Saturday, July 19, 2014

Follow up about

A few days ago, I posted THIS post about snacking.  Today I got my shipment from the company mentioned in that post, so I wanted to post a follow-up.

First of all, this is what the box looked like when it arrived in my mailbox.  I know it's a tad hard to tell the size of the box by this picture, but it was about 1.5" thick, and about the length & width of a shoe box.  (for women's shoes!)

When you open up the box, it looks like this.

In my box, I got the following snacks.
(Top Left) Smoky Chipotle dip with rosemary breadsticks
(Top Right) Fruit & Seed Flapjack bars (think granola bar)
(Bottom Left)  Chili & Honey Almonds
(Bottom Right)  Key Lime Pie (snack mix)

Each of the snacks is about the size of my hand.

I opened the flapjack (the one in my hand in the pic above) first.  It was a very soft, moist, chewy granola bar snack.  It was made with rolled oats, mixed seeds & dried fruit.  It was SOOOO yummy!  This flapjack was cut into 3 pieces, so I ate one, then moved onto one of the other snacks (I wanted to try them all!)

Sarah opened the chipotle dip & rosemary sticks but was not thrilled with it.  She said the dip was a little sweet.  I tasted it & found it to be very tasty.

Next, Sarah opened the Key Lime Pie snack mix.  It was a combination of lime raisins, mini meringues, sponge (cake) pieces {but they really just looked like tiny Nilla Wafers to me!} and green raisins.  She doesn't like raisins, so she ate around the raisins & enjoyed several of the mini cookies & mini meringues.  However, when I tried 1 of each kind of raisin together w/ the mini meringues & mini cookies, it really did taste like key lime pie!  Yummy!

Last, I opened the chili & honey almonds.  Since I love flavored almonds, I really expected to like this, but they were way too spicy for me.  I don't like spicy things too much, so those were a no-go for us.  {Don't worry...I didn't starve.  I went back & finished off the flapjack bars!!}

All in all, the box was a hit.  And it helps that it was totally FREE.  I've had 2 people sign up under my friend code, so I will receive a couple dollars off my next box.  They're supposed to be $6 per box, so my next box will only cost $4.  And I figure, if I went to the convenience store & bought 4 snacks for the kids and I to share, I'd probably spend at least a dollar or two on each snack, so the cost is not totally unreasonable.

I'm looking forward to see what my next Graze box brings!!

{And don't worry--after trying all our snacks, I went to the Graze site & rated the snacks I got today.  We will never get another package of the chili & honey almonds....and we'll only occasionally get the chipotle dip & rosemary sticks!}

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Savannah had a wreck!

Tuesday, July 15th, was supposed to be a pretty average day.  Sam got up early & went to training camp at the school (think athletics boot camp) and then came home to hang out and help his friend (neighbor) who was moving into another house in the 'hood.  Sarah slept until 11:00 (ahhh....summertime) and I was doing my usual things around the house.  Savannah is working at a doctor's office these days, so she had left at 8:00 AM to go to work.  Larry was about 90 miles away for work.

About 1:30, Samuel, Sarah and I left the house to go run some errands.  We stopped at my thirty-one consultant's house first.  Then we left and went to the preschool where I subbed last week to pick up my paycheck.  When we got to the preschool, I left my phone in the car.  I knew I was just running in for a second, so I didn't think it would be an issue.  I was only in the building for 5-10 minutes, but by the time I got back to the car, my phone was blowing up with texts & missed calls.  When I picked it up to check those, it started ringing in my hand.  Larry was frantic.  "Savannah had a wreck & needs you there NOW."  Once we established where she was and that was sounded okay on the phone, I took off.  I was only about 4-5 miles away, but I think I made it there in 30 seconds.  (OK, so maybe a tiny bit longer.)  In those 5 miles, the cars on the road could not get out of my way fast enough!!  {Poor Larry was driving like a bat out of....trying to get to us as fast as possible.  Turns out, he admitted later that he was going 80, pulling a trailer behind his truck.  Once I called & told him I was with her and she was OK he slowed down, but those protective daddy hormones are strong, folks.}

When I arrived at the scene of the wreck, Savannah was standing upright next to her car, a big truck and a police car.  All I needed to see was that she was standing up and I knew she was alright.  No blood, no bones sticking out...nothing else mattered!  I parked the car & told Sam and Sarah to stay in the car and ran to her and hugged her.  The police officer and the other driver's mom watched and grinned.  Obviously, all of us parents understand that moment of relief when you find out your kid is okay after a wreck....that moment of overwhelming panic is resolved in that first hug.

It turns out that she was stopped at a red light & was rear-ended by a 17 yr old boy.  She was in a Pontiac G6.  He was in a Ford Expedition.  Clearly, she lost that fight.  Or rather, the back end of her car did.

After we got home & the adrenaline stopped pulsing through her, she admitted that her right side was pretty sore.  Her neck, shoulder, arm, elbow & fingers even!  Since she works for a group of spine doctors, they're going to check her over today & make sure she's okay!  I feel like she's fine, but will just be sore for a few days.  This is what the back end of her car ended up looking like.

And fortunately it was the car that left on the back of a truck...not my baby in an ambulance!

Feeling very blessed and fortunate today that God protected my baby girl yeserday!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Do you like to snack?

It looks like my last several lengthy posts have all been catching you up sort of posts.  I promise to do that again soon, but I wanted to encourage you to try something with me.

A few months ago, a girlfriend of mine posted about a website called Graze on facebook.  I was intrigued as she talked about her 1st graze box shipment.  She said she had picked out items from a selection on the site and then they mailed her a box of healthy snacks every other week.  Each box cost her $6 and held a few snacks to try.  I looked at the website at the time & thought it looked interesting.  There were grains and fruits and nuts and "flapjacks" (which look like granola bars to me!) and seeds and popcorns and savory items and dippable snacks, too.  Everything looked yummy!  But at the time I wasn't ready to try it out.

Tonight I decided it was time.

I am so tickled & excited to get my first box next week!  I signed up for a "nibble box".  You can choose from that or a "calorie counter" box.  (Calorie counter boxes exclude the granola bars & a few of the other higher-calorie items.)  Nibble boxes include a little bit of everything.  Since I signed up under my friend's code, I get my first and fifth boxes free.  I'll pay $6 for the 2nd, 3rd & 4th boxes and I can cancel at any point if it's just not really the thing for me.  I thought about it and realized that we spend AT LEAST $6/mo on snacks anyway, so the cost is not that bad.

I'll let you know after I get my first box if it's crazy overpriced or if it's worth it!  But until then, check out the site & see what you think!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Let's catch up!

Let's sit down and have a cup of tea and catch up, friends.  Wait.  I don't like tea, so we should have something other than tea.  I don't like coffee either, so that won't work for me, but if you want coffee, feel free.  Hmm...actually, you get a cup of whatever you'd like and I'm going to talk (write) while you read.  After all, if I try to drink something while I talk (write) I might spit or spray and that's just gross.

Okay, so it's time to catch up.  I realized the other day that I haven't posted anything in almost a month.  So much has happened since then.  Let's see if I can fill in the gaps for all four of the people who actually read this.

As I mentioned in the last post, we lost my father in law on May 26.  It was a very difficult ten days before his death.  He went into kidney and heart failure, then liver failure ...and then slowly slipped away.  He spent six days in a local ICU before he moved to hospice.  God bless all the hospice workers of the world.  That has to be one of the most rewarding and emotionally draining jobs in the world.  The people who cared for my father in law were precious.  We will be forever grateful.  Larry performed his funeral service a few days after he passed away.  It was hard for him, but he loved being the one to honor his dad.  I just think it was wonderful and really brave.  Gosh I love the man God gave me!

A few days later, Savannah did this.

I know.  I'm still reeling.  I made it through the ceremony with only 2 tissues.  I really figured it would take many more, but somehow I pulled it together.  I still can't believe that she's done with high school... but at the same time, I can.  She was born for this time of succeeding and learning independence.  I look at her regularly and smile as I think "Wow.  I made that."  She is really an incredible, awesome kid.  So proud of her!

Samuel left for Yellowstone with his grandparents the day after they got out of school.  He had a ball.  Most of his pictures looked about this enthusiastic.  Sigh.  He is 14.  I have to keep reminding myself that he will smile for pictures again, one day.

The week that Sam returned from his trip, we had a couple of big moments.

I interviewed for a new job.

I didn't get it, but a good friend did, so it's all good!  I really wasn't dying to change jobs but I would love to get back into the local school district.  I was born & raised here and my kids are in school here...and we live here.  Saving money on gas would be awesome!  However, I am content and happy in the job where I am so I will gladly return there this fall unless God drops something incredible and unexpected in my lap.

Savannah has started a new job.  After almost two years in food service at Chick Fil A, she was 'done'.  God bless the fried chicken patty and waffle fries that kept her employed and bought her first car and paid for her insurance and phone bill since October of 2012, but she was ready to move on and get out from behind a fast food counter.

She is now working in a doctor's office doing filing and other office tasks.  We know the office manager and she has offered to keep Savannah busy long-term.  She will be able to work there through the next couple of years while she attends our local junior college (they will flex around her school schedule) and it is only a few miles from the college, so it will make life easy for her.  She was on information overload the first few days, but she's settled in nicely now and is enjoying the job.

Speaking of school.........

Savannah attended freshmen orientation this past week.  She hated it.  A friend reminded me tonight that most people hate freshmen orientation.  No one enjoys being forced to play cheesy ice-breaker games with strangers and learn chants and cheers in the Texas heat.  Ha ha!  She made it through and registered for her fall classes.  Now we just have to get her financial aid (Pell Grant!) complete so we can get her books purchased.  We thought it was done until Friday when they announced that we had 1 more step to do.  Yikes!

Samuel has been attending a training camp (think workout boot camp) since he returned from Yellowstone with my parents.  I can't even imagine ENJOYING working out from 7 AM to 9 AM Monday through Thursday during the summer when I could be SLEEPING, but my crazy boy is loving it!  The school district offers the training camp to keep the athletes in shape through the summer so they'll be ready to jump back into the weight room and gym in August.

Sarah and I have been going to a park in the next town over doing some local ministry with the youth group.  We've done this every summer for the past several years and I love it!  I love mission trips and I think they are life-changing and awesome, but I also love local relationship-building ministry.  We've been hanging out at a park most of our youth kids would never visit otherwise, playing with the kids, making crafts, just being there to be their friends.  It's been wonderful to see some of the same faces, week after week.  I've been at the craft table each week, doing different things with the kids (our youth kids & the ones who come to the park to hang out.)

A pic from face-painting week:

This morning I beat the socks off this kid, over & over, at Connect Four.  When he finally beat me after several rounds I thought he was going to grin til his face popped.  So fun!

Samuel has joined us the past couple of weeks after his training camp.  Today he played with the kids a lot with this sling shot & foamy balls that they soak in water before they launch.

This weekend, my sisters and I threw my parents a 50th anniversary party.  It turned out really well!  In this day & age, fifty years with one spouse is practically unheard of.  This is my sisters, my parents and me at the party.  You'll have to excuse the fact that when I get flustered or busy, my face & head sweat like crazy and my bangs had long since gone flat and plastered themselves to my forehead.  Oh queen material.  ha ha!

Between staying busy with driving the kids places and going to my father in law's house to work (we're cleaning, sorting, donating...) and trying to find 5 minutes to rest here and there, things at the house have gotten a little backed up.

I figure I can start a shoe store in the kitchen by this weekend.  We're always looking for little odd jobs to supplement the family's income.

And perhaps we can start boarding travelers on this bed I've crafted from piles of clean clothes.  I wonder if they'd mind toaster waffles for breakfast?

Honestly, every time it is like this I tell myself I'm not ever going to let it get this bad again.  But I've pretty much decided that it's time to find a white flag and start waving it like crazy.  Maybe one day when the kids are all grown and out of the house I'll have time to be good at keeping up the laundry.  {'Til then, I've got some built-in slave labor in the form of those three munchkins that I birthed.  Guess who folded these clothes???}

I never got a chance to post about our May date, so here's the quick version.

It ended up that we went on this date the day before Larry's dad got sick and it was rainy so we just skipped the walk and went to Subway for dinner.  Just ignore the fact that we had cookies after we ate our sandwiches on our 'health date'.  ha ha!

{I figured I should quickly share about the date since Larry and I are going on our June date this coming Friday!}

I guess that about sums up my past few weeks.  God bless & if you actually made it to this point, go have a cookie.  Or a scone if you're drinking tea.  Maybe a biscotti (or however you spell that!) with your coffee?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Quiet Spaces

 My father in law and Samuel, 2003

The past couple of weeks have been very hard for my family. My father in law became gravely ill, spent six days in Intensive Care and eventually was moved to hospice in his hometown. Four days later, he passed away. The world lost a precious, kind man that day.

As we sat at his bedside each day, there were little noises – beeping machines, the hum of computer screens and the buzzing of motorized beds up and down the hall – but the thing I noticed most was the quiet. There were these grand spaces in time where the room was almost silent. While I sat watching him breathe, I would pray a lot. God kept giving me the notion of recognizing these “quiet spaces”. I was not sure what a “quiet space” was, but over and over that phrase came to mind.

As the time wore on, spending so much time in a hospital chair and on the road, I relished finding those quiet spaces. Part of the time it was because it was an escape. I didn’t have to talk about what was going on or explain hard things to my children or do anything at all in those quiet spaces. The quiet spaces meant rest, reflection, remembering and solitude. And sometimes, those things are exactly what you need. But sometimes those quiet spaces were totally focused. Perhaps the greatest gift in those moments is prayer. Not the “Lord please give me…” prayers that we all seem to know so well, but the whispered pleas for forgiveness, strength, peace and hope. Those two or three word prayers that seem to leak from your lips as your heart strains for peace are more powerful than a whole choir singing Jesus Loves Me.

We were surrounded by friends and family, both in person and from far away, texting or emailing, calling or visiting, letting us know they loved us. We were covered in prayers constantly throughout the whole ordeal. I think, in times like these, those prayers are what keep you afloat. My precious husband was been so far beyond exhausted that it has been painful to watch him get up and keep going in all this. On the morning that he drove over to make the funeral arrangements, I offered to go with him, but he said no. He needed that quiet space to think, grieve, pray and probably to drive down fifty little country backroads in search of more quiet spaces.

You may not be facing the loss of a loved one today, but I think we all need more quiet spaces in our lives. Seek yours out, set up camp for a while, and live there each day. I suspect you will find a lot more than silence in your quiet spaces.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

So many things...

Get ready.  This one's gonna be all over the place.

*I have 19 days of school left.  The kids have a few less than that.  It's almost summer!!  I do NOT look forward to the crazy insane summer temps and 99.9% humidity, but boy I am ready for a break and lots of time with my silly kids.

*Speaking of silly kids, THIS is what I got from them for Mother's Day today.  The front of the envelope looked like this. You may have to click the pic and look at the bigger version to read Sarah's funny cartoon about how I should respond when I get the card from her.

I opened the funny envelope and found this card.  This is the front.

And the inside.

But the best part of the whole thing was this note inside from Savannah (whom we have nicknamed Nana since she was about 2 years old.  Long story.)

It made me laugh so much!  First of all, Savannah admitted that she felt funny buying a card with the word "ass" on the front.  That tickles me.  How many 12th graders do you know who have trouble with that word?  And secondly, I died laughing when I read her note inside.  Clearly her daddy did not see the card at all before he signed the front of the envelope.  LOL!

*My brain can hardly contain the fact that my oldest child is going to cross the stage as a graduate in 20 days.  Good gravy, it's all gone by way too fast.  I know it's just high school graduation, but this is big!  Milestones make us mamas pretty emotional.

These are her graduation announcements, with ever so delicately blacked out personal info!  Internet safety friends!



*One of my dear friends lost her mom yesterday to cancer.  Her dad died just under 3 months ago.  My heart breaks for her.  Love you, Terry!

*My son says "It's not my fault" way too often.  I told him today that I might stab him with my fork if he repeated it one more time.  Don't worry.  He knows I'm kidding.  Sort of.

*Speaking of Samuel, he will be a freshman in high school this year.  When he began signing up for classes a couple of weeks ago, he came home disappointed that he'd have to skip being in athletics and playing football.  When I asked why (this was something he had really looked forward to!) he said that because he wasn't in football this year, he couldn't be in it next year...or the three years after that!  You see, in 7th grade, he was in athletics and played football.  When 8th grade class scheduling rolled around, he was told that you don't HAVE TO have a PE credit for 8th grade, so he still put it on his schedule, but as an alternate choice.  He really didn't understand that putting it down as an alternate meant that the school would strive to give him one of his other choices first.  He was thinking of "alternate" as being one of his elective class choices.  When we got his 8th grade class schedule this past Fall and athletics/football was not on it, we had no idea that would mean he COULD NOT play football in 9th-12th grades!  Lots of phone calls and emails later, we got the dilemma fixed.  The head coach for the high school sent us to speak with the head coach at the junior high who had a long talk with Sam about grades and rules and commitments and athletic safety, etc.  Once he was comfortable with it, he signed off for Sam to be in athletics in high school!  Glory hallelujah!  For a kid who is not a big fan of school in general, having something to look forward when he gets there sure helps!! This summer he will attend a Training Camp for six weeks at the beginning of the summer and then will begin 2-a-days in early August to prepare for football in the Fall.  It's going to be a super-full summer for Sam, but it will keep him busy and keep him active---and those are both good things!

*This morning we took this picture before we left for church.  I'm so grateful for these three, even in those crazy moments that make me understand why some species eat their young.  Three teenagers in one house isn't always easy, but I am blessed with three really good, healthy kids!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Nearing the finish line!

I write a column for our local newspaper.  Tonight I wrote this about Savannah's upcoming graduation.  If you are local & read my column, you will see this coming up this week, but here's the blog-safe version.  (with some info deleted for online safety!)

"I’ve been saying it for years. It seems like big milestones sneak up on you when you are busy raising children. People say ‘Time flies when you’re having fun’, but I think the saying is multiplied by about a million when you’re having fun with your kids. I know this comes as no surprise to other parents, but it all passes so quickly.

Last year when my oldest daughter finished eleventh grade, I cried. Finishing her junior year meant that she would be a senior when she returned to school in the fall. When the postcard arrived in the mail with her senior picture appointment time at the (local photo place) studio, I cried again. Taking these pictures for the yearbook made it very real; there was no doubt about her starting her senior year of high school when she posed with big foam numbers that said 2014. When August rolled around and she began her year of ‘lasts’, I cried again and again. The last summer band practices, the last first day of school, the last homecoming, the last time she marched onto the field at (our school's) stadium, the last Christmas break…all the sudden things that were no big deal before became opportunities for me to well up and turn into a big sappy mess. I’ve always been a crier, but this senior year business certainly brings it out in a mama! The Kleenex company has made big bucks off of me this year.

Last week, Savannah’s graduation announcements came in the mail. Friday, she brought home a plastic-wrapped mortar board, tassel and graduation gown. We took it out of the package to hang up the gown and it happened. As I watched her try it on and there she was: my seven and a half pound baby girl, my hard headed toddler, my tiny pink glasses-wearing kindergartener, my smart little elementary student and my independent middle schooler. I saw my beautiful high school freshman and my brilliant UIL competitor, my creative newspaper editor and artist. I remembered diapers and bottles, tricycles and training wheels, mud puddles and swing sets. I thought of novels and drawings, favorite cartoons and movies, late night essays, science projects and a million college applications. I watched her twirl in the gown and giggle at the silly way the cap made her hair look. For a brief moment, I saw a graduate.

As I have spent the last year looking at her through eyes blurred with tears, I have been sad to see her grown up, on the brink of adulthood. But more than tears of sadness, I cry tears or pride. I could not be more proud of the young woman she has become. She is wise beyond her years, independent and responsible. She is smart and talented, beautiful inside and out. We get compliments all the time about what a great kid Savannah is, and I can’t help but point to God. Larry and I have realized over the years that, at least for us, our first child has been our guinea pig. We have figured out how to parent with our first and then have tweaked it with the other children. We have screwed up many times, but somehow, by the grace of God, our eldest is an amazing young woman.

In a couple of weeks, I will sit shoulder to shoulder with a community of families I have shared most of the past thirteen years with in the (school name) gym and watch as our collective children stand in their maroon gowns and shake the hands of our school officials and receive their diploma. I will clap and cheer when they call my daughter’s name, and I will risk dehydration as I wipe my eyes and  watch her begin a new chapter of her life as a grown up in this crazy world.  We love you, Savannah! Happy graduation!"