Saturday, December 29, 2007

Would Someone Please Make It All Go Away?

Packing away the Christmas decorations is a lot like unpacking after vacation. It is so exhausting and boring! The thrill is gone and it is merely a large chore to add to my to-do list!

I would like to just blink my eyes and my house will be restored to its pre-Christmas state without me having to lift a finger. I honestly do not know how I did this with small children. It is all a blur...maybe I thought I decorated for Christmas back then, but I really didn't. I vaguely remember threatening one year of going on strike and not getting out any decorations except tree ornaments, but I'm not sure I actually followed through with it. See? Those brain cells of mine are evaporating by the minute!!

But, January 1st is the deadline for the tree to be gone and all remnants of Christmas to be stored away with only the pictures to remind us of how we spent the month of December (and, this blog, of course!). By the time the kids get on the school bus Wednesday morning all will be "de-cluttered" and organized. I just am not looking forward to the process!

Friday, December 28, 2007

My Last Hersheypark Happy Post for Awhile


Last night we went to Christmas Candylane at my beloved theme park, yet, the visit was bittersweet (get it? bitter SWEET? I just crack myself up sometimes!). The sad part is that we will not be getting season passes next year for a variety of reasons. The most important reason being the large sum of money that would require. The second reason being that my kids cannot agree on any rides they all want to go on with the exception of The Reece's Cup Challenge. And, lastly, it gets so crowded that if we don't go a dozen or so times in May and June we just won't get our money's worth since we avoid the park like the plague in July and August. With soccer and softball, camps and VBS I don't see us having a lot of time to go over to the park in the early summer.

But, a break is good. Absence will make our hearts grow fonder and I may volunteer a few times to get a couple of one day passes that we can use for a marathon day from open to close since it will be our only trip of the summer. Wow, that was a long sentence. Sorry. I'm a bit on holiday recovery. Seriously, I've slept long and hard this week.

Without further ado, here are some more pics from our lovely stroll through the sweetest place on earth. In honor of our last trip of the year to HP, we bought the girls gigantic custom made cupcakes afterwards at Chocolate World (don't worry, we only let them eat half a cupcake, the rest is saved for today).

That dumb hat was bothering me all night. Could I look any dorkier??!!

Apparently I was not the only one experiencing hat trouble.

This would be a great family picture if my hideous puffy coat wasn't taking up most of the picture frame.

Awwww.....aren't they so cute??

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Our Christmas in Pictures

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I don't need to say much!

This was party #1 kicking off our 3-day Christmas extravaganza of family parties. How do you like #3's nice warm winter clothes she is wearing?

Enjoying a little Christmas Eve bubble bath in our jacuzzi tub (a special treat).

We even baked some cookies on Christmas Eve. And, I didn't yell or stress out about all the sprinkles on the floor. And, on the table. And, on the counters. And, on The Dog.

GAS even got into the cookie decorating (she took it very seriously).

Here are some of the snowmen we made for our Advent project. We tried to make something homemade for each family member. How do you like the snowman 2nd from the right (we named him Franken-snowman)!

The Husband started putting together #3's play kitchen at 11:25 pm on Christmas Eve.

This was what time it was when the kitchen was in the stage pictured above! He finished 3 minutes shy of an hour and a half. Let's just say I was snoring away by the time he was done.

This was how we "wrapped" the play kitchen for Christmas morning!

Christmas morning (we made #3 put on her Christmas jammies instead of the shorts and tank top she slept in.)

Jumping for joy. Her exact words: OH MY WORD! OH MY WORD! IT IS EXACTLY WHAT I WANTED! Repeat that sequence about 12 times. Loudly.

The Dog got a present; although this would have been more appropriate.

My patient father with my children....aka The Dog Stalkers

#1 with her dream dog (which is actually my soon-to-be step sister's dog)

#3 was in doggie heaven playing with my soon-to-be stepsister's other dog. The dog looks a little stressed here, wouldn't you say? Her eyes are pleading desperately for help....

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Please! Make the Food Stop!

I am nearly in a coma from all the food I've eaten in the last 48 hours. Please someone stop the insanity!!!

I am sick from the rich, fattening foods that I would never dream of eating any other time of year! Like cheesecake, chocolate peanut butter ice cream pie, and fried queso cheese. Right now if I think about eating any of it I will throw up. I've also eaten more shrimp than a humpback whale and speaking of whale....yup, that's about how much I weigh right now.......

Other than the bloated, uncomfortable feeling I am experiencing in my abdomen right now, our Christmas has been wonderful and I'm looking forward to posting pictures!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas (Have a Mighty Encounter with Christ)!

This drama ministry at our church was probably one of the coolest things I participated in all year. It helped my family and me to remember the names that God gave us and not the names that people and satan try to give us.

I pray that you embrace the name that God gave YOU this Christmas. When you are walking in that name and identity you will undoubtedly influence the world around you for HIS KINGDOM and HIS GLORY.

God bless you and MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Coming Soon to Etsy!

Apparently I'm not the only "different kind of crazy" in the neighborhood!

This is a photo of what I found inside the faculty lounge at our elementary school this morning. It is a boxed jewelery set made by two MALE teachers. Rumor has it, one day this week the chicken poppers went flying in the teacher's lounge (shhh! don't tell the lunch ladies) and this was the result by the end of the day. The picture doesn't do them justice! You can't fully appreciate the BLING!!

I think I saw something very close to this on Etsy only they used tater tots! Just kidding!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

All I Want For Christmas

After some serious thought of what I want for Christmas this year it finally hit me! I want the mind of Christ! And, maybe a smaller dog. I know the dog thing isn't gonna happen, but how about the mind of Christ? Sometimes I wish those types of things could be purchased, placed in a box and wrapped up with a pretty ribbon. Then, we can say "I got joy for Christmas, just what I wanted!" or "Look! I got humility.....I really needed that!".

Lately, I've gone back and forth from feeling pretty icky in a spiritual sense to flying high with the knowing that I'm obeying what God is telling me to do. The "icky" part comes when I start doing things for my own recognition, admiration and praise. The "flying high" part comes when I do things that honor and glorify and point others to Christ. Sometimes it is almost like I'm driving down the road and all of a sudden I find myself drifting over the yellow line and I better make a quick adjustment before someone gets hurt.

If only the mind of Christ were under my tree right now, waiting for me to unwrap and use it everyday! How glorious! But, then again, if it were that easy, would I place it on the same forgotten shelf as my vacuum sealer I got for Christmas a few years back that has lost its appeal? Hmmmmm.....

I do know that God is stirring something up in change this world around us for His Kingdom. I truly want that to be my focus and when it is, my heart is soft. I was prayed for the other day in a prayer tunnel at our church and the one thing that stood out was someone said, "she has compassion, now give her PASSION".

Now, that is a gift I'm ready to receive!!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Time to Fire Up My Oven

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

With the Christmas season upon us there is a lot to tackle. This, by far, has been my most organized Christmas ever! I guess that was the upswing to moving this past summer. I know where everything is and having the kids in school helps with getting things accomplished, too.

My cards and packages are mailed (ahead of schedule I might brag) and now let the baking begin! Having the power out for a few days has set me back a bit, but I'm going to tackle it so I am not in a panic when it is time to present the bus drivers and soccer coaches with a gift in the next few days! I bought my industrial size bag of Nestle chocolate chips at Costco yesterday, so I'm ready to bake the day away!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Survivor - Christmas Party

Call me Caroline Ingalls with a cell phone. Our power was out for 27 hours, but that did not stop us from having a simply delightful dinner party for 27 men, women, and children who we get together with every single Christmas season to celebrate. I just couldn't bear to cancel it! I cooked my 21-pound turkey on our grill with a huge pot of potatoes on the side burner and drove 5 miles to my aunt's house armed with crockpots and pitchers. The absolute funniest part is that although my aunt had electric and water, they are remodeling their kitchen and the only functioning major appliance they had was a microwave! I had to brew coffee in their bathroom and transfer it to my airpot, I washed my potato pot in their bathtub and I filled my water bottles in their bathroom sink. I only needed to milk a cow to complete that "pioneer" experience! I did all this while The Husband and #1 took turns taking a shower. Since we have well water the electric is needed to make the pump work, so the biggest problem with entertaining was the "porta-potty" experience. My BRAVE Husband appeared with 5 gallon buckets of water out of our hot tub to keep things flowing. God bless him! We also had no phone service, because all of our phones are cordless, so I pretty much drained the battery on my cell phone by the time power was restored at 1:30pm this afternoon! The good news is that I got a rocking new Home Depot brand slow cooker that is bigger and better than my current one. It was like getting an early Christmas present! Yes, I do consider things I cook with a "gift"! I kept telling The Husband yesterday that this slow cooker made my day and don't even bother getting me anything else for Christmas!

So, the party went well (the candlelight was beautiful and I did not need a stitch of make-up or to mop my floors) but, we were freezing this morning and my groceries slept outside last night (I had terrible thoughts of grizzly bears on my back porch). We're good now and I'm appreciating things I took for granted before. I actually muttered these words to GAS as we realized the power was back on....

"I can't wait to flush the toilets". Ooh! Merry Christmas to me!

Friday, December 14, 2007

What Five Dollars Can Do

I post this cautiously, but I feel like I admit enough of my failures to the internet world, so it is okay to let you rejoice with me over something I actually managed to do right!

I am not looking for a pat on the back. I'm actually hoping to challenge you (and myself) to look for every small, seemingly insignificant chance to glorify God and show others why we are "different". When I say different, I mean forget "religion" and look at what a personal relationship with Jesus Christ looks like. I know so many of you who read this overflow with generosity that it is like preaching to the choir, but I'm going to share it anyway! I'd be interested to hear if you have any similar stories to share, too. with all that out of the way let me set the stage. Our elementary PTO hosts a "Santa Shoppe" where kids can bring money to school and buy inexpensive gifts for their family. I filled out #2 and #3's "budget" and sent some money in with them. I also included a $5 bill in a separate envelope to give to each of their teachers with a note explaining I wanted them to use this money for kids who may not have had money sent into school. This was the email I received this morning from #2's teacher:

I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. When I opened that extra envelope from you with the money for Santa Shoppe I started to tear up. In my five years of teaching, no other person has ever offered to help the kids who don’t have over the holidays. Santa Shoppe is always a tough situation for me when I have kids who were not sent in with money. I always feel terrible that they have to sit and watch the other kids shop when they can’t. What a true example of kindness to show your children. (#2) is an extraordinary young girl and through your example, will no doubt be the same through adulthood. Merry Christmas!

I cried like a baby after I read this! I wept because of the kids she spoke of. I wept because in five years no one cared enough to spare a little extra change to help someone else. Not because they wouldn't have if someone asked, but because they were too preoccupied to think about it. And, I wept at the kind words she expressed over #2, that she sees fruit in the seeds God has planted and continues to water in her heart.

And, that, my internet friends is why I decided to share this little story. To God be the glory.

My Kids Can Be a Little Kooky

I have all sorts of little promo products from trade shows laying on my desk in my bedroom and for some reason #3 has gotten attached to this shark stress reliever and sleeps with it. She actually fell asleep ?sucking? on it. Chewing on it? I'm not really sure, but as I snapped the picture #2 jumped in front of the camera with the ambulance stress reliever in her mouth.

They must get their weirdness from their father! Ha! Ha!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I Better Start Walking the Walk If I'm Talking the Talk

A bag full of snakes. No, octopuses. Yes, a bag full of octopuses with their tentacles grabbing me and coming close to setting the man in front of us on fire with our candle.

That was what #3 felt like for the entire 1.5 hour Christmas program at our church tonight. She would not be still. I brought nothing to entertain her with because after all, she is the ripe old age of six, and she should pay complete attention to everything happening on stage. Especially all the talking. Because she really understands exactly what everyone was talking about, particularly the African rendition of Noel (which was FABULOUS). Can you see your screen dripping with sarcasm (except the fabulous part, because that was true!)? No, it did not hold her attention and I think I spoke too many times through gritted teeth, just like I do at all the events I expect her to quietly be a spectator.

If I'm going to be doing this Mary-thing I better pay closer attention to my kids instead of treating them like scenery sometimes. Half way through the program I finally smiled down at #3 and then at The Husband, realizing this little wiggle worm would be all grown up someday and she is just wired a little more rambunctious than some other kids. In combination with a full day of school, a long car ride and then straight into church should have raised a red flag. But, as usual, I was mission oriented. Feed the family, get seats, talk to my friends, clean up the food we didn't eat and uhh-ohhhh! Where is #3? She was bored and I can't say I could blame her. I only tried half-heartedly to keep her occupied. I will plan better next time by trying to give her some wide open area to run around in before she is confined into a tight space and expected to be quiet and still for almost 2 hours! Thankfully, we snacked on some cookies after the service and she had some wide open space to explore with friends, so the night ended on a good note!

I'm so glad this child adores me, because I am not the best of mommies some days! But, His mercies are new every morning and I get a fresh start to make a difference in their lives tomorrow. It is really time for me to go beyond the status quo on a more consistent basis.

The morning after: I have to add that the Christmas program was wonderful and my other girls enjoyed it and sat calmly. This post was never intended to imply that #3 was bored because it was not interesting enough to hold her attention! It was probably one of my favorite ones!

Failed Attempt at Being Real Spiritual Today

I have tried to come up with a post today as thought-provoking as yesterday's Mary-post, but then God reminded me that I was merely the typer, not the author. Serve me up a slice of that humble pie, please.

And, then this whole thing happened. And, every serious, deep thought was sucked from my body. Instead, I've randomly laughed out loud about a dozen times today.

So, I find myself between a rock and a hard place, or more accurately, between the downfall of American society and penguin poo.

I'm just not sure what I should talk about today. So, I'm going to go eat a cookie.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Not JUST a Woman

I've been marinating in some thoughts and conversations with God lately regarding Mary, the mother of Jesus. I'm sure it has something to do with the time of year. I've read and re-read the account of Jesus' birth in Luke already about five times in the last few weeks. Here is what I feel God has been revealing to me.

Since I became a born-again Christian, I've had several "discussions' with my Catholic friends and family about Mary-worship. I never intended to do anything other than prove that Mary cannot answer our prayers; that it is fruitless to pray to her. I've said this phrase over and over more times than I can count and some of you probably have, too: Mary is not God, she was just a woman. Well, part of that statement is true. She is not God. But, Mary was not "just" a woman, either, and God has really been showing me some things. Watch The Nativity movie and it may stir you up, too (although I saw it a year ago, it has really stuck with me).

Here was a young woman, only a few years older than my own pre-teen daughter living in a culture where you could be put to death for having sex outside of marriage. Now, I ask you....if your unmarried daughter came home pregnant and insisted she was never with a man, what would you think? The angel did not appear to her parents or to anyone besides her and Joseph when she became pregnant. They could not turn to their Bibles in Luke:2 and say"....ohhhhh, this is where the Holy Spirit overshadows her and although she is a virgin, she becomes pregnant with The Messiah. Okay, I got it now......" No, it was nothing like that. I wonder how many nights she cried herself to sleep, her comfort being the knowledge of Who she was carrying and what it meant for mankind, but she lost her honor and her family in the process. SO bittersweet. And, basically from the time she said "be it unto me according to Your will", that is exactly what happened. I don't think it was in her plans to bring shame to her and her family, or to live with the gossip she didn't deserve, or worst of all, to watch her son die a tortuous death on a cross for sins He never committed. No, as a mother, that would not be in my plans. Yet, when she said "according to YOUR will" she changed the course of history and she paid a price for it. That makes her extraordinary and not "just" a woman.

So, as I usually do, I ask the Lord....why are you showing me this, revealing this to me right now? I sensed God told me that Mary didn't demand any "me time". You know what I'm talking about. Mommy needs a time out, that sort of thing. We often joke about it and I know that we need to be refreshed, but I never really thought long and hard about what today's culture has done to parents from this perspective before. I put myself on auto pilot and what is my sacrifice? In comparison to Mary, grocery shopping, cleaning bathrooms, and wiping snotty noses no longer seems like much of a "sacrifice". She gave it ALL. I can get so bent out of shape about stupid things, but I didn't travel miles on a donkey only to find that instead of a nice warm, comfortable hospital bed to have my baby with some good drugs, I had to lie in the dirt in a smelly stable, give birth and then basically run for our lives. And, she was called "blessed among women"! That does not sound like anything in today's society that we would call a blessing. Our definition of "highly favored" is vastly different and maybe even misunderstood these days.

So, what do we do? God put each one of us here for "such a time as this". He's not surprised by our lazy, self-absorbed American culture, but I believe it grieves Him and He's looking for a Mary-generation to stand up and say "be it unto me according to YOUR Will". I pray that I can be as quick and eager as Mary was to obey, even when it costs something or seems odd.

Having a Little Fun in Our Own Backyard

We are blessed with the best sledding hill ever in our own backyard! And, when you are hooked onto an ATV, it is even better! The girls went mud sledding with The Husband early Saturday morning!

Not sure why #1 has the grumpy face (other than falling off onto a pile of old chestnuts that pierced her socks and went into her ankle, causing severe pain and swelling).

I know this is potentially dangerous, so next time they do this The Husband and I agreed they must wear helmets!

Kicking Myself

I'm so mad at myself for procrastinating! I woke up early this morning to order #3's play kitchen for Christmas at the Wal-mart website. They have an option called "ship to store" that sends the item right to your closest Wal-mart and you do not have to pay the shipping charges. Sooooooo, I had her kitchen all picked out (I had to go with a bigger KidKraft style since she is six and most of them are made for 3 year olds!) and as I pulled up the page I was shocked to read OUT OF STOCK.


It was the only kitchen I wanted and I researched and researched and this was the best price.

The problem is that even if they get more in stock over the next few weeks, they do not guarantee delivery by December 24th after today. I am stubbornly refusing to "settle" for another kitchen, particularly a more expensive one, since there will be no more younger siblings to pass it down to! I've really have to be purposeful when I buy her things, because she should be allowed to have 6-year old toys, even if she is the last 6-year old to live here. My first impulse is to skip the bath tub toys and "little" girl toys because I've already been there and done that twice and she can just play with what we have! It was always easier buying stuff like this for the older girls because it could get handed down and I'd feel like I got my money's worth! But, I'm trying to indulge her this year because she has wanted one for a long time.

I will no longer rob her of her childhood (here comes the Drama Queen)....I will find her a toy kitchen that is suitable for her and in my price range. It is my mission today. So, as much as I wanted to post pictures of our weekend of The Husband pulling the girls on a sled attached to his 4-wheeler and pictures of #1's Christmas party with 10 middle schoolers at our house, I must begin my search for the darling KidKraft kitchen that is out there somewhere with #3's name on it.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

What's New

1. Headache. Pounding headache.

2. The Dog got an early Christmas present. A new shock collar (sinister laughter). I got to try it out this morning as she nearly bit my hand off trying to retrieve one of #3's socks that was already partially swallowed. A little zap and the sock popped out. It was a beautiful thing. Don't worry, I am using this form of discipline sparingly....when you have 102 pound Dobie she needs to know who is boss!

3. 2-hour delay. The only problem is that in my semi-comatose state I checked the computer quickly for any delays and not seeing one, got #1 up and waited for the bus. When the bus was 6 minutes late I turned on the TV, saw the delay and we all went back to bed!

4. Some pictures of #1 serving as mayor at JA Biztown. If you don't know what that is, you can check out their website here. I worked in the radio station and it was a lot of fun and the kids learned a lot (the CEOs and CFOs learned a lot about STRESS and multiple people demanding your attention at the same time). Our mayor was so busy she had to work through her lunch break (but, she did take a few minutes to scarf down her sandwich with her proud mama!).

City Hall was a busy place!

These are the DJ's and the CEO I got to work with at the radio station They did a great job! I didn't care for their music choices, but everyone else seemed to like it!

One of two speeches that #1 had to give in the town square.

This is the poster in the radio station that I commented on when we were at training. I told several staff members that it was inappropriate and I thought it should be removed. I asked them if one of their volunteers showed up dressed like that would they allow that person to interact with the kids. We are there to teach these kids about being professional and I have a hard time doing that when trashy pictures are hanging on the wall! They all agreed it was inappropriate and are awaiting a replacement from their headquarters. They apologized when I was there yesterday that it had not already been removed. They said none of them really noticed it before, but they seemed embarrassed about it. I do believe that they will pay better attention to things like this in the future. I'm just disappointed that no one else ever spoke up about it. They have 5th and 6th grade classes in this facility almost every day of the school year and that's just so wrong!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Kudos to Kohl's and Panera

I would like to become the new Kohl's poster child. I had gotten #3 a winter coat a few weeks ago on sale for $27 (it was normally about $50) and the zipper stuck. After finally not being able to work it and it being almost brand new I took it (dirty, I might add) void of all tags, UPC codes and receipts back to the Kohl's I bought it from. I did bring my charge statement that simply said "girls outerwear - $27.00". I was hoping for a quick even exchange, but they did not have anymore of these coats left. After the kid's department employee checked their stockroom and still found none, I headed over to customer service hoping they would at least credit my charge and I could start from scratch, although the cheapest coats they had left were $105 (but were on sale for 50% off). I figured I'd take my $27 and hit a consignment shop except that #3 is so very picky and the coat could not be puffy. NO PUFFY COATS or I will receive wrath and refusal and perhaps, an all out mutiny at my house. My kids beg me not to wear my own puffy coat. After telling the customer service rep what happened she told me to go pick another coat from the same brand name and she would "even exchange" it. But....I feebly explained...the only coats left are much more expensive then this coat. She said it was store policy and even asked the other customer service associate. My legs were wobbly as I went and picked out an amazing $105 coat for #3. I apologized several times for not keeping the receipt to which the response was "this is not your fault, we are sorry". WOW! I think I floated out of the store.

My other cool story involved a wonderful Panera manager who comped #3's and my ENTIRE meal because I had called in about a bad cup of soup #1 had gotten about a month ago and they told me next time it would be on the house. So, when I tried to pay for the other food we ordered besides the soup, the manager insisted on taking care of the entire bill and apologized several times, explaining that this was the right thing for her to do and she wanted to personally make our food this time. It was delicious. And, it was FREE!

I'm Not Sure I've Ever Felt This Way Before

This Christmas season is different. I'm not half out of my mind homeschooling my kids that quite honestly, should have been in school last year. Our finances are not the greatest, but as I look back through the years His provision has always been there and I don't feel the pressure to buy so many gifts this year. Have you ever thought you were "done" Christmas shopping and then found something perfect for someone so you bought it and then started worrying that the other gifts you bought for other people need to have a little something added since you did find that perfect thing for the other person......and, so on and so on. I'm not finding myself in that place this year. Except for one more present that I have purposely been waiting to buy for #3 due to its somewhat large nature, I'm done shopping. If it hasn't been bought by now then I guess I better figure out what I'm going to make that person!

But bigger than all that. Peace. Joy. Without even realizing it I am a kinder, gentler mom when adversity strikes. I have been trying to practice what I see modeled by other Godly moms, one specifically that leads our Moms in Touch prayer group. She has a 4-year old with an iron will and loves this child firmly and patiently. I leave her house in awe some days at what she gets her daughter to accomplish when it isn't looking like anything is going to happen as planned. You see the amazing thing about this is that I am not doing this in my own strength. I'm not sure when or how it "clicked". It's just one of those prayers day after day; not my will, God, but Your will be done. I started to believe it. And, then it was like some switch flipped on and I constantly notice something that God has poured into our lives. The beautiful countryside we live in, the stars in the sky and the smiles on my precious gifts he showers me with each day. It is much easier to be peaceful when your heart is filled with gratefulness. Just ask Madam Blueberry. Was I too stressed out, overwhelmed and busy most days to notice His amazing grace all these years? I believe I didn't stop to smell the roses often enough.....I was too busy on the "treadmill", out of breath, but going no where. Well, maybe not entirely "no where", that is a bit of an extreme. It's getting late and I get more dramatic as the night groweth at its darketh, yonder bloggers.

So, something is different, and I know that when God begins a good work, He is faithful to see it completed. I hope all my Pollyanna posts aren't sickening to some of you. Trust me, I praised Him in the bad times, too. In fact, I am thankful for it all because those events are what has gotten me to the wonderful place I am today, so I can like it or not!

To Sell or Not To Sell

I am contemplating becoming a Mary Kay consultant. Again.

I sold Mary Kay back in the early- 1990's and have used it for the last 18 years and I am starting to consider selling it again so I can get it for 50% off and earn a little money for the kid's extracurricular activities that are sucking the financial stability right out of us.


I'm not in it for the pink car, I don't want to stalk people as "recruits" or to go to endless training meetings with women who have too much make-up on. So, I laid my offer on the table and I'm waiting to see if the Mary Kay Director still wants me on my terms.

I really do like using their stuff and I'm so darn cheap I want it at a discount!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Our Weekend of Holiday Revelry

We partied 'til the cows came home this weekend! Our Christmas season kicked off with 2 parties, one at a country club and another at our house.

The Husband and I got all dressed up for the par-tay at the country club on Friday night. A lady that works in my office invited us and it was simply mah-vel-ous, dahling. Quite. Her and her husband are very sweet and they had about 100 people for this beautiful event that felt like an upscale wedding reception. We sat with boss friends, J and J and their wives, along with another couple we met who I'll fondly refer to as Thurston and Mrs. Howell III. Sitting with the Howells was like hanging out with a live Google keyword search. For example:

Mrs. Howell: Who does The Husband work for?
The Husband: Coca-cola. I ...... (keyword: Coca-Cola)
Mrs. Howell: Oh! We were in Atlanta and toured the plant the day before it closed.
The Husband: I'll bet it tastes better directly at the plant.
Mrs. Howell: Oh yes, it is much better.
Me: That is like the perk of living near the Hershey Chocolate Factory..... (keyword: Hershey)
Mrs. Howell: Oh, when Mr. Howell did business with Hershey they gave him this giant 1 pound bar of chocolate with his name on it to say thank you. And, then when they asked him back he said only if they gave him 3 of those 1 pound chocolate bars for each of our grandchildren.
Mr. Howell: Yes, I saw the Hershey Outlets seem to be doing better the last time I was in town.
Me: I think Starbucks has really helped them because..... (keyword: Starbucks)
Mr. Howell: Oh, do you know that when Starbucks was just starting up I had a shot at buying a large amount of their stock and I passed it up thinking no one would pay that much for a cup of coffee.

And, on and on this went. It was really comical. All we had to do was mention a topic and he either did business with the company, almost did business with them or knew someone that did business with them. After they said they take their kids and grandkids to Mexico every Christmas and watch the sunrise on their private beach I could hardly keep a straight face. I was thinking, do you have any idea that I have Dollar Store snowman socks on under my Payless black boots?

But, anyhoo....we had a few chuckles over The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, secretly hoping that we can take our kids to a private beach in Mexico with their families one day.

Saturday night we hosted out Youth Staff Christmas Party and there was a ton of food and a lot of laughter. These are some amazing people. I was a little worried (I mean intimidated) to get involved with the youth group earlier this year because I hardly knew anyone on the team and teenagers terrified me. Since then, I have gotten to spend time with these people and they are kind, loving and on fire for the Lord. They have made me and The Husband feel so valued and accepted into their family. And, the teenagers no longer terrify me, they are such a blessing! Here are some picture highlights from the evening.

We had a lifeguard on duty so no one drowned.

Look it's Beautiful Grace and isn't she beautiful?

Can you feel the love? There wasn't even any mistletoe!

Friday, November 30, 2007

An OCD's Nightmare

Eighteen kindergartners.

Eighteen milk cartons.

6 mommies.

4 tubs of frosting.

Umpteen graham crackers.

Gazillions of MnMs.

More sprinkles than you can fathom.

Candy and marshmallows as far as the eye can see.

Thank you, Jesus they were not doing this at my house!

They finished with a good old fashioned "Run, run, run as fast as you can, you can't catch me I'm the gingerbread man!". Here they are laying on their "cookie sheet".

Have I mentioned I love my life? Helping do this is definitely one of the perks of being a mom!

Thursday, November 29, 2007


3 is the number of shoes the STUPID dog has eaten in the last 12 hour period. 3 shoes from 3 different pairs so basically she has rendered 6 shoes inoperable.

1 pair of The Husband's dress shoes (which he wears about 4 times a year but still needs to have on hand) and 1 of my sassy black boots and 1 of my favorite slip-ons that took me nearly forever to find the exact pair I was looking for.

About 2 weeks ago she ate one of my black dress shoes that I wear about twice a year, but are very much needed for functions like the one I am attending tomorrow night!

I know, you're wondering why she even has access to the closet with the shoes.

Don't you remember? I have a brain the size of a peanut.

I guess I'm shoe shopping later today as if I don't have enough to do and spend money on!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Things I Want to Post About

I have no time to write an actual post today, but there a few thoughts and stories fresh in my mind that I hope to share this week.....

1. Praying for the man at GAS's doctor's office and being asked if I was a missionary.

2. My comments to the staff about the raunchy Alicia Keyes poster hanging in the radio station at JA Biztown.

3. Pictures of our tree, Oscar, who is leaning so badly it looks like he needs to lay off the egg nog.

4. Preparations for having 50 people at our house this weekend for a youth staff Christmas party.

5. Our school "holiday" program with the "unity tree". Oh brother.

And, just on time...I hear the bus pulling up!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

It's A Wonderful Life

My latest phobia? My life is going too well. Yes. I'm actually afraid that my life is going so well that some terrible thing is just looming around the corner to change everything. Now, it's not like life is perfect. There are some issues that I wish were different, but I'm believing God has control over those areas (over ALL areas, actually!) and I don't need to worry. If I sound like I'm babbling it is probably because I am.

You see, since The Husband and I, scratch that.....since The Husband and I met there has always seemed to be some immense burden we were carrying, some trauma to be enduring or a major transition to adjust to.

Now, there is none of that. My life is full and peaceful. I don't mean to sound contrite about it, it actually scares me sometimes. As I have periodically preached to my kids....Jesus never promised us an easy life. Being a Christian doesn't mean we always get what we want. So, it is in this time of stability that my thoughts run wild with all the things that could go wrong tomorrow. GAS has a cold, what if it turns into pneumonia? We are refinancing our house, what if everything falls through at the last minute? We will finally have health insurance this coming Saturday and what if someone gets hurt at gymnastics tonight? BLAH, BLAH, BLAH and on and on.....

That is when I start praying these scriptures over and over in my mind:

Perfect love casts out all fear and I'm taking these thoughts captive to Christ Jesus.

Good stuff to think about instead of sounding like doom is knocking at my door.

And while there are still things that trouble me and my life is not perfect I am so content right now that I can't begin to describe it. Not content in an indifferent kind of way, content in a grateful kind of way. Because right now I know God has me where He wants me and His plans are perfect!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Oh My Word Times One Hundred!!!!

The election results are in! #1 was elected mayor of her team! I feel like I am going to burst! Over 10 kids ran for office and I am just in awe of God's favor at work in her life! I don't know how she is going to sleep tonight because it was finally posted on the website and I actually had to go down and tell her while she was already in bed! We all had a shriek and hugging fest and after the dust settled she came over to me, hugged me and said she couldn't have done it without me.

Add this to one of those "Golden Mom Moments" I'll remember for the rest of my life!

Even better is that tomorrow night is my training at JA Biztown so I can be there to see how she runs the town when they head down for the day in a few weeks. I've been assigned to oversee the radio station. I wonder if I'll get to have lunch with the mayor?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Does Everything We Do Have To Be A Major Theatrical Production??!

We went and got our tree today and in typical oH mY wORD family style we were the loudest family at the tree yard (much to The Husband's dismay). We were all (except the afore-mentioned Husband) passionately excited about what tree would be the MOST! PERFECT! TREE! EVER! #2 and I happened upon a tree that was big and when I say big, I don't necessarily mean tall, I mean "lay off the fries" big. We even named it Oscar. I'm not sure why, but we did. After a complete split decision that got louder and louder and had The Husband standing further away from us as each moment passed trying to pretend he was with a nice quiet family, happily agreeing about their perfect not-so-big-around-the waist tree. #2 had her arms wrapped around Oscar and I was accused of petting him while we explained that everyone else gets nice looking trees that are so well proportioned they look fake, and that Oscar would probably die in this tree graveyard all alone because he was.....well.....he was different.

I finally caved (to #2's horror) and went with #1 and The Husband's choice because it was a nice looking tree and I DID want to get home at some point today and end The Husband's afternoon of humiliation. But, when we brought the men over to "chop" it down or whatever they do I noticed the tree had sort of a yellowish tinge to it. Well, #1 quickly agreed that we should get Oscar because I think:

1. She felt sad that #2 was forlornly standing by Oscar with the biggest boo-boo face ever (I actually think she was praying and asked God to curse the wretched tree that had taken Oscar's place).

2. A yellow tree could be a sign of some form of remote tree sickness that could be passed on to humans while they sleep, particularly 11 year old females.

So, without further ado I present to you (drum role please).........OSCAR:

Sorry he's naked...we'll be dressing him in array of mismatched, no-theme ornaments and lights tomorrow. Isn't he just the sweetest tree ever??

Friday, November 23, 2007

Woo-hoo! I Did It!

Well, I didn't get up at 4am this year, but I did head out at 7am this morning for 2 specific items and I got BOTH of them. In fact, I got the very last one of the main item I went out for. I must be vague because my kids like reading my blog!

Yay me!

I am so laid back this Christmas.....last year I made a bunch of "handmade" gifts that caused me to stay up late at night muttering under my breath, but since I have lost touch with the crafty side of me I don't feel the pressure to do that this year. I also decided I am not spending a fortune on shipping costs so the nieces and nephews are getting gift cards. I know, a few posts back I was complaining that gift cards require so little thought, but I like to get them and I'm sure everyone else does, too. I mean, I don't want a gift card from EVERYONE, but it is nice to hit the post-holiday sales with a little spending money. I've also been buying things on sale throughout the year and throwing it in my "gift tubbie". It is a rather large Rubbermaid tub with an array of nice items that will make lovely teacher gifts, "white elephant"gifts, etc...So, now in combination with my awesome purchases this morning, I am almost done "mental" shopping. That's much harder than the physical shopping! Once I know what I'm getting for someone the hard part is over. You will NEVER see me roaming aisles of a store at Christmas time saying "I wonder what So-and-so would like .........". NEVER. I think it is the marketing research person in me. I will use my computer for the very reason it is meant to be used....a tool! I think, too, it is a survival technique since taking my kids to stores any longer than grabbing the desired item off of the shelf and going directly to the cash register causes a severe migraine that can take hours to get rid of.

Did anyone else score any deals today?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Cooking Up A Little ZERT

It is our Thanksgiving tradition. When #1 was a wee little one (age 2, I believe) my mom had asked us to bring what we called growing up "Pineapple Delight". I asked #1 if she wanted to help me make it and she asked "what is it?" in her cute toddler language and I told her it was for dessert.

When we arrived at my mom's she enthusiastically told everyone that she helped to make "zert" and it has become a Thanksgiving tradition each year to make it and bring it wherever we happen to be having Thanksgiving dinner. It is so easy to make, but somehow this year I managed for the first time ever to make it wrong! Instead of adding mandarin oranges, I gave #1 a can of peaches to open and we dumped it on the very top of everything and just stared at it thinking "MAN! THOSE are some big oranges!". Duh. We left them in there and I added some cinnamon so who knows what we may have come up with!

Here is the recipe. It is delicious and a slight bit different than the version I grew up with (my mom used cool whip and no oranges). Most people call it ambrosia and have their own variations, too.

1 can crushed pineapple
1 can drained pineapple chunks
1 can drained mandarin oranges (or peaches if you're in a walking coma like me)
1 bag small marshmallows
1 16 oz container sour cream

Dump it all together and refrigerate overnight. Serve chilled. Sprinkle with cinnamon if you like. I also think it would be yummy with shredded coconut, but I'm the only one who likes that so I never put it in. Don't worry if it looks soupy when you make it, the marshmallows absorb the liquid overnight.

Happy Thanksgiving.....I think I'll be at JC Penney's when they open the doors at 4am Friday morning. Anyone else going shopping in the wee hours of Black Friday?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

More Excessive Mom Bragging

See below how we cleverly covered her name and isn't my pink RAZR phone just adorable??!

Today is #1's election for mayor. This year in social studies they participate in a program called JA Biztown. The kids study life skills and economics and then go to this "town" and live a day in the life of_________________. They go to their jobs, pay taxes, eat in restaurants and if they don't pay their fines, they even go to jail! #1 is running for mayor with about 10 other classmates and has to give her speech today. I am trying to not be biased, but this kid CAN SPEAK! She gave her speech at the dinner table last night (I only helped polish it a tiny bit over the weekend) and The Husband sat there with his mouth almost hanging open because she could easily have been in a college public speaking class. Good eye contact & body language, no "ummm" and loud, clear and not too rushed. Except for looking almost too serious, it was fabulous! I tried to teach her to "smile with her eyes" and she caught on to it after we laughed hysterically at her mimicking me! The problem is that no matter how good her speech is, the kids still vote for who they want and it can be just another "election" in a long list of "popularity" contests. She actually addresses that problem in her speech.

I decided after I dropped her professional-looking self off at school this morning with her bagged cookies that said "Vote for #1....she's one smart cookie" that I want to go into a mother/daughter marketing consultant business after she graduates from college. She wants to be a third grade teacher, but I want to work with her because she is very clever and talented and if this is just sixth grade, what are the next ten years going to look like??!

We'll be rich, I tell you. RICH! Muah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!!! (sinister laughter)

Just kidding. That would certainly be the least of my reasons. As we have campaigned this last week, we have grown closer. In fact, she had to be "interviewed" for the position and the last question she was asked was who she most admired and why. She said "my mom". That's ME!!! She said ME!! When asked why, she said because I am helpful and always there for her when she needs me. Gulp. Eyes filling up with tears. Lump in my throat.

So whether she is a third grade teacher, my business partner or president of the United States of America I know we'll aways have a special bond and I'll always be proud of her! And, I'll look back fondly on this campaign we worked on together because we both won no matter what happens with the election!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Extreme Home Makeover - My Worst Nightmare Edition (O.K. Not Really!)

The Husband, who I do really love, has decided to finish our master bathroom which was only partially remodeled when we moved it in July. It had dry wall and fixtures, but it needed to be sanded, painted, trim put up..... all that jazz. The teensy problem is his timing.

For all you moms out you remember when you were pregnant and that "nesting" instinct kicked in? Those last few months you wanted all your ducks in a row and you only wanted to leave home for dire emergencies like, let's say.....childbirth? Well, a little, tiny bit of that nesting instinct hits me when the weather turns cold and I must start the preparations for Christmas merriment. And, you know what? I don't want my bathroom to look like this while I AM SUPPRESSING THE NESTING INSTINCT:

By the way, that is not a beer can, it is some funky energy drink The Husband was testing out.

I must curl my hair in #2's room or the downstairs bathroom (which is nice and all, it's just so far away from MY THINGS and I like to be near MY THINGS). I had to put my make-up on in the kid's Mickey Mouse motif bathroom...the one I would curl my hair in if there were any electrical outlets. I had a very difficult time thinking how strangely bizarre it was to be putting make up on with Mickey Mouse everywhere, yet I have no problem peeing in that bathroom.

But, I am excited that my new color is perfect and tropical and I hope to soon clear out my cluttered bedroom where all the bathroom things are living now....cluttered bedroom does not help the nesting instinct. Nope, it sure doesn't.

How many more days 'til Christmas?