Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Crazy Turkey Day Pledge...

All I can say is that I was under the influence of turkey and stuffing. Because I can think of no other reason for doing what I did...

The kids were happy with their full belly's and promise of pie to come so I was actually able to participate in some post meal conversation. My sister and husband's voices drifted down to my end of the table.
"Okay, why did you sign up for the Olympic Triathlon in Galveston, I thought we were doing the Sprint?" WB asks.
"Well, I'm doing a sprint the month before and thought it would be good warm-up for the one in Galveston. And besides my competitive nature came out when I found out my friend was doing the half ironman", this from my sister.
And little old me at the end of the table is thinking they are both sort of neurotic. WB with his knee problems and my sister who just recovered from a stress fracture in her foot that had her off her feet for quite some time. Really some people just get carried away, this thought is running through my head as I listen to them debate back and forth. I point out neither one of them should be running. The swimming and biking are fine, but not the running with their injuries.
"We can do the rely, just need someone to do the running leg I guess." WB says, thinking out loud. Good idea, I think...someone else should do the running.
And here's where I make a tragic mistake. You see I have a flaw. I always feel the need to help people out. Okay, so sometimes it's a good thing, but other times it gets me in a whole mess of trouble. On this occasion it got me into running.
First let me explain something, I hate to run. No, actually I despise it. I was the cross country manager in high school and I drove my car around to help wayward runners or on occasion rode a bike along with the runners. I did this because I greatly admire runners, their dedication, their endurance, their ability. And I know my limits. Running up and down the basketball court was more than enough running for me in my short-lived high school career.
And here's something else, I've never probably ever run even a mile at one time much less 3.2 or whatever the heck I'm supposed to run for this triathlon. I run after my wayward child in the grocery and that is it, period!!
So there I was drunk on turkey and stuffing and the words tumbled out of my mouth before I knew what I was saying. Next thing I know my sister is printing up my training schedule, which is titled from couch to triathlon...I'm thinking it should read from couch potato to triathlon. It gives me exactly 4 months to train for this four months to the day. The day after Thanksgiving I find myself sprinting around a very packed Academy as my sister fits me for some running shoes. I kept the sprints short so I wouldn't get winded in front of the crowd of shoppers, I do have my pride after all. Instead of a day of shopping for clothes for my birthday, I instead shopped for the running gear I would need. Happy Birthday to Me...just that phrase invokes memories of a terrible slasher, horror movie I saw in my teenage years, but the image was so appropriate.

My sister and I after day one. I walked 25 minutes, she ran for 40.
I do have a confession to make here, I'm digging the outfit. I mean when I put on my ultra-sleek running tights, top, shiny new shoes, topped off with my cute little pink hat I feel powerful. Much more powerful than I am, but still. I feel like an athlete, I feel fast, I feel like I might actually be able to do this...then I go for my first run. Well, actually I walk for the first month, but even that hurts. It has been a long time since I have power walked for 25 minutes in the freezing temperatures. The memories come flooding back as to why I hate this type of exercise, especially when my sides begin to ache and my joints remind me of my arthritis. Okay, so I only have mild arthritis in my hands, but I swear the rest of my body is about to follow suite. But amazingly at the end of my walk I'm feeling pretty good. The next day WB gets out the double jogging stroller and I take Little One for my walk. Funny how pushing a stroller adds a whole new element of challenge to my quest, not to mention the hills we are surrounded by.

So today is day three, and I've got to say it is sort of addicting in a way. Of course, I haven't actually started running yet, just walking. I know the running will kick my hiney, and I'm fully prepared for that. I know that if I don't stick to my training my sister will kick my hiney even harder, so I have some motivation. Really , she gets a little competitive, no idea where that comes from.

So join me in the next four months as I share with you my ups and downs of this little journey. Feel free to chime in with some of your own experiences. I'll need all the help I can get!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

He doesn't change dirty diapers without gagging

but he does just about everything else. WB is my Renaissance Man, and I feel very blessed to have found him.
Do you ever wonder what or where you would be if you were swept back in time and plopped down in some far away land? Come on, don't you? Okay, well, I do. Like say... medieval times. Everyone loves castles and knights, right? Well, here is one thing I am sure of, that as long as I was with WB we would survive. I probably wouldn't be too keen on chamber pots or the whole "let's just bathe every full moon" kind of thing, but I probably wouldn't have to worry because if I were with WB he would figure out a way for me to have indoor plumbing, complete with bath and toilet. We'd be able to eat because he's the type that knows how to survive on what the land has to offer.
I know that if I had to rely on my sewing skills or my singing voice to get by, I would be kicked out of the kingdom for sure. But I figure WB would be so invaluable to the King others would forgive my lack of womanly arts. I could just befriend everyone with my wit and charm (I'm telling you I could, really!). WB could wow everyone with his intellect and amazing ability to create things, whether it be a fortress or a rocking horse for his child. And if he was the King's right hand man he wouldn't have to bother with changing dirty diapers anyway. Heck, maybe I'd have some sort of lady's maid for that sort of thing and I wouldn't have to either...just saying.
What about would you survive a trip in time?!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

MMM- Thanksgiving History According to Soph

Soph is my 6 year old who is loving, sensitive, and has a wonderful imagination coupled with an extensive vocabulary. For several days she has been recounting stories of pilgrims, Indians, and Christopher Columbus. The following conversations are her recounting of historical events, because I'm sure we all need to brush up on the story of Thanksgiving before Thursday.

Soph's voice drifts forward from the very back of the mini-van, "Christopher Columbus was Spanish, and so that means he came from Mexico. He landed on a rock...Plyy....., what was it called again? (I tell her Plymouth) Oh, yes Plymouth rock. Now, they didn't have airplanes back then so he must of come in on a parachute. (I ask what he jumped from then?) Some high place I guess."

A day or so later:

(Again in the car) "So the pilgrims ate fish (looking at her little sister) you may want to put this out of your mind, and deer. (Little One views all deer as her pets since they visit our yard nightly). It was cold and they were starving and the Indians shared their food. The Indians lived in big round houses and they let the Pilgrims live with them.


"Remember that big rock. Well it cracked and the Pilgrims tried to glue it back together with concrete. It didn't work and they took pieces of it to build a gate in town."

Even later:

"The pilgrims came over on a ship called the Mayflower. It was about as long as a football field. They didn't have bathrooms so they used buckets. When it was full they yelled, "Bucket is full!" and the maids came and dumped it over the side, into the ocean. A lot of them got sea sick and well it just wasn't a very pleasant trip."

Later still:

"I don't think the pilgrims even ate turkey which leads me to believe we eat turkey on Thanksgiving because we want to, not because the pilgrims did!"

Disclaimer: The above is a history lesson given by a six year old and all historical data should be checked for accuracy.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Frugal Friday...Bandanna Apron

Soph modeling her bandanna apron as she was about to run out the door for school!

Like I mentioned last week we are having a "Pioneer" Christmas this year, so to continue my frugal gift making ideas I want to share this apron with you. Soph went to a Brownie activity a few weeks ago and the girls made aprons out of bandannas. They all turned out really cute and they were easy to put together. This would make a cute gift for children, but also the adults were wearing them. It may not cover as much area, but it still looked sweet on the grown-ups!

The cost of this gift is just a few dollars. All you need is a bandanna ( I saw several cute Christmas ones at WalMart the other day), buttons, ribbon and fabric scraps.

The only sewing that needs to be done on the machine is to fold back the corner on one side a couple of inches. You could even do this by hand if you wanted to.
Next we tacked on ( a couple of holding stitches) either ribbon or some lengths of fabric for the neck ties and waist ties. We then sewed buttons on each tie to help hold it in place an for a little decoration.

The girls each decorated their aprons however they liked. We glued on ric rac or you could sew it. Soph used a fabric pen to write I love .... all down the front of her apron. Some girls traced their hands or glued fabric flowers around their apron. I got tickled watching the girls come up with their own designs.

This was a fun, easy project that fits right in with our Pioneer Christmas theme! Next Friday I'll share another fun, easy project that involves using old socks and dying:)

Monday, November 17, 2008

MMM- Genesis 1:27

As a parent I sometimes struggle with how to teach my children about the world they see around them. And lets face it, there are some things going on in this world that are hard to explain, especially to younger children. There are lifestyles and images of people that I may not agree with. Just how am I supposed to turn around and teach my children the complexities of these things, when I struggle with them myself?

This is when I delve into the root of my faith. As a Christian Catholic the foundation of my faith has been based on this scripture:

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:27

We are taught that we are to uphold the dignity of every person...not just the ones who do right, not just the ones who make correct choices, not just the ones that are most like us, not just the ones who share our faith...ALL people. It is a faith that calls us to compassion and unity. We are not called to teach tolerance, but rather to live in a community in which the dignity of every person is held in esteem. And let me just say, that can sometimes be a tall order!

I'm often reminded of the words of a teacher I had as a child, "Look for Jesus in every person you meet, He is there. And sometimes you may be the only person to recognize him." How very true.

I feel blessed to sit in a pew each Sunday and listen to the scriptures and how they relate to my faith and our lives. I'm equally blessed to listen to my Priest as he teaches us how to love, not hate. How to embrace our differences, not ridicule or demean them. How to be what God wants us to be, not what society deems appropriate.

So when my child asks difficult questions about this world around them, I may stumble at times, but in the end I am confident that between their parents, their church, and their God they will find the right answers.

That is my Memorable Moment for this Monday...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Frugal Friday...Pioneer Christmas Decorations

On Wednesday I told you all how this Christmas we were sort of going with a theme, a Pioneer theme that is. My girls are having a wonderful time learning about what the pioneers did for the Christmas holidays. One of the really neat things is that the pioneers used what they had and made things from scratch, which is a great lesson in frugality! I plan on sharing many of our projects up until Christmas, because a lot of these are just easy, non-expensive ways to celebrate the holidays, plus a lot of fun.

Our first project were these tin can lanterns:

We've been saving soup cans, vegetable cans, tea canisters anything that is metal. Em takes off the label, rinses them out, and then fills them with water. We put them in the freezer to harden.

This is my outdoor freezer, please excuse the dirt. I believe the girls were stockpiling some mudpies in here!

Anyways, after the water is good and frozen you can make your designs. You might want to lay can on a towel to help keep the can still. Using a pin, make little dots on can in whatever pattern you like.

Now you take a nail and hammer gently through each dot. The frozen water inside helps the can to hold its shape during this process. You can use different size nails to make things even more interesting if you like.

To finish drain ice from cans and place a tea light inside. We're going to line our walkways with these so we'll add some sand to the bottom to keep from blowing away!

I just love the pretty patterns they cast. This has been so easy and didn't cost us much. Weren't those pioneers smart?!!!

For more frugal tips head over to Biblical Womanhood.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Works For Me Wednesday...Our Pioneer Christmas

I'm so excited about this Christmas because we've decided to follow a theme, a Pioneer Christmas. I'm not sure what brought this about. Maybe our move to the "country" or maybe my kids desire to learn about what people did long ago or maybe just a combination of things. But I will tell you it has brought new excitement to the holiday season here at Cotton-Top Hills. We've gotten a jump on things, since we've learned the pioneers had to plan months in advance for the holidays.
The ideas are endless and over the next several weeks I'll be posting about our projects, which include homemade gifts and decorations. Here is a picture of some of the books that have gotten us started:

My library didn't have these so I ordered them new and used from Amazon. The girls and I are enjoying going through each book. It has some great ideas and has also gotten the girls thinking about some of their own. Like wouldn't the pioneers made use of all these yuccas we have growing wild around about some yucca soap. It's just a joy to watch them get excited and work together on things.
Also, we are being frugal. The pioneers didn't have much, but they scrapped together what they did have and made it a beautiful holiday. We're learning to appreciate that we don't have to have that flat screen TV or Wii to make our Christmas memorable. The pioneers encountered some very difficult times, but families pulled together and made the best of it. It's a wonderful Christmas spirit to have.
Anyway, this Pioneer Christmas is helping my family to really focus on the true meaning of Christmas this year. Check back on Friday for our first Frugal Pioneer Decorating Idea, it involves hammers and ice!!
For more WFMW ideas check at Shannon's blog.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

To Those who served...

Happy Veteran's Day!
I have a secret to share with you...I cried off and on all day on November 5th. You want to know why? Because I was scared to death what the new elected President might do to this country and all the men and women who have fought for our freedom and constitutional rights, and are still fighting. Okay, then my liberal friends told me to get a grip..."how could it be worse" they said. Then my conservative friends said..."we will survive, we still have a voice". So I sucked it up, dried my tears, and told myself that this country has made it through all sorts of difficulties and our constitution has remained intact. So it is fitting that today I salute all those veterans who have helped to shape and mold this country, many did so under some very similar uncertain times. I must give special thanks to those family members who over this country's history stood up for what they believed in and defended it. You helped to shape and mold me as well!

To my Great, great, great grandfather Lear, thanks for taking a stand and fighting for your beliefs in the Civil War. If you only knew what history you were making, history that would change this country forever.

To my Gramp who fought for the Army during WWII. How foreign the land must have looked as you served in the China Burma India Theater as a young man from Indiana/Kentucky!

To my Great Uncle Johnny and Great Uncle Jimmy. Uncle Johnny, I can only imagine what it was like to fly your B-29 over the vast Pacific during WWII. Great Uncle Jimmy, just what was going through your head as you watched your fellow soldiers and friends fall during the Battle of the Bulge, yet you fought on for your country.
I loved listening to your war stories as a kid and adult, and greatly miss your presence at family gatherings, but your stories will be passed down, I promise.

To my Dad who signed up for the Army Reserves, even with Vietnam lurking in the background.

To my Uncle Roger who served in the Navy as a young man.

To my Uncle Bill, who graduated from Westpoint and went on to serve several tours in Vietnam. Thank you for continuing to serve you country for many years until you retired with three stars on your shoulder.
To my Uncle Tom for his time in the Air Force Reserves, that actually brought him across the country to what is now my hometown, during his basic training.

For WB's little brother, Mark, who left high school and went straight into the Coast Guard. Good to know you were defending our coast!

To Cousin Brian, who currently serves this country as an Army officer. Thank you for your continued dedication.

And finally to WB, my hubby. He wanted the Air Force to be his career, for serving honorably until God's insistent calling eventually pulled him in another direction.

What about you? Who would you like to thank on this Veteran's Day? And don't forget to say a prayer for those defending our country at this very moment.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Get Your Jingle On...

My friend Amy has tagged me for a "Jingle" post. She wanted to know if I had my jingle on. And I'm happy to say I have started some preparations for the Christmas holidays. I don't like to do too much before Thanksgiving, because well, I just love the fall season and don't like to rush it. So there will be no holiday music, decorating or the such until the day after Thanksgiving. But, as we all know it takes some time to get prepared for all the holiday fun so I have started on some things.

First of all we actually have our Christmas card done...well the final proof is being approved today. This is a huge feat in itself. Usually, WB and I keep waiting for the perfect setting and weather to take our family picture. Like the year we kept waiting for just a dusting of snow on the canyon for our backdrop, or the year we waited until we went to Lubbock for the Carol of Lights and then our batteries went dead after two clicks. You get the idea. Our Christmas cards in years past have ended up being Happy New Year cards, but not this year. We had a photographer come out to our house a few weeks ago and she is designing our Christmas card for this year. Whoopee, yee-haw, I got my jingle on!!

Secondly, we are celebrating a Pioneer Christmas this year ( I will be dedicating several posts to this starting next week). Guess what? The pioneers started getting ready for Christmas months in advance. That is what you must do when you're doing everything from scratch. So we've been dying, sewing, pounding, freezing, collecting around here for a few weeks now. It has been great fun and I can't wait to share some of it with you. It's kind of been our frugal and educational approach to the holidays, as well a lot of family fun:)

Okay, so do you have your jingle on? I'm supposed to pass this on to 3 of my friends so you can share with us what you've been up to so I'm going to pass it on to:

Many other of my blogging friends have already done some posts about Christmas so check out my blogroll to see what they are up too!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Eating Ribs 101

Around here eating ribs is sort of an art form. My Dad is a master at stripping the bone completely clean. Because of this we were brought up under The Rib Enforcement Act of 1976, which clearly states that all meat must be cleared from the bone. In fact it was strictly enforced and we were not allowed another rib until we passed the rib inspection test. Okay, I may be exaggerating a, no really that is how I remember it. My oldest daughter Em, passed this test early on, probably around the age of 2. Soph, my on and off vegetarian, hasn't put much stock in the Rib Enforcement Act until recently.

When my parents were here we had ribs. The following is documentation of the REA when put into effect:

This is what I mean folks. This is true dedication to the art of rib eating. She makes her Gramp proud!

Monday, November 3, 2008

MMM- Get Your Guns UP!!

My most memorable moment, of course, came watching my alma mater Texas Tech beat No. 1 Texas on national television. We were actually supposed to be at the game in Lubbock, but due to some unforeseen circumstances were not able to go. All the girls were asleep before the 2nd half so it was probably a good thing we weren't there.

Before the game started we all said a prayer for the safety of the players, both teams to play thier best and above all good sportsmanship. This is a good way to start a game for two reasons: it teaches my children that we can pray for both sides (both are important in God's eyes) and the second reason is a purely selfish one. You see when the game starts I sort of turn into a crazy, umm.. avid fan. I've mellowed some over the years, but I still get very excited. So at times during the game you may see me with hands clinched saying a "Hail Mary". Or I may be uttering "Oh please God" over and over as I roll around on the floor. By praying before the game the children realize that praying and football go together. So when they see me raise my hands to the heaven above and ask for a "divine intervention" on a fourth down, they just respond by saying "Oh, mom's just praying again". See how that works?

I managed to scare Little One with my cheering. She'd look at me with such a startled look on her face like she wasn't sure if she should flee or start screaming. I would quickly reassure her by saying "Get your guns up". She would smile and wave her little "guns" in the air. Whew!

Needless to say we managed to be ahead the entire game until the last 1:29 seconds. Let me just say a quick "I'm so sorry honey" to WB. I believe he still has the bruises on his arm where I took a hold of him!

We declared Sunday Red and Black day here at Cotton-Top Hills. These pictures were taken before church.

That was my memorable moment for this Monday...what's yours?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Trunk or Treating

Last night we had a blast taking the girls trunk or treating at our friends church. They had tons of cars giving out candy, hay maze, hay rides and hot chocolate. We got so much candy the girls bags were not big enough. My dear friend Kendra had Soph dump her loot into her purse so Soph could continue getting you think we got enough?!!

One of the most exciting parts of the evening was when Kendra's hubby flew over and landed his helicopter right in the parking lot. He flies the Life Star helicopter for one of our hospitals. WB got a thrill by being able to fly back with him to the hospital. He loved it, even though he has his single engine pilots licence, he had to admit that at first it was a little unnerving. Because in the 'copter you sort of feel like you're just hanging out there in mid-air, unlike in the cabin of an airplane. But once they got going all was good and he thought it was awesome. Little One had a bit of a fit when her Daddy jumped in and the blades started turning. She let out a loud, "DAAAADDDYYYY". She watched with trepidation as it lifted off into the air and waved as it flew over head. But the whole way to the hospital to pick him up she kept calling for him until she finally fell asleep.

Soph dressed up as a genie in the costume my parents brought back from Turkey, and Little One as a Panda Bear.
Em as a "Mad Scientist", she was a genie earlier in the week, but you know we can't wear the same costume twice!

Little One in her Panda outfit.

The girls with our friends and the helicopter!