Thursday, January 31, 2008


Wow... I finally got a chance to log in today and I had to sign in again. That means it has been way too long since I've blogged or read anyone else's blog. I'm in that 2 week period where I'm still working my old job and I've already started my new job. TOO MUCH TO DO! In about 30 minutes, I leave for a 4-day conference at the state capitol for my old job. After that, I'm pretty much done. I hope that my life will resume some sense of routine. Enough of the 12-14 hour days!! Franklin has been sleeping in the office, so that has seriously hindered my ability to blog late at night also. We'll have to move him back to his room when I return from this trip.

Have a great weekend. Think of me - I get to ride a bus for several hours with a bunch of middle & high school students. Plus, I'll be wearing business suits and panty hose 12 hours per day this weekend - yippee!! :o) Can't wait until Sunday afternoon - I'm going to wear PJs the rest of the day. Oh wait - I wear PJs for most of the day almost every Sunday...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Deep Thoughts by Truman

Driving down the road the other day, I heard a loud voice from the back seat proclaim:

"I'm wearing underwear today."

Debt Free

Our goal over the past 13 months or so has been to get completely debt free - everything - eventually, even the house! At church, everyone was talking about Financial Peace University and Dave Ramsey and what not and I was curious what all of the fuss was about. The preschool I worked for was doing a book sale for a fundraiser and if you purchased a certain amount, you received a free book. So, I bought everyone on my Christmas list (2006) a book so that I could get free stuff (yes, I'm obsessed with thriftiness) and I carefully selected Dave Ramsey's book entitled "Total Money Makeover".

I love to read. When I actually find time to go to the library, I love to pick out a suspense thriller, murder mystery, FBI or lawyer novel. My favorite authors are John Grisham, James Patterson, Iris Johannsen, and many more. I've read nearly every book written by my favorite authors and when I get one in my hand, I barely put it down. Usually, I finish a good book in a day or two. Then, I will go months before I return to the library to pick out another.

Anyway, I love to read fiction, but I'm not a big fan of non-fiction. Other than the Bible and textbooks (which were forced on me - not the Bible, but the textbooks), I really haven't picked up very many non-fiction books in my life. So, I was expecting to have the same result with the Dave Ramsey book (yes, we're back on that again). I expected to start reading and somewhere around page 10 or 15 to put the book down and never pick it back up again.

Shocker! I picked up "Total Money Makeover" and barely put it down again until I had finished. And - all in less than a week!! I was convinced of the Ramsey way of life - living debt free. I spent an entire evening passionately telling Tommie everything I had learned from reading this book and trying to convince him to subscribe to the way of life. It didn't take much convincing. Both of us realized that we had slipped back into some bad financial habits that we needed to break - and fast.

So, we set out on a mission to become "Debt Free"! Almost every financial conversation that we have had since the reading of THE book has centered around the phrase "debt free". We have closely followed a tight monthly budget, cut out excess spending, discontinued use of credit cards (for the most part) and in general, tried to find ways to spend less and earn more. In the summer of 2007 following a major medical issue, we decided that we could attain our goal of becoming "debt free" more quickly if I went back to work full-time. It was intended to be a short term solution to our "problem". We have never intended and do not intend to live off of two incomes. My income is purely to pay the bills and start saving. We have continued to live on the same budget, in spite of the increase in income.

2007 brought a firm financial discipline to our lives and it also brought many financial challenges. Between my medical bills and Tommie's dental bills, we added nearly $13,000 to our debt... but by the grace of God, we were able to pay the bills and still pay some debt off.

God is so good to us. He is faithful to provide for our needs even when we are not expecting it. Both Tommie & I have been a little discouraged by the lack of progress on our debt. We were hoping to be a lot closer to our goal by now. Originally, we were scheduled to be out of debt by Christmas 2008. Now, it looks like it may be closer to mid-to-late 2009.

Today, God provided for us in a way we least expected. Tommie's 401K through work has changed a couple of times and today, he had to change his log-in to something related to his social security number and VOILA! A 401K from a previous employer appeared! We knew that he still had that 401K that we had never rolled over, but it had been so long ago that we both had pretty much forgotten about it. At the time, it was so little and the penalty for cashing it out was not worth it, so we just left it alone. Well, several years later, cashing it out will pay off quite a bit of our debt!!!! Praise the Lord!!! Talk about a pick-me-up! We're so excited to be able to pay off some stuff that's been weighing heavy on us. Now, the goal of being "debt free" by Christmas 2008 does not seem so un-attainable.

Did I mention that God is good?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

First Day on the Job

I started my new job today! It was so fun to be back in an environment where I know everyone and I know that it's going to be a great experience. Another assistant started today too, so we bonded pretty quickly... I think it's going to be awesome working with her! :o) Now... wrapping up all of the details of my old job is still a CHORE!

Friday, January 18, 2008

It's a Small World

I love Disneyworld! Growing up, I was a HUGE Mickey Mouse fan and dreamed of going to Disneyworld one day. I finally got the chance on my Senior trip! We drove to Florida from Illinois on a charter bus (a 22 hour drive), spent about 50 hours at Disneyworld and drove back home! It was the most amazing experience. The first thing I thought when I arrived was "I WANT TO LIVE HERE!" As much as I love Disneyworld, there was one thing about it that I absolutely disliked - the Small World ride. Talk about annoying!! I was thrilled when they decided to close that stupid ride - thank God!

Anyway... that's not the topic of my post! I was referring to how small the world really is. When we were on our campout, I was talking to a camp staff member and another camp staff member said that I looked familiar. I was wearing the sweatshirt from a camp I worked at in college and this guy asked me when I worked there. It turns out that we knew each other & worked at the same camp during the same summer in college!! I would not have recognized him (11+ years later!) unless he said something to me first! So cool... We spent an hour or so catching up on lost time & swapping stories of people that we both know and how many kids they have now. He just started working for this camp a few weeks ago (moved from California) and I'm leaving my job in a couple of weeks, so it was a crazy thing that we actually met and recognized each other! He married a girl from camp that I know and they only live 40 minutes from me, so I hope we can reconnect again sometime. It is a small world after all!

Winter Campout & Allergies

Last weekend, we went on the Adventure Guides winter campout. I took Truman with me, just for fun! Tommie & the other boys were in a cabin with their group. We arrived at camp to find gorgeous scenery and absolutely perfect weather. We couldn't have ordered up better weather for a winter campout. Last year, it was so miserably cold and snowy/icy that most people went home early.
For campouts, I have the responsibility to arrive first (or as close to it as I can get), while Tommie has to finish his work day, pick up the boys from school and then travel. Camp was 2 1/2 hours from home. I arrived around 4:30 p.m. and Tommie arrived around 8:00 p.m. on Friday. I received a phone call from Tommie at 7:45 a.m. on Saturday morning. He said that he was going home. After being at camp for a mere 12 hours, he packed it up and traveled 2 1/2 hours back home. Why? A nasty little thing called Mountain Cedar. Apparently, the cedar is in full pollen stages at this time of year and this camp was chock full of them. Many people over the years have had to leave the campout due to a strong allergic reaction. Tommie's throat started to close and his eyes swelled up and he was miserable! At the camp, you could see the pollen swirling around after a particularly strong wind and if you hit a branch with something like a nerf football (not that that happened or anything!), you could see the pollen cloud "poof" off of the tree. Not fun.

I felt particularly bad for the older boys, because this was supposed to be THEIR campout with dad and they had to go home, while Truman - the tag-a-long - got to enjoy a full weekend of fun with mom. Because I was working, it would have been impossible for me to fulfill my responsibility and wrangle three boys. I offered to keep one, but how can you choose which one gets to stay and which one goes? So, this was supposed to be our one (and only) Adventure Guides campout as a complete family and it ended up being a mother/son weekend with Truman and I. We had a lot of fun, but the rest of the family was sorely missed.

Truman's favorite parts of the weekend were horseback riding and hiking up the mountain!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


My new vehicle has finally made its way home! I'm so excited!! It's really fun to drive a new car, but it's even more fun when it belongs to you. My new vehicle is...

A Kia Rondo!

A Rondo is a crossover that has a 3rd row seat - so it drives like a car and it still seats 7. :o) Perfect for me. And... the cute factor is high! (and we all know that the cute factor counts for a LOT when car shopping!) Both the 3rd row and the 2nd row fold flat to make a huge cargo area. This is the first new car I've ever had - and the last one for a long time! The deal was just too good to pass up. :o) My new Rondo is black with a tan interior. I think it's funny that the one the dealership found for me is black, because Tommie's car is black. When they are parked next to each other, they look very similar, except mine is on steriods! I'll have to take a pic of them side by side sometime...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Community is such an important word. What's the saying? "No man is an island." or something like that... God intended for us to live & breathe community. He created us for relationships and a network of relationships constitutes community. When I first had children and I was staying at home full-time, I remember thinking about how I would not survive unless I had people surrounding me who were experiencing similar things on a daily basis. My mom's group saved my life & my sanity. The daily chores of keeping a household (laundry, cleaning, etc.) are sometimes mundane and suck the life right out of you. I think the frontier and tribal women have it right - they would cook together, wash their clothes in the river together and rear their children together. I have always found chores easier when I am with a friend. That is what community is all about. Living your life WITH others, or as many churches like to say "doing life together." Sometimes, it's not so much about the intimate meaningful interactions, but about the day-to-day "mundane" interactions (though both are important).

I've heard it said that you know someone is your true friend when they have free access to your refrigerator. Another friend of mine says: "If you are coming over to see my house, please make an appointment. If you are coming over to see me, stop by anytime." When you allow community into your life, you allow others to see you for who you really are. You are inviting others to examine the deepest parts of you and most of the time, when you are honest enough to invite someone to see you for who you really are... they are going to be humbled and honored instead of judgemental.

Community can be found in many places. I have found that finding and being a part of a community requires effort and self-sacrifice. But in the end, the rewards are amazing and well worth it! Last night, our small group shared the most amazing time together - praising our God, worshipping together, and sharing from our hearts. wow. I'm humbled and honored to be a part of that community.

Unity is a core component of community. Unified for a specific purpose or time. I'm amazed at the communities that God has allowed me to be a part of - no matter where I live or what I am doing at the time, God's community is always present. You just have to seek Him and look around.

"that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." John 17:23

Still waiting...

We are still waiting for the new vehicle. The one they found for me in a nearby town was sold before they went to pick it up. But, they found another one in a different color farther away and were supposed to go get it yesterday. So... today after work, we are going to pick up our new vehicle. Finally. It has been 6 days.

I think the anticipation has worn off at this point! :o) However... here's a hint - the new vehicle is made by:

Friday, January 11, 2008


Well, we went to pick up our new vehicle last night & they didn't have it. Our sales dude was admitted to the hospital yesterday, so they didn't pick up our vehicle from Plano. We have a campout this weekend and won't be able to go get the new one until Monday. Bummer! The bright side is that they are letting me drive a nicer version for the weekend - free of charge. I should be happy, but I just want to be done with the whole thing. I think I'm so bummed because I'm a project oriented person. When a project is hanging over my head, it makes me anxious. Kind of like a job transition that isn't complete. Kind of like a Christmas tree that's still decorated and sitting in my entry way. Kind of like all of the clean unfolded laundry in my living room and the dirty unwashed laundry sitting in my laundry room. Kind of like a campout that I'm trying to finish getting ready for. Okay... I guess it's not just the car thing. I'm feeling a general sense of incompleteness and uneasiness. Too many unfinished projects...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Yippeee!! Ding dong the witch is dead!

I'm finally getting rid of my van!!! Yippeee!! We found a great deal on a new vehicle and Tommie is actually letting me get it! :o) Tomorrow, we go to finish the paperwork & bring it home... you'll have to wait to see what it is when the deal is done. Pray that everything remains stable and the deal goes through as planned. I've already signed my portion of the paperwork, but the vehicle is arriving from a nearby town tomorrow, so we still have to inspect it and test drive it before Tommie signs.

Did I mention... YIPPPEEE!!!!

(if you know me very well, you've heard me rant about my van problems many times - i've tried to trade it away 3 times now, but haven't found a good enough deal)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

It's like riding a bike...

The boys each spent their Christmas money on bicycles (as did Mom & Dad). It has been fun getting outside with them in the past few days to begin teaching them how to ride. I'm amazed at how quickly they are learning. In a few weeks, we should be able to take our first family bicycle ride.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Our 10th Wedding Anniversary

Wow - 10 years. I remember when we first got married & I thought that people who had been married ten years had been married FOREVER! Oh, how perspective changes when you are as "old" as I am. :o) Now, being married a LONG time is when you've been married nearly 40 years, like my parents. In 2008, my in-laws will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. In 2009, my parents will celebrate their 40th anniversary. Wow!

For our honeymoon, Tommie & I traveled to Galena, Illinois and spent a few days in a condo there. Galena is a small town with a lot of quaint shopping and ski resorts. We didn't do any skiing, but we did window shop, visit the river museum and go see "Titanic" in the theater. It was so nice to getaway from life and relax together for a few days.

For our 10th anniversary, we decided to visit the windy city... Chicago! My parents watched the boys and we traveled by Amtrak to Chicago for 2 nights & 3 days. We stayed in a gorgeous hotel on Michigan Avenue. Our hotel was located right next to the Hancock Building and right along the avenue with LOTS of shopping. Similar to our honeymoon, we simply had a "getaway" and relaxed together for a few days. It was nice, very nice. We did get to see the Blue Man Group, thanks to my brother and sister-in-law. We both rode the Amtrak for the first time ever & we both rode in a taxi for the first time ever. It was so fun! Maybe we'll try something more out of the ordinary and go on a cruise for our 20th! :o)

The view of Lake Shore Drive & Lake Michigan from our room...

The view from our room on the day we left...

The John Hancock Building (right next door)...

A Blue Man...

What Chicago looked like on the day we left (they ended up with 5-6 inches that day)...

No matter what life throws at me, I know that I will always have my husband by my side. Everyone says that the first year of marriage is the hardest, but I would have to disagree. The first year of our marriage was pretty awesome compared to a few that followed. Somehow, having 3 boys in 3 1/2 years challenged our marriage in more ways than we realized at the time. The longer we have been married, the more Tommie & I have learned about each other and what true love is. The first several years were rough and we still have tough times, but I wouldn't choose to share my life with anyone else. I love Tommie more today than I ever have before. True love. Lasting love. I pray that we will have 50+ more years to share life together.

Friday, January 4, 2008

My brother's purse

I mentioned in a previous post that I still had not figured out what to get my brother & sil for Christmas. Well, I finally gave in and got them a gift card. I didn't want to be lame, so I tried to find a creative way to wrap it. I bought a purse on clearance ($2 - and a cute one too!) and put the gift card inside. I wrote only my brother's name on the gift tag (even though the gift was for both) just to see his reaction. When he opened his new purse, he was definitely surprised! He quickly looked inside to see if that's all he received... :o)

The funniest part is that on Christmas Day (the following day) when they dropped by my parents' house, Owen was carrying his new purse! He put his wallet & keys into it and carried it like it was a normal, everyday thing for him. Being the father of 3 girls, he probably gets his fair share of carrying purses, I would imagine! Too funny!!

Wii Wii Wii

My parents played the Wii for the first time when they visited us last spring. They loved it! I was surprised that they enjoyed it as much as they did. My in-laws had visited a week prior and bought a Wii immediately upon returning home, but I didn't see my parents as the video game type. Since the spring, my parents have mentioned the Wii a couple of times and as Christmas neared, my dad mentioned again that they wouldn't mind having one.

Last year, I had to sleep outside overnight at Target (with my friend Amy's hubby protecting me from the crazies) in order to purchase our Wii. I convinced my brothers to go in together to purchase a Wii for my parents for Christmas, but I wasn't too sure how dedicated I would be to buying one... especially if it meant sleeping outside again. One Saturday, I got wind that a shipment of Wiis were expected to arrive at Wal-Marts in our area. They would release them for sale at midnight, so at about 11 p.m. I went around to a couple of Wal-Mart stores to see if they had some available. Unfortunately, I had waited about a half an hour too long to start the search. All of the Wiis had someone in line already waiting to purchase. Bummer! The very next day, my mother-in-law called to see if we still needed one (she works at Wal-Mart, so I had her keep an eye out for one). Their Wal-Mart had some in stock!! So, they bought it & wrapped it and we picked it up the day prior to my family's Christmas exchange. Awesome! Later that same week, my dad called me to see where they could buy a Wii. My mom & dad decided to buy one for each other for Christmas, but they were hard to find. Yikes!! I talked him out of it - telling him that it would be nearly impossible for him to secure a Wii with Christmas only a month away... ha, ha

We had also purchased an extra remote for my parents' Wii, so I wrapped it separately. During our exchange, I made sure they opened the remote first. I wanted to see how long it would take them to realize what it was... it didn't take long! This is my mom's reaction when she realized that we bought them a Wii! :o)

Mom & Dad - VERY excited to go home & play!!

Majeres Family Christmas 12.24.07

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Payne/Barker Family Christmas 12.23.07

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Here Comes Santa Claus!

We don't celebrate Santa at our house. I was not taught about Santa when I was growing up and we have continued the tradition in our home. We teach our kids that Santa was a very nice man who gave presents, but that Christmas is all about Jesus and His birth. I have heard of St. Nicholas Day celebrations and have desired to celebrate with my kids, but haven't done it yet (there's always next year). When you decorate for Christmas, you use both nativity scenes and Santa decorations. Then, on December 6th, you throw a St. Nicholas party - complete with Turkish food and coins in shoes (the origin of stockings). At the end of the day, you take down all of the Santa decorations and celebrate only Jesus' birth until Christmas Day.

Anyway... even though we do not celebrate Santa, I think it is hilarious that my father-in-law looks exactly like Santa when he grows out his beard. People actually stop him in Wal-Mart and restaurants to have their kids say "hello". He moonlights occasionally as Santa just for fun. Because we went home to visit at Christmas for the first time since we've moved to Texas, I requested the Santa beard. So, my father-in-law began growing it out this fall. We got phone calls telling us the progress of the beard. When we arrived, my kids were amazed when they realized the big, jolly, red-suited guy was really Poppy!

Santa's after-party suit says "Does this suit make me look fat?"

Sweet Home Illinois...

Home is where the heart is. I have been dreaming lately of what it would be like if we moved closer to our families in Illinois. I think those dreams have been spurred by a general feeling of disconnect with our friends here (hopefully to be remedied by my new job) and by losing my grandmother. This trip to Illinois was a proving ground. Did I really want to move back home or am I really just dreaming? I know that living close to family brings drama - lots of drama - and other issues that you don't get when you pop in once a year or so. But, I also know that there's nothing compared to having blood relatives around when you need them. Our church family has been a family to us and one that we hold dear.

When we were in Illinois for a visit, I was reminded of the following:
  1. I love my family and Tommie's family (quirks and all...)

  2. I do not want to live in the same town (or within an hour) of either side of the family

  3. I like living just far enough away that it is special to go visit

  4. I do not like freezing temperatures

  5. I would like to visit family much more often

  6. I love airplanes

  7. I really dislike the section of drive that falls between St. Louis & Oklahoma City

  8. And upon returning home, I love our city and state, our church, our friends and our home. This is home.

After all of my observations, this is my conclusion:

I would like to request that Texas and Illinois be made closer in geography - the drive from St. Louis to Dallas should be 4 hours or less. (Sorry everyone who lives in Missouri & Oklahoma!!) Or, I would like to request that we seriously make it a priority to fly on an airplane from now on!!!

Of course, an airplane doesn't have views like this (but rental cars do!!):

Where do I begin?

Well, the biggest thing happening right now is not our trip to Illinois... I am changing jobs! The decision has not been easy - not remotely easy. I know that having two good jobs to choose between is a blessing, but some blessings do not come easily. I have prayed, compared the jobs, asked my mom & Tommie for advice, prayed, written a comparison graph (yes, i'm that silly...) and prayed some more. And... I came to the conclusion to leave my current job and pursue the new opportunity.

I love my job. There are things that I really dislike my job, but I really do love it. So why am I willing to walk away from something that I love most of? Am I crazy? My new job offer puts me in a position with a lot less stress and little to no evening or weekend work at nearly identical pay. It will allow me time to be a wife, friend, mother, daughter without being consumed with work all of the time. It will also allow me to continue to work toward my goal of having my own business in a few years. So, I suppose I'm not crazy. I'm going to miss the people I work with like crazy and I'll miss certain aspects of my old job like crazy... but I'm not crazy. I've made a difficult decision - one that I hope will positively impact my family life and those around me.

So... where is my new job? At the church that I call home.