Monday, December 27, 2010

We Moved South...

and we have...
our first WHITE CHRISTMAS


as a married couple.
 It. Was. Wonderful.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Skipping Christmas

Right about now, this sounds like such a good idea. It's an unfortunate fact that the holidays are such a difficult time of year for everyone, for many different reasons. Everything seems to be moving at such a hurried pace. Days are short and our lists are far too long. And even when it's the "good" stuff that we're tending to - finding the right gift, attending all the festivities, making all the right food - it can ultimately be so tiring and down right overwhelming for even the most well-intentioned. Add the stress of unexpected, unfair difficult day-to-day circumstances amidst all this "hustle and bustle" and it just almost seems too much to ask of anyone.
These last couple of Christmases have certainly taught Michael and I that our problems don't take hiatus for the holidays. Trying to make the best of whatever the situation is draining and by the time Christmas gets here, it's almost as if we're trudging along, just waiting for it to be over. What a horrible way to just 'get through' these days that are supposed to be filled with joy, anticipation, and blessedness!
In the book "Skipping Christmas" (and the movie "Christmas with the Kranks"), the Kranks skip Christmas so they can "get away from it all" and save some money to boot. Now that sounds like a plan I could get on board with. But as it turns out, they end up finding the real blessing of Christmas in their hearts, in giving and receiving love from those around them. This is certainly easier said than done, especially when circumstances present plausible problems.
However, no matter the size of the trouble or the way 'things' always seem to get in the way of finding the heart of Christmas, God has never left us alone and certainly now is the time when He most reveals to us just how near he is. It is in this very special gift of Christmas that God finds a way to warm our hardened hearts and for even just a fleeting moment, gives us the peace, warmth, and contentment we all spend exorbitant amounts of money, time, and energy trying to create every Christmas. But it's always found at the same place, every year - in the quiet surrender of the manger.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

MixBook Mix-up

So ordering Christmas cards is supposed to be a fun, memory-making project, right? Choosing the right photo, the right layout, just the right wording...it can take hours, sometimes days. Michael and I spent just a couple of hours making up a cute little poem about how we failed to send out address changes when we moved in the summer and asking to remember us at our new address - it was cute and festive, and a labor of our love together. I chose a picture from the family shoot and placed my order. I rushed the cards so they would arrive in time to be mailed out so people could receive our card in time to send us theirs. Genius, right? So I watched the tracking as my cards were completed, shipped and then received in Bowling Green. I was to receive them on Monday, and when I got home from work, there was nothing in the storm door, so I knew they hadn't come. After a difficult day, I was a little more upset about this than I probably should have been, but then, out of the darkness, the UPS truck comes barreling down our street and my hope is restored. I meet the guy at the street, get my package and happily bound back to the house with my cards. I get inside, open my package and find this: It's Vivian Mai's annnouncements for her graduation from San Jose State University. 20 of them. And no cards that I ordered. So, as any normal person would do, I immediately get on the phone...oh no, wait, you CAN'T CALL Mixbook because they don't have a customer service number. So I have to CHAT with someone in customer service.
SUPER.
So I finally get in live chat with a representative and explain my dilemma, ask for a refund, and then wait for ten minutes while this rep "checks on the status of the order." Frustration mounting, I simply repeated myself and told him I was no longer interested in my cards as I wouldn't have time to get them mailed out after processing, etc. So, he finally returns and mildly apologizes with nothing to offer me, but did promise my refund. At this point I was satisfied and thought for sure this would be worth laughing at one day.
And that was the next day. Because THIS is what came in the mail on Tuesday: Yep, poor Eric and Stacey's Christmas cards celebrating their wedding. 50 of these.
So I now have 20 graduation announcements, 50 wedding Christmas cards, and no cards of my own. (Not to mention one very angry graduate and a pair of angry newlyweds. MixBook supposedly got their orders worked out and re-shipped. I highly doubt it.)

Then, on Wednesday, guess what showed up?

My cards.

Two sets of them.

Monday, December 6, 2010

These Are The Special Times

This Sunday afternoon, when we all normally would have been decorating trees and hanging garland, mom insisted we all get together for a family photo shoot for Christmas cards. We all reluctantly obliged, and even mom was a bit hesitant about spending the afternoon taking pictures of ourselves. (Really, no photographer, just self-timers.) Turns out, it was a beautiful day, everyone was in a great mood and it was one the of the best Christmas memories of the season. Funny how things work out.








Friday, November 19, 2010

A Post for Blog's Sake

I can't say I'm completely satisfied with my blogging efforts this year. I was hoping for more than 1 post in most months, but its a start. So, to quell my ridiculous tendencies, I'm posting simply for the sake of posting something.

I don't have anything in the "About Me" section of my Blogger profile because I don't think anything I come up with is clever enough or informative, so this is to take the place of that. And then maybe this will inspire me to update that section too.

1. I have the best husband in the world. No contest.
2. I think I take blogging a bit too seriously.
3. I think I'm the only person in the world who would rather wear dress pants out to eat than wear jeans.
4. I also think that cheap jeans are more comfortable than expensive ones.
5. This is a little too reminiscent of a Facebook trend that circulated a few years ago.
6. I have a mild obsession with lists.
7. I may have no real children, but I have the best furry ones in America. They are my babies.
8. I live in fear about 90% of the time.
9. I have a constant battle with myself about how I want to spend my time. (Previous blogs will indicate this - do I want to be Martha Stewart or just have all her stuff?)
10. Music is the most incredible of all the arts and I am blessed to have the talent and experiences I have with music.
11. Finding a church home has proven to be one of the most difficult things Michael and I have done as a married couple.
12. Scary movies still give me nightmares.
13. My life is a constant contradiction - one day I can be completely spontaneous and free, the next, I'm planning every move and worrying about every possible consequence.
14. Plaid fabric makes me happy. It always has.
15. I wish I could live with no regrets.
16. The holidays are far too overrated and stressful. (My blog is a nice, quiet place to escape...)
17. I am unashamedly addicted to reality TV and mid-nineties sitcoms.
18. I have extremely high expectations for myself and inadvertently for others as well. This is both a blessing and curse.
19. I love spending time with my husband, just the two of us, at home. That's a vacation in itself.
20. I worry far too much. I'm worrying about the time I wasting making this post about nothing.
21. I am a self-confessed control-freak of sorts. I work on it every day.
22. I want to have lunch with Beth Moore and Sarah Palin. At different times.
23. I am far too blessed to worry and fret.
24. I have an incredible family.
25. I have to get back to whatever I was doing before I decided this was a good idea.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Making Something Out of Nothing

So, we used to have a big house and I felt this incurable desire to decorate it, literally, from top to bottom for the holidays. After moving from said big house, I was left with what looked like a Christmas decoration hoarding problem that needed intervention. I couldn't part with all this holiday paraphernalia until I had the opportunity to go through it appropriately, decide what I absolutely had to have, and do away with what I couldn't or wouldn't use. Finally this year, after hauling an inexplicable amount of Christmas crap from one town to the next, I have the opportunity to go through what I will be using and what I will not. And it dawned on me to make something from all that I found. Wreaths.
Evidently, at somem point I spent a billion dollars, four thousand trips to Garden Ridge, and decades of collecting, sorting, and packing away enough stuff to decorate the Eastern half of the United States with Christmas ornaments, ribbon, and tulle. So, in my quest for meaning in the "stuff" in my house, I pared down to what means something, then what would be most fun to decorate with, and then I was left with all the rest. And thus was born the idea to put this all the rest to good use on a wreath. And so it began. This is what I've been doing since well before Halloween. It's fun, quick, and even profitable as I've found some outlets for selling these wreaths! I've already made 10 and have enough "stuff" for probably 100 more. Seriously. So while I'll be packing this stuff away (there is no way I will be able to use up, make up, and sell 100 more wreaths by the end of the season) into the attic at least for another year, I have a purpose and an achievable goal with this stuff, unlike most of the other craft-y junk I'm harboring. Take THAT, Martha! Nonetheless, let me know if you want a wreath!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Martha Stewart Stresses Me Out


So the holidays are quickly approaching. This makes me both excited and overwhelmed. Mainly the latter, and here's why:
You know how around mid-October, TV shows, magazine articles, and internet ads start popping up with 'how-to's' for the PERFECT everything? "How to host a perfect Halloween party"..."How to bake the most perfect Thanksgiving dinner"..."How to have the most perfect-est Christmas EVER." You know the ones I'm talking about. Well, being a perfectionist, I can't just appreciate these shows/articles/etc. for what they are. I have to allow them to penetrate my brain with such force that I feel like the worst hostess, baker, gift-giver, seamstress, and so on, because I don't have the time, money, patience, energy, or desire to BE Martha Stewart for the holidays. But I can't accept that. Because I DO have just enough of all of those things that it drives me crazy that I can't be all of them at once, especially for the holidays. I've purchased books, clipped and saved magazine articles, poured over the internet, and even filled our DVR with Martha's specials about holiday crap to make, do, buy, bake, etc. It's so defeating. Besides, I do have my own ideas, too! By the time I get done reading the book or watching the show or even gathering the supplies I will need for project 'x,' I'm way over my alotted time and already exhausted before I even begin. I do have a "crafty" gene - it definitely runs in my family - and while I enjoy "crafty" things, I often let them overtake me and lose any pleasure in actually doing the craft because of all that is required of it (that darn perfectionism thing again.) Consider this for instance: when watching Martha, do we ever actually see where she gets all of her supplies? No, they just magically appear, ready to use, cut to size, and measured precisely. So we watch her neatly and perfectly, of course, mold together an ornament/gift/decoration in just under 5 minutes flat and think, "okay, sure, I have time to do that" (and then the ubiquitous plug from Martha inherently follows - 'See, anyone can do this at home with just a little {insert common household items we all have lying around} and you're all set.') Well, I'm not fallin' for it anymore, Martha. I'm on to your schemes. I have spent far too long attempting to make all these wonderful handmade gifts and have the most spectacular of parties with homemade feasts for the senses. And while I have been successful at times - making pillows, ornaments, memo boards, and cookie bouquets too cute to mention - the time and energy spent doing so is no longer available - I'm married now with a quite demanding job and my husband would rather spend time with me making a memory than remember how I stewed and fretted over how I'm ever going to pull off "The Most Perfect _______." Am I swearing-off crafts altogether? Absolutely not. But I am putting a stop to my attempts at being Martha Stewart. When I have her budget, facilities, and staff, then we'll see. Until then, I'm going to enjoy the holidays, perfect-ness or not.

Monday, October 25, 2010

5K Birthday

Monica says it best:
"It's okay, it's all okay...you know why? Because I'm a grown-up...I turned 30 today."
"The One When They All Turn Thirty"
 Yep, as of October 21, I'm an official member of the the 30-club. This is not particularly a club I wanted to join, thank-you-very-much, but I suppose it was eventually going to happen. The most difficult part for me was fighting the negativity associated with this birthday by saying to myself, "THIS is 30?" and pondering all that I thought I would have accomplished or experienced or completed by age 30. So instead of focusing on what wasn't in my 20's, I chose to celebrate the good, learn from the mistakes, and bid farewell to anything bad from a very transitional decade in my life. (At some point, I hope to put together a picture-story collection of sorts to forever salute my twenties, but that's another post.) I also felt it necessary to find a way to look forward with positive expectancy to what my 30's would hold. So by the time I pouted and stewed and dealt with the stigma of this birthday, I can honestly say I'm proud to be 30 and truly look forward to my THRILLING THIRTIES!

Much like people start their new year off with resolutions, I wanted to start my 30's out with a bang, and what better way to do that than with the Medical Center 5K! Yes my friends, I ran, er...jog/walked the 5K around downtown Bowling Green on October 23rd with some people from work. To make the event more festive, I wore my "30" crown and it was certainly worth it! I don't think racing will become one of my pastimes, but it was certainly fun for the day and I'm glad to have kicked-off my new decade in such a way. This gives me license to do nothing for New Year's, right?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Glory of Autumn


For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven... Ecclesiastes 3: 1

I wanted to share how much I love fall and all that comes with it - I am an October baby, I love football, I think fall season marching band will always hold a special place within me, I can't get enough of the breathtaking changing landscape, I love the crunch and resulting aroma of fallen leaves, and nothing beats that first crisp breeze after a long, steamy summer. Merely listing these things did not seem enough for me to truly exemplify what I really experience during this changing season and then I found this little gem of an article with a wonderful story of precisely why fall is uniquely special:

I love Autumn. The sight of colorful countrysides. The smell of burning campfires and roasting marshmallows. The sound of dropping nuts. The taste of crunchy apples and freshly popped popcorn. Hayrides. Pumpkin Farms. The list could go on and on. It all holds a beauty which moves my spirit at a deep, personal level.

As my daughters and I celebrate the changing season, we learn from Him. Our experience of collecting leaves a few years ago highlighted for us the importance of letting go of the old in order to make room for the new.

Outside our home there are a number of trees which change color with the first dipping of temperatures. I'm not sure which one of my girls enjoys trying to find the most colorful leaves more.

Small piles of those leaves often find their way into our home and onto the dining room table. We admire them while arranging them in colorful patterns. One time while we were picking out the prettiest leaf, I overheard this conversation.

"I like this one. It's so beautiful."

"Hmm, that is pretty. How about this one."

A pause followed.

"I wonder why the leaves have to fall. If the trees could only keep their leaves, wouldn't they look nice?"

"Yes and then we wouldn't have those old brown leaves all over the place."

"Yeah, I wish God could have made them stay on the trees."

"But what about Spring?"

Another long pause.

"When Spring comes the new leaves come out. What would happen then?"

Immediately my mind began to picture a tree loaded with colorful leaves meanwhile trying to put out new little green leaves. No, there wasn't room for that. Those new leaves needed room to grow. The old had to be removed.

My mind wandered back to some losses we had experienced. Like leaves they dropped from our lives. And although we accepted the changes, in our humanness we easily would have placed them back in our lives. But life moves forward. Always making room for the new.

Could it be that our Heavenly Father knows our longing to resist change and keep things just the same? Could it also be that He knows how very much we will also appreciate the new growth and fresh opportunities?

Yes, we can trust Him.

So as I watch these leaves drop one by one I will lift my heart in praise to Him. God is only making room for the gifts which He is preparing for us in the future. Spring always comes.

So this year as we experience the glory of Autumn we remember that sometimes it is important to let go in order to make room for the new. We can trust the greatest Lover to care for our families. We can rely upon Him to keep showing us His grace throughout our whole lives.

- Sharon Beth Brani

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Buckets of What?

So today I was driving by a party store and sitting outside there was this huge sale container of plastic pails marked $.25 a piece. I drove by once acknowledging that the price was intriguing and there was surely something for which I could use these plastic pails. They seemed to be such a good size. They did have an ad on them, but there are solutions for that. But I drove on. I have plenty of other pails. Metal pails. Ceramic pails. I surely didn't need to add to the stockpile. So, I drove on.

Then I turned around.

I just kept thinking, with all of my creative talent I could definitely benefit from having these buckets in my Arsenal O' Creativity. I could paint them with that plastic spray paint. I could cover them with paper or fabric. The options were truly endless. And they were such a versatile size. But before I even got out of the car, my conscious kicked in again and I reminded myself of just how much stuff I have obtained from random sales and the dollar aisle at Target. I referred to much of that stuff in my first post (and since I don't know how to reference a link in the blogosphere, you'll just have to track back to read it.) It becomes too much. Too much craft stuff and not enough time. Besides, I have so many other things going on right now with still trying to get settled into our home (there are still boxes that haven't been unpacked, INCLUDING my craft boxes) and adjusting to a new job, a new church, etc. I did not have time to add to my craft to-do list a project with plastic pails. What would I even use them for? It was a good decision. I didn't need the pails.

Then I drove 15 minutes to get home.

And decided I need to go get at least $2 worth of those plastic pails tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Hard Way to Go

There’s always a simple way. And then there’s a difficult way. Whatever the task, you always have two choices – you can do it the hard way or the easy way. Luckily for me and my totally indecisive manner, this is one choice I don’t have to make. I ALWAYS, purely instinctively, with little to no conscious consideration, choose the hard route. That’s just how it is. It’s as if I must 100% wrestle with an issue/task/challenge until I have knocked the wind out of it, leaving it lifeless, and sometimes, virtually unworthy of consideration, i.e., by the time I’m done grappling with said issue, I can’t even remember why it was issue in the first place. Sounds like a vicious cycle, right? Trust me, it is. Analytical minds have their value, but on daily living kinda basis, sometimes it’s just downright annoying. I often can not make quick decisions, spontaneity is usually non-existent, and even blogging takes a hit as I analyze everything I almost post and often decide it’s not blog-worthy or it would take too long to write or (the dreaded thought) would people even read such a post? Really, my constant wrestling match even applies to “the small stuff.” (Thank you Dr. Carlson, your book did not help me. All “stuff” IS big stuff.) One especially troubling task that should be a relatively simple, daily process often becomes an unbearable, downright painful process that periodically leads to an all-out meltdown: choosing my clothes. Now I know this is in fact an issue for most women, especially during that wonderful, magical time of the month, but I tend to think I may take it a tiny bit far at times. Michael will testify to this. I’ve recently read/heard about experiments that prove that fewer choices can lead to contentment because with only a small selection of items, the mind doesn’t get boggled with other possibilities. It sounds genius to me, and I may have to do some more closet-purging. Allow me to remind you though, that all of my analyzing, pondering, scrutinizing, is mainly a subconscious action.

I was so astounded when we saw Inception – while I’m not speaking of dreams per se, I was thrilled to my core that the power of the subconscious must make sense to other people too! Maybe I’m not crazy after all. So I’ve decided to put a positive spin on it, (while CONSCIOUSLY making more of an effort to NOT dissect every little thing) and title my own condition: we’ll just call it a Carnival of Consideration running wild behind my eyes. At least with a cool, fun name, it won’t be so troubling. Or will it…

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Just some news...

Sheer exhaustion. Cardboard as far as the eye can see. Piles of clothes, dishes, and miscellaneous items that seem to have no relation to one another cluttering every room. The most beautiful new view out a back door you've ever seen. Pure elation.

If you haven't guessed it yet: WE MOVED!

Bowling Green welcomed its newest transplant (Michael) on Saturday May 29th. I, however, have come HOME.

What a journey it has been. A year ago if you had asked me if I thought we would be living in a great home in Alvaton, Kentucky, watching the most beautiful sunsets you've ever seen while sitting in our precious wooden swing in the back yard, dreaming of all the fantastic things we're going to do to transform this house and all the wonderful experiences we hope to have in this home, I literally would have insisted you were crazy and then been insulted by such optimism. I stand corrected. God is more amazing than I (we) could ever imagine and we've been blessed with more than we could have ever asked for.

What seemed like a whim during a conversation that took place on Easter Sunday quickly took shape as an answer to prayer that directed us south. And it directed us FAST. We searched for, found, closed on, and moved into a home 70 miles from Elizabethtown - not even kidding - in 6 weeks. (Our loan closing was called "a record-breaker.") It has been incredible to watch God's timing manuever everything perfectly into place. For a control-freak like me, not being able to manipulate every detail was literally painful at times, but in hindsight, I obviously couldn't have orchestrated the events of the last month any better. There: I admit it.

BUT, we didn't do this alone.
We had a great realtor (thank you Sherry Vincent and Amy for the referral)

We had awesome help at the bank (thank you Jamie and Owen)

We had a super moving team (thank you Kentucky Moving and Storage and your Big Red Truck!)

And most importantly, we had unbelievable support from family and friends that kept us going when we thought we were literally trying to do the impossible. Mom and Dad, you are unbelievable - we certainly could not have done this without you and we are forever grateful for your continued help. *Tear*

So back to unpacking, painting, cleaning, and dancing because we're just so darn happy to be here. It hasn't been easy (it still isn't easy) and we still have a long way to go, but trust me when I say that when you think you can't do something, God can. And will.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A New Friend


Allow me to introduce you to our pal, Change. He has been sticking around our lives for sometime now, and just when I think he's gone, suddenly he reappears. He even comes complete with his own set of cliches: Change is inevitable. Change will come whether we want it to or not. Change is the only thing that is constant.

Blah. Blah. Blah.

Some days Change and I are best friends. I laugh and smile and frolic in the joy that is Change. Some days I wish I could take Change by the scruff of the neck and fling him as far away from me as possible. Whatever the case, Change sticks around and our love-hate relationship is as strong as ever.

Michael and I have prayed at length for our good buddy Change and could not be more thrilled to be in this blessed season of our lives. However, for control-freak, plan-obsessed, OCD people like myself, sometimes a friend called Change is the last thing we could ever need or want, regardless of how wonderful he can be. (BTW, Change is referred to as "he" in this post, as of course, only a man could disrupt life like Change does.) Change is difficult. Change makes you readjust everything you thought you once knew. Change make you downright uncomfortable at times. And more often than not, Change has a way of dragging along his best friend, Patience. Fantastic. Just what I needed. TWO houseguests.

On my Facebook profile, I have a quote that I found not long after Change made a very unexpected visit to Michael and I last year. It's beautiful and true and speaks highly of dear 'ole Change:

It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. There is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life. - Alan Cohen


So, if you're reading this I ask that you pray for us and our friends Change and Patience. We haven't gotten along very well lately, but I would like to think our relationship is on the mend and we'll be continuing along our amazing journey very soon. (If you haven't guessed, Michael and I are in the midst of a lot of life changes right now and would appreciate all prayers and support we can get.)

Oh yeah, and I probably should tell you Change (or Patience, I haven't figured out which one yet) has disabled our internet at this time. We are not sure when the service will be restored. I will return to my blogging duties as soon as possible, or whenever Change allows...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Our Furry Family

It's probably fairly evident that my pets are as important to me as any family member and I probably love them a bit too much at times - vet bills would certainly indicate this - but my animals hold a very special place in my heart and it is more than worth noting on our little family blog.

My Sidekick: Abbie.














Abbie came to live with me on my birthday in 2000, a gift from my mom, who rescued her from the Humane Society. I was just a single gal, finding my way through college and working to pay the bills. She became my fast companion and immediately made her nest as queen-bee. She is often a silent comforter, just appearing at my feet or in my lap when she knows I need soft consolation. She can also be the most vocal of all the feline nation, telling me her every thought and need. She's particularly vocal at night when she's playing with her toys! Not only is she a superior companion, she's also a heck of a trooper - she's moved residences 8 times since I've had her. Yes, 8. For domesticated cats who like to take root in their familiar surroundings, that's about 8 times too many. But every time, she's made her nest and found the best places to make her resting spaces and hiding spots. She shows more resilience than I often do, all the while literally, with the coolness of a cat. I love her and she's the best gift I've ever received. After celebrating her 10th birthday this year, I'm even more grateful for every day I have with her.

Our "First-born": Princess Phoebe















When Michael and I first got married, we decided we wouldn't add to our animal brood during the first year, figuring the adjustment would be enough without the stress of a puppy. That lasted about 3 months, and I was determined to find a shih-tzu baby. I found a family breeder in Edmonson County that only bred one litter at a time and make sure all the puppies would go to a good home. I had a good feeling about this place, and the Sunday afternoon before Halloween, we drove to the middle of nowhere to a beautiful home all a bustle with 5 new baby shih-tzus. We were immediately drawn to the runt, our baby girl, and started bonding with her as we chatted with the family. There were three resident shih-tzus, the momma and daddy of the litter, and an uncle (even dog families have crazy uncles!) The momma's name was Monica. Wierd name for a dog, I thought, but didn't consider it much until they told us the daddy's name was Joey. Okay, so what was the uncle dog's name? Chandler. Ironic? Sure. Coincidence? Absolutely not. The family I had "found" in the classifieds were in fact Friends fanatics, just like yours truly. Our baby girl had been nick-named Princess, so Princess Phoebe only seemed too perfect. It was meant to be. But oh, those first few days were doozies as our new baby missed her big family and cried until she made herself hoarse the first few nights. She finally adjusted and became a regular household personality. Spoiled rotten, she is still our first-born and very much an alpha-female which ultimately led to her being a daddy's girl. (They're both hot-natured too, so it was good that she didn't require snuggling.) She's our "Friends" blessing and a wonderful, well-trained and well-behaved dog that must sleep with her own 'baby' (a toy) every night.

Our Eternal Baby: Dozer Davidson.















On a totally unexpected venture to a farm in Hodgenville, our sweet baby Dozer joined our family. He peered out from his outdoor house with the biggest brown eyes and a saggy belly and it was love at first sight for us. His transition to our home was much easier and he crate-trained well. He was our littlest baby for a while, but then all of a sudden, the hound in him emerged and he's the leader of the pack now, in stature that is. He's still very much a baby, especially his momma's baby. Michael had always wanted a beagle, and he was supposed to be Michael's partner in crime, riding with him to and from job sites in his construction truck (hence the name Dozer) but it didn't quite work out that way as he IS a snuggler and has a built-in heater that Michael couldn't tolerate on a nightly basis, so he became my buddy and I can't explain how attached I am to this little dog! He loves me to the moon and back and is my shadow at home. He's a great dog, and is really showing a lot of maturity lately (it was touch-and-go there for awhile) but still has the occasional howling fit. Okay, frequent howling fit, but its better! Oh, and don't even think about stealing his food!


And last but not least, we said good-bye to our Comedian, Little Bit, in February this year. He was a constant humor and a little trooper himself. He used all of his nine lives to the fullest and he is missed. He was my sweet boy with a fiesty streak that was hiding under a laundry basket at my brother's house after being brought in as a stray. May he rest in peace in kitty heaven.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

It's All Blue

I was going to do better in March. I was going to update my blog regularly, or at least more regularly than was done in February. So much for that. As a result of not blogging as much as really is essential to a healthy blog, I have a very healthy list of blog topics that I will be consulting very soon. The blog posts to follow will be phenomenal. I'm just sure of it. In the meantime, I must (quickly) show that I bleed blue. Very quickly.

I have already immensely enjoyed the NCAA tournament. Another UK win would make it even more enjoyable. Yes, I am a true blue Kentucky fan. I did not sell or give away all of my UK garb when they were not winning - I donned them proudly, knowing that the Wildcats are the best there is, even when they were on the losing end of things. I am not just a UK fan because they are just shy of perfect this year. I did not abondon my fearless Wildcats when the less-than-par coaches were not doing justice to a grand basketball program. I am ALWAYS a UK fan. I never had a choice. I didn't know schools had colors other than blue and white until I was nearly 7 or 8 years old. My dad was also tried and true blue. I had Wildcat cheerleader barbie dolls and at least some point, all of the cars I have driven have sported a "K" license plate. This year is especially fun with the antics of John Wall and Demarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson and underdog Darius Miller. Coach Cal really is a great coach - look at how he's turned around several players from the dark times of Billy. It's just exciting. I can hardly type. I must stay hydrated as my dear Cats are defending the "smart boys" from Cornell. Andy Bernard, your BIG RED BEAR is going DOWN!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Fond Farewell


Is there anything more spirit-rousing and heart-warming than the Olympics? Two weeks filled with peaceful competition among warring nations. Countless moments of dreams reaching fulfillment and hearts breaking all at the same time. It's a time when moguls, slalom, lutz, and twizzle become part of our everyday vernacular, at least for the winter variety. And Bob Costas comes out of sports-caster hiding to deliver impeccable announcing sprinkled with hints of sarcasm, condolence, or humor whenever necessary. Not being much of an athelete myself (but being raised by one of the best) I can certainly appreciate the perseverance, endurance, and artistry required by all of the athletes and I'm always in awe of their accomplishments. Michael constantly commented on "those skiers that go uphill", referring of course to the long distance cross country skiing that seemed to never end. But all of the athletes, even the 'curlers' with their brooms amaze me and a small part of me always wishes I had such tenacity. Four years ago, I remember sitting in our tiny living room of our first home just seven months after getting married and watching our first Olympics together and being somewhat disappointed with the events in Torino. The American fleet of athletes was not everything it was cracked up to be (poor Bode), we were uncomfortable with the Italian surroundings, and worst of all, Michelle Kwan was forced to withdraw from the women's figure skating competition due to injury. While I don't know the statistics surrounding the 2006 Winter Olympics, I don't remember being as enthralled with each and every moment as I was this year. I watched EVERYTHING. Snowboarding, freestyle skiing, ice skating, speed skating, ski jumping, long distance skiing - you name it, I watched it when I could. I held my breath when Evan and Apolo skated. I yelled and screamed along with the coaches during the aerials and snowboard half-pipe. I cried every time Joannie Rochette was on the screen. And now it's over. So sad. Even with all of the negative press at the opening of the games, it turned out to be one of the best. I'm so glad that my love for the winter Olympics returned and I will anxiously await 2014. Thank you and goodnight Bob Costas - you may return to hiding now. We'll call you a few weeks before the summer Olympics in 2012.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Where Did February Go?

Good grief! I've lost a whole month! I feel a hundred years old saying this, but I do not know where the time has gone - well, I kinda do. Dear blog, it's time to play catch-up.

First, it seems odd that I'm writing to...no one. After my first few posts, I thought 'blogging' would come more naturally as more and more people would 'follow' and I would feel warranted in my need to share my thoughts with the 'world.' (Imagine many physical 'air quotes' if you will.) I would feel obligated to my devoted readers to continue posting, all the while gaining momentum for actually being a 'heard' individual in this world, and well, that hasn't really happened. I have to verbally tell my husband that I've just written a post on my blog so he will diligently go check it (or just walk 5 steps and read what's on my screen) since he doesn't have a blog of his own. And for the other four followers out there - thank you for your time. It means a lot and I hope you faithful few will continue to indulge me. I enjoy it, and whether anyone reads them or not, "I have ideas."

February 2009 changed our lives forever, but Michael and I approached the year mark of those profound changes with pure joy that we had made it through the last year. We renewed our hope for positive growth and looked forward with confidence. As faithful as He promises, God showed up again and we have been blessed with some awesome, good changes this February: On Saturday, February 13th, Michael and I took a trip to Bowling Green so he could take the written exam as the first step toward becoming a Bowling Green Police Officer. He has been studying and preparing for this for some time, but this was the first time taking an exam like this and needless to say, he was nervous. As we pulled into the parking lot at Greenwood High School, nervous became an understatement and I couldn't help but mutter a quiet "oh..." as we scanned the full parking lot with some 30 minutes left until test time. As we approached the door, I playfully asked if he wanted me to go in with him, which made us both laugh and helped ease some of the mounting pressure. I kissed him good-bye and wished him luck and couldn't help but tear-up as he boldy walked in, seemingly unphased by the nerves. Precious. Then it was just time to wait. Luckily, my dear, dear friend Amy was willing to baby-sit me during my down time. After some shopping and visiting, it was time for me to return to Greenwood to await the results. I got there with plenty of time to spare and started to watch people trickle out of the building, slowly. As always, I came prepared and pulled out some reading material, but I couldn't help but look up to see who was coming out next. 30 minutes. An hour. I waited. As a few more people started out of the building, I began to notice that every now and then there would be a happy test-taker exiting the building bearing a pink card and it dawned on me that this must be the sign of a passing score, and thus the ticket to take the psychological exam later in the day. I started very excitedly watching for this American Idol-esque 'golden ticket' just to kill time, and finally after ninety minutes of waiting, I recieved the best text message to date: "I PASSED...SEE YOU SOON!" After another HOUR OF WAITING (for fingerprinting I learned later) I finally saw my sweet smiling husband and his pink card. What a feeling! I have never been more proud to be his wife then I was at that moment! Even though this was just the first of many steps yet to come, it was a milestone and a much-needed boost for Michael's confidence. Hallelujah! The rest has yet to be determined, but I will update as we approach each step!

As a side note, with all of the excitement of the day before Valentine's Day, we decided to play it low-key for the Hallmark Holiday this year. I came across an ad and coupon one day for a beautiful bouquet of stargazer lillies and roses (reminiscent of the bouquet Michael got for me our first Valentine's Day) and posted it on the fridge. I had earlier come across an ad for a Rocky Balboa edition motorcycle, which I also posted on the refrigerator as a joke since Michael does happen to love motorcycles and can reference a Rocky movie for just about any situation. Knowing that I would never, ever waste money on such a ridiculous trinket and flowers would just end up dying (and I never throw them out at an appropriate time), we decided we would just gaze at our lovely ads, tell each other how much we mean to one another, and leave it at that. Best Valentine's Day yet.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Puxsatawney Phil and a Love Story

He's a cute little fella...

I suppose the recipe calls for six more weeks of winter...whatever that means. Doesn't spring usually begin around the middle of March anyway? That's what I keep reminding myself for now, instead of being depressed that the cold temperatures, gloomy days, and slick roads are all we have to look forward to for the next six weeks. I usually don't mind winter - fun coats and scarves, boots and puffy socks - but I'm over it. I've cycled through all of my sweaters more than once. I'm ready to part with my coats and scarves (as nice as they are). I would like to go home while there's still daylight. Michael and I really need to get over these colds. And snow days are not nearly as much fun when you have to get up an hour earlier just to make sure you make it to work on time and worry about your husband getting to and from Louisville safely. It's been pretty, I've enjoyed what I could, and I'm certain our neighbors are definitely ready for our "winter" decorations to be put away. Yes, we're those people. So bring on spring!

Michael has been home a lot more lately thanks to a shifting schedule. It's been wonderful. I have written very little in this blog about what a wonderful husband I have, and it's long overdue. I can't speak highly enough of him. He's a guy's guy and a hopeful romantic all rolled into one. He loves the Lord, loves me, and loves our furbabies as much as I do. Tomorrow marks the five year anniversary of the day we met. We are a Match.com success story, just like in the commercials. I had given up on finding "the one" and had little hope in this "e-match-harmony thing" as dad called it. In fact, I had a couple of bad experiences with it and didn't even respond to Michael when he first emailed me. He persisted. And by mid-January we were talking and decided to meet at Smokey Bones in Bowling Green. (So romantic, right? I'm telling you - I wasn't looking for anything more than a friend. A BBQ joint was the perfect plot.) God had other plans. My roommate and her boyfriend went with me that night to meet him (for safety reasons) and she tells it best: she said I was chattering along, anxiously waiting for Michael and then I stopped dead in my tracks and just smiled. Michael had just walked in - I can honestly say that it was love at first sight. Right there admidst all the BBQ and basketball games. I'll never forget it. He won't either. I can't believe that was 5 years ago! It's been a 'slumber party' ever since.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"It says "crazy" here on your chart..."

I am so sick. Sick, literally, and even more sick of those that call themselves doctors, nurse practitioners, physician's assistants, etc. I have not been sick in a year - with the exception of woman's issues and migraines - I have not been to the doctor since exactly this time last year (during the ice storm) to be diagnosed with all but pneumonia.(And it took TWO trips to finally get some help - more on that in a minute...) And here we are again. I would like to humor myself to think I know a little bit more than the average bear when it comes to anything that ails the human body because I've had a lot of them. I was a relatively sick little child and I was fortunate to have a great doc that explained everything when I would go see him growing up. I know how a cold differs from a sinus infection because of his highly sophisticated narrative of each. I know the difference in a viral and a bacterial infection. I know what happens to the blood vessels in my brain when I have a migraine because of his simple yet technical diagrams. I know I am 95% more likely to get an ear infection than most people because my tonsils stay 95% more inflamed than most. In so many words, I'm relatively well-versed in medicinal knowlege, at least for my own body. Since moving from Glasgow, I am not able to visit afore-mentioned doctor for obvious reasons. I didn't have much trouble adjusting to other doctors while I was in Bowling Green, but since moving to Elizabethtown, I've literally had nothing but trouble.
I have learned that I am hyper-sensitive to barometric changes, weather fluxuations, and temperature variations. Such weather phenomenons can trigger migraines, endless sinus and allergy problems, mood swings, and even affect my lovely battle with IBS. I've learned to deal. I have plenty of homeopathic, prescription and over the counter remedies to help just about any ailment, so I've got my bag of tricks ready for whatever hits, for whatever reason, but especially when the weather changes. I know my body very well and listen to what it tells me. I know to rest when the seasons change. I know to drink more than enough fluids to stay hydrated during weather episodes to help prevent anything from getting clogged, inflamed, or blocked. And I know to move around enough to get my blood flowing and promote my body's natural health defenses. I am a great hand-washer. All in all, I know what I need to do to stay healthy and usually do a darn good job of it. But when I need help, I need help and I need it fast. Elizabethtown health care providers just don't get this. They don't understand that I know what I'm doing - that it's my body and I take pride in it, flaws and all. That it takes a lot for me to even GO to the doctor for the risk of catching something worse while in the waiting room. That when I begin showing signs of a real illness, I'm going to need help fast. They just don't get it. Case in point: Right after Michael and I got married, I came down with a sinus infection, went to the doctor after 4 days of self treatment, and the doctor was already writing a prescription while he walked into the room. Had Michael not been with me, he wouldn't have believed me. He didn't examine me. He didn't ask me any questions. Just handed me the slip and left. Shockingly, a week later, I was forced to go to an urgent clinic for diagnosis of a terrible sinus infection, double ear infection AND bronchitis. Being the nosy posy I am, I decided I would ask if this could have been prevented and this doc said, "absolutely - if you had been given a steriod shot and the correct prescription." SHOCKING. Now hear this: this has happened to me 7 more times in the last five years; 5 times with upper respiratory issues, 2 times with kidney/bladder issues. I'm not even kidding. I have tried different doctors, with hope that this craziness would end. I've tried naturalists, nurse practitioners (I had good luck with them in BG), and specialists. Nothing. They all do the same thing, and I wind up on the phone crying to my mother a day or two later because I'm still sick and no one will help me and I end up either having to trekk to Glasgow to see the only real doctor still alive or I go to the hospital and wait 17 hours to at least get some decent drugs. And it's happening AGAIN.
It doesn't take a genius to notice the major changes in the weather over the last couple of weeks. Well, this past weekend, I noticed I was little more phlegm-y than usual so I rested, took a few more vitamins, and hoped for the best. Monday I lost my voice, but still didn't feel terrible and had no temp, so I kept truckin'. Tuesday morning I had NO voice, started feeling run down, so I came home from work to rest, figuring I had a cold (virus) that had settled in my throat and I just needed to give my body time to heal. No dice. By Tues. night, I was running a low temp and feeling pretty rotten, even with all the phlegm-fighting drugs I had been using. Wednesday when I called into work, I was instructed to go to the doctor (you know, because it is not allowed to miss work just to rest or when you're contagious with a nasty cough...) So, like a good little employee, I haul off to the doctor in 20degree weather just to be told I have a cold virus causing pharyngitis, to take Advil and to keep taking Mucinex-D (even though it's clearly not doing it's job, a topic that was discussed at the beginning of the visit) and (here's the kicker) to come back on Monday if I didn't feel better by the weekend. I even asked about getting a shot, which got me this response: "If I felt like you needed a shot, I would give you one. You don't need it." Nice. Intimidation achieved, Ms. Physician's Assistant, you're clearly the boss. It gets better. I was released to go back to work TODAY (again, contagious) and the note that I got has the wrong name - the check-out lady wrote the PA's name as the patient name. Really? Did I come to the Twilight Zone society or a doctor's office...
So here I sit tonight, completely unable to breathe from my nose, with a horrible sore throat and excrutiatingly painful cough, sick to my stomach from all the draining phlegm (sorry, gross) and I'm expected back at work tomorrow. Great.
Does all of this seem ridiculous to anyone else??? I'm so fed up! Because I'm a nice person and do respect those who are there to "take care of the sick" I can't just walk in to every appointment and be like, "Look, I'm not doing this run around again. Here's what I've been doing that isn't working, here's what YOU need to do, and we'll all be happy." I just can't do that. But I'm getting close. I can't afford two copays every time I get sick. I can't afford to continually buy useless meds, just to have to buy more meds when I finally get a valid diagnosis. I can't continue to miss several days of work when I'm just trying to get better!!! Why is this so hard to understand?!
Forgive my rantings - but this has gone too far. I'm not a stupid person, even though out of respect, I play the idiot at my doctor's visits. I just don't know what to do. I feel like Elaine on that episode of Seinfeld when she keeps going from doctor to doctor and they all write "Crazy" at the top of her chart. That's me. Crazy Elaine.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Praising God

What a week it's been! And I say that in a much different way than I was saying it last week...
First, I must give God the glory for the wonderful God He is and that He chose to love me. I choke each time I think of how wonderfully He has blessed Michael and I through so much - big and small, tangible and intangible. We are such undeserving creatures and I am humbled at the very thought that He loves us enough to care about our most minute worries and fears along with the mountainous trials and unanswered questions that come our way. The Christian band Kutless has a song called "That's What Faith Can Do" and it speaks volumes as to what my heart feels. Here are some of the lyrics:

Everybody falls sometimes
Gotta find the strength to rise
From the ashes and make a new beginning
Anyone can feel the ache
You think it’s more than you can take
But you are stronger, stronger than you know
Don’t you give up now
The sun will soon be shining
You gotta face the clouds
To find the silver lining

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
And I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do

It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard
Impossible is not a word
It’s just a reason for someone not to try
Everybody’s scared to death
When they decide to take that step
Out on the water
It’ll be alright
Life is so much more
Than what your eyes are seeing
You will find your way
If you keep believing

It's an incredible song, so if you get the chance, listen to it! I hope you're as moved by it as I am! Praise the Lord!

Secondly, I love it when I am witness to unexpected kindness. I was at the grocery yesterday, for TWO hours - allow me to explain the reason behind a 2 hour grocery trip when it's just me and Michael I'm shopping for: Our Kroger is being remodeled and everything has been moved; I kept getting phone calls; there are a ton of 10-for-10 sales going on; and I apparently thought I was shopping for the Apocalypse that would leave me with the ability to microwave. That being said, I was mentally and physically exhausted by the time I went to checkout. Of course, there is only one non-express lane open, so I manhandle my cart into line and rummage through my coupons to find the ones I need. Just as the couple in front of me was finishing up, I realized I needed TWO bottles of shampoo to get my $2 discount (thus getting one bottle for $.29). I knew I didn't have time to go get the other bottle, and I was by myself, so I didn't have anyone to watch my cart. And the coupon expired the next day. Oh well. I decided I didn't need a back-up shampoo anyway. Then I overheard the woman in line in front of me say, "Oh, I think it's just down there...and Fluffy is all out..." as she was peering down an aisle while the rest of her groceries were ringing up. I quickly picked up on the potential to do something nice AND get what I needed, so I asked what she needed and told her that if she watched my cart, I would go get her cat food...and my shampoo. She happily agreed and I bolted. Unfortunately, the cat food aisle and shampoo aisle are not super close, but I made good time. As I rounded the corner to our checkout lane, I noticed that she had already unloaded 1/3 of my groceries onto the still conveyor belt in the groups I had placed them in my cart!!! I couldn't believe it. I graciously handed her the cat food, she paid, and she and her husband wished me well as they left. WOW! I could have hugged her! I've lived in E-town for almost 5 years now and I would have to say that definitely makes my top 10 of the nicest things that have happened to me here. Good Etown Lady, if you're out there, thank you for making my night! She was probably from Rineyville.

I hope and pray that each of you has a wonderful long weekend! A wish for a special Happy 6th Birthday tomorrow to my sweet niece, Graycen Belle! Our thoughts and prayers to those affected by the Haitian earthquake. God Bless!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Resilience

Deuteronomy 31:8 - The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged.

It is less than a week into this new year - you know, the one full of promise and hope and light - and already discouragement and difficulty reign supreme. Hope and promise apparently are not synonyms for easy. It's not really that I expected the simple rolling of a date over to the next two digits would have insurmountable repercussions and reverse the past or even change current circumstances. A break sure would be nice though. Sometimes that's not what we need. God meticulously plans out how we are each to be positioned in our circumstances and it is up to us to determine how we adjust. This is the very lesson we're in the middle of learning.
With all of the messes that have already crept up, I've noticed myself thinking, "a year ago, this would have been the end of the world to me" and now, I deal with whatever it is, pray, and move on. (Most of the time.) I still have a tendency to want to wallow, to dwell. But with each issue, it does get easier to move on and head straight into whatever the next mess is, somehow hopeful that it will get better. I always joke with Michael that I must be crazy for thinking in such a way - that God can (and will) do what he promises us which is to never forsake us. That's one great promise. I personally have always felt unworthy of such promises, but that's another blog post. For now, I'm going to claim these promises and wait for better days. Beth Moore says in her book, Believing God:
"I'm convinced that most of us more readily accept the fact that God is who He says He is than we believe He can do what He says He can do. We less quickly assume that God is able - or perhaps more pointedly, that He is willing - to do what He says. Ironically, however, God can do what He says He can do precisely because He is who He says He is."
That's a mouthful, but it's true. I've never had trouble believing WHO God is, but that He will do what He says He will do, yet I have been proven this very point over and over again, and yet I still worry, question, and doubt. Shame on me. By now, I know better and need to work harder at being the believer in the God that He says He is. I need to work A LOT harder. In the meantime though, God has given us the gift of resilience. I want to walk away from each trial, large and small, with a little bit of resilience that causes me to ask myself, 'how did I get through that?' There's only one answer - because God is the God He says He is.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Year


Ahh, the new beginning of a new year. It's like getting a make-over - a new opportunity to do well. The possibilities of a new year are endless and that is always invigorating. I'm sure it comes as no surprise that Michael and I are especially anticipatory of 2010 and beyond, but even with the roller coaster that 2009 had in store for us, we can name many wonderful blessings from 2009. Because of those blessings, we excitedly look forward and hope for better days ahead. Always the realist, I continually tell myself that there will always be difficult days but Michael is quick to remind me that we're much more prepared for such days than we've ever been before. That's the truth!
So, often with a new year come resolutions. Being a natural list-maker, I used to look at resolutions as an easy excuse to make an exhaustive list of everything I ever wanted to change about myself. You can imagine the disappointment when I couldn't hang on to all 72 points by February, thus a few years ago, I abandoned the idea altogether. However, after this year I felt I had some obligation to write down a short-list of things I have learned to manage in dealing with the events of 2009, not as resolutions persay, but more as a souvenir-type list of things I would like to continue on. Each one of these items came to me one busy day at work when I had to excuse myself to the bathroom just to jot them down!

Be diligent in Bible study. This will always give answers.
Pray fervently. Knit each day in prayer.
Be more thoughtful in deed. Build an ARK.
Memorize scripture. This is your daily food.
Be intimately in love with Michael. Show him every day.
Worry less. It's not worth it.
Be more social. You're a fun gal!
Journal/blog/talk it out. Don't stew.
Be less concerned with what others think. They don't care what you think.
Adopt the "less is more" and "perfectly imperfect" attitudes. It's worth it.
Be emotionally connected and not emotionally charged. There's a difference.
Respect your parents, then leave it at that. You're ultmiately responsible for your life.
Be active, and rest. Both are equally valuable.
Focus on the good, not the potential for bad. You're inviting trouble by foreboding.
Be assertive, not aggressive. You can do this.
Relish in "failure." Learn from it, then move on, smiling.
Be content. Let the little ones go.
Laugh at yourself. It relieves a lot of unnecessary stress.
Be CHANGED. This IS your next 30 years.

Sure, the list is long enough, but it's not a daily tally of tasks to complete that could soon become something else I can't finish: Reminders, not resolutions. The latter will be accomplished through daily to-do lists anyway!

One last accolade to wish everyone the best 2010 possible and that you may find peace, joy, and love all around you!

The End

My incessant need for closure has led me to post a final farewell to this blog. Blogging was a whole new concept for me when I logged on l...