Monday, June 29, 2009

A Trip to Remember

Camping.I have great memories of camping with my family when I was a kid. We camped in a pop-up trailer when I was little, and a bigger camper when I got a bit older. In high school we graduated to tent camping at goat shows. Then I got married to a hard core tent camper. Matt even tent camps in the snow! We have done a little bit of camping together, but not a whole lot. Life just whips on by. But this week was camping week for us all.

Our friends Jim and Karon have a ski boat and invited us to go camping with them at Lake DeGray. We jumped at the opportunity and headed out on Wednesday. We had a fabulous 4 days of boating, tubing, water skiing, fishing, swimming, cliff jumping, exploring, eating, and playing games. We love Jim and Karon, and had a blast getting to know them better. There were two minor snags in the trip. First, it was stinkin' hot! Seriously, we were over 100 every day, with the heat index reaching 118 on Saturday. At night it cooled down a lot...into the 80's. Humid. Hot. Humid. Gross. I was so thankful for the boat and the lake. Snag #2 was a snag for Matt. Actually, it wasn't a snag, it was a minor disaster. Let's just say that riding a razor scooter down an asphalt hill while wearing only shorts and sneakers is a bad idea. Final score: Asphalt 5, Matt 0.

Here are some highlight photos.

Matt skis. Unfortunately no one got any pics of me when I was skiing.

We tore up the lake on our tube. Snapper was the biggest daredevil of all!

Everyone had fun cliff jumping...until we saw two cottonmouths in the rocks we were jumping off of.

Fun on the boat.

Fun around camp. Pepper delighted in putting rocks in the coolers, in people's drinks, in the tent, in the water, etc. He also enjoyed catching frogs and playing with worms.

First time fishing for Pepper and Snapper. Success for both!

Fun in the water. We found a perfect little cove for swimming. The water was deep and peaceful.

Puppy love. Little J developed quite the crush on Snapper this week. The feelings were mutual. We caught them holding hands a few times, and they were inseperable all week. He even proposed on Saturday! Needless to say, this has resulted in some good conversation with Snapper. My baby is starting to grow up a little bit.

God's glorious creativity. We had spectacular sunsets over the lake each night.

The high point of the entire trip took place the first night. Jim went up to the bathrooms, then came back and called us all to go for a little walk to see what he had found. We walked up the path in the dark, cresting a small hill. There, just below the hill, were thousands and thousands of fireflies. The woods were full of them. I have never seen anything like it! It took my breath away! I was able to perch my camera on the edge of a picnic table there in the dark, and set the shutter to stay open for 15 seconds. Look closely at the picture. Each dot of light is a firefly that flashed within the frame of my very zoomed-in lens. Multiply that by about 100 and you get a tiny glimpse of what we saw! Glorious! Seriously though, click on the picture to enlarge it and you'll see just how many fireflies were there!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Girly Girl? I think Not...

So we are leaving in about an hour for a camping trip. Our friends Jim and Karon have a boat, so we are joining their family on one of Arkansas' many beautiful lakes for 4 days of fun. I am so stinkin' excited! In the midst of trip preparations yesterday, I found myself in the middle of an animated conversation with Snapper. Oh does that girl make me laugh!

Side note: I am an auntie again! Matt's brother and his wife welcomed baby Giana to the family last week! Another sweet niece to love.

Here's the conversation I had with Snapper. I managed not to, I don't know!

Snapper: Mom, Daddy is letting me bring our bb gun camping!

Me: What are you going to do with it?

S: (fierce whisper) I'm going to shoot ANIMALS!

Me: Why would you want to kill the helpless, little animals?

S: (scornfully) Oh, I'm not going to kill any cute, little ones. I'm going to kill BIG ONES!

Me: What kind of big ones are you going to kill?

S: Hmmm...deer, I think. That's it, I'll shoot a deer!

Me: What will you do with a deer?

S: (crouches down slightly, speaking and gesturing dramatically) Well first I'll shoot it dead! Then I'll get a knife and I'll cut it open. I'll take off its skin and make a nice warm blanket for my bed. Then we can eat the meat inside. Make a stew or something.

Me: That sounds like a great plan, but there's a problem: first, it's not deer hunting season. Second, a bb gun won't kill a deer. It will hurt it, but won't kill it.

S: (face falls) Aw, nuts! I guess I'll have to shoot a squirrel, then.

Me: What would you do with a squirrel? We wouldn't eat a squirrel.

S: Well first, I'll shoot it dead. Then I'll get a knife and cut it open. I'll take off its skin and make a nice, warm sweater for me to wear to school.

Me: How big is a squirrel?

S: (measures with her hands, about 1 foot long)

Me: Would a squirrel sweater fit you?

S: (sighs) I guess not. But it would fit a baby! (all excited, eyes light up) That's it! I've got it! I'll make a sweater for baby Giana! Wouldn't my new cousin love a squirrel sweater I made for her?

Me: Maybe, but I don't think Auntie Jessica would like it so much. Why don't we set up some soda cans for you to shoot at instead? Then we're not hurting any animals, and you can still have fun shooting.

S: I guess that will be fun too. But I really wish I could go deer hunting.

I remember the day when Snapper's chief delights were princess dresses, jewelry, and makeup. And now she wants to go deer hunting? My 6-year-old daughter wants to go deer hunting. I guess she really is an Arkansan now! Girly girl? I think not!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Week in Review

It's a lovely Saturday morning...86 degreees already at 8:00. The humidity here keeps it from being a scorcher like we had in California. No, today will be a soaker. 10 minutes outside and my pants will be so damp from the humidity that they'll stick to me, and my upper half will be wet from sweat. Can we say GROSS? The three good things about it are: 1. My skin never gets dry like it did in CA. 2. Our fire danger is very low here. 3. Fireflies like humidity!

I thought since it has been a while since I blogged consistently, I'll recap the events of the last week. Here are the five most important events of our week, in no particular order.

1. Vacation Bible School. Our VBS theme this week was Crocodile Dock. OH MY GOSH...I just realized I didn't take any pictures! Stephanie, save me! Do you have some pictures you can email me? Arrrrgh... Anyhoo, we had a blast! I had five sweet girls in my group. Lauryn gave all the girls (and me) "Billy Bob" names. For example, she was the Original Billy Bob. I was Billy Bob Leader. The littlest girl in our group was Billy Bob Little. Pretty funny! 3rd grade girls are great! Snapper has a great time, too. Pepper enjoyed himself 3 of the 5 days. He's just not a people person.

2. Swimming. We got a membership to the community pool this year, and we have taken full advantage of it. A few times I've taken the kids down to swim in the afternoon. Usually though, we wait until after dinner and go with Matt when hardly anyone is at the pool. Pepper started out terrified of everything. He now motors around the pool independently, held up by the two, small, styrofoam blocks in his wetsuit. He even willingly puts his head under the water! Snapper has joined the swim team, and had her first meet on Tuesday. She has improved so dramatically in the last week! She even placed 2nd in one of her races!

3. Movie and a Dog. Every summer on the Thursday night of VBS week, our church does "Movie and a Dog." We set up a huge screen in the parking lot of the church and show a movie. We rent a bounce house and an inflatable slide. We also serve hot dogs, popcorn, and sno cones. All of it is free, and it is open to the community. This year the movie was "Bolt." It was such a fun evening for our family! The highlight of my evening was when Pepper, who was all cuddled up in my lap, put his head back and noticed the stars. He whispered in my ear, "Look at the 'tars, Mommy. God made the 'tars so beu-full!"

4. Nickname. Pepper has definitely developed a sense of humor. Matt's sister Debbie lives with us, and Pepper has given her a nickname. He calls her Stinky Skunk. Every time he calls her that, he busts up laughing. Thinks he's the funniest kid in the world. The best part is that he rarely says the s sound at the beginning of a word, so it comes out "Tinky Kunk or Tinky Tunk." So every time he says it, I bust up laughing, too. You know this will be a permanent addition to our family's dictionary!

5. Dr. Mario. My favorite childhood video game is now available for the Wii!!! Matt would groan if he told you how many hours I have sat like a lump on the couch this week playing that silly game! has been a long week, and I'm wiped out! There's nothing wrong with an occassional Wii splurge!

Alrighty, swim team practice in 22 mintues and Snapper is still asleep. More another day!

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Christine at Southern Belle Dreaming tagged me today. I have done no blogging in the last week because my dinosaur laptop makes writing more frustrating than fun, and that ruins the whole blogging experience for me. But it has been too long. I'm in the midst of a whirlwind week--VBS, swim team for Snapper, swimming as a family, and lots of other fun activities. Because I'm too worn out to think much, I'll pick up Christine's tag. Not too much thinking involved, and fun to boot!

6 Unimportant Things that Make Me Happy

1. Watermelon. I bought the most wonderful watermelon at Kroger a few days ago. Snapper and Matt ate a few slices each. I ate the 2 days. Yup, a whole, crisp, sweet, juicy watermelon all by myself in 2 days! I loved it so much that I'm going to buy another one tomorrow. And no, I'm not planning on sharing it!

2. My new bathing suit. I found a bathing suit that is cute, figure-flattering, and that stays put (no riding up or slipping down). You know how hard that is! The best part is that it didn't break the bank! Hooray for Kohl's!

3. Summer softball. Matt is coaching our church team this year. We go out to the ballpark once or twice a week to watch him play and to cheer for the team. I love encouraging my man, watching the game, and visiting with the other team wives. I also love the hot dogs, nachos, and sweet tea they sell at the concession stand. Hee hee!

4. Arm & Hammer laundry detergent. The Clean Burst scent is SO GOOD! I love to bury my face in the clean laundry as I transfer it from the washer to the dryer, and again as I fold it once it's dry. Ummmm!!!!! Believe it or not, the scent of the soap is so good that it motivates me to WANT to fold laundry! Go figure...

5. Fireflies. There are so many more of them this year. Maybe it's because we had a long, cool spring. Whatever the reason, I am glad! I love watching these little guys floating through the evening all around our neighborhood. Happy, happy happy!

6. My chicken collection. *disclaimer--do not buy any more chicken decor for me! I have more than enough already!* My kitchen is so warm and cheerful in the afternoon light. The cream cabinets, coupled with the soft yellow paint and red accents makes this the most inviting room in the house. It perfectly showcases all the chicken decor I inherited from my mom, and the extra chickens Matt and Beverly have given me. My chickens are so cute and happy! They make me smile.

I'm not going to tag anyone else tonight. Why? Because I'm sufficiently frustrated with the computer...again. Maybe later. What's one unimportant thing that makes you happy? Please leave a comment and tell me!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Blog Award

My bloggy buddy Christine honored me with this special award for my blog.

I received it on the day of my horrible plane trip. Getting to the hotel and finding an email from Christine about the award totally brightened my day. Thanks, Christine!

Now I get to pass the award on to five blogs that I love.

Lori at Building Our Nest

Tara at Keeping Up with the Kellys

Rachel at Of Pearls and Plaid

Tammy at Living Unleashed for Christ

Stefanie at The Arnold 5

Alrighty girls, grab the award and pass it on!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Frustration Reigns

Happy Wednesday everyone. I am writing from work, so this wil be brief. My computer crashed yesterday...again. I am very thankful that everything was backed up to two locations, so nothing was lost. The bad part is that I am now without my computer at home. I have a laptop, but it is an old laptop, a slow laptop, a tempermental laptop. Did I mention it is SLOW?

This is the 4th hard drive we've lost on our desktop in 2 years. Last time we took it in, it took 2 months to get it back. Best Buy says that 4 hard drives in 2 years is unusual, and that the computer manufacturer should junk it and give us a new computer. I'm not holding my breath. Last time they told us they put in a new hard drive, when in reality, they rebuilt our old one. That said, I won't be online as much as I normally am. I likely won't be blogging as much as usual, either. All will go back to normal once I get my computer back.

Our Phoenix trip was mostly fantastic. I will post some pictures and do the trip proper justice...once I get my computer back.


Friday, June 5, 2009

Little Flight of Horrors

Today has not been a good day. No, today has not been a good day AT ALL! Why???

Today I got on an airplane. Who likes to get on an airplane just days after a major airplane disaster? Who likes to get on an airplane with her husband and leave kiddos behind with friends just days after a major airplane disaster? I do not like this, Sam-I-Am!

Granted, my kids are with people who adore them, and who the kids adore. In fact, for the last 3 days Snapper has asked me several times a day how long it is until Thursday at 9:00 (the time we dropped them off with our friends). I have total confidence in my friends.

There's always that what if that floats around at the back of my mind. I gave my worry to God, and was amazingly calm as the plane lifted off out of Little Rock. Amazingly calm--albeit a little bit queasy and airsick--when we landed in Dallas. I thoroughly enjoyed orange chicken, beef with broccoli, and chow mein at a Chinese restaurant in the airport, and felt much better. I was amazingly calm as the plane took off out of Dallas. And in the next 90 minutes I made great progress on the blanket I'm crocheting for my niece Anjali, due the beginning of July.

I suppose today was a good day. The plane landed safely in Phoenix, where my hubs and I are working at a marriage conference over the weekend. It was a good day because it starts a fun weekend of some time spent with my birthmom, and my friend Kara who I've been friends with since 3rd grade.

But today was also awful. About 45 minutes away from Phoenix, we hit turbulence. Now friends, I have done an awful lot of flying in my life. I've encountered lots of turbulence--some minor, some bad enough to make flight attendants scramble for their seats. But the turbulence we hit today was some of the worst I've experienced. Every few minutes, between bumps and rattles, the plane would catch a wind gust and kind of swoop to the side, and swing back to the other side. This girl has a sensitive stomach on smooth flights. Oh no, this was not good. I wasn't scared. That had to be God keeping the fear at bay, because it was one roller coater of a flight.

About 30 minutes away from Phoenix, I put away my crocheting and stuck my head down in my lap. Ooooooooh, queaseball! 20 minutes away from Phoenix I turned my air vent on full blast and sat at an odd angle so the air could blow straight in my face. I pushed very hard on the pressure points on my wrists that are supposed to relieve nausea. It didn't help, and now my wrists are bruised. Not doing well... 10 minutes from Phoenix I groped for the barf bag in the seat pocket and clutched it in my lap, frantically sending up silent prayers to God to PLEASE SPARE ME! The nice business man across the aisle was watching me with increasing concern for the safety of his suit. 5 minutes from landing, the ground was clearly in sight, and I could make out people swimming in the pools we were flying over. I started reciting Psalm 23 in my head in a desperate attempt to distract my brain from the warning signals it was receiving from my stomach. Psalm 23 was the only piece of Scripture I could recall at the moment. All the talk of sheep and prepared tables did not help at all. So I kept praying, and just willed the plane to land, to land, to land already! And then came the all-too-familiar sensation of salivary glands firing and throat tightening. I think I held my breath for a full minute, all the while screaming in my mind, "YOU WILL NOT THROW UP ON THIS PLANE!!! HOLD IT IN, BABY, HOLD IT IN!"

And then it happened. 2 minutes from landing, that blasted wind lifted the plane, and dropped it with a sickening thud. Not on the ground, of course. It was just another horrid lurch of turbulence. But it was the final straw for me. And oh horrors, up came my lunch, right into that very handy barf bag. Yes, some people actually do use those bags for purposes other than creating puppets to entertain restless children! Matt looked at me and his eyes widened. Apparently he had never seen me that color before. A lovely shade of green. I like green a lot...I just don't like to be green.

Then, mercifully, the plane landed. I managed to contain myself long enough to get to the bathroom. Wouldn't you know it, there was a line! And some woman had the nerve to cut in front of me. Hello, people! Can't you see I'M ABOUT TO HURL AGAIN! I made it to the stall just in time. And then there was nothing left in me to cause any problems. Ah, the relief of an empty stomach. I was so thankful we had not checked any luggage, and I had my toothbrush and mouthwash right there.

It is now 9:45 p.m. I am sitting in my very lovely hotel room at a beautiful resort. I ate a chicken caesar salad for dinner, and my stomach is still questioning that decision. I'm wiped out, and I still don't feel great. It was such an embarrassing episode on the plane. And I hate feeling sick in my stomach. I hope it all improves tomorrow. On the way home on Monday I will take dramamine. That, I learned today, is no longer optional for this girl!

Major props to my sweet, wonderful, amazing, knight of a husband who very gently tucked my, um...stomach contents...into his briefcase in order to spare me the embarrassment of having to carry my puke off the plane in that very obvious white baggie. Matt, you're my hero!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

And the Winner Is.....

I used the generator at to select the winner of my giveaway for a 1-year subscription to Creating Keepsakes magazine. The random number was 7.

The #7 comment was Jodie! Congratulations, Jodie!

I will order that subscription next week!

Works for Me: Fun for Kiddos

I am super excited about this week's edition of Works for Me Wednesday, hosted by We Are THAT Family. Everyone who links in will be posting their ideas of how to keep your kids busy over the summer. If you are looking for tons of fun ideas on how to have great, quality time with your kids, go check this out!!!

Here are some ideas of my own, many of them inherited from my amazing mom, who always made summer interesting and delightful for my sis and me.

1. Fingerpaint with pudding. Cover your table (inside or outside table) with wax paper. Tape it down well. Have the kids put on their bathing suits, to make clean-up easier. Put a pile of pudding on the table in front of them. They can fingerpaint and eat as long as they want. When they are done, take them out and hose them down, or let them run through the sprinklers.

2. Read to them! I cannot stress enough the benefits of reading to your children. With your little ones, grab a pile of picture books and read together for a half hour...or as long as they stay engaged. For older ones, read good literature to them. Let them work on handwork projects or coloring while you read. For good read ideas, visit this post from last summer.

3. Teach them the basics of cooking. My 6-year-old daughter is able to prepare a basic breakfast for the family, and can bake chocolate chip cookies from scratch, entirely by herself (except for the oven part). Start with measurements. Let them play with measuring cups and spoons, and experiment with how the measurements work together. It's okay to get a bit messy...just make sure you teach them how to clean up, too.

4. Paint with water. Give your kids some old paintbrushes and a bucket of water. Make sure they are house painting brushes, not art brushes. Let them paint with water on the patio, sidewalk, or driveway. You'll be amazed at how long this will delight them! And there's no clean-up at all!

5. Watch the clouds go by. On a day where there are good clouds, lie on a blanket in the yard with the kids. Look for shapes in the clouds, and talk about the clouds with the kids. I love to do this with my kiddos. The clouds have led to some deep conversations about God, and have also sparked Snapper's interest in meteorology.

Enjoy these precious days and make memories with your kids. They will remember for a lifetime.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

What I've Learned

Happy Tuesday! Time for another edition of What I've Learned This Week. For more, visit Musings of A Housewife. This week I learned 2 very useful things. I'm totally excited to share them with you!

1. Have you ever heard of Arnica Gel? I hadn't either until my friend Krista suggested I get some for my sore, knotted-up neck and back muscles, which are still hating life since my hospital visit. Arnica Gel is a homeopathic muscle relaxer/pain reliever. You rub it on the skin over the aore area just as you would BenGay or IcyHot. The difference is that it's a plant substance, not nasty chemicals. It has almost no scent, and doesn't leave you skin feeling hot or cold or weird. Yet it works amazingly well. I tend to be skeptical about stuff like this, but I give my full support to this one. The relief lasts longer than either of the other ointments I mentioned! It also helps reduce discoloration from bruises, and lowers swelling. Whole Foods carries it, and it's $8.99 for a good-sized tube.

2. I learned how to create a truetype font out of my own handwriting!!! How cool is that? I now have my handwriting on my computer, and I can use it in my digital scrapbooks so my kids will have my writing there! It was surprisingly easy to create the font. I'll do a little tutorial here. It's very much fun to type in your own handwriting!

Step 1: Visit this website and download the free trial of Font Creator. It's a 30-day free trial, which is more than enough time to create a font or two out of your writing. They don't ask for any account creation or credit card info.

Step 2: On a piece of white paper, use a black sharpie and write the alphabet, both capital and lower case letters. Each letter should be be about 3/4 inch tall. Leave a 1-inch space between your letters. Also write numbers 0-9, and any punctuation marks you regularly use.

Step 3: Scan your alphabet page.

Step 4: Using photo editing software (Photoshop is probably the most common; I use Arcsoft Photo Suite), open your alphabet page.

Step 5: Create a new, blank canvas, sized 300x300 pixels.

Step 6: Click back to your alphabet page. Using the square select tool, draw a square around the first letter on your page. Right click and copy (or use keyboard shortcut by pressing control and c at the same time).

Step 7: Click on the blank canvas. Right click and paste (or press control and v at the same time). Your letter should paste directly into the canvas. If there is any blue showing around the edges of your pasted letter, crop it to the edges of the white and resize it to 300x300 pixels. Since I don't have Photoshop, I can't give you specifics on how to do this within that program. Sorry!

Step 8: In the file menu, select Save As. Create a folder for your letters. Save the capital A with the name A, and the file type should be jpeg.

Step 9: Repeat this process for each letter/numeral/punctuation mark on your page. Save the lower case letters as aa, bb, cc, etc.

Step 10: Open Font Creator. From the file menu, select New. A pop-up box will ask you to name your font. I named my first font Em's Printing, and my second font Em's Script. You get the idea. There are three options below your font name. Leave them at the setting's they're already on. Click okay.

Step 11: You should now have a basic font grid up on your screen. The punctuation and numbers will be black. The letters will be a light purple. Double click the capital A. Another small window will pop up. It looks like a graph paper grid. Click the tools menu at the top of the main window and select Import Image. Yet another window will pop up. Select the Load button. Then go to the file where you saved your letters.

Step 12: Find your capital A, click on it, and click Okay. This should take you to a window where two of your A's show. You don't need to do anything with them, even though they're off center. Simply click the Generate button at the bottom of the window. It will load and take you back to the graph paper grid. Your A will be in that window.

Step 13: On the left of this window, there are 5 titles. These are the boundaries of your font. The dashed red lines define the boundaries. At the top of the window there are number units, from -16,500 at the left all the way to 16,500 on the right. Your letter should automatically have its left side lined up with the 0. If not, drag the letter to that it does line up with the 0 line. If for some reason your A drags, but not the space in the middle of the A, grab the space separately and drag it to the right place.

Step 14: Your letter should have a black box around it. Grab the tiny white square at the top right of the black box. Drag it up and to the right until the top of your A reaches the red dashed Cap Height line, and the width of the A looks right. For lower case letters, drag them to the line approximately between the CapHeight line and the Baseline.

Step 15: Scroll to the right of the window until you see a vertical, red, dashed line. Grab the line and drag it to the left until it almost touches the foot of the A. This red line sets the spacing between the A and the next letter.

Step 16: Close out that window. Look back at the main alphabet window. Your A should now be in the space formerly occupied by the basic A. Repeat Steps 11-16 for all your letters, numbers, and punctuation.

Step 17: Click the font menu and select Test. A new window will open. Click any blank speace at the top and begin typing. What you type will show how your new font will look! If there are any goofy spaces between the letters, or if they are too close, simply adjust the placement of that vertical red line. You can test at any point during the creation of your font. I recommend testing after you've done 3 letters to make sure the spacing is as you want it.

Step 18: Close the test window by clicking the Close button at the top right of the screen, NOT THE RED X! The red x will close the program.

Step 19: Open the file menu and select Save. You can confirm your font name, and designate where you want to save it. The file extension will be *.ttf (True Type Font).

Step 20: Open the font window and select Install. Follow the prompts on your screen to install the font. You should now be able to use this font in Microsoft Word, Outlook, and any program that supports true type fonts!

Note: Do not allow any of your letters to go above the WinAscent line, or below the WinDescent line. Those are the top and bottom boundaries. Any part of the letter that falls above or below those lines will not show in your font.

I hope this has been useful information for you, and that you have lots of fun in the process. It is a bit tedious, but the end result is quite smashing! It took me about an hour and half to complete each font.