thing, but for me, it was gigantic! God, my Father, loves me.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Costume Time

There’s something very nostalgic about homemade costumes for Halloween. My sister says she has bad memories of wearing silly homemade costumes and will never do that to her kids, but for me, I see beauty in it. Good thing too, because while I love the ease of store-bought costumes, I know in my budget-conscious husband’s mind, Halloween costumes are definitely not budget worthy. And that’s okay with me. We both agree that families had to make up costumes at home for decades, so we can too. So now, it’s up to the mother to figure out how to dress up my kids every year and I’ll have to start getting creative. I’ll pick up little things here and there with my groceries and collect things at home and put together some kind of outfit. I’ll romanticize it in my mind by using words like nostalgic and hope my kids have fun in the process. Stay tuned and see what we come up with…

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

My Winter of Soup and Bread

I’ve been on quite a soup and bread kick lately. Over the years I’ve made a lot of chili, perfecting the recipe to suit me and Mark along the way, and a ton of tomato soup because my mother-in-law has an amazing recipe. But other than that, I haven’t ventured into the homemade soup world. I decided to make that a project for this fall and winter. So far so good—last week we had potato soup and this week, chicken and rice, and they turned out pretty okay. I can tweak things with each recipe for next time. Seems like there’s never enough broth, so I’ll work on that. But I’m most excited about the breads. I’ve been making homemade rolls at least once a week since the summer, so those are good to go, but last week I tried homemade Italian bread and it actually worked. The bread machine is half the battle, because I’m not really crazy about kneading. I made it again last night for our chicken soup and it was delicious. It feels so authentic with the hard crust, chewy inside, and even cornmeal on the bottom. My next experiment will be tomato basil bread. I found a recipe online and I’d love to have some to make grilled cheese with for our tomato soup—yummo! Just thought I’d share because these are big accomplishments for me. The picture above is our Italian bread from last night.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The First Snow

Today is our first snow of the season. Those who know me well know I'm having a very happy day! This blog is about the simple things in life that I love, and the first snow is the perfect example of pennies from heaven. It's only flurries and won't collect on the ground, but it's beautiful to see the snow slowly falling, and it's been coming for hours now. We're having a very cozy morning here in our homey living room. I'd love to go out and take a walk with the kiddos, but today is potty training day with Rory. Hopefully it will keep snowing so we can go out later, but if not, we'll take our annual "First Snow of the Season Walk" another day. I just can't keep putting off the potty training--priorities of life with preschoolers. This time of year keeps getting better and better...8 days til Halloween!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I Love Heroes!

Is there anyone else out there in the universe watching Heroes? Monday nights, 9:00--I'm so hooked. I guess this gives Jamie another reason to mock my TV choices, but what can I say? It's another Alias type situation...fake, comic-bookish, but maybe that's why I like these shows. Departure from reality. Every week ends with a cliff-hanger where I'm literally covering my mouth with my hand in shock. =)

Unfortunately I'm banned to the little tv in my bedroom because Mark refuses to watch such absurdity. He was the same way with Unbreakable. He just couldn't grasp Bruce Willis' character because he said he couldn't connect with the fact that he was a superhero in the real world. His brain works too practically for that kind of storyline. Maybe that's why I like all M. Knight Shamalan movies too--because they're not reality. They're just fun to watch, and I always love a twist. I wonder why he loved Alias--maybe because it was the CIA so that was partial reality?...I'll have to ask him about that.

Anyway, it's fun to have a new show to be excited about every week, and I just thought I'd throw it out there, since I'm new to this area, don't know very many people, and don't have anyone to talk about it with. I miss those weekly Alias groups of long ago...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

We love fall!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Pumpkin Bread and a Brown Sweater

No, this is not my take on Black Horse and a Cherry Tree!

My last entry is bothering me a little because I wrote to vent, and that’s not really what this blog is about. This blog is a commentary on the simple things in life, the things I really love and enjoy. So to leave on a more positive note today, I have two things to mention.

I made pumpkin cookies last week and had about a cup of pumpkin left, so I decided to make pumpkin bread too. I’m not a huge fan of baking because it’s too scientific. I LOVE cooking because it allows freedom to go on a whim and just toss in whatever. But I was reveling in the warm spicy aroma coming from my kitchen all morning. It was the perfect way to jump start the fall. Not to mention that when my kindred spirit from college got here, she was talking about pumpkin bread and pumpkin stuff and how they don’t have cans of pumpkin in Germany and she wishes she could use it more often. So when I showed her what I had JUST made, we were loving our kindred moment.

The second thing I’ll mention is my great find of the week. I’m not a huge shopper. Clothes aren’t really my thing. I mean, I try to stay somewhat on top of what’s going on out there, but I’m not trendy or die, unlike my sister, who is the most on-top-of-things person I know. I find a pair of shoes or jeans or a shirt and I wear it into the ground because I get very comfortable in what I know and love. Well, this week I happened upon the perfect fall sweater and it will see me through a lot of future coziness. It’s a dark brown sweater coat with a tie around the waist and a huge oversize hood. I don’t think I’ve ever found any article of clothing so completely perfect in my life.

So in keeping with my simple things…

Rough Day

Today has been a rough one for me and the kids. They have been bickering and screaming (Rory learned how to shriek like a total girl and we're trying to put the kabosh on that immediately!) and crying and fussing and I have a headache from it all. I tried really hard to pull them out of their mood, but it all started when we had to leave the park 5 minutes after we got there because Jake was misbehaving bigtime. I knew the worst punishment would be leaving, so that's what I decided to do. Hey, the kid will learn at some point. But ever since then, the day has gone downhill. I took the kids on a walk around the neighborhood to try to get their frustration out, and then Jake helped me weed the garden during Rory's nap, which he loves to do. But they are still going at it as we speak. Oh well. I haven't had a day like this since our apartment days of Minnesota. I guess toddlers and preschoolers just have random bad days too.

This weekend we're driving up to NW Ohio for Mark's brother's wedding, so the kids will be psyched to see Grandma and Papa. And they get to see their new and only cousin, Ella, too! When we come back it will be October--my absolute favorite month of the year. We have hayrides and apple picking and pumpkins and and lots of breezy autumn walks to look forward to.

Friday, September 22, 2006


We've had some amazing autumn days here and I am at my happiest!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Anniversary Time

Mark and I will have been married for 6 years on Saturday! We’ve had a lot of changes recently which has me thinking about the changes we’ve had through the past 6 years. We’ve worked 9 jobs between the two of us. We lived in 3 different apartments, one rental house, and just now bought a home. We lived in a quaint all-American town in Pennsylvania for 5 years, a huge Minneapolis suburb for 10 months, and now in the metropolis of Columbus, Ohio. We started out working in an AWANA ministry at our church, and then moved on to a college student ministry, and that’s where our hearts have stayed for now. I guess we’ll see what the future holds in that area at our new church here. We have two kids now! And our once pretty organized home now has Buzz Lightyears, My Little Ponies, blocks, and balls hidden in every little corner. We’ve watched 76 Ohio State football games (most of them in the Miller’s living room with our 4 little Buckeyes running around in their scarlet and gray) and seen one National Championship! We’ve traveled hundreds upon hundreds of miles to see our families. We’ve thrown 5 Superbowl parties. We’ve had 312 Saturday pizza nights and ate possibly hundreds of batches of chili. We’ve played hundreds of games (and guess who always wins). Mark taught me to like games, and I’m still trying to get him to love movies. We don’t have much TV in common, but every year we seem to find one show that we’re both excited about (Ed, Alias, King of Queens, all the Law and Orders, The Apprentice, The Office…) We got to be part of a college basketball program for 5 years, and now we dream together about a future coaching career. We’ve learned to rely on each other more and on God through the same circumstances. We’re trying to figure out this parenting thing together. The message of abundant life changed our lives at the same time. We both learned about our spiritual gifts at the same time. 6 years doesn’t seem like much in the grand scheme of what I hope our marriage is, but they’ve been a full and fun 6 years and I’m so thankful for Mark and for what he is to our family.

Monday, August 28, 2006


Today is a much needed day for me. It's raining hard and it's so dark that I need lights on to see what I'm doing. Most people probably think I'm crazy but I LOVE rainy days, especially this summer. It's been so hot and so blindingly sunny everyday, and maybe it's seemed more so because we have lots of cathedral ceiling windows in our living room and it really heats up in here from the sun. So I've been hoping for a dark rainy day because it's just plain cozy!

Time to light some candles and make a second pot of coffee...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Oscar Wilde

"A dreamer is one who can find his way by moonlight, and see the dawn before the rest of the world."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Go Bucks!

Football season is less than two weeks away and I think the closer it gets, the more unbelievable it is that we live here, in Ohio State central. I can't begin to describe the hype everywhere we turn. Mark got to take Jake to the Buckeyes open practice at the Shoe last night. Jake has been singing the fight song all day, and Mark is rediculously giddy. It's all so fun!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Coffee Talk

I guess I'm not as far away from all you Minnesota friends as I thought...we have Caribou Coffee here.

I've been aching to discover some fun coffee spots in my new city. I found one place that looks fun in Canal Winchester called Harvest Moon Coffee, but I haven't had a chance to go in yet. My exploring and discovery phase of moving to a new city has been put on hold for 3 weeks now since our car broke down and needed a new engine. Until I can venture out again, I'd love coffee advise from any Columbus natives out there.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

What a little paint will do...

Friends have asked to see pictures as we get rooms done in our house. Thanks for being excited for us as we add color to our daily lives. Those of you who are in the process of doing the same thing, I love seeing yours too!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Gas or Charcoal?

The other day I was a little bent out of shape because of the heat. Well, today it's 15 degrees cooler--a gorgeous 80 degrees with a little breeze too. So, since summer is more tolerable today, I'll tell you two things I actually love about the season.

The first is flip flops. I have an addiction--it's pretty bad. I am not a shoes or clothes girl at all. But for some reason, when it comes to flip flops, I definitely go overboard. Maybe it's because they're so cheap, it's easy to slip another pair up to the register. I thought I might count how many pairs are in my closet for this post, but I decided not to because if I know the number, I might be really embarassed.

The second thing is the grill. Now, for the past 5 years, we've had a gas grill and we loved it. We loved the convenience and quick prep time of our gas grill. Well, it ran its course from being used so much over the years and we ended up getting rid of it last summer. This year, after moving into our new home, Mark went out the next day and bought himself the King of All Grills--a Weber charcoal grill. I promise you we are never going back. We LOOOOVE charcoal! The change in the taste of our food is unbelievable. From hot dogs to chicken to burgers, everything is way juicier. And I swear to you that our grilled peppers, summer squash and red onions the other night tasted like candy! (For anyone who has not tried this, you need to--thickly slice your veggies, brush on extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle liberally with pepper and kosher salt.)

Anyone out there who would like to share their grilling ideas with me, I'd love to hear it. We've been grilling out about every other night and I always like hearing other people's recipes or ideas for some variety.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Dog Days of Summer

It's HOT!

Our central air is BROKEN!

I hoo. Well, what can I say? I'm officially spoiled by AC. I've had it for the past 6 years and not being a summer person in any way, shape, or form to start with, I love life with cooler temps on demand.

I was in Michael's today looking for a couple of things that I didn't find. I ended up coming out with the usual suspects from the dollar bins--thank you notes, magnetic grocery list pads (two things I go through quick), and a 2007 Large Grid Calendar (they're out already, Gretchen!). All that to say that the store was full of fall stuff! It amazes me every year that seasonal things seem to appear earlier and earlier. There was a whole aisle dedicated to Halloween, and it seemed half the store was autumn flowers, wreaths, candles, and welcome signs bearing leaves, pumkins, and scarecrows.

Needless to say it made me very giddy...until I walked out the door and got my 95 degree wakeup call. I won't go into my musings on why I love fall so much--I think I already did that when I first started this blog. But I'll just end by saying when the cooler temps get here, the leaves start changing, and I can go buy a bushel of apples for my annual applesauce making frenzy, I'll be ready and waiting.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


The roller coaster has slowed down long enough for me to get off, even though rest of my family is still on it. Here's our last month in a nutshell--We moved from Minneapolis to Columbus June 9, and spent a week unpacking, getting new licenses, plates, learning our way around, etc.

A week later we headed out to Pennsylvania for three weeks of basketball camp. We lived in the dorm, spent tons of time with old friends, took twice-daily walks around campus, enjoyed fellowship at Heritage Baptist Church, threw zillions of pinecones into the pond, ran crazy around the gym when camp was not happening, and ate "yummy" food in the cafeteria, almost got attacked by the psychotic campus geese more than once, enjoyed fireworks with great friends, and had many ice coffees from the brand spanking new Dunkin Donuts. Our hearts were filled up there.

We ended up leaving camp a couple of days early to head up to Boston. My grandmother died July 1 (yaay for her being in heaven, sad for her not being here...) so we spent a few days with my family in Massachusetts for the funeral. It was really great seeing everyone--I saw relatives I hadn't seen in years and I know it made Grampy so happy that every single person in our extended family came (including soldiers flying in from Iraq and missionaries flying up from Ecuador). There was lots of crying, but even more laughing.

Mark had to leave the day after the funeral to start another basketball camp in Cleveland, but he insisted that I stay with my mom longer, so he drove the 10 hours himself with the kids.

I flew from Boston to Columbus today. My kids are still in Cleveland, staying with Mark's parents while Mark finishes up that camp. After these crazy 5 weeks, I've never been happier to sit on my own couch. Since we were only in Columbus for a week before leaving again and going through all the craziness, I feel like my house is brand new all over again.

We leave in another 2 and a half weeks for my brother's wedding down in Virginia, so that's another 9 hour trip to torture our kids with, but I'm not going to think about it yet. I have the next 3 days all to myself before Mark, Jake, and Rory roll back into town and I have lots of plans. I'll fill my days with coffee, relaxation, stocking our kitchen with food, getting a library card (always a necessity right away for me), exploring the city a little bit, and possibly painting the kitchen if I'm feeling extremely motivated.

Real life in Columbus has definitely not started for us yet. But we're almost there, and very happy about it.

Thanks to everyone who continues to pray for us.

Friday, June 16, 2006

In Limbo

I wanted to post quickly before we leave for Pennsylvania tomorrow because I'm pretty sure I won't have regular internet access once we're there.

We're here in Columbus! Our house is an amazing blessing from God. We feel like we have so much space, and we're loving the backyard. We are thankful and the kids are soooooo happy and are running free!

Of course, we don't really feel like we're here for real yet because we're leaving tomorrow for our 3-week stint at basketball camp, so that's where the "In Limbo" title comes from. We have a lot to do when we get back--Mark needs a job, we start the church hunt, I need some girlfriends... I know this will all come one step at a time, so until we have to think about those things, we plan to enjoy our time in Clarks Summit. We're excited to see old friends, to be at Heritage again, and to spend time on our beautiful and peaceful BBC campus.

See you in Mayberry, Abby!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

To Laugh With Old Friends

Last night, Gretchen, Lisa, Abby, Angela and I went out for coffee. For those of you who don't know, these are my Minnesota friends who are originally from Pennsylvania--we all go way back. Lisa wanted me to see her favorite coffee place before I move away, and it turned into a kind of last hurrah for me to be with my girlfriends here. We had so much fun. We talked the night away and laughed a lot. I will miss that. I will miss being with friends who I've known for years and who know me so well, who know my history, who know my extended family members' names, who know my likes and dislikes, and who know my spirit. As exciting as this move is for our family, I'm sad to leave these friends who love us and who have supported us in our adventures. Thanks for a great night, guys--I'm so glad we have this picture!

Gretchen (and Baby Girl Miller #3), Lisa, me, Abby, and Angela

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


There's a week and a half to go and our apartment is looking sparse. The walls are bare, the shelves are empty, there are boxes in every corner and things are messy. It's not a fun way to live, especially for a couple of toddlers. But we're so excited, we don't care. Even Jake is excited, even though he doesn't REALLY know what's happening. He keeps asking if we're moving to a new house because every time I'm packing a box, he asks what I'm doing. I always tell him I have to pack up our stuff to move it to a new house. Then we go through the list of all the different things there will be at his new house--his own room, a yard to throw balls and play tee ball, a driveway to pull his wagon, ride his bike, and play basketball, a basement to wrestle with Daddy where the neighbors won't bang on the ceiling...

Along with the packing and cleaning, I have been making lists like crazy. I have always been a list girl. I love the satisfaction of crossing things off a list of to-do's. I love knowing that I don't have to worry about forgetting something on a trip because I checked my list before I left. But I don't think I've ever made so many lists at one time before as I have right now. There are so many things coming up, I feel like making lists is the only way to keep my head on my shoulders. I have a list of things that need to be done before the move, a grocery list of things we'll need for our one week in Ohio before leaving for PA, a list of things we have to bring to PA, a list of things I have to take care of while in PA, a grocery list of staples needed when I shop once we're home from PA, and there are more, but I just can't think of them right now. I know once we make the move, I won't have time to sit down and make shopping lists or PA trip lists because there will be so much to do in that one short week. And I have a lot of time here, so why not just get it done now?

I feel good about my lists. I feel organized, and when I'm organized I'm happy.

Hail the pen and paper!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

A Hammock...

"A hammock is the best place to spend a midsummer afternoon. When you climb into a hammock, you are linked to reality only by the narrowest of cords. Suspended in time and space, you shed any sense of weight or corporal substance. As you sway with the gentle rhythm of the breeze, you drift and dream between heaven and earth, glimpsing the blue truth of sky beyond the wagging treetops. Then suddenly the spell is broken by a dog's snout poking you, a rumble of thunder or a child's cry, and you are brought back to a world you temporarily left behind. But the hammock's solace is not forgotten. Its gentle crescent lingers."

--Robert S. Kyff

Monday, May 15, 2006

Mother's Day

I had the BEST Mother's Day! Mark had to coach a tournament this weekend, but he more than made up for not being around part of Sunday. He made french toast for breakfast and told me I absolutely was NOT allowed to do the dishes. He made sandwiches for the kids and put them in the fridge after breakfast so I wouldn't have to make lunch for them. And he surprised me with Macaroni Grill reservations for supper. We had such a great time. I think that might have been our most successful restaurant experience with our kids--they were soooo good. And Rory piped in with the opera singer who came to our table to serenade the kids. She is hilarious.

I decided to go to our friends' church for the morning, instead of Berean, because I wanted to be with people I love. Since Mark couldn't be there, it was nice to sit with people I'm close to during the service. Mark had a two hour break from coaching and showed up after the church service to talk and visit with our friends for a few minutes, and also to help me get the kids out to the car.

The best part of my day was Jake telling me "Happy Mother's Day" before he went to bed. Mark had him saying it first thing in the morning, and througout the day, and I know he had Jake say it again that last time, but it sounded so cute and like he actually knew what it meant that time. He made me cry because he suddenly seemed so old.

Thanks, Mark, for such a special day. I love you!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Christmas in June

I haven't been blogging much lately. I have been told more than once that I have too much time on my hands because of all the time I spend online, but I can honestly say that it's no longer true. Now that I'm back from my South Carolina trip it's crunch time. I have exactly 4 weeks to get this place organized and packed up.

In the process of going through every room of our apartment and relocating boxes and bins, I was reminded of how many things we never got to unpack, simply for lack of space. Not only do we have tons of unpacked boxes, but Mark's car is still full of stuff we haven't touched either. I'm getting really excited about unpacking in our new home, and finding all kinds of lost treasures. It will be like Christmas in the summer!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Memoirs of a Geisha

I finally saw "Memoirs of a Geisha" last night. I've been waiting to see this since I first heard the movie was being made because I read the book about 4 years ago and I could not put it down. It is one of the most fascinating books I've ever read, and I loved learning about the Geisha world. In choosing books to read, I usually look for settings in worlds I know nothing about, cultures that I can learn from. I love learning about Asian culture, the slavery era in America, Native Americans, and even the South. These are all worlds that are foreign to me and that fascinate me every time I enter one.

I decided to reread the book before I saw the movie and I got through it pretty fast since we had our 12 hour trip to and from Ohio a few weeks ago. So I went into the movie with a knowledgeable perspective. I don't know why I put myself through the torture. The movie is NEVER worth seeing after reading the story first. I'd say the best book-to-movie transition I've experienced is Gone With the Wind. But you also have to take into consideration that Gone With the Wind is a long movie, so they were able to stick to the story with some continuity.

Memoirs of a Geisha is gorgeous, I'll give you that. The settings and wardrobes were breathtaking, especially those set in Japenese gardens. But there was so much missing from the story. I was constantly thinking to myself, how will anyone who has not read the novel know what is going on? It was patchy and confusing.

Bottom line and personal opinion of Tara Chapman: More disapointing than most movies based on popular books. There are thousands of movies out there--don't pick this one next time you're at Blockbuster or logging onto Netflix!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Recipe Obsession

I have an addiction to recipes. I just love them--I love reading them, I love watching people cook, I love trying them out myself. I have a rediculous amount of cookbooks and I read them and re-read them all the time. Not only that, but they are marked up with little post-its and then cross-referenced into dish type categories in Word on my computer. That way, when I'm looking for something specific to make, I can look under "Soups" or "Main Dishes-Pork" and find something pretty quick. (I know at this point some of you must think I'm crazy.) But wait, there's more.

Before we got rid of DirecTV, I constantly watched the Food Network--it was by far my favorite channel. Now that I don't have it anymore, once in a while I'll pop in a Food Network DVD because, yes, I bought a few of those collections at Target. So once in a while I can get a food fix from a favorite chef or two. To me, food is the prettiest thing to look at on TV--it's so vibrant and colorful.

And then there's the internet. When I'm bored, I'll settle onto the couch with Mark's laptop and start browsing recipes on or or As if I don't have access to enough recipe ideas, I constantly work on building up my online recipe boxes.

When does an obsession become unhealthy? =)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Follow Up On Familiarity

Okay, I'm hearing through the grapevine that a few people are thinking I'm in the depths of despair or something because of my last entry. I swear to you all that I'm absolutely fine--I'm not freaking out, I'm not depressed, I'm not looking for security (I KNOW where my security lies!). I was merely pondering some things that have drastically changed for me. Just thinking out loud. As my friend Abby says, her blog is about death and darkness, while mine is about coffee and donuts. =) So I guess I can see where the concern comes from. Thank you to those who care.

Monday, April 17, 2006


I had an epiphany today: there is nothing familiar going on for me right now. I don’t know my family, I don't know my new friends well, I don’t know my old friends the way I used to, I don’t know my church, I don’t know my town. I don’t know anything anymore except for my husband and my kids. Praise God for my own little family. There are things about God I don’t know anymore either—things I thought I knew in the past and now I question. It’s not the most important things about God—I know He loves me, I know He’s faithful, I know He’s my Father. Things are just different than the things I always learned, and it confuses me.

What a weird place in life to be. I crave familiarity.

(By the way, this may sound melancholy, but that's not how I'm feeling--I promise I'm not feeling sorry for myself or anything, I'm just musing over some facts of life, and this is what I came up with today.)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Dunkin Donuts Coffee

Okay, a lot of you friends have heard my opinions on Dunkin Donuts coffee in the past. But I'm feeling the need to wax eloquent on the topic today because I got to have a cup this morning on our way out of the Chicago area. Anyone who knows New England knows that DD coffee is pretty much a religion up there. In the Boston area where I grew up, there are DD stores literally on every corner, but as I have moved on in life and in the country, I've learned they are not as common everywhere else. Could be partly because DD was born in Massachusetts, could be because the rest of the country hasn't learned the wonders of the perfect cup of coffee yet, I don't know. All that to say, I don't get to have it very often anymore (except for around Christmas when my mom sends me pounds and pounds of cinnamon--shout out to Kylene!), so when I get to have a cup fresh from the store, I am immediately taken back to the first 18 years of my life when it was just common fact DD coffee was part of the daily routine for pretty much everyone I ever knew. I was speechless when I found out that after ten years of living in Clarks Summit, PA without a DD in town, one was being built as we moved away...

I know there are a lot of people who don't understand the obsession and who think it's trivial compared to Starbucks, etc. I do like Starbucks coffee. But as a true Bostonian, my heart will always love Dunkin Donuts more than anything else.

Quick anecdote: anyone watching the Red Sox in the playoffs a couple of years ago could not have helped but notice Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner at a few games--they flashed enough pictures of them. You may also have noticed that Jennifer always had a Starbucks cup, while Ben always had a DD cup. Ben grew up in Boston. Silly story, but just wanted to share since I know a ton of people who also noticed--and these are people who aren't from Boston, they just know me!

There really aren't words to describe a cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee, so I'll just end with this:


Friday, April 07, 2006

New Hometown

I have always been able to pinpoint a year of my life when I hear certain songs. “For the Longest Time” by Billy Joel reminds me of 8’th grade. Tom Cochran’s “Life Is a Highway,” “End of the Road” by Boyz To Men, and “When I Look Into Your Eyes” by Firehouse take me straight back to 10’th grade. “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” by Deep Blue Something encompasses my entire Freshman year of college. The 40 Acres CD by Caedmon’s Call is my Sophomore Year, and the Dixie Chicks’ “Wide Open Spaces” takes me right back to single girl apartment living with Kim and Kristen. It hasn’t been as distinct since I’ve been married—I don’t really know why. But I can already tell I have a new song for this spring. It’s “New Hometown” by Sara Evans. Here are the lyrics:

Every day we walk right past
All the concrete and the glass
I don’t know where we’re going
I hardly see your face
And there’s not enough space
For all the love we should be growing

We just need a little earth to stand on
Plant our hearts on solid ground
Turn the lights out on this city
And wake up in a new hometown
We’ll stand out in our front yard
Where we can finally breathe
If we find a little earth to stand on
Baby, you and me

Imagine Friday football games
Where everybody knows our names
They even stop to say hello
I’ll bet they have a town parade
Kids selling lemonade
Baby, don’t you wanna go

We’re leaving for Chicago, then on to Columbus, via Cleveland, in a few hours. Hello Midwest America! For me, there’s nothing like a road trip with a fabulous country song playing me into the sunset… (Too bad Mark will be listening to political talk radio--yaay for the wonderful iPod!)

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Kiddos

Here's Jake and my little surfer girl, Rory--just hangin out around the house today.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

I smell Spring!

This may be the first winter of my life that I'm dying for it to end! I am a fall/winter person by nature. I love everything that comes with cold weather--the leaves changing, pumpkins, snow, holiday season, sweaters... But I think that may change a little now that I have kids. They are so sick of being pent up inside and we're all going crazy. It also may be because of where we lived this year--on the second floor of an apartment complex. To get the kids anywhere to do anything, inluding to play in the snow, is a major production. It will be interesting to see if next winter is different, being in our own place again. I wonder if it will be easier on the kids, having more space to play inside, being able to play in their own backyard anytime they want. We'll see.

Anyway, the windows have been open, the kids are wearing sneakers instead of boots when we go out, the grass is getting greener, we're wearing lighter coats...we're almost there! Best of all, Cadbury Eggs are in the stores (and my cabinet!) which is always the first sign of spring.

I'm about to go hard-boil a dozen eggs to decorate!

Who ARE you, Boston Belle?

Someone posted this comment to my Barnes and Noble entry:

"Tara, I can't believe how interesting you still are...maybe I thought part of our identity got washed away with motherhood and family life...but you have shown that we can remain the same pensive souls we always were. I say amen to all your thoughts on "B&N" because, for some strange reason (seriously unbeknownst to me), it has remained my favorite place in all the world for almost ten years now. I'm there ALL the time!"

I can't figure out who you are--my guess is Amy S, but I want to know for sure. So whoever you are, Boston Belle, post again and tell me your identity...Thanks!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Packing AGAIN?

It's been 8 months since the last time I packed up our existence. Only 8 months! How can I possibly be starting this again? And we have STUFF, man--a lot of stuff. We really down-sized with our last move, so this time may be a litte easier, not to mention there are bins and boxes that never got unpacked here because there just wasn't space. But still, here we go again.

Mark was in a frenzy over the weekend. That's what he does--during the week he has stuff on his mind so he keeps to his weekly routine, but once the bug hits on a weekend, there's no stopping him. He goes and goes and goes and asks questions about my stuff and some of his stuff and about half filled storage bins and if we can chuck this or never ends until Monday, and then I can pack peacefully. =) I just sit and play on the computer or watch a movie and go about my routine with Jake and Rory during the frenzy. It's easier that way. We both know what works for us so we stick to it.

So now it's Monday morning and I'm trying to figure out where to start...

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Green Tea Latte

I hit the Mall of America today. I only go once in a while and it's always to visit my friend Abby, who works at Starbucks there. It always brightens her day to see my kids waiting in her line. I went today because my mom's birthday is next month, along with Mother's Day so I had some browsing to do. There are lots of specialty shops there so I thought I'd check some out since my mom likes specialty stuff. I never SHOP at the Mall because it's more of a place for us to go just to get the kids out of the house. The Mall is a world of wonder for my kids--Lego Land, drinks of water from Abby in special Starbucks cups with GREEN straws.

All this to say, I got a green tea latte today (thanks, Abs!!). I wasn't sure how it would go over because I'm a no-tea/all-coffee kind of gal. But Abby's been raving about them, and I do really like chai, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. I must say I was pleasantly surprised. It tasted summery (it was iced, by the way) and light. And I quite enjoyed the greenness of it!

Try one and tell me what you think.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Willy Wonka or Charlie?

I recently watched the new Charlie and theChocolate Factory movie. My husband, Mark, wanted no part of it when I brought it home because he's a diehard for the 1971 version, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I am too, actually, but I was intrigued by the new one because, for one, it's Johnny Depp who is an amazing actor and he doesn't pick his roles lightly. But also because this new version is supposedly closer to the book. And I must admit that the commercials and trailors, with their bright colors and flashy new look, really did reel me in.

If you want my opinion, it wasn't really any good. The music wasn't catchy, differing from the original--who doesn't know all those songs?! Cheer up Charlie, Oompa-doompa, if you want to view paradise... I was intrigued by the backstory of it, showing a little of Willy's childhood and how he became a chocolate genius, but overall, it just didn't hold my attention. (As a side note, Mark did sit and watch it with me--he couldn't resist his curiosity.)

So I got to thinking about movie remakes in general. What has there been? Cheaper By the Dozen, Father of the Bride, Yours Mine and Ours, The Parent Trap, Freaky Friday, Ocean's Eleven... I think as a general rule of thumb, I've decided that the remake doesn't live up to the original.

There have been a few that have, in my opinion, surpassed the oldie (Father of the Bride and Ocean's Eleven come to mind--those are two really great movies!).

If anyone is reading this, what was your take on the new Charlie and the Chocloate Factory? I always love a movie discussion.

Sadness and Excitement

We are one week away from our trip to Ohio to find a place to live and hopefully some leads on a job for Mark. I'm so excited to get there. There are so many reasons to be happy about this move.

And yet, a sadness hangs over me for the past few days because of an old friend who died a couple of years ago from cancer. She and I were supposed to be roommates our Junior year of college, but she got engaged that summer and never came back to school. We did keep in touch --she lived in Columbus, OH all those years and we always talked about being there together someday, since that's always where Mark and I planned to live. We continued to live in PA while she had a baby, lived life, and then sadly passed away. This has been foremost on my mind because her husband (who had been remarried since) died from cancer as well, just this week. I didn't know him well, but I just can't stop thinking about both of them.

So with our excitement and happiness about moving to Columbus, I'm thinking about Jenn again and about her short life, and about her son, Micah, and his new mom, Amy. I am sad.

God, I know you are there with that community of people who love Micah.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Rainy Days

These are rainy days, figuratively and literally. It's raining outside, and it's also raining in my life--hard to expand on that here. But before you think I'm in a depresssive funk, for me, that doesn't mean that these are bad days, just full of rain--full of emotion and expectation and wonder and confusion and excitement. I actually love rainy days--the coziness of being inside with my coffee and a book, or the peace that comes with sitting on a front porch in warm weather, while the rain torrents around me.

There is so much coming up for me and my family. We're moving again! This is mostly good--a little bad because of leaving close friends, but definitely exciting and definitely needed.

The Comfort of a Warm Drink

From December 2005

I am stumped by people who don't like warm drinks. My husband, Mark, for example. He hates a hot drink--won't drink coffee, tea, not even hot chocolate! It makes me sad, actually. I love Mark. Mark has many amazing attributes. But if there ever one thing I would change about him, it would be that we could sit down together over a cup of coffee. Coffee is my comfort and joy first thing in the morning. I use it, not only for caffeine purposes (I started needing the caffeine after my second child), but for the sheer comfort of sipping it. Of knowing it's there in my kitchen, something I love, something I look forward to... Coffee is something that people bond over. If you love coffee you LOVE coffee.

Barnes & Noble

From November 2005

Barnes & Noble is a place that I love to be. Sure, there are other major bookstore chains that attempt to woo us with their big selection and their legal addictive stimulants. But Barnes & Noble is different. It stands out. It is somehow regal. I'm not downplaying independent bookstores or even used bookstores (which I love and am lucky to have quite a few of here in the Twin Cities). But if you are fortunate enough to have a gigantic two-story store near you, you will understand what I mean as you ride the escalator down from the second floor and simply take in the view. I will admit that I love all books. I love the smell of old books, I love the crisp, clean pages of new books. Maybe it is because I'm living in a new place, and Barnes & Noble is familiar to me in a land of strangeness. I am calm and serene as I walk the aisles, between shelves and shelves holding thousands of books. I am peaceful as I pick a comfy chair and decide to thumb through Nigella Lawson's latest cookbook. I am happy as I order a chai and sit down in the cafe with a big pile of new finds to browse.

Trying to Blog

This is from November 2005.

I've decided to call my blog Pennies From Heaven (yes, I got the title from that great jazz hit by Louis Prima!) because I feel like the little everyday things we love are just that. I don't know if another soul will ever read these entries. I'm sending them out into this great void in hopes that this will enrich my soul, fill my need for expression, and just be plain fun. So...thank you, dear void, for listening. Those of you who know me know I am in my glory right now. Autumn is my favorite time of year. October and November are my favorite months, and fall brings with it so many great ways to pass the day. Yesterday was absolutely perfect--it was crisp and chilly, but not cold enough for a big winter coat. It was a little cloudy, but not daunting, just cozy. The kids and I walked and played in a new park. There are literally parks on every corner around here. I realized recently that I am truly starting to relive my childhood through Jake and Rory. They are starting to enter phases of life where they can actually DO things. Babies are great, but kids are greater. We went trick-or-treating, we went apple picking, and we hit a pumpkin patch with a hay ride. What more can you ask for in the fall? I'm already looking forward to Jake decorating his first tray of sugar cookies for Christmas...

Blogging Again

Let's give it another go!

I was trying to blog last fall and my website shut down, so I picked a new spot. I only had a few entries so I'm transferring those here because the few things I wrote explain a little of who I am. It feels good to have a small outlet like this and I hope I can keep it up this time (thanks for the reminder, Abby!) especially since there's a lot of change coming up in my life.

Stay tuned...