Saturday, December 28, 2013

Hey, Buddy, Buddy...

I am so very behind on blogging (both on here and on the cooking blog).  And since we are visiting family out of town, I am really trying not to hang out on computer too much.  So today I am going for an easy post.  Then hopefully once I am home again and have a little spare time this week (since our holidays will be winding down), I can start blogging again and catch up.

Buddy.  Our elf.  I am going to share a few more of his adventures before he left us again on Christmas Eve.  Mainly so that I remember in the future what that crazy elf has done...

Let's see...

December 12.  We found Buddy by the Fisher Price nativity reading the Christmas story from Luke.  Wise elf.
 December 13.  Apparently Buddy became Prince Buddy for the day, hanging out in the castle.
 December 14.  Legos!  Buddy brought a Christmas Lego set to work on. Unfortunately, he didn't get very far.  Joshua was more than happy to finish it up for him the next day.
 December 15.  Buddy is hanging out in the "snowball" bucket with the snowman.  Must feel like home to him.
 December 16.  Buddy and the Santas are wearing special glasses and staring at the tree. They make the lights on the tree come to live with different designs and shapes.

 December 17.  Buddy is hanging out with his bud Santa.  Literally.
 December 18.  We found Buddy on top of the fridge hanging out in a Christmas Kleenex box.
 December 19.  "I am the King of the World".  Apparently Buddy wanted geography lessons as he searched for the North Pole on our globe.
 December 20.  We had a hard time finding Buddy.  Finally he was spotted in the garage, hanging out in our change jar. 

 December 21.  Where's Buddy?
 Oh, he is hanging out in Maria's stocking!
 December 22.  Uh oh, Buddy. You are in trouble.  You have made the natives and the cowboys angry...they have you surrounded!
 December 23.  We found Buddy attempting to wrap something. Oh, Buddy, you are making a mess!

 December 24.  His last night with us.  Buddy was spotted on top of Marley's crate...
 with a book about Marley!  How thoughtful is that?
Of course, on December 25, Buddy was nowhere to be found. He apparently hopped into the sleigh with Santa.  Hope he comes back next year!


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Twas the Night Before the Night Before Christmas...

No. I didn't hit the Jackpot. We won 23 dollars.  To split among a bunch of us.  We gave it to charity instead. :)

Anyway, I need to be sleeping but these thoughts are swirling around in my mind...

This is obviously adapted from Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore...

Twas the night before the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, except Reba Cloud
The stockings were hung by the fireplace with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were sprawled all over their beds,
While visions of iPads danced in their heads.
And Dad just a snoring, the dog in his lap,
Had settled down for a long winter’s nap.

When in the other room, there are such a clatter,
I sprang to action to see what was the matter.
Away to the wrapping paper, I flew like a flash,
As my heart began to race and I broke out in a rash.

A present is missing, I thought with great fear.
As slowly my blue eyes filled up with tears
I prayed and I prayed for that present to appear,
But sadly I discovered it just wasn't here.

I threw aside the tape and scissors, and to the table did run,
Finding our Christmas cards sitting undone.
I grabbed up the labels, and I let out a small sigh of shame
As I wearily began to call out each name.

"Now Smiths! now, Jones! now, Williams and Mils!
On, Thompson! On, Davis! on Presleys and Hills!
To the envelopes, I quickly went to work
Slapping down those labels with a little hand jerk.

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
I noticed the redness in my very tired eyes.
I glanced at the clock, and listened to the tick tock,
As I saw the time was 2 o'clock.

I dashed to the kitchen, and washed my weary hands
To make dough for the Christmas cookie demands.
I quickly threw in the butter, egg, and all purpose flour,
Trying not to notice the very late hour.

My eyes, how bloodshot, my arms how they ached.
I began to look cross-eyes, oh for goodness sake
My mouth was drawn up, into a tired frown.
While my shoulders so weary began to cast down.

The t.v. in the background filled the room with noise,
As I continued to wrap up outfits and toys.
The room was littered with tape, paper, and tags,
Along with dozens of Amazon boxes and Target bags.

I was chubby and plump, a right weary old elf,
And I laughed when I saw my face in the mirror, in spite of myself!
A blink of my eyes and a nod of my head,
Soon let me know I must go to bed.

I spoke not a word, but continued my work,
And wrapped a few more presents, then turned with a jerk.
I brushed my teeth, surveyed the many piles,
And decided that the rest could wait a little while!

I turned off the light and crawled into my bed,
While visions of to do lists whirled through my head.
As I rolled over to sleep, I let out a small sigh,
Trying not to think of all left to do with a cry.

Tomorrow's Christmas Eve, and there's still so much to do before the fun...
 As I remember once again, a mother's work is never done.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Hitting the Jackpot...

Apparently the Arkansas "lottery" has a lot of money in the jackpot.

Like several million.

I don't really know how much because I don't really follow it.

But I was invited to join in a pool, and I did. The money goes toward scholarships, and it was just a few bucks.

I know, I know, I may have to give up my Baptist card.  Just kidding. We don't carry cards. 

I will just say I am not really a gambler.

I know that it is a waste of money.

And I also know how addictive it is. Says the person who has been playing Vegas Solitaire on the computer the past few nights...I have lost hundreds of virtual money. :)

But this time, I joined in.

And I heard today that I have a better chance of getting hit by a meteorite than to win.

And that is okay.

I don't really know that I would want to win.

I mean, have you seen all of those shows about how winning the lottery ruins people's lives?

Though I don't expect in any way to win, it is only natural to start thinking, "What if?"  What would I do if I suddenly came into money?

I know that I can't really know unless it happens. Which isn't likely to happen. Even if I get hit by a meteorite.

But I can wonder.

This is what I have decided...

We would tithe first, of course.  That is a non-negotiable at our house.

We would obviously pay off the house addition (that hasn't even started). Oh, and the rest of the house.

We would probably buy hubby a new (used) vehicle.

We would give to charities.

We would set aside a retirement fund for ourselves and build on the college funds of our kids.

I would take a beach vacation with my whole family (our family, my parents, my sister/her family).

We would travel a little more (different places on spring break, the beach in the summer).

And I think we would get a pool.

Oh, and maybe remodel the kitchen if I could stand being displaced from it.  New appliances and new cabinets.

We would have our house painted.

And maybe get a little landscaping work.

And we might get a lake house and a boat for summer weekends.

Oh...and pedicures. I might get a pedicure more than twice a year.

What would not change?

I don't think either one of us would stop working.  I know it is easy to say that right now without much money in our accounts. But we both truly love what we do.

The number of presents the kids receive from us for birthdays and Christmas.  Nor would the value drastically change.  They have lots of "stuff".  We only want them to have the "stuff" that will mean something to them.

Our kids still would not have tv's in their rooms.  And they still would have to do their chores.  They wouldn't wear designer clothes (they are kids...they outgrow clothes faster than we can buy them).

Though it would be nice to do some of those things (more vacations, pay off some bills), the truth is the money doesn't change life.  At least not all parts of it.

There will still be joys as well as sorrows.  Sicknesses and health.  Trials and tribulations.

And not enough money in the world can take those things away...


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

He's Back...

I am still around. I have blogged a little but they have involved pictures so those posts have been on the family blog.


I really need to stay off Facebook. I do.  I enjoy so many things about it but I also end up feeling "beat down" after reading some of the posts.  Especially posts that call into question family traditions.

So I am going to lay it all out there.

Santa does come to our house.  He does.  And he brings gifts. 

I know the reason for the season. So do my kids. 

I don't feel like I am any less of a Christian because of jolly St. Nick.

I grew up with Santa and so far haven't been tainted for life.  I know I am only 42, but surely there would be some sign by now?

And yes, I sometimes say "Happy Holidays".

Again, I am not trying to take the "Christ" out of Christmas.

It just seems to cover all the holidays from Thanksgiving to Valentine's Day.

And yes, we have one of those "creepy" elves at our house.  For us, it is a fun tradition started two Christmas seasons ago.  Every morning my kids get up and go on a Buddy hunt.  Where is he today?  What is he up to?

There, confession over.

Now I am going to move on. To a post about the creepy elf who hangs out at our house for most of December.

On December 1, the kids woke up and found our dear old elf friend hanging out in the bathroom...They were quite excited he was back.  I wasn't as excited that he used lipstick to write on the mirror but I guess that was better than permanent marker...
 On December 2, Buddy was spotted snacking on our pumpkin cake.  Thankfully he didn't find the caramel sauce in the fridge. That would have been a tragedy.  Or a travesty.  Or something.
 December 3.  Taking "Copper" the dog statue for a walk.  I think Marley was a little jealous of that one.

 December 5, hanging out with the scarecrows.  Yes, we were finally getting fall/autumn decorations put away. :) 
 December 6.  We found our budding photographer posing some of our Santas and snapping a picture or two with MY camera. Unfortunately, that was the big snow day so I had to confiscate the camera later to get my own pictures. 

 Well, not bad for a first time photo session...
 December 7, that tricky elf. He didn't move in the night like he usually does.  But he fooled the kids. When they finished up their breakfast, they found him under the tree with a Christmas movie.  Perfect for watching on a snowy day!

 December 8.  This one took us a while to find. Buddy was hanging out in the toyroom by the copier/printer.  He also used quite a bit of ink making a copy of himself.  I hope that elf told Santa to bring me some ink cartridges!
 December 9, Smores!  We had smores earlier that night. Apparently we didn't clean up well. So Buddy decided to make one for himself. Thankfully he is a smart elf and didn't leave a candle lit all night long...

 December 10. We thought Buddy had disappeared. We couldn't find him anywhere. So what a shock to get our morning milk and find this!  I heard squeals and shocked screams every time the kids got a glass that day...
 Finally, today, December 11.  Apparently Buddy is treating himself to some mini doughnuts.  Too bad he didn't leave any for us to have!
We just never know what we will find when we wake up each day...

Happy Holidays!  (And Merry Christmas to you!)


Monday, November 25, 2013


As is true fashion for me these days, I started another blog post a few days ago.  Still not done.  I can't even blame busyness. I have just been tired.  No other excuses. Just tired. And maybe a little down.

It was a blah kind of weekend.  Lots of errands.  Cold and dreary outside.  Whiny children.  Feeling like I am cooking and cleaning to no avail.  And apparently child 4 reacted to the preservatives in the flu shot he got on Friday. I had wanted the flu mist for that reason but there was none to be had.  So it was not a great weekend all around.

So today after church, I was about to a breaking point.  Like an "I am going to scream really loud" breaking point.  Every person in my house was getting on my nerves. I had some extra cooking chores to get some stuff ready for school.  I was worried about little pup after she had gotten a plate leftover from donuts.  (Thankfully I think the child had licked the plate clean...she never even got sick)  Child 2 had volleyball practice.  I just wanted to take a nap but we had some place to be at 3.  Plus I needed to get a head start on dinner.

Just then the phone rang.

That is fairly rare in our house.

I recognized the name (a co-worker from school).  I debated on whether to answer it. I was not really in a good mood. The kids were loud.  Maybe I could just call back later when it was quieter and I was happy. 

Instead, I picked it up.

My co-worker was calling to invite me to a concert at her church to watch a family perform.  The family's "stage name"?  Twice Adopted.  I had seen a flyer for it but had dismissed going due to the time of day. 

However, my co-worker went on to explain that there are 10 children adopted into this family.  7 of them were from Guatemala.

And suddenly I was interested in going. 

Yes, I still wanted to take a nap.

But I just felt like we needed to go.

Child 3 asks about her adoption often.  And about adoption.  She has been trying to learn Spanish. 

I knew this was just the thing for her.

Unfortunately, by the time some of the crew got home, our time was very limited.

I was so disappointed.

We ran out of the house to our 3 o'clock that point, it was 3:30.

I wanted to cry.

Somehow, and I still don't know how, we did our first appointment and made it to the other church for the concert.  Even with a few minutes to spare.

We were greeted at the door by several of the girls.  They were as friendly and sweet as they come.  They took an immediate interest in our children, asking all about their adoptions.  The mother of the clan spoke to me for a while too. I really wish I had had several hours just to talk to her and find out her secrets of mothering such a vast crew.

We really enjoyed the concert.  The family sings gospel songs.  They shared some pictures and their stories of their early lives.  The mother shared testimony about how God brought her family together.  There was even a time for Guatemala trivia.  We knew all of the answers. :)  (And our family won two "worry/blessing" dolls.)

I looked over at one point and caught the face of child 3.  She was just beaming.

It was just what the doctor ordered.  I needed to be reminded.  I needed to hear some things.

Things like...

God put our family together.

Every child is a blessing.  Even when they are acting like turkeys. :)

Our eyes should be on Him.

The job God has put before me is to be the mother to these kids.  Even when they drive me crazy.  And He will give me the strength to do carry out my job.

At one point, Child 3 asked me if I would want all of those kids.  I just smiled and said, "Well, yes, if y'all acted like them, I would..." 

And I was joking.  Kind of.

I do wish my children got along better.  That there wasn't a huge rivalry.  That they would focus more on God than themselves.  And that we could all sing.

I almost feel defeated some days.

But that isn't where we are right now.

Maybe it is me.  Maybe I am failing.  Or maybe I don't pray enough.  Or maybe we are doing the best we can.

I don't know.

I just know that some days, on the hardest days, God sends little reminders my way.

And for that, I am grateful.

More soon,

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Off the Grid

(Trying to play catch up on posts)

For our anniversary, we had a little getaway.  I had read about this place in a magazine (one ironically I don't always read) like two years ago and had wanted to go ever since.  Finally, we went! (a week after our anniversary which turned out to be the perfect time and weather)

The name of it?  Longbow Resort

For some reason, the term "resort" seems ironic to me.  When I think "resort", I think fancy, high end.  This wasn't.  Don't get me wrong, I loved our time there and would go back in a heartbeat.  I just think of it more like a getaway or a retreat. :)

Anyway, I took half a day of school off on that Friday afternoon (November 1).  We ate lunch then headed down the road.  Well, kind of.  We kept forgetting things and having to turn around.  It was almost comical.

I don't think that there are really "accidents" in life.

I think that there are often opportunities that God gives us.

Because of our departure time, we arrived at the resort right before sunset.  We were following the owner out to our cabin when he suddenly pulled over by a field.  He told us we were about to see a spectacular sunset.  I, of course, got out, ready to snap some pictures.  The pictures don't do it justice.  Just trust me in that it was amazing.  And perfectly timed.  If we had arrived earlier, we would have been at the cabin which was beautiful but was down in a valley surrounded by trees.  We would NOT have had the same view.  And had we arrived later, we would not have had a good view either from the curvy roads (nor a place to pull over).  We arrived at precisely the time we should have!

Here is just a sampling...

Our cabin was built on a rock.  Literally.  Here is the bathroom/jacuzzi tub with the rock as part of the wall.  I could stand on the top of the rock when we were on the upper deck. 
After settling in, we had a good night's sleep.  The next morning, we headed out for a little hiking.  We just happened to meet another couple staying in one of the other cabins.  They invited us over to check their place out.  This was right outside their back deck.  Absolutely beautiful!
My sweet hubby walking along the creek.
One of my favorite sights on the hike was the little frogs we would find.  They were truly camouflaged.  Can you see it?
Here is the top of one of the cabins from a bluff we were hiking...
The colors were spectacular...not quite as brilliant as our area at home but pretty close.
Yes, it is another frog.  Can you find this one?
On one of our hikes (all on the property we were staying on), we encountered some cows.  This was nothing new for my husband but it was a first for me. I have never seen cows in the woods.  It startled me then I got tickled.  It still makes me giggle when I think about it.
I love these berries.  They are such a beautiful color...
Another cow friend...
We didn't just encounter frogs on our walk.  We also found this guy sunning.  Thankfully it was fairly cool out AND he had just eaten.  So it didn't scare me nearly as much as if it had been moving around...

Yes, it is another frog...this one is really hidden.
After a LOT of hiking, we headed over to Heber Springs (the closest "town" with food) for some lunch.  We enjoyed the scenery along the way...
A little more hiking...

Finally, we headed back to the cabin for the night.  We were truly "off the grid".  We had no television (it only played DVDs which we didn't have).  We had no cell phone service.  No Internet.  We only had one radio that was a bit fuzzy.  Though it was hard to not be in contact with the kids, we really enjoyed truly getting away from it all...

We enjoyed some time on the hammock on the back deck...
We ended the evening with a steak dinner (grilled) and feeding the raccoon (we didn't get a close up of him though but he sure did enjoy the treats we left).  The one and only bad part of the weekend was that I got really sick Saturday night (I am guessing from our lunch). The one good thing is that due to daylight savings, we at least had an extra hour of sleep.

We packed up and headed over to Mountain View to Blanchard Springs.  I have read a lot about this park in my hiking books.  But wow.  Pictures/photos just don't do it justice.  What a beautiful place!

Here is the "dam".  We hiked for a little in the area but had to cut that short so we could take a tour of the cavern.

The cavern.  Oh wow.  I had heard about it but again, pictures just don't do it justice.  It is a very easy walk and one of the most amazing caves I have ever experienced!  We have already said we MUST go back and explore some more with the kids.  (I tried to link to the website but the Internet wasn't cooperating.)
Blanchard Springs is a "living" cave which means it is still growing, still forming.
I thought this was really is part of the cave!

It was a beautiful and amazing way to end our day.  We headed on back home (with one stop for pizza) then stepped back onto the grid.  And back to the crazy reality that is our life...