I've been thinking a lot lately about whom I'm going to vote for in this year's Presidential election.

I listened to both candidates' acceptance speeches at their party's convention (while on vacation, I might add), and I had a pretty strong feeling who I liked best. One candidate talked about education in the way that I think my family would benefit most (can you believe we'll be starting school while this candidate is in office!?). That was important to me. He said a few other things that sounded good to me, but I've not been terribly convicted on much of it.

Then I started hearing all the talk and listening to TV commercials. That just got me confused. I think most of those TV attack ads are so specific and taken out of context so that you can't take any of it seriously. But it is so easy for those messages to get in your head and start to make you doubt.

Next I watched a couple of the debates. What a waste of time. No one answered the questions appropriately and instead just spewed out their canned lines. How ridiculous.

Then the economy went crazy and I started feeling the pressure to make the right choice, knowing it could affect our family's situation. The problem is that I don't understand what went wrong, so I don't understand the possible solutions. Now I'm stressed about making my choice, but more confused about what that choice should be.

Just recently different leaders have stepped up endorsing one candidate or another. They know what they're talking about, right? They understand what's going on, right? Maybe I should just follow their lead.

This weekend I was talking with a friend about all of this. She said the choice seemed simple to her. She was going to vote for the candidate who agreed with her Christian views on life and family. She said the Bible was pretty clear on those two issues, and as long as we as a country follow Scripture on those absolutes, the things that may not seem as clear (economy, war, health care) will fall in place behind.

Well, here I hit a real problem. I believe the Bible and choose to follow God in my decisions (as best as I can). But there are Americans who have chosen not to follow God. They define life and family differently than me and, I believe, differently than God. So what about the separation of church and state? What about choice? Should I vote for a candidate who will make God's laws our country's laws, when there are people in our country to say that isn't right for them?

Wow . . . it is so easy to let relativism sneak into your thought pattern when you aren't diligently guarding your mind.

So this morning I was blessed to have a vomiting child and we had to stay home from church. On the rare occasion that I don't attend Horizon, I like to watch Ed Young back at Fellowship. So I logged on to this morning and found his current sermon series is called "Politicked." Ed is talking about how he is ticked off at politics in our country. I listened to both sermons that were online and they were totally helpful.

Isn't it awesome how God meets us right where we are and speaks to us the way we need to hear?

I recommend you listen to both messages, even if you already know who you'll vote for. The first goes through issues our country is currently facing and helps Christians determine God's perspective. The second goes through qualities that we should seek in any candidate who deserves our vote.

More than anything, these messages armed me with the Scriptural ammunition to boldly enter that voting booth and support the candidate who will promote Jesus in our government.
Today I was either the best or the worst mom ever, depending on who you ask.

Patriot's birthday is this weekend and I'm making cupcakes to take to his school Tuesday (best mom ever). I purchased a new cupcake baking stone from my sister, a new Pampered Chef consultant (best sister ever?). Since I'd never baked cupcakes in a stone before, I thought I'd better do a practice batch before we needed the school cupcakes. So this morning I let the boys help me mix up some cake batter (best mom ever) and we filled the stone and a regular cupcake pan. Here's a pic of the boys watching the cupcakes bake (is that like watching paint dry?):

The cake mix box (you don't have to make cupcakes from scratch to qualify for best mom ever, do you?) said they should bake for 19-23 minutes, so I set the timer for 19. Both the stone and the regular pan were done at that earliest time -- very impressive to me because I tend to do the "one more minute" thing for 10 minutes. Here's how they looked right out of the oven:

We whipped up some buttercream icing using this super easy and super yummy recipe. Then we used our Pampered Chef decorator bottle set to decorate the cupcakes and here's how great they look! I think we'll color the icing for the school cupcakes next week. He wants green.

My general review of the stone is that it's pretty great! The cupcakes baked evenly and quickly and actually seem taller and fluffier than the cakes from the regular pan. I did use cooking spray, but I could pull the cakes right out of the stone with my hand. I love that I don't have to use the paper liners because I think those are just messy when the kids are trying to eat.

So here's why I might be the worst mom ever: we lost track of time while baking and didn't have time for lunch before school today, so I fed the boys cupcakes and water for lunch! Delicious, but not nutritious. Please don't tell CPS.
My dishwasher has gone bonkers and I have no idea how to fix it. For almost a month, my dishwasher has been leaving this white film on my dishes.

It has gotten progressively worse. Now after I run the dishwasher I have to take everything out and wipe it clean with a wet paper towel and then wipe it with a dry towel. If I let them air dry, the white returns.

I've tried four different detergents but saw no difference. I added some Jet Dry (which I don't normally use) but saw no difference. I've tried cleaning out the dishwasher by running vinegar through a cycle, but saw no difference.

Until we get this fixed, I'm back to hand-washing everything. It's actually more efficient than running it through my dishwasher.

Any ideas? I'll take any advice you've got.
Yesterday . . .
Patriot: Where's Daddy?
Me: In Texas.
P: Why's Daddy in Texas?
M: Watching the Bengals football game.
P: Is Daddy in Heaven?
M: No, Daddy's in Texas.
P: Is Texas Heaven?
M: No, Texas is a place on earth. Heaven is where God lives.
P: Will Daddy come home from Texas?
M: Yes, in a couple of days.
P: Will Granny come home from Heaven?
M: No, people don't come back from Heaven because Heaven is such a great place.
P: Where's Daddy?
sigh . . .

This morning we were eating Chocolate Chip Special K cereal . . .
P: Look! I have two chocolate chips stuck together!
M: Wow! That's a bonus!
P: What does bonus mean?
M: Bonus means you get a little bit extra.
P: What does bonus mean?
M: What did Mommy just say bonus means?
P: Bonus means it's healthy for you.
M: No, bonus means you get a little bit extra.
sigh . . .
We've started an annual tradition the first weekend in October. We attend Wool Fest with friends from church.

Wool Fest celebrates all things wool with sheep shearing and dog herding exhibits, spinners making yarn, and knitters weaving fabric. The many other country festival activities include performances by cloggers and harmonica players, homemade sorghum and root beer, deep fried everything, and an old fashioned blacksmith.

The kids love the petting zoo . . .

. . . and the pony rides . . .
. . . and the food . . .

. . . and the unusual freedom to get into stuff.
We really enjoy this country adventure, but seem to endure some mishap every year that makes us rethink attending next year. Wool Fest is in Falmoth , KY, just over an hour from the Cincy area. But, because it is literally located in the "holler," the road system is not designed to handle the amount of traffic this popular event attracts. Last year we waited about 40 minutes to get into the parking field. Fortunately we'd packed plenty of snacks because we were still sitting on the road at lunch time.

This year we wisely decided to leave earlier and hopefully beat the rush. It worked and we had relatively no wait to get in and park. In fact, my accidental shortcut (discovered with a wrong turn that got me there anyway) had us arriving so early that we were one of the first ones there and guided to park in the far side of the field. After our fun-filled day, we loaded back into the car ready to leave and made our way into a line of cars that was not moving.

I had not expected this delay but quickly figured out the problem. It's like when you park at the top of the parking garage at a downtown sporting event or concert. The bottom levels have to clear out before the top levels get to leave. Since I'd arrived so early and parked in the back of the lot, I'd have to wait for the front to clear before I could leave. So I accepted that we'd be waiting a few minutes and we pulled out the treats we'd purchased to take home (rock candy for the boys and cinnamon roasted almonds for me - yum!).

After a half hour my acceptance had turned to frustration as we still hadn't moved. I could see the cars in the front of the field moving, but we never got our chance to go. Does anybody already know the reason? Let me tell you: The difference between this situation and that of a downtown sporting event is the finishing time. The downtown event ends at a certain time and everyone leaves. This festival was ongoing, so people were staggered leaving and the front of the parking field never cleared. (And I suspect some from the back of the field were getting through and driving around to the front.)

We sat there for an hour (precisely 53 minutes, not that I was counting) before one of the poor parking volunteers stationed in the back convinced the volunteers in the front to hold their rows and let those of us in the back drive straight through. I don't know how they handled the situation the rest of the day, but I sure hope they figured out a solution.

Now I'm stuck with the quandry of what to do next year. If I arrive later I'll have to wait to get in. If I arrive earlier I'll have to wait to get out. Any creative suggestions?