Thursday, January 31, 2008

Stop the Presses!!

I mean don't stop the presses. My first newspaper article is in there!! Yesterday our community newspaper came out and inside was an article written from me. Yep, little ole me and can you guess what it was about?.... Blogging! I had a similar article published a couple of months ago in the Women's Storycircle Journal, which then led to this opportunity. And one more little tidbit, I'm going to have my own COLUMN. Yes, little ole me. I will be writing about family life and the adventures there of. Okay, this isn't the Houston Chronicle, but it is our community paper that has just gotten off the ground. I'm excited because we need this to help draw us together, since we are a fairly spread out town. The focus is just that community, so stories don't get lost among the latest crime statistics and which big company just got a new CEO etc.

So for those of you who don't know I am an aspiring writer of sorts. I was this close to finishing my first novel (yes, it was a romance type) when two things happened. 1. I took over as Director of a school I dearly loved and 2. I found out (suprise) I was pregnant. Then of course we decided to move, etc. etc. Successful writers write through anything, above circumstances included. But I decided that to be a good mother I needed to take a break and focus on my family. So after a lot of praying I gave up my weekly critique groups, said good-bye to my Romance Writers Association, and stopped feeling guilty for giving up my dream of being a writer. I heard that voice, the one that you hear in your head, you do hear that voice too don't you? It said, "There is a time for everything. Don't lose faith." So for me, I knew that I was meant to stop working and stay at home to focus on my children and husband. I don't think I'll ever regret that decision.

I began to think I could do little things to keep my writing alive. A novel right now is out of the question, but short assignments I'm beginning to believe I can handle. First thing was this blog. Thanks to my friend Connie who introduced me to this world, it has been a wonderful opportunity for me and I love all the new friends I have met. Then, my mother-in-law, whose encouragement and support of my writing has led to many opportunities I probably wouldn't have had through our membership in Women's Storycircle. They are actually having a big conference this weekend in Austin, where I was asked to sit on the blog panel, but had to decline. Again, there will be time for that later.

This is a start. I'm slowly coming into my own and I'm excited to watch my writing evolve. I feel like all of these little things are helping me to find my "voice", writer's voice that is. And I feel truly blessed to have the support of my family and friends as I go through this!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Works For Me Wednesday... Drinking Water and Caffeine

Okay, I would rather have a soda than drink water. It is my weakness, I admit it!! But my dh and my very healthy, nutritionist sister try to keep me on the right track. Did you know that for every caffeine filled drink you have you need to have an equal amount of water to rehydrate your system and that is on top of the eight glasses or so of water you need!

So as far as the caffeine goes I drink caffeine-free Coke. (Not diet, don't get me started on that poison!!) I'm used to it after all my pregnancies and having to give up caffeine. I think the taste is fine. For coffee I drink either straight decaf or I mix half regular coffee beans with half of the decaf.

Now my trick with the water is this. I try to drink a full bottle as soon as I get up, before coffee, breakfast etc. It really helps me feel refreshed, especially if I've gotten a little dehydrated. We keep cold water bottles in our garage fridge so they are easy to grab. (we try to reuse or recycle the bottles for numerous crafts, but some do end up in the landfill, I'm sorry) My girls drink lots of water this way too, because there is no pouring or "please get me down a cup" asking. And with the water bottles I can keep track of how much I've had.

The trick for me is cold water and to drink it fairly fast. Plus, it helps to fill your tummy when you might be tempted to grab a salty snack instead (I would never do that...okay I would). Don't forget to drink plenty of water in the winter, you still need it even though you don't always feel like you do (I was channeling dh with that statement).

So there's my public health announcement for the day! For more great tips head over to Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer!

Monday, January 28, 2008

My First Award!

Connie at Smockity Frocks has nominated me for this award, it is my first! Thank you Connie I am honored.

Now the blogs I would like to pass this award to are as follows:

At Pat's Place - My mother-in-law has done a great job with entering the blogging world!

Cherished Moments

Buffaloes and Butterfly Wings ( I know Connie nominated you, but I second it!)

Exotic Eating

FarmGirl Fare

Family Blog With A Difference

Tiny Blessings

Happy Helms

Overwhelmed With Joy

Here are the rules for passing it on…By accepting this Excellent Blog Award, you have to award it to 10 more people who’s blog’s you find Excellent Award worthy. You can give it to as many people as you want but please award at least 10. Thank you out there for having such great blogs and being such great friends! You deserve this! Feel free to award people who have already been awarded…

It's a Giveaway!!


**The winner is The Dukes Family, congratulations. Thank you everyone for particpating! Since this was so successful I plan on giving away more in the future so check back!!

*Comments are now closed I will be posting the winner shortly.

Look what's going on this week... a giveaway carnival!! I am so excited to be joining in this time. Since I love pictures I am giving away a 30.00 gift card to Shutterfly. I love this site. You can make calenders, gift items, valentine cards, and even books. To enter just leave a comment below. A winner will be randomly picked on Saturday, Feb.2nd. My friends across the ocean are welcome to join. Just check back here on Saturday to see if you won!

My Memorable Moments Monday Post is up right before this entry, be sure to check it out:)

Oh, and if anyone could help explain to me how to get the button on my post I'd be so very tickled!! * Thank you Linda and Jen, it worked!!

Memorable Moments Monday

This weekend Em celebrated the Sacrament of Confirmation. She has been preparing for this since Baptism, but more specifically she has been studying intensely for the last couple of months. She passed her "interview" with our Priest last week. I am so proud of her. I did not go through this until I was in 8th grade. I still wish they would wait until the children are older, but the Church did not ask me, imagine that! Anyway, my sister, Kim came in to be her sponsor and we had a wonderful weekend. The girls were thrilled to have their aunt come stay for a couple of nights.

Here we all are!
How about you, do you have any memorable moments to share?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

And They Call Them Civil Servants...The Final Chapter

Okay, so here it is the end of my story.

So, the next morning I have Bible study and I decide that I will pick up letter from bank on the way to church. This will work out perfectly because the church is downtown near the tax office where I can swing by and talk with Lisa, whom I was promised would be there. Okay, truthfully in the back of my mind I knew it wouldn't be that simple, but I had hope. See, that's my optimistic, upbeat side shining through.

Yes, you guessed it. Upon calling my bank they had no idea what I was talking about. Apparently, the officer I talked to had neglected to leave a note to her boss about my predicament. So after much explaining I was told by this bank officer that she hadn't ever seen the fax of my check and would have to look for it. An hour later I call and ask if the letter is ready. I'm told she hasn't even had time to look for the fax. So I think my words were this, "I need the letter before lunch, so if the fax can not be found you need to call me so I can have them send another copy of the check. And this all needs to happen before lunch." It was almost 10:00 at that point. During Bible Study she calls to tell me she found the fax. I tell her I'm in a meeting (well, it was a meeting with my maker) and as soon as it was over I would be there to get the letter.

Cut to the chase. The letter wasn't ready when I arrived an hour later. Instead, I got to nurse Little One in bank lobby while waiting to be seen. Then I got to wait as she typed up the letter. I know you're impressed with what prompt service I get aren't you?

Back across town to tax office. Drive around for fifteen minutes looking for parking. (Did I mention it was nice and cold and windy during this ordeal?) Try door to tax assessor's office and it is locked. Really, I was not shocked, I mean would you have been? Wait in line where people renew their license. Ask for Lisa when it's my turn. I wait behind counter, sandwiched between two men renewing their license. I see handwritten sticky notes by Suzie on top of a copy of the letter I received on Lisa's desk. Dear Suzie had been so sweet to take everything down that I said so that my side of the story would be clear to Lisa who could never answer the phone.
Oh, I forgot to mention that I called after getting the letter from my bank and after numerous attempts to get Lisa to answer her phone the secretary told me, well she was here I don't know why she didn't pick up, but now she's gone to lunch.
Okay, when will she be back? I ask.
Okay, please leave a note telling her I will be there at 1:45 to resolve this and if that won't work to call me before I head across town.

Yes, Lisa was there. And I'm just glad I was wearing my inch high black boots because this gave me a little advantage over the towering Lisa. She had on headphones, that one may think was a phone, but we all know must be just a fancy headband that she uses to keep her hair tidy. She was a formidable woman in appearance. But Daddy didn't raise his daughter to cower, or Momma for that matter, so when she approached me I introduced myself and said, "You must be Lisa who I've never gotten to answer any of my calls."
No response. Took my papers and looked over them. Then began to stare over my right shoulder.
Finally Lisa speaks. "Well, Mr. Miller isn't here right now so I can't have this approved."
I'm sure the men on either side of me saw the steam as it escaped from my ears. I would like you to know that I did not scream, yell, or throw myself down on the floor and cry. I did however, raise my voice, just in case she was hard of hearing. After all, that high tech headband was stuck in one ear.
Apparently, my elected official goes to lunch whenever he pleases and no one knows when he will return. It was after two at this point. I guess my tax dollars pay for three hour lunches. So why didn't Lisa call and tell me, like I asked?
I'll spare you the details, but Lisa tried to play the game of I never heard of you until this morning when I had a note on my desk. She stepped all over it, and through it, until her shoes got stuck in it. Then she told me she was busy with customers yesterday. I reminded her I was a customer. Then she told me my letter was not proof of anything. I thought seriously, for half a second, of leaping over the counter and blasting her with one of the Tae Kwan Do moves I learned in college. But quickly decided that would not be showing unconditional love, like the scripture I read that morning.
As she made excuses and copies of all my papers I called hubby. Lisa was within earshot and so were two clerks on either side of me. I calmly ask my husband two things...does our lawyer want us to get a statement from tax man saying I was not at fault and two what was the name of tax office bank president and vice president and numbers? Because I would be speaking to them shortly. (This is called blowing smoke, something necessary when putting out the fires of the government)
Don't you know Lisa came back a little nicer and apologized for how busy she had been yesterday. If I'd just pay the original amount she would get approval of Mr. Tax Guy when he returned from lunch. I think my response was, "Fine."
Just so you know, I once again entertained the tired, the weary, the bored out of their minds, people who were waiting in line.
I did call my contact at the bank when I got to the car, but it was her work-out time, so she wasn't in her office.
An hour later I got a call from Lisa saying tax man approved my letter and they had talked to their bank and they had accepted responsibility. Never mind that I had specifically asked for tax man to call me himself. Never mind they could of called their back yesterday! Saturday I got a copy of the returned check in the mail, no note, no apology, still no actual proof that tax man works at his office. He will be getting a certified letter from me next week expressing my disappointment. Not that I hold out hope he will actually read it, but I feel it is my civil responsibility to question his dedication to his elected post.

So my last piece of advice is this: Don't expect customer service, if you get it feel lucky. And share your story, it always helps!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

I've been Tagged

I am interrupting my Civil Servant story because I've been tagged! My blogging friend Amy has tagged me and I'm supposed to tell you six things about myself you might not know so here it goes.

1. I have an intense fear of driving over high bridges. I suffer from many dreams where I'm driving along and suddenly the bridge breaks or stops mid-air and I plunge to the water below. I have now developed this fear when driving over those super high overpasses. You know the ones that converge in about ten overpasses stacked on top of each other. My hubby understands this fear, bless his heart, and will always go to the inside lane of the bridge to help alleviate my anxiety.

2. I find it difficult to breathe on crowded elevators. The fear is we will get stuck and there will be too many people trying to breathe my air! I fear getting stuck on an elevator, but I could handle it much better if there are only a couple people on it with me. Hmm, I'm starting to sound a little anxious aren't I?!!

3. I once went to confession (as a young child) and had a grumpy priest tell me I had better learn the order of things better before I came back. Yes, you can confess your sins badly apparently. Anyway, the whole thing scarred me and I now dread going to confession, in fact, I usually don't! Then at the same church, while having foot races with a group of kids in the parking lot with the priest, I actually won a race and I was so excited, I never win. This priest told me I cheated because I started before the whistle....the humiliation... and to this day I hate to run, in fact, I don't! (well, that is my excuse)

4. I see dead people. No, not really I just always wanted to say that:)

4. Okay, that last one didn't count so I'll try another. I am really a very upbeat, funny, and usually optimistic person. Did you all know that about me? Hubby is afraid I might sometimes come across as being very grumpy on this site and a complainer. He hopes you all can see through that and see the real me.

5. I love to be pampered. When I do get the chance to have pedicure( I discovered these not to long ago!) is so very relaxing and so is just having my hair done. Recently, hubby watched all three kids for a morning so I could drive to my old home town to have my hair done and some other maintenance. It was sheer bliss!!

6. I looovvveee fresh basil. The sweet smell wafting on the breeze as I brush past my plants in the garden. Ohhhh, some hand picked cherry tomatoes with torn basil drizzled with olive oil and a little sea salt. And if you really want to kick it up some fresh mozzarella. Heaven, I tell you, pure heaven.

7. Okay, I am adding an extra one since I started off a little grumpy, maybe hubby is right, shhh don't tell him! I love to work outside. Whether it's building a fence, digging up a flowerbed, or planting a garden. And if I can do this with my husband it's just pure joy. Actually, anything I do if I can do it with him makes it twice as fun:) (except shopping!)

Oh, I'm tagging my Aussie pal Sasha, my mother-in-law Pat, and MaddieLynn!

Friday, January 25, 2008

And They Call Them Civil Servants...Part 2

So here it is the continuing saga of my brush with the County Tax Assessors Office...

My first instinct upon opening this letter was to, well blame my husband. Okay, yeah I know so not nice to assume it was Mr. February's fault. But he was the one who went into town to write the check for the license renewal. I thought maybe he had written it out to the wrong people, hence the REFER TO MAKER statement. So I immediately picked up the phone to call him at work while I sat in the Post Office parking lot. He answered his phone and was as perplexed as I was about the whole thing. He got online looked at our banking account and saw that this check never went through our bank. There was no sign of it. Strange. I quickly hung up and called my bank determined to get to the bottom of this.

Do you get to talk to real live people on the phone at your bank? I might be able to after running through a maze of press 1 now, now press 2, now press 1 again, do the hokey poky and turn yourself around etc. Then I get put on hold for an indefinite amount of time waiting for a breathing being to actually pick up and help me. Today I was not about to go through these hoops so after a call and being put on hold I drove to my nearest banking office. Little One was getting antsy and I needed to get this solved quickly.

Advice #3: Don't ever think that you can get things solved quickly, especially when banks and government agencies are involved.

On the drive over to bank I call the tax office. Talk to a lovely lady named Suzie. I tell her about the letter and she asks, "What does refer to maker mean?" I tell her I was hoping she could tell me since it came from her office. She sweetly told me that the guy who handles this paperwork was gone today and she would have to try to find it. Didn't my bank know anything, she asked. I told her I was working on it and would call her back. At my bank the nice clerk behind the counter tried to help, since the bank officers were busy. She said the check never got to them. That "refer to maker" can mean many things. She thought maybe my check got piggybacked (sounds like fun doesn't it) onto someone else's and therefore never reached it's destination. Who knew checks could have such adventures!
Back to the car with now fussy baby. As I sit in the bank parking lot I nurse Little One as I call Suzie back. Okay, now at this point I naively assumed the tax office would now pick up the slack and investigate things from their end a little. Yes, yes I know WHAT was I thinking? Sweet Suzie tells me she found the paperwork and a photocopy of my check. It has a competitors bank's stamp on it but not mine. Ahhh, now we're getting somewhere. Again naive me thinks this is the proof it never made it to my bank. Suzie informs me that her supervisor Lisa told her I would need to get a letter from the bank stating the check never came through. So back into the bank I go. I wait for an officer, tell her the situation and wait patiently as she calls the same number I did for my bank's customer service line and we sit for ten minutes on hold. Really, I swear. My bank officers have to call the same number I do to try to get help, now doesn't that beat all! Anyway, they say the same thing, never saw the check. Now I have to get a copy of the copy to my bank in order for them to determine what happened to be able to write a letter. I'm beginning to feel as if I'm playing some never ending game of duck, duck, goose.
Back out to the car. Call Suzie. At this point she tells me that Lisa says the stamp on the check is from their bank and all their checks go there so that doesn't prove a thing! Please fax check to bank. "I'm not sure I can do that. I will have to ask Lisa and she is out to lunch." (later I will surmise that Lisa is always out to lunch even when she is at her office.) Okay, Suzie here is my number you call me if it can't be faxed and I will drive across town and pick it up myself.
At 4:40 I get a call from the bank. (This is a good 4 hours later) They got the fax and the encryption number that their bank put on my check was one number off, therefore sending my check to some random account to collect payment. So my bank and account never saw this naughty little, adventure seeking check!
I have to pause here and tell you that this other bank is well known to me. My husband's grandmother has banked there for probably half a century, and now his mother does, and all three of our girls have a trust set up at this bank. They are good people and I'm sure if the tax office at this point would have called them to see if what I said happened to the check was what happened they would have verified it and quickly taken responsibility. Ahh, but then what would we do with all that red tape! I've come up with a few ideas, but this is a family site and I shall not share the details....

I ask my bank to type up a letter for me so I can pick it up tomorrow and take to the tax assessor's office. And guess what? The lady I'm working with won't be there tomorrow but she promised her boss would have the letter ready for me. Just call in the morning, because yes, her supervisor was not there at the moment. I immediatly call tax office tell Suzie about encryption problem, giving them yet another opportunity to call their bank for verification. Instead she tells me I still need the letter and cash or cashiers check. At this point my composure begins to slip a little. But it wasn't my fault, my checks are not bad, now you want me to go out of my way to get cashier's check?!1 She asks if I would like to speak to Lisa. Well,yes that would be nice! She puts me on hold, not the press a button hold, but the hold where I can hear her whispering to Lisa. Yes, she''ll bring a letter.. yes, yes, okay...silence...wait a few more minutes...Suzie comes back on the line to inform me that I need to bring cash and letter. Lisa can't even get on the phone and talk to me herself. Composure slips another notch and I unleash on poor Suzie. She stammers, buuutttt it's not our fault it's between the banks. Deep breath, yes Suzie but it's not my fault either. I thank you for your help, I know you've done all you can do but rest assured I will be speaking with your bank and with Lisa tomorrow. So you tell me when whoever I need to speak too to get this improved will be there tomorrow because I will not make more than one trip to your office...

advice #4 Never assume that people in supervisor roles will step up and take responsibiblity or for that matter even care. Some do, but most are out to lunch.

I hate to do this to you, but the next day's experiences need to be relished, digested, taken in and pondered so this will have to be concluded tomorrow. Can you imagine what I encounter at my bank the next day? What happens when I finally come face to face with Lisa? Do I ever get to speak to my elected official, l the tax assessor?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

And They Call Them Civil Servants...Part 1

I've been lost in bureaucratic red tape for the last couple of days. No, let me rephrase that, I have been tied up, tangled, dragged around town, in red tape for two days. I will share a little bit of my story with you for two reasons- pure entertainment value and two to help give some helpful advice along the way.

It all started with a notice in my mail box that I had a certified letter waiting for me at the post office. Unfortunately, this notice didn't arrive until late Saturday afternoon, too late for me to go to the Post Office in town to pick it up. I have issues with this, but that will have to wait for another day. So Tuesday, since Monday was a holiday, I go to the Post Office. The line is out the door giving me visions of Christmas all over again. But not to worry because there is a special little door that has a buzzer I can ring for people who just need to pick up mail. I look pityingly at the long line of people waiting for the three open windows as I set baby in carrier down by the door. I ring the buzzer and wait. Oh, you know what comes next don't you? I wait for a good ten minutes, while practicing my relaxation breathing techniques. Finally, I ask the Post Office employee working the window next to the door if anyone is working here. She looks at me expressionless and because of my remarkable ability to read lips I'm able to make out her mumbled response before she goes back to ignoring me..."Oh, probably not. We don't have enough workers I guess." I double check the hours on the door, yes they should be open.
Now here is my first piece of advice: Don't go to the Post Office after a holiday weekend and don't believe any hours they post.

So I got to the back of the line, that now only had two postal workers working (I'm assuming one went to lunch) and waited with baby for twenty minutes. Little One and I entertained the folks in line and I felt like I had done my civic duty with this, but the jury was still out on the civil servants behind the counter.

Back out to the car and opening the letter I find it is a letter from the county's tax assessor. It reads as such:
Dear Mr. and Mrs. *********:
Your check # **** issued on 12/28/07 for the amount of 52.80 has been returned to this office by your bank (remember the your bank part because this is a false statement to be discovered later due to my stealthy investigating skills) due to REFER TO MAKER. (What does that mean? Later we will discover it is code for "no one has a clue".)
This check was for automobile license fee for tag/plate number ****** registered to you.
This check must be redeemed with CASH, MONEY ORDER OR CASHIER'S CHECK. YOUR PERSONAL CHECK WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED. (this was all underlined because clearly the all caps may not have gotten my attention) Additionally, a service charge of $25.00 must be paid at time of redemption of your dishonored (I have brought shame to my family) check.
If you have not redeemed your check within ten (10) days from the date of this letter, the County Sheriff, Highway Patrol or Police (what about the bounty hunters, FBI, National Reserve, Militia Men) will be requested (now how would that request go exactly) to apprehend your vehicle, remove and return the tag/plate to this office. (Does that mean they will come cuff my vehicle and strip it of it's tags and plates right out in the open where everyone can see? Poor, poor car, the humiliation!)
If you have any questions regarding this letter please feel free to contact our office at #***-****.

****** ******* (actually signed)

(then a handwritten for before:) ******* ******(actual typed name)
Tax Assessor-Collector

Now this is important because this man, my elected official, didn't actually sign this letter. Someone else in his office did, then hand wrote for before my actual tax collector's name. This is what we might call foreshadowing.

One important tidbit to share here is this: we had more than enough money in our account to cover this check. And as most of you probably have, our savings account is attached to our checking to cover anything that may go through when there isn't enough. So unless I go out write a check for that new Lexus sedan my husband has been admiring, we should never bounce a check!

So second piece of advice: Don't assume ,because you actually have money in your account, that you can just write checks and they will be honored. What a silly, silly idea!
Check in tomorrow to see what Kara does next...Will her car be snatched from her driveway? Will anyone be able to give her the definition of REFER TO MAKER? Will the tax assessor collector ever answer his phone or return from two hour golf games, urr, I mean lunches? Find out tomorrow!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Memorable Moments Monday

This week has been full of memorable moments, some not so pleasant, so I ask myself should MMM be just happy moments are should we include the more challenging ones? Life is made up of all kinds of moments, so I've concluded that MMM can showcase some of my more down and out moments. But the optimist in me wants to always try to end things on an upbeat note so for this MMM I'll start off with a down moment and end with a happy one!

Many of my not so happy moments have occurred recently with my five year old. This sweet, sweet child, who gave up her being the youngest status when Little One was born. This year she has been plagued with sickness and it has made the school year very difficult. Now that her tonsils are out we hope to turn the corner with her health, but before she was able to get on her feet she came down with stomach virus. Needless to say, she really has a hard time going to school. She seems to think it is a form of torture that I put her through by making her go. So this morning instead of getting out of the car with her sister in the carpool line she refused to budge. I, having not had the chance to brush my teeth this morning not to mention the subfreezing temperatures that I didn't want to drag the baby out into, told her I was not going to get out of the car and walk her in. Here begins the battle of wills, we do this often. So I pulled up out of the way of the line of cars, went around to her door, dragged her out and to the door. I tried to get her to give me a hug and kiss and whispered something like you don't want to be embarrassed in front of everybody by me dragging you into school. Her feet seemed to be made of concrete as we stood struggling in the threshold of the entryway. Finally, I pried her fingers off my arms long enough to give her a gentle push into the building and quickly closed the door and ran, I mean walked away. I did sneak a peak at her through the window as she hesitantly walked towards her classmates. She was wiping her face and I knew there were tears and it took every ounce of strength I had to let her go. Instead of running after her I said a quick prayer that God would watch over her and that she would know how much her mother loves her. Then I jumped into my car, soothed the screaming Little One, and drove home.
That's my I'd rather forget moment.

Now for a little happiness. Yesterday, Little One at full speed crawled on hands and knees across the floor! She has been doing the sit on rear, lean as far forward as possible and maybe scoot her bottom a couple inches before sitting back up move. This usually gets her from point A to point B, but it takes the better point of an hour. And who are we kidding she never stays interested in playing on the floor for more than ten minutes at a time. Yesterday, Em had a toy she wanted and without even hesitating she got up on all fours and took off. Yes, she just took off. Crawled for a good six feet without stopping....We're moving now!!

So what's your memorable moment?

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Sickness Has Invaded

Remind me to tell you sometime about the ordeal I endured yesterday taking my 5 year old to the doctor and having labwork done. Remind me to tell you about how I thought things could only get better after a day like that. Remind me after I get finished cleaning up the third set of sheets from my now ill 5 year old. Remind me to tell you after I get rid of this hammer inside of me head that is pounding my skull. Remind me to tell you after I finish dragging myself around the house after my seven year old who is still terrified to go into a room without someone with her. Yes, remind me...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Works For Me Wednesday...Puzzle Storage

Around here we like to do lots of puzzles. My seven year old and five year old love to take out a puzzle and work on if for a few days. We really like the big 300 or more pieces puzzles, which come in good size boxes usually. Like many, we are a little short of storage space for all of our kiddos games, toys, etc. So I am in the process of scanning on my printer (or you could photocopy) the picture on the front box of each puzzle. Then I'm putting all the puzzle pieces in a large Ziploc bag along with the picture of the puzzle. Next, I'm going to store them in a plastic storage container so they are kept all together. Not only is this saving space and it helping us not to loose our puzzle pieces!

For more tips head on over to Rocks In My Dryer!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mr. February

My Mr. February

Well, he made the calendar. Um, the family calendar that is. My sister-in-law put together a wonderful calendar for everyone this year. I submitted this photo of hubby, because well it is screaming "please put me in a calendar". This was taken on our trip to Vegas at the Venus pool at Caesar's. I heard rumors that on Christmas morning at my in-laws house, where most of the family was gathered, that it was told that he submitted this photo. Not true, little ole me did. I managed to send in pictures of everyone except myself. I'm sure hubby will rectify that next year when the call for photos goes out. Oh boy, I better start editing and deleting those snapshots of me.

And this is "the look". The one he is probably
giving me right now as he reads this post.
Ahh, but look at those big, brown eyes!

*okay, I have no idea how to get rid of that big empty frame. I did something in photoshop I guess that put it there. Now, I'm really going to get the look from hubby!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Memorable Moments Monday

Soph got a camera for Christmas. A cheap, digital camera that has fueled her love of photography. Some may wonder what pictures a five-year-old might take, so here it is!

There it is, a sampling of my five year old girl's photography skills. So sweet:)
Do you have a Memorable Moment to share on this wonderful Monday morning?!!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Road That Led Me To My Man... Part 3

That night I met up with Lisa and some of her friends to head over to the local hangout. It was a bar/Laundromat. I figured some college student came up with that gold mine of an idea. I couldn't help but be excited about possibly seeing Wrangler boy. I had convinced myself I was interested in him on an intellectual level only. Yes, I practiced that phrase in front of my mirror many times as I took great pains in getting ready for the evening. As it turned out, one of Lisa's friends had a huge crush on Wrangler boy. She just happened to also be petite and blond, I was beginning to see a pattern here. So it was a good thing I was only interested in him intellectually because I lived in strict accordance to the Girl Handbook and clearly rule number 37 states "whoever sees him first has first dibs". I breathed a sigh of relief because obviously someone from high above was making sure my path was free and clear of distractions. Full speed ahead.

An hour later I suffered whiplash. Seems my full speed ahead hit a roadblock when blondie realized that Wrangler boy had no interest in her. She unfortunately had a bad evening. She was a really sweet girl, trying very hard to get WB's attention. But when you are at a bar with alcohol and well meaning friends are involved and the boy you have a crush on things can get ugly. You do things you normally wouldn't do. I think we've all been there! I tell this part of the story because this is when I realized WB was really just a good guy. He knew she had a thing for him and although he was polite and friendly tried to separate himself from her all evening. Later, he never talked about what happened that evening. In fact, he did whatever he could to keep people from talking about it. He just said things like , "There is a better guy out there for her than me." It was sweet and endearing.

All evening I talked and he listened. He talked and I fell a little more under his spell. He was like no other guy I knew. His voice was quiet and strong. His humor was subtle, his faith strong, and he was really smart in a non-boring way. So by the time he deftly folded the bar napkin sitting in front of me into a rose and handed it to me I was a goner. Whiplash, on my road to no distractions.

To make a long story short it took a couple more group meetings before we had our first date. I could go on and on about all the fun we had. Our first plane ride with him at the wheel, driving in his jeep, football games, the list goes on and on. But this is what I soon discovered. He was not a roadblock for me. He was along for the ride. He never kept me from my studies, never discouraged me from doing my own thing. We went to church together, prayed together, staffed retreats together and learned to be better people together. We were on the same path.

A year and a half later he slipped an almost perfect heart- shaped diamond on my left hand. We've experienced some bumps along the way, who doesn't, but in the end we're always right there hand and hand as God leads as down this road of life.

(Love you honey, and yes, I know other people are going to read this!)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Works For Me Wednesday Backwards Addition

I'm taking another little break from posting my Love Story Part 3 to join in WFMW Backwards Edition. This is where we ask the question and all you helpful bloggers get to chime in with your answers.

So here's my question ...How do you tell your kids to deal with bullies? They are not always the big, scary kids, sometimes they are the petite, my mom curls my hair every morning and irons my designer dress, and I'm just five variety. We know both kinds around here.

I can't wait to hear your tips!

For more go to Rocks In My Dryer.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Road That Led Me To My Man - Part 2

Okay, here is my second installment of my love story. You know this is stretching into a longer story than I thought. I promise though that I will finish it this week, really, pinkie swear!
I was so happy. I was so excited to have finally "found" my place. Since the semester was winding down the Catholic Student Association planned a picnic at the Recreation field on campus. As I put on my jean shorts, the ones with the Dirty Dancing inspired rolled up cuffs, I thought about all the new friendships I had made since the retreat. I looked forward to seeing my new friends and meeting even more as I drove to campus. I scanned the field looking for someone I knew and instantly spotted Lisa. She was tall and lanky with long curly hair and the sweetest Texas twang. She was the daughter of a cotton farmer and had grown up near Tech. Her cousin, Russell, (well, actually they were second cousins or something like that) I had also met on the retreat and he and I had become fast friends. Laughing, we gathered up food on our paper plates and found a place to sit. It always amazed me how you can meet some people and just instantly be able to talk about anything. It's just comfortable and easy. I was so thankful that Lisa and Russell were that way, I believed God was smiling down on me. And probably saying something like "it's about time you wayward child!"

After we stuffed our faces with hot dogs and potato chips I wandered out onto the playground to visit with some other people I recognized. A group of girls were standing around chatting and there in the middle of the fray was Wrangler boy, but he was wearing shorts and tennis shoes that day. Even though I still found him attractive I knew his type and therefore felt no pressure to impress him in any way. The conversation veered off toward military planes. Really, I have no idea how. One minute we were talking about our favorite flavor of potato chips and the next minute we were discussing the cruising altitude of the B-1 bomber. Thanks to my Dad and his love of military air shows, I was well versed on the abilities and names of various fighter jets and helicopters. I had even believed when I was young that I would one day fly an F-15 . I totally overlooked the fact that at that time women were not allowed to fly these aircraft and that because of bad ears my equilibrium was shot and I would probably spend my entire time in the air sicker than a dog. This of course never registered on my pre-pubescent mind. But it came in handy in this conversation. Slowly, the others drifted off and Wrangler boy and I were alone discussing the advantages of the Apache helicopter.
As we talked I couldn't help but notice his big, brown eyes. I shook my head and squinted, trying to blur his face out of focus so I wouldn't become distracted. I am a sucker for big, brown eyes. Like those you find on the face of a Jersey cow. Not that he resembled a cow, it's just those eyes. Let's just say they are a distraction for me. I'm sure by the end of our conversation he thought I either had a tick or needed glasses with all the squinting I was doing. But as I left he followed me to my car and asked if I would be going to the local hangout that night and I said yes and he said he'd see me there. My heart did a little flutter, which I accounted to my long walk to the car and not to Wrangler boy and his big brown eyes.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Memorable Moments Monday

I am interrupting the continuation of my love story for my weekly MMM. Not to worry, I know you're hanging on the edge of your seats, I will continue Part 2 of The Road That Led Me To My Man tomorrow.

Last Monday when Soph had her tonsils out she woke up from surgery having a histamine release. When we walked in the room her face was all red and splotchy and her eyes were red. She was in pain and upset. As a parent I felt helpless and hated watching her in agony. This went on for a good hour. The nurse wanted her to take pain meds, drink fluids etc., Soph didn't want anyone to touch her or look at her. She cried for her little sister, then she cried for her Gram. Each one came in and gave her a little comfort before she went back to being miserable. Her IV bothered her, her oxygen monitor on her toe annoyed her and she was mad! Slowly, she came around. She ate Popsicles and even drank a little. The splotches on her face began to fade and she didn't look so angry. While eating a Popsicle I heard a tiny squeak come from her mouth.
"Mom" she whispered looking worried, "my burps are gone."
"Did they take your burps out with your tonsils?" I questioned looking concerned.
She nodded yes.
"Uh oh." I turned to her Dad and told him our dilemma.
"What they took your burps? We've got to go get them back!"
A small smile quivered on Soph's lips and I took my first deep sigh of relief. There's my girl, she's coming back.
Hubby promptly told the nurse that Soph's burps must have been taken with her tonsils and she was worried. Smiling the nurse left and a while later came back with a little plastic tub and on the lid in black ink was written Soph's Burps. She held onto that tub and after a little Sprite she found her burps were back!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Road That Led Me To My Man...Part 1

Okay folks, here it is, my love story. Even though Pioneer Woman had the same idea for her blog and has entertained some 25,000 readers for nearly a year, I have no such plans. I would hate to put my half a dozen readers to sleep. But I do believe that what she feels for her Marlboro Man is much like what I feel for my man. So in honor of our eleven years together here it goes. I'm sure I'll embarrass my hubby with this, yes it will be torture for him to read...yet he's used to it! Plus, it helps that probably only six people will actually read this post, that should help keep the horror at a minimum:)

So this love story began when I eyed his cute little rear in a pair of snug fitting Wranglers across the room. I thought to myself, "what a cute tushy attached to such a nice looking guy". Then my mind immediately drifted back to the group around me and the letters I held in my lap from many people known and unknown to myself that had been praying for me all weekend. It was the last day of the weekend long retreat I had attended while at college. And to be perfectly honest I had sworn off men and all things that distracted me from my college education, this retreat was a cleansing of sorts. It was what I call "my come to Jesus" moment.

Somewhere along the line, probably somewhere between the sleeping in instead of going to my 8:00 classes to the late night parties at frat houses, I had taken a detour on my road to higher education. It was a detour that yanked me back home for a year of going to community college and getting what my parents affectionately termed "a break to get it together". Well, I was back on the big campus ten hours from home and I knew that if I didn't get "it" together this time I would end up living with my parents and working at the grocery deli for the rest of my life. So after a semester of floundering I knew where I had to go to get "it" together... church. And going to church wasn't going to cut it, I needed to get involved in church again, I needed to surround myself with like minded individuals with my same values. Anyway, this retreat was a step in that direction and I knew it would put me in contact not only with God, but students who were searching for some of the same answers I was.

I had to tell you all that for you to understand that while I appreciated my hubby's cute tushy and how sexy he looked in his cowboy boots, I didn't give it more than a seconds thought. I was on a mission, I had given everything up to God and was allowing him to guide me from this point forward. I was letting go, giving up control, and that was going to take every ounce of strength I had. No DISTRACTIONS on this path to being whole. I'm happy to report that lasted one whole week!

As we gathered at the Catholic Student Center for Fourth Day, after the retreat everyone meet for a night of fellowship once a week symbolizing the "fourth" day of the retreat, I recognized Wrangler boy. And I have to be honest, I was distracted for a good 60 seconds. But 60 seconds was all it took for me to realize he was not the one for me. I knew this because he was flirting with a very petite blond, who just happened to be a, gasp, cheerleader for Tech. I immediately knew that I was not his type nor was he mine. Why? Because a. I was more likely to put on a jersey and play the game than jump up and down on the sidelines looking pretty, b. I am not blond, c. I was a good eight inches taller than the object of his affection, and d. I am not blond (that stands repeating)! I smiled, glad to know that Wrangler boy would not be a distraction, and enjoyed my night of fun and fellowship. I was staying on my intended track, without distractions.

That is until two weeks later when our paths collided and my knowledge of military aircraft gained his attention...

To be continued

Friday, January 4, 2008

11 Years And Counting...

Today hubby and I are celebrating our eleven year anniversary. Look at those two very young kids! We thought we knew it all, boy how wrong we were. I'm working on an anniversary tribute to my hubby, but with all the craziness around here might not get it posted today. But I just wanted to say Happy Anniversary to my hubby - I love you!