Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Want to Know Wednesday

{1}Do you prefer to text or call?

{2}What is the last text message in your phone and who is it from?
It was from my buddy Tara tonight.

{3}What are your favorite phone apps?
I don't have a smart phone, so no apps for me.

{4}At what age do you think kids are ready for a cell phone?
We did not buy a phone for our kids to use until last year. And we only did it then because our oldest would be travelling to out of town football games with the band & might occasionally need to contact us during those trips. She was in 9th grade last year. HOWEVER, the phone is not hers. The phone stays in our kitchen silverware drawer 98% of the time. When one of the kids goes somewhere that they need to take the phone, we pull it out & send it with them.

{5}Share a current pic or video taken with your phone.
Nope...not tonight. You can see those on Friday's Phone Dump post. :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Got a problem?

A friend told me about her brother who was just layed off from the job he had held for 24 years.

I read a blog & keep up with a 6 year old who is fighting brain cancer.

Another friend has me praying for her friend who is fighting a terminal illness. And losing.

Many on the East Coast lost homes, possessions and so much more in Hurricane Irene.

A friend I met online is working through the horrible grief that accompanies disrupting an adoption.

Another friend and her soon to be ex husband are battling over custody issues.

A couple I know of are battling the demons and trying to save their marriage.

My checkbook is bone dry. But when I look at my problems in light of so many others who are suffering, they are nothing. All of my problems could be solved with a little money. We will get by.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3 NIV

Ten on Tuesday

1. What is your favorite brand of shoes?
I don't have a favorite brand, but I have favorite styles & types of shoes.
*For flip flops, I want a wedge sort of heel. Don't misunderstand. I don't mean high heel flip flops. I just don't want the sole of the shoe to be completely flat. I need a little cushion & support.
*For sandals other than flipflops, I like to have a strap or something around the back of my foot. And that's only because I have ugly, dry heels that no amount of filing or moisturizing seems to cure. (If you have any tips or tricks for that, please share!)
*For anything else, I want some arch support. many times did I say "support" about shoes? Oh my...I am getting closer to over the hill every day.

2. How old were you when you learned to tie your shoes?
I don't remember, but I am sure it was within the 'normal' range. My parents never commented about me having late-blooming shoe tying skills, so I assume it was around the average time.

3. How do you feel about freckles?
I love freckles. I have always thought that it would be fun to be a red head with lots of freckles. They're so cute!!

4. I can count to ten in ___ languages.
2 English & Spanish

5. What is your favorite store-bought ice cream flavor?
There is no way for me to narrow that down. You may as well just kill me.

6. Were you in ballet or gymnastics as a little girl?
I took dance classes (mostly jazz with a little tap & drill team thrown in) for about 6 years. I loved it. I also took dance class for my PE credit in high school.

7. Who is your favorite Sesame Street character?

8. What’s your bedtime?
Somewhere between 10:30 & midnight. Usually more toward midnight than I would like.

9. Do you have any jewelry that you wear every single day?
Just my wedding set.

10. Who is the bug killer in your household?
Whoever is closest to the bug. No squeamish bug fears from this mama. However, if you ask me to deal with rodents, that's a whole different story! I will gasp & shriek & squeal like a little girl!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Five Question Friday (on Saturday)

Like I said on the Friday Phone Dump post, I am running a day late on everything because we were out so late with the football game last night. Oops....sorry! (Yes, I know you were all sitting around wondering "Where is Liz's Friday Five post??" So sorry to concern you. ha ha ha!)

1. Did you make any fun purchases this week?
Ummm, it's the end of the month & we're broke. "Fun" & "purchase" do not belong in the same sentence. ha ha!

2. If you could go to any musical concert, what would it be?
That's hard. I like so many singers/bands, but Larry hates concerts, so I rarely go to one. Get back to me when you have free tickets for me & a friend to accompany me.

3. What is your least favorite/most favorite house chore?
Ba ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!'re serious? People have favorite chores??

4. Would you prefer new appliances or clothes?
Seriously? I have to be a grown up & choose between these two? ha! I'd love to be rich enough to always have both new, fancy appliances AND a giant wardrobe. But I'm not. If an appliance dies, I never stop & think "Hmm...should I get the boots I was eyeballing in the catalog or the new washing machine?" That's just not how my mind works. Nor my budget.

5. Miracle Whip or Mayo?
Maybe it's just where I live, but around here, it's mayo or salad dressing. Miracle Whip is just one brand of the stuff. My husband prefers salad dressing on his sandwiches, but Savannah & I like mayo. We keep both in the fridge all the time because I also use salad dressing to make tuna salad.

Friday Phone day late

Last night we had our first High School football game of the season & it was super late when I got home, so all my usual fun Friday stuff was postponed until today! So without further adieu, here's my Friday Phone Dump post! Feel free to join in over on your blog. You can use my picture above (just right click & save it to your computer) and then link back here. Let me know in the comments if you do it so I can come over & take a peek! This post is a way to show you what I've done this week through pictures taken on my cell phone.

August 20th was mine & Larry's 17th anniversary. My parents gave us some steaks to grill for our dinner that night. Yummy!!! What a sweet gift!

I added a (premade) spinach salad to it.

And we hung out & played Littlest Pet Shop Monopoly with the kids. Pretty exciting & romantic huh? ha ha! That's just our style.

My silly girl got a hold of my phone again & (as always) snapped a million pics of herself. She's such a goofball! She does it all the time, but it still cracks me up when I look through my pictures & find so many of her funny faces on my phone.

oops...this one's sideways. Sorry about that!

Of course, it should come as no shock that she's so silly in pictures. After all, her Daddy has the same umm....special talent. Sarah wanted to take my picture at the football game last night & this is what I found when I looked at the picture later. ha ha ha ha ha!

One day this week (I've forgotten which day it was!), we went from this... this...

in a matter of minutes. Our whole state has been in a severe drought all summer long, so these raindrops were very welcome! Although it didn't last long, it was so nice to see a good, hard shower for about 45 minutes. It was all over & done within an hour's time. We're praying for more! Soon!!

Like I said, last night was our first football game of the season. It was VERY hot when we left home to head to the game (118 on my van's thermometer) but it cooled down to a balmy 104 degrees by the end of the night. Sigh.

After sweating through the game, I am even MORE ready for Fall temperatures than I was before! I've been wishing for pumpkin candles & cooler weather for a couple of weeks now. And today when I was grocery shopping, I just couldn't help myself.

And then I came home & made apple dumplings. This is the syrup part you pour over the top cooking on the stove.

Hopefully this week's self-portrait I took is a little better than last week's. At least I don't have a weird "wall decoration" in the background this week. This was last night before the game in my Band mama T-shirt.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Testing, testing....

Last month, many of you read my blog post about our frustrating financial situation. It's been a month since that post. Although I removed it for several reasons, many of you read it & have emailed, inboxed on Facebook or otherwise contacted me to ask "How is it going since then?". Before I update you, allow me a moment to say a few things.

First of all, thank you for caring. Thank you for praying for our family. Thank you for your friendship. I am blessed beyond measure not only physically but emotionally & spiritually as well. We are so loved by so many.

Second, if you missed that post, essentially what it boils down to is this:
A couple years ago we took a giant pay cut. About 18 months ago, Larry got a promotion (and a raise) but the new position brought with it great expenses. Since that time, we have been living in a constant state of running out of money by mid-month to cover his work expenses & then having to pay loads of overdraft fees to the bank when we get paid again. In July, after sort of hitting 'rock bottom' some very kind & generous people helped us & for the first time in a couple of years, we saw some light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. We had hope that our struggles were finally coming to an end.

Since that time it's been well, not so great. Don't get me wrong, their gifts made a huge difference & we will forever be grateful for that. But it's been a month of tests & challenges & trials ever since.

It was July 23rd when we were given those gifts & our bank account seemed to be turning around. Although we were given enough to bring the checking account balance up to $0, we still had 2 bills that would hit the bank at the end of the month to re-overdraw us. So while we weren't out spending money & going out to eat & buying new cars or anything crazy, by August 1st, we were back "in the hole". We felt like we could still get on top of things because August 1st began a whole new month. We should've had plenty to pay our bills & relax a bit, financially. We felt confident that our world was finally turning around.

I found myself praying "God, please keep me dependent on you. Don't let me relax so much that I forget your provision. Thank you for the hearts of those who gave to help us. Don't let me forget what it's like to NEED things." And ya know what? He heard those prayers & has spent most of August testing me. Did I really mean that I wanted to remain dependent on Him? Did I really want to trust Him 100%? Don't you just love it when you pray for something & then He gives you a chance to test that. Kind of like praying for patience & then being given situations to 'test out' your patience. It's funny how He does those things.

In the first 2 weeks of August, Savannah turned 15, which means a birthday gift, a trip to the movie theater, and a trip to the ice cream store with a few friends. My van's battery died & had to be replaced. The exterminator came. We had to buy a few school clothes and the last few school supplies. Sarah had a doctor's appointment. I took a meal to 2 families after surgeries/births/etc (nothing extravagant, mind you). The dog had an eye problem that had to be dealt with by our vet. The list goes on & on. But you get the idea. Right off the bat, we had several hundred dollars worth of stuff that we wouldn't normally have to deal with. Those things didn't fit into the budget. Sigh.

As the month has gone on, I've learned some lessons about saving money.

First of all, sometimes it's not beneficial to look for ways to save money....but rather to just not spend it at all, regardless of the savings. See what you can do without for a time. You might be surprised how far you can stretch a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread, a package of lunchmeat.

I've begun to see a few areas where we can scrimp & save a TAD more each month. It's nothing huge & won't pay the mortgage, but a few pennies here & there adds up.

After several rounds of "Can we go out to eat tonight?" and "Can we stop for a drink somewhere?" from the kids, I basically said "NO...stop asking!" I am reminded of the few & far between trips to a restaurant or fast food place when I was a kid. The rare occasions when we did go were usually because we got some coupons in the mail or there was a special occasion. Or someone else was buying! Most of the time, we picked up our food & brought it home, eliminating the need to purchase a drink (soda!) because we had drinks at home. While we are not a heavy out-to-eat sort of family anyway, I know that we go more often than we should. Remembering my parents' frugality has been a good reminder this month. Kids CAN and DO survive without Happy Meals. ha ha!

And finally, when God provides and you thank Him and then ask for Him to never let you forget how that felt, He may give you the opportunity to test out those "never forgetting" skills more quickly than you imagined. But ya know what? If relying on Him now prepares me for something greater or harder in the future, I will be able to look back on this & say "No big deal...we've been there & done that before. We'll be fine!", then I'm okay with it. Time & time again, I am reminded that I AM NOT IN CONTROL.

So if you're like us, hanging on tight & praying for the 1st of the month to get here quickly, may I offer you reassurance that He sees you. He can see the thread you're barely dangling from. He is walking the road of scrimping & saving with you. You may not understand why you're having to struggle, but rest assured, you are not alone. We are never asked to walk through the fire alone.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Reminded of my mortality...

Last night, an old friend (ok, an old boyfriend, really) came to mind. We met at church camp the summer in between my 8th & 9th grade years. He was a year older, lived about an hour away from me and had some trouble at home so he was staying with his youth pastor at the time. I'm not sure what kind of 'trouble' it was, but I got the impression that it wasn't something he had done wrong...but rather a bad situation with his parents. Anyway, like all teen summer romances, we fell madly in love (ok, so maybe there is a little sarcasm there...) and vowed to never break up.

When we got home from summer camp, we wrote letters like crazy, back & forth a couple of times a week. I could hardly wait to see the mailman come down the driveway every day because I was so anxious to hear from Billy. We talked on the phone now and then, but this was back before cell phones & free long distance plans, so our long-distance calls to talk were few & far between.

Anyway, our summer romance became a Fall romance. One day he showed up at my house on a Sunday afternoon & my parents allowed me to ride with him to church that night. We lost contact that Fall & decided it was best to break up & see other people. But I never forgot him.

So last night, his name came to mind & I went to Facebook to look him up. I found a lot of other people by his name (his last name is fairly common) but not HIM. So I googled him. Again, with such a common name, I got a million hits for men all over the world. To narrow it down, I searched for his name & added on the last city I knew that he'd lived in.

And that's when I found it.

An obituary for Billy. From September 2005. I thought that surely this wasn't his obituary, after all he would've only been about 32 in 2005. But when I began reading the birthdate, family members' names, where he'd lived....I knew it was him. I'm still in shock.

I will certainly survive this loss without much grief, but it's always hard to read that someone your own age has died. I have to wonder what he died of. An accident, cancer, suicide, an unexpected illness, murder....who knows? Fortunately with today's technology, I was able to look up some of his family members & pallbearers on Facebook and I sent them messages about Billy. Maybe I can find out what happened.

Go hug your kids & your spouse. You just never know what tomorrow may bring. Or if you'll see tomorrow.

Want to Know Wednesday

1. What is the best advice someone has ever given you?
Like most moms will tell you, it boils down to 2 things. (1) Trust your instincts. and (2) Sleep when your baby sleeps. It may have taken me 3 kids to finally follow that advice, but when it finally sunk in, I was a better mom/wife/person for it!

2. What is your greatest accomplishment?
At this moment in my life, I would have to say raising 3 kids.

3. Who do you admire?
So many people....mostly Godly women who are transparent & honest about their lives. No facades, no hiding behind a veil of superiority or perfectionism. Women who fully rely on God & are REAL.

4. If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
Ok, the most obvious answer from the chubby girl is "I'd weigh less." But what I've learned so many times in life is that reaching that next goal (whatever it is) will not change you are. And I like who I am. So if I reach my goals in life (like having more money, losing weight, having a home with a big dining room so my family can always eat together at mealtime....) that's great, but those are just things to aim for. They won't necessarily make me a better person.

5. How do you want to be remembered?
As a person who lived life well, who saw the good in people, who lived my faith & trusted God, even in tough times.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ten on Tuesday

1. Do you listen to the radio in your car? If so, what type of station do you like?
It's primarily Contemporary Christian, but I flip the stations some & listen to a whole host of music types. But more often than not, it's CCM.

2. What is the best concert you have ever attended?
I lovedddddddd seeing Garth Brooks when I was in the 9th grade. He was just getting popular at the time & came to our little small town venue. All these years later, I have fond memories of the smoke-filled room & all the boots & tight Wranglers in the crowd. ha ha!

3. What is the most embarrassing concert you have ever attended?
I don't think I have a most embarrassing concert.

4. If you could have the singing voice of anyone in the world, who would it be?
I have no idea. Someone with a beautiful voice. There are too many to narrow it down.

5. You’re auditioning for American Idol. What song do you sing?
The last song I sang to audition for anything was "Yankee Doodle Dandy" when I tried out for 5th grade choir. Think that would work?

6. If your previous weekend had its own soundtrack, what would be a few of the songs?
I think it would be a cross between Flight of the Bumblebee (last minute prep for school starting) and the Brady Bunch (lots of last weekend of summer family time).

7. Most annoying television show theme song ever:
The Jeffersons

8. Are you and your significant other music-compatible?
LOL! Larry loves to flip through the radio stations (much like he does with the remote & TV channels) until he finds something he wants to listen to. It drives me crazy.

9. A song that brings me back to middle school:
Could've Been by Tiffany or Lost in your Eyes by Debbie Gibson

10. A song that brings me back to high school:
Shameless by Garth Brooks....or any other country song from the late 80s/early 90s.

11. A guilty pleasure song (or three):
Party in the USA (Miley Cyrus), Freak the Freak Out (Victoria Justice), almost anything by Jimmy Buffett

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Summer: Day....well, the last one

I've lost track of my numbers on summer days, but whatever today is, it's the last one.

I'm bummed that summer is over, but I'm trying not to dwell on the fact that we never got out the Slip & Slide. And we didn't eat nearly enough snowcones. And my number of days that I slept late (ya know, past 8:00am) is very small. And I didn't take enough pictures. And we didn't go swimming enough.

But ya know what? It's time to get back in a routine & look forward to Friday night football games and all the good things that the school year brings!

I will be able to get back in gear on my workout schedule.

The kids will be heading to bed earlier at night.

I'll have more time to read my Bible & spend some quiet time with God in the mornings.

The kids will get to see their friends that they've missed during the summer.

They'll be reading more (well, 2 of the 3 anyway....Savannah reads plenty on her own).

Yep, it's that time of year again. Gotta hurry up & go to bed. 6:00am comes awful early. Goodnight!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

17 Reasons Why I'm Glad I Am Married to Larry

Today is our 17th anniversary, so I decided to go with a "17" theme & give you 17 reasons why I am glad that I'm married to Larry.

1. He makes me laugh.
I'm not just talking about giggling now & then. The boy makes me laugh until my face hurts & there are tears running down my cheeks. And I snort because I can't breathe well enough. Oh yeah, I'm talking about that kind of laugh.

2. He thinks I'm beautiful.
I'm constantly amazed about this one. Things are not anywhere near as toned & tight as they were when we got married. Gravity & aging have taken effect. My hair has silver streaks here and there. My skin is not as smooth as it once was. I gave birth to 3 kids within 4 1/2 years' time and my waistline is far from the size it was when I walked down the aisle. But he still thinks I'm hot.

3. He knows my love language.
He knows what I need to feel loved and he speaks my language. 'Nuff said.

4. He protects me.
Not just physically, but emotionally & mentally. He sees darts coming my way & dives in front of them, even if it means being hurt or dealing with ugliness himself to shield me from it. He gets teary-eyed telling me how precious I am to him, how I am his first priority above all.

5. He waited for me.
I know this one will make some of you squirm, and I'm sorry about that, but purity was very important to both of us before we got married. After dating for nearly 2 years, that became very, very difficult for both of us. But we waited and our honeymoon was awesome! There are no words to explain how special & important that is to both of us. I know it's out of the norm these days and almost unheard of.

6. He knows I like to snuggle, but then I want him to leave me alone & let me sleep!
Snuggling is all sweet & nice, but I don't want him to cling to me all night--and he feels the same way.

7. He lets me poke him with my foot.
Even though neither of us are snuggle-all-night-long sorts of people, I do like to fall asleep with my foot touching him. Kind of a security thing....knowing he's there. I'm on my side of the bed, but my foot scootches over to his side just enough for a toe to touch his leg.

8. He sleeps by the door.
At home & in hotel rooms, he always positions himself on the side of the bed nearest the door. In case someone breaks in, his positioning himself like that tells me "They'll have to go through me before they can get to you!"

9. He cooks & cleans.
I don't guess that one needs any elaboration, does it wives?

10. When he's worried or afraid, he says so.
He's never been one to hide things from me like his emotional state. If he's freaked out or worried, I'm the first person to know. I hate to hear girlfriends say that they've never seen their husband cry.

11. He takes care of me.
When I'm sick, he is the best nurse.

12. He works his butt off.
Yep, I said butt.
He has never been one to shy away from hard work. Or long hours. And while those long hours have been a detriment to us at times, I know that I can always count on him to take care of us financially. He will take on 3 jobs if he has to and won't complain about it. (This is the same man who worked full time AND a part time job while going through college to get his bachelor's & master's degrees while I was a stay at home mom. I'm telling you....the boy can work!)

13. He hates to see me cry.
When I cry, he will drop everything & come to wherever I am to comfort me. That is, unless it's my usual sort of tears --- over a movie or a commercial or one of the kids' accomplishments. He understands those tears & loves to tease me about them. But when I'm upset or fearful & the tears come, he is there until I feel better.

14. He is an awesome Daddy.
He was amazing with me during all three labors & deliveries. I'd almost be willing to go through another pregnancy & delivery just to share those sweet hours of tenderness with him all over again. And he's been proud of his kiddos ever since. He's a hands-on dad who has never shied away from changing diapers, giving baths, feeding, doctoring, getting up in the middle of the night to help clean up vomit, going to school meetings and being there for every event.

15. We make such a great team.
Where I am weak, he is strong. And vice versa. It's amazing how well we complement each other. We are ridiculously compatible.

16. He is tender & gentle while being a man's man at the same time.
He can swaddle a baby & wipe a little nose.......and in the same day go hunting & fishing & arrest a bad guy. He really is the complete package.

17. He loves God.
Above everything else, he loves the Lord. He is a wealth of Biblical knowledge & can explain Greek & Hebrew to our kids (and me!). His passion for Jesus is overwhelming....and I love that.

Happy Anniversary Larry!

I originally posted this in August of 2009, so the number of years listed here are incorrect. Today, 8/20/11, is our 17th anniversary! I thought I'd re-post this for those of you who haven't ever heard mine & Larry's story.

Today is mine & Larry's 15th wedding anniversary. I can hardly believe it's been that long. We dated for 2 years before we got married, so it's really been 17 years. I'll be 34 in a couple of months so I've literally been with the love of my life for 1/2 of my lifetime and I couldn't imagine it any other way.

Here's "our story" for those of you who've never heard it.

In April of 1992, I went to work for a local pizza place. It was my first "real" job. I was 16 1/2 & dating a guy who could be classified as not-so-good-for-me. We had been together for over a year which is like decades in teenager terms. A couple months later, we broke things off & I rebounded from that relationship into another one. A very sweet guy, but he wasn't "the one". Even so, I was devastated when he broke up with me.

Meanwhile, in May of 1992, Larry's long-time girlfriend broke up with him. He rebounded with a girl who could be classified as not-so-good-for-him. A couple months later, she dumped him & he was heartbroken. Do you see a similar pattern here?

As God would have it (I don't think anything belongs in the hands of's all God!) Larry moved to Tyler to attend Tyler Junior College & transferred from the pizza place in his hometown to the one where I was working. We were both involved in our rebound relationships at the time we met, but I can tell you one thing for sure. While we talked to each other frequently & compared notes about our then boy/girlfriends, my heart fluttered every time I talked to him. He was much more than a guy friend from the moment I met him. I know most people do not believe in love at first sight, and in theory I don't either....but with Larry, there was most definately SOMETHING at first sight. Maybe it wasn't love, but the immediate chemistry & warm fuzzies were absolutely there! I can tell you exactly where we were standing, what I was wearing, what we said...everything about the moment I first layed eyes on him.

Over the course of the first couple of months, we talked a lot, learned about each other & tried to play the part of a good friend to each other. That September when we both ended up single, we cried on each other's shoulders & wallowed in our new-found singlehood before we realized that there was something more going on between us.

On a Thursday in October of 1992, Larry came to work with an earring. He was in a new town & out of boredom, he went to the mall that day & got his ear pierced on a whim. That night, he approached me at work & asked me out for the first time. I think I lifted a few feet off the ground when I said yes...but I told him that my dad would never let us go out if he had the earring. Immediately, he pulled it out & stuck it in his pocket. He completely understood because he knew that his own dad wouldn't have approved either. I floated around all night long feeling giddy & silly. I don't think anyone could wipe the smile off my face that night. It wasn't until after I got home that evening that I realized I already had plans on Sunday afternoon--when he'd asked me to go to a movie with him. I had to call & cancel our date, but invited him to join my family & I that day. He agreed to come & sit where his left ear was turned away from my dad the whole time. Mom & dad fell in love with him right off the bat.

I could tell you a thousand stories of this beautiful, wonderful guy during those dating years. I could tell you about the sweet birthday flowers he gave me & our first kiss that same day. I could tell you about the day we told each other that we loved each other for the first time. I could share about how I knew he was "the one" by the 2nd or 3rd date or how we danced in the aisle to the closing credits of our first movie. I could tell you about the incredible gentleman he was all throughout our dating years and about the blissful honeymoon we spent together. I could tell you about our wedding and all the times we moved in those first few years we were married. I could tell you about how I fell more in love with him after each one of our kids' births, how romantic & precious he was to me during those labors & what an awesome daddy he is. I could tell you about the way he has loved me & forgiven me for being stupid at times, how he's supported me & encouraged me these past fifteen years. There is so much I could tell you about the amazing man I'm married to, but nothing would really capture the essence of who he is & how brilliantly compatible we are.

We've lived through so many things, so many hard times, so many trials & tribulations. All of those hard times have driven us closer together, strengthened us & solidified our marriage that much more. There is not a day that goes by when I don't realize how deeply blessed I am, how much God has given me in Larry.

I love you, Larry. Happy Anniversary, sweetheart.