Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Nearly three hours later...

Brian has called saying he's on his way home. Finally! The locksmith got lost twice on his way out there (this place really is in the middle of nowhere). Now if I could just find the wrapping paper. It's official, I suck at Christmas this year. Oh, and the one present that didn't get here? It's one of three things Julian actually wrote on his Christmas list (and the other two are coming from grandparents, not from Santa, so they won't be here tomorrow morning, either - we aren't even seeing Brian's parents until sometime in January, so it will be a good long while before he gets at least one of the three things on his list). I. Suck. At least the tree is up and stockings are hung.

Ho ho ho?

Brian called shortly after I got home. The key to my car, which he has there in the middle of nowhere east Texas, was locked in the trunk. There's not a spare there with him, and the odds of getting a locksmith out at this time on Christmas Eve were pretty much nonexistent. So he said he could either wait until Friday to come home, or he could break a window to get into the car, and get the key out of the trunk that way. Or I could drive three, four hours to get him tonight, and then three, four hours back, and then try to do Christmas tomorrow when we're all worn out, and then go back again on Saturday with Julian in tow, which just wouldn't be practical at all. And of course that would have meant spending God knows how much to get the window fixed. Of course I want him home, but I don't want to spend a bunch of money repairing the car window. And it's MY car. My baby. I didn't want a window smashed out. So much for that Christmas cheer I had going on, and I figured, there goes Brian's paycheck that he's bringing home. I was not a happy camper.

Then Brian called back - he did get hold of a locksmith. It will cost $60-100, but it's cheaper than a new window. God bless the locksmith who's working the late afternoon of Christmas Eve, and that was quite a relief! He'll be a bit later getting home, but I can handle that.

And now the fun continues. After getting not a lot of sleep last night, Julian spent the day at Kevin's. I told him he could open one present when he got home. He opened the one, and started crying and saying he didn't want that one. I really wish I could have some spiked eggnog right about now. *sigh* Ho ho ho?

Oh, and one of Julian's Christmas presents didn't arrive on time. It was supposed to get here today, and it's one he really, really wanted. I'm bummed.

What color Christmas lights are you?

Pilfered from Jenn at I Hate Whine.

You are Multicolored Lights

Your holidays are a time for cheer and excitement.

You love so much about the holidays, and everyone perks up a little from your happiness.

You try to be grateful for what you have this time of the year.

Even if things have been tough, you can't help but be joyful.

Trying to get the new year off to a clean start

I think I've mentioned previously that Brian's new job will help us immensely from a financial standpoint. We've still got some financial issues to clean up, though, and there's one big one I've been putting off making a call about. A new year is approaching, and I want to get everything back on a firm footing as soon as we can, so today I finally made the call. I had to leave a message, so I'm waiting on a callback, but I feel better just having picked up the phone and called. It will all get cleaned up, and we will get things squared away, and it can stop being a fearsome thing to hear the phone ring or dread what may be lurking in the mailbox. And THAT will be a thing to celebrate! Time for some "out with the old, in with the new" for sure.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Winter wonderland? Not so much.

This morning was fun. I got Julian off to the Y program, and then started hearing reports of icy roadways near Midlothian. Great. Long story short, my route to work was littered with cop cars and tow trucks and cars in the ditch, oh my, and I was not getting on it. No way. The highway I take was shut down in both directions at one point due to ice. I couldn't get back to my house, because every route home involves an overpass, and after taking one overpass and seeing the car in front of me skid and spin around and end up facing me, I wasn't doing that. (When I saw that, my heart was literally pounding. Not fun.) So I went to one of our little restaurants and had a nice breakfast and waited for the mess to clear up. It finally did, and I made it to work by 10:15. If we were going to have nasty weather, I wish it would have started before we'd left the house. It would have saved me a lot of stress. I've had enough winter, thanks, I'm ready for spring now.

Monday, December 22, 2008


Happy Monday! It's gray and cold here - it was 27 degrees when we were driving to school. (I know, that may be no big deal for the Northern contingent, but for a Texan, it's COLD!) Julian asked me, "Mama, why did God have to make it so cold today?" LOL I told him to wait a day or two, it would change (and it is supposed to warm up a good bit this week - go figure, 20s one day, 60s the next, no wonder we're all sick).

I've still got this nasty cough. It's like I get a tickle in my throat and start coughing and just can't stop. I tried going without my cough syrup last night. Bad idea. I woke up about half an hour later coughing fit to beat the band, and so I took a dose. Then I woke up with a codeine hangover this morning. Ugh.

Julian and I finally got the Christmas tree up last night! I told him that we needed to clean up so we could get that done, so that Santa would have someplace to put presents. He said, "Santa can just put presents on the floor." I told him, oh no, the floor is all messy right now, and Santa would see it and think, "My goodness, the little boy who lives here must not be interested in getting presents - I'll take his and give them to other little boys and girls!" Julian couldn't start cleaning fast enough. LOL So the tree is up, and thankfully it's pre-lit, but we still need to get the decorations on it. Hopefully that will be done by Christmas Eve night!

I'm at work all week except for Thursday. *sigh* Next year, I WILL have vacation at Christmas time.

What kind of flower are you?

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

So tired

It's been a busy day. Let's see what all we've done:

~Grocery shopping at Brookshire's
~Put the groceries away
~Pick up in the living room
~Vacuum the living room
~Make cake balls (still to be dipped)
~Make fudge
~Make casserole for dinner
~Load dishwasher
~Hand wash things that don't go in the dishwasher
~Put up Christmas tree

Still left on tonight's to-do list: finish Christmas gifts for work, dip cake balls, and hopefully get one load of laundry done so I'll have clean underwear for tomorrow.

I. Am. Tired.

My shopping trip to Brookshire's

I'm trying to get into couponing and saving on groceries. I'm nowhere near some of the people whose super deals I've seen, but I think I did pretty well for today's haul.

Two Oscar Mayer Lunchables
Fourteen Michelina frozen entrees (on sale, 2/$3.00 and I had two coupons for $1/5)
Two packages of Oscar Mayer bacon (on sale, 2/$5.00)
One Bob Evans mashed potatoes (coupon for .35/1)
One store brand Velveeta (cheaper than regular Velveeta's sale price)
One box Reese's Puffs (just 'cause we like 'em!)
One liquid Coffee-Mate (coupon for $1/1)
Two six-packs of ready-to-eat Jello (on sale, 2/$5.00)
Four bricks of Philadelphia cream cheese (on sale for $1.19 each and I had two coupons for $1/2)
C&H powdered sugar and C&H brown sugar (on sale, 2/$3, and I had two coupons for .35/1)
One each of Pillsbury frozen biscuits and frozen dinner rolls (on sale, 2/$5.00 and I had two coupons for .50/1)
Two Pillsbury cinnamon rolls (on sale for $1.69 each and I had two coupons for .35/1)
One Community Coffee instant cappucino
Two Pillsbury crescent rolls (on sale for $1.69 each and I had two coupons for .35/1)
One package of crispy onions (coupon for .55/1 and it was a bonus pack!)
Lofthouse frosted cookies
Scott towels (coupon for $1/1)
Two 9-roll packages of Northern bath tissue, mega rolls (on sale 2 for $12.00 and I had two coupons for $1/1)
One magazine
One Airheads Extreme Sour (for Julian)

I also used the $10 off $100 coupon in the Brookshire's circular. My total before taking that $10 off was $108 and change.

Total out of pocket: $86.11.
Total savings per my receipt (coupons and Thank You card, so taking into account the savings on sale items): $57.08, or a total savings of 40%!

Now I know I probably could have done better on some items if I'd shopped somewhere that doubles coupons, and I know Brookshire's may be a little higher generally than some other stores. But it's right close to my house (literally less than five minutes away), and I don't think I did too badly for just starting out on my couponing adventure!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Talk about something you wish you could take back!

A pox on whoever came up with printable coloring pages, and a swift kick in the butt for me for ever finding them for Julian. That's all I've heard all day: "Mama, can I print Hot Wheels coloring pages/Ben 10 coloring pages/Monster Jam coloring pages/Transformers coloring pages?" GAH. Santa should bring him a five-pack of printer ink for Christmas.

Friday, December 19, 2008

God Stop Friday

This is a Friday meme from Patty at God Is Able, and this is my first time participating! It's kind of wordy, but bear with me.

Boy, have I ever seen the hand of God recently. I guess it started back in 2005 when I met Brian. We met, we liked each other, we dated, we fell in love, and we felt sure we were meant to be together. I looked for jobs there, he looked for jobs here, but nothing ever worked out. Finally, in a leap of faith, he quit his job and moved here, and we got married in April of 2008. Four months later, he finally found a job - not the ideal job (as those of you who've read my blog know), but at least it was something, even if the logistics were fairly awful and the pay wasn't great.

Then I found out I was pregnant. Surprise! And the wondering started again. Surely God didn't mean to keep Brian at a job that had him three hours from home, eight days at a time, with his wife pregnant, or with a newborn and a six-year-old, could He? So Brian kept looking. He kept his name on the substitute teacher list for our school district, hoping for some extra income to come our way through that route. The phone never rang for sub assignments (I think he's had one half-day assignment since the school year started), and every job opportunity that he applied for turned him down flat, without even an interview. It was a discouraging time, and I tried not to worry, but man, if worry were an Olympic sport, I'd be a gold medalist.

During this time, Brian and I talked about tithing. We both felt strongly that we needed to be faithful in our giving. Our ex-spouses weren't committed to that idea, and it was something we felt like we needed to do. Before Brian started working, we picked a number that scared us and stuck to it. That number was $50 out of each of my paychecks. Not much, and not 10%, but we gave it, and yes, with Brian not working, it scared me. Finances still seemed to get worse, though, and it was all a struggle. I was frustrated - I'm 40 years old, shouldn't things be better at this point in my life?

Then in November, it occurred to me that we needed to cut out direct deposit and online bill payment and go to all cash. That way, all of our paychecks could go to pay our obligations and needs, rather than a chunk of it being lost to clear overdraft charges at the bank every time (we had issues with our bank running things through more than once and being charged fees for it every time, which really adds up). And when this occurred to me, it also occurred to me that we needed to tithe the full 10%. We'd started taking that full amount from Brian's check, but we were still only taking $50 from mine, and I told Brian at that point that we either trusted God fully or not at all, and if we trusted Him fully, we needed to give our whole tithe. He agreed, and so we started doing that.

Along the way, Brian kept looking for jobs. He found two that seemed promising, and applied. Let the waiting begin. (If you've read my recent posts, you know how I feel about that.) Our finances began to improve a bit, slowly but surely. At least we knew that when we got to the end of the cash, that was it until the next payday, and there were no more overdraft notices from the bank, which was a welcome relief. Then Brian got an interview. Excitement, and more waiting. And if you've read back, you know he got a job offer yesterday! I couldn't thank God any more if there were two of me. We are so, so excited about this, it just boggles the mind. Starting January 5, he'll be at home, with a job that offers better benefits and salary, and this is absolutely an answer to prayer.

And now comes the God Stop. Several of my friends, or their spouses, or their friends, have received notices of layoffs in the past couple of days. At Christmas, a time of year that should be full of joy and happiness and goodwill toward men. My heart breaks for them, because I know how rotten it is to be forced out of a job (I've been there), and I know how scary it is (in this economy, especially) to not know what you'll be doing to bring in income, and something like losing a job can suck the joy right out of the season. I am humbled by the realization that God does have a plan for us all, that He has walked with Brian and me this whole time and seen us through, and He has chosen now as His perfect time to bless Brian with a wonderful new opportunity. I am doubly thankful for that gift because of the times we're living in, and because I know people who are seeing just the opposite happen right now. Do I think God doesn't have His hand on my friends, or that He loves Brian and me more? No, not at all. God loves each and every one of us, and He has a perfect plan and perfect timing for our lives, and He uses trials and difficulties to refine us and strengthen us. I'm just very thankful that right now, God's plan is bringing us good news instead of trials. The past few years, I've had enough trials and character-building to last for a while! And this particular blessing from God doesn't mean that suddenly everything is sunshine and roses. We've still got some financial issues to square away, and we've still got a baby coming that we need to prepare for. It just means that yes, God hears our prayers, and yes, He provides - in His time, not ours.

He got it, he got it!!!!

And I was so excited, I forgot to post here. LOL Brian got the job at Methodist Home!!! I got the message off his voice mail yesterday, and as soon as I hung up, I was on the phone to his boss, telling him to get Brian on the phone ASAP. (His boss knew he was looking and why, and Brian told me to do that if he got a message, so it was OK. LOL ) John was able to get Brian on the radio, so he was able to call Methodist Home and call me in short order. He starts January 5! Woo hoo!!!!! So this is his next to last shift at Lone Star - he'll go back for one more before he starts on the 5th, unless they tell him not to worry about it. The benefits are really good, and the salary is a good bit above what Lone Star has been paying (it's almost as much as he'd be making if he were teaching, so pretty darn good), and that is SUCH a huge blessing. God is so good (as one of my online friends put it, He's an on-time God - this worked out in His time, not ours, and it's all good!). We're still going to be counting our pennies and being frugal, but this will help us so much in getting everything caught up and getting back on track. This is an answered prayer for sure, and the best Christmas present ever! And Brian's birthday is December 28, so I guess this is a pretty darn good birthday present for him, too!

In other good news, Julian continues his streak of stickers. Still only one note for the six weeks, with two weeks left (after the Christmas break)! I told him if he gets all stickers for the rest of the six weeks, we can definitely go to Game Stop and get a Wii game as a treat.

I feel some better, but my head is still stuffed full of snot. It would be such a refreshing change if I could breathe through my nose and get rid of the cough (which is dry and just annoying during the day, and all goopy at night - fun!).

But hey, it's Friday, the sun is out (finally!), and Brian has a new job starting soon - life is good!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

More waiting, but a hopeful waiting?

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!! Brian got a voice mail asking him to call, hopefully by tomorrow, I've already called Lone Star and told them to get word to him to get him to a phone ASAP. I called his boss, too (he knows Brian is looking for something closer to home and why, so it's OK for me to do that). Turns out Brian's group is at the ropes course, so John was going to try to get him on the radio so he could call this afternoon. SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEe!!!!!!! Now, granted, the message didn't say it was a job offer. I sure hope it is, though.

I'm so excited/anxious, my head may explode. LOL

More of the same.

Big fat nothin'. If they're wanting to have people start on January 5, and still leave them time to give two weeks' notice, they're cutting it fine. One of my co-workers just pointed that out to me, as well as the fact that next week starts the holiday black hole where people are out of pocket. GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH. The position is still up on their website, so I guess that's good? Surely they'll make some decisions by tomorrow, knowing that the holidays are upon us and knowing that the date they want people to start is drawing nigh.


No word yet. No voice mail, no e-mail, nothing. Hate waiting. Hate it.

Snork. That's the sound my nose makes when I try to breathe through it. It just ain't happening. I started taking my antibiotic last night, and I took some of my lovely cough syrup. I slept decently, which helps, but my head just will.not.unclog. I hate breathing through my mouth. It makes me feel stupid, and it's hard to concentrate on anything when just breathing is an effort. And I don't know how this happens, but the snot migrates from one side to the other. Sometimes it just gets stuck in the middle, so that I can't come close to breathing out of either side of my nose. I need Roto-Rooter to come unclog my sinuses, please.

This morning got off to a rough start. I'd told Julian more than once to get dressed and eat his breakfast, so I wasn't real happy to get out of the shower and find him sitting on the couch, naked, with his clothes next to him, coloring, and his breakfast still untouched. So we had a throwdown over that that resulted in the TV being turned off and markers being put away, and he cried. Yeah, that makes me feel great, to start my day by making my kid cry. I told him that starting now, the very first thing we do when we get up is to get dressed, and he cried over that, saying he didn't want to do the boring stuff first. I told him that we do that first because mornings during the week are about getting to school and work on time, not playing or coloring or watching TV. He was fine by the time I dropped him off at school, and I told him that no matter what, I always love him, even if I don't love the way he's acting sometimes, but still. It wasn't a fun way to start the day.

It doesn't help that it's foggy and gray and chilly and drippy this morning. Traffic was miserable, so I was even later to work than I thought I'd be. And the bad thing (well, one of the bad things) about working in a cube farm with half walls is that there really is no sneaking in unnoticed. Let's hope the day improves from here, shall we?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Why can't they just call already?!

Still no word from Brian's interview. I'm doing my best not to call and check his voice mail every ten minutes, just on the off chance that a call finally came in. Have I mentioned that waiting sucks? No, really, it does.

I really wish I was home today

Wait, wait, wait. Waiting sucks. Brian e-mailed the interviewer to let her know he'd be available by phone until about noon today, and that I'd be checking his e-mail while he's in the field.

It's not icing here anymore, which is nice. Now it's just cold and wet, which isn't so nice. Blech.

I feel like crap. I was up and down all night with the hacking and coughing and nose-blowing, and my head is all clogged up. I called my doctor to see if he could call in some meds for me. If I don't sleep, I'm just useless. I was really wishing I had one sick day left this morning so I could stay home.

On the bright side, I got an e-mail from Julian's teacher this morning saying he was having a really good day. It makes me so happy to see stickers in his folder instead of notes, and to hear him asking me why reading is so easy instead of complaining that school is too hard and there's too much work.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Worst use of noun as verb EVER

The use of nouns as verbs is one of my pet peeves. "He offices at Thanksgiving Tower", for instance. No, he doesn't. He has an office at Thanksgiving Tower, or he works at Thanksgiving Tower. Things like that are like nails on a chalkboard to me, and I think I've just found the worst use of a noun as a verb ever. I like McDonalds' McGriddles, but I may never be able to eat one again. I just saw a banner ad for McGriddles that said, "Now that's how you morning." GAAAAAH. "Morning" is not a verb.

Waiting, waiting, waiting.

Well, today is Tuesday. Still no word. I know Brian is getting antsy. He said he feels like the later it gets, the less likely any call he gets will be with a job offer. I told him not necessarily, so it's my job to be Pollyanna and positive right now, and he's all bunchy. I really hope that he does get a call today, though, and that it is good news. He felt so good about the interview that I know he'll take it really hard if it doesn't work out. And I know that sometimes things don't go according to plan, and just because they gave Tuesday as a time frame doesn't mean it will happen. I just wish that, if they can't make that time frame, they wouldn't have said it so definitely. They made a big deal about it, and made a point of writing "call on Tuesday" on Brian's resume when he told them he'd be out in the field starting Wednesday but could check messages if need be. It would be easier to wait if they'd left it more open-ended rather than making such a point of saying that they really wanted to have everyone notified by Tuesday.

The weather is fairly nasty here today. It's below freezing, and there was ice on the roadways this morning - never a good thing for Texans who don't know how to drive on it. Julian's school opened late, so I came in to work late. I figure if school buses don't need to be out on the road, neither do I. I left the house around 9:30, and didn't get here until after 11:00. It was slow going, but that's preferable to people zipping along like nothing is out of the ordinary. I wish they'd send us home early, because I'm nervous about making my commute home after dark, with the temps the way they are and the roads still all wet.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Baby and interview and finances, oh my!

Finally, an update!

Thursday afternoon, I got a call from my doctor's office at about 3:15, just before I was fixing to leave for my u/s. They told me that my OB appointment had gotten scheduled for downtown Dallas (where I usually see my doc), and the u/s had gotten scheduled for the Mesquite office (far enough away that there was no way I could make both in one afternoon when my appointment was at 4:00). They asked if I wanted to reschedule the OB appointment or the u/s, and I said I'd reschedule the appointment, thanks, I wanted the u/s today. Brian was already waiting at the downtown Dallas office, so I had to call and give him directions to Mesquite. Thank goodness for cell phones. But we made it there with no problems, and then it was time for the big u/s!

And we're having a boy!!! The tech said she thought that was the fastest she'd ever seen the pertinent parts. He's just like Julian, only interested in showing off his butt - she had a hard time getting shots of anything other than butt and boy parts. LOL

He did finally give us a couple of other views, though. And he's just as squirmy and wiggly as ever his brother was. Great, looks like I'll have two wild men on my hands. We're excited. Brian is a bit stunned - he said he never expected to have a son. I'm surprised, because I really thought this baby was a girl. Shows you what I know. LOL His mom is relieved - she said she really wouldn't have known what to do with a girl! LOL (She had two sons, and Brian's brother has two sons, and there's Julian, so all boys in the family.)

And then there was Brian's interview! Brian felt like it went really well. Turns out they did pick up on his former connection with Methodist Home while he was teaching in Waco, and the woman he interviewed with went to church with one of Brian's former co-workers at the Dr Pepper Museum, so they talked a lot about people they knew in common. Brian said she only asked him three or four substantive questions, and that they were pretty easy ones, so we're hoping that they've already got him on a short list just from his education and background. Brian let her know he was going to be out in the field starting Wednesday, and she said they're really aiming to have all decisions made and everyone notified by Tuesday. So we're anxiously hoping and praying that the phone rings with good news! It's good that God knows our hearts when we can't find words, because right now the constant prayer running through my mind is something along the lines of, "Oh please oh please oh please oh please." LOL

Our Christmas program was this weekend. Rehearsal Wednesday and Thursday, and performances Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, plus handbells rang for both services yesterday morning. I'm tired! It was fun, though, and I thought the program went really well. I've missed being part of a church family. I'm glad we've found a church we like.

Kevin forgot to give Julian his meds yesterday, so he came home pinging off the walls and we were up until 11:00. Julian woke up in a good mood this morning, though. He was giving everyone hugs - he'd hugged me and Brian and the cat, and then he came back to me and hugged my belly and said, "Let me give the baby a hug, too!" He's a good kid, and I think he'll be a really good big brother.

It's cold and nasty today. Yesterday it was in the 70s, today it's in the high 20s/low 30s with a wind chill in the teens. There's also a possibility of freezing rain, but I doubt it will be enough to do anything other than slow traffic to a crawl. Bummer - I'd love an excuse to stay home tomorrow! I can't imagine living somewhere where it's cold and windy like this all the time. I'd freeze.

I'm feeling a lot better about finances since we went to all cash. It's nice to know that all of our paycheck is going to take care of our obligations, and not being eaten up by overdraft fees at the bank. Yeah, it's kind of a pain sometimes not to have the convenience of online payments or just using a card, and I still worry about getting everything caught up, but it's nice to see how much money we have and to be able to plan what gets paid where, and to see how much we have left for things that are just wants and not necessarily needs. And it's really nice not to get any overdraft notices from the bank! And with cash, we just take our tithe right off the top and put it in our envelope, ready to go to church the next Sunday. I'm hoping that things are going to turn around in 2009, especially if Brian gets the Methodist Home job - they should pay a good bit better than his current job, and they've got really good benefits. I still worry about things getting paid on time and in full and getting everything caught up, but I feel better.

Let's hope 2009 is a year of clean starts and bright new beginnings all around!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Pray hard!!!

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!! Brian just called - he's got an interview with Methodist Home tomorrow at 1:30!!!!! I hope this works out for him. He would be so, so good at it, and it would be here and not out in the woods. If he gets this job, that will be the best Christmas present EVER. So if anyone is reading my little blog, and if you're so inclined, we'd appreciate any prayers, lit candles, good thoughts.

In other exciting news: Today at 4:00, I go for my big ultrasound! Hopefully we'll find out who's in there, Sophia or a little boy who wouldn't yet have a name. LOL I'll update about that when I get a chance!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


It's 4:30, and Brian still hasn't called saying he's left work yet. I swear, the time he manages to get out of there seems to get later with every shift. He's "officially" out of the field at 1:30, but then they've got a whole bunch of debriefing shit they have to go through. For Christmas, I'd like a job for Brian that's here and not out in the damn woods three hours away. *sigh*

I won!

I've won two contests this week! First, I got word from Lori over at Thrifty Thoughts that I'd won her giveaway of Watkins cinnamon and vanilla. Just in time for holiday baking, so those things will be put to good use right away. Then I found out I'd won the Commonwealth Candle giveaway at Bloggy Giveaways. I love candles, and you can never have too many. Wow! What fun it is to win something! Now I'm hoping to go for the trifecta this week with a lotto win. Hey, it could happen.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Cookie Exchange!

Tracy P. at The Journey is hosting a cookie exchange! So there are lots of yummy recipes there to try out, just in time for Christmas baking! Hop on over and check out all the goodness, and let me share one of my favorites with you.

This isn't a cookie recipe, per se, but it's something we always had for Christmas get-togethers when I was growing up. I think I got the recipe from my Aunt Jo, but it's been so long, I can't say for sure. It's tasty and easy, and a great addition to any tray of holiday treats.

Butterscotch Candy

1 6-oz. package butterscotch morsels
1 C. Spanish peanuts
1 can chow mein noodles

Melt butterscotch morsels. Mix in nuts and noodles until well coated. Drop by spoonfuls on waxed paper and let set.

And that's it!

Just for fun, I'll put another one out there. I got this from a co-worker back when I worked at the Ellis County DA's office, and it's another easy party favorite that would be good for any holiday gathering.

White Trash

1 C. Rice Krispies
1 C. peanut butter crunch cereal
1 C. salted peanuts
1 C. mini marshmallows
1/2 package almond bark, melted

Mix all ingredients together until all the dry ingredients are coated with almond bark. Drop onto waxed paper by spoonfuls and let set.

Happy eating!


This morning when we left the house, the temperature was in the 60s. Now, when it's time to go home, it's in the 30s. I'm glad I brought my coat, and it's no wonder we're all sniffling and sneezing.

99 Life Experiences

Pilfered from Karla. I thought I'd see what all I've done, and what all I might want to add to my to-do list! The things in bold are the things I've done.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
(jazz band in high school counts, right?)
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity (at least it felt like more than I could afford at the time)
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain

9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon (and the odds of this happening are slim to none! LOL)
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run (I hit a triple once, but that's as close as I ever came)
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check (Alas, yes, I have.)
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
(it wasn't all that)
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone (my little toes on both feet)
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper (more than once, in my hometown paper when I was growing up!)
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous (I met Patrick Duffy when I was in junior high school - hey, he was famous at the time.)
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit (got sued by a defendant when I was a prosecutor - someone once told me you weren't a real prosecutor unless you got sued at least once!)
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

So, clearly I've still got some things to do! Realistically, I know some of these things will never happen. But some are certainly within reach!

How I rate as a 1930s wife

Somehow I never thought of myself as June Cleaver, but I must be:


As a 1930s wife, I am
Very Superior

Take the test!

So how do you rate on the 1930s marital scale? I shamelessly pilfered this from I Hate Whine.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Halfway there!

I'm at 20 weeks and 2 days today - halfway done with this pregnancy! It seems like just yesterday I got the surprising news that I was, in fact, pregnant. I don't think I'm doing too badly for someone of "advanced maternal age", especially considering I was short and fat to start with, and not exactly the picture of fitness. I get tired more easily, and I think the pain I've been having is my gallbladder giving me fits (not uncommon in pregnancy, I hear, and I'll be making some changes in my diet to try to prevent more nights like the few I've had this week). But hey, if that's all the problems I have to worry about, I'll say thank you and consider it good.

I don't think I ever mentioned this. The day I found out I was pregnant, we were going to take pictures for our church directory. I don't remember what the photographer said, exactly, when he was taking the picture of just Brian and I together, but it was something along the lines of, "Say 'more kids!'" Brian and I just about died laughing at the timeliness of that comment. LOL

So, next week is our "big" ultrasound, when we hopefully find out if this baby is a boy or a girl. Pretty much everyone who's expressed an opinion thinks it's a girl. Julian is convinced he's going to have a baby sister, although he said it would be OK if he ended up with a baby brother, "because God just gives us what He thinks we need." Kevin thinks it's a girl. Brian is leaning toward hoping for a girl, I think (especially since we've settled on a girl name but have big fat nothin' for a boy name). All the grandparents think we're having a girl, although that may be just wishful thinking on their parts. So maybe this time next week, we'll know for sure. I hope so - I'm ready to register for all that stuff you really don't want to pick out until you know who you're shopping for!


Well, fancy that. I ate a light dinner last night - yogurt and a piece of toast - and I slept all night, pain-free. I guess I'll keep that up for a while and see if it continues to help. I'll just have to make sure to eat a decent breakfast this morning, because I'm hungry. LOL

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Apparently there's no big rush

And as luck would have it, my doctor is at a conference all week! As is his nurse! I talked to the nurse filling in for Jennifer and explained to her what was going on. She said there was a bug going around (if this is a bug, it's the strangest one I've ever seen, that only shows up at night), or that perhaps I should check with my lap-band surgeon. I told her that if there's one there at Baylor that Dr. Norwood has worked with, I'd prefer to see him, as my original surgeon is in Arlington, and it's a whole lotta driving from one doc in Arlington to one in Dallas back home to Midlothian. (Gee, I should have planned the logistics better five years ago, huh? LOL ) She said she can talk to my doc on Monday, and that if it gets to hurting too much, just to go see my surgeon. I said I would. I mentioned gall bladder as a possibility and she didn't seem to think much of it (although it does seem like it could fit, but I realize I'm no medical expert). So for now, I wait. Since the problems seem to be happening at night, I'm going to try eating a really light dinner and see if that makes a difference. It seems to me, thinking about it, that if it were a problem with my band, I'd have issues anytime I tried to eat normally, and not just at night. If eating less helps and I can get a good night's sleep, that will help.

Pain and regret

I feel awful. I started having stomach pains on Sunday night. Sunday night and Tuesday night, Phenergan helped and let me sleep. The stomach pain returned last night, and this time Phenergan didn't help. I barely slept, and I'm a raging grump today. The pain is upper abdominal, not lower abdominal like cramping or needing to go to the bathroom, so I worry that something has gone wrong with my lap-band. If that's the case, I don't know what will be done or what could be done, given that I'm pregnant. Curiously, though, the pain only flares up at night (and not every night - it gave Monday night a miss).

And because I felt bad, I was short-tempered with Julian this morning. I explained to him that I really didn't feel good and that's why I was crabby, but still. I feel bad about that. The overdramatic part of me worries, what if this pain is something that requires surgery and something goes horribly wrong, and the last thing Julian remembers me saying to him is fussing for not being ready to get out of the car when we got up to the drop-off point at school? I regret that I couldn't keep a better handle on myself and make my words to Julian this morning kind ones, pain and tiredness notwithstanding.

I just want to feel better, and for the baby and me to both be OK after whatever it takes to help me feel better.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Now here's the kind of note every parent likes to get

I got this e-mail from Julian's teacher this morning:

He has done really well the past two days. He seems really excited about learning, but is staying in his seat and working really hard. Thank you so for working with me. I think we are going to see him grow by leaps and bounds in his academics.

I was so excited, I could have cried. What a change from the start of the school year, with two U's in conduct for the first two six weeks' periods, and constant notes coming home in his folder, and a visit to the principal's office, and all the crying about how hard school was! His handwriting is getting better, and it just thrills me to see stickers in his folder instead of notes telling me what went wrong that day. (He's started off this six weeks with stickers for five days in a row! Woo hoo!)

We're still on the 30 mg of Vyvanse, and it certainly seems to be helping. Julian hasn't lost one iota of his personality - if anything, he's more creative than ever, and his drawing has really taken off. His handwriting is improving, he's more excited about reading on his own (although he still prefers that we read to him, and there's nothing wrong with that!), and he doesn't complain anymore about school being hard or too much work. I am so, so glad that we did something now, rather than waiting to see if he outgrew this or if trying things other than medication worked. I'm glad to know he's on track now to being a good student, rather than one that elicits the reaction, "oh, great, it's THAT child" from teachers when they see his name on the class rolls. I know he's got the brain power to do well, and it looks like we're getting the focus and behavior concerns under wraps to where he can put that brain power to good use. What a great way to start my day!

So parents, if you've got a child with ADHD tendencies and have considered medication but are hesitant, let me tell you, don't be. You find the right thing and the right dose, and it can truly work wonders. (Carrie, if you're reading this, I know - you told me so! :-) )

December already?!

Boy, the Christmas season is just sneaking up on us, isn't it? Are you ready? :-)

The lovely ladies at Secret Is In The Sauce, or SITS, are getting the season started with a bang. They're hosting a Merry SITSmas giveaway! Just go visit their site and comment - there's a different prize every hour throughout the day, and for each comment you leave, you're also entered into the Grand Prize drawing (a $200 Target gift card!). I don't know about you, but a $200 Target gift card would make my holidays very merry indeed.

Enter for prizes, make some new friends, what's not to like?! :-)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Making Your Home a Haven, Day 5

We did have fun last night! We played lots of Wii, but gave the fire a miss - Julian decided Mario Kart was more fun. I usually lose and he almost always wins, so you know he had a good time. LOL

Today's theme for the Making Your Home a Haven challenge is Inviting & Giving. I think I've got that covered for the day. Brian's mom is coming for the weekend, so she's invited. We've been working to get the house tidy for her visit, and the challenge this week has helped. I found out my ex may be getting divorced from his second wife - he's talking apartments, and I'm not sure their marriage can be saved. So I told him that if he should need a place to crash for a few days, he's welcome to sleep on our couch. (Yes, my ex and I get along well enough that we could do that, and my marriage is secure enough that Brian wouldn't blow his top over it.) That's two invitations. And I guess that by having a garage sale tomorrow, we're inviting lots of people to stop by and browse and chat! Who knows, maybe someone who stops by will see a little bit of God's love shining through among the trash and treasures. :-)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Making Your Home a Haven, Day 4

Yesterday's challenge: I didn't manage it until the end of the day, but I did manage to take care of myself a little! Success!

Today's theme for Making Your Home a Haven is Fun. I'm really going to have to think about this. Some days it's hard to make room for fun in my life. I know my son does lots of things he considers fun, like playing with the Wii, but sometimes there's not much fun in my day at all. And with me not getting home until after dark, outdoor fun is right out (unless we go outside again and watch Brian start a fire with flint and steel - Julian thinks that's dandy fun!). Hmm, maybe tonight would be a good night for a fire, and maybe I can talk Julian into a round or two of Mario Kart. And perhaps other inspiration will come to me during the day.

OK, gotta get dressed, and I've got to find something "professional" to wear - we're having an open house at work this afternoon for our business partners. Let's hope that after eight years of business casual, there's 1) something in my closet that even qualifies as professional attire, and 2) that it fits. All I know for sure is, this pregnant lady is not wearing heels! LOL

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Making Your Home a Haven, Day 3

Yesterday's Clean challenge was what I'd consider a success. We cleaned out a LOT of trash - I'm sure the garbage men wanted to go for an extra truck when they saw the pile on our curb this morning. LOL We've got a lot of good stuff ready for the garage sale on Saturday, and while the kitchen floor did not in fact get mopped and steam cleaned, the old table did get cleaned off and polished and moved outside, and we are now able to neatly organize things still left to go through in the empty space. So it was a good day!

Today's Making Your Home a Haven challenge is Cared For. While I've got lots of little extra things to tend to - shredding excess paper, going through Julian's old artwork and school papers and deciding which ones to keep as memories, steam cleaning a variety of things - one thing that gets shorted in the care department a lot of the time is me. And I know if I'm not feeling my best, and feeling put upon and run down, then I don't have a lot left to give to my family. So tonight, the thing I'll do to care for myself is a good soak and scrub for my feet (since a hot bath is right out), and a good moisturizing treatment. I feel so much better when my feet aren't sore and tired. When I feel good, I have a lot more energy and motivation to work toward making my home a haven for all who enter.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Making Your Home a Haven, Day 2

The theme for today's Making Your Home a Haven challenge is Clean. Boy, is that easy. Today will be nothing BUT cleaning! We're trying to get the study cleaned out so that it can be transformed into the nursery for the baby, and we're trying to get as much out for our garage sale on Saturday as we can. I'm off work today, so we are cleaning up a storm. By the end of the day, we hope to have the old kitchen table dejunked and removed to the garage, and the floor of the breakfast nook freshly mopped. The tea cart is already gone, as we started as soon as Julian got off to school. We may have piles of junk to contend with after the day is done, but the breakfast nook will be clean and ready for a new table and chairs, and progress will be made on the nursery. And at least the front part of the house will smell of Pine-Sol. :)

Monday, November 10, 2008

A little good news!

Brian got a call from his supervisor today. First, he wanted to know if Brian minded if John (his boss) passed Brian's cell number along to their HR person. Brian said of course not (because this means they're checking with contacts internally to see if there's anything with the company that's in this area for Brian). Then John asked if Brian would mind moving from A shift to B shift, and Brian asked how that would affect the holidays. John told him to go in to work on Sunday this week instead of Wednesday, and do a shift and a half right now, and then he'll be off the week of Thanksgiving and the week of Christmas, and work the week after Christmas. So instead of losing a shift due to the holidays (we thought he'd have a three-week stretch with no work at all), he'll now be gaining half a week of overtime! Sucks that he'll be gone this time for a week and a half, but it will work out. And boy, will half a shift of overtime pay be appreciated right around the holidays.

Free Target Re-tote Offer!

I thought this was a pretty neat deal. Target will send you a coupon redeemable for one of their Re-tote reusable bags (made from recycled Target shopping bags!) if you send them your shopping bags! If you're like me, you've no doubt got plenty of Target bags taking up space in your pantry, so put them to good use and get yourself a nifty reusable shopping bag for the cost of a stamp!

Making Your Home a Haven

Monica is sponsoring a Making Your Home a Haven challenge at her blog. Her challenge looks like it's for this week only, and my projects are so big, I'm not sure they can be completed in a week! But this is something I'm working diligently on, so I'm playing along.

Today's challenge theme is Tidy. My house has a LOT of stuff that needs tidying, so I'll have to pick just one or two things to tackle this evening when I'm home from work. So this is my evening plan to make something tidy around my house:

~Make sure all the dinner dishes are washed and put away before bedtime - no dishes left in the sink!
~Put up clean laundry.

Between work and homework and just plain old being tired, I reckon those will be sufficient tidy accomplishments for one evening. I've got to start somewhere, right?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Get the Bean!

See that button on the side with a big coffee bean on it? Click it and go check out Get the Bean. They've got all kinds of yummy coffees and teas and delightful things, and if my blog generates the most traffic to their site in November, I win a prize! I absolutely love coffee, so y'all help a girl out - click the link, go find something good for yourself, and help me win some coffee. :-)

Still trying

TDCJ is looking for teachers for their prison unit in Venus, which is only about 10 miles from Midlothian. Brian said he'd be qualified, although it's kind of scary that he's considering teaching inmates. He's going to apply, and I told him I'm not wild about the idea, either, but at least working for the government, it would be stable employment, and decent salary and benefits. So we'll see what happens.

He applied online for Wal-Mart today. He said he had to take a psychological assessment, and if you passed, your application would be good for a year. If you didn't pass, it would only be good for 60 days and then you were "welcome to reapply". Apparently he doesn't think exactly like Wal-Mart wants its employees to think, because he didn't pass. I told him maybe that was a good thing. LOL So his application there is good until January.

We keep looking and paying things as we can, and things keep getting behind and piling up. I just hope we can scrape by until such time as we can catch up, without anything truly disastrous happening. It's been fifteen years since I graduated from law school - the money troubles started when I first got married in 1994, and it's just gone down and downhill ever since. When we have sufficient money for our needs (because I have to keep believing that one day, we will - if I start thinking that this is just how life is, forever and always, I will go screaming yellow bonkers), I really won't know what to do with myself, because it feels like this hand-to-mouth business is all I've ever known since I started working.

We're off to scope out the garage sales this morning and see if we can find any super deals!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

So which way will this thing go?

OK, this is unnerving. Brian said that, per higher-ups in their parent company, Lone Star will be transitioning into a community service-based camp now, supposedly to take effect in February. Not sure what that means exactly, as they're a wilderness program and not a residential program - it's not like the kids can be put on work release for the day to go do community service and then come back to their dorms to sleep. I don't know how the logistics will work out, or how this may affect his job, but it's just more on the pile of things to worry about. I hope he can find something close to home SOON.

On the plus side, this gave him a good chance to talk to his boss about his job search, and how he'd like to find something internal, if possible. John (boss) is going to get in touch with his internal contacts, see what openings there may be, and he also said his dad runs a company here in Dallas, and he'd pass Brian's resume along to his dad, too. Brian told him what he's doing in terms of looking, and also told him that if/when something came open, he'd give John as much notice as he could, but that it might not be much. He said John was pretty understanding about all that, and thankfully isn't one to throw an employee under the bus when he's looking for something else for valid reasons (and not just saying, "this job sucks, I want out").

On the down side again, Brian is working Thanksgiving. He'll be off Christmas, but he won't be working a double shift to make up for it - they have enough staff to basically divide into three groups for Christmas, A shift, B shift, and Christmas shift. So there will be a three-week stretch where Brian has no work at all. And thus, no paycheck. Which really, really stinks.

Back to life as we know it

So another election season comes to a close, and life goes on.

We're home today, as we were yesterday. Julian came home Monday complaining that his throat hurt, and he woke up crying with it yesterday, so we went to the doctor. Hooray, we've got strep! A couple of his friends came to school sick, and I'm sure they were just sharing the love. Anyway, the doc gave us a prescription for Omnicef and said this meant three days out of school, so we're home. Using vacation for this is no doubt blowing my Christmas travel plans to bits, but I've gotta take care of the boy, right? :) (Besides, it's not like I've minded the break from work. LOL) Brian will be in tonight, so he and Julian will be home tomorrow, and I'll be back at work.

We had our follow-up for his ADHD meds a week or so ago, and for now, we'll just keep on keepin' on. There's been a lot of improvement, although there's still room for progress, and his doctor did say that we may need to increase the dose at some point to see full improvement. But for now, we're good. The counselors at the after-school program have told me pretty much every day how well-behaved Julian has been, and he did a lot better on a second 20-minute evaluation by the school counselor - he was only off task 30% of the time, down from 65% in the original evaluation, and that after only six days on meds. I thought that was encouraging. His handwriting has gotten better, too, and he's gotten stickers for good days four days in a row! Woo! I don't think that had happened since the first week of school. So things are looking up in that department.

Brian's job search continues. We don't know what will happen with his current job. Enrollment apparently hasn't picked up, but we don't know if that will mean half shifts for everyone so that everyone can have some work (in which case it's not worth him driving out there), or if they'll find busy work/projects around camp for the staff not out in the field and have everyone keep working full shifts, or what. Brian said they made a big deal out of reassuring everyone that no, there would be no lay-offs, that jobs were safe. I don't know about you, but when people go out of their way to reassure me that, no, of course the worst case won't come to pass, I start to get worried. Anyway, he's looking here for any- and everything that might get him a foot in the door somewhere, bring home enough to pay the bills, what have you. It's just a shame that *this* is the school year that Dallas ISD way overbudgeted and overhired - they've just laid off 400 or so teachers, so any kind of education-related job is really at a premium right now.

On that happy note, I'm going to make cookies. I seldom do, because I'm usually at work, so today I'm going to do something that's a nice treat for all of us.

And a nation's wish has been granted

1 Samuel 8

Israel Asks for a King
1 When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges for Israel.

The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba.

3 But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.

4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah.

5 They said to him, "You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead [a] us, such as all the other nations have."

6 But when they said, "Give us a king to lead us," this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD.

7 And the LORD told him: "Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.

8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you.

9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do."

10 Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king.

11 He said, "This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots.

12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots.

13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers.

14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants.

15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants.

16 Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle [b] and donkeys he will take for his own use.

17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves.

18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day."

19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. "No!" they said. "We want a king over us.

20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles."

21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the LORD.

The LORD answered, "Listen to them and give them a king."

Israel wanted a king, and they got one - King Saul, and anyone who's a Bible reader knows how well that turned out for them. Our country wanted Obama, and we got him. All I can say is, be careful what you wish for, and not all change is good. I hope I'm proven wrong in my concerns, that Obama turns out to be one of the best presidents we've ever had. But in my heart of hearts, I fear that that won't be the case. Only time will tell.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Winner of Bloggy Giveaway #2!

The giveaway for the $30.00 gift certificate to Creative Body Essentials is now CLOSED. Thanks to everyone who participated, and we now have a winner!

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2008-11-03 00:42:48 UTC

The person who was our 7th to comment was Heather! Heather, I'll be e-mailing you to get contact info, and I hope you enjoy your gift certificate!

Bloggy Giveaway #2!

Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival Button

My friend Donna is the brainchild behind Creative Body Essentials, a nifty site that sells bath goodies to delight your skin and refresh your senses. She and I got to talking, and I told her about this Bloggy Carnival thing, and she's kindly agreed to sponsor a giveaway!

This contest is open to U.S. customers only, and the prize is a $30.00 gift certificate good for anything on the Creative Body Essentials site. Winner will pay shipping.

To enter, just go over to Creative Body Essentials and take a look around. Then come back here and post a comment letting me know what one item from Donna's site most appeals to you (and y'all be nice, this is her first giveaway and we don't want to scare her off!). And that's it! The contest will be open until 5:00 PM Central time on Sunday, November 2. I'll then choose the winner using Be sure and leave a way for me to get in touch with you, be it through your Blogger profile or via a valid e-mail, because it would stink to win and not be able to find out about it.

Good luck, and if you don't win, buy something nice for yourself anyway - Donna's stuff is awesome!

And don't forget to check out the big ol' festival of goodies at the main Bloggy Carnival site!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Bright Blessings winner!

The giveaway is now over, and we have a winner!

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2008-11-01 13:44:31 UTC

Number 65 is Paige! Congratulations, Paige! I've sent you an e-mail.

And I was amazed by the number of entries - 524! Wow! Thanks so much to everyone who took part. I'll be doing this again in January, and with it being a new year and all, there's just no telling what I might give away then! :-)

Bloggy Carnival!!!

Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival Button

The giveaway is now CLOSED. Thanks to everyone who participated!

Yes, it's that time again - time for the quarterly Bloggy Carnival! I had such fun with the last one, I thought I'd do another giveaway this time.

Up for grabs: a $50 gift certificate to Bright Blessings Candles. Fall scents are up right now, and I'm working on holiday surprises. Be one of the first to get a sneak preview of the holiday goodies that await!

The contest will run until 11:59 PM on Friday, October 31. Just leave a comment to enter, and a winner will be selected from all comments posted. You don't have to be a blogger to win, but if you aren't a blogger and I can't contact you that way, please leave a valid e-mail address. It would be a bummer to win but miss out because I don't have a way to let you know! I use a random number generator to select the winner, and I'll post the winner here by 8:00 PM on Sunday, November 2.

Good luck!

Friday, October 31, 2008

My little take on the election

You know, I'm not real big into talking politics. I generally have my opinions, I figure others are entitled to theirs, and I let it be. I'm not out to convert the masses - we all have the right to vote as we see fit. But honestly, the possible ramifications of the upcoming election scare me. Obama's stand on a number of issues concerns me, and I hear a whole lot of socialist leanings in what he says and what he proposes. I don't think our country needs to go down that path, and if we do, I think things will get worse before they get better. Likewise, with McCain, I think he tries to talk a good game about change, and about being a maverick, but really, he's the establishment, Sarah Palin as his VP candidate notwithstanding. I don't trust either Republicans or Democrats any farther than I can throw them. Politics has become, to my mind, more about sticking it to the other party than about what may really be best for our country, and that's a sad, sad thing.

All that to say, if you're like I am and not crazy about either of the two main candidates, there is a choice. I've been a registered Republican since I was old enough to vote, and I'm jumping ship. I'm now a proud member of the Libertarian Party (as our yard sign says, "fiscally conservative, socially tolerant"), and this year I'll be voting for Bob Barr. I agree with so many of his stances on issues, and I absolutely agree that the U.S. Government has far overstepped its constitutional bounds in many areas, that this year I'm not choosing the lesser of two evils. I'm voting for the candidate whose take on things most closely aligns with my own.

I'm not going to try to convince anyone that Barr is the best candidate or tell you that's who you should vote for. We're all free to have our own opinions and make our own choices. But I am asking you to just visit the Libertarian Party site, and visit Bob Barr's site, do a little digging and reading and research, and see what it's all about. You never know, you might find that deep down, you're a Libertarian, too.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Free sample of Dunkin Donuts coffee!

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I just signed up to have one sent to me. Dunkin Donuts is just starting to get a significant presence here, and I want to see what all the fuss is about. :-)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Oh, not again.

I talked to Brian this morning. He said one of the higher-up guides told them that off the record, they might want to brush up their resumes, that that's what he's doing. That certainly doesn't sound promising. This time, Brian is out in a group of three kids and three counselors, and I can see where the company would view that as a bit of overkill. Brian said the only thing that might work in their favor is that, as one of the newest facilities of their kind in the company, they're more cost-effective than older facilities (not sure how that works, that's just what he told me). So whoever does referrals in the company may steer kids to Lone Star rather than less cost-effective facilities, and that may get their enrollment up. This is just scary if I let myself think about it, so I'm trying not to. Ugh. It took him four months to find this position, I shudder to think how long it could take in the current market.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Monday was an eventful day - ophthalmologist, pediatrician, and teacher conference. Some holiday for me, huh? LOL

Julian's eye appointment went fine. His vision is good enough to pass a driving test, so no glasses needed at this time. Julian seemed pretty disappointed by that, saying he wanted glasses! Silly boy. LOL The ophthalmologist said that at some point, he may indeed need glasses if his vision gets poor enough that he can't do what he needs to do without corrective lenses. But for now, he's good. And the ophthalmologist was great - well worth the drive to Plano.

The pediatrician's visit was draining. Even though I already knew what I was going to hear, it was still a lot to process. I showed Julian's doc the Conner's survey from his teacher, and we talked about what the teacher and counselor had described in terms of the issues he was having at school. She then asked me what I thought, if I believed it, and I had to say yes. I see how he can't sit still. I see how his emotions are up and down, up and down. I see how he can't focus long enough to get his work done without me sitting right there with him, helping him keep himself on track. I see the anger and the opposition. So I had to say yes, I believe it. She said she's known it pretty much since Julian was an infant, but she doesn't bring up the subject until parents broach the subject with her. She asked Julian to sit still and be quiet and not move while she and I talked, and he lasted maybe two minutes before he was moving around, looking under the exam table to see what was there, messing with his hair and his ears - he couldn't do it. His doc said we could do more testing to see if there was anything else going on, and I told her the counselor at school said it's the attention/behavior issues driving the learning difficulties, not the other way around, and his teacher said he's very intelligent and should do well if we can get a grip on the attention/behavior. So we're trying meds - we're starting with 20 mg of Vyvanse. The doc recommended we start it on the weekend, so I can have a day or two to see how he reacts to it before he goes off to school on it, and he needs to take it first thing in the morning with food, preferably protein. (That should be fun, as the only protein Julian wants to eat for breakfast is bacon and eggs, and I can't make bacon and eggs every morning.) We'll take our first dose on Saturday, and we'll see how it goes. Other than the ADHD discussion, there was a checkup - Julian is 3 feet, 10 1/4 inches tall and weighs 56 pounds now. There was also the Flumist nose spray (not much fun), a finger stick to check his hemoglobin (less fun than the Flumist), and the second half of the Hep A shot (took both me and Brian to hold him down, and there was lots of screaming).

That afternoon, I met with his teacher and counselor. The counselor had done an observation of Julian for a 20-minute period when he had a specific task to work on - it wasn't time where it was OK for him to be up and moving around the classroom. The time period was broken down into 30-second intervals, and she observed how often he was off task, playing with objects, out of his seat, etc. During that 20 minutes, he was off task 65% of the time, playing with whatever he could get his hands on (pencils, paper, bits of eraser) 45% of the time, singing to himself 30% of the time, and out of his seat 20% of the time. He was also redirected by the teacher six times, but the counselor said the student teacher was in charge right then and may have gone easy on Julian because she knew the counselor was observing. That kind of inattention can't help but affect his schoolwork. I saw work done by the kids posted on the walls of the classroom, and Julian's handwriting is noticeably worse than most of his classmates - yes, theirs is still clearly kid handwriting, but Julian's is so much less developed and looks so much more strained. I could pick out his work from the little tail on his small a's and his backwards s's. The counselor said handwriting issues are fairly common in kids with ADHD, and that that should improve as his focus improves. She also said that reading is usually tough for ADHD kids, and I said, oh, no, reading is one thing where he seems to be doing well. I told them we're a family of bookworms and reading has always been highly encouraged, and his teacher said he is doing well, by her testing. Julian reads 65 words a minute and comprehends most of what he reads, and he just moved up another level this week, so reading is our best subject at this point. I told them we'd be starting the meds this weekend, and the counselor said she'll do another 20-minute observation before we go back for the follow-up with his pediatrician, so we'd have something to compare the first one to. Overall, it was a good talk, and I think they know now that I'm not blowing off what they say and I am committed to helping Julian get on a good track and do well in school, and I feel like they are, too. So it was a lot to process in one day, but ultimately, it's good to know we're taking steps to help Julian do as well as I know he can. And if we get the ADHD under control, I think he'll do well in school.

Brian went back to work on Wednesday. This eight days on, six off is a challenge. It's like I just get used to him being back, and then he's gone again, and then I just get used to being by myself, and he's back. How families with one spouse on shift for long periods of time manage it, I'll never know. I'm thankful for his job, but boy, the logistics are way less than ideal. He's looking at several options at home, including the museum field, Child Protective Services, and whatever else we think of that might have potential. There haven't been any new teacher openings anywhere, and he hasn't gotten any sub assignments at all. I just hope something works out closer to home when we really need it. And if his work hours end up being cut (which is a possibility if enrollment doesn't go up), I'm telling him to just find something, anything closer to home. When you break down his paycheck by how many hours he's officially on shift, it works out to about $6.00 an hour (which is, I just realized, less than minimum wage). I think retail or warehouse work would pay better. If he ends up working less hours and getting paid less accordingly, it wouldn't be worth the drive out there or the time away from home.

I'm trying to remember, we walk by faith, not by sight. Today, it's a real struggle to keep that faith.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

RAK's and ups and downs

I've been RAK'ed! I went to the post office on Saturday and found a package from my lovely friend Donna (if you want some good bath goodies, go check out her site, Creative Body Essentials - best foot scrub EVER, and everything else I've ever tried has been wonderful, too!). She knew I'd been feeling down lately and struggling with my faith, and she sent me three beautiful things: a suncatcher with the verse "We walk by faith, not by sight", a beautiful music box with the same verse that plays "How Great Thou Art", and a key ring/prayer box that had a slip of paper tucked inside with Jeremiah 29:11 written on it. I was so touched, I was crying and laughing all at the same time. Thank you, Donna - you were truly a blessing from God to me!

And today, I really need to be reminded that we walk by faith. I got a call from the principal's office just before lunchtime. Julian was in the office, having disrupted class all morning, and the straw that broke the camel's back was that he cut his hair. He said I'd said he needed a trim, and I did - but I didn't tell him to do it himself. I've e-mailed his teacher to find out what the other disruptions were, and I talked to the principal for a bit. She said Julian had to wait, because she had someone else in her office when his teacher brought him down, and when the other person left, Julian said, "It's my turn!" She told him no, it was his turn when she said it was, and he needed to wait until he was called. As a result of this, Julian had to miss specials with his class (which he loves - that's when they have art or music or computers or P.E.), he'll have to eat lunch in the principal's office, and he'll have to miss recess and sit in the office. The principal said that today they'll call it a time out in the office, but if it happens again, it will be considered in-school suspension. I told her that we were aware of his difficulties, that I'd been talking to his teacher and the counselor and was aware of his ADHD tendencies, and that we had an appointment with his pediatrician next Monday to start the evaluation process and do what needs to be done to help Julian get a grip on his behavior. I also told her that he and I have talked about how his brain is probably wired differently than other kids' and how that may make it hard for him to focus, but that he also knows we expect him to mind his teacher and behave in class and at home, that it's not some kind of blanket permission for him to cut loose and act out any way he pleases. She said she could have his teacher do a Conner's survey to help out with that, and I told her she'd already done that, that we had a copy and would be taking it to the appointment on Monday. I felt like she was thinking he must just be undisciplined at home and that I must be a slacker parent for having a child who'd act like that, and it sucked. I'm trying not to cry and really trying not to let this wreck my day. It's just something else to deal with, right? We'll talk to his doc and go from there and get a handle on things, right? This doesn't mean my child will become "that kid", the one whose name teachers cringe to see on their class rolls, does it? I never went to the office for anything, ever. I was one of those disgustingly good kids. I can't wrap my brain around this.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Time for the job search again.

The handful of you who read my blog regularly know that it took Brian a while to find a job after he moved here (four months), and that the logistics of the job he does have are less than ideal (eight days on, six off, three hours away).

Well, we may really need the prayers now. I just talked to Brian, and he said that attendance at camps like Lone Star is down everywhere, and that if things don't pick up (they may see some increase in October, after report cards come out), they'll be cutting down to three kids per group that goes out. He said that having three staff per three kids in each group seems like a bit much, and he doesn't know what will happen - if they'll go to all the staff working half a shift so everyone can get some work in, if they'll ask for volunteers to not work, if they'll lay off, what. All I know is, I'm praying for something else for him sooner rather than later, so he can be somewhere and be secure in his job (and preferably closer to home). He said he's not expecting it to be a school job, and honestly, I'm not, either. If that was going to work out, we'd have had some sign of it by now, I think. Maybe one of the parent company's residential facilities here in the Dallas area will have openings, or something else will work out, I don't know. I just know that the job concerns are cranking back up again. So if you're so inclined, pray, light candles, think good thoughts, what have you - we'll take any and all good intentions for a steady, secure job for Brian!

Before an update, a funny!

more animals

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It's always something

Yesterday I wrote a whole long post about it being enough that God cares, that He never promised to fix all our problems or make life easy, but He does care and promises never to leave us, and that's enough. And then things just keep on coming.

Julian's teacher e-mailed me yesterday. We'd been talking about his difficulties in class, and she had asked about getting the counselor involved. I said that was fine, as I know we all want to see him do well in school, and I'd take suggestions from whatever corner they were offered. He's had a real hard time in school discipline-wise, and I think part of it because Brian is away at work, and that's causing some fears and anxieties that he's having a hard time managing. Well, his teacher and the counselor reviewed his Connor's surveys from last year, and they both feel like Julian exhibits many ADHD tendencies (last year it was just hyperactivity and impulsivity, and that not high enough on the scale to warrant a formal diagnosis). His teacher said that Brian being away may be affecting him, but that he has trouble focusing every day, and there's no real difference in that whether Brian is away or at home. She said she feels like Julian is a very intelligent young man, but that this lack of ability to focus on his work is beginning to affect his performance at school.

I sat at my desk at work yesterday afternoon and tried not to cry. I felt like the worst mom in the world, 1) for not doing more to follow up after we talked to the counselor at his school last year, and 2) for not realizing how very bad it had gotten. I've asked the teacher if she and/or the counselor can give me something in writing that I can take to his pediatrician, and we'll follow up with her. I guess the next step would be to consult with a psychologist, to see if he is at a level where he'd be formally diagnosed, or at least get some ideas for what to try next. I'm not crazy about the idea of medication, but if that's what it takes, I know it can make a world of difference once you've found the right medication and the right dose. My heart just hurts for Julian, trying all this time to do the right thing and just not really being able to do it. He's told me lately that his brain just won't let him pay attention, and I guess it really won't. So that was one thing.

Then there's the garage door. We got ready to leave this morning, and the door only opens about 1/3 of the way and stops. I can't get it to move now, not even releasing the catch and trying to do it by hand. Something is hung up, and hung up good, to where it won't budge. We can't get the van out of the garage, and we're not close enough to work or school to walk. So we're at home right now. The door can be repaired, for a price (yay, more money I don't have that needs to be spent). If the repair guy gets here in time, I'm hoping Julian can make it for part of the school day. Me, I'm giving work a miss. It's not worth the expense in gas and parking for me to go up there for half a day. What a thing to burn a vacation day on, huh?

So, the hits just keep on coming. Money for an eye appointment. Money for a garage door repair. Money for whatever help Julian needs with his behavior issues. I know money can't buy happiness, but it sure seems like having enough of it to go around would make things a little easier.

I'm praying a LOT today. And I'm going to make fudge. Prayer and chocolate have to make things better, right?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good

This song by Don Williams came up on shuffle on my iTunes, and it just fits my current mood so well:

Lord, I hope this day is good
I'm feeling empty and misunderstood
I should be thankful, Lord, I know I should
But Lord, I hope this day is good

Lord, have you forgotten me
I've been prayin' to you faithfully
I'm not saying I'm a righteous man
But Lord, I hope you understand
I don't need fortune and I don't need fame
Send down the thunder, Lord, send down the rain
But when you're planning just how it will be
Plan a good day for me

Lord, I hope this day is good
I'm feeling empty and misunderstood
I should be thankful, Lord, I know I should
But Lord, I hope this day is good

You've been the King since the dawn of time
All that I'm asking is a little less cryin'
It might be hard for the devil to do
But it would be easy for you

Lord, I hope this day is good
I'm feeling empty and misunderstood
I should be thankful, Lord, I know I should
But Lord, I hope this day is good

9 weeks, 1 day

In all the whinefest, I forgot to update about my first OB visit on Thursday!

It went well. I love my doc. He's a fairly soft-spoken man with a dry, dry sense of humor, and I'm glad we can both joke about things and also talk seriously about things that need to be addressed. I'm forever indebted to the friend who gave me his name when my former OB retired back when I was pregnant with Julian.

Anyway, the visit. His first comment to me was, "Oh, no, you're pregnant." I said, yeah, that was pretty much my first reaction when I saw the test. LOL I lost a lot of blood with Julian's delivery, so he was doing a lot of joking about needing his nitroglycerine pills for this go-round and scheduling my c-section this time and then making sure he wasn't on the on-call rotation. I can laugh because I know he'll take good care of me and the little bit, and if I didn't believe that, I'd change doctors in a second. Turns out the baby is measuring 9 weeks, 1 day - a bit farther along than I'd figured. (Hey, look, my kid is precocious already!) I got to see the heartbeat, and the baby was squirming around in there just fine and dandy. So that reassured me a lot. (I worry - I'm 40, I'm a fat chick, and there are all sorts of things that can go wrong.)

My doc asked me if I wanted to do any prenatal testing, given the higher odds for something to go wrong at my age. I said I do want to go ahead with it, because if there's anything out of the ordinary to be prepared for, then I want to be prepared. Test results wouldn't cause us to terminate the pregnancy, but if our baby were to have, say, Downs syndrome, I'd want to plan ahead for that. So he'll recommend tests and I can accept or refuse, as I feel is appropriate. (This is another thing I love about my doc - he'll make recommendations, but if it's not something he feels is essential, he's not going to push me to do it. He doesn't have his own agenda to push.)

My next appointment is October 23, and we'll get to hear the heartbeat then. Should be exciting!


This is another topic weighing heavily on my mind. Julian is with Kevin this weekend, and he'd told Kevin he had a blue day at school (the best kind) and gotten a sticker. This is something easily verified - all either of us has to do is look in Julian's folder that comes home from school and see if there's a sticker on the calendar for that day. Kevin looked at the folder, and not only was there a sticker, but there were notes from the teacher. Julian continues to struggle with things like talking out of turn and playing when he should be listening. So Kevin called me to give me the heads up and to tell me that he and Julian had a little talk about the importance of honesty.

The problem is not that Julian got into a little trouble in class. This happens. He's a chatty kid, and he's got a hard time turning it off. Brian said he was the same way in the early years of school, and that it took him until second grade or so to figure out that he needed to be still and listen in class rather than be running his mouth. No, the problem is that Julian told his father a bald-faced lie about it. To my knowledge, I've never told Julian a lie (OK, other than telling him I had no idea what Santa might bring him for Christmas). He's not seeing that behavior here at home. And for him to lie about something that's so easily verified bothers me. He told Kevin he lied because he was afraid he'd get into trouble for getting the note, and Kevin told him no, he wasn't upset about Julian getting a note from the teacher, but he was upset that Julian felt the need to be dishonest about it.

So, parents who are farther along the road in raising your kids and wiser than me, what's the best tack to take with this? Would the punishment be too far removed from the crime to have consequences for the lie here at home (I'm thinking of taking away Wii time, because that's the thing he loves more than anything)? He's six years old - is that old enough to connect what happened yesterday with what happens tomorrow when he gets back home? I don't want him to grow up thinking it's OK to lie to get out of trouble, and I'm just not sure how best to nip this in the bud now and help him realize that he can be honest with me, with Kevin, and with Brian about anything, that a lie will get him in more hot water than whatever the truth is.

Finances and faith

Warning: This probably sounds like a bunch of whining. And in part, I guess it is. If you can handle that, read on.

This is a topic that's been on my mind for quite a while. It's something Brian and I have discussed throughout our marriage, as we both feel strongly that tithing - giving back to God - is something we need to be committed to doing.

Last Sunday night, the pastor talked about, among other things, making time to be alone with God, and asking God to help you identify the areas in your life where He really wanted you to let go and let Him work. He talked about one of his own experiences, when he was the new pastor at our church a number of years ago, things were not going well, and he was concerned that the church would close its doors, or split, or somehow things would fall out that he'd be without a job with a wife and three kids to take care of. He realized that what he needed to let go of was his fear about provision and needs being met, and as he talked, I realized that that was something I really needed to let go of as well. I was the sole or primary breadwinner for my entire marriage to K, and I'm still the primary breadwinner now (although I am very, very thankful Brian is working!), so the responsibility of making sure family is taken care of has weighed heavily on my shoulders my entire working life. If bills aren't getting paid on time, I take it personally, I feel like *I've* failed somehow, like *I* haven't tried hard enough or pinched pennies enough or done enough to bring home the bacon. I wasn't raised to not pay my obligations in full and on time, and it upsets me when ends don't meet like I think they ought to. This is one really big area where I feel like God wants me to get out of the way and let Him work, and even now, I struggle with it.

I find myself trying to put a time limit on God, expecting Him to conform to my timetable and my agenda. Malachi 3:10 says, "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." God doesn't tell us to test Him very often, but here, He does. So Brian and I will freely admit that yes, we're testing God. We've made our commitment to give, and we're doing it. And logically, I know what the pastor meant when he said that God promises to meet our needs, not to make us rich. But when things aren't getting paid on time, I begin to wonder. (I know, again logically and not emotionally, that the lack is with me and not with God - it's not that He doesn't keep His promises, it's that I don't keep the faith.) And hence, the struggle. I'm not feeling very blessed right now, not in the least, and I'm wrestling with what exactly it means to have faith that God will meet our needs. Does that mean constantly living on the financial edge, scraping from paycheck to paycheck, and just trusting that the money will be there to cover necessities and not much else? Do I have to have faith strong enough to trust that we can be balanced on the edge and not fall over, and is that what getting our needs met will mean for the rest of our lives? Somehow I can't imagine that that's what God meant. But right now, this is what I'm turning over and over in my head.

And on a slightly related but not-quite-identical note, there's Bright Blessings. I love making candles and scrubs and goodies. I enjoy it and I'm pretty decent at it, I think. I'm getting the word out in all the ways I know how and all the ways I can afford, and yet I'm not seeing a whole lot of growth. I'm on a couple of message boards where the chat about bath and body products is pretty prevalent, and I see people talking up what they've gotten and tried. It just seems like people seem to forget to mention when they've ordered from me. I've seen good reviews of my products, so I know people like them. I just don't seem to get the word of mouth that other companies do, and I can't figure out why. So, this leaves me wondering, should I just cut my losses and pack it in? Should I put up all my supplies for sale and take my website down and close my Etsy shop and be done with it? I know that right now, I could not handle a huge influx of orders - I know there are e-tailers who get a ton of business, and I'm not equipped to handle THAT much business right now. But a steady stream of orders would be nice, and just having people mention that they got the stuff they did order would be nice, too. I've been doing this for over a year now, and with the way things have been going, I'm honestly not sure it's worth my while to keep it up.

See, I said I was whining. I'm going to go wallow in the pity pit for a while with the lovely chocolate peanut butter cupcake from Sugar Dreams that my friend Kelly brought to me today.