Sunday, December 12, 2010

Photo Challenge #10

A TV show you're currently addicted to...

Ok, so it's not a TV show.  And I'm really not addicted to it.  But I've put this post off for days trying to figure out what to do.  I don't watch a lot of TV of my own choosing.  If its up to me, the TV stays off.  Of all the shows on our DVR, Glee is the only one I actually make a point to watch...and I'm embarrassed to admit that.  I also couldn't figure out a photo (that I took myself) to represent Glee.  So I reinterpreted the rules...  
Les Miserables is my all-time favorite musical.  I'm so sad that it's not on Broadway anymore, but this picture was from our trip to NYC in 2006.  

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Photo Challenge #9

A place you've visited...
I love to travel.  I've gotten to visit some really neat places.  By far, the most amazing, interesting, exhausting and challenging place I've been is Macchu Picchu...for many reasons.  Definitely one of those things I'm so glad I did, but seriously doubt I'll ever do again.

Photo Challenge #8

Something you dislike...

I dislike the misuse of the words your/you're.  I am by no means qualified to throw grammar stones, but I get so frustrated when people (especially teachers) use "your" instead of "you're".   
This was a sign in Hometown back around Halloween. "If your feeling booey come get somethin gooey"  If my what is feeling booey?  What does "booey" even mean, anyway?  I guess as long as you make up your own words, no one can complain if you're misspelling them.  
Sigh...such is life here in Hometown...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Photo Challenge #7

Something you ate today...
HannahKate went to Olive Garden a few weeks ago with some friends where she had Chicken & Gnocchi Soup.  She's been begging me every since to make some.  I found several versions of OG's recipe online, but I chose the one that looked like it contained the most "normal" ingredients.  I think it was written for a person who knew what they were doing.  The directions were terrible.  Fortunately, the soup was pretty good.

Photo Challenge #6

What do you do?  A representation of your day...

Tuesday is newsletter day at work.  It used to be my worst day.  Now, that distinction is reserved for Fridays.
Something is terribly wrong when Friday is the worst day of the week...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Photo Challenge #5

Your humble abode...

Not exactly sure of the point for this challenge, so I'm just going to post a picture of the Christmas tree in "my humble abode."  I only have one tree this year.  I used to have multiple--like 4 or 5, but it's not quite as much fun now that everyone else seems to be doing it, too.  That, and the fact that I'm getting lazy-er each year.  I no longer get caught up in the joy of decorating, because the dread of un-decorating discourages me.  Don't call me Scrooge yet, I still love Christmas time and we still have stockings and nativities and yard art.  I just didn't start decorating before Thanksgiving and drag out every last ball twinkle light this time.  Maybe next year...

Photo Challenge #4

What's in your bag...
A make-up pouch, my wallet, one earring, keys, gum, Leora's camera and some loose change...but also, the story of Alice Okello, the lady in Uganda that made the purse.  Check out Epoh bags for more information.
Great bags--I almost always get comments on it, great cause--helping women in need.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Photo Challenge #3

Something you bought today...
Hallie needed something "Christmas-y" for a program at church (technically we bought it yesterday, but this was the first chance she had to model for a pic).

Friday, December 3, 2010

Photo Challenge #2

Someone you adore--5 reasons why...

I adore BigJoel because...
   he makes me smile.
   he makes me feel safe.
   he has a servant's heart.
   he is smart.  (He "knows things.")
   he loves the Lord.
   he is an amazing dad.
   he is my best friend.  Ever.

Ok, so that was more than 5, but I couldn't help myself.  I just love that guy!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Photo Challenge #1

Well, HannahKate is doing another blog challenge and this time I'm going to play along. It is a photo challenge. I'm already a day behind, but its been a busy week. Hopefully, I can catch up this weekend.
Anyway, Day 1 is to post a self-portrait. Unlike the kids these days, I do not stand in front of every bathroom mirror and take pictures of myself. I don't like pictures of myself, so this was a difficult challenge. Hopefully the photo topics will get easier...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How Old Am I?

A cup of coffee and a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast...
Whatever happened to Diet Coke and Pop Tarts?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Just Part of the Job

Sometimes, BigJoel's job stinks.  Like when he has to miss important events such as HannahKate being presented as part of the Homecoming Court at the Hometown High School football game.  Or when the fire alarm (which is excruciatingly loud, by the way) goes off in the middle of the night and I can't figure out how to make it quit.

But there are other times, when the job has its perks.  Like when I get to travel fun places with him.  Or more recently, we had the opportunity to go to Game 5 of the World Series.

So I've never been a huge fan of baseball and attending the World Series was certainly not on my "Bucket List", but I am a huge fan of spending time with BigJoel and this definitely goes on my "How In The World Did I Get Here? List" of interesting experiences stemming from Joel's job.  

It was really quite amazing to be present when a team actually won the World Series...even if it wasn't my team.  We'll get 'em next year, Rangers!  It was a great run.  You made me actually enjoy baseball which is almost as impressive as making it to the World Series.  Can't wait until Opening Day in April.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Persistence Pays Off

When I started my new job back in April, Joel bought a speaker dock for me to have at my desk.  This way I could listen to music and charge my iPod at the same time.  It was a cute little thing.  Just the right size.  Here's a picture.
Unfortunately, after only a few months, the device stopped working one day.  Suddenly.  As in, right in the middle of a song.  One minute I was listening, the next all was quiet.  Of course it had been longer than the allowed time for returning the item to the store where it was purchased, so I had to contact the company.

On my first attempt,  I was assisted by a "non-English speaking" person.  I don't mean that ugly.  I'm sure the gentleman was quite fluent in his native tongue, but I have found in my own personal experience with second language learning that talking on the telephone is difficult.  Needless to say, after the third or fourth time of the man saying, "Ok thank you.  I hear what you are saying, see.  Can you tell me if the device is...[insert the next troubleshooting solution from the manual here]?" I was frustrated and so was he.  We had come to the end of our ability to understand each other, so I told him thanks and hung up.  Within an hour, I received an email from the company saying, "Thank you for calling...if we do not hear from you in 24 hours, we will assume your problem is solved...would you like to fill out a customer satisfaction survey?"

But my problem was not solved, so they did hear from me again.  The second time I called, I spoke with "Matthew".  I remember his name, because I was relieved that I could pronounce it.  Matthew was very friendly and was finally able to discern that I did have the device plugged in, and was operating it correctly; it had simply stopped working.  Matthew said that if I would email or fax him the receipt, he'd replace my speakers within a week.  Yay!  So I emailed the receipt and I waited....and waited...and waited.  I even faxed it for good measure.  I thought it odd that I did not receive a confirmation that the receipt had been received, so I called again.

My "non-English speaking" friend answered the call.  I just hung up.

I waited a few days and called again.  I reached "Scott".   I told him the story and he pulled up my "case".  It appears that they had not received the attachment with my email nor the fax.  (At this point, I'm upset with Matthew because why didn't he let me know he never got my receipt?  I had received another "Thanks for calling...we assume we fixed your problem...customer survey" message and Matthew never mentioned that he hadn't received my attachement.)  Scott said not to worry, he would handle everything.  It turned out that by this time, the original speaker was on backorder.  It figures.  Again, Scott said not to worry.  They would send a device of greater value.  Seven business days, he said...

After fifteen business days, I still had not received the replacement.  Of course I'm totally exasperated by this time.  Normally, I'm not a "return" kind of girl, I just cut my losses and carry on; but this was not a cheap device and it had malfunctioned after only two months.  I'm standing on principle at this point.

So this past Monday,  I called the company again.  I pretty much have the number memorized now. "Colin" answered my call.  When he pulled up my "case" he said, "Oh my, this has been going on far too long..."  Thank you, Colin!  He apologized and promised to send out the replacement via UPS 2 day shipping.  Yeah, yeah.  I'll believe it when I see it, buddy.

Well, sure enough, Colin is a man of his word.  This evening around six o'clock, the man in brown rang my doorbell and left me a box.  A huge box.  Hmmmm...... Remember the original device?  So cute and compact?  Here's the new one.
It's amazing.  It has great sound and even came with a remote control.  But it is HUGE!  I have no idea where I'm going to put it on my desk...think anyone would notice if I did away with the office phone to make room?

But I am so excited to be able to listen to music from my iPod again that I hate to complain.  Colin is my hero.  And now I can finally fill out that customer satisfaction survey...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Now This Is Exciting...

All of these clothes are being donated to charity because they are now TOO BIG for at least two sizes.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Who's Kid Is That Anyway?

So HannahKate has started another blog.  I think she has two, or three, but she keeps forgetting the passwords so she can never update them.  This one is called Confessions of a Decidophobic.  A decidophobic is a person who has a fear of making decisions.  I thought she made that word up, but I Googled it and found that it really exists.  I guess I should know that, because I believe I might suffer from it myself.
Anyway, she's embarked on a mission to write 30 Letters in 30 Days.  Its a pretty impressive challenge, so I wish her the very best.  I'm still trying to decide if I'm going to do it also.  It seems like a fun idea, but I don't know if I can come up with enough material for 30 days.  There might not even be 30 people that I know/like well enough to write a letter to.  We'll see.  I've given myself a deadline of October 31 to make up my mind.  (It's becoming more and more obvious where HanK gets her "decidophobia", isn't it?)
While I'm still mulling over my options, you should check out Hannah's blog.  She's a pretty neat kid young lady.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Storm Clouds

A fierce storm blew through Hometown yesterday evening just before dark. The clouds looked as if they were on fire.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Good Taste

I'm not really sure where or when my obsession for taking pictures of food began, but it is now a tradition, or a habit...or maybe a vice.

Since we've been trying to eat healthier, I was a little concerned when I met Joel in New York City a few weeks ago.  I know its the "City That Never Sleeps", but it is also the "City That Always Eats."  So as much as I hate to admit it, we planned our days around breakfast, lunch and dinner.  The good thing about this however, is that I was able to be very deliberate with my culinary choices without too much fear of the consequences being reflected on the scales when I returned home.

Anyway, here is just a "taste" of how much we enjoyed NYC.
 First, was breakfast at Bubby's.  

I had Eggs Florentine.  The waitress told us Bubby's has the best hollandaise sauce in the City.  I believe her.

 Later that day, we tried out A Salt & Battery--a little place in Greenwich Village.  There were only two parties inside, but that left no room; so we ate outside and enjoyed the beautiful fall day along with some "color" commentary by a local shop owner.

We both had the polluck, or haddock, I can't remember which...but I do remember that it was absolutely delicious.

On Monday evening, we got caught out in a rain storm.  We took shelter at a "Famous Famiglia" pizza place and had a little late-night snack--pizza and garlic knots.

For once, I was able to take Joel somewhere he'd never been--PopBurger.  Paige, Elizabeth and I discovered this place up by Central Park on our last trip.  I love the presentation of the two tiny burgers in a box.  They advertise "luscious mouth watering buns" and "firm fries."

On Tuesday evening, I wanted Italian food.  We explored a couple different options, but ended up at an old favorite place--Carmine's.  Neither of us really thought about the fact that Carmine's is not a place for a party of two.  Because the portions are so large, you actually need three, four, or maybe more, friends to dine with.

We had Caesar salad, stuffed mushrooms and chicken scallopini.  Even though we ate until we were completely stuffed, there was still had enough food left over to feed a few homeless people on the subway.

And do you want to know the most exciting part?  Even after all these awesome restaurants and rich food, when I stepped on the scale the day after getting home, I only brought back an extra .4 (as in, less than half) of a pound!  Oh, the damage could have been so much worse!  All that planning paid off...and 10 hours of walking each day probably helped a little, too.  No wonder New York has so many restaurants...between never sleeping and walking everywhere, you need to eat a lot to sustain yourself!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Writing on the Wall

As we were wandering around New York City recently, we came across an art exhibit in a renovated old school.  The event was called ReForm School and was billed as "an art-based education event...designed to push forward new thinking about fixing America's schools."  It was really artsy and definitely forward thinking, but it was also a fun way to spend a few hours in the City.  You can read more about it here... if you're interested in that kind of thing.
Since I have two very smart girls who are also very pretty, I had to take this picture.  I'm not sure if this was supposed to be considered art or part of the exhibit, but it was written on the wall of the Girls' restroom... definitely better than what you would normally find written on a bathroom wall.  I took the picture with my iPhone CameraBag app and the Silver filter...if you're interested in that kind of thing.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Crazy Tacos

Earlier this week, our family went to a new Mexican food restaurant here in Hometown.  Honestly, the last thing Hometown needs is another Mexican food restaurant...or barbecue place.  But, we have recently acquired both.  Woo hoo.

Anyway, I'm always the last one to order because I can never make up my mind.   Hallie was sitting next to me and asked for the "Fajita Taco Loco" literally, "Crazy Fajita Taco".  Everyone else had ordered, and I was forced to make a split second I just got the same thing, even though I had no idea what it was.  That's dos Fajita Taco Locos.

In a few minutes, the waitress began bringing out our food.  She set a small plate with a taco on it in between Hallie and I, but then she said, "That's not your taco!  You have the big taco."  On her second trip to our table, she presented us with our "big tacos".  Oh my word, she wasn't kidding...

I put my fork on the plate to give some perspective on the gianormity of it.  
So I submit that instead of being called "Taco Loco", a more appropriate name would be "Taco Grande" or  "Taco Gigante".  Unless of course, the reason it is a "Taco Loco" refers to the fact that it is crazy big.
Anyway, Hallie and I enjoyed our gigantic crazy tacos; but I'm afraid the rest of the family was less than impressed with their meals.  So it appears that our regular Mexican food establishment will not have to worry about losing our patronage...even though their tacos are neither loco nor grande.  

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Weekly Pic--Macy's Empire

Had the chance to go to NYC for a few days this week with BigJoel.  We had so much fun!  I've been trying to master the "art" of great photos with my iPhone.  Joel always takes the coolest pics with his, but mine never seem to come out like I want them to.   However, this was one of my favorite shots of the trip--Macy's Department Store in the foreground and the Empire State Building in the back.  For any camera nerds who might be interested (ahem, you know who you are...), I used the Hipstamatic app with the Jimmy lens and Blanko film.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Driver's Ed

HannahKate begins her Driver's Education class tonight.  Where in the world has the time gone?
Hopefully, they'll teach her to keep both hands on the wheel...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Weekly Pic--Chasing Waterfalls

Dallas World Aquarium
September 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Letter to HannahKate

Dear HannahKate,
I just want you to know how proud I am of you and your accomplishments.
I want you to know that your hard work and cheerful disposition do not go unnoticed.
I want you to know that your fierce loyalty to your friends is appreciated.
I want you to know that I pray you'll keep refusing to allow other people to dictate your self-worth.
I want you to know that the firm stand you take is a testimony of your faith.
And I want you to know that sometimes, even when you do everything right, life's just not fair.  But your family will always love you and be proud of you.

Like Grammy said~remember who you are and whose name you bear.

And like Bart says~
You're beautiful...
You were made for so much more than all of this.
You're beautiful...
You are treasured.  You are sacred.  You are His.
And like the Bible says~
After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun. So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose?  Romans 8:30-31 (MSG)
Remember who you are and Whose name you bear.

I love you,

Monday, October 4, 2010

Whoopsie-Daisy... that's an odd expression. I have no idea what it means, but I needed a catchy title for this picture I took of a Gerber daisy.'s also fun to say.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Plenty of Moxie

Our dog, Moxie. She's a strange one...

Saturday, October 2, 2010

This Is Why I Love Fall

Just me and Hal tonight, but we had our dinner outside on the deck. Beautiful weather!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday Night Lights

Be careful what you ask for, Troy.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Weekly Pic--Stained Glass

I've always loved stained glass windows.  I guess I inherited that from my dad, who has actually made some stained-glass pieces.  I took this picture yesterday when we met up with a friend from college for dinner at an amazing restaurant in Big D called "Breadwinners."

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Plan for Success

Recently, I was lamenting via Facebook status that I had spent an entire Sunday afternoon "trying to plan healthy meals on a budget for family that is never home."  
The truth is:
  • We are trying to eat better.  
  • Dave Ramsey's voice now lives inside my head since we've been debt-free since January and are doing our best to keep it that way.  
  • These factors, combined with busy schedules and a traveling husband, make meal planning more difficult.  
  • Add to that two girls with very different (from each other) food preferences and a mom who really doesn't like to cook that much anyway, and you have a recipe for disaster...
...Well, maybe not disaster, but at the very least, you have a family with clogged arteries and high blood pressure who goes broke eating out every meal.
I have said it before~Facebook and the internets are wonderful things--A friend saw my status and sent me a link to a menu subscription site called  I was skeptical at first, but oh. my. word.  now I cannot stop talking about this site.  It offers weekly menus tailored to fit a variety of needs:  2 person families, 4+ person families, gluten-free, low carb, low fat and even one based on the Weight Watcher's point system.  Once you know what kind of menu you need, then you decide where you're going to do your shopping: any store, Kroger, Publix and even Wal-Mart.  
The more I read about these plans, the more excited I became.  The catch is, it is not free.  But the good news is, it only costs $5 per month (three months at a time).  Heck, the site even has a banner across the top with Dave Ramsey's picture and some quote about "Dave says, at $1.25 per week, this investment is a no-brainer."  Well, if Dave says it's good...what more confirmation do I need?
One of the things I love about these plans, is they give you recipes for 7 meals each week.  The recipes are so easy to prepare, so quick and sooooooo good!  I just cannot get over how tasty the meals are, PLUS the fact that everyone in my family (read:  my two finicky children who have total opposite food tastes) has loved every recipe I've tried so far.  This is a modern miracle of epic proportions.
So I promise is worth your time to click on over to e-mealz and look around.  
And even if you don't believe me, you can't argue with Dave...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Out For A Walk

The girls and I decided to go walking this evening after dinner. There was such a nice breeze and the temperature was just right. I love this time of year!

Monday, August 23, 2010

First Day of School

As is the tradition in our household, we observed the Annual First Day of School ritual this morning.

First Day of School 2010
HallieBeth--5th grade; HannahKate--10th grade

HanK looks like she's delivering a dramatic monologue here, but she's really just talking with her hands...probably saying something like,  "Would you stop taking my picture?!"  Funny how speaking through clinched teeth can resemble a smile...

(We've been using the same crayon candles every year since HanK was in Kindergarten.  They used to look like crayons.)  

I love that Hallie is still eager for the first day of school...and that she will still smile for a picture without rolling her eyes. 
HanK, on the other hand...well, its just hard to believe she will only celebrate this tradition two more times.  I seriously doubt she'll allow me to show up at her dorm and sing to her on the first day of college...even if I do have muffins.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

She'll probably kill me for this....

But, hey, I'm the mom.

Take 2


Trying to figure out mobile blogging.  I'm not nearly smart as I think I am...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Fun on the Fourth

Well, I'm just now blogging about the 4th of July...but better late than never, right?
There's only been one other time when I've been out of the country on Independence Day. When you're not bombarded with tons of fireworks and Lee Greenwood singing "Proud to Be an American", you really have to make an effort to appreciate the freedoms that we are privileged to have. Thanks to Elizabeth and Jen, we had a 4th of July celebration to rival all others.
All totaled, there were about seventeen volunteers at the albergue that day. Joel and Doug grilled hamburgers and barbecue chicken for us. (Of course, first we had to buy the grill first and then found that Peruvian charcoal is quite different from briquets we have in the states.)
Elizabeth made potato salad and Jen made fresh guacamole as well as "grilled asparagus". Everything was so delicious...even though the hamburger patties had a little "different" texture to them.
A 4th of July celebration just wouldn't be complete without sparklers.
We learned the coolest trick~if you put your camera on the "fireworks" setting and then make letters backwards with sparklers, it will spell out a word! Joel, HanK and I attempted to write USA. (It looks a little more like JSA, but you get the point.)
The long-term volunteers spelled out PERU. By that time, we had the technique perfected, so it turned out really cool-looking.
So even though we were in a foreign country, it was such a special celebration honoring the freedoms that are ours not only with fellow Americans, but precious fellow Believers. We are so very blessed.