Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It still looks a lot like Christmas

Most decorations went up before Thanksgiving. But, we saved the trees for after Thanksgiving- our tradition. I love the magic of Christmas decorations. The lights, the smells, the memories... I have something Christmasy in almost every room in the house. A small tree in the upstairs bedrooms, the kids' tree in the gameroom,

the main tree in the living room,
and next year I hope to add a tree in the front room. It's so much fun taking out the ornaments, remembering and telling the stories behind them, rediscovering new ones bought to represent special times this year.

Tinsel, our elf on the shelf, came to visit around Thanksgiving and found lots of great places to keep an eye on things. Jacob was very concerned, first thing in the morning, about where Tinsel was. However, Tinsel didn't help motivate Jacob to improve his behavior. Beth was still amazed by Tinsel's magic arrival in a new place, but she wasn't quite as panicked about her behavior as she was last year.

One evening, I decided to play around with lighting and settings on my camera. I had SO much fun taking pictures of decorations! I'm learning to just go for it with the settings, and I can always delete pics I don't like. I love digital photography!

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Visit to Santa

Jacob and I had some shopping to do at the mall one day. We talked about Santa, discussed what Jacob would say, walked by him only to have Jacob hide and not so much as wave. That's okay, maybe he'll be ready when we go back with Beth. Beth makes him a little braver.

Find a day that Kevin was in town, pick up Beth from school, let her change clothes and off we went. There was no line!!!!!! We got our letters out, got close to the entrance, and Jacob shut down. He wasn't going for it, no way, didn't want to go with Beth, didn't want to give him the letter, nothing. So here's Jacob's 2010 Santa pic:

Beth was excited, though. She walked right up, hopped on his lap and had a great conversation. They talked about her wish list, how she'd behaved this year and about her silly brother. I love the magic of Christmas through her eyes!

After we got a picture, I did manage to convince Jacob to give Santa the letter in exchange for a coloring book. Still, he wouldn't talk to him. (I know, I forgot to take a picture of the letter, but it wasn't amazing since I wrote it- a Handy Manny workbench and a monster truck). However, he perked right up for the ride-on machines right next to Santa's station. Little stinker!
I'm hoping next year will be the perfect year. Beth will still believe in Santa's magic, and Jacob won't be scared. Like I said, hoping.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

We went to visit Yaya and Popi this Thanksgiving, and got a couple bonus days around the holiday for just hanging out. It was a wonderful visit! We we arrived, the weather was around 80*, perfect for playing outside. By the time we left Friday, it was in the 50s!
We did lots of playing outside, even making smores one night. Jacob just ate plain marshmellows, Kevin likes his a little crispy, Popi patiently toasts his evenly.
Lots of preparing for Thanksgiving
On Thanksgiving day, Nanny, my 91 year old grandmother, came over early to spend time with us and help do some cooking. She directed my mom on the sweet potatoes, re-taught me how to make my favorite "Big-Momma cookies" (that I haven't gotten right on my own in years), and just spent time enjoying each other. What a treasure to spend time with Nanny!
My aunts came, and one of Popi's cousins. A small, but nice gathering.
I didn't get nearly as many pictures as I'd hoped. I was busy helping Yaya get everything ready. I can't wait to see what pictures are on her camera!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Being Thankful

So, I just downloaded last month's pictures. Sorry for the delay.
Around Thanksgiving, I try to do some sort of thankful craft for the whole family. Last year, it was our turkey. This year I wanted to make a Thankful Cornucopia (or "corn-u-coconut" according to Jacob). I found some fruits and veggies online, got all the right color paints, and away we went.
While Thanksgiving is a perfect time to stop and remember to be thankful for what God has blessed us with, we try to talk about it more often. I hope you took time to thank God this Thanksgiving season. If you're reading this, I'm thankful for you, that you care about our family to read the blog. Thank you!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Family Pictures

While we were visiting my parents for Thanksgiving, I had my mom take some family pictures for us. After all, it had been nearly a year and a half since the last set. I had coordinated all our outfits (originally planned a sweater for myself) only to be melting in 80* temps that day. Don't get me wrong, I love Texas weather, but "fall" pictures can be a bit confusing. Back to the pictures. Why is it that with about 30 pictures taken, only 1 comes out right? With just 4 in our family, it was hard enough to find one where everyone was smiling, no one was squinting or making weird faces (Jacob!), hoping for no sweat spots and, of course, the picture where I looked the skinniest :) Then, there's the fact that the day before we drove down, Jacob went face first into the corner of a cabinet door, leaving a nice big scratch on his face. Sigh.
Well, with the reality of picture taking, I'm glad to say we have a good family picture, worthy of mailing out in a Christmas card, thanks to a little help from photoshop. Oh, the above picture is my favorite of the rejects. Certainly you didn't think I'd reveal the good picture yet, did you? :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

We *heart* That big red bullseye store

Ok, so I realize my posting has been rare. This time of year gets so busy, doesn't it? I love being at home to attend and help with things at Beth's school. I love getting that extra time with Jacob.

I've turned Jacob into a T-aholic. As soon as we leave the gym, he asks if we can go to T. He'd like to get a "popcorn combo with an icee". If you've never done this, it's the best under $2 you could ask for while meandering around the wonderful aisles at T. The popcorn is tasty! Until last month, we just got a drink, then *gasp* the soda machine wasn't working. So, I got an icee, and Jacob fell in love. It doesn't matter if it's 8am, and we're running to T before the gym, he still thinks he needs a "popcorn combo with an icee". Oh, and he orders it himself, but lets me pay. But don't worry, I make sure our trips are educational as well as entertaining. We talk about the colors and shapes we see, we count things too. We LOVE looking at the holiday displays. We also have to go to the toy section and push every possible button there is. It sure makes T fun!

Our T also has a Star-coffee place right next to the snack bar. I ordered a pumpkin spice steamer (warm, flavored milk- I don't like coffee) one day last week. Beth just asked and asked about it. I let her taste it once it cooled down. Now, she's been asking me if we can go get "warm milk" at T. Sweet girl that she is asked if I could make it for her at home. Sure, but it wouldn't taste very good since I don't have all those yummy flavors to add. Couple those things with my already crazy love for T. Yup, we're in trouble :)
What's a post without pictures of my silly kids? Enjoy! (I know I do)

Now, I'm off to eat more bon-bons (which really means do chores)!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


There's this thing going around on facebook where you have to think of 30 random things about yourself. I got tagged to do this by two friends. So, why not kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, and make a blog post out of it!

  1. I am a list maker. I make to-do lists, wish lists, project lists, book lists, packing lists. You name it, the way to get it done is a list.
  2. I rarely get all the things on my list finished on the day I intended.
  3. That said, I'm a procrastinator. Always have been and don't really try to change it. I guess I work best under pressure.
  4. I love to read books. Real, for the fun of reading, books. I can't remember the last time I did that.
  5. I'm a book buyer, not a library checker-outer. I keep books in the thoughts that I'll read it again, though I rarely do. I share books I really enjoyed but want them back to keep.
  6. I love to scrapbook. I used to be a scrapbook company consultant. I should probably be scrapbooking instead of doing this.
  7. I'm about 4 years behind on my scrapbooks. I haven't done Jacob's baby book yet. Beth has about 5 books already. That poor second kid.
  8. I think I'm a great friend. Even more so when that friendship is returned to me.
  9. I use sarcasm in situations where I feel out of place or uncomfortable. It's been know to cause problems and hurt where none were intended. I'm sorry if you've been a victim of this.
  10. When I say "I'm sorry", I really mean it.
  11. I have voted in every election since I turned 18. It hasn't always been for the same party. Hmmm! :)
  12. I talk to strangers, especially old people.
  13. I love to ask people who have been married a long time what their secret to a long marriage is. The most common answers: forgiveness, don't go to bed angry, sense of humor, keep her happy.
  14. I like dusting. The smell of good 'ol lemon Pledge can't be beat.
  15. I hate cleaning bathrooms. I procrastinate it until last and the very last minute.
  16. I love to organize. I will organize closets and cabinets in an effort to procrastinate other things. I love tub and baskets for organizing. 99% of the time, I can tell you exactly where something is- even tell you what to look next to or under- even if I haven't touched it in months.
  17. If there is clutter and disorder, I am more easily stressed out. When order is restored, so am I.
  18. I love symmetry and order. My closet is sorted by color, only on white hangars.
  19. I am a math nerd. Yup, I said it. I enjoy algebra and would do it for fun. When I took my teaching exam, I was just about to fall asleep, then I got to the math section and perked right up.
  20. Spreadsheets are fun! If I have something to research or information to organize, I usually put it in a spreadsheet. Ah, organization!
  21. I don't miss teaching. Middle school math. Well, the math part was fun, but the kids, the parents, the tedious paperwork, no thanks.
  22. I've considered homeschooling, but I'm afraid I'd fail at it.
  23. I have fallen in love with exercise. I'm going to the gym about 5 hours a week and wish I could fit in more. I love feeling the pain after a good workout. I even love the sweat, proving how hard I'm working.
  24. I don't have an iphone or blackberry. Heck, I don't even have a full keyboard phone for texting. Granted, I don't have the phone attached to the bag either. :)
  25. I have amazing children. Every day, I am thrilled to be their mom, in spite of the rough moments. I'm thankful they are teachable and hope they always will be.
  26. I question myself daily if I'm the best mom my kids deserve. Did I play with them enough? Did I teach them the right things? Have I given them too much? Will they need therapy one day because of me?
  27. I appreciate my parents more every day. Something I could only see now, as a parent. I'm thankful for their example in the way they lived their life being the same as what they taught me. I'm thankful for their sacrifices over the years to give me things, even when it turned out to be a waste of money. I'm thankful they taught me the value of working hard for something instead of being handed everything. I'm thankful they taught me how to be a good citizen and value where I live.
  28. I have been blessed with a great husband, the perfect match for me. We're a great team together. He makes me laugh, his kisses make me melt, he challenges me to think about things deeper, he's an incredible daddy, he's a hard worker....
  29. I am a Christian. I am saved and will go to heaven when I die.
  30. I'm not perfect, by any means. I am a follower of Christ, trying to be an imitator of Him. I desire that my actions and words reflect God- His kindness, His love, His grace, His justice, His Word. I fail every day, and He forgives me every day.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Round Up

Every year, our church hosts Round Up weekend. It's packed full of old-west style activities. Saturday, there was a mini-rodeo. Our church has a bus ministry that bring in kids (and any parents wanting to come) from the surrounding towns to church on Sundays.
The K4/K5 teacher, Ms. Bettye, is a remarkable woman with such a love and desire for the Lord that I've only seen in a couple other women in my love. Her life story, her road to Jesus, is incredible. In fact, she is a product of the bus ministry. What a blessing that we can be a part of a church that desires to bring all kids to know Jesus!
This rodeo event was the big thing for the kiddos during Round Up. The stands were packed with bus kids who were excited to see the cowboys and bulls. Bro. Jimmy (the bus ministry guy) preached a sermon complete with altar call. I'm not sure how many, but I do know some kids asked Jesus to be their Savior that day!
The kids loved watching the events. The bull riding was a big favorite. I explained what I could about the rules and the goals of each event, so they'd understand a little more. Beth found it more interesting and exciting that she thought it would be. Bull riding, barrel racing, team roping, a calf scramble for the kids and goat dressing for the Sunday School teachers. What fun!
After the rodeo and the bus kids were back on buses, Beth and I walked around a little bit. One of our church members let her ride his horse. She had her nervous smile at first but really enjoyed it after a few minutes.
That was Saturday morning. Sunday was cowboy breakfast- pancakes and sausage cooked over an open fire. YUMMY! There were a few horses to see, a couple miniature horses and even a baby miniature. Jacob had his turn to ride a horse, but he wasn't sure about it at all. He preferred to pet the baby pony.

Church with a mini concert by Brian Free and Assurance and a great sermon by our Preacher. Then, onto fajita lunch with all the fixins and any dessert you could want. Needless to say, we were ready for some good Sunday afternoon naps after all that! What an incredible weekend to fellowship with church family.

Halloween 2010

So, yup, about time I got around to posting again. All this eating bon-bons and watching soap operas gets in the way of my blogging time, you know.

We've just come off a crazy, busy weekend. But, it was a good one. I'll post about it a bit scattered, but knowing the folks that read this are mostly family, I'm betting I'll be forgiven. With Halloween falling on a Sunday this year, Saturday meant candy time at our church's Trunk or Treat/ Fall Festival event. We had lots of participation from church members hosting games and trunks. There were TONS of people from the community out to enjoy it. Woohoo! The kids had a blast playing games and getting candy. Jacob only wanted suckers and would put back candy or give it to Beth if it wasn't what he wanted. He even turned down chocolate! Eventually, he was okay with tootsie rolls and smarties as alternatives. Beth loved checking out all her friends' costumes and playing the games. Kevin and I had been asked to organize the event (you know that really means me), so my pictures from the festival are a bit lacking. Kevin was busy in charge of our game booth, and I walked the kids around while distributing more candy to the trunk hosts. It was a fun night, and the kids came home with plenty of candy. I've stashed the really good stuff in the guest room :)
So, here we are, in our costume finery:
Buzz Lightyear- Are you really surprised?
A pig in a blanket- Her original plan was Jessie from Toy Story, but we couldn't find a costume. After some online searching, she really liked this idea (but refused a tail or nose).
Super Mom- complete with a glittery cape and pearls. I opted to not wear heels given that I'd be running around for about 4 hours.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Just one more cup

There was a lot of good "extra" stuff from this retreat that I wanted to share. Thanks for being patient.
What are you?
A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She didn't know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as if as soon as one problem was solved, a new one arose.
Her mother took her to the kitchen. There, the mother filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots. In the second, placed eggs. In the last, she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word. About 20 minutes later, she turned off the burners.
She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled teh coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she said, "Tell me what you see."
"Carrots, eggs and coffee," the daughter replied, in that lovely tone of voice.
The mother brought the daughter to the bowls and asked her to feel the carrots. The daughter did and noticed they were soft. Then, the mother asked her daughter to take and egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg inside. Finally, she asked her daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted the rich aroma.
"So, what's the point, Mother," said the daughter, again with that lovely tone of voice.
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity- boiling water- but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile, it's thin outer shell protecting its liquid center. But, after sitting through boiling water, its insides had become hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique. After they were in boiling water, they changed the water.
"Which are you?" the mother asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?"
Which are you?
The carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do you wilt, become soft and lose my strength?
The egg that starts will a malleable heart but changes with heat? Do you have a fluid spirit but after a death, a breakup, or other hardship, have you become hardened and stiff? Does your outer shell look the same but on the inside is tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?
Or the coffee bean that actually changes the hot water- the very circumstances that bring the pain. When the water gets hot, do you release fragrance and flavor- changing the situation around you instead of letting it change you?
Our song leader taught us this song. When you take the time to really pay attention to the words, I hope you are as moved as I am every time I hear it.
The Potter Knows the Clay
I know you are going through the fire
It's getting hard to stand the heat
But even harder is the wondering
Is God's hand still on me
It's lonely in the flames
When you're counting days of pain
But the Potter knows the clay
How much pressure it can take
How many times around the wheel
'Til there's submission to His will
He's planned a beautiful design
But it'll take some fire and time
It's gonna be okay
'Cause the Potter knows the clay
Friend, I just came through that fire
Not too very long ago
And looking back I can see why
And that my God was in control
But on the hottest days I'd cry
Oh Lord, isn't it about time
But the Potter knows the clay
How much pressure it can take
How many times around the wheel
'Til there's submission to His will
He's planned a beautiful design
But it'll take some fire and time
It's gonna be okay
'Cause the Potter knows the clay

Friday, October 22, 2010

Aroma from the Grinder

I thought I'd share a few more things I read at the coffee themed Ladies' Retreat.
10 Uses for coffee grounds
1. deodorizer- dry them out, then put them in a bowl in your fridge or freezer or rub them on your hands to get rid of food prep smells
2. plant food- for rosebushes, azaleas, evergreens, camellias
3. insect repellant- sprinkle old grounds where you don't want ants or even on the ant piles
4. dye- steep grounds in hot water, then you have brown dye for fabric, paper or even Easter eggs
5. furniture scratch cover up- steep grounds and apply a bit of the liquid to scratches with a q-tip
6. cleaning product- great for scouring greasy and grimy stain-resistant objects
7. kitty repellent- sprinkle mixed with orange peels around your plants to prevent kitty powder rooms
8. flea dip- follow up doggie's shampoo with a coffee ground rub down
9. dust inhibitor- before you clean the fireplace, toss in wet coffee grounds over the ashes to keep dust under control
10. cellulite reducer- Yes, that's right! Mix 1/4 cup warm, used grounds and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Rub on then wrap with shrink wrap, leaving on for several minutes. Unwind and rinse off. For best results, do this twice a week. I may need to give this one a try. Too bad I don't drink coffee.


Cowboy coffee? It's said they made their coffee by putting grounds into a clean sock and immersing it in cold water, then heated over the campfire. Hmm, were those socks REALLY clean?


Tips for handling your "cup"
1. Don't drain your cup dry (exhaustion)
Psalm 37:7- Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him...
2. Don't get it too hot (temper)
Ephesians 4:31- Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you with all malice.
3. Don't let it get too cold (indifference)
Revelation 3:15- I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot; I would that thou wert cold or not.
4. Don't let it get too strong (overwhelmed)
Psalm 61:2- From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
5. Don't let it be too weak (fatigue)
II Thesalonians 3:13- But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Perfect Blend

Earlier this month, I attended the Ladies' Retreat with our church. The theme was "The Perfect Blend: Living Above the Daily Grind". Let me tell you, the team goes all out with the theme too- all kinds of coffees (and teas and hot chocolate) and snacks, a insulated mug gift, team names, decorations and much more. Our speaker, Martha Johnson, even titled and taught her sessions with the coffee theme.

Mrs. Martha enjoying some quiet time before a session
This year, we were out in Glen Rose, at a marvelous retreat center. The rooms were so nice, comfy beds, big bathrooms, and beautiful grounds along the Paluxy River (where dinosaur footprints have been discovered). The staff was so nice, and the chef made amazing meals! This was a huge step up from our youth-camp like place last year. The weather was fantastic, too- cool mornings turned into nice days. Each room had a balcony, too. Just gorgeous! Bonus, we were close to town. Glen Rose town square is a quaint little place with a handful of boutiques and antique shops. We had some free time on Friday to explore and really enjoyed ourselves.

We had craft time. We decorated bookmarks with our "life verse"- a verse that encourages us or has spoken to our hearts. Later, in devotion time with small groups, we traded bookmarks and explained why that verse was significant to us. Now, I have a verse and bookmark from a friend, that reminds me to pray for them. We also got to decorate an apron with paint, material, ribbon, and other crafty things. It's amazing to see the creativity of the ladies of the church and how each of us managed to create something different.

One of the things most ladies look forward to is the baskets. Oh my! This is an experience! People donate items to be used in themed baskets- like Christmas, home, cooking, scrapbooking, chocolate, etc. The team puts together the baskets and puts them on display. Ladies buy tickets to put in drawings for whatever baskets they would like to win. I'd say there were at least 50 different baskets this year. There are also a handful of auction type baskets. All the money went to the church for a need- this year, new lawn equipment. Not long before the last session, tickets are drawn and winners pack away their baskets. Yup, I won two of the seven baskets I was hoping for!!!!!
Yes, there was lots of fun times. But, there was also great time learning more about God's Word. A few of the points that stuck in my head were
  • God's plan is to fullfill HIS purpose. It is a process until we are the product He needs.
  • Why is (fill in the blank) happening? To reveal things about myself and to perfect me. I Peter 5:10
  • All resentment is rooted in unmet expectations
  • When we ignore God, it grieves Him. When I'm grieved, I don't say much. Is it like that with God?
  • Just like coffee, we can be weak (Matt. 6:30-34), bitter (Eph 4:31-32), stale (1 Corin. 15:58) and cold (Psalm 119:97-115).
  • Having the "Perfect Blend" means being "rooted and grounded in love" (Eph. 3:17). God's unending, perfect love.

At the end of the last session, we take our burdens, big or small to God. We privately write them on a paper, fold them up and staple them to the cross. It is an incredible feeling taking it to Him and leaving it there. Now, even as I type this, I realize that I've tried to "take back" what I gave Him. I have to remember that in God's awesomeness, He will take care of it. I cannot, in my humanness, begin to understand God's greater plan for me. I have to "let go and let God". That's the purpose of taking it to the cross, to lay it down and let go.

I'm already looking forward to next year's retreat. I'm planning for my mom and a college friend to join me too. If you happen to be in the Fort Worth area next October and want to experience Christian fellowship and growth, I'd love to have you along, too.