The Mommy Bloggy

Reflections of a Mother's Heart

My Birthday Cake March 28, 2011

Filed under: The Ferguson Family — Michelle Ferguson @ 6:23 pm

My precious daughter, Lindsay, asked me last week what my favorite cake was because she really wanted to make me a birthday cake.  Without hesitation, I replied, “Strawberry cake with fresh strawberries.”  We found the recipe, bought the ingredients, and Sunday afternoon, she worked her magic in the kitchen.  The only thing I did to help was wash, slice, and prepare the strawberries for the recipe.  She did all the rest, including making the homemade icing, stacking the three layers, and icing it.  She even picked out the fun candles to put on top!

We laughed because it turned out crooked!  I pretended to walk crooked after I ate my piece!  Though it wasn’t what the world would call “perfect,” I thought it was!  My daughter gave me the gift of a cake and, more importantly, the gift of her love!  I love you, my Lindsay!

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Fabulous Forty March 27, 2011

Filed under: Brad and Me Plus 3 — Michelle Ferguson @ 10:40 pm

This weekend my family took a couple of days to get away and celebrate my fortieth birthday.  I cannot even believe I’m forty…I sure don’t feel like I always thought 40 would be like!  I am sure my mom cannot believe I’m 40 either!

We went to Chattanooga, Tennessee and spent two nights sleeping aboard a Victorian train car at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel.  My kids thought that was so fun!  My boys loved playing outside our “door,” calling out, “All aboard!”  The hotel is a historic hotel of America.  Once a bustling train station dedicated on December 1, 1909, it was converted into a hotel in 1973 after the last train stopped at the  station in 1970.  Faster modes of transportation (auto and air travel) replaced the demand for railway travel.  The Terminal Station welcomed Presidents Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin Roosevelt.

After our arrival mid afternoon and checking into our train, we took a tour of the beautiful Ruby Falls.  Ruby Falls is America’s highest underground waterfall.  It was discovered by Leo Lambert after his exploration of the cave (which had once been a hospital during the Civil War and also a hideout to American Indians and outlaws).  Mr. Lambert and his fellow explorers entered a small opening and explored for 17 hours mostly crawling on their hands and knees before discovering this wonder.  He named the falls in honor of his wife, Ruby.

We rode an elevator 260 feet down into Lookout Mountain and were led by a humorous guide through a cave of geological wonders (I call them God wonders).  We saw formations in the shape of everything from bacon and a dragon’s foot to a leaning tower and Niagara Falls.  Then as we neared the falls at 1,120 feet underground, we could hear the thundering roar of water and our guide turned the spotlight on the breathtaking Ruby Falls.  We walked behind the falls and looked up as the water poured down into the pool.  Brad commented, “God made something so beautiful underground!  I cannot imagine how beautiful Heaven is going to be!”

We found a piece of home, an Earth Fare, where we ate dinner.  Remember, kids eat free on Thursday nights!  We ended our evening at the hotel’s indoor swimming pool.

On Friday, we explored Rock City, a true marvel featuring massive rock formations which create tunnels, bridges, overlooks, and narrow passes.  We all really loved walking through these rocks and gardens.  There were lots of photographic spots along the way, including the Swinging Bridge, the view of seven states from Lover’s Leap and the High Water Falls.  There was a narrow bridge over the 100-foot falls where you could look over the side and see the water as it hit the pool way, way below.  I hung onto my kids (my boys) for dear life. 

The kids enjoyed walking through the Fairyland Caverns where you could peek into “windows” along the way and view scenes from different fairy tales.  The path led to Mother Goose Village, which was a village of Mother Goose rhymes, featuring Humpty Dumpty, Jack Sprat, The Old Woman in the Shoe, and Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater among others.  The nursery rhymes were posted in front of each glow-in-the-dark visual display.

This place has a very interesting history, too, including Garnet Carter’s advertising campaign of having, by 1950,  900 barn roofs from Michigan to Texas painted with “See Rock City” to lure vacationers to his gardens.  So now the Fergusons have seen Rock City!

After lunch, we rode the Incline Railway on Lookout Mountain, which is the world’s steepest passenger railway.  It’s referred to as the “Magnificent Mile.”  The Railway has been designated as a national historic site as well as a national mechanical engineering landmark.  It was fun to ride and take in the views of the mountain and Chattanooga Valley. 

The rest of the afternoon was spent leisurely as we walked through the hotel’s model railroad display, which is also the south’s largest model railroad.  It was fun to see some of the places in the model we had just visited in Chattanooga.  We enjoyed my birthday dinner at PF Changs, a Chinese restaurant.  I ordered jasmine blackberry green tea and crispy honey chicken served over rice sticks.  We finished the evening with a stop for dessert at Dairy Queen and a swim at the pool.

We awoke around 5:30am Saturday morning to a huge thunderstorm.  The thunder was deafening, and I wondered how lightning-proof that metal train car was.  We all fell back asleep and woke after 8:00am.  Very unusual for my boys!  A nice gift for their mom!  Without umbrella or jackets (because they were conveniently in the car), we ran to the Garden Restaurant for a buffet breakfast before heading out.  Brad and Logan absolutely soaked their shoes and socks while making a run for the car, which we had had to park in the side parking lot, quite a distance from our train.  We finally loaded up and dried out on our six hour drive home!

As much as I love to travel and explore new places, there is no place I love as much as home.  And there are no people I love more than my family.  I am thankful for the family and friends God has given to me to journey thorough life with.  As I turn 40, I rejoice as I remember that “all of my tomorrows are in His hands” (as said by Corrie ten Boom).  Isaiah 46:4 declares, “Even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you!”  Amen!  I love that!  Yes, life is fabulous at forty!

 

Winter Survival Tips March 11, 2011

Filed under: Tips and Tidbits — Michelle Ferguson @ 3:02 pm

Maybe I should have shared this at the beginning of winter versus the end?  Oh well, to share now is better than to not share at all!  As spring quickly approaches on the calendar (although it’s been here in the South since February…I think Punxsutawney Phil got it right this year!), I look forward to warmer weather, being outdoors more, and flu season being over!

In reflecting over our winter, I am so, so thankful to God for His care over us.  Besides a sniffle, a sore throat, and a cough here and there, our family survived winter pretty well this year.  What I mean is…no stomach bug and no missed school days to sickness!  That was not the case the year before when all of us were sick with the stomach bug at one or more points during the season.  Images of my poor husband with a tee shirt tightly tied around his nose and mouth make me laugh now as he struggled to clean up physical evidence of the horrible bug!!

Here are a few things we did this winter to help us stay well.  Disinfect surfaces with antibacterial wipes.  One of my daughter’s jobs is to wipe the bathroom counters down every other day.  Wipe light switches, door knobs, and cabinet hardware as well.  Change hand towels frequently, especially before and after having guests.  Change toothbrushes frequently, especially after a cold, sore throat, or stomach bug!  Use hand sanitizer with a  minimum of 60% alcohol content to kill microbes. All that alcohol can dry out your hands, so keep a good moisturizing lotion handy at bedtime!  Everytime I take my kids into any kind of public place, we cover our hands with sanitizer when we get back into the car.  We also keep our sanitizer on the table with us at restaurants.  I have also been known to carry antibacterial wipes with me in my purse to wipe down grocery carts.  This was especially helpful when my children were little.  Lots of places are now providing sanitizing wipes for their carts…use them!  I read an article recently at FOXNEWS.com that in a recent study of 85 grocery carts in 4 states, 72% tested positive for fecal matter and 50% for E. coli, dirtier than a public restroom!  Yuck!  When I can, I try to plan my grocery trips where I don’t have to take my children.

During the winter months, I give my children a multi-vitamin and at the first onset of a cold, I give them Sambucus, which is an immune booster of black elderberry and echinacea.  It is a tasty syrup with amazing results!  My husband and I also take a whole foods energizer multi-vitamin.

Washing hands frequently is the key to warding off those germs!  Every time we get home from being out, my kids have been trained to wash their hands first thing, even if we just used hand sanitizer in the car.  Hand sanitizer is no replacement for a good soap and water cleansing!

We are bound to meet germs around every corner, but I don’t want to go down without a fight!  Thank you God for the spring time!  And speaking of spring, don’t forget to move your clocks ahead one hour on Sunday because  Daylight Savings time begins!

 

Preschool Surprise March 7, 2011

Filed under: Siblings — Michelle Ferguson @ 6:40 pm

My youngest son, Luke, is attending his first year of preschool at a local church.  He is pretty closed lip with me about the things he does at school, but Logan tells me that at night before the boys fall asleep, Luke shares about his day.  Although I’m glad my boys can have that time together, I feel left out of this information!  As much as I coax and ask, Luke really does not tell me a lot about school.  (On the other hand, when Lindsay was in preschool, she would come home with all sorts of information…who the line leader was, whose birthday was celebrated, if anyone was out sick, and what color hair bow her best friend wore!)

So when Luke came home today and told me about a story that happened at school this morning, I was excited.  He told me that his teacher was keeping the “letter of the day” a secret until somebody could guess what it was.  Luke said everyone was saying different letters, but he was the one who got it right.  I asked, “How did you know what the letter was?  Did you guess?”  He replied, “No, I knew what it was because Logan told me.”  Then I remembered that Logan had indeed gone over his March calendar with him this morning during breakfast and informed Luke of what he was doing each day this week.  (His teachers send home a monthly calendar with letters, verses, Bible stories, etc. that they will be working on.)

I was thrilled that my boys worked together on something and were productive!  Way to go, big brother, Logan for taking an interest in the things of your brother!  Way to go, little brother, Luke for listening and remembering!  After I told Logan this story, he said, “I’m going to go over his calendar every Monday with him!”

 

The Unsocial Network March 6, 2011

Filed under: The Ferguson Family — Michelle Ferguson @ 6:10 pm

One of my favorite past times is people watching.  I love watching parents interact with children, couples whom I presume to be on first dates, teenagers at the mall, and elderly couples taking their time.  You can tell a lot about people by just watching them for a few moments and how they speak and interact with others.  Now I am not saying that a snippet in time tells the whole picture of a person, but you can get a good idea.

Last night, Brad and I took the three L’s out for dinner.  It was inspired by Logan who told me that he really wanted to go somewhere last night (I think he was tired of being housebound due to the rain!).  Brad suggested we go to dinner, and it was not at Chick-fil-A!  We arrived at the restaurant before the typical Saturday night crowd and were seated pretty quickly.

After we placed our orders, I began to people watch.  We were seated right next to a table of five women.  Next to them was another table of five men.  I guessed that they were probably together, a group of couples out for a night of fun, women at one table, men at another.  I couldn’t help but notice something else, too.  This group of women was the quietest group of women I’d ever been around.  Then I looked closer and observed that four out of the five were on their phones, texting, surfing the web, and totally ignoring the company of each other.   I couldn’t believe it!

Brad and I began to talk about this.  He commented that what we were observing was the unsocial network.  These women were at dinner with each other to enjoy fellowship, yet their social networks trumped the ones sitting at the table with them.  If I had been that 5th woman at the table, I would have been somewhat hurt that my friends’ attentions were elsewhere.  These ladies could not even put their phones away to eat.  They sat on the table beside their plates!

Then I looked around the restaurant and at the other table beside us sat a father and young daughter.  He was playing on his phone as his daughter colored her menu.  How sad to lose the conversation with a daughter because of a gadget.  Our phones are taking over our lives!  There are certainly good things about i-phones, but they do have their place.  Their place should be back burner to a face to face conversation with a spouse, a friend, or a child.  What message is being sent when our phones demand our attention all the time?  That the people in our company are not really that important?

Be where you are!  Love and fellowship with those in your company!

 

Kale and Bean Soup March 2, 2011

Filed under: Recipes Worth Sharing — Michelle Ferguson @ 6:31 pm

So, last night we had Kale and Bean Soup.   When I announced this to my family, the children immediately questioned, “What is kale?”  I don’t know that I’ve ever had to describe it before, so I did some google research.  Kale is a green, leafy vegetable in the cabbage family.  It is packed with powerful antioxidant properties, therefore, highly nutritious, although cooking in the crock pot reduces the level of anti-cancer compounds.

I prepared the soup Monday night and when I pulled the crock pot out of the refrigerator Tuesday morning to put it to simmering, my boys took one look at my beautiful soup and said in glorious unison (they do not often agree), “Eeeeewwwwww!”  They just did not appreciate my efforts to provide a nutritious meal, even at the expense of slicing my finger while chopping the carrots!

I am happy to report that everyone ate their bowls of soup last night, and Logan actually confessed that it was “really good.”  Lindsay asked if we could have it again tonight, but I told her there was not enough for us all to have again for another meal, and that’s something that’s not happened all winter!

Kale and Bean Soup

2 TBSP EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)

1 lb kale, leaves pulled from stems and chopped

1 medium onion (again, I use frozen, diced onions)

2 carrots, peeled and chopped (watch the fingers)

2 garlic cloves, chopped or pressed (I omitted)

1 small bay leaf

1 tsp salt

pinch of black pepper

2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped

4 cups chicken broth

2 cups water

1 (14 oz) can white beans, rinsed and drained (I used 2 cans of navy beans)

Optional:  diced sausage (I omitted this time)

Heat oil in heavy pot over medium heat for 30 seconds and add onion, garlic, bay leaf, salt and pepper.  Stir frequently until onion begins to brown, about 6 minutes.  Add kale, carrots, potatoes, broth, and water and cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.  Add beans and sausage and simmer, uncovered 3-4 minutes.  Discard bay leaf, adjust seasonings and serve.  (After a short simmer on the stove top without broth and water, I added the ingredients to my crock pot with broth and water and cooked all day on low.)

I found this recipe at http://www.seventhgeneration.com/

Delicious and nutritious!  Enjoy!