Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Blog Recap

Fun one, Jo-Lynne! I didn't really want to do a boring review of my year, but I did feel the need to say goodbye to 2009. I loved the idea of going back and listing the first line of the first post of each month. Definitely fun to read back through and remember my year. So here is my link to the 2009 Blog Recap carnival at Musings of A Housewife, which is one of my favorite blogs, by the way.


Happy 2009, my friends!

This was such a fun post! I shared my Top 12 photos from 2008, and why they were my favorites. It is amazing to look back on them today and see how much my kids have grown and changed! Yup, this one is a definite repeater! Tomorrow!


Is there anything more welcome than the sight of your own home after a long trip?

This was posted the day after we returned home from a 5-week support-raising trip to California and Nevada. It was the first of several trips this year, most of which were for business purposes. I still agree--east or west, home is best!


Well, it's actually not that extreme, but it sure feels extreme to me!

In 2009 we took our tax return money and put it into home improvements. The biggest job for me was refinishing our kitchen cabinets. Yes, it did end up being extreme! Took me 2 months, start to finish! Worth the effort? Most definitely!


It's another fabulous edition of Works for Me Wednesday.

I participated in several Works for Me Wednesdays at We Are THAT Family. It is such fun to hear ideas from other people, and to try them out in your own home! This blog carnival increased my blog traffic, and brought me some sweet new friends as well! This particular week was the reverse edition, where I asked a question and others volunteered their answers. Cool beans!
After a very frustrating Thursday night (United gave them bogus hotel vouchers, and after finally admitting the error, put them up in a hotel 20 miles away from the airport), Frank and Tammy finally arrived on Friday afternoon.

My highschool friends Frank and Tammy are going into full-time ministry. It's a dance ministry called Turning Point, and Tammy has made a big impact on a lot of people through this ministry. They came from California for a few days of support-raising training. However, the travel woes were many and horrible. But as the title of this post states, it all came together. Check out Tammy's blog to see an amazing outreach in California! You rock, Frank and Tammy and Sam! I love you!
Have you ever heard of Arnica Gel?
This What I've Learned post, part of the Musings of A Housewife blog carnival, is of the few educational type posts I've done. This one talks about a great, natural, muscle pain reliever, and how to create a truetype font out of your own handwriting! Awesome!
On June 30, 2001, I married the man of my dreams.

Awww! An anniversary post with a few of our wedding pictures. How sweet!
Well hello there, strangers!

Another homecoming post. This one recaps our road trip that landed us in 9 states. Lots of scenery pictures! Lots of food pictures! This one is a post for my memory book for sure! Kinda long for others to read, but fun for me.
My children are not perfect, little angels.
Ha ha! Nope, they're not! But this post was not about their crimes. It was about celebrating character growth in your children. It is definitely one you should check out if you're looking for a fun family activity, or if you are in a phase of life where it's hard to find ways to praise your kids. We all go through those phases.
So as I look back through the 270 posts over the last 18 months, I realize that very few are about my hubby, and even fewer are about us as a couple.

My friend Stefanie tagged me in this fun post about Matt and me as a couple. This is another one I need to do at least once a year! Wanna know more about us? Read up!
One of my favorite things about fall is cooking fall recipes.

Ooooh! This is one mouth-watering post! Need some wonderful fall recipes? Actually they're recipes for any time. Come and get them!
After a hiatus of nearly a month, Emily returns to the blog world!

Yup! I'm back, and I look forward to kicking off a new year of blogging. I am two posts away from 300! I think I'll do a giveaway! So stay tuned! Happy New Year, friends!

Feel the Burn!

This morning after watching my daughter take on 40 minutes of freestyle stroke training at swim team practice, Matt and I took the YMCA pool by storm. I swam while he watched the kids in the water, then he swam while I watched the kids. Then we switched again, because 400 yards wasn't enough for me. During my San Jose State swimming days, I could knock out 2000 yards (80 laps) without even getting winded. There was no way I was going to get kicked by a measly 16 laps! So I swam another 600 yards. No kicking. My foot was really hurting, so I decided to just pull with my arms. For 24 more stinkin' laps. It wasn't really that hard. I love swimming because I don't have any joint pain like I do when I run. I love swimming because it is a great, total-body workout that I can handle. I love swimming because the warm, humid air of the indoor pool does not cause my asthma to flare up. I love swimming because it has been part of my life ever since I can remember. I got out of the pool feeling tired and awesome, and ready for another workout tomorrow.

Now it is 11:30 at night and I can't sleep. Wanna know why?

Oh, the pain of forgotten muscles. Oh, the triceps! Oh, the forearms! Oh, the pecs!
And I am out of ibuprofen!
Hmm....maybe some Tylenol P.M.

Oh, by the way, I went to my doctor to get a second opinion on my foot, which is still bruised and painful. It still isn't broken, which is good news! I do, however, have a large hematoma on the tendon that runs up from my second toe through the ankle. So now I get to put heat packs on it, rub aspercream into it, take a prescription-stength anti-inflammatory, keep wearing the shoe cast, and hope the hematoma goes away. It needs to go away soon, because it is interfering with my life! Ah yes, and at my mother-in-law's suggestion, I'm going to try putting onion slices on it at night while I'm asleep because onion is supposed to break up hematomas and make bruising go away. I hope it works, because it sure sounds smelly, and a bit odd.

Anyhoo, I'm not complaining. I'm thankful my foot isn't broken! And I am glad for this horrid arm pain, because it is a sign that I'm up off the couch and doing something good for my body. I'll just be glad when I build up a bit more strength and endurance so a workout doesn't keep me awake!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Urge to Purge

Christmas was wonderful! I enjoyed the anticipation, the preparations, the traditions, and the day itself. But now that it is over, it is time to move on. I don't think I have ever been more ready for a new year! I think it must be because of impending change. In only 5 weeks we will be putting our house on the market, and I am filled with a sense of urgency...time to start getting the house ready. I have never in my life taken the tree down before January 1st, until this year. Today is December 29th, and the tree is down, the house is clean, and the purging, packing, and cleaning has begun. We invested in a bunch of large, Rubbermaid totes, and have already packed away the things we don't use regularly (linens, candles, most of the mugs, silver, etc.) Because I don't want to move a bunch of stuff we never use to Orlando with us, we have a corner of the garage designated the Garage Sale Corner. After just one room, that corner already has a bunch of stuff in it. Isn't it amazing how easy it is to accumulate stuff? It's just another reminder to me of how materialistic our culture is, and how I fall right into it. Ugh... I can't wait to get through with the whole house and have that garage sale! Whatever money we make at the sale will go toward paying off debt. We're less than a year from being debt-free, and I am SO glad!
I stepped on the scale this morning and discovered that my lack of self-control in the cookie eating department has caught up with me. All those cookies added an unfortunate 7 pounds to my waistline. I think the 7 pounds converts to 3 inches, because my pants have gotten very tight. I had originally planned on (starting in January) training for a half marathon. But due to my broken foot, that is not an option. In fact, most forms of exercise are out for me right now, considering that weight-bearing exercises are very painful. So Matt and I have decided to take drastic measures to change our lifestyle. His cholesterol is higher than it should be. I am plain ol' flabby. It is not uncommon for us to eat out twice each week--once on Wednesday night, and usually another time during the weekend. Wednesday night will still be an eat-out night, but we have committed to taking that other meal out of our budget, and reallocating the funds to a gym membership. Today we did some searching around, and found that the local YMCA fits nicely into the budget! So we bit the bullet and purchased a membership! Starting tomorrow, I'll be hitting the pool a minimum of 3 times per wekk. There is free childcare 3 mornings a week! Hooray for that! Once my foot heals, I'll be able to take advantage of the other fitness classes that are included in our membership. I am so excited, and so ready to shed the excess weight that has been plaguing me ever since my mom died. I've already come a long way, but I still have a ways to go.
So I guess you could call these New Year's resolutions, but I wouldn't really say that. It's more like enough is enough. Out with the clutter! Off with the flab! And here's a toast to simplicity and good health. I think I like the week after Christmas almost as much as Christmas! How about you?

Sweet Christmas

Merry Christmas! What a sweet day it was! To my surprise, I did not pine away for my family this year. I think having just spent Thanksgiving with them helped. I also think I've gotten used to being away from them, and the traditions we've established here have stuck. No longer am I focused on missing the California traditions! Instead, I've come to love and anticipate the traditions we have here. I think listing the traditions we've established (along with a few photos) is a good way to recap our Christmas this year!

Getting our tree together

Going to Purple Cow for burgers and shakes on Christmas Tree day

Decorating the tree together while watching White Christmas (carryover from my childhood)

Eating Hashbrown Casserole after the tree is decorated

Going all out on decorating the outside of our home

Taking each child shopping individually, and enjoying a stop for hot cocoa on the journey

Searching the ads, watching the sales, and getting as many great gifts as possible for the least amount of money possible (this was a record-setting year!)

Driving all over town to look at Christmas lights

Cuddling on the couch and watching as many Christmas movies as our dvr will hold

Caroling with our Awana friends

Baking dozens (44 dozen this year!) of cookies to give to neighbors

Sending love boxes of gifts to our family

Creating our own Christmas card using Snapper's artwork

Sending cards and photos to our friends

Matt participating in the Christmas musical at church

Getting the kids dressed in special clothes and going to the Christmas Eve service at our church

Coming home for Christmas Eve soup

Letting the kids interact with Bradley, Matt's bear puppet, discussing the true meaning of Christmas

Opening Christmas jammies on Christmas Eve

Having a Baby Jesus hunt first thing Christmas morning

Birthday breakfast for Jesus

Spending the rest of the day enjoying our gifts, calling our family, and just being together

This year we added playing board games to our Christmas Day agenda, and it was wonderful!

The kids loved their gifts! Santa brought a telescope ($15 on clearance) for Snapper, and a bucket of Army men ($7 on sale) for Pepper.
Mommy and Daddy got a bowling set ($10 on sale) and some other small toys for Pepper, and an iPod Shuffle ($55 purchased with a giftcard I received as a photography session thank-you) for Snapper.
The kids chose special gifts for each other. Snapper picked out the Kung Fu Panda dvd for Pepper. Pepper got a new swim cap for Snapper. Then when Pepper and I were grocery shopping, he saw a Tinkerbell doll, and was firmly insistent on buying it for Snapper. Hey, he was so excited to pick out a gift for his sister, how could I say no?
This year Snapper really wanted to find the perfect gift for her Daddy. She offered to do a bunch of extra housework to earn the gift, so of course I said yes! She found a fantastic book--Tickle Monster--and purchased it for Matt. She wrote the sweetest letter about how she loves it when Daddy tickles her, and we glued it to the inside cover of the book.
My gifts to Matt were practical and very needed: lots of new clothes (all 70% or more off of regular price!), and maps of Florida and Orlando. For me, it really is all about giving. I love to give gifts to the people I love! I received nice things, too! Matt gave me Christmas dishes! They're from Walmart, but they do a great imitation of a Lenox pattern that I have loved for years! He also gave me the ox and goat to add to my Willow Tree Nativity. The rest of the nativity was the gift from all my extended family! Perfect! I also was able to combine cash gifts from Matt's family to buy the Vera Wang purse I've been eyeing for 3 years, but couldn't bring myself to buy because of the cost. But the day after Christmas it was 40% off, and I had enough to splurge! The gifts I received this year were all so thoughtful, and exactly what I wanted! Thanks, dear ones! I am spoiled!
That pretty much sums it up! If you've stuck with reading this and reached the end, I'm impressed! Merry Christmas to you!

All photos are the property of Life Art by Emily

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Happy Birthday, Jesus! We had so much fun celebrating you today! You are the best gift ever!

And I had to share this photo of a cardinal in my back yard. It was too pretty not to share!

Photos are the property of Life Art by Emily.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Post for Me

Disclaimer: I write this post for myself. Feel free to read it, but know that it is meant to be a brief emotional release for me, and is not written with the goal of being uplifting or inspiring or funny. If I get around to blogging tomorrow, I promise it will be much happier.

This time of the year is such an emotional time for me. I've got the wonderful high that comes from preparing for my favorite holiday. For someone who speaks love by giving gifts, this is euphoria! I love shopping for special things for the people I love, and I anticipate giving the gifts far more than I get excited about receiving. Happy, happy time of year. Then there's the low that comes from missing my mom. It is the strangest mix of feelings. I can go from total excitement to complete sadness in just a few seconds. Obviously anyone who has lost a loved one misses them more around the holidays. For me that is compounded by the fact that my mom's birthday is December 23rd. If you are new to my blog and don't already know, I lost my mom to ovarian cancer 6 1/2 years ago. If my mom were still alive, today would have been her 60th birthday. In the past we have celebrated my mom's birthday by making a cake and having a memory party, looking at scrapbooks and watching videos of her. This year I decided to skip it. I think our upcoming move to Florida has my emotions a bit out of balance, and I just feel too fragile to pull up the memories. Tonight we celebrated Christmas with out friends Jim and Karon, and their 3 kids. It was nice to enjoy good food and lots of laughter on a night that was potentially painful. Now I'm headed off to bed. I'll close out this post with this: Happy Birthday, Mommy. I look forward to spending eternity with you. I love you.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

In Which My Daughter Steals the Show

On Saturday and Sunday, Matt and Snapper were in our church's Christmas musical. Snapper was in the children's choir, which sang the first verse of one of the songs. On Sunday, Snapper was tired. After the kids' part in the song was done, they sat down on the stage. At that point Snapper checked out. I think that the lights were so bright that Snapper forgot there was a church full of people watching her. Clueless! In her sweet oblivion, she unintentionally stole the show. Here's a 1-minute video for you. Enjoy a laugh!

Snapper's Shining Moment

Happy Day for Snapper!

Last week in the middle of a restless night, I came up with the brilliant idea to host a party for all the girls in Snapper's class. With great excitement, Snapper and I made out plans. We would decorate cookies, drink hot cocoa, and watch "Polar Express." We prepared the invitations together and handed them ut at school.

As of 9:00 this morning--party day--I had only one RSVP out of 10. I didn't say anything to Snapper, and continued to prepare as though all the girls were coming. I made 4 dozen sugar cookies, cleaned the house, and made sure we had plenty of cocoa and clean mugs. 1:00 was the scheduled start time for the party. When 1:00 came and went, then 1:15, then 1:30, Snapper and I realized that no one was coming to our party. Snapper put her head down on the couch and quietly sobbed, feeling so hurt and disappointed. I tried to cheer her up with the promise of decorating the cookies ourselves, and carrying out all the other party plans. We were just getting up to go make some cocoa and my phone rang. It was Morgan's mom. She had forgotten her purse and had to return home to get the purse before dropping Morgan off at out party. THey were on their way!
Snapper danced and laughed and got Pepper all caught up in the excitement. Morgan arrived 10 minutes later, and the girls headed up to Snapper's room to play. 5 minutes after that, the doorbell rang again! It was Mayar, complete with a dozen roses in her arms. Mayar's mom does not speak English, and does not drive. Mayar's dad got off work as soon as he could so he could bring Mayar to the party. A few minutes after that, Cecilia arrived! For the next 2 hours, the 4 girls decorated cookies, drank cocoa, played outside, played inside, and produced more giggles than I have heard in a very long time. I supervised from the chair in the living room, but mainly just enjoyed the sweet laughter of those sweet, little girls. Every girl in Snapper's class is precious. They all get along with each other, and treat each other kindly. Snapper's teacher says this class is the most caring, loving class she has ever had.

Here are few pictures of our special afternoon.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I Don't Get It!!!

I made 6 dozen sugar cookies today. I have always loved the tradition of decorating cookies. I don't think I have ever missed a year in my entire life, except when I was a baby, of course. I've long looked forward to sharing this tradition with my kids. Last year we decorated cookies. Snapper did great with the cookies! Pepper did even better at decorating his mouth...

This year we sat down to decorate, and Pepper freaked out. Totally freaked out! He couldn't get the frosting off the spoon. He didn't want to drip on the table, even though it was covered with waxed paper. He didn't want the frosting touching his skin. He couldn't get the frosting right on his cookies. After frosting only 3 cookies, he had screamed at least 10 times, and was on the edge of a meltdown. At that point I fed him a cookie, which quieted him down, and set him up with a Christmas movie. I think this may be a sneak peak into his personality. Pepper is going to be a detail-oriented person. A neat freak. A perfectionist, perhaps. So opposite of Snapper! And I'm totally okay with that!

But here's the question: How can any child not like decorating cookies? I don't get it! I just don't get it!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

That's Amazing, Grace!

9 years ago when Matt decided he wanted to marry me, I warned him, but he didn't listen! I told him--and my mother did, too--that he was willfully choosing to marry one of the clumsiest, most accident-prone women in the United States of America. He said it didn't matter to him. In sickness and in health, you know that whole bit...

Today he came right out and admitted that I am the most accident person he knows. Why?

Last Sunday, I went into the closet under our stairs to get some wrapping paper. When I came out, I discovered that Pepper had put his basket of toys in my path. I carefully stepped over the basket with my right foot. Then I stepped my left foot not quite over the basket. Unfortunately for me, that foot got caught in the basket handle, and down I went. I hit the ground so hard that Matt says the house shook. No one saw me fall, but I turned beet red anyway. I am quite certain that an hippo attempting ballet would be more graceful! I don't know what part of me hit the ground first...I think all of me hit the ground at the same time, right down to my face, which went mashing across the carpet. My right arm caught the edge of my lovely, iron/stone coffee table. I thought I had broken my wrist, but thankfully I didn't. THe next day my whole body was sore, and I had delightful bruises popping up all over. How did I manage to bruise my inner thight? I have not a clue, but I did!Dumb. That's all I have to say about that...D-U-M-B!

This morning I woke up finally feeling better. I wasn't hurting, and most of the bruises had faded away. I was all set up for a wonderful day of baking cookies. Every year I make a cookie sampler plate for each of my neighbors, all 20 houses on the cul-de-sac. I was so excited to get started that I didn't linger in bed, even though it is Saturday. I got the crust for my lemon bars in the oven. While it was baking, I began the dough for the Eggnog Thumbprints. While the butter and sugar were getting fluffy in the mixer, I answered the call of our crying kitty, who was locked out of the laundry room, and therefore was lacking access to her potty box.

Matt was very sweetly cleaning the kitchen floors for me. He pulled all the chairs out from the table, and got to work letting our iRobot sweep up. Matt had stacked our kitchen chairs in order to open up more space in the kitchen. As I walked past the chairs to open the laundry room door for Pixie, the chairs decided they no longer wished to remain stacked. I never realized until today that the top of our kitchen chairs come to a slight point. I realized it with complete clarity the second that one of the chairs speared the top of my bare foot.

By the time I managed to hobble across the kitchen and sit down at the dining room table, my foot had turned purple and my toes had gone numb. Matt removed the crust from the oven and put the mixer bowl in the fridge, and we headed for the ER. 3 hours later, I returned home, Motrin prescription in hand. Official diagnosis: Foot Contusion.

I don't think so. My foot is WHOA ugly tonight, and I can't feel my toes at all. And the pain? Let's just say if it's this bad with drugs in me, how much worse would it be without the meds! I think I'll be getting a second opinion on Monday. I think it's broke!

My friend Karon texted me tonight and said, "I'm going to have to start calling you Grace." I agree, because I am truly getting hurt in the dumbest ways! And Matt? I told you so!

Friday, December 4, 2009


After a hiatus of nearly a month, Emily returns to the blog world! And oh, am I happy to be back! What a crazy, action-packed period this has been!

Between 14 photo shoots, 2 weeks in California, and trying to get Christmas gifts ready to ship to our out-of-state family, I have had no time to blog. Oh, and did I mention that my computer bit the dust again, and if I want to get online, I have to wait until Matt brings his laptop home form work? Ugh...All I want for Christmas is a Mac. I am SO over my PC.

So I could go back and give you a play-by-play of the last month, but I don't think you would like that very much, and it would be the blog that never ends. Instead, I think I'll make now the time I reveal the big news for our family...

May I have a drumroll please...

I'm not pregnant...

Nope, we are moving! To Florida! This summer, Lord-willing.
We have been offered a job with a different ministry and have accepted. The new ministry still falls under the umbrella of our parent organization, so none of our support needs/info changes. The change for us will be the location, and the focus of our daily work. We'll be working on a project that is relatively new, and teaches children the attributes of God, and helps them put down deep roots to their faith at an early age. One of the things we have seen over and over in the last 4 years is that many adults who were raised in Christian homes turned away from their faith in their teen years, or when hard times came into their lives. It saddens us that these people did not have the depth in their faith necessary to trust God through the hard times. We want to help the kids of today to really know God so that when they encounter difficult times, they will be able to cling to Him instead of walking away and floundering on their own. Has our heart for marriage and family changed? Absolutely not! We believe that our new job will prepare a new generation of adults to experience healthy marriages, and raise children who love and know God. Our new job complements what we have been doing for the last 4 years, and we are SO EXCITED!

I am not excited about moving away from Arkansas and the precious friends I have here. I cry if I think very much about leaving. But God has called us, and who am I to refuse to obey? No way, Jose! If there is one thing I know with certainty, it is that God's way is ALWAYS the best way, even if I don't fully understand it. I know that He will provide a great place for us to live, a wonderful new church, and new friends.

There is so much more I could say, but my husband is patiently waiting for me to sign off so he can take his computer and go to work. So I must go. I hope you have a wonderful day today!

It is good to be back.