Friday, December 23, 2011

The Grinch Kicked The Elf Off The Shelf

Everyone seems to have an Elf that hides somewhere on a shelf, watching over the children at Christmas and reminding them that they are being watched. "You better behave. It's almost Christmas and the Elf is watching." I'm sure it works in most households. There are two thoughts that ran through my head when watching the Elf on a Shelf frenzy. One, who is the marketing genius behind this little pointy eared doll that has people paying 29.99 to threaten their children with good behavior, and two, would it work in my house? I don't have the answer to the first question, but I got my answer a few weeks ago to the second.

My four year old daughter got glimpse of an Elf on a shelf in a store.

Pointing, "What's that doll with the pointy ears?"

"That's an Elf", I replied.

"Oh, why is he way up there on the shelf and not at the North Pole with Santa?"

"Um, well," I realized this was my shot to put the Elf on the Shelf idea to work. "He's here to watch and make sure you are being good. If you're not, he'll report back to Santa." I watch closely for a reaction on her sweet chunky face.

"But it's a doll."

Okay, time to change tactics. "Maybe it is just there to remind you that Santa is watching and you need to behave."

"Oh, well that's creepy." She makes a face at the doll and quickly turns her back to it.

Creepy, not exactly the message I believe the creators of Elf on a Shelf were going for.  Which got me to thinking what do I want my children to remember at Christmas time beside the birth of Jesus? I realized I didn't  have any desire to have them behave only because "Santa is watching" or "You don't want to be put on the naughty list". But believe me, I've used both of those phrases many times in my 12 years of being a parent. I'm trying to evolve a little in my parenting skills as I get older. I want them to embrace the spirit of Christmas, for them to enjoy giving and celebrating this beautiful season in which God gave us His only Son. I want them to realize that gifts and Santa, and Christmas decorations are just part of the celebration, but that there is much more.

For children, a little reminder each day helps them. Which is why Elf On A Shelf, I believe is so popular. It is an easy thing to point to and say "Remember". But, I already realized the  creepy Elf was not going to cut it at my house. But I knew who would. Someone whom they recognized. Someone that they knew was naughty at times and made mistakes, but that in the end realized what Christmas was truly all about.

And so Grinch On A Bench has been born. He reminds us not only of what not to be, but also of how we should be. Of what the Christmas spirit is. And remarkably, this is not creepy to my 4 year old daughter at all, but she's a lot like Cindy Lou Who. Aren't most children?

So Merry Christmas to you all and may the spirit of Christmas reside in your heart for always.


PS. My quote from Wednesday's post  was from Truman Capote's Christmas Memory. If you have never read it I highly recommend it!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Favorite Christmas Book Quotes

 

 

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(if you click on the picture you will have a coloring page to print out, that’s the teacher in me coming out!)

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?

I have many favorite Christmas stories that I remember reading or being read to as a child. I love Dr. Seuss. My mom read his books to me as a young child, I wobbled through them as I began to read, and now as an adult many days I wake up and need to read one of his many important and simple statements to get me through the morning. The above quote was from his book How The Grinch Stole Christmas, but you probably already knew that.

Another favorite story I read in school, probably when I was in 6th grade. This story would stick with me for years. I would forget who authored it, until years later during a college literature class. Then I would read this authors work, read about his childhood and read about his adult life. I remember being in awe of such an amazing literary figure, while mourning the tragedies this author faced in his life. I reread his Christmas story as an adult, and realized that the tragedy and sadness were there, even as a child, but he had managed to overcome it and find happiness. Something I don’t think he was able to do as an adult. The last line of the story alludes to this sadness, but there was still a sense of hope:

"And when that happens, I know it. A message saying so merely confirms a piece of news some secret vein had already received, severing me from an irreplaceable part of myself, letting it loose like a kite string. That is why, walking across a school campus on this particular December morning, I keep searching the sky. As if I expected to see, rather like hearts, a lost pair of kites hurrying towards heaven."

Can you guess this favorite Christmas story and author? If no one gets it I’ll share on Friday, but I bet you all know. What are some of your favorite Christmas stories?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dear 17 Year Old Me, You Are A Late Bloomer And It’s Okay

You know that song by Brad Paisley, Letter to Me? He talks about sending a letter to his 17 year old self where he gives advice and tries to guide him on the ways of the world. I love that song, mostly because I’ve often thought, “If I could tell my teenage self what I know now, life could have been so much easier.”

Dear 17 year old me,

It’s your Senior year, have fun, but keep working hard. You’re going to need some discipline to get through your first year of college. That darn Algebra II is going to haunt you for years to come.
When you go for your Senior pictures, dump the frumpy frock and the serious face, and while you’re at it the huge bangs. Yeah, it’s the style, but in 10 years when it is on your name badge at your high school reunion you will thank me.

That guy you’ve had a crush on forever, he’s a good guy. Many years later you’ll see each other, you’ll talk, you’ll be friends, and you’ll realize that you never really wanted to date him. He was a nice distraction, so don’t waste time pining away after him. There is plenty else to be done with your time!

Some day soon you are going to meet the guy that finally believes your freckles are sexy, not cute. Do me a favor, believe him the first time he tells you that and don’t keep doubting it for say half a dozen years.
In the meantime, you are going to meet some duds. Some will treat you terrible, others will put you up on a pedestal so high you are in constant fear of toppling off. I wish I could tell you to skip over them. Don’t. But I can tell you you will survive. The hurt will be worth it, trust me.

The close friends you make in high school, you all will go separate ways, then reunite, then get busy with life. But the good news is they will always be there for you, they are never too far away. You will catch up on the phone or text or Facebook. You don’t know about texting or Facebooking yet and I don’t want to give anything away. Just remember that, okay?

Hug your family and tell them how much you love them, especially your Nano and Dado. Some day you’ll be really far away from them and some day some of them will be gone. You thought you had forever, but forever wasn’t nearly long enough.

Your best friend, she’s going to need you like never before. Stay strong, but don’t be afraid. Have faith, faith in God’s plan and don’t try to make things better when you can’t. Just be there and know that is enough.

Don’t let the “it” girls define you. You know those few who continue to look down their noses at you, squint and say “What’s your name again?” Even though you’ve been going to school and sitting by them in class for the last 4 years. Their mission seems to be humiliation and even though you’re tough, it hurts. Let me tell you something. In ten years you will see them some will have gained 30 pounds and are single. You’ll be sitting next to your hunky husband with a precious 6 month old waiting for you at home. They’ll still ignore you, but you won’t care in the least.

And lastly, here’s the thing, you are a late bloomer. A really late bloomer, and it’s okay. I know you think that your 17 year old self is all you’ve got, but you’re wrong. You’ll bloom, it’s just going to take a few years. You’re going to get comfortable in your skin and then watch out world.  Really, you will. The thing is, in order for you to bloom you have to grow, and right now you still have a lot of growing to do.
Keep laughing and being protective of the ones you love. Keep sighing over that crush from a distance. Keep going to all those football and basketball games and cheering from the bleachers with your friends. Your best years are yet to come. But being 17, you never get that back. Make great memories and enjoy life. It seems to fly by!
Love,
Your 39 year old self

What would you tell your 17 year old self?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

When The Holiday Crush Leaves You Smooshed

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I really do love this time of year. Really. The hustle and bustle of all the Christmas activities, not to mention my husband and I both celebrate a birthday during December. Mine at the beginning, his at the end. It’s a month of celebrations. It’s a month of joyous reflections.

There is always a frenzy of activities going on in our kitchen as we spend hours baking bourbon balls, toffee, Mexican Wedding cookies and Lebkuchen. Powdered sugar and smears of chocolate can be found from countertop to ceiling to the tip of my 4 year olds nose. But, we hurry to clean it all up so we can race to one of the many holiday parties our treats are needed for.

Later, we find ourselves scouring the wish lists of our loved ones as we set out on a shopping expedition. We get crushed in the crowds of others, all looking for that elusive gift. We rush home to yards of wrapping paper and make pretty crooked Christmas bows. Some get boxed up and sent to the post office, at the last moment, to wait in the incredibly long line of other procrastinators. The holiday cheer is usually felt in abundance in these long lines of people juggling packages and tired children.

At home are tangled Christmas lights, a tree struggling with the weight of all the ornaments the sweet 4 year old has hung on one branch, and a fireplace that is undergoing a remodel. A remodel that stretches to my sunrooms floor. Ahh, the spirit of Christmas.

It is a month of anticipation. A month of glad tidings. It is a month that will leave you feeling smooshed under the weight of all that holiday cheer if you’re not careful.

You need to remember to just sit in front of a roaring fire and put your feet up. Listen to your favorite holiday music, or better yet snuggle down with a good story. Which I did by the way, yesterday in fact, while the boxes of unpacked Christmas d├ęcor waited nearby. It gave me all those warm fuzzies the Christmas season is supposed to leave you with. It inflated my smooshed spirit. And thanks to my friend, Emily  Ann Benedict, you can download her story as well, for free! It’s titled Father Christmas. Do yourself a favor and give yourself a treat. Cozy up to the fire with this heart warming tale, that is sure to put the Christmas spirit back into your tired, worn out body.

Download here to inflate your sagging Christmas energy.

What do you do to help keep your holiday spirit from sagging?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Johnny Cash And Thanksgiving Blessings

Most of us will be giving thanks tomorrow for the many blessings in our lives as we sit around the table with family. I’m blessed to be sitting at that table with my whole family. My Dad and sister will be among the many gathered. Growing up my Dad would blast music, usually country, from the kitchen radio as we cooked and prepared our meal. We’d use spoons as microphones and when my Dad belted out the latest Johnny Cash song, my sister and I would add the background vocals as we danced around. My mom could cook through anything, even our crazy antics. She’d smile and laugh at us and never once tell us we were too loud or silly. I have great memories of being in the kitchen with family, and of listening to Johnny Cash. So I thought it was appropriate to share this video as I wish everyone a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Prince Charming Is Not Dead, Just Hiding Under Some Warty Skin

 

Happily Ever After. The words made me swoon every time as a child. I loved any story that started with Once upon a time, and ended with Happily ever after. Handsome royalty swept in to save the day on white horses and toads turned to princes with a kiss. My mom would see the glazed look I got in my eye after reading one of these stories and she would tell me, “You know, love is not like that”. But I pushed those words away and went off in search of my prince.

First, I need to let you in on a secret. I’ve kissed a few toads, and after waiting for way too long, I realized they were really just toads. That’s okay, because they informed me I was no princess. Guess, it wasn’t meant to be.

I’m going to skip to the end of my story and tell you I found my prince. I didn’t want to keep you in suspense. I couldn’t’ do that, I’m a romance writer. I came to realize, finally, that  Prince Charming is not dead, but just hiding under some warty skin. I also came to realize that I really am not the perfect princess either. So a flawed princess and a warty Prince Charming seem to be the perfect match in my book.

Having said all that I’d like to share a few toad kissing tips I learned along the way. If you’re still searching you might find them helpful.

Tip 1- When finding toads look in places that interest you. The toad at the bottom of the dumpster might not be your cup of tea, try the library instead.

Tip 2- If you find your toad sticks around even when say, you’re looking like the wicked witch of the west, he deserves a chance at a kiss.

Tip 3- If  you find yourself talking non-stop about anything and everything to your toad and he doesn’t hop away, again, probably a keeper.

Tip 4- If  your toad has the ability to catch his own flies and isn’t still residing in the dugout of his parents, this bodes well for the ability of this toad to turn into a prince.

Tip 5- If your toad is always up in your face trying to  convince you what a great catch he is, he probably is, for a toad.

Tip 6- If you ever find a toad that tries to cover up his warts, keep on walking. You want a toad that can admit he has a few warts, don’t we all?

The bottom line is this, none of us are perfect and there is no perfect love. But we all deserve to be swept off our feet, just realize the person doing the sweeping isn’t some perfect Prince Charming. He’s just some guy, trying really hard to make you happy. To love you the best way he knows how. And sometimes he’ll turn back into that toad for brief moments. The true test is, does he remain a toad or with a sweet kiss does he become that prince again?

As a writer I try to make sure my hero has some warts, and my heroine some flaws. I’d like to think of my stories as “almost happily ever after”, because sometimes love isn’t all happy moments. And, really, wouldn’t we get bored if it were?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Love Conquers All Things, Even The Porta Potty


I’m training for the MS 150 bike ride from Houston to Austin. I’ve decided it will be a bonding experience for my husband and I. He has done it twice already, while I stood on the side-lines and cheered him on. This time I want to take part. I think it will make us stronger as a couple. We will face the challenges of the ride together and our love will blossom even more. That and I want the darn t-shirt that tells the world I did it!
I am completely unfazed that I haven’t really ridden a bike in 12 years. Doesn’t matter that I don’t even have a road bike yet to ride on. I’m not sure I can ride a mile, much less 150 miles. I’m pretty sure I am very out of shape, no I know, I am out of shape. The fact that I will have to “clip in” (bike shoes that clip onto your pedal) scares me to death. All of that I can overcome, if I set my mind to it. But that dang porta potty, that coffin of human waste, I’m not sure I can overcome that.

I have anxiety about small spaces. Not a phobia, so much as a strong dislike. Porta potties are small, usually hot and dark, which exasperates the problem. I’m also a very visual person. I see an image and it pastes itself into my minds eye forever. So as I hover over the hole of other peoples sewage, people I don’t even know,  I invariably get a view I’d care never to see. That picture is now forever in my head and will pop up at the most inopportune times, like when I’m sitting down to eat a filet mignon with creamy mashed potatoes and some chocolate cake for dessert. You get the idea, right?

Not to mention the smell. Why would anyone willingly walk into a hot shoebox of a space that smells like the feed lots of Dalhart, Texas. At least the feed lots are the “smell of money”, porta potties do not have such a distinction. They just stink and they make me gag. It doesn’t help that for us females our anatomy requires us to spend more intimate time with the porta potty, no quickies there. And one last thing. Why on earth would you design a toilet in such a small space where the urinal is right at nose level with the actual toilet space? Do I have to look at that while I’m trying my hardest not throw up as it is?

I’ll be making sure I drink lots and lots of fluids so I don’t get dehydrated and fall off my bike. And we all know what happens  when we drink lots of fluids. So for every training ride leading up to the 150 mile ride and for the ride itself the only choice I will have for a bathroom break will be the porta potty. I won’t be able to just hold it or wait for a big tree to squat behind.  I will have to face the dreaded porta potty. And honestly, for 38 years I have avoided all events that required me to use a porta potty and so this is huge. This is how much I love my husband. I love him so much that I will face my nemesis. I will stare down the porta potty and I will survive. All in the name of love.

Have you done something amazing for love? But more importantly, can you use a porta potty without gagging? Because if you can I’d like some tips on how to do it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

When A Soldier Is Wounded…

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I try to imagine what it would be like to send my husband off to work and know that while he is away he will be putting himself in danger. He may not come home alive. Thousands of women face this each year as they send their soldier husbands off to areas in our world that need defending. They put their life on the line to protect our freedoms and liberties. Because they do their job, I’m able to tuck my children into bed each night safe and sound.
So imagine that you receive word that your husband has been badly wounded. He could have died, but he survived and after months of therapy will be coming home. Now imagine  that same country that you defended, which may welcome you home with parades, doesn’t offer adequate health insurance to continue your rehabilitation. Doesn’t seem right does it?
In honor of Veterans Day I’d like to direct you to a woman’s blog I have been following. She writes about her life, her struggles with her wounded warrior husband, and it will touch your heart. Please take a moment today to go read her blog at http://wifeofawoundedsoldier.blogspot.com/
Also, here is a link to two of my favorite sites for Wounded Soldiers.
http://www.operationhomefront.net/default.aspx
http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/
To all the soldiers, men and women,  that fought to protect my freedoms, thank you and I wish you a Happy Veterans Day on the 11th!
Do you have a special soldier you would like to thank? Do you do anything special to celebrate Veterans Day?

Monday, November 7, 2011

But Madame Curie, Girls Aren’t Smart Enough To Be Scientists!

Yesterday we visited a Science and Engineering Expo with our children. I have three very curious, inquisitive daughters who just happen to be the offspring of one chemical engineer and one former 7th grade science teacher. Yes, our house is usually brewing with some sort of scientific experiment or nature study. We like to observe and infer and draw conclusions around here. It’s the way we roll.

Yet, as a mother of three daughters, I know that the career path of a scientist isn’t always an easy one for women. I’m old enough to remember the nonsense studies about males being stronger in math and science then females. I am an educator, a teacher of science,and I could give you a hundred reasons why we thought males were better at math and science, but they wouldn’t be valid. So as a mother of three bright females, who have the world at their doorstep, I can’t help but be thankful for many of the amazing females who have helped paved the way in science . Marie Curie is one of them.

She was born 144 years ago today. She managed to marry, win two Noble Peace prizes, and raise two daughters. Imagine that. She also faced adversity, being a women in the science field in the late 1800’s and and early 1900’s. She was a woman who followed her dreams and passions. A woman I want my daughters to know more about.

I found this link, which is an easy read for children. Google is also celebrating her today with this:



Happy Birthday Madame Curie, thanks for following your passions and leading many others to their dreams with your example!

Have you ever been told you couldn’t do something because you were  too short, not smart enough, etc., but did it anyway?

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Living Christmas Tree Is Long Dead, But Not Our Marriage


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The following account was written by my husband and I for a family Chirstmas memory book 14 years ago. Honestly, it offers a lot of insight into our marriage in the beginning years.

Kara's version:
It was going to be a wonderful Christmas. It was our first official Christmas in our very first home as a married couple. I couldn't wait to start putting up decorations and filling our little house with holiday cheer. I had visions of sparkling lights hanging from the rooftop, luminaries lighting the entranceway and a majestic tree adorning our front room. As I stood outside staring at the front of our house one December afternoon I contemplated my strategy.

I need a theme, I thought to myself. Something traditional, yet unique. No icicle dripping lights for us; besides the stores have been out of them since before Thanksgiving. I'm thinking white lights strung across the roofline, no mixing & matching, just plain white lights. Maybe some lights on the bushes as well. Then some pine boughs encircling our front windowpanes with a few velvet bows to tie it off. Nothing flashy, nothing plastic, just simple. Possibly a spotlight to shine on the wreath that will hang on the front door. Luminaries would be nice, but I couldn't use plastic ones and the paper bag ones might not weather the next couple of weeks. Guess I'll skip that.

I was thinking of all the Christmas themes my Mom had done over the years. Her decorations were tasteful, unique, and catching to the eye. She used real luminaries, fresh pine boughs, etc. She was always ahead of her time in the decorating area. Bless my Dad for trying to untangle the lights each year. The neighborhood was well aware of our lights going up when my Dad's shouts of frustration echoed down the street. Speaking of men and lights, I needed to enlist the help of my husband. Oh, I could do it myself, but it would be more fun to involve WB. I caught a glimpse of him putzing around inside the garage as I contemplated my game plan.

"Let’s put up Christmas lights!" I yell to my husband who suddenly disappears around the corner of the garage. When he reappears and walks toward me I can tell he does not think my idea sounds like fun.
"Okay, here's the plan." I begin to tell him all my ideas and ask for his input.
I've learned that this is important in marriage.

He takes a deep breath, looks me in the eye and says, "Go for it!" and starts to walk away.

"Whoa, you don't expect me to do this on my own?” Again, the look. Quickly, I rethink my strategy and grab his hand. “But you are a genius with electricity," I smile sweetly.

This, I've learned in a year of marriage, is called stroking his ego
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I plow ahead. I’ve learned to talk fast and with purpose, so I don’t lose his attention, "Why don't you get the lights and I'll work on the windows. And what about a spotlight; we don't have one."
Reluctantly WB turns from me and with shaking head climbs up into the attic to dig out the lights we had bought earlier. I settle for manufactured pine boughs bought at Wal-Mart. This distresses me, but WB assures me it looks natural as I wrap the long strands around the windows.

After quite some time the lights seem to be hung. I’m not crazy about the bright orange extension cord that hangs from the edge of the roof to the ground by the garage, but again WB assures me that no one will notice it, especially at night.

I had been unsuccessful in explaining the concept of a spotlight to my husband. This is very frustrating to me because I don't think it is a difficult concept to grasp. I try to explain to my husband for the hundredth time, "It's just a big bulb on a stake stuck in the yard and you plug it in!"

"What's it connected to? How does it light up?" he asks again
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"Oh, geez, it's a light! A light you shine on things."

Why was he making it so complicated? My parents had two in their front yard and for the next week I frantically search the neighborhoods for some to show to him. He draws plans to rig an elaborate electrical system in our front yard and I just want a tiny, spotlight on my door. I finally give up and decide that the porch light will do.

Finally, it’s time for the Christmas tree. I'm not sure who first mentioned the idea of a living tree, but we ran with it. We found a nice Norfolk pine about 3 feet high that we can sit on top of a table by our window in the front room. I tell WB it is perfect. Small and young, but that we will have it for years to come and each Christmas it will grow and flourish just like us. It was a symbol of our marriage and all the Christmases we would share. I envision ten years into the future a six-foot tall tree surrounded by our children and I'd tell them, "Your Dad and I got this tree on our first Christmas together and it has grown taller and stronger each year." It was the perfect last touch to our Christmas decorations.

WB’s version:
It was going to be our first Christmas in our first home as a married couple. Kara had big plans for decorating, and set about trying to implement those plans. Kara spoke of visions of luminaries, simple white lights strung all along the roofline and bushes, pine boughs, velvet bows and a majestic tree in our front room. One lesson that I have come to learn in our marriage is that when Kara does the planning, Scott gets to do the implementing.

I asked her, "What about the lighted plastic snowman, where will he go? And the plastic Santa, and the lighted plastic candles? Should we put those on the porch or in front of the bushes?" I smiled inwardly as Kara glared at me.

Kara then said that we would need a spotlight. After looking over the front of the house, I realized that there were no electrical outlets. Not one to be bothered by minor logistical impediments, Kara continued on with explaining how the spotlight would herald the spirit of Christmas at our house in Pampa. I made the mistake of asking, "What would the light shine on?"
 Exasperated, Kara replied, "Our front door!"
 I pondered the architectural implications of highlighting our otherwise uninspiring front door, but I still remained puzzled as to what the spotlight had to do with Christmas. I could understand putting a spotlight on the chimney, or setting some spotlights out front like those seen at movie premiers so that Santa wouldn't miss the house, but I thought that the porch did an adequate job of lighting the front door.

After a thorough evaluation of the electrical demands of Kara's planned Christmas decorations, we settled on a string of white lights across the front roofline. Of course, I had to run an extension cord from the garage to provide power for the lights, which meant that during the day I had to remove the unsightly orange cord and replace it at dusk.

Our thoughts turned to the interior decorations, and most importantly, the tree. We both decided that a living Christmas tree would be both a nice economical and sentimental touch to our first Christmas. We bought a small Norfolk pine and set it on a table in our front room. Each year, the tree would grow and mark the passage of time as we would decorate it for Christmas. We envisioned that our children would help us decorate the very same tree. Best of all, we wouldn't have to spend any more money on Christmas trees!

Christmas came and Kara and I shared a wonderful holiday in our new home. However, six months later, the Norfolk pine had died, and Kara was already making plans for the holiday decorations, plans that included two spotlights; one red and one green.

Kara’s response ( and the last word, as usual)
As I remember it, we were at the hardware store and we finally found the elusive spotlights. The single spotlight wasn’t quite elaborate enough, so WB insisted on the double one and he also chose the bulbs! It looks good on my front door, but not as good as it will look on the new front door that he will install for me next year!

Do you and your spouse have differing opinions on decorating for the holidays? And has anyone out there had a live Chirstmas tree, and managed to keep it alive?

Friday, October 28, 2011

First Snow

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The panhandle had the first snow of the season yesterday.They got over three inches! I’m missing our sweet home in the canyon and hoping someone is feeding all our wildlife. In Houston, it is cooler this morning and windy. I’ll take what I can get.
What’s the weather like in your neck of the woods?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Don't Be That Awkward Runner



My sister shared this with me awhile back. Just one of the reasons I hate runnng. I'm pretty sure I look just as ridiculous when I do!
Can you identify with any of these runners? I'm sure YOU don't run like this, but you've seen someone who does:) 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Can You Imagine?


A little Friday inspiration.
I often think what I will say or what it will feel like to meet my heavenly Father. I used to not dwell on it too much, because the thought of dying scared me. I knew that if I thought about it then it was sure to happen sooner. Or God would get the idea I was ready to leave this earth sooner then I was ready for. Silly thoughts, but I had them.
It was hard for me to imagine.
Now I realize that death on this earth only moves us on to our next place. A glorious place. I’m still not ready, because I feel like I still have so much ‘getting it right” here before I can move on. I’m no longer scared of death, but scared of meeting my Heavenly Father and having Him hold me accountable for some of my actions. And I know that He is a loving and forgiving God, I just want to look my best when that day comes.
I’m beginning to imagine.
When I have watched a love one die, I have been most at peace when I knew they had lived their life for Him. It wasn’t about how much money they could make, or how many influential people they lunched with. It was about living their life so that on the day they were called to the next one, they knew exactly where they were going and were prepared. They had God in their hearts with every decision they made and they knew He was calling them home.
I can only imagine the joyful reunion that took place.
So I’m learning that God’s measuring stick for this life, rarely is what we have made it to be. I believe God wants me to live my life fully here on Earth. One that is filled with lots of learning from my mistakes. I’m beginning to understand He’s not so focused on the mistakes and mishaps as He is on the learning from them. God knows my heart, so I’m preparing it for Him.
If I close my eyes and listen to my heart, I can imagine. And I’m pretty sure there will be some dancing involved.
What can you imagine?

Monday, October 3, 2011

I Am

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I am a child of God. One who wanders, and sometimes stumbles. But one who never walks alone.

I am a daughter. One who brought joy to parents who believed they would never have their own child. But God had a plan.

I am a sister. One who adores her little sister now and before. But there were times we weren’t so sure.

I am a friend. One who is loyal and grateful. But sometimes feels lonely and far away.

I am a wife. One who is head over heels in love with her husband. But knows it takes a lot of work to stay that way.

I am a mother. One who has been blessed three times over. But who worries that her daughters don’t always see the blessings they truly are.

I am a writer. One who wants to inspire others with her words. But who isn’t quite sure how to go about it.

I am a child of God. One who wanders, and sometimes stumbles. But one who NEVER walks alone.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Saying Good-bye

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Sometimes saying good-bye is a lot harder then you think it will be. It can be  letting go of a beloved pet or a favorite home.

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Good-bye can be painful.

Sometimes our good-byes are full of tears or anger. Other times our good-byes are full of hope and promise.

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Saying good-bye can be a way of letting go of what was in order to embrace what is to be.

I believe God has a plan for me. Somewhere in the pain of good-bye is the promise of tomorrow.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. -Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Our Enchanted Castle

Moving from Cotton-Top Hills has proved to be one of the most difficult moves I have ever made. Leaving the land, our home, and the people was gut wrenching to say the least. Now we find ourselves getting used to an entirely different way of life.
We no longer live on  acreage surrounded by ranchland, but in a gated neighborhood that is situated around a golf course. Neighbors used to come visit on horseback or 4 wheelers, now they zip around on golf carts.
But we live on the water. An oxbow, whose waters overflow into the Brazos. And we have trees that loom over our house that provide glorious shade during this hot, dry summer we are having. And we do have land, half an acre. I shouldn’t stub my nose at that. There are many houses in similar neighborhoods that sit squashed up to the house next door. I can still stand on my back porch and see people, but I’ll get used to it I suppose.
And there is wildlife. For those of you who followed my adventures at Cotton-Top Hills, you know how connected we were to the creatures around us. So I thought I’d introduce you to a few of our new friends.
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These are our Whistling Ducks, and yes they do whistle. They like to perch on our fence outside of my shower window. They also will perch in trees, which for a duck, is a little unusual. But they are beautiful and curious little creatures.
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Here is the majestic Blue Heron. We have a pair of these that love to fish our shores. They fly down the river early in the morning, long wings stretching silently across the sky.
We also had a pair of hawks nesting across the street. It was fun to watch them hunt for food in the neighborhood. Very different then seeing them soaring over the wide open skies above the canyons looking for gophers. These hawks are masters at navigating the trees and the spaces between the houses.
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This fellow guards our moat. WB likes to tell the girls we live in an Enchanted Castle and our alligators guard a treasure buried deep in the water. We have several that vary in size. The largest being a 10 foot momma that is nesting up the way a bit. We are told the park rangers will come transport them back to the Brazos when they get too large. I’m not sure what “too large” measures for an alligator. A six foot one is pretty impressive to me, but I’m told over ten feet seems to put them in the “need to move out of the neighborhood” size.
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We also have fish in that moat. The girls have found a new hobby, fishing. They have caught catfish and blue gill and have the best time. Oh, and turtles. Lots of turtles.
There are raccoons, armadillos, and opossums too. One opossum lives in one of our tree trunks by the water. My sister who lives literally down the street has seen deer and a bobcat. Their  house backs up to the water too, but they live closer to some unsettled land.
Oh, and I would be remiss to not add squirrels. We didn’t have those before, not enough trees. And lizards. My children have become the great lizard whisperers. They all have names and at any given moment I could walk outside to find any one of my children with a lizard perched on their hand or shoulder.
So our Enchanted Castle seems to be a wonderful new home for my family. We still ache for what we left behind, but have our eyes open to all the new adventures that surround us. God has set our path, and we shall joyfully continue to walk down it.
What surroundings are you inspired by?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Conquering Fears, Teaching Lessons

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We were up by 4:30 AM and loaded in the car for Soph, my 9 year olds, first Triathlon.  She decided to compete a couple of months ago after she got interested in running with her Aunt. Her Aunt just happens to compete in TRI’s and Soph decided she’d like to try it to. She’s been to plenty, as her Dad, Aunt, and Uncle all participate in them, so she knew a little of what to expect.
As it always seems to happen, my children teach me lessons when I least expect them. The blessings they give me are continuous, and this day would prove no different.
First leg of the competition is the swim, 50 meters. Two years ago that swim would have caused me no worries, but that was before the “incident”. Soph was seven and had taken a summer of private swim lessons. She had gone from being afraid of the water to being a fish in the water. Then I put her in a group lesson, so she could be with a friend. She found herself in the deep end of the pool, leg cramp and struggling to keep her head above water. The instructor was unaware, as he was in the shallow end trying to deal with a child that didn’t need to be in that particular class. Someone got to her in a matter of minutes, but by then the fear of the water was back full force.
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I watched her wait to enter the pool and I knew this would be her greatest challenge. She had come a long ways, but the fear, it was still there, waiting for the perfect opportunity to take hold. Her first 20 meters were beautiful, she looked strong and then she faltered. She was at the deep end of the pool 5 meters from the wall and she was struggling for breath. She managed to grab the wall and then stopped. Swimmers were catching up with her,tagging the wall and going under the rope to head back for the last 25 meters. The confusion on her face made others think she didn’t know to head back, but her grip on the wall told me otherwise.
I had to crawl on my hands in knees in front of a crowd of spectators to get close enough for her to hear me.
“Soph, you’re doing great. Are you okay?”
When she turned to look at me I knew it was not okay. Her glazed, wide eyed look spoke directly to my momma heart. She was petrified. I watched her frantically look around for a way out.  In that brief instant I thought she was done. I gripped the pebbly surface beneath my fingertips, torn. I wanted to soothe the fear, but I also knew she could do it. We talked it out. I, stretched out as close as I could get to her, offering words of encouragement. Her eyes slowly stopped darting around looking for that escape. “You can do this.” Big brown eyes, stared straight into mine. The glazed looked replaced by determination. In one quick breath she was gone. Head under the rope, up the other side and she was swimming her last 25 meters.
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I ran to cheer her on as she got out of the pool and onto her bike. I prayed she was okay. Her steps were quick, but hesitant as she left the water. I told her she was awesome. Her face lit into a smile and she ran to her bike. She flew through the bike course and onto the run. She stopped along the way to offer support to a fellow competitor who was walking. This race was about far more then time for my Soph girl. She finished strong, among loud cheers from her family.
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After the race Soph and I were cooling off under a tent when she told me about the water. “I couldn’t catch my breath and I realized I couldn’t stand. I just panicked. Next time I won’t.”
My momma heart soared with pride. She was conquering her fears. She was teaching her momma that no matter how good we get at something the fear is always lurking. And sometimes it takes hold, but that doesn’t mean it has to drag you under. Nope, it just means you hang on, catch your breath, and plunge ahead.
“I think I did good.”
Closing my eyes smiling, “ I think you did awesome.”
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Have you conquered any fears recently?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Passion

“What is passion and what does it feel like?” The question came from one of my daughters.

I responded with, “Feeling strongly about something, so strongly that sometimes you get really excited about it.  Or sometimes it makes you blind to the other things around you. And sometimes it just makes you very happy”.

“Excited, like jumping up and down and yelling and screaming ?”

“Sort of like that, yes.”

“Blind like a horse wearing blinders and all he sees is what is in front of him?”

“Exactly.”

“And they very happy is when you are just enjoying every minute and smiling.”

“Sounds good.”

“Do you have passions Mom?”

“Yes.”

“I think I can guess them. Football is the excited kind. Sometimes you jump up and down and yell and scream while watching it, especially  Tech football.”

Laughing, “Okay, you are probably right.”

“Writing. It makes you blind sometimes. You sit on the computer and type and we can be running around screaming or trying to talk to you and all you see is what is in front of you. The computer.”

“Hmmm, you are probably right about that too.”

“And the happy kind. That is easy. You are passionate about  life, especially your family and friends.”

Darn, she’s good. I’m so glad we had that discussion.

What are your passions?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Play Dough Is a Writing Mommas Friend

It’s so very tempting to sit my kids down in front of the television for a movie or to let them play the afternoon away with the Wii, just so I can have a little time for me. Usually, I’m wanting to plot away on my newest writing venture. Sometimes, I just want a little time off  the “mom on the constant go” roller coaster. But, at the same time, I don’t want my kids brains fried from too much television or video games. I want them to know how to entertain themselves and let their imaginations soar at the same time.

I have a box of 24 colors of play dough sitting on our kitchen table. It was a family Christmas gift this last year. I believe it was a 5 dollar after Thanksgiving special I scored early on Black Friday.  And all I can say is it is proving to be as good of a deal as the 5 dollar waffle maker I bought at another Black Friday deal 12 years ago.

One day they started making these creations. I need to point out that Barbie is very popular with the 4 year old and her older sisters play along graciously, most days. I think on this particular day they were looking for a way to kick it up a notch or two.

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They are very fashion savvy.

Next came the sculpting, which you do a lot of with play dough. But they took it a step further and created a story around their scene.

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They happily told me a story to go along with each creation. Very nice, no brain frying here.

Then as I was bragging to WB about how creative and wonderful our children were he made a suggestion, Claymation. What? I asked. You know let them make movies. Oh yeah, right, Claymation. Why didn’t I think of that? Sweet WB set up the camera on a tripod by our arts and crafts table and the fun began. I need to note here that when WB was home he poured himself into this project. I happily retired to my bedroom, plopped myself down in front of my big window and wrote away.

This is what they have been creating:

Soph’s movie

 

Em’s video

 

Little One’s Worm

I love it! They are having a blast, I am a happy momma doing my thing and no brains are being fried! Play Dough is a writers friend.

How do you keep your kids entertained this summer so you can have some time to do your thing? I’ve got pencil in hand and will be taking notes.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Writing Your Love Story

I’m in the business of writing love stories. I’m also an avid reader of them as well. But I’ve come to realize the love story I enjoy writing the most is my own personal one.

Sometimes, as a writer, I struggle with plots and characters. I get bogged down in the conflict and story arch. All the technical stuff weighs heavily on my fingers as I try to type out the perfect story, the one everyone is dying to read. Struggling with the fact that my writing techniques are far from flawless, I get frustrated and worn down. There are times I have wanted to quit. Times I have walked away from the story. Put it on the shelf to come back to later. I tell myself I’m neglecting too many other things in my life to sit at the computer and write. Sadly, this can be said of my love story with my husband as well.

In my marriage, at times, I have gotten worn down. I have become tired of the constant effort it takes to have a successful union with my husband. I have kids to take care of, dogs to look after, household chores and errands to run. I have put my marriage on the shelf, too busy tending to other things. I’m a busy momma, who can argue with that?

Then there have been times when I have given it everything I thought I had, only to find failure. My husband failed me, I failed myself, or life failed us in some significant way. Failure and quitting, they go hand in hand, right?

Wrong.

Every successful writer talks of the roadblocks and rejection letters that were flung out before them. But they also talk about how the passion for their writing endured. The failures led to more passion, more focus on how to better their writing.  Failures, yes. Quitting, no. This, too, can be said of marriage.

At some point I realized that the failures in my marriage were actually an opportunity.  An opportunity to learn and grow. Sometimes the learning process took much longer than I would have liked. At times the failure had to be repeated several times before my husband and I “got it”. But “got it” we did and the passion was reignited.  Passion for one another and our marriage. 

I’ve learned that many things can be neglected. Laundry, dishes, grocery shopping are just a few on my list. But what can’t be neglected is my love story. Each day is a chance for me to write a new chapter, make each word count. And all you writers know, we count each word dearly!

I’ve been asked by some to share about my marriage. I’m humbled by that request and hope to blog about it once a week, along with my writing and my crazy family life. It’s all part of the story, my love story that is.

What is your biggest obstacle when writing your love story?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Party Food

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First, I have to apologize because I was so busy cooking and
WB was so busy entertaining that I don’t have very many pictures of the food. But, I do have the recipes for those who want to try them out.

The menu for my MIL’s 70th birthday party fell together after we had decided on the flowers and the casual/classy spin we were trying to take on things. Okay that, and the fact it is Texas and July so of course we had to do some sort of spicy meat thing. Let me share a couple of my entertaining secrets. First, look for dishes you can prep or mostly prepare ahead of time. This way you aren’t going crazy in the kitchen as your guests are arriving. Or find dishes that people can help you with. Another secret, I have my family favorite dishes I like to prepare and I have my “go to” cookbooks for entertaining. Two of my favorites are Ree Drummond /The Pioneer Woman’s Cookbook and Rebecca Rather’s Cookbooks.  Both are amazing cooks and both know how to entertain.

The menu for the party was Spicy Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork from the Pioneer Woman. It is so very simple to make. Just take a pork shoulder and salt and pepper it. Put it in a Dutch oven. Dump 2 cans Dr.Pepper, 1 can chipotle peppers with adobe sauce, one whole onion wedged and a couple tablespoons brown sugar in with the meat. Put it in the oven at 300 degrees and cook a 6-8 lb. roast for about 6 hours. I love this because anyone can make this, but everyone who tastes it thinks your amazing.

I served Jalapeno-Cilantro slaw with it, just like Ree suggested. You heap the pork and the slaw onto a toasted bun and you have a divine sandwich. I felt the need to explain to my guests just how to put their sandwiches together. They are family,  they are forced to love me and my instructions on eating.

Next up was the One Pot Cajun Potato Salad from Rebecca Rather’s Pastry Queen Party Cookbook. This, too, was super easy. Take a 1 lb. of red potatoes, cut in half if they are larger then a golf ball. Put in a pot of water and bring to a boil until tender. Drain. Add 3/4 cup butter, 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon salt and stir. Add 1/4 cup parsley leaves as garnish.

And it wouldn’t be a southern summer gathering if mason jars weren’t involved. Okay, it might be a southern gathering, but it wouldn’t be as much fun. The Layered Salad in a Jar was my favorites to make. This salad would be perfect for picnics and days at the beach. This also comes from Rebecca Rather.IMG_9586

First, you need pint size mason jars. You fill the first layer with cooked orzo and a little of the dressing.

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Next, you layer with a cucumber, green onion, feta cheese, kalamata olives, and cherry tomatoes. The next layer is a mixture of feta cheese and oregano. On top of that add either baby spinach, arugula or a mix of baby greens. Last, sprinkle some toasted pine nuts on top. Drizzle with some of the dressing and screw on the lid.

The dressing is made by mixing 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons honey, 2/3 cup olive oil, salt and pepper and 1 cup feta cheese.

These can be stored in the fridge for up to 6 hours before and when the guests pick them up all they have to do is shake and eat.

My mom and sister made a fruit salad served in a watermelon basket and we had homemade Pico de Gallo and chips, along with some yummy Sangria. The sangria was a mix of Pioneer Woman’s and my Dad’s additions (specifically, more alcohol).

It was just a wonderful weekend of eating, visiting, and having a good time together. I love weekends like that.

Do you have a recipe you like to make when you have a crowd? I’d love to hear it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Celebrating A Special Birthday

A couple of weekend ago we had the honor of celebrating WB’s mothers 70th birthday in our new home. All of her sons and their families came in for the celebration, along with a surprise visit from her little brother. We had a wonderful time gathering together as a family. My parents and sister’s family were here as well. I love having people in my home, and I love it even more when I have my entire family under one roof. It just makes me smile and fills my heart with joy.

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My mom came over to help me with the flower arrangements. I dream up these ideas and my mom makes them reality. I’ve had very few parties in which my mother was not there working like a crazy woman trying to help me put it all together. My dad is there too, we usually give him the kids to entertain. Couldn’t do it without them. Notice I am wearing white, yellow, and blue. That is important, there will be a quiz later. Okay, not really. NO quizzes today, it’s summer.

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My mother-in-laws favorite flowers are carnations and sunflowers, which were fun to work with. I love putting together parties. Sometimes the theme comes from a favorite color, or place. This time the party ideas started with the flowers. I pictured casual fun, but classy too. Really, this describes my MIL perfectly, so it worked. I also pictured bright yellow and dark blue. Which lead me to forcing my parents, my husband and myself to drink lots of wine in blue bottles for weeks before the party.  I needed them for my sunflowers and they indulged, just for me of course.IMG_9584

The flower arrangement on the left came from my MIL’s bank up in Amarillo. I think it’s pretty wonderful costumer service to have your bank remember you and track down where your party is so they can send you flowers. The spirit of the panhandle is alive and well, and I miss it.

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The birthday girl, doesn’t look a day over 59 does she?

We had a wonderful time canoeing, playing washers (WB’s dad brought this fun game) , and visiting. It was a wonderful weekend of good times.

IMG_9550The birthday girl and her first canoe ride with WB and Little One.

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My beautiful sister-in-law and niece.IMG_9700My other beautiful sister-in-law and her daughter and little one.

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Gator sighting. Everyone was waiting. Our little gator made an appearance, but our big momma gator waited until the day after everyone left to show up. Figures, she’s shy.

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The whole crew!

In the next post I will tell you about the food. Food is always very important around here. I’ll post the recipes some have asked for too.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Settling

I have neglected my blog. There I said it. I have thought about it, written posts in my head, and then turned my back to the computer because I wasn’t sure where to start. But last night it rained. Why does that matter? I’m not sure. But we’ve been without rain for so long that as it bounced off the water, which is my new backyard, it seemed to be lulling me into believing I had a fresh start.

A little catch up. We moved to Houston in March. Lived with my parents for a month, while my husband stayed an hour and a half away with my sister and brother-in-law. Looking for a house was not fun. Silly me, I thought it would be. But nothing compared to my beloved Cotton-Top Hills, nothing. WB told me I needed to look at this whole house hunting thing as a way to live life a little differently. Differently meaning, give up the country and move to the ‘burbs. It was more then I could stomach. So I stressed and complained and declared, “I just wasn’t moving”. WB listened, cajoled, and gently told me his job was now in Houston and Amarillo would be a long commute. He gave me pep talks and told me to just narrow the houses down to a few and then he could come look.

We decided on a little community west of Houston. It is a small town busting at the seams, but still feels like a little country town in many ways. Plus, it is only 30 minutes from my husband’s work and minutes from a nice drive through the countryside. Oh, and my sister, brother-in-law, and new baby live here. I have not lived near my sister since my junior year in high school when my parent’s moved to Houston and I stayed behind in Dallas to finish up my senior year. And when I say she lives here, I mean we live on the same street! Just down the street. Around the corner. A short walk. It still seems strange to me, but it has been amazing. WB and I have lived on the other side of Texas, far from the rest of our family for 20 years. Now suddenly we have family all around. We can go visit for just a day if we want. We’re still wrapping our brain around that.

Oh, and in the midst of all my moaning and crying. Yes, crying, which I don’t like to do. I mean I cry at sweet stories, or those really tragic ones on TV or while reading a book. And sometimes, my friends, I do the angry cry. The I-am-at- the-end-of-my-rope, don’t you dare mess with me right now cry.  But emotional- pity party cries, I don’t like them. They are messy and draining and scare my husband.  But I have cried so much in the last 3 months that WB has almost lost that wide- eyed, deer in the headlight look when I start tearing up. Instead, he just opens his arms as I collapse into them. Soaking his shirt and blubbering uncontrollably. I would like to think all this crying has been cleansing. Yes, I prefer to think that. And along with that line of thinking I believe I have been cleansed enough for the next several years. So no more blubbering please. Anyway, in the midst of this we found a house.

WB picked it in the end. I threw out my neat lists of must haves and can’t haves, because this house didn’t exactly fit in any of those lists. No house probably would have anyway. WB knew the moment he saw it, it was meant to be ours. I thought he was crazy. He thought I couldn’t see through all the tears.  But we have been here for a month and it is beginning to feel like home. We’ve had a rough first few weeks, but I can say, without a doubt, we are settling. But that doesn’t mean I have all my boxes unpacked!

Just a couple pictures from our new place. I guess I need to get out and take some more.

IMG_9348We’ve traded rolling canyons for a little lake in our backyard, complete with our own fishing dock.

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Changes

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another. ~Anatole France

This quote fits my life perfectly right now. On Valentines Day my hubby received word that he had gotten the job he was seeking at his company’s corporate offices! His corporate office is in Houston, over 10 hours from our home. It was the good news, bad news kind of call.

We wanted this for a number of reasons, but at the top of our list was to be by family. We haven’t lived by family since we were in high school, that's a pretty long time. So we are thrilled to be closer to everyone- good news!

Bad news, we love living where we do. We have awesome neighbors and the people in this part of the country are one of a kind. I could have grown old in this house we bought sheltered in the canyon, surrounded by ranch land. I could have lived with the crazy weather, even the wind and dry air that has my face already resembling a road map. We made this overgrown, neglected house a home as we loved, laughed and lived in it. My heart, I believe, will always belong to the wide open plains of the Texas panhandle. I must die to one life to enter another.

I will apologize upfront for being neglectful with my blog in the next couple of months. So don’t mind me as I drop in and out  unexpectedly in this blogging world, just as that flighty neighbor down the street might do.   When you least expect it I’ll pop my head in and say hello, just to disappear and have you wondering when I might reappear.  I’m not trying to be unprofessional, but I am trying to keep sane as I’m running around like a crazy woman trying to homeschool, pack, and search for a new home.

Already, this new adventure has me plotting and absorbing experiences I can share with my writing. You have to truly live life to write about it and I think I’m getting a good dose of it right now!

Oh, and if you have any tips on getting my house organized for the move or advice on anything related, I’m all ears!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

An Award and 7 Little Known Facts About Moi

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Another blast of winter blew through last night bringing bitter cold, snow, and lots of wind. It was nice to snuggle in with the girls and watch movies and go to bed early! Today the snow drifts are 4 to 5 feet in some places while leaving some bare brown spots of grass in others.
All this makes me want to hibernate. In fact, I’ve been doing a lot of eating and sleeping. When warmer weather  finally arrives I have a feeling I will be working off my winter “layer”. Of course, this is a great climate for writing and I’m thankful for that.
In other news, I received an award from two of my blogging friends. Thank you, I am honored.
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Nancy at Boomers, Scribblers and Saints is a sweet blogging friend who shares with us her faith, writing, and family. I love reading her insights and what she has been up to.

Kittee at Running Half Crazy shares with us her life as a runner. She runs half marathons and has a full one on her schedule for next year. She inspires and keeps it real. Kittee lives in the little town I moved to right after WB and I were married. She is truly an amazing person and a sweet friend.

Now the rules say I must tell you 7 things about myself. Hmm, what could I say that I haven’t already shared???
1. Someday I want to visit Scotland. The rolling green landscapes, castles and legends are a writers dream. It is also my secret desire to have my husband wear a kilt while we are there and toss around a few logs.

2. I have herded cows on a John Deer Green lawn mower with a 1 year old on my lap. They were trampling on my garden which was unacceptable.

3. I get irritated when I see men in shiny, Nile crocodile, Teju Lizardish boots. Pleeeeaaaasssseee, give me a man in some manure caked, scuffed up pair of  cowhide leather boots. The ones where the soles are worn down from taking his sweetheart for a spin on the dance floor every Friday night.
 
4. I could live in soft white cotton t-shirts and my favorite pair of jeans. My daughters on the other hand have recorded every episode of  What Not To Wear and force me to watch.

5. I am living proof of God’s never-ending patience, love, and understanding. Just ask my husband.
6. My children provide endless hours of joy. Sometimes it’s the I- want –to- pull- my- hair out kind and sometimes it’s the I- want- to- keep –you –like- this –forever- kind.

7. As I began this blog talking about the snowstorm I can now say I’ve survived a tornado in a hotel room with 3 small children AND a blizzard with those same 3 children, all ALONE. Obviously, my husband has an aversion to natural disasters because he’s never around when they happen. Or at least it seems that way.

The rules say to pass this on to 7 stylish bloggers. But, I think everyone who visits here is a stylish blogger. So I give you this award. Okay, you are right. Partly it is my inability to pick just 7 and then not feel guilty for the ones I didn’t pick. So if you are new here, check out those that comment on my blog. Those are the really styling ones!!

I’d love for you to tell me something I might not know about you!

*My sweet husband would like to point out (check comment section) that he was here for the extreme cold temps we had last week and stayed home from work one day. Yes, honey you were, sorry. I direct you to number 5 once again:)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Being A Writer Can Be Hazardous To Your Health

Being a writer is tough. Our minds work in a such a way that mere laypeople do not understand.  Every outing is a character study, while  every news story is a possible plot. A simple word from a stranger can trigger a storyboard.

When I talk to people I am fascinated with the smallest details and ask lots of questions. Hey, this is research for free and beats looking things up on Google. And I’m just naturally curious, I think most writers are. The problem is my conversations usually last longer then necessary. This recently happened during a trip to a computer store. I was looking for ink cartridges for my printer and was getting help. Somehow the conversation turned to the latest technology for spyware. Before I knew it I was surrounded by 3 guys dressed in their blue polo shirts and khaki pants all sharing their thoughts on the subject. I was fascinated, sadly my three children were not. Nor were the 5 people standing around needing help and shooting me dirty looks. I quickly thanked the young men, grabbed my ink and shooed my kids past the angry onlookers.

We also have to watch what we say. One day I was in the grocery store with my kids and I was in a very melancholy mood. I told the girls we needed to buy chocolate and lots of it. As we were loading up the cart my oldest asked, “Mom, the only time we buy this much chocolate is when you are sad. What's wrong?” Without thinking I told her “Well, tonight I’m going to have to kill someone.”  My oldest didn’t blink an eye. She knows her mom regularly kills people off in her stories.  Unfortunately, the lady with the fur wrap buying her Ghirardelli bars did not. Not to worry, I finally caught up with her in the frozen food aisle and explained I was a writer. Guess what? Her cousin did some writing too and we had a nice long conversation.

The most hazardous part can come when you live and breath your characters. They never seem to leave you alone even when you are sleeping.  Sometimes you replay scenes in your head. Like maybe a scene in which your hero is about to drown in a raging river and you scream his name. Only to realize you REALLY did scream his name and your husband is already on his feet beside the bed looking dazed.

Did you just scream James?”, hubby rubs his eyes.

“Um, well maybe.” I say shaking the fog from my head.

“Why?”

“I think I was dreaming.” I mumble as I start to pull the covers up to my shoulders.

Hubs narrows his eyes. “You were dreaming about James?”

“Yes, you know the character in my book.” I now have the sheet over my head trying to shield myself from his piercing stare.

“No, I don’t know.” I cringe as he climbs back into bed, then I hear him sigh.

I relax and start to giggle, “Sorry.”

“It’s alright”, he says as he snuggles closer.

I knew he would understand. It can be tough being married to a writer, but he’s a sweetheart.

“Just so you know”, he whispers in my ear, “I’m writing a story too. Just wanted you to know,  in case  I scream the name Trixi in my sleep.”

If you are a writer, what do you find is the most hazardous thing about our profession?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Frozen

-We are experiencing the 2nd day of temps with a wind-chill value hovering around –28.

-Water heater and pipes face north wall, which means this morning we have no water due to frozen pipes.

-I have a brave and very cold husband who has been outside checking pipes and taking the hike up the hill to the well to check on things. Now he is out trying to find a space heater, but of course no one has any.

-I have renamed the Panhandle of Texas the Artic Desert. Because unlike everyone else we just get bitter cold without the precipitation.

-I have two outside dogs, 14 and 15 years old. They are senile and one has continence issues. So we are constantly letting them out of their inside kennel to go out for potty breaks. Not to mention cleaning kennels a few times a day.

-I have four girls in this house and a no-flush rule in effect.

-The high today will be 10, that is without wind-chill.

Good News

-We have electricity.

-Thanks to hubby we have a 5 gallon reserve tank of water so we can flush today at least a couple of times.

-We can get out and go places (under numerous layers)  because we don’t have snow.

-I’ve been blessed to have my doggies since my hubby and I were first married. Old and senile, but still here.

-We have food in the pantry and bottles of water galore in fridge.

-And my computer works!

How is your weather today? And how are you dealing with it?

Monday, January 31, 2011

Remember Alex Brown Campaign

Today I’m going to pause from my regular rambling blog posts to share a pet peeve of mine. Texting while driving.

I don’t understand why we think they can drive a 4,000 lb. car down the road at 50+ miles an hour with one hand while looking down at our phone and pushing tiny little buttons with letters on them in the other. It takes the average car and driver 168 feet to bring their car to a stop going 40 miles an hour. So let’s say you get a text from your sister while cruising down the neighborhood and decide to text her back. A child chases a ball out into the street in front of your car. If  you are looking down at your phone it isn’t going to matter what your reaction time is, because chances are you will never see the child.

Why in the world would we risk killing ourselves or someone else? Is any text that important? We all know the answer is no, but it seems to be part of our human nature to think we can do it all.

Now think of all the 16 year olds on the road. I remember when I was 16 and I had been driving the country roads since I was 11. But you know what, I still ran up over curbs and did a few unsafe things, just by being distracted by a song on the radio or talking to a friend. I shutter to think if I had a cell phone up to my ear, or the ability to text, what might have happened.

So last night on Extreme Makeover was the story of Alex Brown. A beautiful young teenager from a small town not too far from me. One morning she told her parents goodbye as she headed out for school and that ended up being the last time they talked to her. Down the road she was texting while driving and her truck veered off the country road and flipped several times. Her parents devastated by the senseless loss have started the Remember Alex Brown campaign. They are educating the public, especially high school students, on the dangers of texting while driving. Many states have enacted laws about texting and driving. Even though I think this is great, it saddens me that we have to have such a common sense law to keep people from doing something so dangerous.

First thing this morning I headed over to their website and signed the pledge not to text and drive. I did it while my daughters watched. They aren’t old enough to drive yet, but I’m hoping they will remember the story of Alex Brown when they are.

I hope you take the pledge tooSmile