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Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Neverending Theme

I enjoy reading other people's blogs. It gives me a peek into the challenges and joy of other's. This also reinforces to me that so often people are experiencing the same questions, internal battles, and life events that I am or have gone through. I have found it to be one of the delights of technology. Of course it has its pitfalls, but finally the common man has an outlet outside of publishing a book or waiting till death when some historian discovers your long lost diary.

I started all this to say I really relish reading new years blogs. I love the excitement and anticipation of a new year. I also love the wistful memories of the year past. It is always a bittersweet time, letting go of the old, and bringing in the new. I will try to not let the bitter overcome the sweet. It is a new year, and I know that I have no guarantee in this life other than the saving grace of Jesus. On this I will rest all my hopes and dreams for the new year. Come what may, He will never change.

Happy New Year


Lamentations 3:22-24 (Message Translation)
God's loyal love couldn't have run out,
His merciful love couldn't have dried up.
They're created new every morning.
How great Your faithfulness!
I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He's all I've got left.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Loved Every Minute

Tonight the Christmas tree and other miscellaneous decorations will come down. We tried to make the tree last till New Years. It is unfortunate but live trees do not last well in the presence of our blaring heater. You can barely see the tree skirt as it has been replaced by a blanket of needles. Micah also took it upon himself to start taking down ornaments over the last couple of days. The tree is pretty much bare from his height down. Taking down the tree is like ripping a bandaid off. I cannot think about. I just have to do it. It is a shame after so much excitement and anticipation it all winds down so quickly. Alas that is simply life. I must keep a brave face for Kaylie. She was already heartbroken when I mentioned eventually taking down the tree on Christmas Day. Her responce was completely dumbfounded, as she innocently asked, "Christmas is already over?" She has such a merry heart. A week past Christmas she is still humming Christmas tunes. I am glad the message still rings true to her, and I hope it does not fade even as the twinkle of lights begins to dim.

In spite of Christmas being over we made many new memories. I decided to keep things happy and lighthearted so I decided to share a quick rundown of our Christmas events.
We had a traditional Christmas Eve as a family. Traditional in every way except for the blanket of snow sitting outside the window. I was released from work at 11am and enjoyed the afternoon by getting a few last minute gifts and then settling in at my aunt's house for some Christmas treats. Kaylie was completely amazed by the snow. She told me she had prayed for snow. She was so excited to see her prayers answered. We went out for a bit, but that did not last long. I am fairly cynical when it comes to any reports of snow in Texas, and I had not prepared well for a snowstorm. Kaylie is also a true Texan. She loves the look of snow, but about five minutes outside, and she was freezing to death. Micah was excited, but still too young to really understand what the commotion was about.

We had a great dinner at Italianni's followed by my absolute favorite dessert, the tartuffo. I'm not sure if I spelled that correctly. I am fairly certain that if their is a special dessert in heaven this is it. I always share with someone because I am embarrassed to say that I would eat a whole piece, which is not small. I must set some restrictions on myself.

Gift opening was fun. It is more fun to watch your kids. I was still very blessed by the family. My favorite part was really just being together, and feeling the joy and festivity that comes from grateful hearts. The weather was quite bad, but my dad and I still ventured out for the midnight mass. We were 2 of maybe 15 people in attendance. It was actually quite special. The chill of the night was quickly dampened as warm candlelight and joyful voices filled the air. The pastor gave a wonderful homily which was very relevant and gripping. I am not trying to knock the Lutheran chruch, but I have been to many services where the sermon was a bit weak, and the pastor got off on too many rabbit trails. The most surprising event was that the pastor actually came to speak with us afterward. After 10 years of attending this Christmas Eve service, he recognized us. I'm sure they find it quite humorous that we are so faithful to that Christmas Eve service even in inclement weather, but have never set foot in the church any other time of the year. Well no explanation really needed. Whether they know it or not we are of one faith serving the same God. We just happen to attend another church the rest of the year =)

Christmas Day was very special. It has been awhile since we spent the whole day together as a family. I cooked a prime rib with sides, and my mom prepared turkey and desserts. Chris' mom was with us as well as friends who are just as much family. We ate too much, played the wii, watched t.v., talked, laughed, and played games. It was everything Christmas should be. I am so grateful for family and friends. Thank you to Chris, Kaylie, Micah, Mom, Dad, Allyster,Melody,Mom #2, Mark, Trish, and big Micah. You guys made this a Christmas for the history books. I loved every minute.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Oh How Sweet

This afternoon I have just been pondering how sweet it is to walk with God. It is a walk that He never leaves. I had a particularly rough day Sunday. I allowed frustration in which tried to talk me into the believing a lie. After severely chasitising myself for these misteps, I felt tremendous guilt. It was in those moments that I remembered the precious promises of God. He never leaves, even to the end of the earth. My rightness before Him is only found in His Son. It is not always some incredible holy moment. It is usually in the nitty gritty, unattractive moments that His promises are reinforced to me. I am so thankful that my hope lies with someone stronger than myself. Oh how sweet it is to walk with Him.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas is Upon Us

A light shining, piercing the darkness. Jesus did come, and oh what a glorious day when He will come again, but for now we take pause to remember. I have read blogs and heard sermons over many many Christmases and you know what? It never gets old. It is such great news!

The time has come once again for all the yearly rituals to culminate into the much anticipated day we call Christmas. I am excited. I am happy because I cannot wait to bless my children and family. They are a blessing to me throughout the year, and there is nothing better than to give. Whether you have tangible or intangible gifts this year, there is something wonderful and sacred about time set apart to reflect on the goodness and love that has kept us together. I believe this is the core of tradition. I do not particularly care if you believe Jesus was born in December or September. It is not a certain day that we celebrate, it is an occurrence that rocked the foundations of the world as we know it. It is a time reminding us year after year that no matter how much darkness or empitness you feel, there is a Light that came to break that darkness and fill the emptiness.

We will celebrate today and tomorrow not for what we are able to give through ourselves, but to be a conduit of the love that was so freely given to us.

Have a very merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

30 Years!

Tomorrow my beloved husband will turn 30. He has told me this is no big deal because he has felt 30 for a long time. This is one of the reasons I love this man. He is comfortable in his skin. He's not one to freak out about age, although I have seen him searching for the occasional gray hair. Sorry honey, but I like your gray hairs!

In all seriousness I am so proud of my husband. Not that he has not always been great, but I have seen him grow in love and patience over the years. I have seen his passion for God multiply. He's a great dad and a patient husband. He has a natural gift of intelligence. God has given him favor to end up in places that would not have seemed possible from earthly circumstances. If you have known my husband for any extended period of time you would know he has a great love of comics and superheroes. He has a strong sense of justice and compassion for people. He has many artistic talents, and is all around a wonderfully well rounded person.

The first portion of this post was started prior to Chris' birthday. Unfortunately I am just now able to finish this blog. We had a great time of celebration. We had dinner at home and the best part of the night was a little surprise we cooked up for Chris. Chris has wanted a PS3 ever since they came out. Being the great guy he is he decided it was not a necessity . Instead he wanted to focus on paying off the rest of our debt. I really wanted to do something special for his 30th birthday, but I also did not want to dishonor his wishes. I got him to agree to letting me spend $100 towards his birthday, not necessarily for a gift but just for the day. My wonderful family pitched in the rest and we were able to buy a very niced refurbished PS3. I was amazed out how nice it was, not even a scratch. We weren't even sure if it would come by his birthday. It was supposed to take 5-10 days to ship, and we ordered two days before his birthday. I was shocked when my sister called to tell me it had arrived at her house on his birthday. I know he would have been happy with a note stating it was coming, but it was so much more fun to hand him a box. He had no clue what it was, and was totally shocked to pull a PS3 out. He was so excited just like a kid at Christmas, and in turn we were happy because it is always fun to bless someone.

Happy birthday my love! May God take you even deeper in the coming years!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Counting Blessings

I sit here on an early Wednesday morning enjoying a cup of coffee, listening to the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack, and preparing for another work day. My heart is full. Each day this week has brought a reminder of God's unfailing love. I can't adequately explain, but the heaviness that usually overtakes me as I sit down to work has been replaced by such an abiding joy. This is not to say that the day does not bring its trials. I still get frustrated. At times I am overwhelmed when I come home to a plethora of activites that desire my attention. In spite of these Christ remains!

I have another blessing to add to the every growing list. This is for healthy kids. Monday we had check-ups for both Micah and Kaylie. The experience was less than perfect. A long wait beforehand combined with Micah's newly acquired fear of strangers, and a meltdown from both childern after a round of immunizations made the visit mentally tiring. The great news is I have two healthy and thriving kids. Even with Kaylie's recent bouts with asthma, our doctor was quite pleased that neither Kaylie or Micah have needed immediate medical attention recently. I know we are not immune, but with fears of swine flu and all sorts of sickness God has kept us. For this I am grateful.

We undertook another great feat at the beginning of this week. We decided it was time to wean Micah from his pacifier. I know this is a controversial issue with many parents. It was hard for me because Kaylie naturally stopped using a pacifier after her first birthday. On the other hand Micah has clung to his and is ever so reluctant to give it up. We have also been guilty of using this as a crutch. If he was crying or whining persistently it was a natural inclination to pop a pacifier in his mouth. I noticed he did not attempt to talk as much. Any babble that he did do was always with the pacifier in his mouth. I am pleased to say today will be the fourth day Micah has been without his pacifier. We made it through a fairly traumatic doctor's visit and a couple of really fussy nights, but we did it! I know we are probably not completely out of this woods yet, but I know we did the right thing. He is already starting to try and talk more. He had a nice conversation with Chris last night. Of course we are not really sure what it was about, but he was really into it!

I pray that today would be the best Wednesday ever and that you would be acutely aware of God's great love in your life. May you experience all of the peace, joy, and fulness that He has in store for you!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Taco Bell Conundrum

It's gross and disgusting. It is the epitomy of junk food in all its unflattering glory. Yes I'm talking about everyone's favorite pseudo Mexican fast food joint, Taco Bell. I know in my head that it is everything I should abhor in food. I have poured over the nutritional information in an effort to jog my good sense, and yet there are times when I get this irresistable craving. Yummy Mexican pizza just sounds so good. I don't even try to fight it, and before I know it I am consuming a months worth of calories for lunch. I head back to work and almost instantly I have buyer's/eater's remorse. I feel like I have consumed rocks in my stomach. In fact that might be more helpful. I remember reading somewhere that a certain animal eats rocks to aid in digestion. Anyway that is beside the point. What I really need to find out is what perpetuates this awful cycle. It's not something I do all the time. Perhaps the problem lies in the amount of time I allow between each visit. I give myself just enough time to forget that sick feeling. It could be that they put drugs in there food that are time released and I am forced againts my own will to return. Maybe it could be that I need to strengthen my own will power and learn to say no to those unhealthy desires.

No, no it couldn't be that. I believe the drugs may be more plausible.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Overflowing

I have put off writing a blog long enough. I had plenty of time over the holiday, but everytime I considered sitting down to write, something else would grab my attention. I suppose I was just enjoying the moment. It was a great Thanksgiving. In fact as I sit to write this blog my heart continues to overflow with gratefulness. I am blessed not just in the joys of this moment, but in the grace I have been given to endure trials that have brought me to the place I stand today.
God's goodness has been waiting at the corner of every bend. What a gentle shepherd He is leading and guiding. I just cannot shake this gratefulness, and I do not want to!

Thanksgiving was quite traditional. We cooked a lot and did a lot of dishes. Kaylie delighted in the childhood pleasure of watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. I remember watching that and wondering why it always seemed to be just us kids enjoying it. Of course now I am the one in the kitchen feverishly making preparations. I finally understand mom. I did take some moments to watch though. It's just not Thanksgiving without a parade. It was fun, but I was wiped out by the end of night. Our plans to go to Half Price books for their 7am black Friday deals were canceled almost immediately when my alarm went off at 6am. Instead we enjoyed a leisurely morning, and ventured out a bit later to do some shopping. I am proud to say I have finished shopping for Kaylie and Micah.

When I was younger my dad took us to the Fort Worth Parade of Lights the day after Thanksgiving. We have always talked about going again, but it was either too cold or someone was sick. With the decent weather we decided to give it a try again. Let's just say things have changed in the last 15 years. Gone are the days of a leisurely small town parade. No the size of the crowd was monsterous. By sheer luck we ended up with a front row seat on the road. Then began the hour long wait for the parade to start. Kaylie really enjoyed it. Micah got squirmy. It's definitely not the Macy's parade. I would say the Neiman Marcus parade might even be better. It was an experience, one that we will definitely not be repeating in the future. This might not have been the case if we had not experienced the parking garage of doom. When we tried to leave we were stuck on the top row of the parking garage with a gridlock of cars trying to get out. We sat in the same place right beside our parking spot for about 30 minutes. We had not eaten dinner and were seriously getting tired. We decided we would rather be out and about instead of stuck in a car. Dad suggested we just get out and go eat. This seemed like a great idea until we realized all the restaurants had a wait of over 1 1/2 hours. At this point there was nothing to do but laugh. We ended up going to a Qdoba which tasted so good after everything that had happened. It will always be a night to remember.

If you are still with me thanks for reading all the updates. I hope that you to will find your heart overflowing with gratefulness throughout this holiday and beyond.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Getting Productive

Thanksgiving and an unfortunate incident with my dog sparked a weekend of productivity at my house. Saturday night with the kids in bed Chris and I decided to get some deep cleaning and laundry done. I have been on a quest to consolidate more which requires going through old stuff and making that painful decision to either donate, throw away, or recycle if at all possible. I am so proud of the progrees we have made thus far. Although there is an attic full of baby clothes that really could be organized a little better.

Sunday we came home from church to find the dog had chewed up part of the door frame in the laundry room trying to open the gate and get out. He was already in there because he had been in the trash that morning and I feared whatever he had eaten may be coming out one end or the other. Luckily that did not happen, but the door frame was frustrating enough.
It was in that moment I decided to channel the frustration into productivity. Kaylie and I set off for Home Depot, or Lowe's as Kaylie likes to call it. Dad I think you have ruined her with Lowe's.
Anyway it was actually Home Depot. I bought some wood putty and the necessary tools to repair the door frame as best I could. I also decided to get some more paint brushes to finally paint Kaylie's room. I figured we had the paint for over a year, maybe it was time. The only project I did not get to start was touch up paint for the original paint in the house. Why is it so hard to match white? I mean I brought home 15 different color swatches for white and none were an exact match. I suppose this just mean I will have to actually repaint. What a pain!

Kaylie and I painted an accent wall in her room. It was a lovely shade of pink almost like cotton candy. Kaylie is a complete girly girl. She was so excited and happy. She kept dancing around and telling me thank you. It was the perfect match for her princess room. Her room is now painted, cleaned, and organized so that her little brother can't do too much damage if the door is left open. It was a tiring project, and at first I wasn't sure I would want to do it again. When the paint was dry and we took the tape off and it actually turned out really well. Maybe I could squeeze time in for another wall sometime.

Thanksgiving is now just two days away. We are hosting dinner this year. I'm actually excited to cook. We always like to cook a lot even if we are going somehwere so this actually makes it easier. It will be a relaxing, intimate family dinner which will be nice. Of course football will be somwhere in the mix. I will probably take that time to do dishes. I hope each one of you has a wonderful Thanksgiving. Enjoy the many blessings that we have even in these times of economic turmoil. We really do have so much to be joyful about!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

In Retrospect

Has it really been almost a month since we were preparing to leave for Seattle? That is the one thing I hate about vacations. You plan and anticipate for months and then in a flurry they are over. Just a memory left to savor. Oh how I do savor the memory. Things have felt pretty much non stop since returning home. Now that I am back to five day work weeks the kids and I have adjusted once again to a new schedule. Every other week my schedule changes from 7-4 and then back to 8-5. One thing I have not adjusted well to is the end of daylight savings time. When I get off at 5 and pick up the kids and Chris we get home and it is already almost dark. I feel like it is so much later than it is which makes the day seem gone. As I get older I really do cherish how precious time it, but I shall digress to my core thoughts.



Time really is a funny thing to be stuck in. We move along this line building and learning from our small past experiences, which really pale in comparison to the whole span of time, and projecting our lives upon goals we have set in the future. There are moments that I long to see our lives as God sees them from an eternal perspective. Of course at this point I could probably not handle or even comprehend everything I would see.


As I was thinking about all this I realized that his now been a whole year since Micah had his first surgery. It's hard to believe he was only 3 months old then. My mom was also out of commission after surgery around the same time. Things seemed so crazy then , but here we are one year later and life has gone on. Things have settled down, and issues that once seemed overwhelming just don't seem as big. It's been a good year. Nothing has been perfect, but we have been taken care of. I have a family I love deeply, a home, a job, good health, what else could anyone ask for?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Love Them

I love my kids. So what if Kaylie prattles on in the car about everything including play by plays of the latest Fresh Beat Band? So what if Micah likes to stick his hands in the toilet and climb on top of the dishwasher when I am trying to load? All of these little inconveniences pale in comparison to the joy and fullness they bring to my life. The next time they are crawling and bouncing on me while I sit on the couch I will count it such a blessing that they love me enough to want to be near me, and healthy enough to be delightfully rambunctious.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Oh Oatmeal


I don't hate oatmeal, really. I prefer to jazz it up with brown sugar or cinnamon, but it doesn't make me gag or anything.

I went shopping for groceries and was proud when my bill totaled $50. On a quest to save money I decided to buy a generic box of oatmeal which would last for the week. It is definitely cheaper than bagels or cereal, and it has enough healthy attributes without making me feel hungry well before lunch. At about 8 o'clock I headed to the breakroom to get my oatmeal started. I hate cooking hot cereals like this in the microwave, but I'm pretty sure a hot plate would be frowned upon so my options are slim. The oatmeal bubbled up and then settled into something that resembled mud pots from Yellowstone. The first few bites weren't bad, but it never fails that I will be interrupted and soon my oatmeal was a cold mushy mess. I ate it quickly trying not to think about the texture or temperature.

Here's the real deal. Oatmeal reminds me I am on a budget. As soon as I make a concerted effort to be frugal, I immedietely feel deprived. I know the is simply a spoiled Western mindset that I must overcome. It is much akin to going on a diet and suddenly the McDonald's sign looks shinier and more lovely than ever before.

No matter what I must purge this sense of entitlement and eat my oatmeal like a good girl. No goal worth attaining is ever an easy road, right?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Running Like a Gazelle



Last night Chris and I had a frank discussion about our finances. Just this week one of Chris' co-workers shared that they had become debt free just this week. She and her husband had been saving for awhile to purchase a new home while also going through the Dave Ramsey money makeover. They got to a point where they had a nice amount set aside and she decided they should use that money towards paying off the remainder of their debt. It was a sacrifice to let an immediete desire go to accomplish a larger goal, but she explained that after doing this they felt so free. It was as if they had received a pay raise as the reality set in that they did not owe anyone any longer. They were no longer a slave to the lender. I have no doubt that they will be moving into a new house in no time.



We have continued our journey towards being debt free, but it has been slower than we had hoped. I mentioned to Chris how great it would be to be out of debt by the end of next year. In my mind it was a wish, but not really a reality. Chris said he had actually been thinking the same thing. Enter the uncomfortable part of the conversation. What do we need to do to get there? We both knew deep in our hearts the answer was simply to sacrifice a little more. I would say that we live fairly meagerly compared to the average American family. We don't have cable, I don't go out shopping much, and I usually always try to find a good deal. These are issues of the heart though. I realize that often we convince ourselves that we have given everything, but we still harbor those little things that keep us feeling comfortable. I wrote earlier about wanting new floors. I also have a weakness for travel. I began to re-evaulate all that we do and tried to think about how we could do a little more to squeeze every last penny towards paying down the debt.
God has blessed us so much even during this difficult economic times. Chris and I have been so fortunate to be in stable jobs with steady income flow. Could we really squander this God given opportunity to grow spiritually and free ourselves from the bondage of debt?



I believe debt is a serious epidemic in our world. It's not really that it is impossible to get out of debt, but our minds are so programmed to fullfilling our every need instantly. No matter who you are we are all guilty of worshipping at the alter of "stuff" at one point or another. How sad is it that it is excruciating to think about a year or two of sacrifice when the outcome is freedom for a lifetime. We have set our hearts and minds to make this year count. We have a high goal of being out of debt by the end of the year. It may be a longshot, but we are going to give it everything we have. The extra money will be nice when it is all said and done, but I must reiterate that it is truly an issue of the heart. How much stuff do I need in life? How much more can I give when I am not in slavery to Wells Fargo or Bank of America. This is another issue God has dealt with me on is giving. We have also taken another leap of faith to give more to missions this year. I know it doesn't really make since with the whole tightening of the belt, but that is where the faith comes in. I'm not looking for millions or some name it and claim it scam, but my heart is to see the kingdom of God advanced through people who are laying their lives down for Him.I hope to be out there doing the same thing one day and I believe getting out of debt while giving is what will get us to that point. This just may mean I need to sacrifice more of my wants and desires, but it is an investment in God's kingdom which will never need a government bailout.


So here we go running like gazelles. We have a purpose and desire. We are partnering our economy with God's so that His Kingdom may come.


Proverbs 6:4-5

Give no sleep to your eyes, Nor slumber to your eyelids;

Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hunter's hand

And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Back in the Swing of Things

It's Tuesday and time to get back to real life. I believe vacation memories are some of the best. Sometimes I don't even realize what a great time I had until I come home and start reliving all the things we did. Trying to manage my two kids was somewhat tiresome while traveling and being on the go, but what a precious time I had with Kaylie and Micah. I think of the times we were visiting museums, eating dinner together, or just chilling in the hotel and watching TV, and I feel priveleged that we were blessed with the time and resources to do this.

Friday night Chris took me out for dinner to celebrate our anniversary. We had a great time talking, laughing, and just enjoying one another's company. After dinner we went to a little independent coffee shop in North Richland Hills called Roots. I really like the set up of this shop. The staff could be a bit friendlier, but I am an extra picky Starbucks veteran. The store featured a live musician. I believed her name was Kiera. She was actually awesome. It is not often you get a coffee shop musician who plays their own music, and if they do the content and quality is usually iffy. Just being in a coffee shop makes me miss the old days of making coffee. My desire to own my own ship only increases. If anyone would like to invest in an experienced barista with business and management experience give me a shout.
Now back to the date, sorry for the rabbit trail. We spent the rest of the evening walking around a park just talking about our lives and the future. It was the best date. He even took me to Einstein's for breakfast Saturday morning before picking up the kids. It was a low key anniversary, but one of the best.

The rest of the weekend was a blur. The kids went out to a fall festival and received more candy than I think should be allowed. We attended the end of the missions conference at Shady Grove where my heart was once again broken for the nations.
My heart just might be beating away from here, but that is a story for another blog at another time.

I'm back at work now trying to adjust once again. I found out our four day weeks are being canceled due to downsizing in the office. It is a little disappointing, but what can you do? I miss my kids and husband. I miss being home together or out doing something, but bills must be paid.
Big holidays are just around the corner so it may be awhile before I am really back in the swing of things.

A Happy Seven Years

This past Sunday Chris and I celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary. I know you may be thinking that I just talked about our eighth anniversary together a couple of months ago. What can I say? We like to celebrate.

It's a little weird for me to even believe it has been seven years already. I don't feel that old. Of course I was only eighteen at the time. I could share a million things about marriage and life. The most important thing I can think of besides loving God more than you love your spouse is this. When you love, love fiercely. Work on your marriage as if your life depended on it. There is pain and joy in love. To love is to sacrifice, but what joy there is on the other side. This cannot be reached by living in a neutral status with your partner. There are moments in my marriage when I know Chris and I became so frustrated we were ready to throw the towel in, but what stood was the fierce love and loyalty, a willingness to push through because a life together was better than a life apart.

It has been an adventurous seven years and we are just getting started. I love you Chris. You are my great earthly love.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sweet Home

We made it back early this evening. Seattle was rainy, cool, and beautiful, but I know I speak for the whole family when I say we are happy to be home. Going away just helps you appreciate all you have that much more. I wish I could have taken the scenery home. There were so many blazing yellow, fiery red and orange leaves. It really was a wonderful sight to take in. Even though I will miss this I felt a twinge of excitement as we broke through the clouds and I spotted the winding freeways, flat land sparsely populated with trees, and none other than a Grand Prairie landmark.... Lone Star Park!

It wasn't a long trip, but it was just right for our family with two small children. We did a lot in just a few days. Kaylie would actually tell me she was ready to go to bed which almost never happens. The trip was not without it's challenges, but I'm already starting to forget those as memories of all the fun times begin to cement in.

I will update more later with pictures. We have a few days to recuperate before heading back to the rat race. Chris and I will be celebrating our seventh wedding anniversary Sunday. Along with that and Halloween on Saturday we still have a lot of fun to pack in before it's over.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Seed of Eternity

A week ago I had a talk with Kaylie about heaven. We have talked a lot about Jesus, but I felt it was time to take it a little deeper and talk about a more spiritual concept. I felt a little bit of anxiety trying to put such abstract ideas into a language she could understand. As we began to talk she would ask questions. I would answer the best that I could. I was genuinely surprised at how easily she received this information. Her child like understanding is not shrouded in adult cynicism, nor puffed up with a false sense of accomplishment as many are with human knowledge. She was excited and passionate about this eternal place where all who have put their trust in Christ will one day go. She kept telling me excitedy, "We will have a new life!"

I was so touched by her revelation, and a scripture from Ecclesiastes came to mind. It is a chapter many are familiar with. In fact a very popular song has come from it. It is the chapter that speaks of a time and season for all things. What stuck out to me was a verse that says God has placed eternity in the heart of man. Yes in the middle of this grand passage about times and seasons, all things which are so familiar to us on this earth, we are removed from this linear line of time. It is quite the realization that the concept of eternity is deep inside each one of us, whether you think you believe in God or not. It was this tiny seed that was planted in Kaylie's heart that opened her spiritual eyes.

We were created to live forever in relationship with a living God. Our humanity gives great creedence to reason and knowledge of the human mind. Unfortunately this has flawed our hopes of true wisdom. How can a finite mind process an infinite God? There is not reason for this, and to try and find salvation in our own abilities is foolish. For those who are jaded and unconvinced, for those who live for today as if tomorrow will never come, look in the depths of who you are and you will find that the seed of eternity is there.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rip Out the Carpets

When I was little I remember my mom getting so frustrated with keeping the carpets clean. I recall many times when she would say in a fit of frustration that she would rather just rip them out. I never truly understood that until I became a mother to two children and a large dog.

Now I am the one lamenting the condition of my carpets. It does not help that our small townhome has carpet throughout the living and dining rooms. This is a recipe for disaster as my son loves to throw all unwanted scraps of food to the ground. He also loves to carry a sippy cup around, but he is ever so quick to toss it down whenever something else peaks his interest. Combine this with normal wear and tear and a dog who has tracked his fair share of messes around and you should start to see my dilemma. It seems futile to replace carpet while my children are in their prime mess making years.

I have decided that we need either wood or laminate flooring. I have further narrowed the selection to laminate after reviewing the budget. Chris and I have decided we will install it ourselves to save some cash. The only problem is home improvement projects tend to terrify me. I would much rather pay someone and walk away, and when I return be thrilled and surprised by my transformed home. Unfortunately I'll have to buck up and get over my fears. Any encouragement from my dear readers would be much appreciated.

The sad part is none of this can take place until early next year, and with a Thanksgiving dinner to host, what's a girl to do? Maybe ripping out those carpets wouldn't be so bad. Concrete can have a nice cozy home feeling to, right?

The Countdown

In a little over a week I will be enjoying this

and drinking this


and eating this


I cannot wait. I am beyond thrilled. It has been almost two years since our last trip which is way too long in my opinion. I'm just praying it all goes smoothly with a four year old and a very adventurous little 14 month old who doesn't like to sit still for long. The plane ride should be an adventure in itself.

I will take lots of pictures and hopefully they will be decent enough to post. If I am lucky maybe we will find some nice person to take pictures of our family as a whole.

Time to get back to reality. I just needed a little pick me up.



Sunday, October 11, 2009

Since When Did Medium Become Extra Small

I made a horrible mistake today. I walked into a clothing establishment that is obviously geared towards the 18 and under crowd. I don't pretend to be old by any stretch of the imagination, but at 25 with two kids there are some spots I have learned are just best to steer clear of. I really was just trying to find a good deal on jeans. Nothing too crazy, just a decent pair of jeans. I definitely have not hit mom jean time and honestly hope I never will. I actually found a pair that looked nice, and then noticed they were having some great deals on t-shirts. I waited patiently to try the clothes on while noticing that I was in the company of girls who couldn't be larger than a size two.
"Take it easy," I tell myself, "you've had two children and work a full time job, don't be too hard on yourself." Finally relief as I can slip into the secluded confines of the dressing room where me and all my insecurities can be alone. I try on the jeans. Not too bad. Always a few area I wouldn't mind seeing smaller, but I can live with these. Then came the first top. I knew as I began to slip my head through that this was just not going to work. Not wanting to be forced into a purchase simply because I tore the material trying to squeeze into it would do nothing to boost this self esteem slump.
I know I still have a good 25 pounds I could lose, but seriously when did medium become extra small? I have several stores I frequent that medium is perfect. I haven't seen a large top since I was several months removed from my last pregnancy. Maybe it is all just a ploy to keep a more seasoned demographic out of the store. Maybe they have the correct medium and I have been politely fooled by all of the other stores so that my ego is not too bruised.

Now my choices are to drown my sorrows in a rush of salt and sugar, or let the anger force me to kick this body into shape.

....Oh well maybe I'll try this again tomorrow.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

To Please Man

I do so much in life to please men. Yes, I am ashamed to admit, but it is true. If you stop and think about it even the most individualistic of us seek the approval of man.

I would like to take a pause and classify that I will refer to men or man for humanity as a whole throughout the rest of this blog. I apologize if you are prone to political correctness, but I have found it easier this way.

Many of our endeavors are targeted at pleasing or impressing those around us. Even the most pious of Christians can often fall prey to this. If your circle is comprised primarily of like minded people it has the ability to become somewhat of a competition for whatever that circle holds valuable. In a more secular context it is measured in large and small ways. We all seek the approval of lenders and the almighty credit score. I am not advocating not paying bills, this is purely not Biblical, but what is the motivation behind paying bills? Is it to please others so you can score a bigger loan to accumalate more stuff? Perhaps it is to prove you are in the upper echelons of society with such an immaculate score? We all seek the approval of friends and family. Some would try to diminish this, but I find the louder one argues the deeper the root is in the heart.

I see this manifested daily in a world that has given everyone to broadcast themselves 24/7. Look no farther that facebook or twitter to find people vying for prominence and approval. It is not even alway others that we seek this confirmation from. We are constantly searching our own soul trying to please ourselves, and find the ever elusive state of happiness.

I write this more as a confession than a prosecution of humanity. I believe we are all guilty, but what does that matter. It is a matter of the individual heart. I am guilty. More often I hope to prove to others that I have something. I worry about my appearance. I have often anaylized what to write as a staus on my facebook to ensure that it only presents myself in the best light. I want people to like me maybe even envy my life. What irony when I allow my spirit to be in an aganozing battle with my human tendencies.

It is an embarrassing but awful truth. I have come to the realization that the only freedom to be found is in the truth. I am nothing apart from the saving grace of Christ. He is all that matters. If I have anything it is a blessing from Him.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Never Easy, Always Worth It

There are days when I wonder what it would be like to not have hairballs collecting in the corner of the house.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to eat dinner without a face hovering ever so close just waiting for me to look away or drop a tiny morsel.


There are mornings when I wonder what it would be like to never wake up to the contents of an upset stomach, which most likely came from yet another rummage through the garbage.


And then there are the times I wonder what it would be like to get up from the couch without tripping over a large warm body obstructing my pathway.


I then wonder to myself is it worth it? Is all the inconvenince worth the time and energy.

Then I look at this face.

The same one that lovingly wakes each of us up in the morning. The one that has never bitten a child even when they tug on his ears or try to pull his tail. The same one that keeps a close watch over our family, and will sit with me when I am in tears.


Yes, yes I do believe it is worth it.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Maybe Next Year Big Tex



Well I just sent my daughter off to the great State Fair of Texas. We decided not to go as a family this year due to the sheer cost of parking, admission, and food. I'm sure we could have made it work, but it was decided that with a vacation just three weeks away saving a little wouldn't hurt. Kaylie got lucky with a free ticket from McDonalds and grandparents willing to tote her along.

I really thought I wouldn't miss it too much. The fair is a bit of a racket. Pay $15 to have hundreds of people try to hawk there stuff to you, and the privilege of signing up for free trips, cars, and money. Of course those freebie sign ups come at the cost of junk mail solicitation for the rest of your life, but hey it's a small price right? I just gave a lot of great reasons to not miss the fair, and yet I feel a twinge of sadness at missing this yearly fried fest. I actually have a lot of great memories from the fair. Chris and I went just a couple months after we started dating. We took a lot of silly pictures, ate a lot, and just had fun like kids. I don't know why, but that is a memory that always brings a well of nostalgia when I think of the fair. I also took Kaylie to the fair with my parents when she was barely a month old. I was home on maternity leave, which gets lonely for a new mom. My parents were nice enough to get me out of the house. Kaylie wasn't aware of much, but once again it was just one of those times that sticks with you. I still remember running all over the fair trying to find warm water to make a bottle. Then there was last year. I was working part time after having Micah. Chris took the day off and we all went to the fair. Micah was just a little older than Kaylie had been. It was just a lovely day with family. Kaylie even participated in her first backyard circus.

I suppose now I am just wanting to relive the memories and make more. The comforting thing to know is that Big Tex will always be there next year, along with free vacations, corn dogs, and knives so sharp you can cut steel.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Happy News

Good morning readers! Happy first day of October 2009. I am feeling more chipper than usual this morning. No, I did not get rid of the pile of laundry on my bed. Maybe that will be this evening. I am genuinly thrilled to announce that at work we have been given the privelege of working four 10 hour days which will give me a three day weekend. We are on a trial basis for two weeks, and if that goes well we will continue until the end of the year.

I cannot begin to tell you the things I will be able to get done with one extra day. The true reward is extra time with my kids. I will now be able to do some of those fun mom things like going to story time, an afternoon at the park, or just spending time doing this they like to do. It will only be for three months until we hit our busy season, but I will take whatever time I can get. I also hope to take advantage of this time to start with Kaylie on some preschool homeschooling materials. This really is an answer to prayer. I just wanted to share the good news.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Split Personality

I've been in sort of a sulky mood today. I can't pinpoint an exact cause, but I just feel tired and lackadaisacal. Now that is your S.A.T. word for the day, enjoy the fountain of knowledge I am imparting. This is your cue to roll your eyes at me.

The more I think about it I believe a good portion of my mood can be attributed to a pile of laundry that has rotated between my bed and the laundry basket since the weekend. I spent time cleaning other parts of the house this weekend. I gave myself a pass to delay laundry folding until a later date as a reward for all the other hard work. Ever since I have loathed the laid back Crystal of the weekend. Why oh why weekend Crystal, did you leave me with such a mess when you know good and well I am completely worthless during the work week?
I am still waiting for a reply.

I am also still trying to convince Kaylie that it is possible to keep her room clean during the week, not just on the weekends. This only means that I must make the time to supervise her cleaning efforts because every sane parent knows you cannot leave a four year old alone to clean their room. I suppose this is better than the alternative which includes me tripping over barbies and blocks when tucking the kids in or getting them up.

I believe we've come to the conclusion of this whole sulky bit. Weekend Crystal if you're reading, I'll be waiting for your apology.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Can't Slow It Down

I like to go back and read some of my old blogs from time to time. There is always a more objective viewpoint once some time has passed. I like to see where I have been and what I was thinking during different points of time. Today I was in one of those moods. I was reading some posts from the beginning of the year, and I honestly could not believe they were from that long ago. This year is flying past me.


I have seen my writing through peaks and valleys. I know it's not fabulous or anything, but it's just me and I can't apologize for that. I would say my only disappointment as I arrive soon at my one year with blogspot is the lack of comment or conversation. I myself am guilty of ghost reading blogs as well, so I should be preaching at myself. I know I have readers, at least that's what google analytics tells me. Hey I'm not picky, but if you have an opinion about something I write please feel free to share. In this big cyber world it can be nice to know a little more about the people out there.

I am ready to go home and see my kid's smiling faces, and then the deluge of requests will begin.
"Mommy, can I have a drink?"
"Mommy, can I have a snack?"
"Mommy, can I ride my bike outside?"
"Mommy, can you make Micah stop bothering me."

Oh how I love it though.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Welcome to the Age of Technology




I have forever been behind the curve of cutting age technology. Oh I know how to use a computer Mac as well as Windows, but when it comes to the latest and greatest I am usually a few years behind. This is mostly attributed to my penny pinching ways, which I'm sure you have all heard about by now.




The same has been true of every cell phone I have owned. My motto was always give me a phone that rings, and I will be happy. Each time my cell phone was eligible for upgrade I went in and asked for whatever I could get that was the closest to free. I kept said phone until it could no longer function, and the cycle began again.




Today all of this will change. I will be the owner of a brand new blackberry curve. It's not the coveted iphone, but I refuse to switch to ATT for those priveleges. Of course I am only getting this because we received an exceptionally good deal. I'm sure to many of you seasoned cell phone users this is humorous. I don't pretend that I will even know what to do with a blackberry. I will most likely spend hours pouring over my instruction manual just trying to figure out all the functions.


In the end as long as it rings and I can pick up a call with good reception I will be a happy camper.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Eight Minutes

until the weekend. Let's see what I can update you on in this short amount of time. Hmmmm, well I filed, answered phones, billed, and cleaned and sanitized my desk. With this whole swine flu thing you can't be too careful.


Speaking of swine flu I've learned that this is the perfect excuse for any and all circumastances in the world today.
Late for work....
school closed due to swine flu and you had to find alternate childcare.
Have an accident....
you were busy sneezing into the crook of you arm just to be on the safe side and rear ended another vehicle.
Need an excuse for the family as to why you have not gone grocery shopping ...
even with sanitizer wipes those shopping cart handles are a hotbed for germs.
Need to get out of a dinner party...
crowds in a confined space, need I say more?

Well my eight minutes are up. I hope you all learned something important.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

That They Would Be Oaks


Isaiah 61:3To grant those who mourn in Zion,Giving them a garland instead of ashes,The oil of gladness instead of mourning,The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting So they will be called oaks of righteousness,The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.
As I lay in bed last night Chris and I were discussing our children and the challenges of raising them in this crazy world. I thought about my true desires for each one of them, and this verse from Isaiah came to the forefront of my mind. I believe that each child has giftings and purpose, but no matter where they go or what they do I long to hear them called Oaks of righteoussness, the planting of the Lord. All of this so that He may be glorified.
I love the symbolism of the oak. It has a strong endurance about it. In this I realize that I cannot plant the oak. Of course I have been given the responsibility to care and nurture, to provide sort of a greenhouse for my kids. I feel great privlege and yes, the great gravity of it all. And so I lean heavily not on my own strength for these great tasks, but on my Source of life.
God let me also be an oak of righteousness that our legacy will be a glory only to You.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

We Cannot Understand

There are some things I will never understand.
Why must little babies be subjected to the consequences of poor choices made by parents?
Why are some so quick to take advanatage and then bite the hand that feeds?
Why are we as humans so easily caught up in ruts that can become like bed sores that eat us from within?

In truth I know the answer. It is because we live in a fallen world that desperately needs a Saviour. Still it is hard for me to understand.

Only God sees and knows.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ode to the Great Pumpkin



The atumnal equinox brings great anticipation around the Medrano household as we eagerly await The Great Pumpkin! I mean it, he's real...I don't care what you say about your Santa Clause.



I believe every year I write something about fall. I'm sorry but you will just have to put up with this. I can't help it. I love this time of year. Our family loves just about everything pumpkin. Even though fall did not officially start until today we had a sneak preview with some pumpkin bread a week ago. Everyday Kaylie asks if it is pumpkin day yet. In a little over a week our pumpkin patch will open and we will carry on a tradition of taking the kids out for some so cheesy it makes you sick fun.
No one can be in a bad mood when the weather is crisp, fall decorations abound, and the smell of freshly baked fall treats fill the home.
I really cherish every tradition we have started in our own family. From the State fair, Oktoberfest, pumpkin farms, Charlie Brown, and our yearly Thanksgiving eve cook-a-thon, each one holds so much fun and many precious memories for years to come. Micah is just now getting to an age where he can sort of participate. He does most of his participating by eating those freshly baked fall treats, but at least he's having fun. Kaylie on the other hand loves any reason to celebrate so she is in her element when the holidays roll around.
The most exciting event for us this fall is a trip we have planned next month to visit Seattle. If you live in the North Texas you know that our leaves have a tendency to go from green, brown, and then the ground. I am looking forward to an array of beautiful fall colors of course mixed in with the evergreens against the backdrop of the magnificent cascades. It will be great to get away, visit family, eat yummy fish and chips, and site see.
You have probably not heard the last of me singing the praises of autumn. Just think we have three glorious months together!
So grab your cider and favorite pumpkin dessert and join with me in this ode to the Great Pumpkin!





Friday, September 18, 2009

Roots


Yesterday I was laying in bed trying to take a nap. Drifting in and out of conciousness a random thought popped into my mind. It was of a television show I remember watching on Saturday mornings as a kid called Circle Square. It was a Canadian show that mixed puppets and kids. It was a little creepy to be honest. I went back today to watch some old clips on Youtube and wondered what the appeal was asa child. It was not my favorite it just happened to come on between some of my other favorites like Davey and Goliath,Gospel Bill, and Joy Junction on TBN. I know I am already hearing the groans. As I look back it brings to mind my upbringing. I cannot even begin to count the number of Sunday school lessons, sermons, and vacation Bible schools I sat through. Let me hear it for flannel baords!

In my current mindset living in a polished society it is easy to look back at these crude, humble beginnings with disdain. Were a lot of these things cheesy and simplistic? Absolutely, and yet I still draw on many of these basics for my own value system today. Like it or not they are my roots. I look back at church growing up. It could be rigid and planned. Today my choice would not necessarily be to return to that style, but I can't help but look back in some appreciation for the foundation that was laid in my life. I may not agree with the how or the style or even some interpretaions of the Word, but it was basic essentials that were instilled in my lie from a young age. Most young adults get fiery in their pasion for change. I can attest to this, but without the foundation imparted to me I would never have had the maturity needed to grow and expand in different areas on my life.

Anyway this was just a thought passing through mind that I decided to share. Happy Friday to all!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Validation

Psalm 37 (The Message Trans.)

5-6 Open up before God, keep nothing back;
he'll do whatever needs to be done:
He'll validate your life in the clear light of day
and stamp you with approval at high noon.

This has been one of the verses of my life, but I had never quite read it like this until recently.
What an incredible reminder not only myself, but in reality to every reader of this blog.
Every person on this planet has searched at one time or another for meaning or significance.
The key: Open up before God. Of course He knows it all, but there is a sacredness that is achieved in relationship when we willingly open ourselves and choose to reveal all.

It is a rainy Thursday here in Texas. The mind would chooses to allow the dreariness to settle into the soul, but wherever you are let today be the day. Open yourself before God. Let your spirit be awakened by His passion for you. There is hope. He alone can be the validation of our lives.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Cabin Fever

I'm sitting in Micah's room watching the rain fall and the river rise just outside our house. I could be doing something productive like cleaning, laundry, or one of those special projects I always put off for a rainy day. Instead I'm just feeling a little blah knowing I am stuck here for the rest of the weekend.

Today our poor Mazda was hit for the third time while in our ownership. We were hit from the side by a driver making a sharp turn in the lane next to us. Of course we were on our way to a birthday party and it was raining so all of those factors made an always unpleasant experience even more frustrating. We were able to make it home, but the alignment is completely out of whack, and we can't go far without creeping along at slow pace. Right turns are extremely difficult and finding a route with strictly left turns is quite complicated. Since this all happened on a Saturday our insurance company has informed us we cannot get a rental till Monday morning. We contemplated getting our own rental from the airport for a day, but that just seemed like a silly extra expense considering we really have no obligations. We have resigned ourselves to the house for the rest of the weekend barring any emergencies.

I suppose it is just knowing that I can't go anywhere that gets me so stir crazy. I should probably treasure the time to just relax at home and do things around the house. Right now I just feel a bit sulky. Accidents are no fun no matter whose fault it is. All I can pray for is a quick resolution from their insurance company, and that enterprise will not stick me with another PT Cruiser!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Random Acts of Kindness

Yesterday a driver who is frequently in our office, brought me some tamales. There was no reason, he said he just happened to be picking up breakfast at Fiesta and decided to bring me some.

No matter how hardened you are it is hard to not let a small gesuture of kindess seep into the heart and brighten your day.

It also made me think about how often I am on the giving end of these small acts. I am ashamed it is far too few. Too often I am to preoccupied with my own problems and life, or I think that any small act would not truly matter to the recipient.

I believe the point is not really how big or how small the act or even if it is genuinly appreciated by the recipient. Rather it is taking a moment to stop and think outside of our box.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Reset

Sometimes life is chugging along at a predictable pace, and then you look around at the scenery and realize something is just not right. Of course you meant to travel in the correct direction. You busily prepared and studied maps carefully. You were sure you had this thing figured out, and then you looked around and know that maybe in all the planning and careful scrutinizing you just got lost in it all.

This past week was one of those revelations of sort. I pride myself in having a pretty low maintenace lifestyle, but it also becomes pretty easy to hide my controlling tendencies behind that outward facade. I have probably blogged along these lines before, but sometimes the journey has a few similar pit stops when we don't learn our lesson the first time. I have goals and ideas for where I would like to see myself, my children, our family, and I can agonize over the smallest details trying to plan our way there. Of course I get overwhelmed, frustrated, and sad because after all I am only human. When I finally broke down to my most fragile state I see how in all this planning I can so easily miss all the small pleasures, and all the good God has placed along the way to help cheer me to the finish line. Instead I rely on my own knowledge and strength to get me there. This is so typical of our species which is perhaps why our world is running at such a maddening pace.

In my nature I cannot easily accept simply answers. In order to achieve stability I rationalize there must be some long sequence or equation to get me to that place, but I realized this was all completely in vain. Through many tears and a strugglle of the will I have come to the understanding that sometimes we must hit reset, and simply just tell God we will finally let go.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Happy Birthday Princess!

Psalm 127:3
Behold, children are a gift of the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.

I cannot adequately express what a gift my children are. Today one of those blessings turns four years old. As I write this I realize at this time four years ago Kaylie was about a hour old. I was still recovering from a flood of emotions that overtakes the feeble human mind at the birth of one's first child. I look back on that first year of her life with such fondness. There were some tough moments learning and struggling as all parents do, but through those moments we created a special bond.

Today I have a loud and boisterous little girl. She likes to be called a princess,loves girly things, is opinionated, and talks non-stop at a really high volume. I love everything about her. She usually stops me in the middle of conversations by saying she needs to tell me something. Almost 90% of the time it is to say that she loves me very much. I would say when I am with her she tells me that at least twice an hour. She loves to cuddle and be close. She can be a bit demanding, but she knowS when she has been wrong and will not hesitate to apologize. She loves family more than any child I have ever known. Her favorite thing is for everyone to have dinner together. She loves to pray and sing. Her love of learning is a gift I hope she never loses.

It has been a wonderful four years. I look forward to years I have left raising her, and the many many more she will have as an adult following God's journey for her life.
I love you princess, happy birthday!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Eight Years

In between all the birthday madness I paused to think that in seven days I will celebrate the eight year anniversary of the day that my life was irrevocably changed. It can never compare to the day I fully committed my life to Christ, but in all honesty I was three years old and I cannot remember the actual date so clearly. Never the less this day set my life on the path to the deepest human covenant I will ever know on this earth. On August 31, 2001 Christopher Michael Medrano came crashing into my life. I say crashing only because I was a mess at the time, and my life felt like a whirlwind. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that I crashed into him.

No matter who crashed into who it was a fated journey that has taken us from the tops of mountains to the lows of dark, uncharted valleys. There is something about Chris that is a rare find in any guy. The moment I saw him I would like to say that I felt I was sure and ready that this was it. Unfortunately I was jaded and scared, but the one thing I will forever remember is his face the moment we met. He was completely accepting of me, his smile and eyes welcomed me in with the assurance that says no matter what I will always love you. This was so familiar in a comforting way, because is this not truly the heart of our Father God? Through our years together Chris has continued in this manner. I know I’m difficult and I can be frustrating. There are times when I start in on a rant and I can just hear myself saying in the back of my head,” Crystal just stop, please stop while you are ahead.” Through every moment he has stuck by me and the covenant that we made almost seven years ago now.

I know eight years is not long in the spectrum of life, but as I look around and see so many casualties in the journey of true relationships, I cannot help but feel tremendous blessing. We’ve made it this far and still love each other. I am happy when he comes home from work. I look forward to our times together on the weekend. He’s my lover and my best friend. Of course our relationship has grown and changed as we go through many of life’s milestone. We definitely cannot be as spontaneous as we were before children, but these are but seasons and that time will come again. For now I relish raising children alongside him, stealing a quick date, talking, laughing, and even sometimes arguing. Of course Chris you know it is never me who starts those pesky arguments. =)

So here’s to the love of my life. Thank you for your love and your patience. Above all thanks for your commitment to the covenant you made, and for realizing it is not always about the day to day feelings or whims. You have given me joy unimaginable and a very happy heart!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

New Shoes


There is nothing quite like a new pair of shoes. This is especially true for a first pair of shoes. Micah has really taken off with walking. I suppose technically he had a couple pairs of soft baby shoes as a newborn. My children have never liked hats or shoes as infants so we never really purchased much. We decided this weekend it was time for Micah's first real walking shoes. He's still a little clumsy in them, and it will take some getting used to. He was quite the site toddling in an awkward but adorable stroll around Payless. He was grinning with pride from ear to ear. While witnessing this I am reminded that there is no turning back. He is growing every day. While his first pair of shoes will probably not fit long they symbolize to me all the places he will go. It is as if the whole world is opening up, and he will just walk right into it. Oh how I love my baby.

On another sentimental note, one year ago today Micah was due. He obviously did not agree with our prediction because I was still huge and sweltering in the summer heat.
As you can see I was trying to put on a happy face.


It is funny how in those moments time stands still. I really felt like he would never some out. Here I am a year later still scratching my head wondering where the time went. I apologize for these sappy, nostalgic posts. If you are a parent you should understand completely. If you are not, stick with me, you will probably understand one day.

So that is life for now. Children growing, buying new shoes, having birthdays. I am sure in about a week there will be some Christmas merchandise at Wal-Mart.

To conclude with the photo journey of life here are a few for the road.


Baby girl is getting so big. We have been asked repeatedly by retail clerks, acquaintances, and strangers if she is starting school this year. Nope she's just a tall and mature little girl. I wouldn't have her any other way!

I love this one of Micah. Look closely and you can see his first two teeth. He knows he can flash that smile and get just about anything he wants.


A short clip of some of Micah's first steps

video

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Why I Will Home School My Children

I don’t remember my feelings regarding school in my younger years. As all children do I turned five and in the compliance of state education laws I entered kindergarten. These were not terrible years; I have several fond memories of wonderful teachers who had a passion for education. As I neared junior high I began to feel a great Dissatisfaction with school in general. It was not that I struggled. I generally excelled in academics. I simply failed to ever fit into the ideal model that our society deems acceptable for education. I briefly left the private school I attended most of my life and entered into the public school system in hope of finding that my frustrations were simply from the small, sheltered environment I had experienced. Once again my hopes were dashed when I found a system focused more on standardized testing and pat methods of education while masquerading as a place of diversity. I returned to private school still frustrated with my overall learning experience. I desired the freedom to learn from experience. I longed to be out in the world learning and applying that knowledge. In my mind life was not a classroom so how could we truly learn to function from within one?

Enter my own children many years down the road. Somewhere between holding that sweet bundle of joy in the delivery room to the moment you hear them make their first attempt singing the ABC’s you realize that their future education decisions are solely in your hands. It is very sobering and a bit daunting. Based on my own educational experiences I knew I could not simply take the traditional path. At this point I realized home schooling was to be our option. I will not say it does not frighten me in the least, but I embrace the challenge and honor to take a more hands on responsibility in my children’s education.

I know many people who frown upon home schooling as a sheltered environment with little socialization or formal education. I beg to differ on this. After much research there are so many options available to home schooled children. There are study groups, discussion groups, not to mention general extracurricular activities my kids will have more time to participate in when they are not busy rushing here or there on a busy 9-5 schedule. I long to see my children love learning instead stressing about exams, grades, and homework. I believe there is some validity to bench marks created in the traditional school system, but how many of our children become burned out and lose that spark they had in their eyes the first day of kindergarten. I greatly value a good curriculum, but I guess you could say I desire a hybrid form of education where children can be involved in self directed learning within the parameters of a nurturing environment.

One of the greatest benefits I am excited about is the ability to get out and do something. In a large class it can be difficult to get out much. The logistics of a field trip with an elementary school class can get crazy. I want to travel and actually see the history of this great state. I want to do more than read about science. I want my kids to experiment. Why just read the classics and take a quiz when you can watch a play or participate in a group discussion from a diverse age group? There is just too much to experience in this life, and a one size fits all education model just won’t cut it in my opinion.

I realize the choice to home school is very personal, and it is not for everyone. I know there are many bright young minds brought up in our current education system. I do not choose this path because I am afraid of the world or want to hide my kids from outside influence. My desires are quite the contrary. How can our children learn to think for themselves when they are force fed test taking skills so a school can get some good marks on their TAKS test? What real life skills can be learned when we segregate children into age groups and do not allow them to associate across a more diverse cross section of students? I do not mean this blog to knock teachers in general. There are some amazing teachers who do the best with the limited materials they are given. I only recognize that education has become a very bureaucratic system that does not give many teachers the resources or support they need to be as effective.

If there is anything I desire of other parents it is not necessarily that they home school. Rather I wish that as parents we would take a greater interest in our child’s education. It is not simply a babysitter or a requirement to adhere to the state’s compulsory education requirements. If we do not pay attention to not only what our children are learning, but the methods used to teach, we will find a generation of great test takers who lack true knowledge or experience.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Travel Tips


There is one activity I love to do on a regular basis and that is travel. I find airports exhilarating with the smells of coffee and people rushing here and there in anticipation of the next destination. I love exploring new places and seeing the vast landscapes of this country as well as those across the globe. Unfortunately travel comes at a price, and I often have to get a little creative to make my dreams a reality. There are still many limitations to my desires to travel, especially overseas, but I have found many ways to get away at least once or twice a year.
I have listened to many people talk about how they would love to get away, but the most common complaint is of course money. I have also found that with all of the resources available with the invention of the worldwide web there is still a lack of information among the general public in regards to obtaining good travel deals. On this note I decided to write a blog with some tips that I use to make travel more affordable for our family.
Tip #1 Don’t Be Scared of Priceline
I remember many years ago when priceline first came out. I love William Shatner so the commercials really stuck out to me. I’m not sure if people think this is too good to be true or if they are just worried about bidding on a hotel with little information. Let me tell you if you can be a little flexible with your wants and needs you can score big on this one. Chris and I have a policy never to pay more than $50-$60 for a hotel room. We have stayed at Hyatt’s, Marriott’s, Holiday Inn’s, etc. We usually always bid on the highest star rating available for the area, but if all you desire is a bed and a shower to rest between sightseeing than you can usually get a two star for as little as $30/night. For more tips on how to place a good bid check out this site www.betterbidding.com. This also can work really well for rental cars. We usually can get a standard car for about $20/day, but we have scored as low as $13/day. On this particular occasion we were actually upgraded to an SVU upon arrival.
Tip #2 Skip the High Life and Eat With the Locals
I love a good meal as much as the next guy, but when you are on a budget sometimes the gourmet restaurant mentioned in your Airline travel magazine just isn’t going to cut it. I have found that there are some great bargains and food to be had eating where the locals go. If you are downtown or close to a tourist area try to drive or catch a ride to a nearby neighborhood. Often you will find a hidden treasure tucked away in a strip mall. If you are in a big city with specific cultural areas check out a local pub or eatery. It can be a great way to get the true vibe of an area. It’s also possible to find some great specials. Chris actually experienced this while in Chicago in Greek town. He found a pub offering $1 cheeseburgers and some cheap drafts. It sure beats a $20 hotel burger.
Tip #3 Coupons are not just for Your Momma Anymore
It may sound silly, but when we go out of town I immediately start browsing for local food and attractions that have coupons or deals going on. Recently before we went to California I joined several restaurant clubs to receive e-mail deals. Of course most of these places are not even located in Texas, but just for joining I received a lot of buy one get one free deals and free desserts. Restaurants.com is also a helpful resource. You can pick the area you will be staying and buy gift certificates that are $10-$50 for about $3.00 a piece. You may have to order a minimum amount of food, but we usually still save quite a bit.
Tip #4 Save Cash and Leave the Credit Cards at Home
This one is near and dear to our hearts since we became avid Dave Ramsey followers. A lot of people think that a vacation is out of reach if they even tried to save for it. I have found that people do what they want to do. If you want something bad enough you can save for almost anything. I have found pulling small amounts of cash out every pay day and making a vacation envelope can have you on the way to your dream destination in no time. Just think how easily you can spend $50 a week just going out for lunch every day. Skip the lunch and brown bag it. Just $50 a week over the course of a year will $2400 towards a nice little vacation. Once you have your cash leave the credit cards at home. It is easy to become tempted by silly diversions. What may seem like a good idea at the time will translate to probably hundreds maybe thousands of dollars of interest over the years. Just think about it before you by the dashboard hula girl. You’re here for the memories which are easily captured by camera, not a tacky trinket.
Tip #5 When Booking Air Travel Refer to Tip #1
I hate to admit it, but I am a little spoiled in this. With my dad working for an airline I pay for some taxes and fees, but not nearly what a full price ticket can be. This does not mean you cannot still have an affordable experience. I have heard of many people getting excellent deals through Priceline by naming their own price. Chris also signs up to receive American’s net saver fares. He has seen some excellent deals come through this.
Tip #6 Be Flexible
I believe this is first and foremost for anyone desiring to travel on a budget. I tend to be fairly low maintenance on a lot of things so this comes a little easier for me. If you really want to get out there and see the world you need to be willing to adapt. You will find that if you can relax a little on the specifics and do your homework you can experience a wonderful vacation for a deeply discounted price.

A Day As a Stay At Home Mom

I t was my first time alone with just me and the kids. I know that probably sounds weird to the modern family of the twenty first century. Call us crazy but Chris and I just like to be together. Of course we argue and get on each other’s nerves at times, but there is something comforting about having each other around. What can I say, we love each other. We eat every dinner together as a family and spend most of our weeknights at home watching movies, playing the Wii, or talking. Chris has never had to travel with his job so it took me a bit by surprise when he was asked to travel to Chicago for a trade show. I really thought it would be no big deal a few days away and time will go by quickly. I didn’t think much of it and when Sunday came we said our goodbyes and dropped him off at the airport. I made plans for the next two days to keep the kids busy and give ourselves a little routine.
I was holding up well until we came home from swimming that afternoon. The kids were well behaved, but even when they are it is still a little work when you are used to having such a great helper around. I know I am spoiled and I have so much respect for women who have husbands who travel or are in the military and especially for any single mom. My hat is off to you! Something about coming home and the kids napping and a great quiet settles over everything. Suddenly it hits me that it’s just a little too lonely without my best friend around. Of course right about that time I get a phone call and that always makes things a little better.
Finally I get to what I really wanted to blog about. That is my day as a stay at home mom. It was bittersweet because of course I missed my sweetheart, but it was also glorious in so many ways. Of course all of you stay at home moms know there is no such things as sleeping in even when you don’t have an office waiting for you at 8am. Around seven I hear a voice next to me saying,” mommy, mommy, its morning, and I had a good nap.” Kaylie makes no distinction between sleeping through the night and taking a nap so she always just tells me she had a good nap. I ask her to please give me just a few more minutes, but then five minutes later I here Micah drumming on his crib waiting for me to come greet him. At this point I’m up. There’s just too much day to waste sleeping. I actually get to make breakfast since we are not in a rush to get out the door, and we enjoyed a gourmet breakfast of biscuits and bacon while watching my personal favorite, Sesame Street. After packing bags and quick baths we head out on our first adventure, story time at the library. My mom usually takes the kids on Thursday, but we decided to catch the Monday edition. It cute and quirky and Kaylie loves it. I was pleasantly surprised to see how much she participates. She used to be a little shy, but she really gets involved now. Micah spent most of story time trying to wriggle out of my arms so he could crawl around the room. Story time just isn’t as appealing to him yet. Afterwards we had to scrap our plans for the park as the rain started to fall. We opted instead for the mall’s indoor playground. What a zoo that place is! Micah really enjoyed it despite the chaos and my constant worrying that he would be trampled. He took his first few steps on Friday so this was his big chance to display his skills to the world.
As the rain fell intermittently through the morning I decided that we should head home for a short nap. I was successful at getting the boy to sleep, but Kaylie tends to talk nonstop in an attempt to fight sleep. At last the house was quiet and a soft rain started to beat on the windows. I cannot describe how wonderful it was to take that nap as I listened to the rain fall. How often I sit at work watching the rain just wishing I could be at home in bed. It really was all it is cracked up to be. It wasn’t a long nap, but just enough to recharge for the afternoon. I loaded up the kids and picked my parents up at the airport so we could meet Melody at The Incredible Pizza Company. It was good to spend some time with them, and a great help with the kids. That place is nuts and I could not imagine going by myself with the kids. I cannot believe how loud it was even on a Monday afternoon.
I left with two happy kids and realized it was already past four, the time I would normally be coming home from work. Why must the day go by so quickly when we are having fun?
We settled in at home and I began to prepare for the following day. I wanted everything in order since I alone would be responsible for packing bags and getting them off to grandmas. It was rough knowing it would be back to the old routine. It is no easy task managing children and a home. I will never be one to say that moms who stay home have it easier than those of us who work. I will say that the time I have had to play a stay at home mom with my children is still by far more rewarding than any other job I have ever done.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Nothing

There is nothing more beautiful than the selfless, unconditional love of another. I am so lucky to have this abiding with me on a daily basis. Sometimes I am ungrateful and lose sight of all I have, but real love just keep loving. It is for this I am a woman of great wealth.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Well It's That Time Again



Time for me to be catching another darn cold. Seriously, it is getting to the point where if I even hear that someone's brother's best friend's grandmother has a cold I can be sure I will be getting one in a week or two. Of course it had to come on as my joy and anticipation was growing for the weekend. For now I am going to try and not get too down. I will relegate myself to bed in a few minutes. I usually don't go the zinc route, but I am going to this time around. If it can shorten my cold by even a day I will be a happy girl. Anyone else out there have any sure fire cold remedies? I'd love to hear about them. I've never been one to be a conspiracy theorist, but I really start to wonder if finding a cure for the common cold will ever happen because they make so much money off all symptom relieving medications. I'll be the first to admit when I have a soar throat, runny nose, and stuffy head I will gladly fill a basket with decongestants,nasal spray, tissues,and nyquil no matter what the cost. Now that is what I call taking advantage of people while they are down.

Oh well enough whining. I really need to let these bleary eyes get some shut eye. Maybe i won't be too much of a bear in the morning!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Who's in charge?

Have you ever had one of those moments when you are stopped dead in your tracks by an intervention from the God of the universe? Well I had one such moment today. I have been in constant self inflicted agony over our home situation.

I’ll start from the beginning. This month our refinance fell through. It was partly our decision as we were not willing to shell out more money to apply with Bank of America to consider subordinating our second loan to a new loan. We realized that with no guarantee of approval we would be out more money that this was worth. Even if it was approved, we would save approximately $150 a month while adding an additional $10,000 to what we currently owe. There was always the option of going directly through Bank of America, but that would consist of more fees and that is money that could be going directly towards debt. This brought us back to the selling option. We realize home sales are down, but we have come to the conclusion we would rather break even and start fresh. This has brought a whole new list or worries for an anxious person like me. I spoke with a potential realtor yesterday and suddenly the panic set in. Suddenly I wonder if I can keep the house immaculate enough for showings. I fret over whether or not we will make enough to break even. I worry about finding a new place to live. What if the kids can’t handle the move? What if I can’t handle the move? Should we get an apartment or a house? The idea of strangers probing every nook and cranny of my home makes a bit uneasy. So here I am worrying about everything under the sun, and there is not even a “for sale” sign in the yard yet.

As I was pondering all of these thoughts once again for probably the millionth time I hear a soft yet unmistakably familiar voice. “Do you trust me?” Of course God of course I trust you. What kind of question is that…ok ok maybe I do have some trust issues. It is in that quiet moment when the work world is buzzing around me that I take a deep breath. It is so much easier to fall back into the ever present, unwavering arms of God. I often wonder why I carry such burdens when there is a porch swing out back with a loving heavenly Father waiting to reason with me and let me know that in the end He is in charge and it will be ok.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Why Do They Grow Up so Fast?

With Micah's first birthday rapidly approaching I can't help but feel excitement and sadness. I love my kid's birthdays. Maybe more than they do. It is a blessing to my life to celebrate their the unique contribution they made to the human race the day they made their grand entrance into this world. While some may dread planning parties, noisy kids, and a messy clean up, I embrace it!

All of this nostalgia over upcoming birthdays has me looking at some photos of how the kids have changed. Having Micah has made me remember some of the little things I forgot Kaylie did when she was going through these same stages. There are many similarities in how children develop, but I love how they each do it with their own flair. Here are some pictures of my kids through the years as they have moved, humored, frustrated, and delighted me.

I wanted to post some newborn pictures of Kaylie, but I realized they were not stored on this computer. That will have to be for another time. This picture was taken on vacation when Kaylie was about four months old. She surprised us that night by breaking into uncontrollable laughter. Every parent remembers when their child laughs a real genuine laugh for the first time. It is wonderful.

Here she is at about seven month. Her uncle had just come home from France, and they spent the afternoon goofing around.



This was Kaylie's first birthday. It was a Dora party of course! Chris stayed up late the night before decorating, and she was so thrilled when she woke up the next morning and came downstairs.
On to her second party. which ended up being Dora as well. Dora was like a family member for a few years. There is still nothing comparable to those piercing blue eyes.
Kaylie at her third birthday party. We finally broke the streak and had a princess party at Chuck E. Cheese. She enjoyed it so much and I got a pass on cleaning since I just had Micah two weeks prior. Micah on his first day. He was so sweet and cuddly. I'll never forget the nurse laying him on my chest right after delivery. Those chocolate brown eyes would melt any heart.


I think this was a couple weeks after his birth. He was still getting used to the flashing cameras.
Micah's first trip to the fair. As you can see he wasn't totally impressed. I'm sure that will change this year.
I believe this was taken around Christmas time. Still working on the camera poses.
Micah on his first vacation.

Seven months old and working the camera with a smile.
And here is my boy today, already taking the first steps to full on walking.
Wow they grow up fast, but it's such a fun ride!