A Hodge Podge of Updates, Links, and Other Random Stuff

My friend Mattie is hosting a fun online auction to help “Bring Hope Home”. Click on over and check out the items up for bid. Your support will help their family’s quest to adopt a child.

I’ve been meaning to share that a couple sweet friends from our church family have started blogging. One is our assistant pastor, Rene. He blogs about faith and running. Check out his blog: RunFight and tell him I sent you!

Also, Rene’s cute wife, Shannon blogs at: Strength and Courage. Shannon makes really cute cards for various occasions. She has such a precious heart for the Lord, and is a beautiful wife and mama with the sweetest spirit of encouragement. Rene and Shannon have a really neat testimony and a great love story. I hope they will share it sometime. And, I hope you will take a minute to pop over and welcome them to blogland!

We’ve been busy as ever with golf, baseball, and SGM work. Our band One Way is working on a couple upcoming music events. And, we continue to receive and distribute Dreams of You orders for bereaved parents all over the country and beyond. Our friend Dave will be hosting the annual Ride4Grace motorcycle run event on Sunday August 21, 2011.

Thank you to those of you who have been praying for Tug, the son of my dear friend, who was recently in a car accident. You can keep on on Tug’s progress by reading the original post…updates will be at the bottom. Also, due to the mounting medical expenses and time off work for the parents, friends are taking a collection to help support this family. Those who feel led to donate in this way can use the SGM donate button on the right sidebar and write “For Tug” in the notes/message section of the paypal donation form. Please keep praying for this family and for Tug to have a full recovery and healing.

We are going to be doing a major blog/website overhaul soon and switching to WordPress. I would really like to get the word out about SGM. So many times we hear from families that say they wish they would have known we were here when they were walking through their losses. That is so discouraging…to know that we could have helped someone and missed the opportunity. So, I would love to find ways to spread the word that we are here and continue to be more effective in supporting grieving families.

You can help by answering a few questions.

1. What kinds of posts are most relevant to you as a reader?

bereavement support
biblical encouragement/bible study
heartfelt stories
everyday random stuff

2. We began Walking With You a couple years ago in an effort to make sure that families could feel supported on this journey. As time goes on, many families have moved to a different place in their walk, but there are new families out there in need of support. Does anyone have an idea of how we can continue to reach out and support one another in the various places each is on this walk? What was most helpful to you in working through your grief…as far as finding support in the blogging community?

3. How can we better serve families? What are some of the resources you have found most helpful in your grief?

4. In an effort to help more families have access to the Dreams of You materials, what do you think about having people in each state willing to donate materials to local hospitals?

Traveling Food Fest 2011 – The Quest for the Best Strawberry Frozen Lemonade

We are knee deep in vacation bible school week, and it’s a hot one. Going to surpass 100 degrees this week…and we are feeling every sticky inch of it. HOT TAMALES!

So, I thought it was a good time to report some recent findings…after, ahem, some extensive research (that may or may not have included some lunch eating with my Tracy-girl). The matter at hand: Who has the best strawberry frozen lemonade? I know, it’s a really important question. Bet you are just sitting on the edge of your seat, desperate to know my findings. Hee hee.

(Sorry that I don’t have pictures to entice you further, as you await this incredibly pertinent information.)

O.k., here’s what we know…

I have been having a summer fling, an outright love affair if you will, with McDonalds Frozen strawberry lemonade. Now, I am hoping this doesn’t cause an uproar. Because, I mentioned this on facebook, and it turns out that people had some strong feelings about this subject…and did not share my love for the sweet and sour nectar that is the McDonald’s strawberry frozen lemonade. It’s a forbidden love, perhaps. But, if loving my lemonade is wrong…then, I don’t want to be right!

I wasn’t even deterred when a dear facebook friend said that she couldn’t finish hers and that it tasted like cleaner. Nope, I enjoyed both the consistency and the taste of my lemonade and returned time and time again for this summertime treat.

To further my quest, I tried the frozen strawberry lemonade at Applebees. I have to admit, although it pains me a bit to say, that the Applebees lemonade did edge out McDonalds on taste. It was the perfect blend of strawberry sweetness and lemonade sour. Not even a hint of the aforementioned “cleaner” taste. But, the problem came when I slurped away, struggling to get the lemony goodness into the straw. I sat thirstily waiting for the drink to melt enough for me to be able to slurp it up. It was frustrating and, quite frankly not worth the effort. The consistency was all wrong. So, I would have to say that McDonalds frozen lemonade wins, because I can’t have frustration interrupting my bliss when spending quality time with a frozen summer drink.

The third test was held at Panera. I LOVE Panera’s regular lemonade, so I may have set the bar too high. Definitely should have lowered my expectations, because when I took a couple sips of Panera’s version of the strawberry lemonade, my face wrinkled up, and I shook my head. This was no frozen strawberry lemonade. It was all kinds of wrong.

I looked at it and declared aloud, “You call yourself a frozen strawberry lemonade? You are not!!”

You see, I expect my summery lemonade treats to be fruity, not creamy. This drink was a little lemonade with a milky strawberry smoothie type concoction. Blech. I’m not even sure what they were thinking, but it certainly wasn’t what I expected. I generally love everything about Panera. Good lemonade. Delicious breads, soups, and sandwiches. Most of the time, I am all kinds of happy and satisfied by Panera. But, their frozen strawberry lemonade…not so much. Not at all. Two thumbs down and a big toe.

So…that leaves McDonalds as the current reigning winner of the best strawberry frozen lemonade. I know many of you may have strong opinions on these controversial findings…and that’s o.k. However, I can’t help but think that the search isn’t over. It seems there has to be a better option out there somewhere. If you have a suggestion, I’m open. You don’t have to ask me twice. It’s a tough job…researching frozen strawberry lemonades…but I’m willing to take one for the team.

If you agree or disagree with my findings, I’d love to hear your thoughts! What are your favorite summer “cool-me-down” drinks?
P.S. Please keep praying for Tug. I will continue to post updates on his condition on this post.

Ripe With Possibility (This post includes the Two Hour Delay Song for Your Listening…ahem…Pleasure)

This morning I woke up to the glorious news of a two hour delay due to icy roads. A two hour delay…sigh…one of life’s gifts for children and mommies and teachers/faculty alike. You may not know this about us. But, whenever there is a two hour delay at the Gerken house, James and I dance and jump on the bed and sing the two hour delay song.

It goes something like this:
Two hour delay…two hour delay…two hour, two hour, two hour delay….HEY!

A two hour delay means I can sleep a little longer, linger a bit more, and sip my tea a little slower. As opposed to rushing around like a mad woman and grabbing my tea on our way out the door to get James and I to school and to my job as a special needs para, as I shout to Timothy to drive safely and have a good day. Husband Tim leaves for work before we are up, so he sometimes gets a groaned, muffled…”Love you…see ya”. Real life isn’t very romantic…but after almost seventeen years…I like real life way better, anyway. I would so rather laugh with that man, while nestled under the covers in my sweatpants than do almost anything else. But, that’s another post.

A two hour delay also brings with it the possibility of the ever coveted, NO SCHOOL TODAY! We wait with baited breath for the words to scroll across the screen. No longer simply satisfied with the extra two hours, we long for more.

And, that, my friends, was the gift we received on this glorious ice covered Ohio morning. So, in sweet celebration of this delightful gift of a day ripe with all the possibilities a free day can hold, I give you our demonstrations of the Two Hour Delay Song and No School Today Song….performed live from my bedroom in our morning clothes and no make up…for the sake of authenticity…where I may or may not spend most of the day. Today, I just might work on my book (the one I’ve been writing for several years) from the comfort of my bed, organize a corner of my basement, call a friend, definitely will sip some tea, read some blogs, study my bible, read some of the Lies Women Believe book, maybe work on some Sufficient Grace shipments, pray some prayers, perfect my moves on Just Dance 2, giggle with my people, and soak in the sweet gift of right now. Oh…the possibilities.

By the way…I’m wearing my Bernie Kosar jersey, even though you can’t tell in the video. My morning clothes are fancy like that! ;) The season is over for the Browns…but, there’s always next year! (The sad motto of Browns fans!) And….I’m now rooting for the Jets to go to the Super Bowl, because I love their trash-talkin’ coach.

I hope you are enjoying the gift of right now, as well…and all the possibilities this day holds.

Oh…a couple other things…

Our son, Timothy turns seventeen this week! Happy Birthday, Timothy! (Which means I have been a mama for seventeen years…wow!) And we are making Comfort Bears for Sufficient Grace this Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. at Harvest Fellowship Church. If you’re local, come on out and help us stuff some bears!

Help me Solve a Heated Debate in the Name of Proper Grammar

Alternately titled: The Great Creek Debate 2010

It’s 3:43a.m.

I have been awakened with heartburn and kept awake with thoughts I’d rather not think. Sadly, I’m a “once I’m up, I’m up” kind-of girl. I could pour out my deep thoughts here, but instead I thought maybe you would like to help me solve a heated debate that recently took place around the campfire at the Mohican on our mini-family vacation. In fact, I’m quite confident that many of you out there in blogland are also lovers of words and proper grammar, and will be delighted to enter your two cents into this debate. We can call it research.

The argument before us is the correct pronunciation of the word creek. There were five of us, and I was the only one who insisted that the word is pronounced as it is written, with the long “e” sound. Creek. The other four individuals insisted that they had only heard it pronounced crick. I said that a “crick” is something you get in your neck. You go fishing in a creek.(By the way, Ned, this is for you: crick – Pronunciation: \ˈkrik\, Function: noun, Etymology: Middle English cryk, definition: a painful spasmodic condition of muscles (as of the neck or back).)

Their strongest argument was regarding regional dialect. I must say that I do not agree that it is even the dialect in Northwestern Ohio to pronounce creek that other way. But, I have no evidence to back up that theory at this time. My evidence sited at the campfire was every teacher I’ve ever heard read Little House on The Prairie (which leaves plenty of opportunity for pronouncing the word, creek), everyone I’ve ever heard refer to Cripple Creek in Napoleon, Ohio, and every member of my family growing up. There must have been others influencing my strong conviction on the pronunciation of this word, as well. For, I wholeheartedly believe that I am correct.

I will concede that there are words in the English language spoken differently due to dialect. I am even guilty in my middle-aged laziness of slipping on my grammar from time to time. Although, I used to pride myself at one point in my life on my impeccable grammar. However, my argument remains that just because the majority of people in a given area pronounce something a certain way does not make it proper grammar.

Also, in true Christian love, I will give other reasons that chip away at the credibility of my campfire friends. Reasons that somehow are coming much more freely to my mind in the wee hours of this morning than they were Saturday night.

Fact: My husband’s family background is quite “country”. While there is nothing wrong with that at all, I am guessing that my husband spent more time hanging out with his dad in the barn talking about fishing in the “crick” than reading books and listening to his English teachers. I love you, honey…and your sweet family. But, I do not believe you are pronouncing creek, correctly. =)

Fact: My teenage son’s arguments that evening were irrelevant because that child would argue with me if I said the sky was blue. That negates anything he said in the discussion. And, for the record, he did not get his pronunciation of the word creek from me. Such rebellion in the hearts of these young folks. =)

Fact: I have known my friend Tracy for years, and I think she and I will agree that her mispronunciation and misuse of words in the English language is one of her most endearing qualities. However, it does not make her an authority on the correct pronunciation of the word, creek. Again, I am calling my friends and family out publicly with the utmost Christian love.

Fact: I have less evidence to refute Tracy’s husband’s arguments. But, I will say this: Ned loves a good argument more than anyone I know. He has tried for years to drag me into a heated debate about a variety of subjects, and I have resisted for years. Apparently, he had not yet found a subject I felt passionately enough about, until now. Proper grammar may just be my Achilles Heel.

I consulted Merriam-Webster, and the results were inconclusive. Sadly, I think that proper grammar is in danger of becoming extinct because someone has deemed it acceptable to allow dialect to determine how words are pronounced, rather than holding fast to what is deemed “correct”. As Tracy pointed out, they will change and add to definitions and pronunciations of words as culture changes and the majority of people influence the way words are expressed. This is disheartening for someone who has enjoyed an abiding love affair with proper grammar.

Webster’s results:
Main Entry: creek
Pronunciation: \ˈkrēk, ˈkrik\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English crike, creke, from Old Norse -kriki bend
Date: 13th century
1 chiefly British : a small inlet or bay narrower and extending farther inland than a cove
2 : a natural stream of water normally smaller than and often tributary to a river
3 archaic : a narrow or winding passage

— up the creek : in a difficult or perplexing situation

Webster, I cannot believe you have let me down by including that dialect-influenced pronunciation as even an option! This has forever changed our relationship. It is a sad, sad day when one cannot count on Webster as an authority on the English language. A sad, sad day.

I did, however, find an online site that gives the correct pronunciation of words audibly. You can hear the truth for yourself on this site: www.howjsay.com. Apparently somewhere in the world someone still values proper grammar.

It is with great pleasure that I reveal yet further evidence to my claim from www.fanetik.org. In a chart displaying the correct pronunciation in one column and the incorrect pronunciation in the “but not” column, the answer is clear and irrefutable. Creek, pronounced kreek BUT NOT krik. All is right with the world, no thanks to Webster….I might add.

From this site about the American Standard pronunciation of the word, creek, this statement referred to the Pennsylvania Dutch pronunciation: The German dialect spoken by the so-called Pennsylvania Dutch of lower Pennsylvania is the oldest immigrant language to remain in daily use in the United States, and so it shows very extensive English influences. The fact that it survives at all is due to the extreme clannishness of the people using it… The vulgar American pronunciation often shows itself, as in heist for hoist and krick for creek. I’ll concede that vulgar may be a little strong, and I would have worded this with more grace. Perhaps there are others who feel stronger convictions on the subject than I! I will also admit that my own Irish/German heritage has influenced my speech. It makes sense that those gathered around the campfire also boast strong German heritage. (By the way, can I just say that I thoroughly enjoyed the use of the word, clanniness in the statement above?) Still there is an issue of what is correct and proper.

The long e-sound in creek is maintained in standard American, but changed to the short i-sound of sit in the vulgate (n. 1.The common speech of a people; the vernacular.2.A widely accepted text or version of a work.).
—Chapter 7. The Standard American Pronunciation. 2. The Vowels

Fact: For Tracy – What did I find on a list of extensive homophones on www.enchantedlearning.com? Oh, just this: creak/creek.

I have not yet found conclusive results on the regional dialect debate, so I thought maybe some of my dear word-loving blogger friends may be able to help me with this one. Plus, I’m getting a little sleepy. It may be true that many of you pronounce creek differently than yours truly. If so, I still love you…(even though I believe I’ve given a strong case of the correct pronunciation). =) I would love to know how many of you pronounce creek…and I know that you can speak for various parts of the country, which I think will make it more interesting.

So, in the comments of this post, for the sake of research…please state whether you pronounce the word creek as /kreek/ or /krik/. I’d love to hear how you actually pronounce the word and your opinion of the correct pronunciation.

And…as a disclaimer, I hope you know this post is all in fun and much of what I said is meant to be “tongue in cheek”. Please do not take offense to my strong grammatical opinions. Creek or crick, I love you just the same! =)

UPDATE: New WWY post is now up on the WWY page.
The new featured WWY family will be up by Monday afternoon on the Walking With You page.

Traveling Food Fest 2010 and My First Sonic Experience

If you are a healthy eater, you may want to look away. The following festival of junk food is not for the sensitive viewer. And, for those of you who are worried about my weakness for junk food, please know that several hearty bike rides have been going on before and after this day to prepare for our first trip to Sonic!

We had been anticipating our grand Sonic adventure for several days. Monday afternoon, James, Tracy’s son Aidan, Tracy, and I loaded up her vehicle with high hopes for some yummy-eating.
I have to admit, we had an absolute blast reading all of your comments encouraging us what to try on our maiden voyage to Sonic. I joked with Tracy how funny it is that I can pour out my heart on some deep spiritual matter, and maybe there will be seven comments. But, ask about your favorite Sonic food, and twenty-eight of you respond! Too funny…and it just made me smile. I’m a lover of food, myself, so you’ll be getting no judgment from me!

We saw the rollerskating waitresses…

We ordered a plethora of goodies from the suggestions you offered

I ordered a delicious and delightfully messy toasted bacon cheeseburger…mmmmmm.

Tracy and I (along with our husbands who enjoyed the leftovers) voted the onion rings as our favorite. We liked the sweet batter. I dipped mine into the marvelously creamy ranch dressing.

I tasted a bite of the extreme tater tots…but decided I’m not a huge fan of chili cheese. And, I wished I would’ve known there were onions on the sandwich and the tots. I would’ve definitely said no onions! Tim finished them off, though!

James and Aidan both enjoyed their popcorn chicken. I don’t think James has ever met a popcorn chicken he didn’t like!

I believe Tracy gave her chili/coney dog a sideways thumb…or maybe a thumbs down. We both liked the toasted burger, though. Just no onions next time!

James really liked the cherry limeade, (which I believe was the most recommended item by our readers). The strawberry I ordered was O.K., too. Tracy and I decided we weren’t the biggest fans of the limeade. But, I sure relished the icy goodness of my Coke!

UPDATED: I forgot to mention that Tracy gave the orange creamscicle drink two thumbs up…and James and I deemed the same honor to the pineapple shake (James’ choice that I thought was a really random choice, but turned out to be delish!)

Our trip to Sonic was fun and filling! The staff was friendly, and the service was fast and accurate…even with our gigantic order! In fact, we enjoyed it so much, along with your participation, that we thought it might be fun to try some other restaurants that we haven’t tried before.

Because Tracy and I feel it’s necessary to name all of our projects, we thought we could call this one Traveling Food Fest 2010. So…we are up for suggestions. (Please note, we will be bringing our favorite food connoisseurs (James and Aidan) along for the ride.) If you know of a yummy and fun or unique eating establishment, please leave a comment here. We will try to visit some of the places you suggest this summer for some random fun, and then we’ll do a little review on our blog. We will travel anywhere up to 2 hours from Northwest Ohio. Thanks again for your suggestions! Have a blessed day!

Calling All Sonic Lovers

O.K…I’ve been reading how all my southern bloggy-friends (well, I think of ya’ll as friends, whether you actually know I exist, or not!) are lovers of the Sonic. I’ve never been to a Sonic before. But, when you talk about the icy goodness of the Coke, I admit to drooling a little. I’ve decided that in the spirit of true summer randomness, I must find out about this Sonic ya’ll speak of with such tender fondness.

So, my friend Tracy (my partner in all things random and fun) and I set out to find out where the closest Sonic could be found. How I adore the internet! The answer was just at our fingertips. I’ll admit that I was looking forward, with no small about of giddyness to some grand adventure to someplace I’ve never been before…or at least somewhere outside of Northwest Ohio. Maybe we would even cross the border into Kentucky, with James and Aidan happily playing their DS’s on the way. But, no…how could it be? I was somewhat deflated to find that there is a Sonic just 30 miles from us. And, it’s been there all along.


So, it will not be too grand of an adventure, but I’m looking forward to it nonetheless.

Here is what I need from you, my dear Sonic-loving friends…(or even those who don’t know me, but love Sonic):

What…on this maiden voyage…should I try at the Sonic? What can I not go on living without experiencing? We may be going there as soon as tonight if the baseball games are cancelled, so please let me know this very important information ASAP! If not, we’ll be going in the next few days. I promise to give a full report. (Knowing that you will be on the edge of your seats until you hear all about it…haha!)

Update: Looks like we will not be going until Monday due to baseball games and golf tournaments and weekend plans…so keep the Sonic suggestions coming!