Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year's Eve!

I cannot wait to get home to share everything about our trip & upload pics!!! I hope everyone has a safe & fun New Year's Eve tonight... see you in 2008!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Illinois! :o)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Almost there... and other random thoughts!

Well, we're about 16 hours from take off... the presents are purchased & wrapped (all but a joint gift for my brother & sister-in-law - still not sure what to buy for them!!!), most of the Christmas cards have been mailed (waiting til morning to call my mom for ONE more address), the last load of laundry is in the washer and our family room looks like an explosion of neatly folded & sorted clothes (ready to go into suitcases tomorrow).

I feel like this has been finals week of college. For work, I had to write two grants - one was due today by midnight and it was finally finished and submitted online at 7 p.m. The other one is due January 1st, so I've got to finish it before I leave tomorrow. My brain has been so wrapped up in statistics, budgets, program planning and writing... the one grant application had over 2400 words (yes, I used Microsoft Word's handy-dandy word count to check). Yikes! It has been like college all over again - got to get these "papers" done before I can go home for Christmas!

Today marks the 10th anniversary of my college graduation from Western Illinois University!
I worked in Sherman Hall (pictured) as the student assistant in the Vice President for Student Services office for 3 years...

7 days from now (December 27th) marks the 10th anniversary of my wedding day! (This is one of our engagement pics...) Yes, my only wedding. Yes, to Tommie. It IS Tommie in the photo. I understand that it doesn't look much like him... but it IS him! :o)

Tommie received disappointing news today... his brother's family is not coming to the family Christmas. Tommie only has one brother who is about 2 years older than him. They have completely different personalities & interests and have not been particularly close over the years. However, they have not had a disagreement or strife to the point of disliking each other. The last time we were home to Illinois for a visit was 2 1/2 years ago. We had a family gathering and Tommie's brother did not come. To his credit, he does work nights and had worked the night before and needed to sleep. Then, we met some friends & Tommie's parents for dinner in the SAME town his brother lives in and he chose not to come. So... it has been 3 1/2 years since we have seen his brother and it looks like it will be several more. My husband is not an emotional man, but I can see that this really bothers him. It is pretty sad to not drive across town to see your only brother when he hasn't been in town for a couple of years. Apparently, my sister-in-law planned her family Christmas event for the same day. I don't think that either of us will "miss" Tommie's brother's company (he's a difficult person to enjoy), but it's the principle of the matter. Especially when you only have one brother...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


The Christmas cards arrived on Saturday. I spent most of Saturday & Sunday addressing envelopes and getting them ready to mail. The first round of people should receive theirs in the next day or two. (The first round are the people who got one of the few stamps that I had in my house...) I was afraid to go to the post office yesterday to buy more stamps, so I'll make that trip today. I'm hoping that everyone's cards actually arrive by Christmas! :o)

This has been a very slow blogging week... too much to do before the big trip to Illinois... and so little time! Work is stressful, home is stressful... I need a vacation!

THREE MORE DAYS! I can do it!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The waiting game

I have been waiting and waiting for a few packages to arrive. On December 5th, I won an e-Bay auction (presents for my boys) and I'm still waiting for the package to arrive. On Sunday, I ordered Christmas cards that are in route as well. I also ordered another item that is due to arrive any day. Every day, I rush home to see if anything has arrived. And yet I wait! Last night, I checked the USPS & UPS websites to discover that all three packages should arrive today. I cannot wait! (no pun intended)

Why is it that patience is so hard to come by? I get annoyed by our "I want it & I want it RIGHT NOW" society, yet I find myself impatient with myself, my kids, my husband, traffic, the postal service, the drive-thru worker and anything or anyone else that keeps me from immediately receiving whatever it is that I want. I justify my opinion and attitude by saying that the person or process should be more efficient - especially in "this day and age".

Most of the time, the problem is not with my external circumstances, but a problem of the heart. My heart. I am full of sin. And I don't even recognize the problem half of the time. I blame others or get irritated and I forget to look in the mirror. Today, this morning, I'm aware. In times that I am reminded by the Holy Spirit that the only reason I'm breathing today is because God, in his ultimate grace, has chosen to save me... I stand corrected and grateful. I need that Holy Spirit poke now and again (more often than I notice it, I'm sure) to keep me on the right path. I need to write God's Word down and post it in every possible nook and cranny of my life, so I remember it at times when I am tempted to be impatient or let any sin rule my heart. I am reminded of these verses...

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Colossians 3:12
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23
"Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates..." Deuteronomy 11:18-20
"We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!" Romans 7:14-25
Thanks be to God for rescuing me!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mini Me

My cousin Michelle is 9 years younger than I am. From the time Michelle was born, all of our relatives have said how much alike we are. We both had white blonde hair when we were little, blue eyes and our voices are alike. We both are the youngest of 3 children with 2 older brothers. Relatives used to call her Amy by mistake. It's like she's my "mini me" (even though I don't think we look that much alike right now). Even now, when I visit with Michelle's parents (my aunt & uncle), they say how much alike our personalities & sense of humor is. Michelle & I have always lived 10 hours away from each other and haven't been able to spend much time together to get to really know each other. Even though we are not close, we have a special bond. I hope that someday, we are able to take the time to really get to know each other - I have a feeling we'd really get along!! At Grandma's funeral, we had this pic taken together (and to my knowledge, it's the only pic we've ever taken with just the 2 of us in it).

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

When what you think you know comes into question...

I have been a Christian for most of my life and I think that I have a good grasp on what the Bible teaches for the most part. I'm terrible about memorizing scripture references though. So, it's always interesting to me when someone challenges what I believe. I have been taught & I have researched for myself what the Bible teaches about tithing. Tithing has been a practice in our home since I got my first allowance, so it's not something that I sit around and ponder - it's a habit. So, when a friend challenged my belief that tithing is the first 10% of your income, my response was... uh, I believe that it says 10%... I know that pastors didn't just make that part up... yes, I know that it is specifically 10% somewhere... but I couldn't point you to an exact verse right now. Not exactly the holiest or most knowledgeable response... :o) Thank God for Within 5 minutes, I had a list of verses to back up what I knew was true. I'm hoping that with enough study & memorization, by the time I die I might be able to back up something like that without running to the internet or the references in the back of my Bible! In the meantime, I'll keep my mouse handy...

Sunday, December 9, 2007

How lovely are thy branches...

O Christmas Tree...


Well, I'm happy to report that I've crossed several things off of my To Do list for Christmas! On Friday, I snuck away from work for a couple of hours to do some Christmas shopping... and after today, we're nearly done. Check! On Friday night, we decorated the Christmas tree. Check! We also took the boys' photo for the Christmas cards. Check! Today, I ordered the Christmas cards from Snapfish. Check! And... the cards include text that will suffice for a letter. Check! It's amazing how productive I feel, yet my house is a disaster!! ha, ha One thing at a time...

Bloopers from our photo session... You won't get to see the real thing until you receive our card in the mail...

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Unveiling... drum roll, please

Tonight, we unveiled Harrison's new belly button! It wasn't as exciting as we all had hoped, because after we removed the bandage & cotton ball, we realized that the steri-strip was probably not ready to be removed yet. I wasn't comfortable yanking it off, just in case it opened the wound... so we'll give it a couple of days to see what happens. Here are the pics from tonight's unveiling...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Stay at home day

Yesterday, I had a late meeting, so I went into work a little later into the morning than usual. Truman said to me, "Mom, is today a stay at home day?" How cute!

When I returned home late last night, I was informed that Franklin had a fever and wouldn't be able to go to school today. So, I took him to the office with me for several hours this morning where he spent lots of time doing math problems (that strange child certainly doesn't take after me!), then we returned home mid-afternoon. I noticed that things were awfully quiet in the loft a few minutes ago & this is what I found when I went snooping...

Planning for Christmas

Aaaackkk... There are only 20 days left until Christmas and only 16 days left until I have to have my shopping finished! Yikes!! I am SO behind this year. Tommie & I finally sat down on Monday to talk about who we needed to shop for and what the spending limits are. Unfortunately, I had a fraudulent charge on my debit card, so I'm still waiting for the new card to arrive in the mail... and no debit card hinders any shopping plans I had. Here's my list of things not yet done this year:

  • Shop for everyone, except my mom & dad, co-workers & teachers (I start with the easiest first.)
  • Order Christmas cards
  • Write letter to insert into Christmas cards
  • Buy stamps (who uses stamps anyway?!?!)
  • Prepare & mail Christmas letter/cards
  • Decorate the Christmas tree (it has been up since Saturday, but hasn't been floofed or decorated)
  • Put lights up outside
  • Bake some sort of holiday treat
You would think I've been under a rock lately. It's not like Christmas comes as a surprise. It is on December 25th every single year, the last I checked. I am happy that I finally sat down to figure out what all I need to do... and one of these days, I might actually get something from that list DONE!

I have been faithfully scouting e-Bay for a special item for my boys and I'll find out in 57 minutes whether I can cross their names off of my shopping To Do list! Score!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Blessings from God

Sometimes I wonder whether God is paying attention to me at all. Things just aren't going my way or something happens and I have to just say out loud "What's UP?" Last Thursday was one of those days.

I HATE spending money. If I need or want to buy something, I nearly always use a coupon if possible or try to get it at a discount. I've tried bargaining with the associates at Wal-Mart (note to self: don't try that again). I even have a hilarious story about getting my $3 worth at a fair (ask Tommie about that one!). Maybe I'll post it someday... One thing that I hate spending money on more than anything else - my van (well, insurance is probably a close 2nd)...

Thursday, I was driving home from Harrison's surgery, stopped in at the pharmacy and when I drove away from CVS, my check engine light came on. Man! Could we add insult to injury? I had just spent way too much money traveling to Iowa earlier in the week, it's time to buy Christmas presents AND we've got to save money to travel back to Illinois for Christmas this year. The last thing I needed was to spend money on car repairs.

Well, I took the van to the shop and listened (not so politely) while the service guy told me that it would cost $92 just to figure out what was wrong (and another $92 to figure out what is wrong with my power locks & windows - they have been out of service for over a month). YIKES! After much fretting, he recommended that if I am tired of constantly repairing my 2005 minivan so much, I should trade it for another vehicle and purchase an extended warranty next time. Thanks, pal... just what I wanted to hear.

So, I went home and looked up vehicles on the internet for 4 hours. We just owe too much on the van to make it worthwhile to trade it right now. But, desperate times call for desperate measures. You have to understand that we've been doing the Dave Ramsey thing & trying to pay off debt (including vehicles) as quickly as possible. The next morning, Tommie told me to call the guy and have them fix the check engine light (which I didn't want to hear). I knew that Tommie was speaking with wisdom - even though I didn't want to pay the money to get it fixed. So, I called him. (I did tell him to ignore the power problem... I'll just suffer through until after Christmas).

Later that day, the service guy called me to report that they had found the problem and that it was part of a recall... so they fixed it at no charge to me. WHAT?!?! No charge to me! Thank you, Jesus!!!! God knows how to take care of me, even when my stubborn self resists wisdom.

I think the lesson that I'm supposed to learn from this is to quit wasting time on the internet and spend more time asking God for wisdom. :o)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Belly Button Surgery

Harrison had surgery to correct his umbilical hernia on Thursday morning. He handled everything like a trooper! He seemed a bit nervous before the surgery, but no tears or complaints. Afterwards, he was dazed from the anesthetics, but again - no tears or complaints. By Friday morning, he didn't even want pain medication anymore. He has only mentioned that it bothers him a couple of times and he's doing pretty well at keeping his activity level low (which is no small task for a 6 year old boy!). We won't get to peek at the belly button for 7 days until the bandage is removed... I can't wait to see!!

Belly button pre-surgery

Harrison pre-surgery

Belly button bandage post-surgery

Family & History

One week ago, I hopped on an airplane and made my way to the northwest corner of Iowa for my Grandma's funeral. It was a whirlwind of activity, family members, travel and history. It was overwhelming physically and emotionally... but I wouldn't change a thing. I'm proud to be a part of two large families with a lot of history. Here's how my itinerary went:

Friday (11/23)

  • 11:30 pm: Phone call from dad. Grandma passed away.

Saturday (11/24)

  • 5:30 pm: Arrive at airport. Fly from Dallas to Denver. Fly from Denver to Omaha. Pick up rental car. Drive to Aunt S's house in Omaha.

Sunday (11/25)

  • 2:00 am: Go to bed!
  • 12:30 pm: Lunch with Grandma W; Aunt S/Uncle M; Uncle G/Aunt K; Uncle G/Aunt J; Cousin J & family; Cousin K & family; Cousin E & family; Cousin Z (all on my mom's side of the family)
  • 5:00 pm: Drive to LeMars, Iowa
  • 7:00 pm: Arrive in LeMars - visit with my Mom & Dad & about 10 other various members of my dad's family

Monday (11/26)

  • 11:30 am: Brunch with Uncle B/Aunt P; Uncle N/Aunt M; Mom & Dad; Cousin A & hubby; Aunt P's DIL & baby
  • Visit to Blue Bunny gift shop
  • 5:00 pm: Grandma's Visitation - open to the public (she didn't want a funeral or anything, but the family insisted on having some sort of event that others could attend). I met a TON of 2nd cousins & great aunts/uncles that I had never met before that all live within 30 miles of LeMars.
  • 9:00 pm: Cousin gathering at Aunt M's house - about 20 people in attendance, including my brother R who arrived from Illinois this afternoon

Tuesday (11/27)

  • 10:30 am: Grandma's funeral. Open only to her immediate descendents & there were over 50 people in attendance. Grandma & Grandpa had 5 kids, 14 grandkids, and 29 great-grandkids so far...
  • 1:30 pm: Left funeral home to catch a plane - drove to Omaha. Flew to Denver. Nearly a 3 hour layover. Flew to Dallas.
  • 11:30 pm: Arrive at home - whew!

When one grandparent dies, it is not easy... but when both are gone, there is a ton of stuff to deal with. My grandparent's house will be sold soon, so I took a lot of photos of things in and around their house that I want to remember. Silly things, mostly... but things that made my grandparents who they were. Losing Grandma brought up the pain of Grandpa's death all over again. Because she is now gone, we will lose the little things that reminded us of him when we visited her.

Grandpa's Tools were all very organized. Every drawer was labeled in detail. I think Grandpa would have made the label maker companies rich, if they would have been around when he was alive.

Grandpa even labeled the souvenirs they kept on shelves in the basement. Each item had a date and location and sometimes who went on the trip with them. Most items were labeled with a piece of masking tape or a small manilla piece of paper.

If you ever need a gallon bucket, my grandparents' home is where you would find one. You never know when an ice cream bucket will come in handy. My grandpa retired from Blue Bunny ice cream after 31 years of service. I'm pretty sure they consumed most of his salary in ice cream over the years...

Grandpa & Grandma's basement looks like a set from "That 70's Show". No joke! All of the furniture, the wood paneling, the wonderfully colorful striped carpet - all of it. It's like the basement that time forgot. Oh, how I loved visiting their house. The funny quirks and crazy artifacts are unlike anyone else's home I've been to.

Grandma's hair brush & mirror set. I remember watching Grandma put her winter white hair into curlers while her teeth sat in a glass on the bathroom vanity. She combed & brushed and looked in the mirror. I remember the first time I realized Grandma had false teeth. It was such a shock. I was probably 7 years old at the time.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Grandma Blanche

Well, my grandma passed away a couple of hours ago. I just got off of the phone with my dad. I'm trying not to let the reality sink in by focusing on making plans to travel to the funeral. This is the end of a generation. I've got to end this post before I start really thinking, because thinking means feeling...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Our Version of Thanksgiving Dinner

Sometimes, it is very difficult to live far away from our families. I miss waking up in my parents' home to the sounds of my mom and dad puttering around in the kitchen. My mom would have already prepared most of the side dishes and pies. My dad helps get the turkey roasting & carves it up when it's done. The sound of the mixer beating up some potatoes into mashed potatoes and the smells of turkey & stuffing. When I was growing up, my job was usually to decorate the table and make personalized place cards (no wonder I'm not a great cook!). We pulled out the table cloth & the fancy china to celebrate the occasion. In anticipation of our guests (either family or friends or both), we would light all of the candles and put on some soft music. I remember the smell of the bottom cabinet in my mom's china hutch where we kept the real silverware and the seasonal candles/decor. As my family gathers today without us, my heart is saddened... but I am equally determined to make each holiday a fun event filled with family traditions for my boys. I suppose I have always been a bit non-traditional and so our family traditions follow suit.

We celebrated our 3rd annual Thanksgiving Dinner celebration - EATING OUT! (I'm not a great cook & none of us enjoy the cleanup, plus it's not worth all of the time & energy to make a feast for 5 people... so we let the restaurant do all of the work for us!) Two years ago, we ate at the Black Eyed Pea and it was YUMMY. I'm not a big fan of turkey & I love choosing to eat ham or pot roast instead! Last year, we met my family in Branson to celebrate the holiday and we ate at a yucky old people buffet (no offense to any old people out there!). So, this year we went back to the Black Eyed Pea and it was just as good as we remembered.


Trotted & Stuffed

We took the boys on the 3 mile fun run/walk in downtown Dallas this morning. We all had a great time & got some exercise. I'm always looking for a new family tradition and we may have just had our 1st annual Turkey Trot experience! I'm all for sleeping in & laying around in our PJs, but the Trot was a nice change of pace on a holiday morning. We shared the experience with 30,000 of our closest friends.

We're Off to the Turkey Trot...


Monday, November 19, 2007

Blast from the Past

Some of my favorite pics of Franklin from birth to 15 months old... It seems like so long ago. My baby is 8 years old already - wow!

In the hospital - 1 day old
First Smile
Helping Daddy play cards...
Bathing beauty
Learning to brush his teeth
Great timing... Franklin bonked his head on the fence & I didn't even realize I caught his expression until the film was developed (yes, no digital pics at that time!).


I love every part of my little man.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 17, 2007

See - I'm not a Yankee! ha, ha

Your Linguistic Profile:
75% General American English
10% Upper Midwestern
5% Dixie
5% Midwestern
0% Yankee
What Kind of American English Do You Speak?

Girlz Nite

The past 2 weeks at work have been very stressful and tensions are running high. Yesterday, 3 of us decided that we really needed a girls night out to relax and enjoy each other's company. We gathered at Wal-Mart in our PJs, bought the necessary supplies (comfort food & drinks) and went to one girl's home. We just ate, drank, relaxed, chatted and then watched a movie together. Oh, and we took a midnight walk to CVS to pick up some salty snacks... Life with good friends is awesome! We need to have a girls night WAY more often!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

very important numbers

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5
1 - 2 - 3
1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5
1 - 2 - 3 - 4

When I finished blogging & stalking various blogs for the night, I creep down the stairs in the dark to join my hubby in bed for the night. As I creep down the stairs, I count the stairs and pause at each landing to be sure that I don't miss a step, fall down & hurt myself in the dark. :o)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Annual Portraits

We went to Sears last Saturday for our annual family portraits (Tommie & I opted out of the pic this year!). We don't order school pics, because it is so expensive. Instead, we get Sears pics done in time to send them out for Christmas. I usually make the Christmas card from a snapshot, because it's cheaper. (I'm sensing a thrifty theme here...) Here are two of my fav pics from Saturday's photo shoot... They are lower quality, because I swiped them from the Sears website.

coffee & pajamas

why i love working from home...

Fall Campout

Adventure Guides Fall Campout
Slippery Falls Ranch, Oklahoma
October 12-14, 2007

Posted by Picasa

Bunko Night!

I LOVE Bunko night!
I've been in the same bunko group for 3 or 4 years now (I lost track...). I would rearrange nearly anything in life to make sure I'm at bunko on the 3rd Monday of each month. Why? I love games, competition, free stuff, and food... but that's not what keeps me coming back. What keeps me coming back are the friendships that have formed over the past 4 years. A few of the bunko ladies are some of the best friends I've ever had. In this busy suburban world that we live in, I look forward to spending a few cherished hours of my month with dear friends. I wish we could spend every day together, but at least we have Bunko night!

Here's an idea for a future bunko night, ladies...