Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sweets for the sweet - and family members, too

I took charge of goodie production when we arrived in Arizona. I decided to try something different, and announced we'd be having a ball, courtesy of a variety of truffle recipes. (Basically I spent 10 minutes finding ideas on that didn't involve baking). Just in case you haven't eaten enough, here are a few more options:

Easy Truffles

8 oz cream cheese, room temp
3 cups powdered sugar
14 oz vanilla candy melts

Beat cream cheese until smooth, then gradually beat in powdered sugar. Stir in melted vanilla candy and beat until no streaks remain. Divide dough as desired, and flavor with mint, almond, vanilla or other extract. Refrigerate for approx 1 hour, and then roll into small balls. Roll in additional powdered sugar, candy sprinkles, nuts, or dip into chocolate coating. Store in covered container in refrigerator.

Fudgy Truffles

½ c evaporated milk
¼ c sugar
1 pkg bittersweet chocolate chips
¼ c raspberry or black cherry all fruit/preserves

Combine milk & sugar in heavy saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat; boil and stir for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in remaining ingredients. Chill for an hour, then roll into balls. Coat with chopped nuts or a mixture of powdered sugar & cocoa powder. Store in covered container in refrigerator.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

½ c butter, softened
¾ c packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 ¼ c flour
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
½ c mini chocolate chips

Beat butter and brown sugar until smooth. Mix in vanilla, then beat in half the flour and sweetened condensed milk, then add remaining flour and milk and beat until smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips, then refrigerate dough for about an hour. Roll into small balls, and then dip in melted chocolate candy coating (may also top with toffee bits or nuts if desired) and allow to set. Store in covered container in refrigerator.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Recap

We've had a busy December. Hubby's 94 YO grandmother fell and broke her hip earlier this month, so we ended up driving out to AZ to see her and lend moral support to the rest of the family. Things were a bit crazy at times, but I'm so glad that we could spend those days together. Grandma has had her hip replaced and is currently in a rehabilitation facility; still not sure what the future will hold for her and we'd appreciate your prayers as we know there are more difficult days ahead.

In other news:

  • Made it through our first children's Christmas Program at church. Not perfect, but still better than what we'd done in the past (nothing!!)

  • Christmas letter? Um, you're reading it. For an alternative (and more complete) version, head over to facebook.

  • I have eaten way too much. I feel lousy, yet I continue to shovel garbage in. Bad choice - duh! Will be getting back to using sparkpeople to seriously track food once the kids are back in school. That's January 3 just in case anyone wants to hold me accountable.

  • I love seeing the kids' faces light up when they open gifts. So thankful that we were able to give gifts, as I know many families are really struggling.

  • Our son is still very much into Legos and K'nex, and we've now added beyblades to the mix. I must admit those tops are pretty cool!

  • Our daughter got another American Girl type doll, plus dress-up clothes (she's outgrown most of her other stuff and I've been picking up costumey type stuff at the Thrift Shop for a couple months), books and a Barbie microphone that connects to an MP3 player so she can sing along to any song. Yes, we bought that in a moment of insanity, and I'll probably be regretting it for the next 3 years, but she loooooves it.

  • Uncle R taught our kids a special new Christmas carol. It goes like this: "Joy to the world! Barney's dead! We barbecued his head. Don't worry about his body, we flushed it down the potty. And round and round it goes, and round and round it goes, and round and round and round it goes." Funny (particularly since I can't stand the big purple guy) but a teensy bit annoying after hearing it for the 318th time. Oh, and let me mention what a precious moment it was when the kids wanted to sing a song for Great Grandma (thankfully she was singing along with them and didn't notice they were shouting a slightly different version)

  • Another funny song story: the kids heard me tell someone that I really hate the song "Christmas Shoes." They don't know it (hmmm, could it be because I change the radio station as soon as I hear it?!) but decided to follow me around singing "O Christmas Shoes" rather than "O Christmas Tree." They were both really disappointed that I didn't get more annoyed.

  • Very cool to be able to go to church on Christmas morning and worship with extended family. There were 11 of us in the row!

  • We headed back to TX on December 26, and did see patches of snow along the road in Eastern AZ and NM. Fun to see, but glad I don't have to shovel any of it.

  • As we were driving back, this was the first time I was actually thinking, "We're headed home!" and not just, "We're headed to where our stuff is." Yes, another milestone for this girl who doesn't particularly like change.

  • I know there's more I wanted to share, but I'm struggling to keep my eyes open, so that's just going to have to do for now.

    Monday, December 12, 2011

    Christmas Ponderings

    In case you've missed my previous 47 discussions about Santa, we don't "do" the jolly red guy at our house. I know a lot of families incorporate him into their family traditions and that's fine - but I must admit that it bugs me when I see him in a church setting, as it feels like that's crossing the line from a cultural celebration and definitely detracting from Jesus.

    Anyhoo, here are two realloy great posts about the Santa issue, both very thought-provoking for different reasons.

    The Christmas Conundrum
    Of Santa and Jesus

    Hmmm... definitely not going to be giving up the Christmas tree ;) But a good reminder not to be driving people away with my legalistic attitude.

    It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don't use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that's how freedom grows. For everything we know about God's Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That's an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?

    My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God's Spirit. Then you won't feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don't you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?

    It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.

    This isn't the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God's kingdom.

    But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

    Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.

    Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original. Galations 5:13-26, Message

    Friday, December 9, 2011

    Friday Funny

    More Christmas craziness - although I have to admit I'm actually pretty impressed with the writing on this one!

    Wednesday, December 7, 2011

    Christmas Lists

    So does anyone do these with their kids? It's not something we actively promote (we're definitely not writing letters to Santa!) but the kids have heard about "the list" from friends and have latched onto it as any good little consumer should (snort). They even got creative a few weeks ago and cut pictures from the Sunday ads and glued them to construction paper. It really is funny to see how they're transitioning from big to little (insert tearful mama here) - our son wants Legos, video games, a fancy scooter and drums; daughter still loves Polly Pockets but has also requested a slide guitar and a TV remote.... and glittery makeup. Oh, and both kids now want their own Kindle Fire, too (which I received as an early Birthday/Christmas gift - I'm diggin' it but have to fight the rest of the family for use of it) I love seeing the people they're becoming, but a part of me misses shopping for cute little toys for ages 3 and under.

    On another note, what on earth is up with the recommended gift lists floating around online?! We're in the midst of a recession, right? MSN and Yahoo are constantly running stories about cutting expenses, better budgeting and the like - and now they're rolling out lists of what to buy everyone... from the "neighbor with a collection of lawn gnomes" or "cousin you haven't seen in 13 years" I guarantee you can find some bizarre suggestion of how to part with your money. I like to read these as I find them amusing, and occasionally have stumbled onto a neat idea. This year, though, they seem downright stupid: gold flake coasters, surfboards, $800 sunglasses and such. Another article announced you can't go wrong buying a Nissan Leaf for your significant other. Uh, yes you can! Hubby would probably have a stroke if I took him outside to see his brand new vehicle, considering we spent two months researching models before we took the plunge on buying a $100 blu-ray player.

    Rant complete. Oh, and in case you were wondering, I'd like cash this year ;)

    Friday, December 2, 2011

    Thursday, December 1, 2011

    Entering the most wonderful (and busy!) time of the year

    Survived Thanksgiving, and now it's full speed ahead for Christmas! Hubby was off last week, and we had a lovely time on Monday and Tuesday (the kids were still in school, so we had the days all to ourself - now THAT'S a gift!). We checked out the new Bass Pro Shop (truly impressive!) and just got a variety of little things done around the house. We had originally hoped to tackle the living room (which involves scaffolding, plus a lot of rewiring and paint) but realized it was going to severely strain our budget so have put off that project for a few more months. The kids T-giving vacay started on Wednesday, and we headed off to the a museum in McAllen, had lunch at Fuddrucker's (haven't eaten there in at least 7 years!) and then met up with some friends at the movie theater to watch the new Muppets movie. Yes, I am a total Muppet geek and the friend that we met up with also is a big fan. We were the ones in the back singing along with Rainbow Connection -- and hubby (who doesn't particularly care for them, and just tagged along since it was a family event) commented that we probably enjoyed it more than anyone else in theater. True! Lots of fun, goofy humor - the kids enjoyed it, but honestly a lot of the jokes were over their heads. After the movie, we came back to the house for dinner and cut out a bunch of snowflakes to decorate the house. It may have been 70° outside, but there was a whole heap of white mounded up under our dining room table!

    As for Thanksgiving itself, we had a relatively quiet day. We had originally planned to gather with a couple other families, but circumstances changed and we ended up just hanging here at home. The kids didn't want turkey, so I just made chicken (stuffed with bacon, apples, onion & gouda - yum!) along with a few sides -- we got out the good dishes and ate by candlelight and it was deemed a "fancy" success by all ;) My Dad has cousins who winter down here, and we had them over on Friday evening. Sadly, at this point I was now dealing with the 2nd round of a cold I've been fighting for almost a month now - after our guests left, I crawled into bed and basically was there all day Saturday, too. Blech. We were hoping to have the house all decorated for Christmas over the weekend, but comatose Mama threw a wrench in those plans. We did put the tree up (but still no decorations on it!) so at least there's a bit of holiday cheer in the air :) Thankfully I'm feeling better now and have been chipping away at the decorating, so it does feel more festive...

    Other randomness:
    - After a full day of helping at school, running errands, and putting up Christmas decorations at our local museum, I realized that my cute semi-sleeveless blouse had an unplanned accessory: armpit hair. Awesome.
    - Oven heating element was dying, and we ordered a replacement. We made it through Thanksgiving (hooray!) but the oven stopped working halfway through dinner preparations on Monday evening. Replacement was delivered, but was the wrong size. Replacement #2 arrived today and it's the proper one - so glad that I can now use my oven again.
    - Glitter. Everywhere. I swear I end up with it all over my face just passing the Christmas aisle! I do love sparkle, but only where *I* want it. Glitter glue is my friend - loose glitter not so much.
    - I had to take care of couple things in Brownsville, and decided to stop at a few stores while I was down there. First "fun" stop: Goodwill. I scored a box set of Bionicle books for our son, and spotted a very cute little side table. It needed repainted, but it was decent quality so I was hopeful that I had finally found a nightstand for our guest room. There was no price tag on it, so asked an employee and yes, a most unladylike snort escaped when she informed me that it was $49.99. Seriously. I left with only the books. Next stop: Michael's. Walked around the store but didn't buy a thing. Who knew that was possible?! And finally, I stood in line at Ross for over twenty minutes! I probably would have just walked out, but I snagged a fabulous pair of Nine West black ankle boots for $7.99. Having giant feet occasionally has its perks ;)

    On that note, good night for now. Back with more brain oozage later...

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Update from the funhouse

    Wowzers. Here's what happening in our world:

    • The company where hubby works was a family-owned business for over 30 years, and it was announced on Thursday that it has been sold to an investment group. Still not sure what all this will mean to us... No change to his employment in the immediate future, but we're still hoping they double his salary ;)

    • Friday saw major changes in 2 friends' lives: a new grandbaby and the death of a father. So goes the circle of life.

    • Happy b-day to my wonderful husband. Low-key celebration at home because we were busy prepping for the yard sale, which leads us to:

    • Complete and total insanity. Sale was advertised 8-12 (Saturday only). Thankfully I had borrowed tables from several friends so had everything already set up in the garage. When we opened the doors at 7:30 to begin taking tables out, there were already six cars parked in front of our house, waiting to pounce. People were literally pawing through the piles as we were bringing tables out, trying to scoot around us to get inside at the other tables. We did NOT want people in our garage as hubby has a lot of tools which were definitely not for sale. We basically were yelling at people to let us bring stuff out, and elderly ladies were fighting over kids' t-shirts. We had already made $100 by 8 am. We also had three people fighting over the plastic chandelier we had removed from the front room when we moved in - that was our big ticket item at $15!

    • Haggling over prices at a yard sale is normal. I get that, and enjoy a bit of dickering myself. I thought I was prepared. HA! People didn't just negotiate, they ARGUED. Loudly and repeatedly. And the language barrier makes this particularly stressful. People were grabbing armloads of stuff and trying to pay less than half price. Uh, no. I had one lady grab basically all the kitchen stuff I had, and as we were talking price it became evident she didn't even know what a few of the things were (i.e. rice cooker).

    • I had taken out 2 separate ads - one for the general yard sale, and another specifically for the scrapbooking & stamping supplies I had. This was stuff that I can make good $ for on ebay, but I figured since I was already messing with a yard sale I'd see what I could sell here and avoid the hassle of listing & shipping; the idea was that if I even had 2 or 3 ladies who actually knew what the stuff was, it would still be a profitable day. I did have a few people show up who were excited to see quality stamping supplies, but most people were baffled that I would have the nerve to ask $10 for a box of blocks (my neighbor had some stuff out, and several people were complaining to her about my prices). The most bizarre customer of the day, though, showed up right at 8 and obviously knew a little something about papercrafting. She proceeded to alternately shop and argue about prices for TWO STINKIN' HOURS. Every time I quoted a price, she said, "Too much, too much!" but then wouldn't put it down, either. She was telling me that she could get it cheaper at Hobby Lobby.* Oh, and had she reminded me that it was all for her sweet grandbabies?! Anyway, the marathon negotiations finally drew to a close and I was thankful to send her of with a large bag of goodies for $60. (Paid for with a $100 bill, by the way). An hour later, she was back in her big ol' Cadillac SUV announcing that she changed her mind and wanted to exchange 2 of the stamp sets (small ones) for larger ones. Seriously?!? I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I needed to post "All sales final. No returns or exchanges" at a yard sale!

    • Our little classified ad was located right next to the giant display ad for a local "gentlemen's" club. Always lovely to be associated with discount lap dances.

    • I went to the bank this morning to deposit our piles o' cash. I was chatting with the teller as he counted 1s - he commented on my non-local name, and I said I was originally from Billings. Turns out he actually lived in the tiny town in eastern MT where my Mom was raised. Bizarre.

    • Bass Pro Shop is opening here on Thursday morning. Guess where hubby would like to spend the aforementioned piles' o cash? ;)

    • I've been deemed the best microwave popcorn maker ever. Yes, punching in 3 minutes takes some mad skill! I'd like to thank my daughter as well as the makers of artificial butter and Kenmore for making this possible.

    • I've not been doing so well in the appropriate portions/healthy eating department. I can make all kinds of excuses, but obviously no one is force-feeding me. My FP4H group met for the last time this morning, and still not sure whether a new one will be forming after the holidays. I need accountability, and am not sure how I'm going to deal with this particular issue.

    • Obviously there are a ton of other things going on, too, mostly school & church related. The kids have been attending AWANA each week, which they're loving, and it gives hubby & I some glorious time alone to do exciting stuff like shop for cell phones or plumbing fixtures. Our kids' program at church is also moving on full steam ahead, and we're even doing a small Christmas program for the first time ever. Exciting!

    • Last but not least, we did change cell phone providers, and just couldn't justify the expense of carrying the PA numbers over, so we've officially gone all Texan. Hubby's phone # previously belonged to Luis Gonzalez, who evidently had some serious issues with paying bills, so hubby has had the pleasure of speaking to a variety of creditors. Fun fun!

    • I know there were several other witty things I wanted to post, but I really need to get my hiney off the chair and pick the kids up from school. Later!

    * Further explanation: some truth here, but honestly 90% of what I had could not be purchased at HL; you can't compare generic lightweight cardstock to Bazzill! This lady was trying to buy a Kia at a Cadillac lot.

    Friday, November 4, 2011

    Friday Funny

    Came across this earlier this week, and because of my Halloween costume I just couldn't resist sharing!

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    Halloween at our house

    Halloween 2011
    Last Friday was "Hero Day" at school - our daughter was sick and missed out on the fun, but our son went as Dr. Who. I know it's kind of hard to see what's in his hand, but that's supposed to be his sonic screwdriver :) For the candyfest Monday evening, our son decided to be Indiana Jones (the young version!) and our daughter wanted to be a flower fairy. And me? Well, I couldn't be left out of the dress-up fun so I was a reading fairy... I bought an old etiquette book and then proceeded to rip it apart to make wings, tutu, necklace, scepter, and even embellished earrings. A good time was had by all!

    Friday, October 28, 2011

    Friday Funny

    I posted this last week on FB, but can't help but sharing it here, too. Yes, I am a big ol' Muppets nerd!

    "If we make it to Thanksgiving, you're on your own!"

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011

    Spirit/Red Ribbon Week

    The schools down here don't celebrate Halloween per se, but oddly enough "spirit week" always seems to fall right around October 31 so the kids have some excuses to act goofy.

    We had fun with funky hair day. And for the record, D was pretending to be Wolverine in the first pic, so no, he isn't angry at the world.

    The "afters" were just for fun, after we brushed out gunk and took out ponytails. A had tapped into her 80s side with the amazing volume in her bangs ;)

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    Drawing lines?

    I've had some interesting discussions lately and I really am struggling with the division of religion and culture. Day of the dead is a very big deal in this area, and we currently have a display of altars/shrines at the local museum where I volunteer. I don't understand why honoring someone's memory seems to involve glittery skulls... or bottles of booze and packs of cigs for that matter (and no, that isn't a random comment - we actually have 1 that includes a Jim Beam bottle & a box of Kools) Additionally, I have had 3 different conversations about ghosts. Each of those people were convinced there were spirits wandering the museum grounds (the home of the city's founder, the city's first hospital and a stagecoach inn have all been moved to our site). There is so much superstition twisted with Catholicism in the Mexican culture, and I find myself a bit stunned and at a loss for words at times (shocking, I know!) but then even after pondering it for awhile, I don't know how to respond. I know that God has placed our entire family here, and me in particular in a place promoting "arts & heritage." and we are to shine His light of truth. I was recently reading in Ephesians, and this verse really jumped out at me:
    "Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel." Ephesians 6:19

    Yep, there's my answer - it's not about me, it's about HIM. And keep praying.

    Edited to add: Just received an email from another museum that we belong (a Smithsonian affiliate, no less) and their big Dia de los Muertes exhibit opens Sunday afternoon: Come see shrines to pivotal Mexican artists and decorate sugar skulls! Sigh.

    Monday, October 17, 2011


  • Ministry is tiring. And hard. My humanity keeps getting in the way - the judgmental attitude, frustration, weariness, whatever. I must continually remind myself that it's not about me, and that I need to rest in my Savior. Such an easy concept, such a difficult thing to DO. "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." (Matthew 11:28-30, The Message)

  • As part of my Bible study this week, I read the parable of the unfruitful tree in Luke 13 (verses 6-8). I am the tree, and Jesus is the gardener. He is doing whatever He can to make me grow, including providing fertilizer. I think we're all familiar with natural fertilizer... am I accepting that as a growth aid when I feel like I'm knee deep in it or whining and trying to get the whole mess off of me?!

  • So many dear friends are going through tough times right now - deaths in the family, difficult diagnoses, job issues, and so much more. I know part of this is just the season of life we are in (because, well, we're gettin' older!!) but this doesn't make anything simple. I still struggle with finding encouraging words and wanting to do something to somehow make it "better."

  • We've lived down here for about 27 months now, and I think I'm starting to get used to things. For instance, I no longer freak out when I see a roach crawling across my floor. I can't believe I'm even admitting that, but seriously, it's just a fact of life here. We have regular exterminator service and I do not have a filthy house, but with 5 exerior doors plus the garage access, the sneaky li'l guys find their way in all too frequently. Ewwwwww. BTW, our guest room is still open for anyone who wants to visit! ;) One thing that DOES still drive me crazy about the valley is the utter disregard for time and general lack of organization. School runs on a schedule and generally medical appointments are timely (just like anywhere else) but when it comes to social events no one shows up on time. I was excited to discover that one of the local farms is now offering a CSA program, and they were even having an "open farm" day this past weekend, with tours scheduled at 1:30 and 2:30. We arrived about 2:20, as I figured we could take a quick look around and then join the tour. Yeah, right! First off, parking was a mess as there were no clearly designated areas, and when I nosed our car in, I was already wondering how we were going to get out. We then headed toward the main house where there were a number of people standing around talking, but no information to be found anywhere. No info sheets about the farm, the owners were not designated in any way (seriously, how about a name tag or a hat?!), no.thing. I finally figured out one of the owners just from watching the conversation flow, but when I finally got to her we simply exchanged a few sentence fragments as she was continually interrupted. She handed me a list of crops they have planted along with approximate harvest times, but nothing about share sizes, prices, or anything! She did vaguely mention that they were going to do a little walk around the fields, but we left at 3:00, frustrated. The only good thing to come out of the afternoon is my hubby's newly-found passion for habanero honey (samples provided by a neighboring farm - and they had little handouts. What a novel idea!)

  • On a lighter note, the kids were having a lovely little conversation before school one day last week. Reminiscing about vomit. Yep, you read that correctly. A full conversation about colors and other details that I was quite content to banish from my memory bank. Is this one of those little gems of motherhood that I was promised? ;)

  • I really hate TV programming in October, particularly in regard to my kids. Why does every bloomin' show have a "Halloween special" that invariably includes ghosts, spooky sounds, and witches. Grrrrrr.

  • And lastly, I'm excited to announce that I purchased a giant book today - Vogue's Guide to etiquette - and it will become my Halloween costume. Yes, I do promise to post pictures!
  • Friday, October 7, 2011

    Friday Funny

    Yes, someone seriously thought that was a good idea. Click the link for all the other interesting designs...

    Sunday, October 2, 2011

    October in South TX

    Down here, autumn is marked more by flu shot booths and an influx of northern license plates than falling leaves. I'm doing what I can to get into the spirit of the season, though - I made this leaf garland from some patterned paper (while watching last week's Eagles game... let's just say I was happier with the results of my crafting time than the game itself), have been drinking my morning coffee with new creamer, light up this candle every night, and have placed fall-themed tchotchkes throughout the house. Now if I could just turn the A/C off I'd be a happy camper!

    Thursday, September 29, 2011

    Picture Day Practice

    Today was picture day. This meant that we spent approximately 14 hours last night discussing what clothes would be good for a photo - btw, this translates to 13 hours and 56 minutes for our daughter, and 4 minutes for our son. Anyhoo, we were able to pick outfits that were agreeable to everyone, and in an effort to avoid another situation such as this, I decided to do a "test run" this morning.

    Thankfully down here they send proofs home and THEN we can decide whether to purchase photos - it will be interesting to see what emerges... D is still a bit peeved that I wouldn't let him take his glasses with him. Yeah, I'm mean that way. (And a disclaimer - he'd just gotten out of the shower, so his hair is wet, not slimy)

    Saturday, September 24, 2011

    Random Bits

    First off, some exciting bits: our son has had *three* good weeks of school. In a row. Truly, this is an answer to prayer. Now obviously we still have a lot of school year left, but I'm so thrilled to have a bit of positive momentum. In other happy news, it seems he is developing 1 genuine friendship, which once again is cause for celebration. And he's even been doing his daily reading without too much whining. Yippee!

    In other thrilling news, we are personally acquainted with the Great American Worker! We attended the little ceremony earlier this week; obviously we are excited for our friends (and their awesome new truck!) but the kids were more excited about the fact that the conference room had enough spinny chairs for everyone and that they each got to take home their own personal hand sanitizer (foaming!!) and pack of toilet paper. Yes, we know how to live it up...

    In sad news, I've been bombarded with news of dissolving marriages these past 10 days, and it's extremely disheartening. I'm always saddened when I hear that someone has chosen to walk away from what should be a lifelong commitment, particularly when it's announced with a shrug and a statement such as, "We just weren't happy together anymore." Now I realize that there is often a mountain of hurt and anger hidden behind such sentiments, but regardless, I hate hearing it. And FYI - if you're about to tell me that you've split from your spouse, please do not do so through the window of my car while I'm in the pick-up line at school and I'm being yelled at to pull forward. Thank you.

    In home news, we are planning a mega yardsale the second weekend in November, and our music/libary space has turned into a giant pile o' stuff. It's ridiculous how much extra our family has! And I can't help but being excited about the huge influx of cash will be receiving from the venture. (Note: preceding sentence is to be read with as much sarcasm as possible). Our highs are still around 97 every day, but at least our nights are dropping into the 70s; we are still hopping in our pool multiple times a week, and Friday night when we got out the kids were complaining they were cold so we finished off the night with hot cocoa :) I'm back to volunteering at the school and our local museum, plus doing another First Place 4 Health Bible Study and then working with our preschool ministry at church. No, I do not get bored during the day! Truly, we are doing well, but hubby was been putting in some long hours at work -- it stinks, but I'm trying to stay focused on the fact that he has a good job. Gratitude - a simple word but a tough habit to develop...

    "Actually, I don't have a sense of needing anything personally. I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. " (Philippians 4:11-13, The Message)

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    Settling back in...

    We are in the third week of school, and are pretty much back into our semi-normal routine. Our son liked the first day of school, but has been complaining ever since -- see what I mean we're right back to normal?! But seriously, he is still struggling with the whole school scene, and we'd appreciate your prayers for 1) wisdom for us as to how hard to push him and when to step back & 2) a close friend or two. Daughter is doing well, and if anything she's a bit jealous of all the attention (however negative!) her brother is getting, and we're trying to come up with some appropriate incentives for her. Man, this parenting gig is tough! BTW, the pic is just for comic relief - I cut these crazy eyes out of a magazine ad, and the kids were goofing around...

    As for the house, the kitchen is basically shiny & happy (until we finally reach the major reno stage), and we're now deciding what exactly we're going to do with the living room. It's still "urine sample" yellow and the 17' ceilings (on one side) mean we must rent scaffolding in order to repaint - and as long as we're up there, we also need to change some wiring and switch out cheap, wobbly ceiling fans and the ugly hanging light. We also have a brick fireplace that will not be changing (as much as I'd like to paint it, I am bowing to hubby's wishes on this one) plus the brown tile floors are sticking around for awhile longer; I really want to bring in some blues, and I stumbled onto this fabulous - and only $50!!!! - rug at Lowe's two weeks ago after I returned some plumbing fixtures (another long story, but the happy result is my shower no longer leaks!). I immediately fell in love - browns, rusts, greens, and blues can all happily co-exist! Will basically be planning the room around this, and am waiting for Hobby Lobby's fabrics to go on sale so I can pick up 10 yards of curtain material.

    So what else is happening at our place? Well, we had our first full family Monopoly game on Friday night. The kids really didn't understand all the concepts, but they had a ball (and Daddy happily trounced us all). The temps are finally cooling down a bit, so have been able to spend a bit more time outside. We also currently have an interesting assortment of buckets piled on our living room floor for the express purpose of letting our son drum on them. No, this was not my idea. And yes, we are considering purchasing a real drum set. I predict more ibuprofen in my future ;)

    Friday, August 26, 2011

    Friday Funny

    It's been a rough first week of school.

    Monday, August 22, 2011

    Oh happy day!

    And how did I celebrate? I went to Wal-mart, and walked through the entire store without once uttering, "No, we're not going to buy that!" Bliss. I then had lunch with a friend at a place that did not have a playland. And know what? I was truly excited to pick them up at 3:05 and hear all about their days. A bit of distance can definitely make the heart grow fonder :)

    Monday, August 1, 2011

    Busy summer...

    I know I haven't posted much these past couple weeks - we've been too busy! We finished up the kitchen, purged/organized/rearranged the kids' rooms, swapped some furniture around in the house, enjoyed 2 rounds of VBS (including the first one ever at our church - hooray!!), checked out local museums, attended a movie-themed day camp, played tourist at Corpus Christi, and general stuff like reading and swimming and hangin' with friends. I have a bunch of pics to share, but they may just wait until the kids are back in school (3 weeks from today... how is that possible?!?)

    And now I'm off to referee the squabble that is quickly escalating upstairs. No, it's not all bubbles & daisies all the time here :)

    Tuesday, July 26, 2011

    Mommy Makeover

    On Mother's Day, our church had a giveaway for a "Mommy Makeover" and I was one of the lucky winners... Today was the day, and I got the full workup with hair, makeup, clothes, and even a photo shoot. I basically showed up and said, "Do whatever you want - you're the professionals!" and am now a sassy brunette ;) I have to say that the makeup artist was really amazing - I've never had anything like this done, and when I've gone to makeup counters I've always been a bit disappointed - but seriously, this eyelid is a work of art, is it not?! (Another first - artificial lashes) My hubby just snapped this quick shot to capture the general look, but I'm so glad that I'll have professional photos to remember the day...

    Friday, July 1, 2011

    Friday Funny

    God Bless America!!

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    Kitchen progress report

    Progress is being made, although admittedly not as quickly as I'd prefer. The drawers are all done, and the cabinet doors are about 75%. My goal (subject to adjustment, as always) is to have those finished by the weekend, and then hopefully wall color the following week. We'll see how that goes, especially as that's VBS at our church. (FYI - the granite was already there, just for those of you who might be wondering how on earth this would quality as a "budget" makeover :)

    Friday, June 17, 2011

    Friday Funny

    I have not let the kids see this clip because I know they'd want to try it - and probably would create their own version upstairs that would inevitably end with our daughter losing another tooth and/or getting a concussion...

    Saturday, June 11, 2011

    Krazy Kids

    Another week is winding down at the D house. We've been very busy repainting kitchen cabinets - they had latex over oil paint, so have been flaking off for awhile and frankly I just couldn't stand it anymore! It's been a rather tedious process, but I know the result will be fabulous - I'll post pics as soon as it's done. In the meantime, here are 2 pics of our li'l crazies. We had a busy day yesterday - D got a haircut, A got her ears pierced, and they both got new webkinz. Does it get any better than that?! As we were driving home, our daughter enthusiastically informed me that now she can have all my earrings when I die! Yep, these are definitely the moments to treasure ;)

    Friday, June 10, 2011

    Friday Funny

    A friend had loaned us a couple God Rocks CDs so I could check them out to possibly use in our children's ministry at church. Our kids looooooove music, so of course they happily acted as listening guinea pigs, and I was patting myself on the back as I listened to my kids walk around the house singing scripture - because seriously, that's just awesome, right? And then I really listened to what our son was singing:

    "Don't let anyone tell on you because you are dumb"

    Ooof! (that's the sound of reality smacking Mommy) Just a reminder that we need to take an ACTIVE role in making sure our kids are learning things properly.

    (Sorry about the lousy quality on this video, but you can at least hear the proper song)

    Thursday, June 9, 2011

    Kinder Circus

    Each year at our children's school, the kindergarten "finale" is a circus performance. I'd heard from several other parents that it was well done and super cute, but wasn't quite sure what to expect.

    I truly was impressed - and considering we're talking about a gaggle of 6 year olds, that's saying something!

    There were performances by lions, monkeys, strong men, clowns, acrobats, and monkeys. All narrated by the ring mistress, played by our daughter who was more than happy to tell everyone what to do :) So I now present, specifically for the viewing pleasure of the grandparents, the Kinder Circus!!

    Kindergarten Circus

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011

    Weekend Update

    We took the kids to the circus on Saturday afternoon, and we had a ball! We went to the pre-show (included with ticket price) and it was very fun to be right there in the action - doubt we'll ever be that close to an elephant again...
    Saturday at the Circus
    And yes, A did lose her front tooth - in fact, she pulled it out herself (seriously, this was a big deal.) Her little buddy just happened to lose the same tooth last week, so I snapped this pic after church on Sunday. Say it with me now: Awwww...

    And lastly, a mini rant: if you've repeatedly sent a friend request to someone on FB and they repeatedly say NO maybe you should get the hint and stop asking!!!!! I may have been polite when our circles happened to overlap a bit a decade ago, but it should be pretty obvious when someone doesn't care to re-establish contact!

    Friday, May 20, 2011

    Friday Funny

    I'm working on pulling some things together for our church's VBS program this summer - and I happened to come across this in my google searches. Absolutely hysterical... but rather convicting, too.

    I'm teaching the preschool class at church, and we've been talking about the Israelites. You know, God's special people who experiences miracle after miracle: the plagues in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, manna (on a side note, simply gathering my food from the ground each morning would really free up some time ;), water from a rock... Rather than marveling at God's miraculous provisions, though, they took them for granted and complained. A lot. Oh how quickly we *all* (cough, ME, cough, cough) get caught up in our little issues and completely forget how God has proven Himself faithful over and over and over.

    The time in the desert may be tough, but I absolutely don't want to go back to Egypt, even if they do have yummy food!

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    Toothy Grin

    Our daughter's front tooth was a bit wiggly - and then last night she tripped and hurried the loosening process along considerably.

    I now start giggling every time she smiles at me.

    I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the tooth fairy will be visiting soon.

    And I'm thinking the bangs fairy is due for a visit, too :)

    Sunday, May 15, 2011

    Lovely Weekend

    Friday morning, I dropped the kiddos off at school and then drove off to McAllen (the *big* city 45 minutes away) and I got my hair cut!! I tried out a new salon, and was quite happy with the results -- too bad I don't have the patience to actually dry/straighten my hair so that it looks like this every day ;) Hubby was nice enough to pick the kiddos up from school so I had an entire afternoon to wander Barnes & Noble, Old Navy, Burlington Coat Factory, and Pier 1. Bliss.

    On Saturday morning, we loaded up and headed off for a couple hours at the beach. I love that we're close enough that we can just pop over when our schedule allows, rather than making a long trek and then feeling like we have to stay all day to make it worthwhile.

    Our Sunday was blessedly mundane - church & then household duties. No sickness, no scrambling to get something completed. Such a wonderful gift!

    The fruit of righteousness will be peace;
    the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.
    Isaiah 32:17, NIV

    Friday, May 6, 2011

    Friday Funny

    Happy Mother's Day! Copyright Gospel Communications International, Inc -

    Friday, April 29, 2011

    Friday Funny

    This is the new billboard they've put up about 1/2 mile from our house. Who wants a latte?!

    Monday, April 25, 2011

    Catch-Up Photos

    We had our son's Star Wars themed birthday party:

    Table Decor Party Beverage Party Game Cake Time
    Annual Church Egg Drop (big community event - we had 40,000 eggs plus carnival rides, inflatables, food, face painting, etc.)
    It's the Easter Beagle! Carnival Fun
    Matching Easter dresses Keep on Truckin'
    And then just normal day-to-day stuff:
    Garage Repair Fancy Hair Daughter's school paper Neighbor's amaryllis
    (There are descriptions on all the photos, so you can click over to Flickr for more info if you'd like)