So...you'd think my first full day home after our middle school fall retreat I'd be just pumped! Tired...but excited for what happened there. Instead - I found myself battling the enemy all day - I know I was fighting with him at the retreat - that's what happens when you call him out - our theme verse was John 10:10 - A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. (yeah, we used the message version - very middle school friendly). Anyway - I was tired today. But I found myself battling all day long the thoughts of not doing things right, not doing things good enough, not saying things I wanted to say or planned to say, that others can do it better...and so on and so on... I always feel like I can do a better job than what I do. I'm not trying to say I don't do some stuff ok, but I can easily beat myself up, sometimes with a reason - sometimes with what I think is no reason at all. I know I've talked before about being one of the most insecure people on the planet - one who always feels incapable, or someone else can do this better, or that I should keep my mouth shut and let other people do it all. Even acknowledging it gives the enemy a way to know my weakness... so I've just spent time watching a video I put together for the retreat... reminding myself of the very truth I was hoping our students would grasp. Who I am in Christ... Because my identity in Him is what I need to be most focused on - not on how I do (or don't do) life...not that I don't strive to be what He wants, because I also know I can so let Him down - so it's that fine balance of acknowledging shortcomings, and not letting the enemy take those and so throw them in my face...

Anyway, I just thought I'd share it with you.

So to myself and to you I say --- spend time today reflecting on who you are in Him. The Bible is FULL of descriptions of who we are. It's a breath of fresh air to listen to the King of Kings describe you... (it's soooo much better than the lying whispers of an enemy who is on the ropes)... Be bold. Be strong. Be convinced. Be His...


A little brain break...a great deal...

So... what else is a girl to do at 10:00 pm on a Tuesday night after wrestling with some homework, and needing a break?? Go to Albertson's!!! I had some coupons...a few double coupons to play (couponing is a game you know...). So here's what I got - 4 bottles of Tree Top juice, 4 jars of Prego spaghetti sauce, 6 Healthy Choice frozen meals, 3 California Pizza Kitchen Flatbread Melts, 2 pkgs of Green Giant 100% natural Steamers, 2 pkgs of Danimals yogurt & 3 Betty Crocker Warm Delights...all for the bargain basement price of $21. 24 items. In Josh-like fashion that's an average of 87.5 cents a piece. Regular priced this would have cost me $83.66. Uh-oh - can I do this math?? I saved 75%. (Is that right??) I think so... yeah... so. That was the jolt of energy I needed to get through the next hour or so of school work... WOO!HOO!!! =)


I heard this song today...

I heard this song today... for the first time... and it broke my heart. I just sit and think of the number of people who are sitting there feeling the exact same way and wonder...will tomorrow be the day that perspective changes for them? Will tomorrow be the day that they hear just how much God truly, passionately loves and adores them? Will tomorrow be the day that someone will boldly and compassionately share that news with them?? I hope I get the chance to do that with someone tomorrow...


Things are about to fly...

So... I've been contemplating this blog for a couple of days. And just when I think I'm calm enough to go at this on a rational, collected, self-controlled manner, something else happens that sends me over the edge. Something else happens that makes me feel like the world has lost any semblance of common sense. Something that happens that makes me that much more aware of and in need of God who is patient, and all consuming. I know He can't possibly be finished molding me yet, because I just don't get it. Curious? Should I stop here, or should I go on? Where do I even start?

OK...I'll start with me - that's a good place to start. I'm going to make some admissions here that people typically try to shy away from. Obviously if you've read my blog I'm not afraid of the topic of "religion" - one of the big "no-no's" of conversation right? HA! Too bad. I'm not letting that one go. So...I guess I shouldn't be afraid of the other one either - politics. It's like opening a can of so ripened worms that I'm scared to even pop the lid. Just the word politics sends people's blood into a boil. It makes them disgusted, sick - but not even at politics itself. For example - I've talked to people who can't stand jury duty (oooo, I'm just getting started). Really? Can't stand jury duty? I mean people give up their lives so that we can live in this country, and you can't give up a few days, and take a good book along, to see our country in action where we have the ability to have things reviewed by a panel of our peers - to be one of those peers - who gets to determine the potential fate of someone who has been accused, just accused, of doing something inappropriate. Wrong. Against the law. OK - so if we can't even handle the simplicity of serving on a jury - how the heck are we going to handle discussions about those things that come up in court rooms? Or things that could end up in court rooms - or other places of discussion. Maybe we don't want to serve because we don't want to talk about those things in our world that aren't right.

See - the cool part of living in these United States of America is that we have a voice. And it's our choice whether or not to use it. We can use at the polls at elections to voice who we want to represent us. We can write letters or emails to those who are representing us to share how we feel about issues. We have freedom of speech. (uh oh, I can feel the blood starting to boil). And yet we are living in a day and time where it is embarrassing to be a part of this country. Yep - I've said it. Embarrassing. Embarrassing because we've taken this civil opportunity to discuss and challenge and grow as a people and turned it into bickering, fighting, back-stabbing hatred at the very mention of a differing opinion - and it makes me sick. I'm tired of people thinking Democrats are great and Republicans stink or that Republicans are great and Democrats stink. (Note - I'm a "religious" person so I'm trying not to use bad words here...) If you watch or read CNN you can't possibly watch or listen to Fox News. If you are a Republican you can't possibly have any desire to watch a Democratic National Convention. If you are a Democrat then anything that one of those lipstick wearing, hockey lovin' Republican women says has clearly got to be stupid and not even worth the value of hearing the whole way through.

I'm sick of it. I don't get it. I'm tired of receiving in my mailbox questionnaires for each political party wanting my opinion on issues, when questions are clearly worded in such a manner that only reflects their opinions, not mine. I'm tired of seeing opinion polls on news networks like CNN & Fox News where their viewers are the only ones who respond, and therefore are skewed - so the likelihood is that the real scope of American view is somewhere in between the two. I'm tired of feeling like if I want to understand how the "other side" feels that I can't possibly really be aligned with another political view. OH MY WORD!!!

OK...so how did all this start? I admit it. I was surprised when Barack Obama was announced as the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize last week. But (and I'm not trying to toot my own horn, I'm just saying...) when I heard it - I did respond with a tweet about how I could/should win one. But shortly afterwards I was online reviewing articles about how the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded, how nominations are made, reading quotes from the committee who makes these decisions, looking at who has won in the past and honoring what they have and continue to accomplish. It's not my award to give. I want him to champion peace & stability. I want him to succeed. The committee says they awarded based on his ability to rally and challenge people and countries toward peace. I may not agree with how he's doing it, but does that mean I don't want him to succeed at it? No way. I do. My way may not be the right way either. I'm willing to admit that. I'm willing to admit (big picture here) that I don't really understand all the stuff that's going on the world - but that doesn't make me ignorant - or uninformed. I'm just an American girl (not the doll) trying to understand all that is going on the world. Looking at all the news agencies to get a real picture as best as I can as to what's happening. Mr. President - congratulations on winning the Nobel Peace Prize. I think you've received enough ridicule about it. I think you know what those who have received this award before you have done and accomplished. It's a high standard. Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter...just to name a few. I pray that you will seek for peace as part of your Presidency. I trust Mr. President that you will take all the advice you can from both political parties as you venture forward...

Here we go...I'm about to make more people mad. I'll admit it. I voted for McCain/Palin. Not ashamed of that vote at all. Does that make me an Obama hater? Nope. Does that make me someone who disrespects him? Nope. It means when I made my vote last November - after watching all the debates, both national conventions, looking at both websites, etc. that was my choice. But I watched on elections night the amazing display of people and supporters in Chicago. And was thrilled for our country to see the coming full-circle of an African American President - not so long after a terrible disservice of our country to judge just for the color of someone's skin. Barack Obama is my President. I want him to succeed!! I want there to be things different about our country!! I want him to do the best job he can. I want him to get people on both sides of the aisle working towards some of these issues.

So here's where I get frustrated. It's as though we've reached this place where we have freedom of speech but we can't express it without someone absolutely flying off the handle. Really? I can't say that I know we need change in healthcare, but I'm not sure the current option is the best way to go without knowing someone is thinking I've lost my mind. I can't say I get frustrated knowing that those representing us in elected offices don't read all the pages of bills that they are voting on, without someone saying I'm closed-minded. Really? Then again - I click the "I accept terms..." boxes on stuff online all the time and I haven't read them. Well, not all of them. But this is bigger than that, to me. When I check that box I'm making a decision for me. When elected officials vote for or against something - they are deciding for them? No, for all of us.

So... I know I'm going in a million different directions on a million different topics - but like I told Steve - I probably would have started typing last Friday and not stopped for days...and feel like I could still do the same...OK, wait - I'm distracted again. OK...

Dear Fellow Americans - I respect your opinion. Please respect mine. Let's all agree that there are things that we want to see differently. Let's agree that we all have a right to say what we need to say. Let's all agree that we don't have to literally hate the person sitting on the other side of the opinion, issue, table, fence, whatever you want to call it. I'm not saying we have to agree. But how can we ever come together to solve some of these issues without putting these stereotypical assumptions aside for the sake of really and truly seeing and wanting something different. I'm tired just like you are of seeing one-sided/one-partied solutions that get stalled out, or wait until there is a "majority" in a governing body so that it can be put through without the other side. I didn't like it with Newt Gingrich and the First 100 Days thing which I felt like came across so "ha - ha - we're gonna do whatever we want", any more than I like the Democratic Congress of today feeling as though it's their turn to rule the USA. We want a change in the way health care works right now. We want our country to be safe & protected. We want our soldiers to be safe & cared for. We want quality education for our children. We want a stable economy. We want to care for those who aren't in a place to care for themselves. We want to care for our environment, because God created this great world of ours and we should care for it. And in as much as He created our world, He created us. And we, as humans, each deserve respect, care, common courtesy.

Dear Elected Officials - stop thinking that your idea is the only idea. stop thinking that your way is the only way. stop thinking that it has to be Democrats or Republicans. Because let's face it - those of us who put you into office are pretty convinced that while you may say you want to act in a bipartisan manner, you really don't. Bleck! Please oh please read or have your staff read every word of a bill before you cast a vote. Please oh please take seriously the oath to which you pledged. Please oh please represent your constituents and not your own special interests.

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Presidents - of yesterday, today and tomorrow --- please oh please oh please read both paragraphs above. Please oh please continue to have our country's best interest at heart. Thank you for being willing to even run for this office. I can't imagine the stuff you go through and have gone through and will continue to go through as you hold this very powerful position in the world. But please do not use your office to push a personal agenda coated with executive orders that the next president is just going to come along and use their power of executive order to discontinue. And please don't use your power of executive order to change something just because the last person did it. It happens every time there is a "peaceful transition of power" - I've come to the point of seeing this only as "we were able to pause for a photo opp with our predecessors before I get to do things my way." Please give common courtesy to the person who sat at that desk in the Oval Office before you and after you. I pray you lead in such a way that honors that trust and faith that has been put in you by those who elected you, and by those who while they didn't elect you fully call you their president as well and want you to succeed. I know you have a short time in office. But please challenge those in the House of Representatives and the Senate to true bi-partisanship - reflected completely in your office, your staff, your agenda. You have 4-8 years in that chair. Determine what will make the best impact for those 4-8 years. What foundation are you laying? What foundation was laid before you that you can continue to build on vs. just pick apart? (Note - I would say this to any President - not just the sitting President so please do not read this as I'm only speaking to our current Commander in Chief)


I think about the movie "Dave" and think about how they had to cut the budget, and the guy impersonating the President brought his accountant friend into the White House and they sat and cut the budget. I know it's not as easy as that - but really - I think all of us are crazy to think our personal idea is the only good idea out there and that it can't possibly be improved in any way. We need each other. We need to talk things out. We need not to be offended if someone else has an idea or opinion. We do need to stand up for what we believe in. And I know there are soooo many differing opinions out there. And this is where it gets tricky. Each "side of the aisle" has things they fundamentally disagree on. And they each have things they are not willing to budge on. OK - so let's find any common ground and go from there.

OK...I've gone on toooooo long this time. I wonder if anyone is even going to read all of this. I haven't even gotten to things like - 6 year-olds being suspended from school because they brought a Boy Scout eating utensil type thing to school - innocently --- That reflects this whole rant of mine. We have zero-tolerance policy that has gone too far. We definitely need absolutes. We definitely need common purpose and common ground. We definitely need courtesy and respect. We definitely need to be informed of what is going on in the world and in our country and speak into those things...respectfully.

OK...I'm gonna stop for now. It's nearly 2 am. My friends on the east coast will be awake shortly... I have a big day ahead tomorrow.

Lord - thanks for blogs. They are like journals where we work through our ideas, our thoughts. Thanks for not giving up on me when I know that I don't have this world figured out. I know I have a voice. Will you help and encourage me to use it to reflect Your heart? Will you please change me from the inside out?? I don't want to be cynical, judgmental, critical, frustrated, confused, embarrassed ... then again, Lord if there is something that makes you sick, will you make me sick? If there is something that makes you joyful, will you make me joyful? If there is something I'm supposed to say, will you give me the courage to say it?? If there's something that needs to be different, will you make me different? God will you guide and protect our leaders - our political leaders, our media leaders, our corporate leaders, our family leaders...all of those...all of us who lead. May we cautiously, carefully yet boldly and unashamedly walk in the steps you have for us. Will you help me to see people as you see them??

P.S. And Lord...will you multiply my sleep tonight? will you help the eyes of those who braved this crazy-long rant to be able to continue to read and see?


The air I breathe...

I was almost at the airport (w/ Jenna) to pick up Kevin when we found out his flight was going to be late (hmmm....I should blog that story as well). Anyway - Jenna and I had about 1 1/2-2 hours to fill up. First thought - IKEA - how is that ever a bad idea? We could walk around and dream and eat and goof. But --- Jenna has never been to Oregon. And since we're throwing all we can her & Kevin's way, why not add one more. No IKEA for us - we're off to The Vista House & Multnomah Falls.

Last time I went w/ our family, Steve was in the parking lot running at full speed and getting moved backwards. It was so hysterically funny & scary at the same time. Yesterday was completely different. The sun was warm and resting on our faces - the sky was blue (a little hazy from wildfire ash but beautiful) - the temperature was perfect - and there was a slight breeze that felt fabulous. The view - gorgeous.

But something struck me as I got out of the car for the first time. The air was amazingly refreshing. To the point that you just wanted to close your eyes and just take a deep breath and let it all envelope you. I did. I couldn't help it. I just closed my eyes, pointed my face upward (I'm not sure why) and just took a number of really really deep fabulous breaths. I could feel refreshment to my toenails. I couldn't help but smile. I wanted to just linger there...I told Jenna let's just send for everyone else to come here. Who cares about food or sleeping bags or anything. It's just amazing and I don't want to let it pass. I don't want to miss it. I don't want to go too fast and slip from this very place. This - right here, right now - was the only place I wanted to be, and I wanted others to be there with me.

Last night we had a Prayer Gathering at church. We weren't too far into it when I thought - hmmmmm... when was the last time I could say in seeking God I just was ready to just drink Him in. I mean have Him and Him alone satisfy a hunger and thirst for the knowledge of Him - of His presence - to the point that I literally didn't want to leave that place. That I knew I had met Him right there and then and there was absolutely no doubt about it. By saying this I'm not saying that I'm not spending time with Him (or that I'm trying to by saying the last sentence qualify my recent experiences with the one and only Creator of me and all in the universe)...I'm just saying - do I linger in those places where I know He is? Do I rush through the moment only to have me looking back wishing I'd stayed? May it never be.

Even now sitting on my couch I can take a deep breath and almost hit that place. But not quite. There was nothing like it I had experienced in a little while. And personally - it made me just want to stay. It made me just want to linger in His presence, I mean really linger there and adore Him, worship Him, hear from Him. I remember earlier this summer being @ Youthquake and identifying one word to my spiritual journey at the time - I said plateaued. Not bad. Just slow and steady wins the race. But today, as a result of breathing fresh air, recent prayer and longing of my heart...the Holy Spirit calling me... I can honestly say I'm starting to move to a different place. There have been times in the last nearly 25 years (whoa - 25 years? really? I've been a Christian nearly 25 years?? Um....ok, wait, I can't process that right now) when I know He's called me to a deeper place with Him. It's kinda like I'm starting that climb, and even though I'm not at all one of those to jump into physical challenge... I'm exited about climbing this hill/mountain/whatever before me. I know He's calling me to what's ahead that I can't see...and I know I'll meet Him there. I know He's taken me by the hand and is taking me there.

Last night at a Prayer Gathering at church we had time to just pray alone. And sitting there felt His presence close - holding me and speaking. He sent me directly to 1 Peter 1-2. And I got lost there. What are we being called to? Who are we being drawn to? What are we to leave behind for His sake? So...click the video...to breathe Him in...and read His word as you ask Him to speak to you...and may you feel the breeze of His presence refreshingly fill you from the inside out that you may love and adore Him more...

1 Peter 1

1Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood:
Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

Praise to God for a Living Hope

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
10Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

Be Holy

13Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."[a]
17Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. 18For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

22Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.[b] 23For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24For,
"All men are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25but the word of the Lord stands forever."[c] And this is the word that was preached to you.

1 Peter 2

1Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

The Living Stone and a Chosen People

4As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— 5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For in Scripture it says:
"See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame."[d] 7Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
"The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone,[e]"[f] 8and,
"A stone that causes men to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall."[g] They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

11Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.



I know.. you haven't heard much from me (oh wait - I said that at the beginning of my last post, huh). OK, I'll just get to it. I know I have a lot of catching you up to do... I know I've been slack. I know I have lots going on. I know you're probably wondering (maybe) what I've been up to. So... here's part of it.

I love coupons. I love being a frugal nut. I love coming home from the store and recalling item by item what I paid for things when they are a deal, and lamenting over paying too much for something - and Steve my endearing, amazing, and patient husband takes it all in. He listens half-cheerfully but always supportive. He thinks I'm nuts a good bit of the time - but I know he's grateful. I admit it. It's kinda like hunting for girls who have no desire to pick up a shotgun and go out after some buck or sweet Bambi drinking at a gentle brook. But getting a great deal?? Yeah - you name it! I'm in!!! I love it.

When I lived in Atlanta, I spent a great deal of time shopping at Kroger. I miss Kroger. But they doubled my coupons. No questions - they doubled any and every coupon I used, up to the value of 50 cents I think. They loved it. When I moved here to Oregon I was bummed - no regular double coupons. Seriously. Then...it seemed as though the coupon selection in the Sunday paper wasn't the same - smaller in fact, much smaller.

Then I was re-inspired. Chele (my coupon bud and dear friend) told me one of the girls from her small group was a coupon crazy lady (smile) and was going to talk to her group and anyone else who wanted to come hear about how she coupons and where she finds the deals. So...sure, I'll go. Disillusioned I'll check it out. I'm never going back. There's no reason. You will find deals if you look for them. So... here are a few tips -

Step 1: Buy the Sunday paper - or get someone you know to pass on their coupons to you. (I used to be able to swipe them from my parents when I lived in the ATL - I miss them, and their coupons!) Dollar Tree is a great place to get the Sunday paper btw. It's also not unusual for me to get 2-4 copies of the paper. I know that sounds nuts, but it'll make sense in a moment.

or... Step 1A: Go to Coupons.com, redplum.com and smartsource.com to select and print the coupons you'd like! Yes, you can print coupons from online. YOu can typically print 2 copies of each coupon... so easy. Also - some grocery stores allow you to store your coupons on your frequent shopper card (although I haven't done this yet).

Step 2: cut out the coupons. Seems simple enough. You actually have to cut them in order to use them. When I buy more than 1 copy of the paper, I stack like pages so that I can cut 2-4 pages at a time, vs. 1 coupon at a time from 1 page at a time (does that make sense...I hope so...just in case --- I take all the outside covers and stack them together, then cut the coupons from that page, and so on). Why would I want more than 1 coupon for something? Great question. Let's say cereal is on sale for 3/$6. Then I have $1 coupons off a box of cereal. Then I have 3 Albertson's double coupons (they can typically have in the paper 3 coupons good for a double of your coupon up to $1). OK, so following - 3 for $6 cereals - minus 3 $1 off coupons takes us to $3. But...if I add Albertson's double...guess what??? FREE CEREAL!!! WOO!HOO!! And yes, this is totally do-able and possible.

Step 3: I alphabetize my coupons by brand name and put them in an organizer. It kinda looks like a bill organizer (although you'll probably see another post about moving all my coupons to a notebook in baseball card style pages for easy access... ) Anyway - so organize the coupons with what works best for you.

Step 4: I have a a few blogs to check that are in my top sites mac spaces. This makes couponing easy for me...because this great gals go through the stores/ads and tell you the great deals to play - it makes it a lot easier, especially just starting out - so check out... frugallivingnw.com; moneysavingmom.com;thebargainjargon.com. I watch for FREE and overage deals. I watch for places where I can get a gift card back for certain purchases. Or rebate checks (Rite-Aid rebates are SOOOOO easy!)

Step 5: Make a list!! I know...seriously? Yes - going in "blind" without a plan could have you spending more $$$ than you want or need to. So I have typically have multiple lists (yeah, I've gotten to where I could make quick visits to Albertsons, Safeway, Target, Fred Meyer & Rite Aid). The reason I have my list (and take it) is sometimes stores have unadvertised sales, or close-outs at their stores that can be better than the advertised deal I'm thinking of utilizing. so...I can cross it off the list and get it for the better deal.

Step 6: Get shopping. Enjoy it! Be prepared for people to stop you and ask you how you do this. Be super super super overly kind to the check-out people. Learn their names.

What I still want to learn??? I'm still looking for the best way to get real deals on meat. That's the biggest way I haven't been able to save on a more consistent basis. Yes, I watch for sales... but... I haven't seen anything here that is great. So... does anyone know of a great meat market in Salem or a great place for good meat at a great price?? I'd love to hear.

I know this is sort of couponing by way of firehose --- a spew so to speak... but... don't get overwhelmed. Just enjoy it!! I'd be glad to help ya' out if you want to talk it through...or come over sometime and clip coupons and chat about it... I know...some of you think I'm nuts. Some of you are thinking - way cool - but no way. Some of you are ready to go to the nut house with me. I've gotten enough free or nearly free stuff to be hooked for life. So... yeah. Come join the fun.

"Everyday Greatness" - a great book...

About time I blogged again huh? Little did I know I'd say something about wanting to read more...and then have it take me so long to let you know how I'm doing with that. Yes - I've been reading more. I've read quite a bit actually. Most have been shorter-style books - mostly related to ministry stuff I admit --- mostly related to something we're excited about for student ministries this fall... and this book is no doubt included in that list.

I'll be honest - when I joined in the Thomas Nelson blog review team I thought I wanted to snag a book that would be an easy read, simple, so that I could move quickly to the next one. I picked Everyday Greatness, by Steven Covey. It mentioned articles from other authors that I have interest in and enjoy so thought, sure, why not, that'll be a good first book. Again - I thought it'd be an easy quick read to just check off my list. HA!HA! Little did I know the nuggets of wisdom I would find (and am still finding and will continue to find inside the cover).

Everyday Greatness is a compilation of stories and insights from those who would be considered "well-known" and many who I would call "should-be-known". Targeting about 19 different character traits or schools of thought that clearly transform lives - you read 2-3 real-life stories that pinpoint the heart of these traits. Afterwards you find quotes, questions to ponder, and thoughts from Covey. This is why this book has been something to pour over - not just plow through. It's taken me on a personal journey of discovering a deeper desire to live my life with purpose to make the most of every moment - to honor the calling and opportunities that come my way - to take a look at what really is important to me, and to challenge me to not take for granted the chances that come my way to make a difference. In the big - the small - in my attitude, my actions, my heart, my challenge to others - by my example, my speech and my beliefs.

Personally this book has been an encouragement and a challenge. As a youth pastor, I've honestly thought about having this book be the framework for our curriculum for the year - it's literally spelled out - and an important challenge to our students today. I'd say it's much more like a daily read/study/devotion type book than a sit down and read straight through book. Not to say you couldn't do that. You totally can - but for where I've been, where my heart is, the journey I'm on - it's worked better for me to go steady and slow. And that's why it's taken me a while to blog about it. Get it. It's worth it. But go into it asking God to change you from the inside out, so that you can change the world. It makes it soooo much better with that framework.


I want to read more...so...

I don't know about you - but how often do you read? I do read a bunch online - that counts (someone on my team told me that recently, and I was sooooooo relieved). But honestly, most of my "book" reading has been kids books, or the occasional book I skim or scout in prep for messages or work stuff. OK, well, maybe I've read more than I give myself credit for. But bottom line - I want to read more.

I remember being in high school and having all that "required" reading - and not wanting to do it. You were making me - I wasn't choosing it. I would get the reading list and read the books during the summer at my own pace so that when it came up at some point during the school year I could review and skim for class discussions (I know - I just showed my age - this was prior to the age of summer reading requirements...). Anyway - so what's my excuse now? I used to read allllllllll the time. Now - not so much. It could be time. It could be content. I don't know. I want to read more.

So... I recently started following Michael Hyatt on Twitter . He's the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing. I'm not exactly sure how it started, but he actually requested to follow me first - HA! a shock to me - so I figured sure - why not. I've already found myself reading more after following him. Not because of the number of tweets he sends out each day (which I admit are alot) but because of what he sends out. Links to articles or to his blog - he even posted his daily reading list, how he sets it up, etc. I have so much to learn to make the most of my time in this arena... but...

One of the things I found by following him is the Blogger book review program you can be part of with Thomas Nelson - you agree to write book reviews and post them to your blog, and to a retail consumer site, and they send you the book for free. Pretty cool. So, I've requested my first book - a Steven Covey - Everyday Greatness. Watch for an update on that in the coming weeks. Now I want to read, and have to - if I want to get another book. I hope this turns out to be fun for all of us.

So...I'll probably get in gear with this and start writing about some of the other books I've read lately that I really like. And... tell me what you've read lately that I just shouldn't miss!! I'd love to know...


I'm back...it's been toooooooo long

OK...so we've just gotten back from a looooonnnggggg time away from home. Back to the ATL for time with friends and fam, and then off to Michigan for a vacay with fam there too. Both were wonderful... one was complete whirlwind... one was complete rest... both were refreshing and fun to just be all day with our fam. When Steve went back to work on Monday I really didn't know what to do. I loved just looking across the room and seeing him there...every day...2+ weeks... aaaaaaahhhhhhh... He's the best...

So - I've got to get a little more consistent in this blogging thing. I did pretty good for a long time, and I've just been out of it for a while. Busy? Tired? Juggling a bunch? Yeah, maybe. But I don't really think that's gonna change at all... but I like doing this - really I do. I don't really know that it matters to anyone else, but who knows...hopefully it helps us connect on a different level - sharing ideas, thoughts, randomness together... so...here's some randomness...

Let's start with MJ - can I just say I'm kinda tired of all the speculation on what caused his death? I mean, please people (namely media outlets) - can't you just let the coroners office do their thing and give the results. I saw on 3 different news shows moderators asking viewers to send in (via Twitter or Facebook) their ideas of what caused Michael's death. Really? Seriously? Is that where the news has come? Hey viewers...tell us what you think could be news and we'll make it the news... UGH!!! So frustrating... I honestly remember the original Thriller days. My brother got the album...I didn't. But it sure was played a bunch in our house. We didn't have MTV (man, I'm showing my age huh - album...no cable or MTV...sigh...), so we had to see the videos at other people's houses. I remember watching the famed intro of the moonwalk and being amazed. I remember watching the Jackson 5 cartoon program. Michael (and the rest of his family) brought much to our music culture...and still do. It's going to be cool to hear the recordings, of which there are supposed to be bunches, when they get released...but it's also gonna be sad as people fight over the rights, the proceeds, etc. I could go on and on about MJ...but I won't...

I will say, that with his death, along with Farrah Fawcett, Ed McMahon, David Carradine, and today Karl Malden...there's been a bunch of talk of legacy - things these entertainment icons have done, stood for, supported. It makes me look at myself and think, am I really doing all I can do...do people really know where I stand...am I as passionate as I could be for the things that truly matter to me...and to the Lord? I know I can do better. I want to do better. Not for the sake of doing more stuff...or even being known by anyone...but just to honor God with my life. Yep - I just want to honor Him by giving Him my best. I know I don't do that every day. Do you? How? What's the key for you?? I'd love to hear...

Rabbit Trails... Have you ever noticed that it's soooo easy to get distracted when you're on the internet? Right now I have 4 different internet windows open, and on 2 of them, the number of tabs open exceed the length of the window so that I can't see the others. I was doing some prep for messages this weekend, and a link on a site caught my eye, which led me to get distracted and just keep searching on something else. It doesn't even relate to what I was researching and preparing for...but it caught my eye...and it bugs me. I'm not really going to get into the "what it was"... yet. I really am looking at this discussion so that I feel as though I can truly talk about it intelligibly. I'm not there yet. But isn't it interesting that you can be on a site you truly appreciate, only to have it linked to something that makes you shake your head.

I remember taking a class in college, where literally the answer to every question on the final exam was "it depends." The prof drilled that into our brains - every single day. You had to be prepared to give your answer, based on giving circumstantial support for why that was the right answer, and give an alternate answer for some circumstance that would be different. I'm not saying that the views of what I was researching are alternate to the link - but it was just one of those things that caught me off guard to see something I totally agreed with linked to something I totally didn't. (sorry...not meaning to make you more confused, or curious). Maybe it is just proof of one of those instances where it's not a "deal-breaker" to disagree on some things. Although the link would say differently. It would say this topic is leading Christianity to the ultimate of liberalism... I don't agree. OK, I'm not making sense...moving on.

I think I might be allergic to dogs. When we lived in Atlanta, and had 2, I always always always attributed my scratchy, irritated eyes and sniffles to the ever present pollen in the air (and dust, and horses...and all that other stuff I'm allergic to). When we moved to Oregon we soon noticed that I wasn't having those problems any more. And since there isn't yellow snow in Oregon (i.e. spring pollen so think that it coats everything around you...) we were convinced that it was a pollen issue. Well...this week we are enjoying dog-sitting for our friends. He's such a great and sweet dog, who adores Steve (who doesn't?) and adores me almost as much (when Steve isn't around). But last time he was here...my eyes starting itching the 2nd day, and sniffles set in... and this time...it's the same. I don't want to be allergic to dogs. I love them. My kids are praying that I'll feel better and that God will help me not to be allergic to dogs, because they really want one (hang on kiddos - we gotta get a fence first). Me too. I don't want this to happen. (Note...to my friends who own this beloved pup... no worries...we love this little pup and are taking great care of him. Noah & KJ are doing a fab job...he's doing GREAT!)

OK... this is long enough for now. I'm committed to this. I'll keep it up. If I don't - drive me nuts til I post again... Chao...for now...


a big week ahead...

So...after having the flu two weeks ago, I feel like last week was a blur and a chance to try to catch up... at the end of the week I think I felt more like I wasn't caught up than I did when the week started...and now, it's Monday morning already. And it's sooooo time for me to go to sleep. But... I also know I'm way overdue for here...so... here's a glimpse into my world...

*Busy...I think my schedule is practically full Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday. I'll be ready for a 'break' Thursday...but that's when more catching up will have to take place.

*Stretch...I'm meeting with a life coach this week. Something new...something different...something that is such a stretch for me, because it's waayyyyy not something I would typically think about or do, but...it was a generous gift and so... I'm stepping into something new. I have a good bit of pre-work still to do...goal setting, evaluating, reflection... this should be interesting...

*Planning...lots of "stuff" coming up church wise...service night next week, Wheel of Fortune in April, All Night Party is coming quick... Plus there's spring break fast approaching which definitely needs some activity, summer trip plans to see family & friends..., quick Oregon getaways we want to do...whew! Good thing I like to plan events...

*Laughing...Noah has had me laughing all weekend, which I needed because it's also been a highly reflective, thinking weekend as well (that's a blog for another day when I'm not processing on such a big level - one friend received this crazy long email after asking me a simple question...I'll save you all from that stream of consciousness...and hopefully give a more succinct but still real synopsis)...wait...I was talking laughing here... I am really making sure I take time to just laugh with my kids & hubby... Steve had me laughing at his blog (check it out @ www.steveunwin.blogspot.com ), and at tv, and lots more... the kids...we just love to laugh, and read, and play...

*Frogging & bird-watching...we have a bullfrog somewhere in our back yard...we are determined to find this thing...not to eat or catch, but just to befriend. I love hearing him "talking" back there...reminds me of living on the Yellow River in Georgia and all the wildlife we used to see and hear... and... the birds are starting to come... with being in a new subdivision and not having any trees in our backyard, we've been wondering if we'd see anything other than the 3 black crows that hang out in the dirt...but...this past couple of days we're seeing more... time to pull out our Oregon bird book - oh wait - I have a walking Oregon bird book in Kaylee --- we can just ask her. Time to find the bird feeders and get them out!

*Sleeping...I should do that now. Even though I'm wide awake...with the time shift with daylight savings time...ok...I'm forcing myself to turn this thing off and go to bed.

Good night friends...keep bugging me if I don't send an update soon. I am committed to getting in gear, get organized, blog, and get some things done... ready?? I hope I am...



so...it's rare in my world that I get in the blahs - I'm not talking about those inconsequential blahs, the ones I gripe and complain about (like the weather...)...I'm talking about just one of those points where I'm a little down. Yep - that'd be now.

My uncle passed away yesterday. He's soooooooooo much better off. He's been fighting Parkinson's disease for such a long time, and while in those moments I've gotten to spend with him over the last 5 years have been few, I cherished the moments... watching him with my kids - and remembering being at he & Margaret's house in Mississippi on vacations just makes me smile - trips to 7-Eleven for Barq's root beer, driving tractors & go-carts, playing Stryper's version of Battle Hymn of the Republic while he just spent 30 minutes telling me that southern gospel is the only real music out there, calling cousin's code (for a coke of course), running around with my cousin Carol Ann, listening to Styx with Cindy & Lindy in their room, BeBe always having stories... watching Al make computers, hearing stories of his boat trips taking supplies to the people of Haiti... and now...he's with Jesus...and my grandfather, my grandmother, my cousin Lindy, my great-uncle Whimpy (ok, that was his name...deal with it...) my great-aunt Flo...so many others...

Thanks Lord for sharing Al with us all these years... will you get him a cup of coffee - he prefers a clear coffee mug... and give him a hug from me... Thanks... I'm so grateful for heaven....


Come on...you know you've felt the same way...

So...I've started a couple of entries this week, only to get a few sentences in and delete it. Why? Because honestly...there are times when I think/believe - no one is reading this - why does it matter? Who cares about my obviously random thoughts, experiences, beliefs, cares, frustrations...and why on earth would they spend their free time perusing them on the internet when there is so much more to see elsewhere... I don't know that I'm the only insecure dingbat in the blogosphere...but I honestly think I'm not alone.

So...it might take me a little while to put something else up, it might not. I'm putting undo pressure on myself to make it good, read-worthy, amazing, thought-provoking, memorable... Rarely have I sat here and deleted thinking "oh wait - so and so is gonna read this" - I think I'm a fairly open book... but I'm just trying to figure it out...

So...you amazing bloggers out there - the ones who write and share and feel and grasp this blogging thing so well...spur the girl on... I'm stuck.


holey socks...

OK...I have a confession...I wore socks today with giant holes in the heels. I didn't realize it when I put them on. And it made me a little sad...a little depressed. It's not necessarily a bad thing (to wear through your socks). Someone told me I should be proud that I thoroughly used them...a great way to have a positive perspective. I don't remember ever wearing through socks. I keep socks for years. I don't have lots of pairs of socks. They just haven't been a necessity for me. Honestly, I don' tlike them. I just haven't ever worn them that often. To me...it's a reminder that my feet long for flip-flops and to be sockless... And now... I have to start thinking about going to Fred Meyer for socks...which makes me one of those people I blogged about back during the holidays...although without the 50% off sale...hmmmmm....


Christmas 2008 --- I need a do-over.

Kaylee said, "Mom I got great gifts - I loved them all. But Mom, it was the worst Christmas ever." Yep ... she could be right.

Christmas Eve service was wonderful. We took up a whole row with our friends the Condello's and the Prins'. 6 adults, 6 kids. The worship center was pretty full for a 4:00 service. And I was ready. I love Christmas Eve service. I love singing the songs so focused on the miracle gift of Jesus. I love the finale of everyone being invited to come to the platform to sing Hallelujah chorus. I love the messages that direct my heart to the real blessings of the season. Jesus. Forgiveness. Salvation. Do overs. And this year - the best is yet to come. (The service isn't on our website or I would give you a link to listen to it...it was a good one.) Anyway ---- I was focused, grateful, adoring my Savior & my God...

The Condellos came over afterwards for games and fun - plus sandwiches, shrimp, and other yummies!! I was home about 3-5 minutes, when I started to not feel so good. The feeling wouldn't go away...and then...yep...that yucky spit. Let's just say the rest is history. The puke-fest would begin. I was miserable. I don't think I've ever been this sick. I spent a good bit of time upstairs. I didn't get a picture of the kids in their Christmas outfits - and for me...that's ridiculously bad. A sure sign that I was absolutely miserable. Once the Condellos left, we had little Christmas Eve projects - stuff stockings & wrap the last few stuffers, and...put together Noah's new bike. I love to wrap. I love putting stuff out and under the tree. Yeah - that didn't happen. I was miserable. I sat in front of our fireplace begging the warmth of the flame to melt away the agony. While it was a comfort it wasn't enough. I kept apologizing to Steve who wrapped all the presents - stuffed the stockings and assembled the bike. And early enough I was already up in bed. Yeah, I'm hardly ever in bed before Steve - I'm the night owl.

As I've said before, somewhere along this blogging journal...I am unfortunately a recipient of the Armbruster curse --- yes I snore. So, on some unfortunate nights, my husband may end up slumbering on the couch for the last hour or so of his sleep cycle because the symphonic noises he hears are not exactly the sleepy soothing kind. So, when I woke up about 4:30 and realized he wasn't in bed, part of me thought I was snoring - then I thought maybe he was sleeping on the couch to not catch my germs. Then I heard him. Uh, oh. We broke the parent rule. Both parents cannot be sick at the same time. I slowly made my way down the stairs to commisserate in agony with my man - me on the loveseat, him on the couch and we groaned in pain together. Noah was up early ready for Christmas (about 6:30)...and Steve...he went back to bed. The kids were sooooo patient because we had told them that at 7:00 it would be time to open presents... They waited until 7:30. They were great.

Now I don't know how it was in your house growing up, but the "standard" seems to be that parents kinda "stack" the gifts - they say, yeah, you can open this one, wait hold on that one a little bit. Today - we just said - find the one with your name on it and open it. They looked at each other for a moment of "seriously - did mom just say that?" And then they bolted - they knew exactly what they wanted to open. We didn't dictate order or anything. Sure - open whatever you want. And they loved it. Paper covered every inch of the floor and they were thrilled. Once we finished opening gifts, Steve was back in bed. I was asleep on the couch and slowly they began to open and play with everything they got that day. They were fabulous. They were patient. They were entertaining. They were best friends. They were amazing. Steve and I...while bodily present - we were miserable. We couldn't walk. We could barely lift our heads. The Condellos saved the day...again...and brought us Gatorade and crackers and chicken noodle soup. (At dinner time they brought the kids turkey & mashed potatoes). We couldn't even open the door. Poor kids - when they wanted something opened - they would bring me the box and the scissors to cut through all those stupid twist-ties on the back side of kids items...I would fall back asleep and 10 minutes later they'd say Um mom - weren't you going to open that. Oh yeah - I was.

I was reminded all day to pray for John. I had no energy. No stamina. I couldn't move. It was a day. He'd been like that for what - 7 weeks. I was reminded of how I take for granted how amazing my kids are. How I wished I could care for my hubby but couldn't. How I was grateful that I knew God was watching out for me and pleading with him to spare the kids from this yuck. And in the midst of those fleeting thoughts found Him in the midst of misery. There's soooooo much of that day or two I want to do over. But I learned a lot too. I can't give that day back to the kids. I wish I had video of them opening stuff...and being as excited about every single gift in the exact same way - whether a big lego set or a bottle of bubble bath --- they just called out "I love it" and ran to find the next thing. I can't give them a different memory of the day. I can't promise that next year will be different. I can't count the number of times I said I'm sorry to them. I wish I could have been even more focused on Him. I can't take that back either. I am truly grateful for my kids, my friends, my hubby...and for Jesus. Truly truly grateful. I don't always understand the experiences in life...but...I love Him. I trust Him. But man...I'd still like a do-over.

A most embarassing moment...

And no...I don't have video or pics of this one. (well, not of me) In the midst of "Arctic Blast 2008" there was a day mid-week where the snow had tapered and the roads were somewhat clear (don't get me started on how bad the roads were and how there's no gear to clear them --- but I won't really complain - it's fun being stuck at home). Speaking of stuck...

So...the roads cleared up and I decided to bravely head out in the van to the grocery store to pick up a few more things. I'm a Southern girl - haven't spent much time driving on snow - especially like this - so I cautiously headed out. And it really wasn't that bad. Our street was sketchy, but once I really got to a main road, it was pretty good. Slushy towards the middle but good. So...off I go to Fred Meyer (which is the Oregon name for Kroger). I was inside for oh, about 45 minutes, and ended up with a cart full. I check out and head towards the door to find that it's snow pouring again. I'd bet we'd had 2 since I'd entered the store. And as I mentioned streets weren't necessarily great - and parking lots were bad - so I started to push my cart into the parking lot full of slush and 2 more inches of snow on top of that. (Do you really have this mental image - shopping cart wheels heading into slush and snow, about 4-6 inches think...and me pushing the cart? Yeah, you see where this is going)

I get the cart out into the middle of the lanes of traffic that run in front of the store --- and I get stuck. I mean stuck. I'm trying to push and pull my cart - and the more I try to push or pull, the more stuck I get. I mean stuck. I mean really stuck. really really stuck. Ok, enough of that. To make matters worse, there are cars in said parking lot - and they are not wanting to get stuck - instead they have incredibly nutsy drivers who choose to drive past you and around you. Or pull up right next to you and just HONK THEIR HORNS!! Seriously? You can't tell that I'm appalled and embarrassed enough - you have to truly anniliate any semblance of self-esteem I have left to belittle me with honking your horn at me. I look up (literally almost in tears) kind of do the sheepish wave - and move to the front of the cart to pull it through the parking lot (oh - I forgot to mention I'm only 2 parking spaces back in the parking lot - so the end is sooooooo in sight but so far away). I'm going no where. NO WHERE! So here's where the ridiculous becomes absurd. It was 15 minutes before someone finally came alongside me to say - hey, do you need some help! 15 MINUTES!!! Yes, I wrestled with my cart and grocery loot for 15 minutes by myself as car after car passed by, and their drivers honked, glared, sighed, yelled and belittled my very stuck existence and stupidity. Now - once this delightful Good Samaritan helped it only took 2-3 minutes to get my very heavy grocery laden torturous wheeled machine to my van. He pulled the front end while I pushed from the handled side. And most honestly, when it wasn't loaded with groceries it moved much better - and I was able to manuever it to the return cart area much easier than moving it to the van.

To make matters that much more embarrassing - I head back towards our house, by way of the Williams' house -because I had dropped off Steve & the kids to sled with them while I went to the store (reasonable enough). Only I assumed that as I entered the house and encountered my beloved spouse and dear friends that I would find compassion, comraderie in pain & suffering, empathy and support. Um....no. As I share my story the more I say the more laughter erupts from the deepest parts of the bellies of Erik & Steve...and Jeanne-Ann wasn't tooooo far behind (but she wasn't as bad as the boys). I wasn't ready to laugh yet. I couldn't believe it. My man - this one who pledged to love me for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, in sunshine & snow laughed so hard he was crying. And...when he & Erik are together if one starts to laugh the other laughs harder, causing the first to laugh harder and they can't stop. Um, yeah - I needed the "I'm so sorry that happened to you" "That's terrible" "how dare those mean spiteful people drive passed you and honk at you while you sit and try to move in ultimate misery and embarrassment." Nope. Not from this crew. My humiliation only continued... Sigh...oh well. (By the way - thank you Chele for calling in the midst of my ongoing humiliation and telling me honestly and wholeheartedly the things I needed to hear...)

Someday I'll be able to look back and laugh. I'm almost there now...but still not quite. I'm glad I can fuel my husband & friends' entertainment... Next time I'm in that position --- I'll just leave my cart at the curb and drive my car over and unload into the van from there. I know better now. I learned from my mistake, misfortune & humiliation. Better yet - I'll just send Steve out with the list.


Let it snow...let it snow...let it snow...

As I said - we had no idea. It started snowing on Saturday, December 13th. We had snow almost every day through December 25th. One day we had lots of rain, but it was really cold and there was ice on the roads. Another day rain the am, and snow by the late afternoon which brought us over a foot in just a couple of hours...then more steadily over the next couple of hours. At it's height we had 15-18 inches in our yard. Yep - it was soooooo fabulous!

We did lots of night time play! The kids ended up being out of school the whole last scheduled week of classes in December - which meant a 3 week Christmas break. Did we get tired of it? Nope - well, Steve did on a bad driving and snow downpour day - I'll have to tell him to blog about that one and I'll post a link to it when he does... Anyway - night play was a blast. We did snow angels and built snow men. One night we decided to give the kids an early Christmas present and pulled out the sled that they should have gotten as a gift 10 days later...but this snow was a gift and we had no idea how long it was going to stick around. YIPPEE! It was so much fun. Of course the kids thought it was a blast to be out after dark in the snow - staying up late. Drinking hot chocolate! WOO!HOO!! Did I say it was fun?

We spent lots of time at the school playing on the field - climbing the tree - sliding on the slide (oh, I should post that video too) - building an igloo - walking on frozen water patches in the backyard - throwing snowballs...I absolutely loved it all! At it's peak we had about 5-7 inches covered by a layer of ice, covered by another 10-12 inches...the ice was super freaky on the roof, thinking of it falling on someone below. But - the kids loved trying to break off big pieces of it. We built a Pooh & Piglet snow sculpture over at the school - one of the times I didn't have the camera with me...sorry. We loved that we couldn't see our Christmas lights outlining our yard because of the depth of the snow. (or loved the nights when the lights melted the snow away and the lights shone through the snow - way cool). Favorite Noah quotes: "we live in a snowglobe" and "this is the goodest night of my life" Kaylee was just so excited she talked about 2 octaves higher for most of the time... Here are some of my favorite pics. I loved it. Did I say that? It was a blast! Did I say that too? While I don't necessarily love the 3 days being added to the school year --- I'll gladly say - bring some more --- especially like that snow... WOO!HOO!!!

our 2008 Christmas tree...

So...when we decorated the Christmas tree this year (Man we loved our tree...I should tell that story first)...let's start again.

We loved our Christmas tree this year. We were trying to find a "dry" day to go, and Steve had seen a sign just a short ways from our house pointing towards a tree farm (we like cutting down our tree). Anyway - so...the rain stops, things clear and we decide, fairly last minute, to head out to pick up the tree. The Condellos and us hop in cars and head off to a tree farm, literally just 3 or 4 miles from the house (in Michelle measurement standards). Really, it's super close.

We start to head towards the trees, and love the first tree we see. Great color - great shape - just the right height. Well, you can't pick the first tree, right? So we "mark" our tree (no not the way you are thinking...we put a big stick towards the top of it so we'd remember which one it is...). Anyway , we move forward about 2 row and then stop and look at each other and start to chat realizing we've already found our tree why look any further? We totally could have been out there for an hour just looking around. Nope. You could say we took the easy way out --- but I'd say we just scored by finding our family tree right away. So we cut it, carried it, loaded it and brought it home. WOO!HOO!!!

Traditions for tree in our house - we have a home-made tree skirt. Super fancy let me tell ya'. It's a white sheet - wait for it - that we put handprints on each year. So it's kinda cool to watch the kids hands grow. They pick the color paint they want to use, stamp their handprint and then write their names. Next, we alternate between the kids who gets to put the angel on top. And this year couldn't remember whose turn it was...Kaylee was sure it was her turn. Noah was sure it was his. Well sure - who doesn't want to put the angel on top of the tree. So...we resorted to looking at last years pics, and....drum roll please - it was KAYLEE'S turn! She was SOOOOOOO excited. In the midst of decorating the rest of the tree, the kids put our snowflake ornaments close to the window to remind the outside that we wanted to see snow for Christmas...yeah - we had nooooo idea...


Anniversary #18...and a little "lump" and a "snow" delay...

So...December 15th. A big day in Unwin family history and story. The day me and my man got married!!! 1990. Wow! 18 years ago! Are you kidding me? Has it been that long? We're approaching that we've been together nearly half of our lives point. Whoa. Crazy. Unbelievable. Fabulous!

So...we only talked about our anniversary for like a month or more before it came - PF Changs...movie...walk & talk. WOO!HOO!! Simple but that's us...just being together is a good thing. A date. YIPPEE!! So...date night #1, a few days before our anniversary got shifted - strep throat. That's right. Oh do I have pics of this? I don't know. Pics of what you ask? Let me tell you.

Noah had a bit of a month in December. He was acting not quite with it...so I kept him home for two days --- he was sooooo sad to miss school, but he was weak, complaining of a tummy ache, just not himself. So...stay home. 2nd day we went to the doctor with him - not because of being pale or not eating but because he had a huge lump (no not a little lump) a giant lump on his neck. Visible. Lumpy. A little freaky. Off to the doctor we go - our favorite doc wasn't in, but we knew he had to be seen. No other "real" symptoms - no fever, ears & throat clear, nothing - if you call a giant neck lump nothing. He said just keep watching Noah - it was probably just a lymph node infection that will go away, but could take 30 days or more! (WHAT!??!!) So...home we go - ibuprofen, blah, blah, blah. He's feeling more like himself the next day --- still no "other" symptoms - so off to school he goes. By Thursday(6 days later) this giant lump is ginormous (is that a word)...so back to the doctor after school. Long story short...my dear boy - Strep...again!! UGH!! Why didn't I get them to test him before. And...Kaylee is along for the ride...who has a sore throat...guess what --- double. Two sick kids. Poor things. They were great sports, but had to stay home... And since strep is contagious...we didn't want to expose our baby sitter to it...so...postponement of celebrating the best hubby ever. (Note - kids went on antibiotics...Noah's neck swelling went down after about 5 days...)

Let's just go out on Sunday after church. Okey dokey. Only to have the beginning of the winter blast (oh wait - they called it Arctic Blast 08)...north of us was worse (which is where PF Changs is...) and the roads were getting worse. So...postponement #2. Only to have school cancelled the whole next week for weather - to get ridiculously fun amounts of snow over the next 8-9 days...at one point it was 18" deep!!WOO!HOO!! But...when they are cancelling work for Steve's company for a WEEK...yeah, it's not necessarily the best travelling conditions. No offense to the area...but yeah, they don't have the equipment to handle the crazy snow we got...so...postpone some more...

So...fast forward to today...still waiting...there have been all kinds of things that have happened...out of our control...so PF Changs is on hold. But you know what. Regardless...I've got the best man there is. My apologies to all of you out there who are married - my man is the best there is. He is absolutely the best. Absolutely fab. Absolutely mine... I'm so grateful for him. Maybe I need to figure out a way to scan pics so you can see us on our "big day" - big hair, puffy sleeves and all... I love ya' babe! Here's to our do-over!! I'm so glad we're Mr. & Mrs. Steve Unwin!!


OK...I admit it...I'm behind...

Well...December 2008 brought lots of fun...lots of ick too. We had 15-18 inches of snow in our yard and the school playground...so, needless to say we were outside a bunch...the kids were out of school the whole last week they were supposed to have classes in December...so they got a 3 week break! WOW! Then...Christmas, which I usually love, but Steve & I got sick sick sick...ok...this is too bullet point for a girl who is usually way to long winded. Let's do this. I promise here and now to catch up. Here are the topics I will tell you all about...
Anniversary #18
Snow, Snow, Snow
Shopping in the snow...
Christmas 08 - ick!
I love my kids
Christmas - thoughts on my heart
Jennifer's visit
What's up for 2009?

OK...that's enough for now...if/when I think of more...I will put those in too...I promise...I'll get caught up... =)

©2009 Until... | by TNB