Wednesday, December 30, 2009

End of Year Meme--2009

I did this end of year meme last year, so I thought I'd make it a tradition by completing it again. However, most of my answers didn't change much. Does that make me boring?

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before? go to the Emergency Room (as a patient)

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I’m not a fan of resolutions.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Not in my immediate “circle”

4. Did anyone close to you die? No

5. What countries did you visit? The Bahamas, Peru

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009? self-discipline

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? August 9~crisis of belief

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? That’s tough to say...

9. What was your biggest failure? probably spending too much time on Facebook

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Yes! A freakish case of shingles and Bell’s Palsy followed by vertigo. I still can’t walk a straight line. (See the "I'm Donating My Body to Science" thread)

11. What was the best thing you bought? MacBook (sorry PC-ers, I’ve gone over to the other side)

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? my girls

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? my own =(

14. Where did most of your money go? Wal-Mart (again)

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? U2 concert and various trips (Peru, cruise, Gulf Shores, Colorado, and Shepherd of the Ozarks for Thanksgiving)

16. What song will always remind you of 2009? How He Loves~David Crowder Band

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer? a)happier, b)no comment, c)better

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? read

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? procrastinate...

20. How did you spend Christmas? Christmas Eve & lunch with Joel's family; Christmas night with Joel, Paige, Mark, Elizabeth, Lee, and girls.

21. Did you fall in love in 2009? more & more with BigJoel every day~we’ve been “together” for 24 years and married for 18. He still makes my heart happy.

22. What was your favorite TV program? American Idol, The Office

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? No

24. What was the best book you read? Same Kind of Different As Me

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? NeedtoBreathe

26. What did you want and get? MacBook

27. What did you want and not get? an iPhone (its a long story, but I’m not bitter)

28. What was your favorite film of this year? The Blind Side

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? Does it mean I'm old if I can't remember...?

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? better time management

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009? comfy casual...jeans or “home pants”

32. What kept you sane? Jesus

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Hard to say.

34.What political issue stirred you the most? hmmm, I’d rather not go there...

35. Who did you miss? my mother, still

36. Who was the best new person you met? Leora~technically I already knew her, but just got to know her better this year

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009. Life can change in an instant, fortunately God does not.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

"I don’t have time to maintain these regrets

When I think about the way

He loves me"

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Relative, a Friend, and a Dose of Sarcasm

This "Ticked Off Topic" post may be a bit out of place, what with everyone in the Christmas spirit and all, but its been simmering for a while on a back burner and today the pot boiled over.

A few months ago, my friend posted on her Facebook status that all three of her children had been sick with the flu. A "Relative" of hers commented "That is why I'm so thankful that my kids are in a Christian school where the principal prays over them every day." Really? So kids in Christian schools don't get the flu? Someone call the CDC! I wanted to reply to the "Relative" that my children are Salt and Light in the public school system and still remain freakishly healthy despite the fact that their principals probably don't pray over them. As a matter of fact, this is the first year our family has even taken the flu shot (and that was under duress); yet we have never had the flu and the girls have not missed one day of school due to illness this year. But I didn't want to sound condemning or judgmental by calling out the "Relative" for all of Facebook to see, so instead I just texted my friend with some snide remarks (which she totally appreciated, by the way, because she couldn't believe that someone would actually infer that her kids were sickly because they didn't attend Christian school.) And that's why she's my friend...but I digress.

More recently, I've listened in dumbstruck awe as people have proclaimed their outrage over the phrase "Happy Holidays". I understand the premise~the fear that if we stop saying "Merry Christmas" we will eventually forget the Reason for the Season. But must we really launch a vigilante campaign? I've heard local radio stations boast that they are "keeping Christ in Christmas" (as the intro to "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" begins playing). And today, Joel shared with me a "Friend's" post on Facebook about how when a waitress told him "Happy Holidays", he withdrew her tip and said, "Merry Christmas". Ironically, he left out the part about how the waitress realized the error of her ways, recognized that Jesus loves her, and prayed to receive Christ right there in the Waffle House...Seriously? He withdrew her tip and identified himself as a Christian...beautiful. I'm sure Jesus did a celebratory fist pump over that point-well-made.

I apologize if I've been totally irreverent. It just escapes me how sometimes as Christians, we parade around with a banner of moral superiority and then shake our heads in disbelief when the World rejects our message. I just cannot believe that if Jesus physically walked among us today, He would only protect children in Christian schools and reprimand waitresses who unknowingly offended Him. I think the "Relative" and the "Friend" might be quite surprised by Jesus' reactions to their situations.

Of course, the "Sarcastic Blogger" would probably be surprised as well...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Away in a Manger

I found out that my friend, Amanda, was participating in a Christmas Tour of Homes. When I realized that I wouldn't have to actually clean my house and provide paper booties to cover people's shoes when they walk in the front door, I decided to play along too.
I collect nativities. Its a bit of an obsession. At last count, I own well over 50 of them. Some are fancy and some are kitschy. So for my tour, I'll share just a few of them.
This is where it all began. My husband and I bought this on our very first anniversary. It is still probably my absolute favorite.

My best friend gave me this one created by an artist in Colorado Springs.

I love this "all-in-one" piece. It is by artist Karen Lawrence.

BigJoel and I picked this one up a few years ago on vacation in Mexico.

This set is particularly special. It was given to me by the teachers at the school where I was the Administrator. Even more special is that it was made by one of the teachers! She's so talented.

Joel and I bought this nativity for our 5th anniversary on a trip to Jefferson, Texas.

I've traveled to Peru several times and love this little set that portrays the Holy Family inside of a chullo hat.

This large nativity was made in Peru also, but given to me by the teachers at my school.

Another Karen Lawrence piece~I love this set!

A tiny Mexican nativity that I got in San Antonio at the Market.

My friend Kim and I actually made this set several (16, actually) years ago when ceramics and country blue were all the rage.

Yet another nativity that the teachers gave me, this one came from Haiti. I love the little "stable" in the background~its made from a coconut.

We have so many nativities, we can't keep them all indoors. This is yard art made by one of our church members.

When our oldest daughter was about 4 years old, I caught her rearranging the pieces of several sets one time. I asked her what she was doing and she replied, "I'm fixing it to where everyone [the kings, shepherds and even stable animals] can see Jesus. He's the most important part." So true, HannahKate, He is the most important part, isn't He.

Thanks for taking my little last minute tour. I hope you enjoyed it and may you remember The Most Important Part of this holiday season.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Drivers Beware

I'm afraid I'm becoming one of those little old ladies who really shouldn't be driving, but no one in her family quite has the nerve to tell her. I'm not really that old, I've just had some odd experiences lately that all seem to center around me and my little red Jeep
A few weeks ago, Hallie and I went to a friend's birthday party out in the country. On the way home, I noticed something in the road. It was a dog. Due to his prone position, I knew he'd been struck by a car and was most likely dead. Unfortunately, I did not see him in time to slow down much or swerve. I was trying to just sort of "pass over" him, if you know what I mean. However, I misjudged his size. After the sickening thud, my mind began to play tricks on me~what if it wasn't really a dog? What if I'd just hit a person? I pulled into a parking lot to turn around and go back. I had to wait for several cars before I could pull back onto the road. Since none of them slammed on their brakes to render aid at the crime scene, I decided it really was a dog and that I should spare Hallie and I from having a grotesque image burned into our brains. (Please don't judge or call the ASPCA. It was dark, we were alone in the country and I was afraid of what could've happened if I got out of my car to try and help/move the animal.)
Then last week, HannahKate and I lucked into some tickets for a Christmas Bazaar over in the Metroplex. It was a spur of the moment impulse, but we zipped over to see what we could see. We pulled into a great space in an underground parking garage, being very careful to note our level and location so as not to lose our vehicle (because that would just be dumb, now wouldn't it?). As we parked, a weird chain of events unfolded so quickly that I cannot even explain what happened, except to say we wound up outside the car and I immediately realized that the keys were still inside the car~locked. Can you believe that Dallas police officers, nor the building security guards could help me with even so much as the name of a locksmith? I didn't expect them to open the car for me, but I honestly would have thought they would have a list of area locksmiths at their disposal. I can't believe I'm the only dingbat they've come into contact with recently with the same dilemma. Finally, after trying three different numbers and waiting almost an hour in the bowels of the earth (ok, it was just one level underground, but it sure seemed bowel-like) a locksmith arrived. No joke. In less than 2 minutes he opened the door, handed me my keys and a bill for $95. 2 minutes. $95. I'm in the wrong business, I tell you.
(Waiting on the locksmith~HanK thought it was a good opportunity for a foot picture)
But the fun doesn't stop there. On Thursday, I went out to visit my friend in the country again. When I parked, I honestly thought the ground was dry and that I was still on the gravel enough for it to not be an issue. I was wrong. Apparently a Jeep sans 4WD is no match for a little mud. It was cold and very late and my friend's husband wasn't home. But being the country girl she is, she bravely got in and spun the tires until the Jeep was freed from the muddy mire~but not before creating some lovely ruts in her new yard.
And to top it all off, yesterday Joel needed a ride because he'd been shuffling work trucks around. He got in the backseat. I almost never drive when he's around. I guess I was just too lazy to get out and walk around to the passenger seat though. When we got home, I was trying to maneuver into the garage (which I do every day, several times a day without event) and I ran right into the door frame. Hard. Fortunately, there's no real damage~ just some scuffed paint on both the jeep and the house. But really?
So someday soon, I fully expect that I will "lose" my keys~only to learn that Joel has hidden them for my own safety as well as that of others on the road who might cross my path.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Last Monday was our 18th wedding anniversary. 18 years. Man, that sounds like a long time~and yet I still cannot believe that God blessed me with a man like Joel. I love that guy like crazy =)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Weekly Pic--Way Back When

Me and BigJoel~Homecoming 1985

This, HannahKate, is why you choose your boyfriends carefully, even in high school~because one might still be around 24 years later =)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Full Evening of New Moon

I read Twilight. In my opinion, it was 500 pages of teen angst as the self-deprecating Bella adjusted to her new life in the gloomy town of Forks, Washington. I have plenty of "angst" under my own roof, so I didn't care to subject myself to any more of it, even if there were sparkly vampires involved. I've not been able to bring myself to read the other 3 books in the saga. Thankfully, Elizabeth has read them all, so she and HanK have spirited discussions that I listen to just enough to sort of keep up with the continuing plot. I know, the "Twi-moms" out there are gasping and shaking their heads. Please don't judge me.
Last year, Elizabeth, Paige, HannahKate, her friend Tiff, and I loaded up and drove to a theater 40 minutes away to see the midnight premiere of Twilight (because Hometown Cinema didn't have the foresight to host an early release). We had so much fun that we vowed to do the same for the release of New Moon. And so, for a solid year, we've had "November 20 @ 12:01 a.m." highlighted, circled and starred on our calendars.
We began our adventure by eating at a favorite Italian restaurant (because part of New Moon takes place in Italy, duh). Elizabeth made us New Moon cupcakes for dessert~blood-red velvet with sparkly (because vampires sparkle in the sun) cream cheese frosting, decorated with forks (Forks, WA) and quotes from various Twilight characters.

Adorable...and they tasted even better than they looked!

She also got us all "vampire fangs"!

The girls had worked very hard all week decorating the shirts they'd wear to the premiere. (And since it was midnight, they wore pajama pants.)

Tiff's shirt said, "Imprinted by Jacob" on the front and "Black 16" on the back.
Hallie's said, "I sparkle in the sunlight" on front and "My flesh is ice cold" on back.
HannahKate's said, "I am Switzerland." on the front and "I refuse to choose" on the back.

We arrived at the theater by 9:30. Even though we'd purchased our tickets almost two months ago, we still had to wait in line. Forever. The theater showed the movie on 18 screens and every single one was SOLD OUT! That, my friend, is a LOT of teenage girls and Twi-moms in one building. There were a few token males present, but not many. After all, most teenage boys pale in comparison to Edward and Jacob. Its hard to compete with a rich, suave, sparkly vampire and a rugged, buff, hot-blooded werewolf.
The girls loved the movie. Somehow, I don't think I would have enjoyed it quite as much in a regular theater at a regular time. But that's just me. Again, please don't judge. Not my favorite movie ever, but I admit that I already have "Eclipse~June 30, 2010 @ 12:01 a.m." inked on my calendar.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Having a Ball in Austin

This past weekend, Elizabeth, Hallie, HannahKate and I, along with our new friend Shae took a little roadtrip down to Austin for a MercyMe show. We had a "ball." The concert was awesome, we stayed in an ├╝ber-cool new hotel, ate some amazing food and of course, we laughed. A lot.
Here are three memorable chuckles from the weekend:

During dinner we were discussing HannahKate wearing jeans to church and I said, "Well, we're on vacation, so I'd make an exception." (Nothing wrong with jeans, I just have an opinion of which my girls are well aware.) Our food arrived at the table and as we were just about to dig in, Hallie piped up and said, "Well, are we gonna pray for our meal or are we on vacation from that, too?" Thanks for keeping us accountable, Hal.
HannahKate was wearing a plaid flannel shirt and made the remark that she was going to wear another plaid flannel shirt the next day. Hallie quipped, "Gee Hannah, you're turning into Al Bourland from Home Improvement!" Thanks for the fashion advice, Hal.
Finally, on the way home the girls were giggling in the back seat and Hallie was leaned over struggling to pick up something from the floorboard of the car. She cried, "Help, my tallness doesn't stretch that far!" Thanks Hal, for breaking the monotony of a long drive.

The slogan for the quirky sub-culture of our state's capital city is "Keep Austin Weird." I would have to say that Hallie fits right in. (She gets that from her daddy I'm sure.) I wouldn't have her any other way!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Weekly Pic--On the Side of the Road In the Middle of Nowhere

So my friend Troy (troybradfordphotos and troybradfordiphonephotos) got the opportunity to visit Salvation Mountain on a recent trip to California. Its a really neat place and pretty powerful story, but its just this huge structure/piece of art on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. That made me think of my recent trip to Amarillo where we saw two interesting, albeit not quite as impressive, sites on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere.
The Cadillac Ranch

Huge Pair of Legs/Ozymandias

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

MNSC Meets Halloween

Last week, Elizabeth hosted the 1st Ever Monday Night Supper Club Halloween Party. Since I rarely have my camera and Elizabeth rarely posts blogs anymore, I decided to "steal" her pictures from the evening and put them on my blog. I like think of it as a "joint collaboration." (Feel free to re-post this on your own blog Elizabeth~since you did most of the work anyway.)

Costumes were optional. Hallie came as "The Crazy Cat Lady".

Everyone enjoyed new eyelashes.

We all decorated pumpkins.

"Life imitates art"?

And of course the food was amazing! Mrs. Cheryl and Elizabeth outdid themselves with Shrimp & Corn Chowder, Chicken Stew and my favorite Broccoli/Peanut/Raisin Salad. For dessert~Spooky Chocolate Cake with Orange Frosting and Gigantic Candy Spider.
Oh my word, what a good time we had!

P.S. I don't know why the pictures are so small. I guess that's what happens when you "steal" things.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Weekly Pic--Empire State

This time last year we were in New York. The Empire State Building had on its Halloween attire. I love NYC in the fall.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Creative Discipline--According to Hallie

Two weeks ago, after Hallie had been upstairs all afternoon "cleaning" her room, I went to check on her. I don't go upstairs very often and this is the reason why. When I walked into her room, let me rephrase, when I stepped to the door of her room I immediately felt my blood pressure soar to new heights and the only thing that kept me from completely losing it was the thought of being on the 10 o'clock news. She'd supposedly been working on her room for three hours and I still couldn't see the carpet!
I was livid. I was able to refrain from doing anything that would merit a visit from CPS, but I did unplug the the TV and confiscate the phone and her computer. All of these things are distractions and I thought by removing them she'd be able to focus on accomplishing her task.
Like I said, that was two weeks ago. Two. Weeks. The child has now been without television, without the computer, without talking to her friends on the phone or setting foot outside this house for anything other than regularly scheduled family activities such as school and church for two weeks. And has she made a dent in the wasteland upstairs? No. It turns out, she does not need TV, computer or phone to distract her. Those things are just easy. Now she has turned to much more creative outlets.
One afternoon, she was particularly quiet and I just knew she was really making progress. When she came downstairs beaming with pride I felt sure it was to announce that her room was spotless. Instead, it was to show me the Native American inspired dress she'd fashioned for her American Girl doll out of fabric scraps she found in the craft closet. They were doing a group project at school on the Jumano Indians and since she couldn't do research on the compter, she decided to contribute by demonstrating traditional clothing. However, I don't think the Jumanos really wore green satin dresses and shawls woven with silver thread, unless of course Scarlett O'Hara was of Jumano descent. In fact, she'd done such a good job on the dress that I bought her some muslin and let her recreate it in a more reasonable material so she could take it to school for the group presentation.
What else has she done to occupy her time? Play the piano. A lot. She's played through old books. She's learned new songs. She's taught herself songs by ear. She's made up her own tunes. In fact, instead of struggling to get her to practice, I've actually had to say, "That's enough for now. No, you can not play any more songs!"
And perhaps the best thing that's come from her "incarceration", is that she's finally discovered reading can be fun. I've worried about her because, although she's an excellent reader, she doesn't like to do it. She never finishes a book and it is like pulling teeth to get her to do her required reading homework. (On second thought, she actually LIKES pulling teeth so that analogy is inaccurate.) However, without the Wizards of Waverly Place mesmerizing her into a catatonic Disney daze, she has been reading a lot. Last night I finally had to say, "Hallie, it is so late. You must stop reading and go to bed." So this morning, she jumped up bright and early in order to finish her book before school. She finished a book! A chapter book. With 186 pages. And she's decided to start a book club with some of her friends at school. Will wonders never cease?
Herein lies the dilemma. I feel like a bad parent because I know that two weeks of being grounded is unreasonable. I didn't set the time, I just told her that she's grounded until her room is clean. Which it still is not. But the things she is doing are far more profitable, in my opinion, than a tidy room. I'm tempted to go and clean the room myself, while she is at school, which in and of itself will be quite a punishment. She trembles at the thought of my cleaning techniques. When I'm finished, she can't help but keep a clean room because there is nothing left with which to make a mess. But then, will she fall back into her old ways of excessive TV/computer/chattering on the phone? I'd almost overlook a dirty room in order to avoid that. Almost.
There has to be a place between "mush for brains" and a "toxic dump". What a happy place that would be.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Tall Tale

This week's "Ticked Off Topic" is dedicated to all the vertically challenged folks out there. I do not necessarily think of myself as being short. I am about 5'3-ish. When buying pants, this means that "Petite" sizes are too short after one wash, but regular sizes still have to be hemmed about 5". When attending concerts, it means tall people gravitate to the space directly in front of me. Always.

A few weeks ago, we went to Denver for Elizabeth's Big Birthday Roadtrip. While there, we went to see Rain: A Beatle's Tribute at the performing arts center. The production was amazing. The venue was amazing. Except for one thing~the Freakishly Tall Man sitting right in front of me. Even though he was one row/level/step below me, he was still taller than me and so I spent the entire evening leaning on Paige so I could see around the Jolly Green Giant.

This past weekend, BigJoel scored us some tickets to see Family Force 5 at the House of Blues. (In case you didn't know, the House of Blues is, for all intents and purposes, a bar. And I took my 14 and 9 year old daughters. I might just be Mom of the Year. But I digress...) Anyway, it was "general admission standing room only", which really means "short people need not bother". At first we had a pretty good view, but then the Daughter of the Freakishly Tall Man from Denver arrived and pushed her way in front of us. Here is a picture from Elizabeth's camera of the back of tall girl's head. Did I mention that she parked herself di-rect-ly in front of me? Notice how she stands "head and shoulders" above the rest of the crowd. The good news is, she was only there for the opening bands and left before FF5 took the stage.

Having an obstructed view at a general admission show where you got the tickets for free is one thing. But now let me tell you about the long-awaited U2 concert at the new Cowboys Stadium. We did not get these tickets for free, but our seats were reasonably good. The opening band, Muse, was much better than I had expected and I got lots of great pictures. When U2 took the stage, naturally everyone was on their feet cheering and waving and singing along. The couple in front of us were especially excited. They kept jumping up and down hugging each other. It reminded me of contestants on The Price is Right. After the first few songs, people started to relax a bit and sit down. (Thank goodness) But not the happy couple in front of they had linked arms and were swaying back and forth like they were singing drinking songs in an Irish pub. Eventually, every person in our entire section sat down to enjoy the show. Every person except~you guessed it~the pair right, directly, exactly in front of me. Here's my view:

Only it was worse, because they weren't just standing there. They were either jumping up and down or swaying back and forth...the whole time...the entire time. And do you know that U2 does an amazing show that lasts almost two hours? That's right. Two hours. Behind these people. Come to think of it, the problem wasn't that they were tall. The problem is that they were rude. I understand they paid good money for their seats. But SEATS is the operative word here...which implies that one SITS. They could have paid a lot less money for standing room on the floor, but instead my "rights" to a comfortable chair took a back seat to their rights to "act a fool". They never once stopped jumping or swaying to look around and see that everyone else was seated, and yet still enjoying the concert just as much. Except for me...because all I could see was them...NOT the ground-breaking, multi-million dollar production by one of the greatest bands of all time.

So I started out blasting tall people, which really isn't fair. Tall people can't help being tall any more than I can help being 5'3-ish. The real culprits here are inconsiderate people. Yet, in my experience, most inconsiderate people seem to be pretty tall as well. I'm just sayin'...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Goodguys Don't Always Finish Last

Last week, the Goodguys Rod & Custom Show was at the Texas Motor Speedway. BigJoel looks forward to this every year and if his schedule permits, we do our level best to make it out to see all the amazing hot rods, muscle cars, and my personal fave~the rat rods. The weather could not have been more beautiful and we had the most wonderful day. Here are two of my favorites from the show.

Can you tell I like "surf wagons"?

I must admit that I'm not as much of a die-hard fan as Joel. I had a great time, but after a few hours, everything started looking pretty much the same. However, the cars weren't the only "old" things at the show drawing a lot of attention:
This lady's shorts were very short. The picture doesn't fully communicate just how short they were. I was trying to be discreet in taking the photo. (Discreet and I think she could've beat me up.) But I'm pretty sure I have underwear that cover up more than that. And she was much older than me. In other words, she really should've known better.
Overall though, it was a great day. Perfect weather, awesome cars and spending time my very favorite "good guy"~BigJoel.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Monday, October 5, 2009


A while back, I started a thread called TOTs, Ticked Off Tuesdays. I was afraid that once I gave myself license to complain via the blog-o-sphere, I might go a little overboard; so I decided to limit myself to one "crazy" per week. However, this Tuesday timeline is not working out for me. As a matter of fact, Tuesdays usually seem to be pretty good days. Therefore, I've decided to change the topic to "Ticked Off Topics" so now I can rant any day of the week. Consider yourself warned.
And here we go...*ahem*
Today's topic is (dun, dun, duuunnnn) standardized dress at Hometown ISD (eeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!) When our school district first instituted standardized dress four years ago, I have to admit I did not have a strong opinion on it one way or the other. At first, it wasn't so bad. Hannah wasn't particularly fond of it, but Hallie thought it was the best thing ever. She was so cute in her little jumpers with long socks and mary jane shoes. And it didn't take long for HannahKate to settle in to the routine of khaki pants and a polo shirt every. single. day.
Now, however, it is a much different story at our house. Can we just say that Hallie will only be able to pull off the jumper-long-sock-school-girl look for, maybe, the remainder of fourth grade? After that, it's no longer cute and they no longer make jumpers in her size.
Which leads us to the next dilemma~tucking in the shirt. Really, who tucks anymore? I know I don't. I understand the reason for the tucking rule. Its those dang hoodlums who wear their pants 12 sizes too big and shirts that come down to their knees in order to cover up the "sag" in their jeans (or the weapon they're concealing). However, for a child like Hallie, there is no such thing as a pair of pants 12 sizes too big. And its pretty much impossible to find a shirt that comes down to her knees. And let's just be honest and say, it is not attractive when she tucks her shirt in. I suppose I could make peace with the dress code if they would simply allow shirts of a reasonable length to be untucked.
And "reasonable" is the operative word here...
The thing is this: our district had a dress code in place before standardized dress, but it was enforced in a haphazard, subjective way. Standardized dress was supposed to clear all of that up. My children, along with most of the other students in HISD, would be properly dressed and operate well within the confines of a much more lenient policy. However, in order to control the small population who's parents don't know or don't care what their children are wearing, the rest of our children are subject to unreasonable and unneccessary requirements.
By no means am I opposed to a dress code that prohibits gang affiliation or promotes modest dress in order to curtail distractions throughout the school day. But as I watched students filing out of the high school yesterday, it struck me that you cannot mandate morality.
Ok, so here's the thing now: I've been working on this post over a week now trying to tie it up neatly and get out with some sense of closure. But I can't. And today, my nine-year-old gets in the car with a warning from the guidance counselor about the necessity of socks. Socks! Hallie wore a polo underneath a sweatshirt (the loophole in the tucking rule), a skort, leggings and zebra print ballet flats. We knew we were pushing the envelope with black/white shoes, but apparently the greater offense was that she was not wearing socks with her dress shoes. Apparently you are required to wear socks until you are in the seventh grade. At that time, however, zebra print shoes are no longer acceptable because its too difficult to tell if they are black with white stripes or white with black stripes.
Like I said, I'm not opposed to a reasonable dress code...but what do socks have to do with gang prevention and modest dress?!?! Sheesh! I'm just gonna hit "Publish Post" before I say something I'll regret.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Weekly Pic--Perspective

Colorado Springs--September 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Weekly Pic--Light of the World

Haven't done a Weekly Pic in a while, so as I was scrolling through my photos tonight, this one caught my eye~ not so much for my photographic prowess, but for the feeling it invokes in me.

I took this picture in June 2008 in a little village called "New Jerusalem" overlooking the city of Trujillo, Peru. It was a very poor area. It was a very lost area. It was a very dark area... both literally and spiritually speaking.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

People of Wal-Mart

Have you been to this site yet? It will make you laugh. out. loud. It is a forum for pictures of the *ahem* interesting things one sees at the local Wal-Mart. The creators have kindly pledged to refrain from poking fun at people who just can't help it such as physically disabled or mentally challenged folk. But if you're in the habit of wearing slippers to the Wal-Marts or leaving your teeth at home, then you're fair game. Like last week when I went with HanK to grab a few school supplies late one night and realized I'd left the house wearing a red shirt and purple flip-flops...not to mention the food stains on my shirt from lunch that I hadn't noticed. Of course I saw practically everyone I know and even managed to help a little lost boy find his mother, all the while looking like I'd gotten dressed in a dark house with no mirrors.

I saw this picture on the PoW site and it made me snicker.

It reminded me of one time when HannahKate was just a baby and we still lived in the Metroplex. I wasn't at WM, but a small community grocery store and we saw a neighbor who also happened to be a church member. As we talked, she poked at and played with Hannah, held her hands, touched her face and even gave her a kiss. I've never considered myself a germ-o-phobe, and this was my first baby, so I didn't think much about it. However, as the conversation drew to a close, she said, "Well, I have to go now. I have a doctor's appointment to try to find out what this RASH is all over my hands and arms." (I am NOT even kidding!) I hope the look of horror did not show on my face as I glanced down and saw the red puffy, white scaly lesions covering, covering I tell you, her arms from the tips of her fingers up to her elbows. I wished her luck and quickly whipped our buggy around to the next aisle all the while yanking baby wipes from the diaper bag in order to "decontaminate" my child. It was like a scene from "Silkwood". Poor HannahKate didn't know what came over her. Fortunately, either the woman's flesh eating virus was not contagious, or the Lord took pity on my poor stupid soul, because thankfully, HannahKate did not contract the mystery illness.

Evidently, the mother of the child in this picture has met my former neighbor...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


The traditional first day of school ceremony~blueberry muffins, crayon-shaped candles and the "Happy First Day of School" song. (HanK is wearing workout clothes because she has volleyball 1st period.) Wow. What a difference a year makes...

Monday, August 31, 2009


Tonight we went to "Meet the Teacher" night at Hometown High School because HannahKate is now a Freshman. It was extremely odd to walk the halls of HHS again and I almost got whiplash from the way I was thrown twenty (or so) years back in time. This particular campus was built/completed while BigJoel and I were still students. He was in the first group of Freshmen to attend all four years at "the new school". So it was fun meeting HannahKate's teachers, while reminiscing about having class in some of the very same rooms. As a matter of fact, HanK even has one of the same teachers that her daddy had. (All I can say is that poor woman has been around for-ev-er!) Joel's observation tonight was, "Gosh, this place doesn't seem nearly as big as I remember it."

While touring the school, I saw this sign outside one of the bathroom doors. It made me giggle just a bit. When I saw it the second time, I just had to have a picture. Seriously? Potty Pride? Sounds like an episode of Barney instead of high school, if you ask me. Anyway, since Blogger seems to be cooperating tonight, I wanted to share the picture. A little odd, but definitely some good points to keep in mind...
I guess we should always remember to take PRIDE in everything we do.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


Ok, I've been trying to upload pictures for a week now from the first day of school...a week, I tell you. First my computer was out for repair, so I tried to use my old laptop which has been taken over by Hallie. Note to self: never give possession of a computer to a nine year old until you are absolutely sure you will never, ever need to retrieve anything from said computer again. Somehow, the photo program has been tampered with and now I can no longer download new pics or access old ones. They are still there...I just can't open them.
Once my new computer was repaired, I tried again. Only here's the deal: my MacBook doesn't have an SD slot for my memory card. How inconvenient! I have to find the cable, among the slew of other cables floating around my house that all look suspiciously alike but are really very different, and connect the camera to the MacBook via USB cord. Whew! But now guess what? The camera battery was dead so it wouldn't power on. Evidently this is a problem.
After recharging the battery, I was finally able to download pics onto the computer! Yay for me! I was ready to share with my "readers" all about the first day of school...because I know everyone has been waiting anxiously. But not so fast...
I'm a new convert to the Mac after many, many years of PCing. I'm loving so many of the features and already know I wouldn't go back to the world of Bill Gates; however, I'm still trying to figure out how to do things. One thing I cannot quite master is iPhoto. I'm not completely convinced the program is installed properly; but assuming it is, I can't get it to cooperate. This has set me back another few days.
Today though, I thought the stars had aligned just right. I finally have the MacBook, with the pictures on it, edited and ready to upload to Blogger. And still, success has eluded me yet again. Blogger says it's uploading my photos...but it lies. It is NOT uploading my photos...not even if I try to coax it into doing just one at a time. Not even for "pretty please with a cherry on top". Aaauuuughhhh!
But I refuse to admit defeat. Rest assured that I will not cease trying until all the I succeed in posting the pictures of my beloved children on their first day of school. Of course by the time I figure it out, I may be able to post them along side "end of year" pics as well...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Once Again

Last Friday night**, the band played a show in Indiana. I talked to BigJoel about 12:40 a.m. It was an ordinary, run-of-the-mill, after show conversation: Loud background noise, distracted and cut short with, "I gotta finish up here. I'll call you when we get on the road."

So I went back to Facebooking and playing YippyIt! (which has replaced Bejeweled Blitz as my addiction of choice). At 1:20, Joel finally called back. Nothing strikes fear in your heart like when a loved one begins a sentence with, "I'm okay, we are all okay, but..." It is in those moments when an ordinary, run-of-the-mill routine would be welcomed because you instinctively know that your life has been changed forever in some way.

And it had. In the forty minutes since I'd last talked to him, everyone had boarded the bus. (In the summer, they travel "old school", one bus for both band and crew.) "Bus catering" had arrived and they pulled out of the venue headed for St. Louis. Then their ordinary, run-of-the-mill, after show routine was interrupted by tragedy as a car struck the front of the bus. The band and crew were all unharmed, but the passengers of the car were not. "It's bad," Joel said and then he had to go.

When Joel first started traveling with the band seven years ago, his safety was a *real concern* for me. Let's just be honest, a bus accident was my worst fear and I dwelt on it for some time before the Lord spoke to me. A few times in my life, I believe I have heard God speak almost audibly to me...and that was one of them. He said, "Denyse, I have promised to watch over him. Don't you trust Me? His days are in My hands, not yours." And after that, I never worried about his safety again...until last Friday.

When I heard Joel's voice on the phone and realized lives had been lost, the reality of it hit me like a sledgehammer. I could not breathe. I was paralyzed with fear. When I finally caught my breath, I couldn't stop crying. Once again, I found myself being forced to evaluate if what I say I believe and what I really believe are the same (very much like our mission trip to Peru last summer). Only this time, it involved the. most. precious person. in. my. life. I love my children dearly, but I love my husband fiercely.

And so, once again, I had to relinquish my "rights" over that which wasn't mine to control and concede that Joel's path, my path, all of our paths are determined by God. And, once again, I was reminded of one of my mother's favorite Scriptures: He will keep in perfect peace those whose mind is steadfast on Him (Isaiah 26:3) And so, while my heart aches for the families who lost loved ones, once again, I take comfort in knowing that God may not always be "safe", but He is always "good".

**The original date of this post was August 10.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Do As I Say...

...Not As I Do
A few weeks ago, I was trying to explain a delicate situation to Hallie that not everyone needed to know about. I said, "We're not going to lie about it..." and she interrupted with "We're just not going to tell the whole truth." I remember thinking at the time that I should probably be concerned that my nine year old has this concept figured out.

And my concerns were well-founded. This week when Hallie "cleaned" her room, she came downstairs and asked if I could take her to Wal-Mart because she found a gift card. I told her that we needed to call and check the balance because we might have already used it, but not gotten rid of the card. She said, "Ok, but it was still in an envelope, so I don't think we've spent it yet." In the back of my mind, I recalled someone giving the girls Wal-Mart gift cards for Christmas so I said, "Is it from *Our Really Nice Friend*?" And she said, "Yes."

So we make a special trip to the superstore, spend an hour in the toy section and finally settle on a purchase.

At dinner, Hallie was chattering on and on (and on) about her new toy, when HannahKate asked me, "Did you buy that for her?" Hallie interrupted, (do you see a pattern here?) "No, I found a gift card so I bought it myself." Hannah then asked, "Where did you find the gift card?" I was about to scold Hannah for being so hateful when I saw "the look" on Hallie's face. Then she said, "You know that red basket that you said I could have whatever I wanted..."

Evidently, HannahKate had put out a basket of miscellaneous stuff she was getting rid of and told Hallie she could have whatever she wanted out of it. But Hannah neglected to thoroughly inspect the contents and Hallie pounced on the opportunity. Yes, yes she did. She didn't lie about where the card came from, she just didn't tell the whole truth (which included the part about the card being inside an envelope with Hannah's name on it).

Man, raising kids is like walking a tightrope...without a net.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

CP25K--TroyBradford Has a Mean Streak

My "friend" over at troybradfordphotos commented that I have pictures for every blog except this thread of CP25K. He challenged me to post one, so here you go Troy!

(photo courtesy of

When I started this Couch (Potato) to 5K thing with Elizabeth, I had no intention of blogging about it in such detail. I'm sure as time goes by, either 1) I will become accustomed to exercise and decide it's really not such an accomplishment to exert oneself for 30 minutes 3 times a week; or 2) I will wimp out and quit the program. Then I'll stop boring you with such trivial details. Right now though, everything is a milestone!

Elizabeth is off "frolicking" on the beach, so Nancy and I ran last night. I'm sure she slowed her pace considerably, but I also had a much better workout than when last I whined. I must say though, I'm already beginning to dread next week when we jog for 90 second intervals instead of 60. We still have one more workout in Week 1. I hope it's a good one.

Monday, August 3, 2009

CP25K--The Weakest Link

What's that saying about a chain being only as strong as its weakest link?
Didn't have a good run last night.
Calves were killing me.
Balance was off.
Couldn't keep up with the group...which has grown to include myself, Elizabeth, Nancy, HannahKate and Hallie (on her scooter).
Had to walk some of the jogging rotations.
We're supposed to take today off, but I may try to walk anyway. We'll see.
This is normal, right?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

CP25K--Week 1

We finished week one of the Couch to 5K training! Actually, a "week" is only 3 days, which I think is an excellent idea for not only exercise, but work in general. (Who wouldn't love a 3 day week with a four day weekend?) But I digress...

Anyway, the program is designed to last 9 weeks, running 3 times each week. While I'm pleased that I managed to complete the first week, I've been "on the couch" for a reaaaallllly long time, so Elizabeth has agreed to repeat Week 1.

Here is what I've noticed in the first week.
1. I'm drinking/craving more water throughout the day.
2. I find myself looking forward to running each night.
3. The workout is over before I know it and I feel like I've accomplished something.

Our friend Nancy joined us last night and asked, "Is there a particular 5K you're training for?" Pshh! Only if there's one that's run late at night under the cover of darkness...I've had a great first week, but let's not get crazy.

Anyways, thanks so much for the words of encouragement. From my neighbors theMil10s who could look out their window around 10:00 p.m. and get quite a giggle to my uber-healthy, granola-snacking, running-maniac friend Jamie--its nice to know there are people pulling for me at the finish line. =)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Couch (Potato) to 5K

So Elizabeth and I have started a "Couch to 5K" program. This is a plan designed to get non-athletic types such as myself, out the door and running. If you know anything at all about me, you've probably already figured out that this was Elizabeth's idea...not mine. I've always considered running something one does only when being chased by a viscous animal.

This week's workout involves a brisk 5 minute walk, then alternating 60 seconds of jogging with 90 seconds of walking for the next 20 minutes, then cooling down with 5 more minutes of slower walking.

We began yesterday, and right out of the blocks I knew I was in trouble. Elizabeth is "vertically challenged" just like me, however, she can walk faster than a person with legs twice as long. I was already puffing by the time we neared the end of our 5 minute warm-up walk. Well, I was pleasantly surprised by how "easily" (relatively speaking) I made it through the first 60 minute jog. But lest I become overconfident, the second jogging segment was more challenging, and by the third time I was pretty sure that Elizabeth had misread the the stopwatch forcing us to run at least twice as long as we were supposed to ... After that, I think I stopped "jogging" and instead I just leaned forward and walked faster. Probably not the best form, but ya' gotta start somewhere, right?

So, I will try to keep you posted on my progress over the next few weeks. Hopefully there will be lots to report.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Weekly Pic--You Can Call Me Sandy

HannahKate took great pleasure, perhaps a bit toooooo much pleasure, in burying her sister in the beautiful white sands of Gulf Shores.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Weekly Pic--Sunset Palms

Sunset at the Beach Club
Gulf Shores, Alabama

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ignorance is Bliss

Driving through Louisiana, one sees lots of strange this sign. It made me wonder what exactly is a Baptist Pumpkin Center? How does a pumpkin become Baptist? Are there Methodist and Presbyterian pumpkins also? Do they celebrate Halloween at the Center?
However, when I googled Baptist Pumpkin Center to find out more about this religious movement among gourds, I learned that "Baptist' and "Pumpkin Center" are merely two separate towns in Louisiana (which is not nearly as interesting as the prospect of protestant pumpkins). Sometimes knowing too much takes all the fun out of things. *sigh*

Friday, July 3, 2009

To Top It All Off...

I took this picture at the grocery store a few weeks ago, knowing there was a blog post in there somewhere. However, I've wrestled with what exactly this product says to/about me. At first glance, I must admit, I thought "That's great!" I mean, honestly, who likes to eat the bottom part of the muffin anyway? I don't know why. It tastes the same, but there's just a little something different about the part that cooks in the pan as opposed to the part that rises above the cup. Am I the only one who feels this way? Don't answer that...

Anyways, my first thought was that this idea is pure genius. But then upon introspection, I began to wonder if this is what the world is coming to. I try to teach my girls life lessons such as "good things come to those who wait" that will instill in them qualities like patience. One of the ways I model this for them is in the way I eat a cupcake or muffin--the bottom part first, saving the best for last. I want them to understand the concept of delayed gratification because you can't always get what you want when you want it. The sooner we learn that in life, the happier we'll all be. If we can't even endure the bottom portion of a muffin, does that say something about our insatiable hunger for convenience and instant gratification? On a grander scale, what about the discipline of putting aside our own wants to consider someone else's needs?

I know, I know I'm reading waaaaay too much into a grocery item gimmick. I should probably just take heart knowing that someone at Eggo enjoys the top part of the muffin as much as I do.
But it did cause me to stop and think...