Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Peace, Quiet, & a Naked House

Well, we made it. We survived the busy Christmas weekend and all of the events leading up to and after Christmas Day. I have full intentions of posting some pictures from our fun times; however, no promises. This morning my in-laws left our house and headed back to Michigan. I am certainly glad to have my house back but it was so nice to see them and spend a lot of time together. I've said it before, but I'm going to be so glad when they move back here! Not only did my in-laws leave this morning, but Hubby left as well for an audit--he'll only be gone until tomorrow afternoon but that means tonight I will have the house all to myself for Bogey and I to enjoy. I had plans of putting away all of my Christmas tonight, but on Sunday afternoon Hubby & his mom helped out in a huge way and it's almost all put away. I just have to buy one more storage container for a few new things. My house looks so naked now that I have all my Christmas down---but I love it!!!! Don't get me wrong, I love decorating for Christmas but I'm even more excited when it comes down for good and I can get back to my normal house.

We had a great Christmas and were certainly more blessed than ever! Hubby & I exchanged our gifts on Christmas morning and I was more than thrilled with everything he picked out. I got a few more pieces to go with my Christmas dishes, a white North Face Denali jacket, some workout clothes & most importantly some bling! A beautiful pair of silver & diamond earrings!!!
They are similar to these, but circular instead of clover shaped.
They are beautiful and are made so that I can interchange the dangly part...I just love them and he spoils me so much! He definitely went over budget but what wife will argue with jewelry?!? He also loved everything I bought for him so that was a definite success!! Our parents both blessed us so much and we had a great time spending time with our families!

Tomorrow is New Year's Eve & we have plans to spend the evening with some people from our small group. It will be a fairly small group but I'm really excited to get to hang out with them and ring in the New Year.

We don't really do New Year's resolutions; however, I do have one goal as the New Year begins. There have been some things in Hubby & I's working world that I've been holding on to for dear life and just praying that everything would go my way instead of letting God take control. I don't want to go into details but let's just say there have been some situations in which things haven't gone exactly how I would have liked them to and instead of giving it all up to God I've just been holding on to it, worrying about it, and almost making myself sick over it. I'm trying to realize several things: 1. Life doesn't always happen exactly how you want it to & 2. God always has bigger plans than what you have for yourself--don't sell God short just because you're disappointed for a short period of time. God has blessed Hubby & I in so many ways and I can't help but be thankful for everything that he has given us--the least I can do is give Him control and let Him guide us in the way we need to go.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Vacation & Traditions

Well, in just 30 minutes, I'm offically off for som Christmas vacation and won't be back at work until Monday! Yeah!!! The next few days are going to be full of fantastic food, presents, family & hopefully some relaxation! Tonight I'm meeting up with one of my best friends from college. She now lives in Orlanda & works for Student Venture (Campus Crusade's high school ministry)--she has an amazing heart for high school girls and I can't wait to see her! Old man winter almost managed to ruin our plans but I think it's actually warmed up enough to melt the ice off the roads.

Tomorrow is Christmas with my mom's parents (the Town Grandparents that I've mentioned in previous posts). We always have a fantastic time & have a tradition of pizza for lunch so I'm super excited for that. Since we've added Hubby and my brother's wife Millie we have a little bit bigger group and even more fun! Hubby & I may head to our church's Christmas Eve service tomorrow night if all goes as planned...we'll see!

Christmas Day Hubby & I will exchange gifts in the morning and then head to his aunt's house for lunch. After a short bit there we will head to my favorite Christmas gathering of all--Christmas with my parents. It will just be the 6 of us and I'm not going to lie, my parents normally go over board on the gift-giving but they love it and it is by far probably my most favorite 4-5 hours of the year! We have always had lots of traditions there and though they've had to change a little since Bro & I have both gotten married, I will still cherish all of those wonderful memories.

When I was a little girl Christmas Day was always reserved for just our family, Mom, Dad, Bro, & me. My brother would wake up early (around 7) & come climb in bed with me and tell me to Wake Up! We would then go wake up my parents and tell them it was time to open presents. We would have to wait patiently in my parents room while they got ready and then they would head into the living room. I still remember my brother & I standing at the end of the hallway waiting on my mom & dad to get the cameras ready, turn on some lights, and wait for us to coming running down the hall to see what Santa had brought us! To this day, Santa still comes to my parent's house and I don't think he'll ever stop. Santa still enjoys his cookies and leaves toys for us in our stockings and he also somehow manages to find Hubby & Millie even though they're now at a different house. We don't get to spend Christmas morning at my parent's house anymore due to time constraints caused from marriage--however, those memories will never fade & someday I'll be able to start those same traditions with our children & watch their eyes glow as they open the presents from Santa.

Saturday I'm hosting Hubby's family at my house for most of the day and I'm actually really excited to show off my house again. We're doing Mexican for lunch and then we always do a gift card exchange which is certainly entertaining.

I love Christmas traditions, and while Hubby & I are in a little bit of a transition time for creating traditions--we'll always just cherish the moments we have and the times we get to spend with our families & friends. May you all have a very Merry Christmas, eat way too much food, & remember each day how much God sacrificed as he sent us the most precious gift...his son Jesus.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Smart Family Christmas

Well yesterday offically began the Christmas celebrations as we all gathered at my Grandma & Grandpa Smart's house for Christmas with my dad's side of the family. We have started drawing names which makes it much easier to buy for each other and we had a great time! I only have 4 first cousin's (from both sides of the family since my mom was an only child) and so we are very close. All but 1 was able to come in for Christmas and it was so wonderful to get to see everyone. My cousin Jason is the only one to have children and his little girl Allyssa is possibly the most precious little girl I've ever seen. She is 2 1/2 and is really starting to get a lot of personality. I just know Jason and his wife Michelle must be so proud. We have the same menu every year: Gulf shrimp (or ham if you don't eat shrimp), mashed potatoes, ceasar salad, bread and then rum cake for dessert with homemade whipped cream. We all eat until we can't hardly move and we laugh so hard everytime we're all together. This year the table topic at the Kid's table (yes, that's still where I sit even though we're all now over 21 and most of us are married) somehow became the cousin's reminiscing about how much trouble we had caused when we were younger. I seriously thought that some of use were going to fall out of our chairs or spit iced tea across the table from laughing so hard. I left there last night so thankful for the family that God has given me. As all of us cousins have grown up, we've obviously become more mature (except at the dinner table) and even though we all might live some very different lives or have different views on some things, we all manage to come together and enjoy each other's company if only once or twice a year. Yesterday wasn't about the present we took home or what kind of food we ate, but just that we were able to spend time together as a family and as children of God. After my dad blessed the meal, I looked up to see my Grandma with tears in her eyes and that to me truly says it all about how important we are to each other.

Tomorrow is my last day of work for the week and I'm super excited. I also get to see one of my college roommates who's flying home from Orlando for Christmas. I'm so excited to see her!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Cards & Old Friends

Since a lot of other blogs I've been reading have been sharing their Christmas cards, I thought I would follow suit. I just love receiving Christmas cards and I've decided the best way to receive them is to send them out. This year we didn't order quite enough so we reordered once and then just decided we would do better next year. Last year we sent out a photo card with our wedding picture on it and I got so many compliments. I have decided that photo cards are wonderful because in so many ways they can show how people have changed during the year or what they've been up to without spending forever writing out a Christmas letter. We obviously had to include a picture of Bogey since he is the big addition to our family this year. That family photo was a struggle to get and I'm just glad it turned out as well as it did...(thanks Dad for being such a great photographer). I also included a picture of Hubby & I in NYC and one of us at one of our favorite things: a St. Louis Cardinals game.

In other happenings, Thursday night I had dinner with a bunch of my girl friends from high school. There were 7 of us girls that hung out and did practically everything together from 2nd grade until we graduated. There were certainly times when we were childish and immature but we have remained friends even as we all develop new friendships and move onto new chapters in our lives. It was so great to see all of them and see how wonderfully life is treating each of them. Only one of those girls has completely gone her separate way, but for the other 6...5 of us are married and 2 of those now have little boys. It's so exciting to see how God is blessing each individual family and each woman. One of the girls took a picture, but here's a picture of the 6 of us from my bridal shower in May 2007. Love you girls!

Today Hubby & I started what might become a tradition in the Layman house, I (we) attempted homemade iced sugar cookies for the first time. With homemade dough and everything. I made the dough, Hubby rolled it out and cut little snowmen, candy canes, stockings, Christmas trees, & gingerbread men/women out and I finished up with the baking. They're not covered in icing yet, but they finished product tastes pretty dang good so far! We're going to ice them later this week right before we head out to one of our Christmas celebrations. I didn't take any pictures because they're kind of boring with the icing but I'll try to remember once they're completely finished. We had a great time and it brought back so many memories of making Christmas cookies with my mom. Tonight we have my office party and we're eating at an amazing restaurant called Ocean Zen...I just love my office party because it's so intimate and close! With spouses and all, we only have 14 people in attendance which makes for a great time and also the option of eating at fabulous places! Tomorrow we start our first of several Christmas gatherings, I'll be sure and try to post as I can!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

25 degrees below & over 24 inches of snow! (updated with pics)

Yep, you read that right...25 degrees below zero is what one person's phone said on Monday morning as we rolled out of bed. The day before, Winter Park had received over a foot of snow and on Tuesday another foot or so of snow fell on the mountain. What a whirlwind trip! We had a great time and really enjoyed being in God's beautiful Winter Wonderland.

Isn't God's majesty just amazing?

We finally got into Winter Park a little after noon on Saturday and after we got settled in we decided to take advantage of our afternoon and we headed out for a snowmobile tour. This was incredible and we went up above the tree line on one of the peaks. We've got some fantastic pictures and I'll post them once I get them all together. Sunday, Monday, & Tuesday we spent our time skiing the slopes and trying to enjoy all the fresh snow. For some, the fresh powder is fantastic; however, it made things a little difficult on the first day. By Tuesday we had definitely gotten our legs under us and we were much more comfortable on the snow. Too bad that was our last day and we had to head home. The trip started out with Hubby & I along with my parents staying in a 4 bedroom condo and it ended up with the 4 of us along with my cousin & his girlfriend along with her sister and a friend of hers. We all had a great time and it was great to have such a big group. The snow was beautiful and we all had a great time but I was certainly glad to be able to take off my ski boots for the last time. For those of you who have skiied before, ski boots are not fun and are not comfortable.

Enjoying some play time on the snowmobile

Don't we look like such an adorable couple?

(The snow was waist deep at this point)

Too bad looks can be deceiving--He tackled me, and took me straight to the ground!

My poor mom, all she wanted was a nice picture in front of those trees--too bad the snow was waist deep and pure powder.

The picture my mom was originally going for--what a great time!

We rolled into my parents' house last night about 9:30 and I was ecstatic to be home. It's a 12 hour drive home from Winter Park and that's a long time to be in a car during a single day. Bogey was certainly glad to see us & I was very happy to sleep in my own bed. In the meantime, I'm also going to try and get caught up on all of your posts...you girls have been busy in the past few days!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Winter Park here we come!

Well, we are headed out in just a few hours. I'm leaving work at 2:30 and hopefully we'll be on the road with my parents by 4:00. I'm so excited to get away for awhile and I just love the beauty of snow covered mountains. Too bad it's only supposed to be 12-19 degrees while we're there! I'll certainly be out of the blogging world until next Thursday but I'll definitely have pictures and stories when I get back!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cookies Galore & much, much more!

Wel...as you can tell from my lack of posts, life has been incredibly busy around the Layman household. Christmastime is always so hectic and with a brief vacation in the middle that makes everything that much more crazy (more on the trip in a bit). So...Tuesday night was the scheduled Christmas shopping trip with none other than myself. I seem to shop better when no one else is with me; plus, I needed to get a few things for Hubby so he obviously couldn't be involved. I am very proud to say that as of now I am about 2 gifts away from being done with my Christmas shopping and let me tell you...THIS NEVER HAPPENS!!! I'm definitely not a Christmas eve shopper, but I am never done this early. After I got home I also sat down and wrapped and bowed everything we have! I'll try and post some pictures later of all my progress.

Today my mom had her own Christmas Cookie Exchange so last night I made my recipe, it was fantastic and a big hit at the party today. They were just Peanut Butter Balls, but what's better than chocolate and peanut butter?

Crunchy Peanut Butter Balls

1 lb powdered sugar
3 cups Cocoa Pebbles or Cocoa Krispies
1/2 cup melted butter
2 cups crunchy peanut butter

Mix thouroughly and form into balls. Refrigerate for approx. 1 hour.

16 oz milk chocolate chips
16 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 slab paraffin wax

Melt the above ingredients and dip balls into mixture. Place on waxed paper until set.

The peanut butter balls that I have had in the past were always creamy and the cereal just adds a special kick! I've also got pictures of these that I'll try and post later.

So now for the most exciting part! Hubby and I are leaving tomorrow to go to Winter Park, Colorado for a short ski vacation. We are going with my parents and I am so excited!!! I haven't skiied in a few years and this will be Hubby's first time skiing since he broke his leg about 4 years ago. It was our first vacation together & it was the first day of skiing, 3rd run of the day...Bummer! That's another story all in itself, but regardless let's hope this trip goes better than that one. We'll be back on Wednesday and then it's practically time for Christmas! Where does the month of December go?!?

I also got a new toy on Wednesday...Hubby had been saying that I could buy a new camera for a long time now and I finally pulled the trigger and ordered it. It's a Canon Rebel 12.2 megapixel XSI. I love it!!! It takes such better pictures than my point and shoot and I just know it will take some beautiful shots of the snow covered mountains!

Hope you all are enjoying the Christmas season...we certainly are and I just love spending time with family & friends!

Monday, December 8, 2008

O Christmas Tree

Well it's official, our Balsam Fir real Christmas tree has officially found its home for the next 2-3 weeks...our living room. Saturday afternoon we headed to a local store where they were selling trees and we picked ours out from among hundreds of other beautiful trees. Now this wasn't quite the same as walking up and down the rows of trees and cutting it down ourselves, but it was fun nonetheless and it looks beautiful in our home. Please don't judge by these pictures because the lighting was terrible, I'll try and take some better pictures tonight when it's darker.

Hubby put the stand on it and leveled it and then came the fun part...hanging all of the ornaments on it. I just love pulling out each individual one and being reminded of when or where I got each specific ornament. I mentioned in my last post that we dont' really do theme trees with my family, but each ornament is definitely meaningful (even if it's just because I picked it out) & just love the memories I will have to share with my children some day. My mom also made me a beautiful tree skirt that I will now have forever and it looks just wonderful under our tree.

In other weekend happenings, Friday night we got all dressed up and headed to Hubby's office Christmas party. We had a murder mystery dinner in a neat old ballroom. It was a little hokey, but we had a good time. I again failed to take pictures, but in my defense I was in a room full of CPA's and those aspiring to be CPAs so it wasn't just a real lively crowd...;o)

Saturday was Tree Day and after decorating we were pretty worn out so we went out for pizza and when we got home I am proud to say I wrapped almost all of the presents we have bought so far which is quite a few. We're almost done with shopping, I still have a few things to buy for Hubby and I need to take care of my brother's gift...but otherwise we're pretty much finished. This is possibly the earliest I have been done shopping...EVER! I am also very happy with our gifts this year...I really work hard to get something that each person will love & I hope I've succeeded this year. We also work hard to stick to a budget for each person since we have quite a few gifts to buy...I'm also proud to say we have managed to stick to our budget very well. One quick financial tidbit, one of the smartest things Hubby ever made me do was to save for Christmas time, we put back a set amount each month and it's so nice when Christmas comes that we dont' have this huge credit card bill because we've already prepared for it. It's so easy and the money we put back each month we never miss!

We wrapped up the weekend with our Small Group Christmas party, we just love those people and I love the relationships we've built with them. We had a white elephant exchange and we actually came out quite well, Golden Tee Golf Arcade game for TV & a gift card to the movies! SCORE!!! Apparently the couple who brought Golden Tee got it for like $5 but Hubby was very excited!

Tonight includes putting bows on the presents I've got and wrapping a few more! I'll also try and remember to take some photos of the outside of our house. Hubby did such a good job with the lights!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Party Recap, Christmas Trees, & Christmas Decor

So I must begin this post by saying that my Cookie Exchange was fantastic last night! We had a fabulous time and all my fears about the groups of girls not meshing or someone feeling out of place were completely ridiculous because everyone got along just perfectly! We had some fantastic soup, and some even more fantastic cookies (I'll be sure and share some of the recipes later). After everyone left I could honestly sit down and say...Wow, that was a huge success! Well, it was a huge success minus one little detail...I was so busy trying to be the perfect hostess that I managed to not take a single picture. Oh I got plenty of before shots of how wonderful everything looked...but no pictures of all my beautiful friends, no pictures of the food, and most importantly no pictures of all the wonderfully delicious cookies. Oh well, not much I can do about it now.
Never fear, I do have some pictures of our Christmas decor. I will let you know that I do not have pictures of our tree because we continued my family tradition of getting a real tree and we haven't had time to go pick one out yet. Speaking of picking out a Christmas tree...has anyone noticed how no one goes to a Christmas tree farm and picks out a tree anymore? Hubby & I were just reminiscing tonight about how both of our families used to go out to a tree farm and there in the middle of nowwhere was a fun hayride or carriage ride that took us out to the rows and rows and rows of Christmas trees. Each family would walk down the rows searching for the perfect tree and there was always the token picture of Dad cutting it down. Then the perfect tree was loaded onto the trailer, taken back to the little shed to be wrapped and prepared for travel. Meanwhile, each family could have some Christmas cookies, hot chocolate, etc. before they headed for home. It was such a fantastic memory and something my family looked forward to every year. Even now as Hubby & I try to find our perfect tree, we certainly still walk up and down rows of trees...but we're in Lowe's or Home Depot, or a flower shop that has moved on from Spring flowers and mums, to Christmas trees. It seems so sad that this tradition has been lost in exchange for a pre-lit tree that in some cases just gets rolled out of a closet each year. Now, for all of you artificial tree lovers, I completely understand that they are much easier to take care of and there are certainly many many advantages to artificial trees...I guess it's just the tradition and the event that I miss, not so much the actual tree.
Ok, so now that I've had my reminiscing moment and I'm off of my soap box...on to Christmas Decor pictures!!! Keep in mind that all growing up, my mom never really had a theme (except for red & green). She just bought whatever she thought was cute or neat or what she thought would look good and she managed to pull it off into a beautiful masterpiece. So with that said, Hubby & I really don't have a theme, just lots of festive decorations in the traditional red & green colors. Enjoy!
The Main Table (I normally don't have the table clothes, just festive place mats & napkins)

My sled centerpiece (my mom & I bought a little swag and just tied it onto the sled with some ribbon--I love it!)
The window in our dining room
A festive shelf display in our dining room

The other table set for all my girls
Our nativity scene and The Reason for the Season
The decor above my cabinets

Festive shelves in the living room

Our entryway table

Jolly Old St Nick

My glitter trees

Wreath closeup

The entire mantle display

Well there you have it, I also have a few little things in our bedroom and in the guest bathroom--but nothing major. Hubby also did a fantastic job lighting up the house, I'll include those pictures later on along with the tree process. Happy decorating to you all!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

1st Annual Christmas Cookie Exchange

For several years now, my mom has been hosting a Christmas Cookie Exchange each year for all the ladies I work with and several family members. We all gather together at lunch time, have soup & then share a favorite, or new, cookie recipe. Each lady that comes brings a dozen cookies so we can sample them and then copies of the recipe for everyone. It is a great time, and you can also get some great recipes from it.

This year, I've decided to host my own with about 10 of my favorite girl-friends. They come from all parts of my life, some have been friends forever, some are family, some are college friends, and some are fairly new friends from our church. Regardless, these women are all amazing women of God and I'm so excited to spend an evening with them. They have all blessed me in so many ways and I am so thankful for so many great Christian women in my life.

So...I've got my entire house decked out for the holidays (minus our Christmas tree since we get a real one it's a little early). I've got the tables set, my cookies made, and everything ready to go. I'm so excited!!! We have 3 different soup options--chili, baked potato, & cheesy chicken tortilla (my favorite). I'll be sure and post pictures of all the goodies and hopefully my Christmas decorations as well. This is my first official holiday gathering and I'm so excited to be able to open up our house and be a host!

In other news, I have been terribly awful at commenting on all of your posts. You have all shared some amazing things, and I'm sorry to say that I have completely failed to comment as I would like to. It just seems there aren't enough hours in a day (or enough hours at work to steal away some time). I have read some heart-breaking stories, some fantastic stories of other holiday gatherings, and I've seen some incredible wedding photos with some very beautiful ladies. I will certainly try and get caught up, just don't hold it against me...I'm certainly reading, I just might not be commenting!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Home Again

We finally made it home last night after 13 hours in the car. We ran into a little bit of traffic and we had to go get our furry son last night so an 11 hour trip turned into 13 hours very quickly. We were definitely both about to go completely stir crazy by the time we made it home. I had a great time in Michigan and it was so nice to get to spend time with the in-laws...even though my poor MIL was sick most of the time we were there. She was a trooper for the first few days but then the sickness just got the best of her. It's definitely no fun to be sick, especially when company is around! I do apologize but I didn't take a single picture while we were in Michigan...I'm really going to have to work on that!

I'm back at work today and it's been fairly busy, typical for the first day of the month. We've got tons of stuff going on this week and it doesn't look like it will slow down until after the Holidays are over. With Christmas parties, birthdays, shopping, a quick ski trip (YEAH!!!!), and other various events we're going to be running around like crazy in the next few weeks! However...I can honestly say that I LOVE IT!!! I will certainly be happy when the holiday craziness is over, but Christmas truly is my favorite time of year and I am thrilled that Christmas music is now being played on 2 local radio stations 24/7. Hubby certainly doesn't enjoy my renditions of Silver Bells, Frosty the Snowman, Joy to the World, etc. but it definitely gets me in the Christmas spirit.

My posting may be quite sparse this week as I'm hosting my First Annual Cookie Exchange on Wednesday. My most favorite girls (11 in all) will be coming to my house for soup, cookies, and lots of fun! I'm so excited and I'll definitely post pictures of all the goodies when I can! Have a great week!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

Well, I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and a day full of great food, family, & football. We certainly had a nice relaxing day and while I definitely missed being at my grandma's house with over 30 people and wonderful food, it was great to just relax and enjoy some time with the in-laws. Holidays are definitely tough whenever you first get married, and I'm assuming they really don't get much easier...especially when one family lives far away from another. Oh well, soon my in-laws will be moving back home to Missouri and we won't have this long distance issue to deal with. At least then I won't be 12 hours away from my family on Thanksgiving.

So we're certainly not get up in the middle of the night, sit in the parking lot until doors open, and race inside for a special gift kind of Black Friday shoppers. However, growing up we always ended up at the mall during the later afternoon hours when all of the crazies had left for the day. We normally still got some pretty good deals and it was always nice to get out of the house for awhile. Today will be no different. We're headed to one of my favorite malls up here in Michigan and hopefully Hubby & I will be able to get some Christmas shopping accomplished. I'll probably even ditch him for awhile to get some of his presents taken care of. This evening we're headed to the Fox Theatre in Detroit to see the musical White Christmas...I'm really excited and it should be a great day! Tomorrow is our last day here and we'll probably spend most of our time just relaxing and putting up Christmas decorations! I just love decorating for Christmas!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

So very thankful...

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and dear Hubby and I have made it to the in-laws in Michigan. It will be a quiet Thanksgiving here with only the four of us but I'm so thankful for the time with them. As I've mentioned before I truly couldn't ask for better in-laws. As Thanksgiving is tomorrow, I am reminded of how truly blessed I am and how much I don't deserve all the blessings and grace that God pours out on me each and every day. I am so thankful for the wonderful family he has given me and how they inspire me to live for God and His glory every moment. I won't have much time to blog but I'm looking forward to catching up on all the stories when we return home on Sunday evening. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

From Mr. to Mute

Yes, it's true I am offically mute...or at least that's what I call it when the only thing that comes out of mouth is either a whisper or a squeak. Dear hubby seems to think this is quite hilarious, but it's extremely frustrating and not much fun for me. Hopefully I start to get my voice back by tomorrow or it will be a long drive to Michigan for Hubby as he has to drive all that way with only the radio for noise.

Just call me Mr.

Well, the weekend was jam-packed as promised and we certainly got lots of things accomplished...however, one thing did not happen. I still have the ucky feeling...yes, that's right...I'm still feeling not quite up to par and on top of that I am now talking in a voice that comes close to resembling that of an old man who has smoked his entire life (complete with the occasional smoker's hack and everything). Oh what a joy! I do have to give my dear hubby credit, he was a great nurse over the weekend and he tried his hardest to make me relax...unfortunately our schedule just didn't allow for much relaxation.

Friday night we were able to spend the evening at home. I finished up some of the Christmas decor and put up a little tree in our bedroom. Then it was off to bed fairly early. Saturday morning we spent time doing some little things around the house, I ran to the grocery store, and after lunch I helped Hubby finish putting the Christmas lights up outside...they are going to look so good! However, they won't be turned on until after we get home on Sunday night. We then headed into town and took care of a few quick Christmas presents (mainly gift cards for the family gatherings that do gift card exchanges). This basically works the same way as a White Elephant Exchange but you at least get something worth having. We were able to accomplish our purchases by using a nice little Chinese Fire Drill method instead of fighting the crowds and the parking lots. Pull up in front, someone jumps out, circle the parking lot, pick you up...on to the next store. It was fantastic. Saturday night we had dinner at this fantastic little pizza joint that cuts the pizza into little 2x2 squares...it was great. Then it was off to the first Missouri State University Basketball game of the season. MSU is my alma mater and they were celebrating the first game in a brand new $67 million arena...it was unbelieveable. The Bears also won which was a bonus!

Sunday morning we headed to church with my parents and enjoyed a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner with my parents, brother & sister-in-law, and both sets of grandparents. We had tons of food and we also made some fantastic crafts that I'll be sure to post pictures of later on. Small Group was next and then we finally made it home for good around 7:15...it's about this time that I began the manly voice. Hubby forced me to sit down and relax and then I headed to bed at 9:30. Whew! What a weekend...I'm offically at work and sounding completely like a man, at least I don't feel just awful. Tonight I'll be packing because we're headed to Michigan for Thanksgiving to visit Hubby's parents. I'm so excited to get away for a bit even though it is an 11 hour drive!!! Hope everyone enjoys the short week!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Ucky, Ucky Feeling

Well it's official, Hubby and a lady in my office have officially passed on their lovely sickness to me. Yesterday I woke up and felt great and by about 9:30 am I was ready to go home. However, I was only working until 3 yesterday because I had an appt to get my hair cut/foiled. I was so super excited and of course I end up feeling very ucky. Needless to say it was not the greatest day; however, I was able to get my hair done which allowed me to sit and think about absolutely nothing for about 2 1/2 hours. I headed home afterwards, put on my comfy clothes and fell asleep on the couch about 8:00. When dear, sweet Hubby came to check on me, my entire body had started to ache so all I asked for was a nice warm bubble bath. Being the good nurse that he is, he took excellent care for me and after I got out of the bath he ordered me to bed at 9:00. I slept soundly until this morning and I'm happy to report that while I don't feel 100%, I'm at least feeling better than I was yesterday. I don't know about you guys, but I really don't have time to get sick. We've got tons of things to do before we leave for Thanksgiving on Tuesday evening and I just don't have time to lay around on the couch with a blanket pulled up to my ears. Hopefully this was just a short ucky feeling...at least I hope so! Hope everyone has a great weekend, we've got tons of plans and I'll fill you in after we've survived...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mom Day's

Well, I've mentioned before that I work for my dad and it certainly has it's perks. Mom Day's are one of those perks. You're probably asking...What are Mom Days? Well, you see all the other ladies in our office have children and most of the time he allows them to take off work early to go to sporting events or other school activities, take them to the doctor, or whatever they need. Normally this is taken as vacation, but other times it's just comp time. So...since Hubby & I don't have any children, my mom declared that I get some Mom Day's throughout the year to go run around with her or do fun things. A fantastic perk if you ask me!

My mom and I truly are best friends, and I can't imagine not talking to her everyday and bouncing ideas off her. We spend so much time together and while there are certainly times where we might disagree or not get along perfectly, she's my mom--I'm her little girl and those things will never change. Growing up she lifted me up in so many ways, taught me to love Jesus and trust in Him, and supported me in whatever my heart desired. Other girls would talk about how their mother's just didn't understand them or they never bought the right thing and they disagreed about almost everything in life...I never, ever experienced this. Those few times where I thought she was a crazy woman have now become some of the times I treasure most because she truly was just trying to protect me and make me into the woman I am today. They say you become your mother as you continue to grow up and I cherish the thought that someday I will become like the mother, wife, daughter, friend, and child of God that she has been. She is an amazing woman of God and how I wish everyone could experience the motherly love that I enjoy each and every day. Don't ever hesitate to tell your mom how much you love her...I know I don't do it often enough, but just pick up the phone and let her know--I'm sure she never gets tired of hearing it.

So, back to the title of this post. Yesterday was a Mom Day. I took off work and we headed to this fantastic little floral/ home decor shop called The Feathered Nest. They host Christmas workshops & decorating classes each year and we always come away with some sort of neat idea. The class ran from 9-1 and included a little lunch. After class, we headed to Hobby Lobby, Martin's Floral, and other places to finish off our decorating for the Holiday season. We had a great time and just loved hanging out. I came home last night completely refreshed and excited about finishing my Christmas Decor. Well, I didn't quite finish but I'm getting much closer. I love Mom Day's (possibly the best perk of working for my dad!)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Deck the Halls

Well...since Hubby & I will be out of town most all next week for Thanksgiving & I have various other plans for the other nights this week...tonight is the night. After a quick dinner, Hubby will be traipsing up and down the ladder into the attic and bringing out all of our Christmas decorations. I will quickly admit it...I am obsessed with Christmas decorations. Not so much everywhere in our house, but our kitchen, dining room, and living room for sure. We always get a real tree so our tree won't be up for awhile but hopefully after tonight my Halls will certainly be Decked. ;o) I love Christmas and there's no better way to get in the spirit than to decorate. Stay tuned, I'll post pictures when it's complete!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Weekend Update

Well this weekend was full of lots of activities, but still enough time to relax and feel refreshed and ready for a busy week! Friday night we headed to the hospital to check on my grandma (I'll update about her in a bit), and then we had lunch with my parents. My sister-in-law's birthday was on Friday so after dinner we headed over to their house where my brother had planned a great birthday party for her. We had a great time spending time with family and enjoying cake and ice cream.

Saturday morning I had to work from 9-12, had a quick nap during the afternoon, and then we headed to a new movie theater that is close by to see the new James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace. The theater was really nice and the movie was good, not necessarily one of my favorite Bond movies but still entertaining. Hubby and I agreed it was a little bit too much action and not enough story, with the story part being a little confusing. However, it was a Bond movie so it was certainly worth seeing. After the movie we had dinner with some people from church. One of the associate pastor's asked us to be a part of a team to focus on followup with those families who visit our church and fill out a contact card. We had some great discussion and Hubby & I are really excited to be a part of this team.

Today we had church, and then just some chores to take care of this afternoon. It was beautiful outside so Hubby mowed the yard for the last time this year, I worked in our flower beds a little, and I also took care of getting snacks ready for Small Group tonight since it was our week.

Overall we had a great weekend and I'm excited for this week to start. My mom and I are going to a Christmas decorating class on Tuesday. We went last year and we had a great time! I'm also sure I'll get around to putting up all the Christmas decorations this week as long as Hubby gets them out of the attic. I also have a hair appt on Thursday, I'm not doing anything different, just a new foil job and a trim; however, I love getting my hair done because it manages to relax me.

Quick Grandma Update: For those of you who are interested, my grandma had to stay in the hospital until yesterday afternoon. She's home now and seems to be doing just fine. They're still not absolutely sure what happened (whether it was a mini-stroke or a seizure); however, they're going to be giving her some medication to hopefully prevent it from happening again. She didn't have any brain damage or loss of use in her limbs and she seems to be functioning very well, God keeps reminding me that it could have been so much worse so I am so thankful. He has truly blessed us and I know he will take care of us and see us through no matter what life throws at us.

Friday, November 14, 2008

For the love of a child...

Each year around this time, thousands of shoe boxes are sent overseas to orphanages, villages, and other locations where there are children who are much less fortunate than here in the United States. Our church participates in this ministry called Operation Christmas Child. It is organized by Samaritan's Purse and there are drop-off locations all over the country. For those of you who haven't heard about it, here's the idea...You take a shoe box or small plastic box and fill it with fun items and toys for either a boy/girl at a designated age group. You can include hygiene items, craft supplies, hard candy, toys, stuffed animals, etc. It doesn't really matter as long as you can fit it in the box.

This year our small group has set forth a challenge: For the small group in our church that can bring in the most boxes, we will fix them breakfast, lunch or dinner (depending on when their small group meets). On our own, our small group of 5 couples has pledged to create 20 boxes (2 boys & 2 girls from each couple). Hubby & I headed to Walmart last night to get all the little goodies for our boxes. We spent forever trying to find just the right things that we knew children who have nothing would enjoy. For the girls we got lipgloss, fingernail polish, a small stuffed animal, jewelry, crayons, paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc. & for the boys we did Matchbox cars, jacks, playdough, crayons, paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc. We had such a great time and it warms my heart to think about all the children opening these boxes from strangers all around the world. We are so fortunate here in the United States and sometimes I know I take it all for granted.
If you are interested in helping out or joining in, just click on the link above and it will give you all the details you need including drop off locations by area code.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My Town Grandma

As a 25 year old woman, I have the great privilege and blessing of still having all 4 of my grandparents here with me and living within 15 miles of my house. We had the Woods Grandparents (because they lived down a path and through the woods from our house) & the Town Grandparents (because they obviously lived in town). Yes, we were very bright kids, don't fault us...;o) My grandparents have been able to experience so many amazing things with my brother & me and I am so grateful that we live so close and are able to have such a close relationship with them.
They are all so wonderful in their own ways, but this post is to focus on my Town Grandma. Last night, my mom called in tears telling me that my grandma had possibly had a stroke and they are headed to the hospital. I lose it, I don't mean just sort of...I completely break down and hand the phone to my Hubby so he can get details from my mom. Well, he thinks I've already hung up so he just sits the phone back on the receiver. I can only imagine my mom's face as she looks at my dad and says..."She hung up on me!" Anyways, we get a phone call a few moments later and get details that we are to sit tight and they will let us know when they head to the hospital. Hubby & I pray, I cry, and we wait. My grandma was completely unresponsive for about an hour, she was conscious but just not lucid. Once the ambulance gets to their house she has started to come around and is recognizing everyone who has showed up. The take her to the hospital run some inital tests and determine she has had TIA (mini-stroke). She has no brain damage and no loss of movement in her arms. Praise God! She's going to be in the hospital for a few days while they run tests and determine what might have caused this issue.

Three generations: Myself, my Mom, and my Town Grandma at my brother's wedding this summer

My mom is an only child, so I am the only granddaughter for my Town Grandparents. Talk about spoiled! She is an amazing woman, a prayer warrior, a funky-spunky grandma, and most of all, she's my mom's best friend. We have such an amazing relationship and I have some incredible memories of spending time at their house and her painting my fingernails, shopping at Christmastime, cooking in the kitchen, working on crafts, etc. She is an amazing Godly woman and continuously prays for everyone near and dear to her. I think she was praying for me and my husband long before we ever even met and I am so grateful to her for that! I could spend hours talking about how she has influenced me and others around her. I just wanted to take a quick moment and pay tribute to her...She's going to be fine and will hopefully be back to herself in a few days or weeks, but I probably don't tell her how much I appreciate everything she's done often enough. I love you Granny!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Another one bites the dust...

So, if you've read through my blog in it's very short life, you will discover that I have had quite the run with electronics and technology equipment in the last month or so. Well, it continues and I've decided that maybe equipment is just starting to malfunction to make fun of me and laugh at me. Yesterday afternoon I was sitting in front of the television enjoying my day off for Veteran's Day, catching up on my favorite blogs, checking e-mail, etc. Well, I started to watch a movie and sat my computer to the side and since it was not plugged in it automatically went into hibernation mode. Once my movie was over I took the computer back into our office plugged it in and tried to turn it back on...this is the message I received:

Disk Read Error
Press ctrl+alt+delete to Restart

Well, keep in mind there was no disk in the computer at all. I remember back in the day when I thought pressing Control, Alt, Delete would solve all computer problems. That was not the case yesterday, this simply caused the system to reboot and bring me to the exact same screen. When Hubby came home, he tried it and he didn't get the CAD message, he got something much worse. An error has occured in one of your system files blah, blah, blah, blah....Please reinstall this file and reboot. Are you serious? I know just enough about computers to know this is a very bad sign.

Update: As I'm typing this, Hubby took the computer back to the repair store and worse case scenario this is going to cost us $300 (a brand new harddrive, backup of the old hard drive, and a reinstall of Windows). $300...not fun, but better than the hassle of buying a brand new computer. We'll be out of a computer for 3-5 business days...so, I apologize in advance for my lack of blogging or commenting because using work time will be my only option.

I just hate electronics...maybe I'll just go back to the days of using pen & paper to communicate...or maybe even farther than that to the days of illustrations on cave walls?!?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A good laugh for a Monday!

Alright, for all of you who have planned a wedding, are in the process of planning a wedding, are dreaming about your wedding, or if you just like to laugh at all...please watch this video. I have seen it on several blogs and it seriously brings me to tears from laughing so hard every time I watch it.

Busy, but....BOGEY!!!

Well as you can see by the title of this post, the most exciting (or eventful) things that happened this week involved our precious furry, son Bogey. Bogey is now about 7 months old and according to his most recent vet appointment on Saturday morning, he now weighs 71.4 lbs. For those of you that care, that means he's been growing 10 lbs a month since birth. Wow, aren't you glad humans don't gain weight like that?!?

Anyways, Friday night consisted of us having a quick dinner out (after I found $20 in my purse & $10 in my coat pocket) and a movie at home. Saturday it was ridiculously cold and windy so I got started on the laundry, cleaned our bathroom (which I loathe), and Hubby took Bogey to the vet.

Bogey Incident #1:

The first Bogey incident of the weekend started in the vet's office after Hubby had already been taken back to his examination room. Apparently we had fed Bogey a little too late on Saturday morning and he managed to have a huge accident in the room. Thank goodness Hubby was able to clean it up before the vet came in, but according to him it was not a pretty sight. ;o)

Saturday afternoon, my wonderful Hubby volunteered to drive me around to all of the local Christmas open houses. We went to all of the cutest little gift shops and really just had a great time. We also got a Christmas present for my mother-in-law, but since she reads the blog I can't disclose it! ;o) Saturday evening we had dinner with my brother & his wife at Old Chicago, I left their so stuffed I was ready for bed. We came home and Hubby went outside to check on our furry friend.

Bogey Incident #2:

Earlier in the fall, Bogey had dug up an area near our patio and Hubby had planted some new grass seed and created a contraption of green fencing to keep him out of the area. Well, last night we come home and see all of the green fencing strewn (is that a word?) across our yard. The next thing that catches our eyes is the pet bed is not in it's normal place but in the middle of the yard. This clues us into the fact that he has been a very busy puppy. So, upon further examination, Hubby heads around to the North side of the house and finds the following:

The picture you're looking at is a sprinkler head and the water line running to it. Needless to say this was apparently quite the entertainment for Bogey as he completely dug up the line and any grass around it. He also managed to move two landscaping pavers that had been helping to serve as a drainage tray (since he kept chewing on and moving the other plastic one). Oh Bogey, what was our life without you?!? I was actually very impressed with Hubby because he did not get all that upset...I mean what could you do? Bogey's just so darn cute it's hard to be mad at him. ;o) So, we headed to bed and decided to do something about it today.

Bogey Incident #3:

In Bogey's defense, this incident was just simply hilarious and has nothing to do with him misbehaving. We bundled up and headed out for a walk this morning before getting ready for church as we normally do on Sunday mornings. Since Bogey is Lab, he tends to become very focused on something and won't take his mind or his eyes off of it until something else grabs his attention. Well, that's exactly what happened this morning. We were walking down the sidewalk when one of the children in the neighborhood came out of his garage on a little motorized motorcycle (like hot wheels, but this was a like a trike). Anyways, Bogey perked up his ears, stuck his tail in the air, and started pulling on his leash a little bit tighter. I fully expected him to start barking but he didn't. The little boy's mom was outside with him and was commenting on how pretty Bogey was. We rounded the corner to head down our street and Bogey was still completely trained on the little boy and the motorcycle. He would not take his eyes off of him even as we were walking a completely other direction. He had his head turned completely around and I'm sure you can imagine what happened next. Yep, Bogey ran right into one of the brick mailboxes lining that side of the street. I'm not sure he even knew what had just happened...It was absolutely hilarious! The mom across the street was laughing along with us because this dog had just plowed into a brick structure.

As you can see, Bogey keeps our lives full of entertainment and continues to make us smile each day! For those of you with dogs, I'm sure you understand because we certainly can't imagine life without him.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fraidy Cat

Alright, so before I begin the real meaning of this post...you need a little bit of background info. On Sunday, May 4, 2003, I was a sophomore in college living in the dorms loving life. That night I went to church only to be phoned by my mom who said..."We've been hit, the pool house...it's gone!" This short conversation was followed by dead air, then panic, then lots of lost calls, tears, and sheer terror. On May 4, my parents house (& the house I grew up in) was hit by a tornado. We were overall very lucky, as many neighbors and friends lost everything they had. We lost tons of trees and the landscape of my parents house and the area around where I grew up was changed forever. The most difficult part for me was that there was no way for me to get there. Sure, I had a car...but all the roads in and out of my parents house were blocked by down trees and/or power lines. So...for 12 long hours, I was stuck...only 30 minutes away but completely helpless. My family was fine, and in the next few days I heard lots of stories of how they road it out and how my mom, dad, brother, 2 dogs, and a cat were all huddled on a love seat in our basement. On Monday morning I went to my first class (because the roads were still treacherous) and then headed down...on my way I stopped at KFC and grabbed an enormous amount of chicken for all the workers at our house, some dry ice to help keep things cold, and lots and lots of batteries. It was a frustrating time for my parents (their roof was peeled away on one corner of the house, windows were blown out, and thus some rain come in). The damage was extensive, but certainly fixable. Here's just a few pics I was able to find.

The corner of my parents' house & a tree snapped off at the base

Two of the biggest trees in our yard, completely destroyed and uprooted in a matter of about 5 minutes.
Our shed (or what used to be our shed)

Anyway, to make a very long story short...we had another stormy spell in November of that year and then another tornado that took almost the exact same path 3 years later in March 2006. This tornado didn't actually hit our house, but took out more trees that the first storm missed. I was home for this one and it was maybe the most scared I've been in my life. Since that time, I have a slight, or maybe not so slight, paranoia when bad storms are predicted. And last night was no different, storms were scheduled to hit our area overnight sometime after midnight. I was already anxious as I went to bed because I knew it wouldn't be long before I was waking up needing to check the weather. Just on time, at 1:15 I awoke to heavy winds and checked my phone for the radar. Tornado Warning: Headed for the town I grew up in. Just a quick side note---Hubby and I live basically on the exact same line as my hometown, so it's basically inevitable that what hits there will be headed straight for our house as well. Needless to say, I headed for the couch armed with the tv remote and blankets while Dear Hubby slept soundly in bed. Nothing serious came about, but then it took me awhile for my adrenaline levels to go down and to fall back asleep.

I certainly do not enjoy middle of the night awakenings...but I guess it's better to be safe than sorry.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


As Hubby and I sat last night glued to the television watching the results come in, I couldn't help but feel a wave of unsettling emotion come over me. I'm not exactly sure what it is, because like so many others I was not in love with our Republican candidate...however, I can't help but think that for our country, built on God's foundations and mercy for us, McCain was the better candidate. I'm not sure if it's his stance on abortion, his financial plan, or his promises that I can't help but think will never be accomplished as he says they will. All of these just leave me unsettled and worried about where our nation is headed. I'm sure in the coming days, the unsettled feeling will begin to weaken...but I have strong doubts that it will every fully go away. I must just continue on and have faith that God's will will still be accomplished, even as things seem so uncertain. As so many others have said, the time has now come for us to begin praying for President Elect Obama and the decisions he will make in the next 4 years. I have no doubt that God will continue to bless America...IF, we turn to Him and bless Him. Our government and elected officials always need the prayers of God's children...maybe now more then ever.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


So...since I'm new to this blogging thing I've gotten my 1st two awards and I've been a little delayed in posting them. So, here we go...

My very first award came from my great college, friend Joelle. We really would be best friends if we only lived closer together. I remember some great, deep conversations we had as college students! Love ya girl!
Here are the rules:

1. You have to tag 5 people.

2. 4 of the 5 have to be dedicated followers to your blog.

3. One has to be someone new or recently new to your blog and must live in another part of the world.

4. You must link back to whomever gave you the award.
I am passing this award on to:

1. Bama Belle

*I just love reading about her adventures in the big city! Coming from a small town it's so fun to hear of her adventures!
2. Amy from Chapters

*What can I say? She is so incredibly down to earth and seems like such an incredible woman!
3. Jenn from Jennsational

*I love reading how honest and open she is. I wish I could be as open with my life as she is. It seems she's always saying exactly what I am thinking (or have thought in the past) but can't seem to put into words!
4. Megan from Tales of the Trees

*Just fun! A newly-wed going through the same stage of life as I am!
5. Erin from Blue-Eyed Bride

*Another newly-wed with great ideas and thoughts! She makes me want to keep bloggining more and more!

My second award came from Bama Belle: Here are the rules for the Superior Scribbler Award:

1. Post the award on your blog.

2. Link me for giving it to you.

3. Link the originating post here

4. Pass the award on to five more deserving people.

5. Post these rules for your recipients

Here are the wonderful ladies who receive this award:

Joelle--A fantastic, real-life friend who has wonderful stories from our nation's capital!

Naturally Caffeinated--I love reading her real life stories and the happenings of her life!

Mojito Maven--She is just fantastic and she makes me motivated to keep blogging!

Belle--Another newly wed who I love to follow!

Alright, so I only have 4 on this award...but give me a break! I'm new here...;o)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Election Day

I know you've heard it over and over again, but I just want to remind everyone to get out and Vote today! We have such an amazing privilige of living in America and having the right to choose so many things for our country and the direction it is going to be headed in. Hubby & I voted absentee so as to avoid the incredibly long lines--I just feel such a sense of pride when I am able to elect the leaders of our country. Regardless of who you're voting for, please exercise your right! I know God will lead this country in the way he wants it to go as long as we follow after him. So say a quick prayer before you go in to vote and as you sit there making your decisions. God is a mighty God and I know he has the ability to create whatever outcome he desires so prayer is definitely high on the priority list. How blessed we are to live in America and serve such an amazing, powerful God!

Weekend Recap

Well, as promised, this weekend was actually fairly non-eventful. Friday night we grabbed takeout and positioned ourselves on the couch armed with over 200 pieces of candy for the neighborhood kiddos. We had a great time and they all looked so adorable. We had everything from elephants to princesses to octopus to pirates. Most of the candy is gone; however, what's left is now stuck in the back of our pantry in a hiding place. Hopefully it will disappear slowly rather than all at once--although I think I heard the Milk Duds whispering to me this morning. ;o)

Saturday I had to work during the morning and Nick had his dreaded CPA test. He took the financial section this time and without going into too much detail...the test has not been his friend in the past. I have a good feeling about this one, and I hope I'm right. He's worked so hard and I'm so proud of his efforts. I just hope it shows on the test results this time. As a treat for all of his hard work and to show him how much I truly love him, I told him to pick a place for dinner. It just happened to be this wonderful local Chinese restaurant reminiscent of P.F. Chang's. It's called Five Spice Grille and they have the best crab rangoon on the face of the earth. They also have lots of fantastic Chinese dishes. Needless to say, I left completely stuffed and ready for a nap.

Sunday we were up early with Daylight Savings Time and I was actually able to accomplish a few things (cleaning a bit, tidying up the house, and starting laundry) before leaving for church. Our preacher spoke on the characteristics of a good leader and it was a great service. He quoted numerous scriptures focused on how God blesses those leaders who have integrity, lead with humility, and lead with generosity. Regardless of the party you normally align with, it's these characteristics that we should look for on the local, state and national level when choosing who will lead us. We then spent some time in prayer and I hope you all are doing the same as this election could change so many things for us and regardless of who is elected, they need prayer and God's guidance.

After the service, we headed down to my parents' house for lunch and my dad and Hubby built Bogey a little platform for his kennel. It's something simple but will give him a place to stay dry when it's rainy and snowy this winter. The weekend ended with a fantastic small group meeting...I just love those people!

I'm not sure about everyone else, but God is blessing us with a wonderful dose of Indian Summer. Highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s...it's been absolutely beautiful outside and certainly not normal for the first week of November. I just hope we can get enjoy it before reality sets in! Have a Happy Monday everyone!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!!!

I hope everyone has a great time tonight! I know I am totally looking forward to it. No big plans except for grabbing some takeout and sitting on the couch waiting for kiddos to ring our doorbell. We have tons and tons of kids in our neighborhood and we're one of the only families that doesn't have kids...so needless to say, we are very popular! I love seeing all the little kids dressed up in their costumes.

In the past we have certainly had Halloween parties so I've included a photo of us from last year when we both dressed as Nerds. I've also included some old photos of myself from Halloweens' past.

The Happily Married Nerds!

Carving pumpkins with my kitty at home (age?)

One of my favorite Halloween costumes. It was really for a dance recital but my mom had made it and we also used it for a Halloween costume. I love being a unicorn!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Shack...Wow!

Have you ever read a book that in some ways changed how you looked at life? or one that truly made you reevaluate everything you had always believed and clung to? or one that made you want to laugh and cry, and fall to your knees and ask for forgiveness? or or one that made you run outside to appreciate everything you have been blessed with? or even one that has made you thank God for all those unanswered prayers that were honestly answered by God but just not in the way you had hoped at that particular time? Are you overwhelmed yet? Well, I sure am. I mentioned a few days ago that I was in the process of reading The Shack, by William Young...and man, did it knock me on my butt.

I don't want to say too much regarding the actual plot of the book, but let me tell you right now...if you know someone who is going through an incredible trial, or someone who has turned their back on God, or even someone who is a devout Christian who thinks they have it all figured out. I urge you to recommend this book to everyone you know. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not sure everything in this book is biblically accurate, word for word. However, I do know that the ideas and thoughts brought about by this book will truly change the way you look at God forever. Like I said before, I can't say too much about it because I want everyone to read it for themselves and experience it individually.

In the past few days so many things have come up that have gone back to ideals that I read about in this book. It's about love and forgiveness, grieving and mercy, power and grace, beauty and friendship. One of these days I'll sit down and explain exactly what this book has done for me...but right now I'm really just trying to process everything that God is and everything that he isn't.

Has anyone else read this book? I hope you will, because even if it's not completely accurate...it is a work of fiction and I believe it has truly brought me closer to God.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Outdoor Dog with Indoor Visits

I have always grown up with outdoor dogs...always. However, my mom frequently would let our pups in for visits during the evenings and they would be rowdy for a few moments but then calm down and simply lay in the floor and sleep. When it was time to go to bed, we would let them outside and they would be perfectly fine. This is also the plan with Bogey, he will be an outdoor dog that has indoor privileges when we are at home. He doesn't really have much experience with being in our house except for maybe running from the backdoor to the door leading to our garage to go for a walk. So, the past few nights it has started to get very cold outside (lows in the lower 30s and upper 20s). We have brought him in the past few nights and he has actually started to calm down. Last night he actually just laid down in our bedroom floor and went to sleep while I was watching television. I did feel terrible when we booted him out into the cold; however, he is just a dog and he will be fine with his camoflauge pet bed we bought him from Bass Pro.

Bogey lounging outside in the sun...I just love it when he lays on his back all sprawled out!
Me & our outdoor dog with visitation privileges. (please ignore the shiny, oily face--it had been a long day)
In other Bogey news, Nick took him to the vet on Saturday because he had been limping on 2 of his 4 legs. It was really quite a sight! Well, the doctor couldnt' really find anything wrong. He has a bad shoulder on his front, right leg and a bad hip on his back left leg. The doctor isn't too concerned and honestly says it's probably just growing pains (65 lbs for a 7 month old dog is a lot of growing in a short period of time). We go back to the vet in 2 weeks and hopefully he'll be better. Otherwise, x-rays are in the picture and that means sedation for Mr. Bogeyman.
Oh, and on the work front...this is the conversation I had with myself this morning as I unpacked the printer my dad bought as a replacement:

Hello Mr Ginormous Printer, I hope that I don't hurt you or make you mad because in addition to causing me serious grief and frustration by not working properly, you are quite possibly the largest desktop printer I have ever seen and you might be able to cause me serious physical harm. I do hope that we can be friends and that we can just get along. I am so glad that you work and provide beautiful print outs of documents for me and the rest of my office. I am so happy we are able to share workspace each day!

(Ok, maybe just a little bit of exaggeration, but not having a printer really cramped my day yesterday and I'm so glad to have a printer that actually does what it's supposed to, no matter how big it is!)

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Last night for dinner, I made my favorite soup recipe of all time: Chicken Tortilla. It is a super easy recipe, makes plenty for leftovers and is actually fairly healthy. So, I thought I would share it with everyone else. I certainly can't take the credit for this, it came from my good friend Jennifer. We lived together in college, were in each other's weddings, attend the same church, and I just love her friendship!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

8 cups water
3 chicken breasts
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can Rotel
12 oz. Velveeta Light
1 tbsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Seasoning Salt
1 tsp Chili Powder
1 cup milk
3 flour tortillas

Bring the water to a boil in a large Dutch oven. Boil the chicken breasts until full cooked. Remove chicken from the boiling water and cut into bite size pieces (I normally cut the chicken into pieces before I cook it just because then the chicken cooks faster). Return the chicken to the water and add in all of the remaining ingredients except the tortillas. Bring mixture to a boil and cook for around 10 minutes. Tear the tortillas into small pieces and add to mixture. Boil an additional 10 minutes or until the tortillas are soft. (I normally add around 5 fajita-size tortillas because this is my favorite part of the dish.) Serve with tortilla chips for dipping and enjoy!

A few personal notes:
1. Make sure you keep stirring the mixture because I have trouble with it sticking to the bottom of my pan--even with my expensive Analon.

2. The soup is pretty thin even with the tortillas. If you want a thicker soup I would add some flour or corn starch/water mixture.

3. This soup is great for freezing and warms up really well. Just make a batch and put half of it in the freezer for another cold, autumn/winter's night.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Curse of Computers, Printers, & Fax Machines

Well, today continued on the plague of the computer equipment surrounding me. As you might recall, a few weeks ago I managed to single handedly wipe out our entire companies' mailing list. Last week, the fax machine/copier managed to stop working (not my fault, but an inconvenience nonetheless). And to top it all off, this morning I come in to work...turn on my computer--which was actually already on so in reality I was turning it off--turn on my printer, and I get 2 lovely error messages. #1-Improper shutdown, to avoid permanent damage please use the power button to turn the printer on/off. (Well thank you Captain Obvious, I'm so glad we've clarified what the power button is used for). Error message #2-Ink system failure, printer will not copy, fax, scan, or print. Please turn the printer on/off and try again. Lovely, just lovely. I have a gazillion things to do and the ink system has failed?!? So, after turning the printer on/off about 5 times or so I decide to uninstall and then reinstall the printer. Well, guess what...that doesn't work either. I also try to unplug the printer from everything imaginable and it still will not reset. So...needless to say I am extremely frustrated by this point. My dad comes back to my desk as I am about to literally pull my hair out. We've only had the printer since Oct. 1 so it's getting packaged back in the box and is headed back to Best Buy. Hopefully we'll have some luck and I'll have a new printer tomorrow. Why can simple things not go my way?

Oh well, back to updating the mailing list since I have no printer....;o)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The end of a long, but exciting week!

I am finally able to sit down and relax after a seemingly very hectic, and busy week. It feels so nice to just relax, watch some football, and maybe, possibly take a nice nap. ;o) Monday started with our last puppy school lesson and Bogey go high marks on all of his tasks. The only thing we really really need to work on is "Staying." I mean who should really expect a 7 month old puppy to sit still for longer than a nanosecond anyway? We really enjoyed the class and we learned lots of things we can use with other dogs. Plus, it was just plain fun!

Tuesday-Today we had events for the Global Impact Conference. It was such an interesting and eye-opening experience to meet with missionaries from all across our state and all around the world. God truly is doing some amazing things and how exciting to hear it first hand! Yesterday, we went and had a service project at a local elementary school (which is actually where our church first started meeting when it was just a brand new congregation). We helped do some landscaping work and just general picking up around the school. At the end we did a simple prayer walk through the halls of the school and just prayed that God would bless the teachers and administration and that His light would shine brightly to all of the students. What a mission field our teachers have each and everyday...but it's such a battleground at the same time. I have so many friends who are teachers, administrators, and counselors in the public school system and the issues they deal with everyday are extremely stressful and at times disturbing. We truly need and should pray for Christian influences on these children because it may be the only love the get during the day.

Last night we had Hubby's whole family over for dinner (Mom, Dad, Sister & her husband, and their 2 adorable little boys). We had a great time just being together and enjoying each other's company. Nick & I love being with our family and we are so grateful for the times we get to spend with each other.

Today was our final service of the Global Impact Conference and was considered the commitment service when we all committed to Pray, Give, & Go in regards to Missions in our church. Nick & I are committing to pray for some specific missionary families, we're having faith in God to allow us to give some additional monies over and above our normal tithe, and we are hoping that God will open the doors for us to go on some short term mission projects. Our worship band played a song a couple of times during this conference and I'm sure most of you have probably heard it before but it really touched my heart in what is possible with God's power in regards to missions.

“God of This City”Chris Tomlin
You’re the God of this city You’re the King of these people You’re the Lord of this nation You are
You’re the light in this darkness You’re the hope to the hopeless You’re the peace to the restless You are
For there is no-one like our God There is no-one like our God
Greater things have yet to come
Greater things are still to be done
In this city
Greater things have yet to come
And greater things have still to be done here

Friday, October 24, 2008

Preparing for Spring in the Fall

Earlier this week my mom comes into the office and hands me this huge cardboard box with a very sly, smirky grin on her face. I wonder for a few moments what it is that she has and then I remember...a few months ago, my aunt offered to order a bunch of bulbs for me to plant so that I would have beautiful tulips, lilies, crocus, and daffodils pop up when Spring arrived next year. I knew at the time that by ordering bulbs, this meant I would have to take time to plant them (individually)...but I had conveniently forgotten about this.

Well, the time has come...in the midst of my crazy week with church, I now have to find time to plant about 30-50 bulbs. What great fun!!! (sarcasm intended) So, Sunday afternoon that's what's on my schedule, I'll sit down in the front yard with my garden spade, some work gloves, and I'll spend a few hours getting my hands dirty. The work will be long and tedious, but I know in the end it will be beautiful. I mean who wouldn't go to the extra work to have these flowers bloom in their garden?

Maybe I can convince dear hubby to help me out just a bit!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Going Global

As I've previously mentioned, our church is hosting a Global Impact Celebration this week. For those of you who have never been involved in one, it's basically a gathering of missionaries (both local & international) and local agencies who serve the people of our area. I am/was in charge of helping get all of the booths set up and making sure that everyone had what they needed. All of the booths were set up yesterday afternoon and last night we had our Opening Celebration. Let me just tell you, the first night went very well. We had a good crowd from our own church and the missionaries & agencies are all just fantastic. I love learning about them, their lives, and how they are living for Jesus and spreading his word.
This week is also a time for us to refocus on how important it is for us to spread the word of Christ locally, but also to be willing to travel to remote locations and tell those about God's love. I know that God is going to do some amazing things this week and will move the hearts of many people to go on short term missions projects and hopefully even some who might join ministry full time. I have never been one to have a calling to any sort of full-time missions...however, I love to join in on the details of bringing this event to Northbridge and to experience serving others in our area. Serving others is needed everywhere, in our hometowns, in our states, in our country and even to the ends of the earth.

Acts 1:8: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

On another quick religious note, has anyone read the book "The Shack?" I am currently reading it and what a powerful book, it's definitely a quick read but will open your mind to so many things you might not have ever thought about when it comes to God, his love for us, and how truly screwed up we as humans are. Humans are so quick to put God in a box and to create our own visions of who he is and how he sees good and evil. When those are really just self-serving ideas to make life easier and more comfortable for us. Tonight we are having dinner with our small group and a missionary family from Senegal, West Africa. I am super excited to learn more about them and what God has been doing through them and in their lives as they serve in such a different culture.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Birthdays, Shopping, Football & Loads of FUN!

Well as previously mentioned, this weekend did not disappoint in being jam packed with fun activities. A great time was had by all, but we were certainly ready to relax for a couple of hours once we finally got home last night.

Friday night we headed to our nephew's 3rd Birthday party, it was certainly chaotic as all childrens' parties are. Hunter was very excited for his party as it was themed after the movie "Cars" which he loves. We made the mistake of allowing him to pick out the first present he could open and unfortunately it was a group of 3 Hot Wheels cars based on the movie. Well, all the rest of the presents might as well have been canned vegetables because he wanted nothing to do with them and he was not going to open another present. We tried everything, we had cake & ice cream and tried to convince him that Uncle Nicky & Aunt L would be very sad if he didnt' open his presents. In the end we all ended up opening the presents for him (just so we could all see what he had gotten). He couldn't care less that other people were opening up his presents. Note to self & rest of the family: at Christmas he gets to open the "fun" toys last. ;o)

Hunter modeling his gift from Uncle Nicky & Aunt L--a St. Louis Cardinals jacket just like Pujols!He also found it more entertaining to play in the bag and hop around then he did opening presents. Man, we could have saved a lot of money!

Uncle Nicky with Baby Jackson and Hunter (that's his version of saying "Cheese!"). Nick also tried to teach him how to show people how old he was. I'm not sure if he completely caught in but he sure worked hard at it.

Saturday we left around 10:00 and headed to St. Louis with my parents & my brother and his wife. We hit 2 malls and I managed to find some great deals. A pair of jeans at Nordstrom's for $25.00 that I absolutely love and some adorable polka dot tees at Anthropologie that were in the clearance room! Yeah for Anthropologie sales! I love that store but it seems so expensive at times. We also had dinner at The Cheesecake Factory--can I just say heaven? We had calamari and nachos as an appetizer, my mom and I shared an amazing pasta dish with bowtie pasta and a roasted garlic cream sauce, and Hubby & I shared a piece of their 30th Anniversary cheesecake: Creamy cheesecake layered with rich, moist chocolate cake & topped with chocolate icing and whipped cream. Very health, I know. ;o) We finished off the night by heading to the new casino in downtonw STL. Hubby & I had $40 to spend--we lost $20 on the slot machines but then he made about $50 on the Roulette Wheel. So, we ended up $10 ahead. Not bad for an hour's worth of entertainment.

Sunday we headed to the Edward Jones Dome for the St. Louis Rams vs. Dallas Cowboys. It had been a long time since I had been to a NFL game and they are so much fun. We were there as Dallas fans and we were certainly not in the minority. It was crazy how many Cowboys fans there were at a St. Louis Rams game. The Cowboys lost and it was a crappy, sloppy game, but we had a good time anyway. It's always a bonus when grown men get into a fight and end up getting escorted out. ;o) As you can see below, everyone but Millie & I participated in the throwing competition. My mom was the first to give it a try. There really wasn't a big prize, just a free Arby's t-shirt, but I got some good pics anyways.

Mom & Dad giving it a try! Good technique Mom!

Hubby on the left and my little brother on the right!

We headed home immediately after the game and I've never been more happy to make it to our house. We encountered a major detour due to a fatality crash and then due to the sun and some not very smart people, we were almost in a very serious accident. Kudos to my mom for seeing the problem and to my dad for having some amazing driving skills. I'm so glad God had his angels travelling with us.

Nick & I inside the dome. We had really good seats and certainly enjoyed ourselves!

I'll probably be fairly absent from the blogging world this week---we have our first GIC (Global Impact Conference) at our church and that is going to take up Tuesday-Sunday. I've very excited, but I'm on the committee heading it up so it will certainly be a very busy week! Hopefully I'll be able to post here and there, but until then--have a great week!