Monday, June 30, 2008

Giving....calling all children of God

Okay, so this has been weighing pretty heavily on my heart and I need to talk about it.  Its something I really believe in and God calls all of His children to do it.  Giving.  I'm not talking about just tithing.  That should be done first and foremost because its all God's anyway and he asks that in return for the provision He gives.  I'm talking about giving above and beyond that.  Sam and I really have a heart for missions and we believe that we should be giving in this area on a monthly basis.  We also believe that as God increases His provision to us that that amount of giving should increase as well.  Money is often a taboo subject with Christians and it shouldn't be.  Here's a perspective on that.  God provides everything, right? Right.  He provides jobs, money, raises, etc.  Since He is the source of all of that, then it is all His.  Our first priority should be His kingdom and because of that we should be trying to further that as much as possible using our time, money and any other resources that God gives us.  We are all charged with the command to go into all the world and preach the gospel (Mark 16:15) and so that makes us all missionaries, whether we are called to stay in our hometown or go to another country.  Most of the time when we are called to stay where we are God provides us with a job to cover living costs. However, some are called to places and people where a job would not be feasible because of the type of missions work they are doing.  That's where we come in.  We can be the financial support.  We can be a resource that is provided by God to the ones called to foreign way out of the way places.  We can help facilitate the furtherance of His Kingdom by merely sending a check every month to help a missionary family do the job that God called them to.  

Now, you may be saying to yourselves that you don't have any money to offer because of debts or some other reason.  Let me put it this way.  If you are in severe debt and don't have two pennies to rub together by the end of the month, then this message isn't for you until you get out of that debt.  You are a slave to your debtors until that time.  If, however, you find that you have an extra five dollars, 10 dollars or whatever amount that you could give, then give it.  Here's the deal.  Everything of this earth will pass away.  When we die, we can't take anything with us, except the treasures we have stored up in heaven.  I fully believe that some of those treasures, the most important ones, will be the souls that are saved because we obeyed our Heavenly Father!  Whether that is ministering to people and telling them about Jesus and the price He payed for them from your own mouth, which could be befriending a person at work and making an investment in their life, being part of an evangelizing team, inviting someone to church or small group or being a financial source.

We are currently getting out of debt and God is so faithful to provide a way for us to do that.  We are also able to give to a missionary couple we are friends with and also sponsor a child with World Vision.  It is so rewarding!  We get to see God work mightily through the little bit we are able to give.  Its amazing!  We aim to get out of debt as quickly as possible as God increases His provision for us so that we are able to increase the amount that we are able to give in support for His Kingdom.  (He has done it time and again.)  We have times where the income to bills ratio gets tight, but God has always provided enough to cover everything.  Let me also state that before you do any of this, you need to ask God what amount He wants you to give.  He WILL tell you.  It might not be in the way you expect, but He'll let you know.  Before beginning financial support to both World Vision and our friends, we took it to God and He gave us definite direction and a definite number.  We have had times when we were even able to do special one-time gifts while still keeping with our monthly support.  Seriously, isn't God awesome how He provides for His people?  He spreads His money around to where He wants it.  So cool!

So, really what I'm getting at is, if you know of/been introduced to a missionary or a group and you felt a weight on/tug at your heart to be a financial supporter for them, but you didn't, then I encourage you to get busy.  God's obviously giving you direction, now all you have to do is be obedient and follow it.  If you have had a desire to support a missionary family or group, but just haven't had an idea who or which one, then this could be an answer to that question for you.  I will put the links to World Vision and our friends the Ebersoles at the bottom.  You can go to their sites and find out what they are all about.  By the way, both World Vision and the Ebersoles give accountability for the gifts that are given to them.  (Not that we should be expecting that.  If God lays it on your heart to give then He will be the one to bring abusers of His funds to justice, not us.  Just a little something I had to learn the hard way:)  You may also find that your church supports a specific family or organization and that may an option for you.  Also, a little side perk:  Everything you give is a tax deduction.  This shouldn't be your motivation, of course, but like I said God provides in ways we don't even expect sometimes.  Please take some time to go to the Lord in prayer and ask Him about this subject.  If He's telling you to give, ask for direction in the who/what organization area and how much.  When you know, just do it.  Don't second-guess, but do it joyfully!  Your Father in heaven will be so proud of you and you will be surprised at how He rewards your submission to His will for your life!  Happy giving!:)  By the way, I would love feedback on this topic, especially if you are a financial supporter for God's ministry in some way and have had amazing experiences with it.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Very cool video

I got this off of Karen Hancock's blog.  It will definitely put a smile on your face and make you bust out laughing at times! (The title is not so great, but the content is excellent;)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Websites to Comparison Shop

I know I've already spoken several times about, but I would like to introduce another website resource for discounted books, music, movies, video games, etc.  Its called .  I've used this website for years because most of the movies I like to buy are BBC or A&E movies that are usually super expensive.  I've gotten such great deals on this website.  Recently they consolidated their website to include all sorts of stuff.  (They used to have one site for cds and another for dvds.)  Anyway, the reason I like this site so much is because not only do they usually have better deals than the stores, but shipping is free.  Yep, on anything you order from them.  FREE SHIPPING!!  Now, I will have to say that can still beat their prices at times if you are willing to look around a bit.  Their new and used section often has great prices and even with the $3.99 shipping and handling, its sometimes still cheaper.  Just thought I'd share that little bit 'o' info with you.  Lemme know what ya think.

Side note:  Thanks for all the great comments!  I enjoy feedback as previously stated.  I also love it when someone adds their own awesome suggestions.  Keep 'em coming!:)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Got my hair did and a brow wax

Yay!  I finally got my hair cut after about 6 months!!  It needed it in a bad way.  I also got my brows waxed after a whopping 7 years of maintaining myself!  I'm partial to having an aesthetician wax my brows and they are very hard to find!  I found this really cool salon and spa to go to called Shelley's Design Studio.  Its in a house that has been decorated in a really neat fashion.  They have a nifty waiting room and everyone is really friendly.  If you are ever in Killeen, TX and need a haircut, may I suggest Misty as the hairstylist/colorist and Nora as the Aesthetician/massage therapist.  She also does facials.  They will also do your makeup there if you so need.  Anyway, the link to the website follows and so do pics of the new do.

 You can really see the shape of the brows here! hehe

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Arizona, what is the deal?

Okay, so the rv search has been completely interesting mixed with a whole lot of frustration and tons of disbelief!  So far, most of the places I've located on-line or called are for people age 55+!  These places all seem to have all the amenities one could ask for: multiple pools, spas, salons, shuffleboard, card games, activities calendars, ballrooms, etc!  What I want to know is why we are not allowed?  I love ballroom dancing, our kids are very well behaved and we mostly stay in when its hot anyway.  Every park we've been in, we've had great comments from management and they are always sorry to see us go.  We really try to take care of our spot, keep it tidy and clean.  Our kids do NOT run amuck and for the most part, aside from the occasional scraped knee or other non-serious injury, they are pretty quiet.  I don't get it!  Also, many of the places have outrageous rates!  Its ridiculous!!!!!  They charge a certain amount per month, then they tack on a lot deposit, electric deposit, application fee, extra person fee (for more than two people in your party), pet fees and then add to that whatever your electric is per month.  Then to top that off your rig has to be under 10 years old.  Yep, gotta keep up appearances.  Several of the places have to inspect it to make sure it passes muster before you can be in their park for an extended stay.  What?!?!?!?!?!  Its worse than trying to get an apartment!!!!  Thank you, Dear Lord, that there are those who aren't trying to price gouge!  There are several who have more reasonable rates and just happen to be kid-friendly.  Well, it is an adventure and we are really looking forward to being in that area, if we can find a place to stay that doesn't take us for all we are worth!:)  More updates later on the Will you let us live here? Saga!

And we're off again!

 Yep, Sam is being sent to Arizona, so thither we will go!  (I really like that word!  Its really fun to say.;)  We are supposed to leave on Tuesday, but because of the holiday and the way they are scheduling Sam's travel days, we will have five days to get there.  That's really good.  We won't have to drive straight through.  I don't really know how its all going to work out yet, but it seems that there are really only two rv parks in Marana, so it will really depend on which one best meets our needs.  We also have to get a motorcycle carrier custom made for our motorhome hitch because we need to be able to hitch up our tow dolly to the other side of it.  Its gonna be a rush job.  One of the really great things about where we are going is Sam has relatives in Phoenix and Tuscan, so we'll get to visit, hopefully.  We'll also get to go sightseeing as well.  There may or may not be pictures for a while, since my camera has gone rogue, but I might be able to get some decent ones with my phone.  We'll see.   Anyway, just keeping everyone up to date.  Later.

Update on the update:  We are apparently going to Phoenix instead of Marana.  Guess the rv park search continues!

The coolest piggy bank ever! and other money things concerning children

So Sam and I have decided that now is the time to really start teaching Braden about money.  He has been asking how much everything costs and knows that money is important, but not in exactly what way.   At first we were going to buy a book that gave direction on how to teach our kids biblical money principles, but after google-ing it, I found several free resources.  I will put the links at the end of this post.  Also, I got to thinking about how we can have it be more visual and hands on for him and thought that a piggy bank would be a good idea.  (He actually has a couple, but they are in storage, God only knows exactly where!:)  Also, all of the piggy banks I've seen have just the one chamber in them.  I wanted a multi-chamber bank so that his money could be divided into tithe, savings, spend and donate or something to that effect.  Well, after doing yet another google search (man, I love google!), I found the money savvy piggy bank.  It has four chambers!  Yay!  It's 15.99 + shipping.  I'm really very excited!!!  Again, the link will be posted below.  Anyway, just thought it would be of interest to someone.  Also, if my research can save time for someone else, then woo-hoo!  Okay, on with the links.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Busy, busy week...

We've had a busy week and its only half way through.  Last weekend we went to Juan and Donna's (Nina and Padrino's) house and had a wonderful time with them.  Braden, again, had a hard time leaving.  They talked about him coming to stay with them by himself for a longer period of time.  I'm hoping there is opportunity for that.  We don't ever know because we never know how long we will stay in each place.  Then, Monday, Sam went to have one of his wisdom teeth pulled.  It all went well, but Sam said that the dentist had to do a lot of pulling and tugging and his tooth actually ended up breaking into several pieces.  The dentist got them all, though.  He did another x-ray to make sure.  Sam is supposed to go next Monday to get two others pulled.  Apparently one of them is not in need of being pulled.  He had a fun time keeping himself from drooling all over the place, but he said that though his mouth was sore, it didn't really hurt too much.  Then, yesterday (Tuesday) we took the boys for their well baby/kid visits.  They both had to get shots.  Yeah, that was NOT a fun time had by all!!!  Sam wound up holding Braden and I held Zekers.  There was a whole lot of screaming done by the one getting the shots and there was sympathy screaming done by the one not getting shots.  It was all right in the end.  They both did well.  We also ended up finding out that Zekey has an ear infection.  I think he's going to be the one with all the ear infections.  Braden just had his first one a couple of months ago.  Zekey has already had three.  Yikes!  I'll just have to keep an eye on him.  He does give clues, but they also indicate that he's teething, so yeah.  All was well in the end.  They both got ice cream coupons for Dairy Queen and that did make it better.  We were then able to go to Sam's Club and get some of our shopping done.  It was a long day though.  Today we have to go grocery shopping and that should last a while.  Tomorrow, I am finally getting my eyebrows waxed after about 8 years.  Seriously, I've not had them done in that long.  Every time I was going to do it, I couldn't justify spending the money on that when other things were needed.  I'm getting my hair cut as well.  I haven't had it cut for about 6 months.  My friend Sandy was the one who would normally cut it because she is super awesome, but alas she was called to San Francisco and I just can't make that drive!:)  Anyway, I found this full service salon here in Killeen called Shelley's Design Studio.  I spoke with Shelley who owns it and am looking forward to my appointments tomorrow!  (Just a little tidbit of information that has come from my experiences of having to find hairstylists due to our habit of moving so often:  I have found that the best way to find one is to interview the owner of the salon and tell them about your hair and needs and then have them recommend a stylist.  Trust me it is the best way to go unless you have an awesome recommendation from someone whom you absolutely trust. )  Moving on...  On Friday, we also have some errands to run.  Seriously, we've not been this busy for a long time.  Well, that's it for today.  Tomorrow, I will have a bit of new information for those who want to know, but I'm gonna make you wonder until then. :)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


As I've already stated, Sam and I have decided that I am going to homeschool Braden for his pre-K year.  After that, we will see what our circumstances are and see if it would be best for him to be homeschooled for his Kindergarten year or if there is a private Christian School available that would be great.  So far, I've done a lot of research, talked to many who homeschool and have done a lot of re-prioritizing.  At first I thought I was going to have to get this huge, complete curriculum that had everything spelled out and scheduled for me.  Then I met parents who homeschool without any kind of curriculum at all.  They go to the library a lot and supplement with other things.  Now, I'm not there yet.  I do want a curriculum of sorts, but I don't believe I need a complete, cut and dried package to start.  I've decided with Sam's support and agreement that I want a Bible core and all of the academic stuff can be centered around that.  I found a curriculum that I like very much and am going to start out with.  Its called DiscipleLand Preschool curriculum and it is broken up into Old Testament and New Testament and then into quarters from there.  Its inexpensive and very neat.  In addition to that, I want to utilize the Sonlight Christian reading list.  They have a very diverse combination of books and I've found all but a few available for much less on  I've also got a Big and Easy Patterns book by Teacher Created Materials that I got at Half Price Books for less than a third of the retail price which I will include.  We also bought this whole learning system about 7 yrs ago that includes encyclopedias, science ref books, reading books by age, phonics lessons and a myriad of other things I can't even remember at this point.  That stuff is currently in storage, but the plan is to go and rearrange our storage unit so that they are readily accessible to me when I need to get something out of it.  I plan on developing my own syllabus complete with table of contents, pages that I can copy for coloring, worksheets, etc. in a large three ring binder.  So far I have enough material for the alphabet, handwriting (very basic of course!), social studies, history, science, seasonal items, telling time, numbers, reading and the list goes on.  I've also decided that I'm going to take a very laid back approach to this.  If we don't get done with the planned amount of items for the week, then that is okay.  At Braden's age, it is much more important for him to be playing outside or playing with play dough, coloring, reading books, that sort of thing.  That's all developmentally NECESSARY.  The other stuff will get introduced, but not shoved.  Anyway, that is the plan.  I'll have to share the contents of my "teacher's guide" when I get it all completed.  I'm hoping to have it done by the end of July.  The way I intend to develop it, though, there will always be room to add if I find something that correlates to the lessons.  I'm taking a page out of Sesame Street's book and I'm going to have a letter and a number.  I may start by  doing one of each every week/every other week and working our way up to new ones every day.  I'll need to see how Braden responds.  Then we will have books, coloring pages, animals to learn about and projects that start with that letter and include that number each time.  For math, I plan to learn as much as I can from my mother-in law because not only does she have her Master's in childhood development, but she is currently an expert on teaching the method of teaching Bridges Math to teachers.  She was telling me a little bit about how it works and let me tell you, its right up my alley!  Its totally how I learned math, though it was homemade on my part.  This way there is actually method to the madness!  Its very cool.  I have a list of links below that are the resources I am using in case anyone is interested.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Camera Search

I mentioned in the last two posts that we are in search of a new camera.  Actually for school, I will need two.  One has to be a 35-mm SLR with the ability to change out lenses.  The other has to be a digital SLR, changeable lenses and at least 6 mega pixels.  The one that I was settled on until recently was the Canon EOS Digital Rebel xti.  It meets all the requirements for school, still has point and shoot capability and is a 10 mega pixel.  

Recently, however, I got to doing my internet research again and looked up the Canon 40D.  The thing I really liked about the Rebel that I can't yet get with the 40D is the package deal at Sam's Club.  The package comes with the body, two lenses, extra battery and camera bag.  Click here to see this deal.  The 40D has lots more features than the Rebel, however, and when Sam and I discussed it, we both decided that if we are going to spend the money on a camera, that it needs to last me a while.  So the Rebel is pretty much out of the current running right now.  You can click here  to see the specs for the 40D.  Now even though I am a Canon girl, I have been checking out the Nikon 300D.  Basically from what I can tell, this thing has the Canon 40D beat hands down.  The 40D does have a couple of features on it that are better than the 300D, but its not by much and in the overall scheme of things doesn't make a real difference.  Click here to see the Nikon 300D specs.  I found comparisons of them both and you can read them here and here. The biggest difference between the two is seriously the price.  The Nikon is close to double what the Canon is.  The lenses are more expensive as well as the camera body itself.  There are many accessories for them both, but again the Nikon is more expensive.  While I'm leaning more toward the Nikon, the price difference really stops me short.  In reality, the Canon 40D will meet all of my needs for all of my schooling and probably then some.  Now, if that Nikon drops in price/goes on sell/a wealthy benefactor decides to flat out give me one, I'm telling you, I'll jump at the chance!  My next course of action will be to go to a camera shop and play with them both while asking the people working there a million questions including their preferences, etc.  (They are usually professional photographers anyway and know what they are talking about.;)

Another huge part to this story is about me waiting for God's timing.... As in, I really wasn't even though I thought I was.  I'm the type that likes to be ultra-prepared if at all possible and that includes having all the equipment, books, whatever else I'm gonna need acquired and at the ready for when my first semester starts.  Well, we had the money available to buy the Rebel back in February, but a situation came up in which we needed to use a large part of that money.  I was okay with that because I knew we were supposed to be getting that stimulus check and that would more than fill in the gap.  I was expecting around the end of May/first of June to get it and be able to get my camera.  Again, something has come up.  We haven't had to spend any money, but there is a possibility that we might, so for now it would not be wise to spend that money on an expensive camera.  Honestly, I was not happy about this turn of events.  I wanted to get my camera now, so that there was no way I was going to have to defer to a different semester and all MY plans could proceed as planned!  Yeah, not the right attitude or heart condition.  This is an area that God constantly has to work on in me.  Its never the same situation, but boy is it the same ugly, flesh-centered, self-seeking selfishness!  Yuck!  Basically, God got my attention and made me really take a look at my motives here and I sure didn't like what I saw.  Yes, I do want to get a degree in Photography.  I have dreams of all the possibilities that entails, but when my dreams start horning in on God's plan for me and my family, that's when its time to let go!  I am registered to start in the fall, but I am now waiting on God to provide the right timing and the provision of the camera, books, rest of tuition, software and time to get my studies and projects done.  If it doesn't happen any time soon, I'm choosing to look at it in the light of God wanting something better for me later.  Case in point is the camera.  If I had had my way, I would already have had the Rebel.  While it would not have been a bad camera for me to have, it wouldn't have been the best one for me.  So I'm waiting.  In the meantime, I'm going to keep researching on the internet and I'm going to go handle those bad boys to see which one I really take to.  (The Nikon could have all the best doodads in the world, but if I don't like the way it handles or if its too heavy or a hundred other ifs, then it wouldn't be worth a hill of beans to me!)  Anyway, I'll keep you posted both on which camera it will be and God's continuing work in making me grateful for His ways and not mine.:)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Homemade Soaps

I was introduced to the lady that makes these soaps when she came to be a guest speaker at our Bible study on the subject Be Fruitful and Multiply.  She has seven kiddos, is a pastor's wife and raises her own goats.  Several of her soaps are made of the milk that she gets from said goats.  I haven't been able to try any of the soaps yet, but I will soon.  I'll let you know how they are.  Until then, if you have an interest in all natural soaps go check out her website.  She also makes her own lotion.  I think you have to request that directly from her, though.:)


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

We're back!

Well, our visit with family was just great.  First of all, Sam and I went seperately.  He rode his motorcycle and I drove the van.  It wasn't a bad drive except that it took forever just to get onto the interstate in Temple.  There happened to be a few wrecks along the way.  Weird.  Anyway, we went to my mom's house first.  She had a lia sophia jewelry party on Saturday and I helped her set up for it.  The table decor was my handiwork. :) (I really enjoy doing stuff like that.) Mom suggested using honeysuckle as the centerpiece and it really turned out pretty.  We got to visit with several friends that we haven't seen in a very long time.  They also got to meet Zekey for the first time.  It also turned out to be a mini family reunion of sorts.  My Aunt Scarlet and cousin Tyler came and so did my Great-aunt Katherine.  It was nice to see everyone.  Braden and Zekey got to hang out with Granny (my mom) for the weekend and then the whole next week Braden spent every night at Meemaw and Peepaw's (Sam's parents) house.  We stayed in Grandmommie's house right next door to be available just in case.  They had VBS at their church and it was really neat.  They had a cowboy/girl theme with a chuck wagon, hay ride, games, dinner, a dwarf miniature horse, etc!  Pretty amazing.  All the cousins except the two youngest got to be there together and fun was had by all.  We also got to spend a lot of time just being together as a family.  Sam's mom had just had her gallbladder taken out the week before, but she handled it all like a trooper.  She had to take the occasional rest, but I'm very sure had it been me, I would have wanted to hang out in the bed for the most part! ;)  Anyway, we did have the group birthday party at which Braden got his first real sunburn.  He has now been inducted into the club with his dear, getting-old mom!  (Next time I will have to MAKE SURE he is wearing sunscreen....yep, its all my fault!) Basically, both Zekers and Braden made out like bandits!  (I think the theme from VBS was being carried on....maybe not so much in the good guy way, though. ahahahaha! just kidding.)  They both got some really neat presents, which Braden calls surprises.  So far the same issues with the birthday truck haven't cropped back up again, so I'm glad there.  I did have to make two cakes again this time cuz the first one didn't turn out right..... again.  (I think I'll blame it on the oven....yeah, the oven.) We ended up eating it anyway, though it was broken into chunks and eaten for dessert the night before the party. :) The second one was way better, but was a little under cooked for my taste.  (It was that oven again, I'm tellin' ya!)  The great thing was that my nephew Luke helped me decorate the whole thing!  He did about half and I did about half.  Yep, we make a great team.  I know who I'll be calling on next year when the time to make complicated cakes comes around.....!:)  The cousins were really excited because Sam gave them all a ride on the motorcycle.  Good times.   Sam and I even got to go on a date the day before we left.  We went to Posados in Longview and boy was it yummy!  The only bummer was that I was pretty sure that they still served green sauce and found out otherwise.  That is a sad, sad piece of news for me.  (Just a little aside:  I think one of these days, I'm gonna swing by Casa Ole for a gallon of green sauce...I might just hook it up to me via I.V., its more direct that way;p, hit Papacitas for the chips...that paprika they sprinkle on their super thin, crispy chips just makes my mouth wanna sing and then I'll have to head on over to Posados for the flour tortillas - light and fluffy...mmmmmmmmm.  Pretty much all of them make excellent fajita chicken quesadillas and cheese enchilada dinners with rice and beans, so, yeah.  It might have to end up being Posados, though, cuz they have free icecream......Yep, gonna have to do it.  I'll have to let you all know how that little escapade turns out!)  Okay, back to the story.;)  So, Sam and I had a really fun day, just the two of us.  My mom and Granny had Zekers for the day and Braden went with Meemaw, Peepaw, Uncle Ben, Aunt Jenny, Elijah, Luke, Gabe, Boaz and Dakota to the lake and let me tell you he had the best time!  We made it back in time to go up to VBS to take pictures.  I wanted to get some of Braden petting the little horse, but wouldn't you know it, my camera decided to fully give up the ghost!  Its been going a little haywire for a couple of months now, but I think this is the end.  Good thing we've been looking into getting a new camera anyway.  (More about that later.)  The next day, Saturday, we had to get ready to leave.  We got all packed and loaded up the van to the busting point, as usual, and had to say our goodbyes.  Braden was NOT okay with this part.  He didn't want to leave at all and on the way home kept asking if we were going back to Meemaw and Peepaw's house!  I really do think we could have left him for another week without our presence and he probably wouldn't have even noticed we weren't there!  He reminds me of when I would go stay with my Granny for two weeks here and there during the year.  I was NEVER homesick when I went to stay with her!  Though it kind of gives me pause that I'm seeing my child flat out not miss me, I'm honestly seeing potential here....yes, my plan is developing nicely....mmmwwwwaaaahahhaahhaaha! :D  So, anyway, we finally get on the road and get about an hour and a half out and guess what?  Yep, the drama unfolds.  Sam's only motorcycle key got broken in two thanks to a cranky gas cap.  Thankfully, he was able to get the little piece out of the lock.  We had to leave the motorcycle there outside of Tyler, but Sam's dad and brother were heros once again and came to our rescue!  They had already come and loaded up the bike and had it mostly back to Sam's parent's house before we even got back home.  Aren't they amazing?!?!?!  We are so GRATEFUL!!!  Anyway, for the most part, aside from just being a little drained, everything is getting back on track here.  Well, that's it for now.  I may not have a post every day for a while while I recover, but I'll leave off with a bazillion pics from our trip.

Le fabulous table decor:)

Cookies went in the silver tray and punch in the punch bowl. I just forgot to take a picture of the finished product.

I was messing around with the light sensitivity on my camera and this was the result. When I was standing right beside them, I could barely make them out is was so dark in the room. Cool, huh?

This is my sister Jennifer. She was asked to do a little presentation as the woman at the well for Meemaw's class. Sam and I were in there sitting to the side when she came in. Afterwards she told us she wasn't expecting an audience. Surprise!!! hehehe She did such a good job and was then asked to go to all the classes and do her presentation!

This is Sam's mom aka Meemaw who just happens to be a Kindergarten teacher. Guess which age group she was teaching? Our nephew Gabe was in her class.

I wanted to get some shots of this. I just thought it was cute that they were all holding on to the rope and having a good time yacking with one another. Braden and his cousin Boaz got to be in the same class together.

Hayride time! The kids really enjoyed this. We rode with Braden's class along with Jennifer. (FYI: She's mother to Elijah, Luke, Gabe and Boaz. She's married to Sam's brother Ben. Therefore my sister.)

Sam and his super cheesy self. Yep, it gets worse!:)

Me and Jennifer trying to take decent pictures while on a hayride.

Me failing at that miserably cuz Jennifer was making me laugh too much! (BTW, look at my huge, honkin' face! I have a really big face right now. Wow!)

Boaz, a little out of focus. It was a wee bit hot, too.

Meemaw and Peepaw having a good time. I don't know who this little girl is, but she's cute, isn't she?

See, I told got worse!;p

I love this picture. Jennifer and Gabe having a moment.

Me being a goob. (It runs in the family! hehehe)

More Jenny and Gabe....

If I had better skills, this could have been a very interesting study for photography.

Boaz with his "craft".

Braden and his "craft". I'm still not sure what they are supposed to be.:)

Michael, just chillin' in his carseat.

The super-duper, fantabulous, second-attempt birthday cake.
This one had it all folks - an erupting volcano, dinosaurs, trees, a pond, a railroad track complete with Thomas the Train and don't forget the balloons! Oh, yeah, Luke and I had a good time making this one! I bet you can't even tell who did which part! He did such a good job!

Sam and Zekey at the pre-birthday preparations. By the way, Luke took all the pictures at the birthday party! Didn't he do such a good job? I'm thinking he's gonna follow in Aunt Shelly's footsteps and be a photographer. OH, yeah......

Dakota and Gabe in the pool. (FYI: Dakota and Michael are Mollie's kiddos. She's Sam's sister, therefore my sister. I consider that I have three sisters. My sister Sara who I grew up with - biological, and Jennifer and Mollie who were given to me by marriage by the Grace of God! Just trying to save on confusion;)

There's a lot of love here. Can you feel it? Dakota, Gabe and Boaz trying to choke each other, I think!;)

Dakota, Gabe, Boaz and Braden. Do you see something wrong with this picture? Yeah, we hadn't gotten Braden a swim shirt yet and I forgot to put sunscreen on him! Yikes! He's still healing from the sunburn. ;(

Me and Michael. I don't even want to suppose what he was thinking! Isn't he a cuter patooter?!

Granny (my mom) and Zekey. She got to come to the party on her lunch break.

Zekey's new wheelbarrow from Meemaw and Peepaw.

Braden's helicopter from Dakota. Didn't Dakota do such a good job picking that out? (Pay no attention to the woman behind the kid! aaaaaah!)

Zekey trying to play with two large toys at once.

New shoes from Ben, Jen and boys.

Boaz and his goody bag! I made sure there was plenty of

Braden and his new favorite very loud game from Meemaw and Peepaw. Peepaw said something about who would get such a noisy game and everyone laughed when he was told it had come partly from him! :D

Zekey and some bugs.

This is a very sacked out Peepaw and Michael!

At VBS they had a little picture with the face cut out and Sam and Zekers had a good time cheesin' it up for the camera!

Zekey on a saddle.

Zekey and Luke on a "bull".

Sam is a little too big for the bull ride, I think!

MMMmmm....root beer floats and brownies and cookies! They even got the kids cowboy boot glasses to drink out of. So neatThis was Friday night after they all went to the lake. All the little rosy cheeks!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Photography School

I've really struggled with whether or not to blog about this, but I've decided to go ahead and do it. Normally, I don't like to really talk about my ambitions too much because sometimes I get unmotivated. I don't think that will be the case this time, though. I've already enrolled and been registered at the Academy of Art University. They have a campus in San Francisco, which is their original, and one in Houston. I don't know if they have another or not, but that is neither here nor there for my purposes. The really neat thing is I will be able to get my Bachelors degree in Photography all online. The whole entire thing online and never once step foot on campus!!! So great.... It took me a while to wade through all of the curriculum that only ended up giving a certificate of completion to find this school that is fully accredited. I'm really excited about it. I will only be going part time the first semester (tentatively, this fall... might have to defer to a different semester depending on how things occur) to see how I handle it and then if I think I can do more, then I will go full time next spring. I'm waiting until Zekey is about a year and a half and Braden will be four and a half. Hopefully, God will make a way for me to have some really good chunks of time about three to four days a week to participate in class and get my projects done.  (I will be homeschooling Braden in prek-K at the same time.)  Please pray for me in this endeavor. I really want to do a good job, not just barely eek by, both in homeschooling Braden and getting my degree.  Oh, yeah and the search for a camera, make that two cameras has been most interesting.  I will have to do a post about it.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Amazing Grace - the movie....a review

I really wanted to write a review about the movie Amazing Grace because for a long time I didn't want to see it.  It wasn't that it didn't look good, but sometimes when I think a movie might make me cry or might take me on an emotional roller coaster (think Braveheart, Amistad, Schindler's List, etc.),  I stay away from them for a while.  I'm just funny.  Its like I don't want to have a lot on my mind afterward and I don't want to put that much energy into a movie.  Movies for me in general are a way to relax, unwind or veg out for a bit.  Even though I felt like this movie might be that way from all the previews, it really wasn't.  Yes, it did give food for thought, but it was really just a well made and enjoyable movie.  Several of the actors are British ones that I've seen in other period movies that I really like and so I knew the acting would be well done.  The movie itself is about William Wilberforce who was a member of British Parliament in the late 1700s through the early 1800s.  He became the leading English Abolitionist and was instrumental in ending the slave trade in Britain.  This movie is about his political activism in ending slavery.  Rather than being dry and boring, I found this movie to be inspiring, very colorful and realistic.   Just so you know, I did tear up a couple of times because I was deeply moved.  The great thing about it though, is that it doesn't throw you for a loop.  There's not so much of an emotional roller coaster as much as the movie is a touching tribute to what one person can do with deep convictions and the desire to do something about injustice within his scope of influence.  I highly recommend it!  Here are the trailers for the movie and after that are links to more info on William Wilberforce.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

We are having a combo birthday today!

Since Braden's, Zekey's, our nephew Dakota and Jennifer our sister all have birthdays within a couple of weeks of each other, we are gonna have a big birthday for all of them together!  Its gonna be great!  I'll post pictures tomorrow or whenever I get the chance.  I'm making a cookie cake again, but it'll be bigger with even more combinations of decorations, a hodge-podge if you will.....woo-hoo!  Party down!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The birthday truck a.k.a. sibling rivalry

This truck is a birthday gift to Zekey from my mom. The original plan was to save it until the actual birthday, but it came about that it would be nice to open it before then. I thought Zekey could use it to help him get the hang of walking a bit better. Also, Braden has a bicycle outside to ride around on, but Zekes didn't have anything. It was a two-birds-with-one-stone sort of deal. Well, we got it out and wouldn't you know it, the problems started right away! Braden was trying to take it away from Zekey every chance he could and Zekey, even in his infancy, knew that that truck was specifically for him so he was having none of it! I really thought I was gonna pull my hair out! It took a good week to get them over the newness of it and being selfish and ugly with each other. Now, they both play on it, but its not that big of a deal. Also, when Braden got his roller blade "skaters" it helped. The swimming pool was another winner! Its something they both can play in TOGETHER. I just thought that this story was an interesting look at how even a not quite one-year-old is a little too smart and selfish for his own good and an almost four-year-old still can't play nicely with others when jealousy comes into play......yeah, sounds like the problems we as adults still deal with, huh? :)