Friday, January 27, 2006

I just dropped the kids off at my parents house. They are going to stay there tonight while I attend yet another retreat. This one is a Ladies' Retreat with the far away church. I am so excited to get a chance to hear Beverly Ross and to fellowship more with all of the neat women I've met recently. Major and Mary Alice were excited to be at their grandparents' house and barely noticed as I left them behind. What is so fun about grandparents anyway? What do they have that I don't have? I'm just kidding. (Some people who read my blog obviously don't understand my sense of humor, so I sometimes need to explain myself.) I didn't grow up close to my grandparents. I loved them and talked to them on the phone, but didn't get to stay with them very often. Josh lived near to his grandparents, so he seems to understand the specialness of staying at the grandparents' house for a weekend. Anyway- they are gone for the night. I will pick them up tomorrow afternoon.

When I drop them off, I miss them, but it is always nice to have a little time to myself. I went shopping and had my hair cut. More and more I understand the frumpy cliche that goes with motherhood. Lots of moms simply don't have time to read up on the latest styles, work out, or get their hair cut. When I see my hair looking as shaggy as it has been lately, or realize that my attire consists of "something comfortable" paired with my gray New Balance tennis shoes, I know it is time for a change.

I think I have a disorder caused by infrequent shopping. When I was in college, I could tackle any shopping situation with ease. It was no big deal for me to go into a store and purchase an outfit or two or three. Now I go shopping so rarely, that it actually makes me anxious to buy clothes for myself. I just wander around the store confused, looking at the things on mannequins and on posters because there are so many choices. I think somewhere in the past seven years, I have lost my sense of style. Many people are content to stay in the era in which they graduated from high school or college. These people stay in that decade, wearing the same trends that were popular then. I don't want people to be able to identify my age by looking at my clothing. I want to maintain some sense of style, without looking like a teenybopper. I know that some of my friends would say that thinking about things like style and clothes is worldly. My excuse is that I am striving to be a Proverbs 31 woman, clothing myself in "fine linen". The question I have is what exactly is "fine linen"? I have the same dilemma when it comes to decorating, because I can't spend money. That is another story.

On the same note....A few weeks ago, I was at the post office opening a p.o. box and was asked for a 2nd form of picture i.d. When I told them that I only had one picture i.d. (my driver's license) she said, "Well, do you have an i.d from a university... or a HIGH SCHOOL i.d.?" What?!?!?! Do I really look that young? Surely not. When someone makes a comment that I look 2-3 years younger than I am, I laugh it off, but when they assume I am 10 years younger, I know that something is wrong with my personal style. Seriously. I know I look young, but 18???

Well, I'm off to my retreat and feeling really cute with my new haircut. I'll be ready to go... just as soon as I put on my gray New Balance tennis shoes...

Monday, January 16, 2006

Josh and Amber's Day Off

This weekend was fun! Chad and Miranda came down to keep the kids while Josh and I went to Granbury to go to a Bed and Breakfast. We stayed at a place called The American Heritage House. It was a fairly new house, but had been built to resemble an old house. Anyway, we really had no idea of exactly what to expect when we arrived. We were a little nervous at first, worried about who else would be staying in the house. We wondered if breakfast would be a little awkward, etc. We only know of one of our friends who goes to Bed and Breakfasts (Brandon and Shelly George) and just really didn't know what to expect.

So we arrived around 9:30 or so and rang the doorbell. We were greeted by the innkeeper, Ron. He showed us to our room and told us everything that we might need to know. He told us that we had access to a DVD library, free drinks, freshly baked cookies, etc. Then, after asking us if we needed anything else, left us. Our room, though it was the cheapest available was very nice. We had bon bons sitting on our bed and a vase of roses in our room. The whole house was so nice! I crept around after the innkeeper left so that I could check out the premises. Everything was so pretty!

The next morning, breakfast was served at 9:00 sharp. This was the part that we were a little nervous about. We were seated at a formal dining table with two other couples. Ron was our "waiter". We had fresh fruit compote with some fancy sauce on it, followed by a darn good breakfast casserole and some pecan pie muffins. DELISH! We also had some sort of potatoes. Being that breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, I especially enjoyed this experience. I would always rather have a full breakfast and have a small lunch/dinner than the other way around. Ron's wife did the kitchen work (along with some other staff members) while Ron served us. He was really entertaining and had quite an interesting past to share.

Also seated at our table was a very young, but retired couple from West Palm Beach who was looking for a place to buy a second home. I guess they weren't very familiar with Texas because they suggested Midland as one of the places that they were looking? Hmmm. The man in that couple was very knowledgeable on a vast array of subjects including antique Victrolas and crystal knife rests. I really like being around people that know alot. It makes me feel smarter, I think.

The other couple seated with us was a quiet man (reminded Josh of our friend John Shuttlesworth) and his EXTREMELY talkative wife (did not remind us of John's wife Lindsay). The man was a truck driver and seemed mildly uncomfortable talking about Victrolas and crystal knife rests. The woman was eager to share about her career as a substitute teacher in her son's class. She also shared about the various tattoos and prison experiences of her other son. She was very sweet and made everyone feel comfortable. She was entertaining.

Ron (the innkeeper) was also very interesting. He knew so much about everything. Josh and I could've listened to his stories all day long. We stayed at that table for almost two hours. Josh and I contributed to the conversation, of course, but didn't seem to compete much with those other interesting folks.

We really loved our stay at that Bed and Breakfast and would HIGHLY recommend it to other people as a place for a getaway, church retreat or family reunion. It was awesome! After we left, Josh and I walked around downtown Granbury. There are a bunch of antique shops, live theatre-type places, and various stores. We didn't buy anything, just walked around and enjoyed each other's company. Granbury is a great little town to go for a fun weekend. They even have a lake for watersports. We had a great time!

Chad and Miranda may put off having kids of their own for a long long time after keeping ours. Mary Alice seems to have sleep issues whenever she is around family members. I don't know if she gets excited or what? But her poor caretakers always end up exhausted because she wakes up so many times in the middle of the night. Does anyone else's kids do this or is it just mine?

Yesterday, we went to a church "extended family group". We are having the hardest time deciding on a church. We have one church that we really like, but is far from our house (like 20 minutes). We really liked the people at that church, but the drive just seemed so long. We are trying to think about the future (youth group activites, baby showers in Timbuktoo, etc.) The other church we've been visiting isn't as likeable or friendly, but it is nearby. I find myself being too critical sometimes, I know. I just feel like I have too many standards for too many things. If only I was as hard on myself as I was on everyone else, I know I would have far fewer faults. Josh and I are really really anxious to find a church home and really wish that God would just beat us on the head and say, "Hello! You are supposed to serve at this place. Go here!" I am so tired of being a visitor, but yet don't want to make the mistake of identifying with a church that we don't feel is headed in the right direction. We don't want to be church hoppers.

Well, that was our weekend. Today I took the kids to the park and to McDonald's. It's been a great day!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

My sister's rotten Christmas present

Here are some moccasins that my unfortunate sister got for Christmas from her friends. They weren't in a box. We're thinking it was a regift.

My Faves

I have been wanting to journal all week, but have been consumed with busyness!! Maybe it is the various projects I am starting, or the fact that Josh has been on the computer 24/7 doing various 'getting ready for his office to open' type projects, but I simply have not had the time I need to write!

I have had the most wonderful week, visiting lots of fun places with the kids. On Saturday, Josh and I went to Wylie to a birthday party at the fire station. I'd never been to a fire station, and found it to be quite interesting. The kids really enjoyed it too. I see a fire station birthday in Major's future some day. He was entranced by the ladder, the firetruck, and most of all, the cake! It was good to see my old friends again. I miss them so much.

On Monday, I went to do what I have been waiting to do since the moment we moved here.... I got a membership to the Ft. Worth library. I was sincerely disapointed in the library in this town and even more disappointed when I learned I would have to wait three months to be able to check out books from Ft. Worth! Ah.... the day has finally come! I do love everything about the library! It is one of my favorite places to go.

On Tuesday I took the kids to Central Market. I have always been a Wal Mart girl, but grow increasingly tired of their sad looking produce and lack of selection. I am also quite annoyed at the placement of the foods in Wal Mart. When we lived in Garland, I used to avoid the snack/chip aisle and the candy aisle with ease, but the local Wal Mart strategically places staple items (like chicken broth and soups) in the chip/candy aisles. So, now, when I go to Wal Mart, it is harder than ever to avoid those foods that I know are not good for us to eat!!! The lines are long. The parking lot is overcrowded. The people are not friendly. When I visit the seafood counter at Wal Mart, I ring a bell and wait a long time (like 5 minutes) until an annoyed looking worker comes to help me. I leave the seafood counter with some smelly, less than fresh fish products. But- at Central Market, when you visit the seafood counter, you receive many helpful hints on how to prepare and serve the very FRESH fish they have there. For example, I was buying some tuna steaks. The very nice man at the counter took care to remind me that my young children should not consume lots of the tuna steaks, because of the mercury content. He listed off the many other types of fish that have mercury issues. He packed the very FRESH fish in ice and bagged it for me. He gave me several ideas of ways to prepare various seafood items and even commented on how cute my kids were! Now that's service!!! :) And there's more.... a neat lady named Villa in the bread department offered to "fix" Mary Alice's baby doll's diaper. The diaper had fallen off and sweet Villa saw the whole calamity as it unfolded :) and offered to make it better for Mary Alice. Would Wal Mart do that? I don't think so!

It really wasn't the service that made me love my experience there, it was the food! Lovely, beautiful, good smelling, fresh, aromatic, colorful food! I felt intoxicated as I wandered the aisles of that wonderful store. I love that there are interesting and healthful foods there. I love that I bought some oranges on the vine, Irish Oatmeal, and ginger root. I used to say that, to me, there is something special about Starbucks. To me, people who drink Starbucks are living large. I will add shopping at Central Market to my list of luxuries. Of course, I can't afford to buy all of my groceries there, but it is definitely the place to go for specialty items and, most importantly,produce.

This morning, I took the kids up to Hulen Mall, where we met a friend from college (Becky and her sweet daughter Emmerson) for lunch. So much fun! Tomorrow, Chad and Miranda are coming to keep the kids while Josh and I go to a Bed and Breakfast. Chad and Miranda gave Josh a gift certificate to for his graduation back in May and we have only now been able to use it.

Josh's office is coming along. I'll try to post some pictures soon. We got a new camera for Christmas. I can't seem to figure it out. Have a blessed day!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Major and Mary Alice

About Major:

1) He loves lots of girly things right now (Mary Alice's dolls, new dollhouse, shoes, etc.) Mary Alice was given some two inch Cinderella figurines for Christmas. Major walked around playing with them for a while. He said, "Mommy, I change Cinderella's diaper." He ran to the other room and brought back one of his diapers. He proceeded to talk to the figurine. "Lay down, Cinderella." Then he said, "Need some wipes." He went and got a wipe and washed off the Cinderella figurine. Then he looked at the fairy Godmother and said, "Lay down, Gramma. (Grandma). Change your diaper." He "changed" the diapers of all of the figurines. What a silly buddy. He is going to be a great dad one day if this keeps up!

2) He and Mary Alice sing that hymn "I Shall Not Be Moved" together. They act it out. Major has quite a voice. He can really belt out the tunes. I especially love when he sings Jesus Loves Me and Silent Night. Maybe a future as a song leader?

3) Mary Alice has been memorizing Psalm 1. Last week I realized that Major can quote it right along with her. We review that week's memory verse over breakfast each morning. Little did I know that Major was learning the verses right along with her. It is very sweet to hear my precious babies quoting from the Bible. I especially love to hear Major say "Not so the wicked!" in his enthusiastic voice.

4) He loves to play with my preschool felt. He says, "play preschool" and uses my little felt pieces, singing about Jesus and referring to the felt people as "Jesus", "Angels", and "boys".

5) Despite his love for girly toys, Major does act like a boy. He loves to be outside and loves his trains, trucks, and balls. He has a newfound love for rocks and dirt. He and Mary Alice play outside in their playhouse and make lots of mud creations.

6) Major loves his bed. Each night he tells everyone and everything "night night". I have been singing through this list of songs with him every night before bed. Lately, he cuts me off at about the third verse of the Creation song with, "Night night, mommy." He's been known to say things like, "Night night baketball. Night night tain. Night night Sissy. Night night Daddy. Love you too. See you later. Bye bye." before he runs to get into his bed each night. Such a blessing.

7) We say prayers at meals. After the prayer is finished, Major says, "Amen Sissy. Amen Daddy. Amen Mommy." We respond with "Amen Major." He also melts my heart when he says things like, "Yes Ma'am" and "Thank you Mommy." He is such a joy to me!

8) He loves to play a little keyboard that I have. He sings so loudly and dances with the music he makes. It is quite hilarious. He loves music!

About Mary Alice:

1) She is growing and changing so much each day. She is such a pleasant little girl. I can see her growing into such a kind and thoughtful person. Who would've thought that my daughter would be so nice to her brother? (I was one of the meanest sisters around.) This can only be an answer to prayer. Mary Alice loves her brother and wants to protect him and play with him (most of the time). Many times I am surprised at how loving she is towards him. She translates for him and humors him. Sometimes, she gets mad when he tries to ruin or break her toys, or worst of all, mess up her room. Most of the time she is a jewel.

2) Josh has been reading The Chronicles of Narnia with her. They just finished up "The Magician's Nephew". She is entralled with stories of all kinds and especially enjoys made up stories that people tell her. Yesterday, she asked me to tell her about "when you were a little girl and were very bad". Stories about me being bad as a child are plentiful. A story from my childhood is always a quick and easy standby if I'm not feeling creative.

3)She loves to use big words, like delightful, terrific, and appropriate. She continually amazes me with how she absorbs the world around her-- and with her AMAZING memory. I think she gets this from her Dad. Just the other day she was telling me something about the last time it snowed. When I didn't remember what she was talking about she said, "It was when I was wearing the pink velvet dress and we went to Kendyll's birthday party". Ok. That was- like- in February of 2004. Hopefully she won't remember every bad thing I do as a parent and remind me of it again and again.

4)She loves the cheesiest things. Twice a year, I take her down and buy her new tennis shoes. Every time her eyes go to the UGLIEST, tackiest shoes. She thinks they are just beautiful. So, each time we've looked, the hideous light up tennis shoes have been the first thing she's seen. Every time we shop for shoes she always asks for the light up shoes. I despise light up shoes and always tell her no, that they are tacky. Today, I took her to buy some new tennis shoes, on sale. As usual, she said, "I LOVE the beautiful light up shoes, mom. Those are so beautiful! Are they on sale?" I looked. They were on sale. I said, "Yes, but they are tacky." Remember, this is probably the 6th or 7th time this has happened. She put them back on the shelf. I thought to myself, "Does this really matter? She obviously loves the light up shoes." I told her that she could get them if they were in her size. I have yet to see her so excited about a pair of shoes. Her eyes lit up, just like the shoes she wore out of the store. I am proud of my little girls' joy as she wears her "beautiful" new shoes. I need to practice a little more patience with her childlike love for all things busy and sparkly---and light up. :)

5) She loves playing outside with her brother, especially cooking. They have some cups, measuring cups, bowls, and an old muffin tin outside that they can play with. I gave them each some kitchen ingredients (oatmeal, water, etc.) Yesterday, Mary Alice used the oatmeal, mud, dirt, water, rocks, etc. to make her own concoction. She brought it up to me, proudly proclaiming, "Look Mom, I made some Turkish Delight!"

6) Her Uncle Chad and Aunt Miranda taught her a fun game, "Would you rather??" You know, "Would you rather (insert negative experience here) or would you rather (insert option two negative experience)?" She LOVES to play this game. The other day, we were laughing because she doesn't know how to say the word pierced. Instead of correct her, I thought it funnier to let her go on saying it, just because it is so cute. She said something like this, "Would you rather have your nose pierched or your arm pierched?" We were rolling with laughter.

7) She also really likes people to play with her, especially if they are playing dolls or with her new dollhouse. I think it is really amazing what you can learn about a child just by playing with them. Mary Alice loves to talk in an English accent whenever we play dolls, tea party, or any kind of make believe game. Playing with her tells me how she is feeling and what she thinks about certain issues. (sometimes better than she could tell me herself) I also notice a closeness with her when we play together. I can tell she appreciates someone taking time to just be with her and get into her world.

As you can see, I do love to blog about my kids. I am so proud of them. They are little gifts from God and I am constantly amazed at how they are changing and growing towards Him, despite my shortcomings. I can attribute their sweet little personalities to the fact that they have a godly and wonderful daddy and to fervent prayer. We are truly blessed!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Home Sweet Home

We're back. Back from traveling, back from seeing family, back from our vacation, but most importantly, back to normal. I haven't yet taken down all of the Christmas decor, but have been doing laundry, cleaning out the old toys, assembling the new, filling up our refrigerator, and the other chores that accompany getting things back to normal.

We had a WONDERFUL time over the holidays. I am still enjoying little bits of time with some of my sisters, who haven't made the trek back to Harding yet. The holidays were so busy and we did so much that it would be impossible to try to give an account of it all. It was, though, a very fun-filled holiday time, full of all of the things that make holidays special to me.

My kids seem to have experienced a sortof knowledge boost. It seems like every time we spend a length of time with extended family, my kids come back full of random knowledge that I know I had nothing to do with. Josh and I are usually quite impressed with some of the things that our kids have picked up from the fam, while other facts we hope they'll forget about-----soon.

It seems that Major will now be joining his older sister in the "hiney dance" tradition. If you read an earlier blog, you know that for years Mary Alice has done this thing she calls "the hiney dance". In it, she drops her drawers and shakes her hiney to us, while humming a jaunty tune. This tune is the intro part to the timeless classic "Tequila". If the name doesn't ring a bell, it was a song that was used on Pee Wee's Big Adventure. If that also doesn't ring a bell, then maybe you aren't quite as weird as our family, because we know this song by heart. Of course, we don't sing about "Tequila" in our family, only the intro music. Anyway- Major does the dance now. Over the Christmas holidays we were surprised to learn that our usually modest daughter was hiney dancing for many members of our extended family. And, as a result, Major now does this "hiney dance" as well. We are working on retraining our children to understand what is appropriate behavior and what is not. Major, has added on to the fun of the "hiney dance". I guess you could say he has made it his own. For example, when Major does the hiney dance, he can be known to hold up a baby doll and make it do the dance along with him. He sings the "Tequila" music along with his hiney dance, just like his sister. We are seriously in trouble!! I spent a little time with Mary Alice today, explaining to her that we don't do the hiney dance in front of anyone except for our family!

In addition to this, one of my sisters (who shall remain nameless) taught Mary Alice a song/cheer-type chant called "Shake Your Bootie". Hmph! Not funny! I guess we're to blame, though, for letting the "hiney dance" be publicized as a family tradition. Here is the jist of the song:

Mary Alice: "Hey Sue!"
Sue: "Hey what?"
Mary Alice: "Shake your bootie!"
Sue: "No way!"
Mary Alice: "Shake your bootie!"
Sue: "No way!"
Mary Alice: "Shake your bootie!"
Sue: "Ok."

Mary Alice: "Jump, shake your bootie, jump jump, shake your bootie, jump, shake your bootie, jump, jump, shake your bootie."

Of course, this is something that Major has caught onto. So, we are going to spend a little bit of time with our kids, retraining them on this one. As of today, no more "Shake your bootie" cheer in our house. Just wait until my sisters have kids!!! They'll be so sorry they ever mentioned the word bootie.

I also learned a few things over Christmas break. Here they are:

1) I LOVE Dance Dance Revolution. This is a video game that my brother and youngest sister got for Christmas. If you don't know what it is, it is a pad that you stand on and try to hit the correct arrows with your feet as you watch those arrows flash across the screen (all done to some techno-type music). Apparently these games are all over the place at arcade-type places. I guess since I never go to arcade-type places I never noticed. I actually hate video games of all kinds, and haven't played any since-like- fifth grade, but am not ashamed to say that I'll make an exception for this one. If you've never done this, you really should try it. The music is a bit cheesy, though. If only they had "Tequila".

2) Josh and I took the kids to the Zoo yesterday. I learned that Josh had NEVER been to a zoo. I thought that was pretty weird. I learned something new about him. He was so cute at the zoo, seeing lots of animals for the first time. I thought it was more interesting to watch his reaction to the animals than to watch the kids look at the animals. He has also never been ice skating. I'm going to have to take him to do that soon.

3) I learned that there are some of the best sales on New Years' Day. I had never been to a New Years Day sale. I had the hardest time looking for a pair of jeans that fit. After trying lots of the regular stores, I decided to look at Dillards. I wandered into the designer section (a place I never ever go) and noticed some crazed looking women snatching things off of the shelves. I went over to the designer jeans and grabbed several pairs. After trying on nearly forty pairs of jeans, I found some that fit me perfectly!! Yahoo! Considering that jeans is my nearly every day attire, I was extremely excited to find jeans for $16. Did I mention that they were normally over $100? I would never pay that much for jeans, but was just extremely happy to find jeans that fit me for $16!! So, FYI, New Years' Day-- at Dillards. Designer section. I'll probably be there every year from now on!

4) I was introduced to a new kind of makeup. For Christmas, Josh's parents gave me this different kind of makeup for Christmas. It is called Bare Escentuals. While I knew that both Josh's mom and sis used this makeup, I had no idea how great it was. I have only been using it for a week and can already tell a huge difference. The idea of this makeup is natural and non-oily and 100% pure, from minerals in the earth, free of preservatives, dyes, etc. that can irritate you. So, I knew nothing about this makeup and honestly care little about makeup, but LOVE the ease with which this stuff goes on. It is also so light and natural looking and makes your skin look healthy and glowing. Seriously, if there was ever someone who is NOT a make-up promoter, that is me. But, I learned this about myself... there is a different kind of makeup out there that I actually DO love. So now I am promoting my Christmas gift as a true revolutionary beauty product.

5) Last of all, I am a nerd. I realized that I truly enjoy watching possibly the lamest thing on television, the National Spelling Bee. I watched it after the kids went to bed last night. I found it truly amazing that there are people who study language like those 12 year olds in the Spelling Bee. I found it very interesting. They really put me to shame. I even learned some new words. I don't expect that anyone else is as nerdy as I am, but if they are, the National Spelling Bee is WAY better than reality tv.

So those are some things my kids and I learned over the holidays. We might have picked up some unwanted baggage along the way, but we can unpack it now, because we're back to our wonderful home sweet home.