Christmas 2009!

Christmas was great this year.  Jenna was really excited about her new bike which she didn't even ask for.  Her second favorite was her American Girl doll, Chrissa.  This makes number 5.  Yes, I know.  But that's the privilege we parents-of-one get.  We can do stuff like that.  :)

As usual, we spent Christmas day night with the Taylor family.  There was a very big empty place with Mary being gone this year.  But it was still an enjoyable evening.  Micah, Gage and Chase came to the house after to open gifts.

I'd made Micah a scrapbook of her pregnancy and Gage's first year.  I also got her a couple frames and put pictures of Gage in them.  I think she liked them.

I also made Chase a scrapbook of Marine stuff.  I'd taken lots of pictures when we went to his graduation and so I put them all together in an actual Marine scrapbook.  You'd be amazed at the military scrapbooking supplies that are out there.

All in all, it was a good year.  And tonight, we carry our New Year's tradition with none other than...the Millsaps.  We'll see you all in 2010.

Christmas Eve

Continuing tradition, Christmas Eve was also spent with the Millsaps.  We went to the first annual Church at Station Hill Christmas Eve service and then came back to the house to celebrate.  We had lots of yummy finger (i.e. junk) foods.  We watched some of Christmas Vacation (a staple of Christmas with the Taylors) and then let the kids decorate Christmas cookies.  This had been done at my office the same week and I thought it would be a GREAT idea for the girls since they are usually all hyped up on sugar by the time the evening winds down.

They had a great time decorating and yes, I went WAY overboard on the icing and sprinkles.  But really, can a cookie ever have too many sprinkles?  Apparently, Santa didn't think so.

After the cookie decorating, the girls exchanged gifts.  Jenna got he Liv Girl doll and some accessories which she loved.  We got Hannah a Barbie set and a Taylor Swift CD.  Those girls do love their Taylor Swift...

ICE! with Charlie Brown

On the Wednesday before Christmas, we participated in our normal pre-Christmas tradition with the Millsaps by going to see ICE!  This will be year 3 or 4 I think.  This time, it wasn't the Grinch, but a Charlie Brown ICE!  I will say it wasn't as good as the Grinch, but it was still cute.  After, we went to eat at Cock of the Walk there near the Opryland Hotel (or Gaylord, but I refuse to give up on the Opryland name!).

I haven't been to Cock of the Walk in forever and it was quite delicious!  The girls loved this big chair.  I wish we had made plans to go to the hotel to look at the lights after, but we just didn't have the time.  Plus, it costs a fortune just to park and we weren't into it.  I'm making a mental note for next year though.

It was a great time as usual with our friends.  I hope it's better next year or we might have to trade ICE for the lights of the hotel!

Christmas Recap-With my Family

I have too many pictures to put them all in one Christmas recap, so I'm going to put it in several.  The first is Christmas with my family which happened the Monday before Christmas.  We ate at a local restaurant and then went to Bertie's to have coffee, drinks and dessert.  We were supposed to play Christmas Bingo, but my sister forgot but it really didn't make a difference because we had too much fun enjoying ourselves.

Only the kids exchanged gifts this year and as usual, they fared well.  Garrett and Jenna love getting together.  They are best cousins, but just don't see enough of each other.  Bertie did make my brother and sister scrapbooks from stuff my dad had and that was pretty cool.  She also made Garrett a pillow from a police vest of my dad's.  Talk about a nifty and unique gift.  After the family left, we stayed and exchanged with Bertie.  She spoiled Jenna.  Got her the American Girl triple bunk bed.  Not to mention she MADE pajamas for Jenna and a matching set for all four of her American Girl dolls!  And then sent another set home for Christmas morning when she knew Santa would be bringing another doll.  Seriously?  The woman is amazing!

The plaque you see is what Bertie had made from a bunch of my dad's stuff from his police days...his badges, pictures, cuff links etc.  At some point, she will pass this beauty along to me.  It made me cry to look at.  Some much to be proud of with my dad....

Anyhow, enjoy...I'll cover ICE! with the Millsaps next...


I know, I know...

I owe an updated post from Christmas and I promise I'm going to get to it.  I spent about 2 hours last night uploading all the pictures not just from Christmas, but the entire season!  When I was done, my head was hurting so bad that despite being home with my honey all alone, we went to bed at 9:30.  I slept great and my headache was gone this morning.

I'm back at work this week, but taking off Thursday, Friday (the office is closed) and Monday.  So I will have plenty o' time to do a couple posts.

I've already been thinking about posts for the next few days, so just hang with me and you'll be glad you did.


Update to come soon

I hope you all had as good a Christmas as I did.  Our house is already de-decorated and now we just have to put up all th boxes in the attic.

I promise an update with pictures coming soon.

I hope you enjoyed my 12 days of Christmas posting.  I have gotten several comments about it.  I'm a bit suprised because I always wonder if there is anyone out there reading all this writing I'm doing!

Very soon I'm going to get started downloading all the pictures I took the past few days.  There are a bunch of them...


12th Day of Christmas-Jesus

Luke 2:1-14

 1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
 2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
 3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
 4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
 5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
 6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
 7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
 8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
 9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
 10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
 12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
 14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.


11th Day of Christmas-Old Friends

So, tonight we spent time with The Millsaps.  I've already talked about Rachel and our friendship and tonight just reminded me once again why I love her.

But there are other "old friends" (NOT in age!) that I haven't mentioned yet.  So, on this Christmas Eve, this one is for you.

Carrie was my best friend back in the 6th grade.  We had some seriously fun times.  I could tell you things we did and boys we liked, but I won't embarrass either of us that way!  At some point, Carrie moved away and we lost touch.  Now, the funny thing is that we hadn't spoken since about 6th or 7th grade until she reconnected with me through my friend Stacey.  Carrie (living in VA? at the time) randomly sent money to help with Steve's mission trip to Moldova.  So, it's been like 20 years and here she pops up wanting to help us out.  Now, just how cool is that?  Anyway, we rekindled our friendship and turns out her daughter is Jenna's age.  A couple years ago, we met up and went to the beach with the girls.  It was a great long weekend and that was the point at which I fell in love with the Canon Rebel she had with her!  Later that same year, while we were on our cruise, I got an email that of all places, she was moving back to TN!  She now lives just east of Nashville and we talk often.  In fact, we had lunch together just the other day.  I'm so glad we have rekindled our friendship.  It's so neat that we go back as far as we do.

Speaking of Stacey...this girl...she is the most hilarious, wonderful mom I know.  Stacey and I go back almost as far as Carrie and I do.  We graduated together and our parents were friends.  We laughed together and got into trouble together.  I almost killed her one night on the way to our homecoming.  (And just for the record...IT WAS NOT MY FAULT.)  Stacey has moved all over creation with her hubs and I doubt she'll ever live back in "Nashvegas" again, but I see her about once a year (though I think this is the first Thanksgiving I didn't get that chance) and I always enjoy seeing her and her kids.  And I love her hubs to death because I KNOW what he puts up with!  :)  Stacey has overcome adversity of all kinds and I admire her for the woman and the mother she's become.  I'm so glad that we have the history we do.  We've been through it and I know when I'm 70, she'll be right there with me...probably getting me into trouble.  :)

Then a few days ago, I went to see my "old" friend, Jen.  Jen is a hairdresser.  (Now I'm wondering why I'm calling her "Jen" all of a sudden...it's JENNIFER).  And if you need one, SHE'S YOUR GIRL!  If you have any doubt, check my FB for photos of my new 'do and ALL the comments I received.  Anyway, I digress...Jen and I were very bestest friends back in high school.  And I'm thinking I might have gotten in more trouble with her than Stacey.  Anyway, I went to see Jen who did a practical makeover on me and we got a chance to really catch up.  Oh dear heavens.  We did have some good times.  It's virtually impossible for me to list them all, but I will say Jennifer was probably the first call I made when there were big events in my young teenage life and I'm sure she (and others that read this) know EXACTLY to what I'm referring!  And I'll be seeing her again pretty soon...have to keep my new 'do...well...NEW.  :)

And then there's Staci who also goes back to my high school days.  Staci and I had a special relationship, although I'm not sure I could tell you exactly why I feel that way.  Staci and I don't talk as much as we used to, but I still count her as one of my greatest friends of all times.  And can I just tell you that Staci's oldest child, Jen's only and my only were born 2 weeks within each other.  Wow.  I just think that's the coolest.

And then there's Victoria...but she'll always be Vicki to me!  Vicki and I went to school together for quite a while and graduated together.  I wouldn't say that we were close, but I always liked Vicki and I think she liked me. :)  As with many of my high school friends, I lost touch with her over the years and she didn't attend our 10 year reunion.  Once I got up and running on Facebook, I would frequently search for her, wondering where she was and how she was doing.  And one day, there she was.  We struck up a friendship through FB and email and have been chatting ever since.  We have even been out with the girls several times.  I think it is supercool that I have had the opportunity to strike up a new "old' friendship with Vicki.

Finally, there is Amy.  I could write a book on all the times Amy and I had.  She was like a sister to me.  We were practically attached at the hip.  There's absolutely no way that I can write about everything we got into.  But we have definitely been through it.  Amy is a fabulous photographer living in another part of the state with her hubs (who is a MASTER FARMER on Farmville!) and sweet, beautiful little girl.  I miss her like crazy because we don't talk as often as I'd like, but you know, life is funny like that sometimes.  But despite that, we have much history that cannot be erased and I'm so glad for it.  Amy had such a large part in making me who I am.  We went through heck during our high school years.  We cried together, laughed together, and loved together.  She was my maid of honor.  I'm so thankful for the time we spent together.

And there are many more friends that have come and gone.  My intent in naming these here is not to intentionally leave out any of my other friends.  I have a number of friends from my childhood that are on FB and each of them make up a part of who I am today.  And I appreciate all of you.

But to Carrie, Stacey, Jen, Staci, Vicki and Amy...thank YOU.  In this season of reflection, I'm thankful for each of you and for who you made, and are making, me to be.


Please Pardon the Interruption...A Christmas Miracle

Just wanted to take a quick moment to share with you my own little Christmas miracle today.

As you know, Steve has been out of a job since August.  Thanks be to God that He has provided for our every need, specifically financially, since that time.  Steve has been working a part time job at the church for several months.  Unfortunately, due to no fault of anyone's, his check was short by a week on last week's paycheck.  And then there was a glitch in the unemployment system and checks didn't arrive until almost the weekend (we usually get his on Wednesday or Thursday).  That was last week.

I get paid once a month on the last day of the month so typically that 3rd and 4th week start to get tight.  That's the way it always is...something about getting paid monthyly I guess.

Anyway, to say finances were tight would probably be putting it mildly.  And we had several things to take care of.  Thankfully, Christmas is done, paid in full, ALL CASH (thank you Jesus for Christmas Club accounts!), but there were several things that we just needed cash for.

Even though we really needed money, I wrote out my tithe check last weekend and even turned it in to the church despite the fact I knew they'd run it through the bank immediately, what with it being year-end and all.  And sure enough, our account was pretty stinkin' close to being bare...and we still had multiple obligations to cover.

Anyway, since I went in to work today, I had a little chat with God on the way and I told him that I really needed Him to help this week's unemployment check to show up today.  Like, if it didn't, we'd be in a real predicament.  And God and I had quite the chat.  I told him that I was believing Him for provision.  I told Him I'd been faithful in my tithe and that I was asking for this from Him.

And wouldn't you know it...I received a card filled (and yes, I mean FILLED) with cash, before the day was half over.  This generous gift came from a friend who I'm sure wishes to remain anonymous.  I will honor that wish, but he/she knows who they are. And my family and I know who they are.  This person is a Christian and while I was suprised at the gift, the timing and it's generosity, I was not really surprised that this person would do such a thing.

It was humbling to take this gift, but it was a 100% direct answer from God.  I told Him this morning that if He would provide ("if"???) I would be sure to give Him the glory.  So, publicly, here I am, telling you that God provided and used a wonderful friend to do so.  Oh He loves us so much.  He is just waiting on us to ask Him.

The only strings attached to this gift was to eventually "pay it forward".  And I can guarantee I will.

And I know it's in our nature to be curious, but please don't ask me to divulge the identity of this person.  This person knows who they are and I have thanked them already and will continue to do so.  I can tell you that I am blessed to have this person in my life.  And to them I say, simply...


And now we return you to your regularly scheduled 12 Day of Christmas program....

10th Day of Christmas-Station Hill

Today I want to share something that I am SO excited about!  Many of you know that I'm a member of a pretty large church in a city further north of where I live.  Steve and I have been a member of Brentwood Baptist Church almost 10 years (in January) and we have never felt more at home.

About a year ago, after much prayer and consideration, BBC decided to launch a regional campus and it just happens to be in my back yard (well, not literally, but you know what I mean).  This whole year, we have been meeting and working together to prepare for our launch Sunday (February 2010).  It has been tiring, but exciting.  We have gotten close to many of the families that we will "do life" with over the next number of years.

Our new church will be called The Church at Station Hill and you can find more about it here as soon as the website is functional.

Making this move has definitely been out of my comfort zone.  I have been a member of 2 churches in my entire life...my home church, Radnor Baptist and my current church home, Brentwood Baptist.  I love BBC.  Let me make sure you understand.  I.  LOVE.  BBC.  I love the bigness of it.  I love the people.  I love the pastor.  I love the children's program.  I love that we have a library.  I love the choir.  I love the orchestra.  I love most everything about it.

But Station Hill will have the DNA of BBC, but we will be our own church.  And I'm going to be part of it.  And in 20 years when Station Hill is as big as BBC, I can say I was there from the beginning.  How cool is that?

So, if you are looking for a church home and live south of Nashville, come see us in February.  And if you can't wait until then, come tomorrow night at 4pm.  We'll celebrate the birth of the Christ child together.

I'll be there.


9th Day of Christmas-My Family

Updated January 20, 2010

I've taken some time to talk about the Taylor family, but today I'm going to honor MY family.  I have rather an interesting family tree to be sure.  I have 2 half brothers and 3 half sisters.  They are all older than me, so I am the baby.  All my siblings had already grown up and moved away by the time I came along.

My niece (who isa few years older than me...told you it was interesting) was more like a sister to me than a niece.  My mom used to babysit her so we spent LOTS of time together.  And we argued like siblings, but even today we have a lot in common.  It's amazing.  My niece's son was born just a few weeks before Jenna, so we got to share our entire pregnancy together and that was the best gift!  The kids don't spend as much time together as we'd like, but when they get together they play so well with one another.  My niece and I have been asked if they are twins.  Um.  NO.  So funny!

We have had our ups and downs and our challenges.  I have been angry at them and they have been angry at me.  But the bottom line is that I love them.  Each and every one of them.

In fact, I spent time with some of them last night to celebrate Christmas and as always it was a good time.  We laugh like crazy over each other.  I know that I have not told them enough how much I appreciate them, but today I want them to know...

Teresa, David, Danny and Karen...I love you. 

Despite everything. 

I do.

And the same goes for the rest of the family...your husbands, wives, kids and grandkids...my brothers and sisters in law, my nieces and nephews and greats...my family wouldn't be complete without all of you.

I'm so glad God put each of you in my life.  And in this time of reflection and thankfulness, I want you to know that.

PS. I didn't forget Bertie...she was honored back on December 15.  :)


8th Day of Christmas - Happy Birthday Rachel!

Another birthday celebration!  And this one a super-special one...for my bestie in the world, Rachel!

Rachel and I go way back.  Way back as in back to when I was in kindergarten.  And that means Rachel was like 4.  Seriously.  We have known each other FOR FREAKIN EVER.

I don't know what my world would be like with Rachel (and her family) in it.  Let me tell you about a few of the reasons why...

Rachel and I have been friends for a long time, but she was one of the reasons I maintained my sanity when my mom was dying with cancer.  That happened when I was 18, so remember she would have only been 16 at the time.  As a 16 year old who knew my mom VERY well (our families go back further than we do), she could have been very uncomfortable to be in the house with a dying woman.  I know at that age, I would have been.  And maybe she was.  But I never knew it if so.  She spend just about every night with me.  With Alive Hospice in the adjoining room caring for my mom.

And we laughed.  A LOT.  Frequently.  Probably more laughing was had in my mom's last few days then ever in my life.  And just so you know, my mom would have had it no other way.  She was right there by my side the morning mom passed away.  And she went with us to pick out the cemetary plot and probably to the funeral home, but I can't remember.  She never left my side.

She was in my wedding.  Again, right by my side (OK, not RIGHT by my side.  Steve was right by my side, but you know what I mean!)  8 1/2 years ago, we was again by my side while I gave birth to Jenna.  And for the last almost 3 years, she and her family has spent Christmas Eve with me and my family so that I don't have to be alone (my mother always hosted Christmas Eve for my family) and that means more to me than she could ever possibly know (though I bet she's figured it out now).

We work together.  We church together.  We hang together.  We vent together.

Rachel-happy birthday my friend.  You make my life better by just being part of it.  I can't wait to see what the next few years bring us and our mini-me's!


7th Day of Christmas - The Taylors

This one won't be as long as the others because I think I've said this on here about 100 times already.  I LOVE THE TAYLORS.  I know that I have been adopted in via marriage, but this family...I love them.  I love that they have their own dysfunctions, but it is never something that is dwelt upon.  I always have a great time when I spend time with them.  And I am very much looking forward to Christmas Day night which is when we do the Taylor Family Christmas.

Steve's sister, Deanne, was the first to know about Steve and I dating way back when.  There is a 15 year age difference between Steve and I and when we first met, I was 20 and he was newly divorced, 2 kids and 35 years old.  You can imagine what we knew the family would say when they found out we were dating.  Deanne was the first to either figure it out or be told and I remember talking to her on the phone and telling me that it didn't matter what anyone said...if we were happy, that was all that mattered.  Not sure what the rest of the family thought of it.  I'm sure they were very scared for Steve.  He'd been hurt badly during his separation and divorce and here comes along a 20 year old "teeny bopper" which is what his ex-girlfriend called me and my best friend.

Anyway, despite their reservations (which I'm sure they had), the Taylors fully embraced me from the moment I entered the family.  If my recollection is correct, I believe Christmas was the first holiday I spent with them.  So, Steve and I would have been dating about 5 months by then.  I remember they all welcomed me and I never felt unwanted or out of place.  And I still feel that way.  And if you want to go to Christmas at the Taylors, you will be treated the exact same way.

I have grown to love each and every one of them.  And I hope they feel the same way.


6th Day of Christmas-My Work

So, I know most folks wouldn't list their workplace in a blog as something to be thankful for.  But I am. I work at really a great place to work.  Part of what makes it great is the people I work for and with.  I have 3 co-workers on my team and my boss, Sherri.  Now, you've probably heard me mention Sherri before...some in this blog, but many of you know I talked about her before.

I love working for Sherri.  I worked for her a few years ago and left to take what I thought at the time was a better opportunity.  And I spent the next several years scratching and clawing to get back to her.  About 18 months ago I finally succeeded and I could not be happier.  Sherri knows me well.  I could go on and on, but we'll leave it at that.

And I work at a company who is very involved with the community and helping others.  In fact, once a year, we get an entire day off work to volunteer with a non profit entity in our city.  We have literally hundreds to choose from.  And the company pays us for the day...we don't take it from our vacation or anything.  And it is "strongly encouraged" that we participate.  The company gives no telling how much to these same institutions every year to help them do what they do best.

We have a cafeteria, a fitness center, pharmacy and clinic all on-site at the Corporate office.  It's free parking every day and if you have to go between buidlings, there are shuttles that run all day long so you don't have to walk in the rain or cold.  There's so much more, but it is a fabulous place to work.  The opportunity there is crazy.  I have been there 11 1/2 years.

And then I have great co-workers...Katelyn, Sally and Erica.  We all have different jobs, but we get along like family.  They are some of my closest friends.  We make a great team.  And I love it.

So, in this season of reflection, I'm thankful for the company I work for, the people I work for and the people I work WITH.

Another good post...

From Stuff Christians Like.  If this blog is not on your blog roll, I highly recommend you add it.  You don't want to miss Jon's post today.


5th Day of Christmas-Micah

Not to leave out any of my children, today is Micah's day!  I said a few words about her yesterday, but I wanted to say more about what she means to me.

Micah is the reason that Steve and I are together.  Many years ago when she was just a little girl, not much older than Jenna is now, she walked into my Sunday School class with her cousin Beth.  Because I had been at this church my entire life, I knew every child and each of their parents.  But Micah was new and I was instantly drawn to her.  Those of you who are teachers by trade or have ever taught a Sunday School or VBS class probably know what I'm talking about.  It's the kid that for some reason, you just have an instant connection to.  Now, I know that connection to Micah was divinely ordained.  Then, I had NO idea.

At any rate, Micah and I became very close.  VERY close.  Like I said earlier, she used to say, "I wish you could be my stepmother"...Micah was always very protective of Steve and I think she very much needed someone to watch out for him.  She is STILL very protective of Steve which makes her an excellent mother.

A couple years ago, Micah rocked our world (not the first time!) when she announced she was pregnant.  As most parents, we had concerns because while she wasn't a teen, she was still young (in our minds) and we didn't know how she would handle being a mother.

But can I tell you how she has blown our minds in what she's done?  First of all, she carried our sweet grandson, Gage, with little or no complaint.  She went through labor, had him and went home where she cared for him.  She didn't stay with us or her mom for weeks at a time.  She jumped right in and has turned out to be an excellent mother!  Not to mention while she was pregnant with Gage, she lost her job, but when he was about 2 months old, she decided to go get an education.  Now, she's a medical assistant at a peds office, no less.  She works full time and takes care of her boy.  Ask me how could a parent be any prouder?

She lives about an hour away from us, but we still see them fairly frequently and I cannot WAIT to see them on Christmas!  It's by far, my favorite time of year to be with them.  Gage is getting old enough now to understand Santa and gifts and it's going to be really fun.

And to Micah, I say...I love you.  You are the first "baby girl" I had and I've never gotten over the bond we forged when you were just a mere 10 years old.  I cannot WAIT to see what God has in store for you!


4th Day of Christmas-HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHASE!

Well, today I'm going to honor the big birthday boy, CHASE!

Because I know there are some readers that visit from Facebook, I feel the need to give a smidge of background on Chase...who he is etc.

Chase is my all-grown up step-son.  I met Chase when I met Steve.  Chase was 6 years old.  As you remember a day or two ago, I told the story of meeting Steve through Micah.  Well, Micah and I were super close.  In fact, for her, there were times when she was jealous...not of Steve's time spent with me, but my time spent with anyone BUT her.  It was very sweet.  Micah and I were close (we still are, but in a different, grown-up way).  Chase...well, he always acted like he could care less about...almost everything.  He was very laid back.  If I was around, he was OK with that.  If I was not around, he was OK with that too.  And he'd argue with a brick wall.  We always got along, but the relationship was different than with Micah.  Maybe it's the difference between girls and boys.

Anyway, before I knew it, Chase had grown up and turned into a MAN.  And a handsome man at that.  He went to Marine bootcamp this year and graduated with flying colors.  He's now a Private First Class in the Marines and about to graduate from his occupational specialty school.  He also turns 22 years old today

And I am very proud of him.  He's taken control of his life and I could not be more...surprised?  No, no, I mean HAPPY!  And I love him like crazy.

Happy birthday Chase.  I'm so very proud of you.


Stuff Christians Like Blog

One of my favorite blogs to read is Stuff Christians like.  4 days of the week, this guy (John Acuff) is hilarious.  Wednesdays are for serious stuff.  Today's post was a great one.  If you have time, take just a minute and go there and read it.

3rd Day of Christmas-Jenna

Of course it was inevitable that I would have to have a post about my sweet baby girl!  This one could be the longest yet, however, I'm going to restrain myself.

Last week on the way to school, somehow Jenna and I got to talking about the day she was born.  She asked me to tell her the story of that day.  Actually she first wanted me to rehash the day that I got food poisoning/a 24-hour virus and passed out in the floor at home while Steve was changing her diaper.  Because that was not a glowing moment in my history, I declined because somehow I don't find the story as funny as she does! 

For those that don't know (how could you NOT know), Steve and I had to go through in-vitro fertilization to have a chance at conception.  Actually *I* went through IVF...Steve kind of just helped.  :)  It's funny, never once during all the shots in my stomach and hips did I question that I would ever be pregnant.  It's like I just knew.  And God saw fit to bless me with a child.

She's not perfect, but in our eyes, she's pretty stinkin' close.  And she's 8 1/2 (officially yesterday) and that's more than halfway to 16.  Driving.  Dating.  High school.  It makes me want to hyperventilate just thinking about it.  Before long, my sweet baby girl will be will be wearing makeup, smart mouthing me (because what goes around, comes around right?) and talking on the phone for hours about the boy she likes. 

Anyway, I did relay the story to her and like many kids, she loved hearing it. Of course I had to kid-proof it because we all know how childbirth is, but she got the gist of it. And re-telling that story made me think about that day and all the excitement and anticipation of seeing this long awaited miracle child.

Excitement and anticipation not too unlike that which was felt all those many years ago when another child was about to be born.  By a woman named Mary and a man named Joseph.  Much younger than I was when I had Jenna, but equally as scared and unprepared.  It wasn't until I had Jenna that I could relate to Mary, but boy do I now.  She will be the one person I seek out in heaven to ask questions...

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy
Would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy
Would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your Baby Boy
Has come to make you new;
This Child that you delivered
Will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy
Will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy
Will calm the storm with His hand?
Did you know that your Baby Boy
Has walked where Angels trod?
When you kiss your Little Baby,
You kiss the Face of God!

Oh, Mary, did you know?
Oh, Mary, did you know?

The blind will see, the deaf will hear,
The dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak
The praises of the lamb!

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy
Is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy
Will one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your Baby Boy
Is Heaven's Perfect Lamb?
This sleeping Child you're holding
Is the Great I Am!


2nd Day of Christmas-Grandparents Day

Today, Jenna's school celebrated Grandparents Day.  It's kind of a combination Grandparents Day celebration and Christmas Program.  Poor Jenna, she's down 2 grandparents since this time last year.  Thank God for Pacockey (Steve's dad) and Nana (Bertie, my step-mom).  Nana made a special effort to attend this year.  Not sure if Pacockey was there...sometimes he comes in late and we don't see him.  Jenna might not realize it now, but as she gets older, the fact that her grandparents came to her programs will mean so much to her.

So, about grandparents...mine were already gone by the time I was born, so I've never had the experience of grandparents.  Most of you have and you are so lucky.  I'm thrilled that my Dad found Bertie (for a multitude of reasons) and that she became a grandmother to Jenna that I thought she might not ever have.  (For those of you that may not know or remember, I lost my mom in 1992 to cancer...long before JG was born).

Anyway, I love Nana and Pacockey and in this holiday season, I'm thankful for them.  Not just for what they are to me in my life, but for what they mean to my daughter.

Merry Christmas Nana and Pacockey!


1st Day of Christmas-Steve

My 1st Day of Christmas post today is about my sweet husband, Steve.  To say I am fortunate to have found someone like Steve is an understatement.  I was very young when I met him.  For those that really know us, know that I was proably like THREE when we met for the really first time.  He went to school with my much older brother so we probably knew of each other from way back when.

But I was still fairly young when I met Steve.  I was 20...actually 19 because Steve came to my 20th birthday dinner.  I had been through some pretty awful times and my dad didn't really have much advice to give in the boy department.  Except, DON'T.  :)  Daddy would have been fine if I'd stayed at home with him for the rest of my life and his.  God had other plans.

I actually was semi-dating someone else at the time Steve and I met and so was Steve.  We were just friends because I'd gotten to know his daughter, Micah.  Actually, I was smitten with Micah. Micah used to say, "I wish you were my step-mom."   Ahhhhh....be careful what you wish for.  Anyway, there was a point in time where I'd stopped dating this other guy and Steve had broken up with his girlfriend.  I remember telling him, "God has someone special in mind for both of us".  And I'm sure if I had listened hard enough, I would have heard God laugh.  Oh, how my God has a special sense of humor.

Anyway, we started dating when I was 20 and he was 35.  We got engaged on my 21st birthday and married just shy of my 22nd.  13 1/2 years later and we have weathered some pretty tough times.  The last couple years have been harder than we could have ever imagined.  But I could not have done it without him by my side.

And now, as we celebrate our 15th Christmas together, I'm thankful that God put this man and his children into my life.  I know I didn't deserve him (still don't).  But I'm glad that God gives us what He knows we need, not what we deserve.

I love you Steve.  Here's to another 15 Christmases!


12 Days of Christmas

I know I have been very remiss in blogging and I hate that.  I want to do better, but somehow time just slips away from me and I get behind.  Trust me, it's not that I don't have stuff to blog about, because most certainly I do!

So, today, since there are only 12 more days until Christmas, I thought I'd do a "12 Days of Christmas" blog.  I know this is mostly a Thanksgiving type idea, because most days will be things I'm thankful for.  But I believe Thanksgiving is just the beginning of the season of thankfulness.

You'll want to check back every day because you never know when YOU might show up in one of my posts!  Tune in tomorrow for the 1st Day of Christmas!


I Need a Christmas Tree...

Alright Facebook and blog readers.  It's a call for help from the Taylor household.

This year, we went out and bought the most beautiful live Christmas tree.  It's a Frasier Fir about 7-8 feet tall and perfectly shaped.  We bought it Thanksgiving weekend.

And it's dying.

Yes, we water it.  Twice a day actually.  When we brought it home, I searched the internet for the best way to keep the tree alive.  We did everything we read.  Watered it frequently (it's never been dry), kept it away from the heating vents, turned off the lights at night etc.

But the stupid, beautiful tree is still dying.  And it's dying at an alarming rate.  Like I don't know that we will have anything left at Christmas, which is still more than 2 weeks away.

I'm not going through this again.  I am on the hunt for the perfect Christmas tree.  And I might just have to find it before Christmas this year.  So, I'm here to ask you all where the best place is to get a tree.  Here's what we are looking for:

7-8 feet tall
Green, no flocking or colors
Pre-lit, preferably white lights
Frasier fir or something similar...we like FULL trees
Something that will last more than 2 years
A nicely shaped tree
Preferably something less than $1000

OK, the last one is a little overblown.  We'd like something for about $200-300, but the trees meeting my description above that I've found online are running $500-600.  I did find the perfect tree...it's beautiful online...and it even has a stand in a bag so when Christmas is over, you just stand up the tree in the bag stand and zip the bag up over it and store it standing up.  This, my friends, is Steve's dream of a tree.  However, it is about $560.  For that much, the tree better last for 20 years.  But maybe it's supposed to.  Maybe it's time we invest in something that will last.  That just seems like an awful lot...but the shipping is free.  Somehow that doesn't seem to help.

So, dear readers, tell me your secrets.  Where can I find the best artificial, pre-lit, beautifully shaped Christmas tree without spending a fortune (remember, Steve is only temporarily employed at the moment...)

Oh, and while you're thinking, send up a quick prayer from my friend Katelyn.  She's flying to Las Vegas (to see Garth!) today and will be coming in Sunday...safe travels...


A Professional Photographer...

...I am not.

Let me preface this post by telling you that I am in love with my Canon Rebel  XSI and I'm about to celebrate my 1 year anniversary with it.  Since I've had it, I've bought a telephoto lens, taking a photography class, purchased a card reader, hijacked Photoshop and taking about 10,000 pictures.  I just found a fabulous deal on a fixed portrait lens and so on Cyber Monday, I purchase it, along with aforementioned wireless remote.

I'm looking into an additional flash, but they are expensive.  So Steve and I decided that if I'm going to invest in this camera I should start doing some little side jobs.  I was pretty excited about that prospect and thought maybe some of you would let me photograph your family...free of course...to get me some experience.

Well, after last night, I am thinking perhaps NOT.

Disclaimer....you asked for it.

What's up with that look on Steve's face?

Does it not look like there are an extra pair of legs going on here?  Seriously.

Oddly enough, this is one of my faves.  Katie finally just gave out and the rest of us got tickled.

Yeah.  Nothing good about this one.

And this one may or may not make the cut...we'll just have to see...

Now.  Let's not all jam up my inbox with requests for portrait sessions.

Christmas Card Pictures...

I've had a request for this, so just for you Stacey... :)

Just so you know, the Taylor Family may not have Christmas cards this year.  Because we are trying to save money you ask?  No......because there is no possible way to get a decent Christmas photo of all of us. 

This year, we have our new addition, Katie, who is NOT to be left out of the photo.  Unfortunately, with a dog that is highly trained to keep an eye on Steve (literally), it's hard to get her to look at the camera.  Not to mention, Jenna is into that fake smile thing and it looks AWFUL!  Her smile is so beautiful when it's genuine, but you parents all know what I'm talking about right?  That goofy, forced smile that they start doing.  It's enough to drive me crazy.

I even bought a fancy, schmancy remote for my Rebel so that I could set Jenna, Steve and Katie in position and then get into position myself without having to rush before the flash went off.  But even a fancy remote can't shave the 30-40 extra pounds off me.  I looked like a big red whale next to Steve. 

So, there you have me, looking awful (and yes, I know all of us women think we look worse than we do, but seriously...) Steve looking normal, Jenna forcing her smile and Katie looking everywhere BUT the camera. 

Finally, we ended up on the stairs and the pictures were great.  Except since I was using the remote so instead of getting up to look at each one, I'd just take a few shots.  By the time we got to the stairs, I was exhausted, hot and starting to get cranky, so I just packed it up and was done with it.  Those pictures would have been gold except for the fact that I'd moved Jenna up one stair to sit on my lap to hide my body and only realized when I looked at the pictures that I'd cut both our heads off. 

But Steve and Katie look great.



Happy Thanksgiving to my 3 readers!

I finally finished cooking our delicious lunch at 11:30 this afternoon and now we are all laying around.  We are about to start getting prepared for round 2 which will occur with the Taylor Family.  Getting together with the Taylors will be different this year.  We are missing cousin Alex (who recently got married-CONGRATS!) and is with her new husband in North Carolina.  Chase is not home this holiday, but lucky for him, he is in Marine school about 20 minutes away from Alex, so they should be spending today together.  Cousin Gabri is still in California, unable to be with us.  Micah and Gage won't be joining us as they have other plans today.  And of course, the most pronounced absence is our Matriarch, Mary. 

But we have much to be thankful for in this year of loss.  Let me name a few:

*God removed Steve from his most unhappy situation at his old job.
*He has continued to amaze us in providing for us since Steve has been out of a job.
*Katie joining our family, putting my mind at ease and saving Steve's life over and over again.
*The fact that my dad is no longer suffering, but has joined my Mom in heaven this Thanksgiving.
*My job that I love and work for 2 women who also believe and understand the importance of family.
*Jenna, Steve and myself are for the most part healthy and happy.
*The financial ability to send my child to a school where worshipping God is a daily thing.
*Friends who love me and will approach the Throne on my behalf.
*A God that loved me so much, He would sacrifice His Son so that I can spend eternity with Him.

So many other things to be thankful for.  There's not enough time to list them all.  I'm off to get ready for another food fest.  I hope wherever you are, you are eating turkey and remembering all you have to be thankful for.


Thanksgiving Menu

Just thought I'd share what's on my Thanksgiving menu for tomorrow.  I am cooking a mini-lunch for the three of us and then we'll have the Taylor Thanksgiving at Steve's sister's house tomorrow night.

But for us, we are having ham, cornbread dressing, macaroni and cheese, corn, green beans, sweet potato casserole, fruit salad and rolls.  For dessert, we have cranberry-apple crisp and chocolate cake balls. 

So far, I already made the fruit salad, the cornbread for the dressing, the dressing, and the cranberry-apple crisp.  The corn and green beans will only take a few minutes to warm.  I think I'll do the cake balls and a second batch of macaroni and cheese for the Taylors.

Now, I'm tired and have been on my feet all night (I cooked dinner too) and so I'm going to lay down.  I'll have to get up early tomorrow to put the rolls out to rise.


A late one...

I know this is a very late update.  I blogged almost daily for a while there.  I guess life just has a way of intruding sometimes!

Not really a lot has been going on.  I'm working fast and furiously at work.  So many things to get done before year end.  I have a huge deadline looming over me. A year-long project that must be finished and doesn't seem to be going anywhere. 

Jenna got her progress report from school last week.  She's doing well.  Es in Bible, Social Studies, Science and something else...S+ or S in everything else (handwriting, math, reading, etc.)  We are very proud. She's been struggling with her behavior lately and so we've had a "coming to Jesus" talk with her which has resulted in her being without TV privileges for the past 3 days.  I can already see an improvement in her behavior at home, so I hope it's working.

Steve's still working at the church about 3 days a week.  He finally signed back up for unemployment (he was ineligible for a while when he was working 2 PT/temp jobs) and that will help fill the financial gap.  We are beginning to really feel the pinch of him being out of a job.  God has provided more than I can tell you through the last few months.  Perhaps a post on that soon.  Anyway, thankfully, for the last 10+ years, I have had a Christmas Club account where money is automatically deducted from my check and sent to a special account at the credit union.  They transfer it into my savings in October and then we have that money for Christmas.  It is the BEST thing I have ever done financially speaking (or close to it).  Each Christmas, we have more than enough money to make our family's Christmas a good one.  This year, it will come in extremely handy.  I can't imagine the stress this year if we hadn't saved all year.  We do give back also...we are helping with the church's Christmas baskets this year and I have to say, I'm pretty excited about it.  I hear it's a fabulous time!

What's on tap this weekend?  Not much.  I am leaving shortly to go to the VERY EARLY matinee of New Moon with my friend Marcia!  It's the 10 AM showing.  We figured it would be best to beat the crowds.  I'm pretty excited about it.  After that, I have absolutely no plans whatsoever.  Laundry of course, but other than that, just relaxing at home. 

Does anyone out there shop on Black Friday? I've always wanted to do it, but never have.  I couldn't do it alone or with Steve because I would be too easily irritated.  But I think if I could ride with an experienced friend, that would be fine.  I have shopped occasionally on BF if I was looking for a high dollar item like a PC.  But it's been years since I've needed something like that.  A few years ago, I laid down and took a nap on the Friday after Thanksgiving and when I woke up about 5pm, I decided I wasn't going to stay in the house all day and so I got up and went Black Friday NIGHT shopping.  Y'all, let me tell you...best thing EVER.  The crowds are nearly gone, parking is better and for the most part, the deals are still going, not to mention the stores are usually open late.  I do the majority of my shopping then.  It's fun and I look forward to it.  The first year Steve was bowling in a league, so I took JG with me.  The last few years, I've left them both at home...that way I can do her shopping at the same time.  If you are interested in tagging along, HOLLA.  My bestie, Rachel is going to be in OK for the holidays and that totally means I'll be alone and depressed.  :)

OK, that's it.  It's about time for me to head out.  I have to meet Marcia in about an hour and I need to check email before I go.

Happy before-Thanksgiving weekend!


Veteran's Day

Today is Veteran's Day.  Up until this year, for me it was just another day for the banks to be closed and the mail not to run. 

This year, it means so much more. 

Take a few moments today to pray for the troops who are deployed, those in training, those that were affected by the events in Ft. Hood, TX...and if you know someone in the military...past or present...thank them.  Their sacrifice provided the freedoms we all enjoy today.

Happy Veteran's Day!


Do you Twitter?

I'm pretty sure that no one cares about what I'm doing every minute of the day except me...but I am now Tweeting periodically.  If you are one of few people who "do" Twitter, then you can follow me @sandysignr or leave me your Twitter handle in the comments...

Need a little miracle today?

If you keep up with MckMama's blog and Stellan, you'll know that they had to do the ablation today.  Stellan was in bad shape and actually coded before the surgery even began.

If you haven't already read her post from this evening and need a little pick-me-up, read the results of his surgery here.


This is a test post

This is a test post I am sending from my cell phone. Could it be true? I can blog from my cell?!


Cleopatra and a Cowboy

For those of you that played my guessing game as to what Jenna was going to be for Halloween...here you go...and pictures of our surprise guest...
Preparing for the costume!

Cleopatra! The Queen of the Nile. Did anyone catch my hint in an earlier comment??

Cleopatra and the Cowboy. What a combination!


Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! We have a full day today which includes carving our pumpkin which I hope hasn't rotted sitting outside. I have the regular weekend stuff...laundry, cleaning, scrapbooking. And we are hoping to have a special guest tonight. More on that, as well as Jenna's costume, later.

I can't tell you how excited I am that this work week is over. If you will remember, it started with me being over tired and feeling awful. I have worked late every night this week. Last night, Jenna spent the evening at school doing special Halloween activities while Steve and I went out for a date night, which makes 2 in one week! It was pouring down rain and honestly, I would have loved to come home and snuggle up in front of the TV with some movies and our own microwave popcorn. But we had a good time nevertheless.

Speaking of that, Tuesday night we went to TPAC to see "Little House on the Prairie". Melissa Gilbert played "Ma" and while it was cute and it was neat to see her on stage in the show that she grew up in, but no offense, she is not that great of a singer. The show starts off slow in that it was hard for me to get interested in and I think it's because the plot jumps around so much that you don't really have time to get interested in it before it's moved on. Ultimately, the end is cute and happy and you know how I like a happy ending!

Last night, because it was raining, we only had time to go through the Chik-fil-a drive thru. I got off work just a wee bit early and since we couldn't drop JG off until 6, I went over to Kohls. I LOVE that place! I had a $20 gift certificate and a 15% off your entire purchase which turned into 20% if you spent $100 or more. I got 3 blouses for work, 2 pair of pants and jewelry to match all the blouses. With my gift certificate and my 20% off, I spent just a few dollars over $100 and saved...get this...$126!!! Did I already mention how much I LOVE that place?!!? After we dropped JG off and ran through the drive thru, we went to see the movie Paranormal. If you know Steve, you know how much he loves all things scary. He would much rather decorate for Halloween than Christmas (part of that has to do with the fact that it's so much colder outside in December than October!). But he just loves Halloween and scary movies. So we went to see it while we had the chance. Like all movies, I'm sure there will be differing opinions, but I thought it was SUPER SCARY. That is, if you are into scary. Not to give anything away, but it kind of reminded me of The Blair Witch Project, which I also thought was pretty scary. And when I say scary, I mean mostly in that mind way. You know, when you obviously know it's just a movie etc., but when you get home, you start listening for sounds and think you see stuff you don't. So, Steve enjoyed it and I did too. At any rate, it is good to get out with my sweetheart every once in a while.

OK, better get this weekend started...Lots to do.................


Pray for Stellan

If you keep up with MckMama and her blog, you know that Stellan is again doing poorly. If you don't know Stellan's story, I encourage you to go to MckMama's blog and get updated. It is a miraculous story which makes Stellan's struggle now all the more painful. Let's join together and pray for him...


What do you know about me?

So, I saw this on another blog and thought it would be fun to do...you can learn a little more about me!

1. What is your favorite thing to snack on while your blogging?
I don't usually snack while blogging...but if I am, probably something chocolate!

2. What is one thing you wouldn't want to live without?
Obviously my family comes to mind, but since the question is about a "thing", I'd say, my cell phone. I know it's totally non-spiritual but it's true...

3. Beach, Mountains, or Farm? Where would you live if you had a choice?
I'd like to say Beach, but only if I was retired there and didn't have to work. Although I love the beach, I'm not sure that I'd love it if I had it in my back yard all the time.

4. What's your least favorite chore/household duty?
I really hate vacuuming. Not sure why, but I do.

5. Who do people say you remind them of?
This is tough. I don't know that anyone says I remind them of someone in particular. More often, I've gotten the "You remind me of my best friend", so I guess that would have to be it.

6. Prefer parties and socializing or staying home with the fam?
Depends. As you know, I love my "MY" time, but I love being with my family and just hanging out.

7. What's your all time favorite movie?
Gosh, I don't know...I really like Love Actually. I watch it over and over every Christmas. Last year, I started wrapping gifts at a card table in my bedroom and would watch it while I wrapped. Makes wrapping go a lot faster.

8. Do you sleep in your make-up or remove it like a good little girl every night?
I really should remove it every night. Some evenings I do, but more often than not, I sleep in it. Of course, in my defense, I don't wear a lot of makeup to take off!

9. Do you have a hidden talent or a deep desire to learn something that you've never had a chance to learn? What is it?
No hidden talent that's for sure. I really wish I could play a instrument really well. I'd love to play in the church orchestra. And I wish I'd been blessed with a beautiful singing voice. I would love to sing on stage especially worship songs...I could totally get into that if I could keep from crying while singing!

10. What's one strange thing you're really good at?
Organizing? I do a good job at meal planning and grocery shopping etc. If you've ever been to my house, you know there is always a 2 week meal plan on my fridge...helps save money when shopping for groceries.

11. What first attracted you to your spouse?
Micah, Steve's daughter (my step-daughter). I fell in love with her long before I knew Steve. It was a total God-thing.

12. What is something you love to smell?
Fresh cut grass in the spring. Or the smell of coffee especially when it's cold out (though I'm not much of a coffee drinker).

13. Tell something about you that you know irritates people.
I totally overanalyze things and probably take things way too personally that aren't meant to be personal.

14. When you have extra money, what's the first thing you think to do with it?
Well, first I have to determine whether I have bills that need to be paid or a need that has to be met. Then I pretty much spend it on whatever.

15. Are you a silent laugher or a loud laugher? What makes you laugh the hardest?
Loud laugher and I get in trouble at work all the time for it. Genuinely funny people that crack themselves up make me laugh hardest. Watching Whose Line Is It Anyway? where the comedians get themselves tickled makes me laugh until I cry.

16. Where is your favorite place to shop?
Depends on what I'm shopping for. I hate clothes shopping because I'm obviously way bigger than I wish to be. Otherwise, I like Target or Hobby Lobby (for all my scrapbooking needs)...when I do have to shop for clothes, I love Kohls.

17. What's one thing you'd do more often if you had more time?
Hmmm...this is a toss up between scrapbooking and reading. Although if I could get caught up on my scrapbooking, I'd have more time to read.

18. Are you a big spender or frugal?
Frugal. I am stuck in the 90s and can't stand to pay more than $20 for any piece of clothing, pair of shoes or purse. I know...it just doesn't work these days. People who spend hundreds of dollars on shoes or purses...I just don't get that. Sorry if you are one of those people...I just can't see spending that kind of money on stuff...but I could see spending it at the scrapbook store. :) :) :)

19. Who is your favorite character of all time?
Character? I'm not sure I get this question. I don't think I have one.

20. Would you want to be famous?
No. No desire whatsoever. I'd like to be related to someone famous. Then I could say, "Oh, Brad Pitt is my brother in law" or "I roomed with Drew Barrymore in college"


Another giveaway (not mine)

If you blog, you want to enter this giveaway...

What are you gonna be for Halloween?

Jenna has chosen quite an unusual costume for this Halloween. We found it at Target. It's not a fairy, animal or kid superstar (Hannah Montana etc).

It is a person though...someone pretty well known...back in her day. Any guesses? I'll post pictures after Halloween. And I'll have a little something for anyone who guesses correctly. And for those of you that already know, you don't get to play. :)


Two Wheels!

While I was gone on my getaway weekend, Jenna had a red-letter weekend! First her fabulous report card, and then with this...

Some of you know that we've tried and tried for several summers to teach Jenna to ride her bike without training wheels. She has worn us out trying. We have taken the wheels off, raised them, and removed one training wheel. Nothing seemed to work. I was beginning to wonder if they made adult bikes with training wheels. Someone had recently recommended that I remove the pedals from the bike and let her coast until she learned. We just hadn't gotten around to that yet.

So on Saturday, Steve encouraged her to go outside to play with our neighbor's kids, Grey and Gage. Jenna is, age-wise, right in between both of them. Anyway, Grey apparently told Jenna just to "pedal".

And she did.

And now she can ride her bike without training wheels. Go figure. But I was super excited...I was sorry I missed the big event, but so glad she learned. Rachel put it best, it's like potty-training...when they are ready, it just happens despite all of our attempts to force it earlier. Wow...there's some deep thoughts in that comment, yes? Maybe for another day. :)


Report Card Time!

I'm sure no one else cares as much as me about Jenna's grades, but I wanted to take an opportunity to brag on my girl just a bit.

She got her report card on Friday while I was scrapbooking and I went right online to see what the grades were. Being in 2nd grade, she's still on the E, S, N, U scale. Check it out:

Bible: E (a girl after my own heart...me being a former multi-year Bible award recipient)
Reading: S+
English: E
Writing: E
Spelling: E
Math: S+ (not the least bit surprising given my challenges in Math)
Science: E
Social Studies: E

I mean, seriously, this would be Honor Roll material if we were on that grading scale. But that's not even the best part. Get this...

You know how I'm a crazy reader. OK, maybe you don't know, but I am. If given a choice between anything and reading, reading would win almost every time (except in a showdown with scrapbooking and then who knows what would happen?!) Anyway, I sincerely believe that the love of reading, or at least the liking of reading is the bedrock to doing well in school. I honestly believe that. I think if a child learns to read well and likes it (not to mention loves it), they will overall do better in school. Obviously I haven't tested this theory, but you know...it's what I have observed in many cases.

Anyway, all that to say, at DLES, they have reading progress levels which have benchmarks to be reached at the end of each grade. For example, at the end of Kindergarten, children need to be at reading level "C". It's just kind of a guideline. Jenna's reading level skyrocketed at the end of last year and we worked really hard at reading over the summer. Many times over the summer, kids don't read as much and it's not uncommon for a child to drop a level or two during the first 9 weeks of school. I was anxious to see what level Jenna would come in at.

At the end of second grade, she needs to be at a reading level of "P". Well, I should have known not to worry because her guided reading level came back this time at "Q"!!! That means, she is already reading beyond where she needs to be when she FINISHES second grade! That just makes my heart sing!

So I just felt the need to brag on my little one. :) As for me, I had a rough night. I absolutely could not breathe which not only kept me awake, but Steve too. I had already taken 1/2 day today but I didn't get out of bed until 10:30. I lounged around the house trying to decide whether to go to work and ended up going. I was tired all day, but the meds seem to be working on my congestion. Hopefully I can get caught up on my much needed rest tonight and feel back to myself tomorrow.

Poor Rachel didn't fare as well. She has bronchitis. YUCK!


Scrapbook weekend

I said I'd try to be better about posting so here's my attempt...

This is one of my favorite weekends of the year. SCRAPBOOKING WEEKEND! Rachel and I left on Thursday afternoon for a state park just down the road a piece to hang out with about 18 other women who are as crazy about scrapbooking as we are.

There are two retreat weekends a year...one in October and one in March and I look forward to each of them for weeks before they get here. Thinking back to the first one I went to a couple years ago (has it been that long)...I thought I was a serious scrapper with my rolling tote and all my stickers etc. Well, you have never seen the likes of what some of these other women come with. When we first started, we stayed up until 11:00pm and thought we were pushing the limits. But these other women are hard core. Staying up until 3am almost EVERY night. And you know what? I'm one of them now.

Every spring and fall, Steve removes all the seats in my van (except the passenger seat (and driver, of course!) and by the time Rachel and I have finished loading up all our stuff, it's filled to the brim. I mean, I take two scrapbooking chairs also...and everything in my scrapbook room goes. And when we get there, it's like being "home" again. Back in the day, the retreats would start on Friday and I'd head out after work on Friday afternoon. Subsequent retreats, we'd move it up to only working 1/2 day on Friday. The day came when my consultant and retreat hostess opened it up an extra day so that we could arrive on Thursday afternoon and by that point, we jumped at the chance!

Now, Rachel and I have a standing lunch with some scrapbooking friends around 12:30 on Thursday (we now take the whole day off). Then we head out and get there right at the time it starts and we can check in our room. And we stay up until 1am or later just about every night. And we don't really sleep in. Most days we are in the room by 9am. Oh yes...it is one of the highlights of my year.

This year was just as wonderful and much anticipated. I managed to get a couple of Christmas gifts done (books I was making) and finally got caught up on Jenna's school album as actually into 2009 with her regular book. There's still lots to do, but these retreats give me the opportunity to really get going. Unfortnately, Rachel started getting congested last night and I woke up clogged up this morning. It is definitely allergies. Complicated with the wishy-washy weather and the fact we both got a flu shot on Wednesday of last week. Oh well...we rung out every last drop of the weekend we could. And now, we begin the countdown to March.

And for all you scrappers out there...this is NOT a closed group. You are totally invited to come. It's very economical...you have lots of space, a pretty decent room (for the few hours you are in it sleeping) and catered lunch and dinner for Friday and Saturday. Plus you get time away from the family to concentrate on getting your stuff done not to mention the really good company of people who like doing this as much as you do! If you are interested, the next retreat is in March...first weekend I think...let me know if you want more information and I will get it to you ASAP. If you live out of town, that's NO PROBLEM. We had 2 from Kentucky and one from south Alabama...they come from everywhere...Murfreesboro, Nashville and even my friend from MI, Becca, came one year...so start planning now and join the fun in March!

Thankfully, I take off 1/2 day on the Monday after scrapbook retreat weekend too. Usually I'm getting groceries, finishing laundry, unpacking etc. However, not sure how I will feel tomorrow...guess we'll see...I'm all drugged up on Actifed Allergy medicine and ready for a LONG night of sleep.

Later! (and sorry to all of you non-scrapbookers...I know this post was a huge bore to you all!!!)

A new blog design

I have been thinking for a while about a new blog design. But that is definitely NOT my forte. The Design Girl is giving away a free photo makeover for blogs. I would love to win this! If you are interested in getting in on the giveaway, click the button to the right of this post or just click here.

Good luck!


The Potter and the Clay

OK, so I have been super-bad about blogging lately and I swore to myself I'd do a better job. I owe you (who are "you" BTW?!) a recap post of my weekend in Memphis with Rachel and Beth Moore and it's sitting in my blogger dashboard waiting to be finished. I want to add pictures and so that is the hold up. Yes, I've uploaded them, but then I never went back to finish the post.

And this post would not be here now except I have finally given up on finding what I was looking for to go with this. So, I'm posting without it because it's something that has been on my mind and I need to share.

The last several weeks at church the sermon series has been on...stewardship. I know, I know...so many of you (non-BBCers) are rolling your eyes now because who does that guilt-'em-till-they-give sermon better than us Baptists!? But this has been different. The series is titled "His." and it has been great! It has really put into perspective what all we have that belongs to Him. Not just our money, but our stuff.

So, in our small group time, our leader was talking about when he was a young person, seeing a potter come demonstrate the making of a clay pot. He told how the potter would spin the wheel so fast and throw water on the lump of clay and how he would beat this clay to mold it the way it needed to go. And at times, the potter would even tear off a big chunk of clay and throw it off to the side. Obviously, there was too much clay for what it was going to be made in to.

When I was in art class in high school, we had the opportunity to work with clay and let me tell you, it is NOT as easy as these folks make it look. The clay is really hard and it does take strength to mold it. And one wrong move with your hands can cause the clay to collapse on itself. I remember I was going to make a vase becase it couldn't be that hard. But it WAS hard. The clay was unruly and hard to mold...every time I tried to form it into the shape I wanted, one side would fall in. When I added too much water and it slung all over the place and made a huge mess of the piece because if you don't know, this job is MESSY!

It's no wonder why there are so many references in the Bible to God being the Potter and us being the clay. How often do we try to take the position of the potter with our own lives. We try to mold ourselves into what WE think we should be. We add too much "water" and generally make a huge mess of our lives. Why do we do that? Well, because it sometimes hurts when the Potter gets hold of us. It feels like we are being beaten down...ripped apart. But the Potter sees the whole picture...what the finished product is going to be. He knows when there's too much of us and some needs to be broken off. He knows exactly how much water to add and where to place His hands on our lives. And in the end, what started as nothing more than a lump of hard, unruly, ugly clay...

...turns into something more beautiful than we ever could have imagined.

"And yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand."

Isaiah 64:8(NLT)



My brother is home now. They have determined that he definitely had a stroke but it was a TIA, but it was one of the mildest that a person can have. There is nothing that could have really prevented it. The neurologist said that the numbness and tingling (which he likens to feeling like you arm is asleep) might take up to 24 months to cease and he might never regain the feeling. It's just one of those things.

At any rate, he's on some medications, off work for a bit and should have pretty minimal lasting damage.

Thanks for all your comments and prayers...

And just to clarify, this was David G., NOT David T (who is Steve's brother).

Update on David

There's not much to report, but I did just call the hospital and David actually answered the phone.

He sounds just like always. He says he doesn't believe it's a stroke and no one has said for sure what it is or whether it was for sure. They've bascially been told nothing except they "think" it's a stroke or it looks like it is. He's had an MRI, ultrasound on his heart and neck and cat scan of the brain (they found one, go figure...we've always wondered! :) ) and no one told them how those tests came out. He is still feeling the same tingling and numbness as he did when he arrived. No better, no worse. He wonders if it's some kind of pinched nerve.

Someone entered the room after about 10 minutes of conversation, so he had to let me go. I told him to keep me posted and he said he would.

Continue to pray that whatever it is, it is minor and that it can be fixed easily. I've always been close to my brother and I am very concerned and worried for him.

Thanks for your prayers!

Prayer Request

I know I owe like a huge update post and I have one started (I really do!), but can I ask for all of you to pray for my brother David today? Last night, he was taken to the hospital where they believe he had a stroke. He's only 51 years old but they do think they caught it very early on and they hope there is no to only minimal last damage. They have taken him for lots of testing and will know more as the day goes on. If you will just keep him and my sister in law, Judy, in your prayers, I'd appreciate it.


A very late update

So many things to say and most of them are updates that are long overdue. We are still trying to get in the swing of being back in school.

Let's see...last week I went for my 1 month post-Lasik appointment. I am seeing almost 20/15. I'm definitely 20/20. If you have been considering Lasik then check into it NOW. I can highly recommend Loden Vision Centers, but I'm just a huge proponent of Lasik in general. It's been a virtual miracle for me.

Steve's not had one single bite on the resumes he's sent out. But thanks to my good friend from church, Leigh Ann, he has been working a temporary assignment for about 3 weeks now. And starting Monday, he will work a temporary job at the church 20 hours a week and then with Leigh Ann on the other days (for a while at least). So, we do have some money coming in and that is extremely useful! A HUGE shout-out to Leigh Ann for her help in employing my husband!!!!

Chase has graduated from military combat school and is now started his specialty training which diesel mechanics. He will hopefully be visiting in a couple weeks for a few days. MOS is like college, so he can use his phone when he's not in class or on duty, so if you have his number and want to, you can give him a call.

Jenna is doing well in school. 2nd grade is different than 1st and comes with a lot more personal responsibilty which is new for her. But after our fall parent-teacher conference, we find she is doing well. Of course, the one thing that she struggles with is T-A-L-K-I-N-G! Geez...I have no idea where she gets that.

Micah had a birthday yesterday so a huge birthday SHOUT OUT to her. 25 years old. Her comment was that she was 1/2 way to 50. All I know, it that makes me feel REALLY old! I met her when she was only 10, so this is certainly a milestone I'm happy to celebrate with her. My brown-eyed girl is all grown up!

As for me, I'm doing OK. Work is keeping me super busy and I'm always behind. A couple weekends ago, we were coming home from some friends' house and it was wet (big surprise). I had on some flip flops with pretty slick soles (I'd slipped several times before). Anyway, I got out of the truck and when my feet hit the garage floor, I slip and fell. My left knee took the full force of the fall. Of course, it was painful and swelled a little, but some ice and Ibuprofen, I was good. But as the weekend and week wore on, I knew something was wrong. X-rays showed nothing, but there is some popping and the doctor thinks I might have a torn meniscus. He has me doing home exercises, taking more Ibuprofen and icing it at night. Next week I go back and if it hasn't improved, it's off to an MRI I go. I can tell already that it's not getting better. By the end of the day, it is swollen very noticeably. OUCH!

That's really about it. Rach and I are going to Memphis to see Beth Moore next weekend and we are pretty excited about that. I say "we", but I guess I only speak for myself. :) In a few more weeks it will be our scrapbook retreat and I'm practically giddy about it already.

So, until I have more exciting things to share, over and out.


Please Vote!

If you have just a minute, could you please go out and vote for my friend Leigh Ann's sister? Her name is Jennie and she has Cystic Fibrosis and would greatly benefit from this scholarship...

If you are willing, please click on this link and vote for Jennie so that she can get a scholarship to help with Belmont University bills. This is a scholarship that was created to honor young adults with Cystic Fibrosis as they pursue goals of post-high school . It's so easy to vote and you can do it all 3 ways. It will take maybe 30 seconds to do all three. I know Leigh Ann and Jennie would love your support.

Click HERE to support Jennie!



Another Book Review: Stray Affections

It's been a while since I've done a book review, so I figured it was time...

In Stray Affections, the last thing that Cassandra expects out of her Sunday is to be mesmerized at a collectors’ convention by a snowglobe. She’s enjoying some shopping time, with husband Ken at home tending their brood of four young boys, when she’s utterly charmed by the one-of-a kind globe containing figures of three dogs and a little girl with hair the color of her own. She can’t resist taking the unique globe home—even if means wrestling another shopper for it!

The beautiful snowglobe sparks long-dormant memories for Cassie, of her beloved Grandpa Wonky, the stray she rescued as a child, and the painful roots of her combative relationship with her mother, “Bad Betty” Kamrowski. Life in Wanonishaw, Minnesota is never dull, though, and Cassie keeps the recollections at bay, busy balancing her boys, her home daycare operation, and being a good friend to best pal Margret. But after a strange—flurrious, as Cassie deems it—moment happens with the remarkable snowglobe, Cassie and the people she loves are swirled into a tumultuous, yet grace-filled, and life-changing journey.

The author, Charlene Ann Baumbich is a popular author and speaker and an award-winning journalist. In addition to her Dearest Dorothy series of novels, she has written seven nonfiction books of humor and inspiration. A bungee-jumping, once motorcycle-owning grandma and unabashed dog lover, Charlene lives with her husband and rescued dog Kornflake in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. She loves telling stories, laughing whenever possible, and considers herself a Wild Child of God.

This is a must read! I have a copy to give away. If you are interested, please leave me a comment or send an email to Sandras_junk@charter.net by Friday, 9/18 at 5pm. I'll draw sometime during the weekend.

Also, for your enjoyment, here is a video link of Charlene introducing the book. The video is available on facebook and/or YouTube.

And as always, if you would like to purchase your very own copy of Stray Affections, you can do so here.


The Prodigal Returns Home and other happenings...

Just wanted to give you a few quick updates on us...

Steve is working a temporary job right now with our good friend from church (thanks LA!). He's worked all week and he is loving it even though it's just stuffing envelopes. He is definitely not a stay at home dad, though I love that he's been home. I'm sure it won't be long until I will love the money he's making more! He has sent out a bunch of resumes, but I'll tell you, there's not even been the slightest nibble...but that's to be expected I guess. He isn't discouraged because we knew this would be hard going into it. We have definitely made some budget adjustments and are living quite differently from before.

On a separate note for those of you not on Facebook...MITTENS CAME HOME! Yes, friends, you read that right! Let's see...it was Wednesday night and uncharacteristically, Jenna had some math homework and I needed to pay bills. So Jenna and I were both sitting at the kitchen table. Steve decided that even though it was 8:15 and dark, he would take Katie for a walk while we finished up. They were only gone about a minute when I heard the door open again. I was just about to say, "Well, that was quick" when around the corner Steve came smiling from ear to ear and holding Mittens!!! I really don't remember what Steve said other than "Look!" because Jenna and I had jumped up and run to him hollering and screaming etc. Steve was absolutely speechless I think! Mittens was "talking" quite a bit, but he seemed no worse for the wear. Because he is long haired, he had one big hair mat and a couple smaller ones, but other than that, seemed fine. He was starving and I can tell he's thinner when I pick him up but the hair covers up the weight loss. Anyway, he is back to his old self though he's quite a bit more loving these days and does not like to be out of our sight. We are so happy to have him back and feel our family is complete again.

That same night, as if the return of our missing kitty wasn't exciting enough, Jenna started hollering from the bathroom. Apparently, she saw something that worried her...sparing you all the details, turns out she has a "severe" bladder infection. She's on a very strong antibiotic, but the sad thing is that her infection is so severe that most times she cannot hold her bladder. So there have been several accidents over the past few days. I finally went out tonight and bought her some "GoodNites" so we don't have to worry about it for a while. By Monday, the antibiotics should have gotten into her system and she should be feeling better. She ran a low grade fever last weekend which we were afraid was the flu, but since it stayed so low grade and she'd been having some allergy issues, we figured it was because of those allergies. We now know it was most likely caused by her body fighting this infection. Anyway, she's been pretty devastated and you have no idea how it breaks my heart to hear her say she asked a teacher if she could use the bathroom and they say no causing her to have an accident. This happened at church and several times at school. I've tried to talk to the teachers at school (her teacher is very aware), but sometimes word just doesn't get all the way around.

Speaking of school, we had our parent teacher conference this morning. Jenna is doing very well in school. Her reading level is "very strong" and she's doing pretty well. Her "problem" is that she is a little "mother" so she's more worried about whether everyone else is doing what they should be which in turn means SHE'S not doing what she should be! And of course, the inevitable, "talks too much" which I have NO IDEA where that comes from!!! But her teacher was very careful to put positive spins on each of these things. She said these issues were common, not as bad as say learning disabilities and that this strong willed tendency will make her a very good leader/teacher as long as that stubborness is redirected appropriately.

So that's our story of the last week. Pretty exciting stuff going on. Chase is doing well in combat training (as far as we know). Tomorrow is a hopefully low key Saturday with just a few things to get done.

Right now, I'm off to bed..