Saturday, January 31, 2009

Day 31: Waiting

Here's Karis waiting for her turn to cheer this morning. She was leaning on the goalpost with her arms wrapped around it. Notice how long her sleeves are. She resists my efforts to roll them up because she LIKES them to cover her hands. Quinn's squad cheers at 9 and Karis' cheers at 11, so Karis spends 2 hours in the gym waiting for her turn. That's hard for any kid but especially hard for one who struggles to sit still anyway. I played around with this one and used soft focus on it once I loaded it on the computer. I love to take photos of the kids when they don't know I'm doing it.

On a side note, I have almost 600 pictures in my January 2009 folder!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Day 30: Family Fun Night

Tonight we had Family Fun Night at the girls' elementary school. Because I am the (ahem) C0-President of the PTO I was busy most of the night, setting things up, overseeing the karaoke machine, etc., but I had time to join in the fun. In addition to the karaoke, we did some group dances, played games in the gym, and then we ended the night with scooter races. Both of my girls chose their Daddy to push them, even though I'm lower to the ground and quite possibly faster because of that, but whatever. I'm not bitter or anything. ;-) Here's a shot of Quinn and Jon before the start of the race. All of the kids there had so much fun the principal wants to know when we're going to have another Family Fun Night.

I've Been Tagged!

I've been tagged by Gayle. I'm supposed to go to the 6th picture folder on my computer and post the 6th picture in it. This could be scary, because like Gayle, I rarely delete pictures from my computer. Let's see what it is....

Aha! The folder turned out to be April 2006. It would have to be an "A" month since that's how I sort my photos and I'm sure I've got several for each month still hanging out on the computer. This is Quinn in her baby swing in the backyard of our last house in Knoxville, and she was a month shy of her 2nd birthday. This would have been around the time we were planning our move to the Greenville, SC, area, where we live now. Quinn always LOVED to swing and we had a wonderful playset there. We weren't able to take it with us when we moved because it was so big and heavy. I think this must have been when I got a new camera or something because I remember going out in the yard with Karis and Quinn and just snapping photo after photo.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Day 29: My "Helper"

This is Quinn, "helping" me make cookies this afternoon. I use the term "helping" loosely because allowing Quinn to help me cook is like setting off a runaway train at the top of a mountain. She very quickly takes over! She's not content with the jobs I give her and she always wants to do more. You know the old adage, "Give them an inch and they'll take a mile"? That's Quinn. I let her stir and she wants to open the oven door. If we're involved in a cooking project I literally cannot turn my back on her. I just know that perseverance and determination is going to serve her well one day. It might even do well for her in a career as a chef, or a "cooker", which is what she says she'd like to be when she grows up. Well, at least that what she says today. Tomorrow it will be something different. And can you tell the child is a ham? What a pose!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Day 28: Pea Soup

Forget little cat feet! This morning's fog came stomping in on elephant hooves! It was still thick at 11:30 this morning and made driving a little slower for me today. In fact, I ended up being late to pick up Quinn, something that's never happened before. The lady in the school office called me just as I pulled up in the parking lot to let me know that Quinn was in the office with her, waiting for me. I was afraid Quinn would be upset but she was fine, thankfully.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Day 27: An Anniversary, sort of

If I had stayed married to my first husband, today would have been my 25th wedding anniversary. I can honestly say I am SO thankful that I am NOT celebrating my silver anniversary today!

On the other hand, today is also my and Jon's 12 1/2 year anniversary (we were married on July 27, 1996). Apparently when Jon and I got married it was exactly 12 1/2 years after my first wedding (January 27, 1984). Anyway, when I looked at the calendar this morning I remembered that first wedding anniversary date and I started calculating. These are my wedding rings and my 10th anniversary band that my sweet husband bought me a couple of years ago.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Day 26: "Fireproof"

Jon and I discovered the movie "Facing the Giants" almost two years ago, when he lost his job. God really used that movie to speak to us at a time when we badly needed some hope. When we heard that the church responsible for making "Facing the Giants" had a new movie called "Fireproof" coming out starring Kirk Cameron, we made plans to see it as soon as we could. I think we may have actually gone on opening weekend. We ended up seeing it at the theater twice, and I think Dana has seen it three times. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. The local Christian bookstore had a special event tonight celebrating the movie's release on DVD tomorrow and five of the movie's actors were there to sign autographs and answer questions. Dana and James (her boyfriend) bought me an advance copy of the DVD and had it autographed by the actors. She even got to have her picture made with Bobby Lee Duke from "Facing the Giants"!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Day 25: Free Concert!

If you're a fan of Christian music, you are probably familiar with the group Avalon. Tonight they put on a free concert in a town about 30 minutes from us, so Jon and I took the kids. I had seen them before but come on - free is free! Karis wasn't fond of the loud music but she enjoyed being with Mommy and Daddy. Jon ended up taking the little ones home early while I stayed at the concert with Dana (who drove her own car). After the concert they signed autographs and took pictures, so I now have a signed CD and a picture of us with Avalon. Maybe it's because I'm a singer myself, but I think it would be so cool to make a living that way! To sing AND get paid for it? A dream come true.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Day 24: A Teachable Moment

My two youngest girls are cheering for Upward basketball this winter. Upward is a Christian based sports program that is intended to be a learning experience and not so intense. The emphasis is not competition, but equal playing time for all players and the opportunity to learn the game in a lower stress setting. What I failed to mention in my earlier post about Upward is that Jon is a referee for the games on Saturday mornings. He would like to coach a team but just doesn't have the time right now so he refs instead. Because this is Upward and not a rec league or competitive league, even the refs take time to teach as they are making calls. I had a hard time getting a picture of Jon during the games because he is constantly in motion. This one is a little fuzzy but it's the best I could do. I'm very proud of him and the way he invests himself into these little athletes!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Day 23: Elixir of the Gods

Joe Muggs is the coffee shop in the Books A Million store and they have the most awesome frozen cappuccino in the world! Starbucks Frappuccino doesn't even come close! When we lived in Knoxville we were only about 2 minutes from a Books A Million and the staff in the cafe knew me by name. Most of the time they would see me pull into the parking lot and my Snow Joe would be waiting on the counter when I got inside. There were weeks when I was in there every single day. Now that we've moved, the closest one to me is a 15 minute drive away (in Greenville), too far to make a trip just for that, but there are plenty of other excuses to go out that way. Today I picked the girls from school and took them out to Greenville for haircuts. I had every intention of taking a picture of my cup before I drank any but I forgot to bring my camera into the store and I couldn't wait until I got back to the car to start slurping it down. Yum!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Day 22: Mrs. Sassy Pants

This, my friends, is a rare picture of Quinn in the middle of a tantrum. She's 4 1/2 years old (will be 5 in May) and sometimes I think she just gets overwhelmed by life. She goes to 4K 5 mornings a week until 10:30 and she tells me she uses up all her "happies" at school and has none left for me when she gets home. There are days when, from the moment she gets in the van at pickup, she is demanding and edgy. Usually it's because she's tired or hungry or some combination of the two. This particular tantrum was triggered when I would not pick up her Icee and hand it to her. She asked me for it and because she wasn't nearby, I set it on the table where she could reach it. She wanted me to take it from the table and put in her hand and I refused, and off she went. She saw me pull out the camera and tried to hide. In fact, the next shot I got was her rear as she bent over the love seat to hide her face. Whenever Quinn gets, well, sassy, she calls herself "Mrs. Sassy Pants" so this must be Mrs. Sassy Pants times 10. At any rate, she must have worn herself out because MSP is now sleeping on the living room sofa.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Day 21: It's All About Mii!

One of the cool features on the Wii is the ability to create your own digital alter ego, called a Mii. Whenever you log on to play a game or exercise, your Mii moves around onscreen according to your commands. This is my Mii. She's dressed in lime green so I can find her among the other 9 or 10 Mii's living on our Wii. Once I set myself up on Wii Fit and it calculated my BMI, my Mii got considerably rounder around the middle. By the end of 2009 my Mii should be much more proportional, if I keep working at it. Today the kids went back to school (yay!) so I was able to put together a 30+ minute workout without interruptions of "Can I play?"

5 Things I'm Addicted To

Thanks, Marleen! ( I figured I'd get this sooner or later. Hmmm.... 5 Things I'm Addicted To:

5. Facebook
4. Coffee, with lots of sugar and flavored creamer (hot, frozen - doesn't matter as long as it's sweet)
3. Reading (just about anything!)
2. Watching God's hand at work in my life
1. The love of my family

And now, to pass it on. I don't think I repeated anyone but if I did please forgive me.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Day 20: Snow Day? What Snow??

You know, we bought the Wii on Saturday and I was SO looking forward to the kids going back to school today so I could use it without interruption for my Wii Fit, but what happened? There was a slight dusting of snow last night and the schools are closed! I'm sure they were trying to err on the side of caution but the roads in my area are dry. They got out early last Thursday, were out Friday for a teacher workday, then there was the weekend, no school on Monday for the holiday and now today. They're about to slip into summer mode. My kids hear "snow" and they are ready to play in it but sadly there was none of that today. I'm holding out hope for a real snow before winter is over this year.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Day 19: Now I Get It!

Today is a school and bank holiday, which means everyone except Tracy and the babies are home. Jon took Quinn out with him for a while, Dana went off to work and I'm home with Karis and Harper. After some Wii fun, they settled on the couch and I found a PowerPuff Girls marathon on the Toon Channel (both girls are PPG fans). With a bowl of popcorn in the middle, they are happy as clams! I started thinking about my 365 project and thought I might be able to get off a few good shots while they were staring at the TV. I was playing around with the functions on my camera and kept the camera on them waiting for a good shot. This one was a complete accident! If it had not been for the 365 project I would never have thought to get out the camera to record these moments and I would never had gotten this neat picture. I got so engrossed in getting a good photo that I let my lunch burn! Oh well. I can make another lunch but I can't recreate this photo opportunity.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Day 18: Date Night!

A strange thing happened tonight: Jon and I managed to sneak away for some time alone. In the chaos that reigns in our house right now (Tracy and her three kids are living with us) it's hard to complete a thought, much less a sentence. We didn't go far, just to the Denny's about 2 miles away, where we ate a Hot Fudge Brownie and occupied a booth for much longer than our server would have liked. It was nice to be able to connect with each other and talk about more than just our kids and our schedules (although both of those things came up in conversation).

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Day 17: "Wii" Have a Wii!

What's that in Karis' hand? Why, I do believe that is a Wii remote! In fact, that is Karis' bowling form. She puts her whole body into it, which is the goal after all. After weeks of cajoling and deal-making, Jon finally consented to the purchase of a Wii. The most recent deal had to do with the closing costs on our refinance and since we had enough left from the amount we had set aside for that, he could no longer say we can't afford it. So today I had Dana call around a few local stores to see if anyone had it in stock, and lo and behold the local Toys R Us had some! We broke a few speed limits getting there but we had no problem getting our hot little hands on the Wii console. I felt like a kid with a new toy! Then I asked the cashier if they had Wii Fit and he said they had two of them left, so I bought that too. No more excuses for not exercising! Now if I can only get a turn on the darn thing...

Friday, January 16, 2009

Day 16: Dave Ramsey Would Be So Proud!

We refinanced our house today, dropping our mortgage interest rate by over 2 points. We also went from a 30 year to a 15 year mortgage. Our payment went up a mere $50 per month and over the life of the loan we will save over $80,000 in interest! AND.... we saved enough on the closing costs to buy something I've been wanting ever since Christmas, but I'll save that photo for another day. This is our home, which we bought in June 2006. I'll go ahead and confess that I did NOT take this picture today - it was taken the day we came to view it for the first time back in May 2006. That's the realtor opening the door, and Jon is carrying Karis from the van. It's the nicest place I've ever lived and although it has its quirks, we love it here!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Day 15: KidSenses

Today our schools had early dismissal in preparation for a 4-day weekend. Thanks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.! I have too much going on tomorrow to do anything fun with the girls so after I picked them up today we took off for KidSenses in Rutherfordton, just over the North Carolina border. KidSenses is a smallish kids' hands-on museum/activity center and I figured that most school systems did NOT get out early like we did. It takes about an hour to drive there and we ended up with over three hours to enjoy all the fun activities. The girls had a blast! There was hardly anyone else there all afternoon so they ping-ponged from one room to another. Karis said her favorite was the bubble room, Harper liked the dentist's office, Quinn liked the grocery store, but they all three enjoyed the cafeteria and the stage. Personally, I liked Creation Station the best. I discovered that my little Karis is a budding Spielberg though. The three of them dressed up in costumes and presented us with a little play, which consisted of Karis whispering in Harper's and Quinn's ears to tell them what to say and do. This is a photo of me in the Kaleidoscope, taking a picture of me taking a picture of me taking a picture of me, etc.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Day 14: Mixing It Up

For years I have wanted a stand mixer, but being the frugal person that I am, I know I would not get enough use from it to justify the cost of a nice KitchenAid model. Plus if I had an extra $250 just laying around I would buy a Wii instead. This Christmas Dana (in a roundabout way) bought me a new stand mixer from Target. Today was my first chance to use it. Quinn "helped" me make cupcakes for small group tonight. I enjoyed being able to add the ingredients without having to hold the hand mixer. Later we made some homemade caramel frosting and I let her frost a cupcake for herself.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Day 13: It's Tax Time Again!

It's almost time to do those nasty Federal tax returns, which means it's time for my annual trip to the office supply store for TurboTax. Honestly, unless someone has a complicated tax situation I can't imagine any reason that I would pay someone to do my taxes. Then again, I'm a pretty frugal person at heart anyway. This time around I also picked up a new anti-virus program to take the place of my McAfee. It's not good for me to go into the office supply store because I'm a sucker for a cute pen or nifty notepads. Yet I can never seem to find a pen when I need one. How can that be?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Day 12: This Night

Tonight was "This Night" at my church. It's an event for the ladies where we decorate a table, eat a nice meal and hear a speaker. I partnered with my friend Missi (on the left) to decorate a table. The guest speaker spoke about a horrible car accident she was involved in last year and described her recovery from the injuries. Her main message was, "God is in the details of our lives." Her story was full of what some might call coincidences but Believers recognize as God's hand at work. It reminded me of similar stories from my own life, times that seemed like "luck" or "fate" to outsiders but to me were just more examples of the kind of miracles God performs in my life every single day. Most of the time I just don't notice them, but when I do tune in.... Wow!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Day 11: Yuck!

Here's a picture of where I spent the majority of my day: in bed! I woke up feeling a little icky (also known as "nauseous") but thought I could soldier through it and went to Praise Team practice anyway. I tried to eat breakfast in between the 1st and 2nd services but couldn't manage but 3 bites of my biscuit. We sang in the 2nd service and I sat next to Jon to hear the sermon, and it was all I could do to keep my eyes open. I just know the pastor was wondering how I could be drifting off to sleep during such a passionate message! We came home, I took a magic anti-nausea pill, and then I went to bed, where I stayed until about 5:30. I'm feeling better now and I'm actually hungry so maybe it was just something I ate.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Day 10: Upward!

Today was the first day of Upward cheerleading for my two youngest girls. It's actually Karis' third year being involved as a cheerleader for Upward, but it's Quinn's very first "team" experience of any kind. I wasn't sure how she would react. Despite her lack of inhibition at home, she tends to have stage fright when asked to "perform" in front of people she doesn't know. When the announcer introduced Quinn and she was supposed to run out onto the court, she walked instead and that concerned me a little. After a slow start though, she warmed up and started cheering with everyone else. I was very proud of her! At age 4, Quinn is the youngest girl on her squad and we actually had to ask special permission before we signed her up. Karis did a great job at the 11:00 game too and was more focused than usual. At the end of the game the cheer coaches give out individual star stickers (they put them on their megaphones) based on how the girls did that day. Quinn and Karis both got the gold star on their squads for "Best Cheer". They were very proud of their uniforms and insisted on wearing them the rest of the day.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Day 9: A little bit of sugar

One component of Sensory Processing Disorder is difficulty with social skills. Karis struggles with understanding the ins and outs of friendships with children her own age, maybe because she feels things so acutely that she sometimes imagines insult where none was intended. It makes things even more difficult now that her best friend H. is living with us and Karis tends to want to play with just H. to the exclusion of all others, including (and especially!) my youngest daughter Quinn, and she expects H. to feel the same way. Today Quinn was napping when Karis and H. got home from school so the two of them had a solid hour to play as a twosome but when Quinn woke up I asked them to think of a game all three could play. (NOTE: Having an odd number of girls together to play is almost never a good idea. There's always an odd girl out.) H. was willing but Karis was not and ended up crying in her bedroom, thinking H. was mad at her. Nothing I could say would convince her otherwise. Another friend came over to play unexpectedly and three of the four girls went out to play on the trampoline, leaving Karis alone inside the house because she didn't want to jump on the trampoline. She loves to cook so I offered to cook something with her to help ease the pain a bit and she chose Fancy Pink Fairy Cocoa from her Fairy Cookbook. It was actually quite good once I got over the sugar overdose. And look - she's almost smiling!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Day 8: Will she or won't she?

I know it's just plain old vanity, but I really cringe when I look in the mirror and see any new visible signs of aging. There's not a lot I can do about the wrinkles without some expensive plastic surgery and I can accept that. However, when it comes to the things I can fix, I usually don't hesitate. Last summer I took the plunge and got some serious highlights put in my hair. I'm talking platinum blonde highlights. I was afraid it might be too gaudy but as it turns out, I liked it a lot. I had them refreshed a couple of months ago and now my roots are showing big-time. So here it is, the dead of winter, and I hear from my "fashion consultants" that getting frosty blonde highlights right now may not be a good idea until there's enough sun that I could pretend they are natural. Something along the lines of not wearing white after Labor Day and before Memorial Day, I think. Whatever the reason, it's not "cool," and may even cross the line into "tacky" (the Southern woman's ultimate style insult). This presents a dilemma. I have weathered the invasion of the grays fairly well to this point but it appears that lately I am losing the battle and something drastic needs to be done. If I can't (or shouldn't) get heavy highlights, maybe I could go back to my (more or less) natural color for a couple of months and at least cover the gray. So here's a self-portrait that may turn out to be a "before" shot. Yes, my camera made it into the picture. It's doing most of the work anyway so I guess it deserves a little time in the spotlight. :-)

Day 7: LifeGroup

Wednesday nights we lead a LifeGroup in our home, which we've done for a year with LifeSong (our current church home) and 10 years or so before that with our "old" church in Knoxville. Some people call them small groups or cell groups or home groups, but basically it's a group of people coming together for Bible study, prayer, fellowship, missions work and in our case, dinner. All LifeGroups at our church are doing a study on The Purple Book this spring. I thought it was kind of neat that my Bible has a matching purple cover and the Sharpie I was using last night was also purple. Coincidence? I think not! Anyway, we know from past experience that LifeGroups can become like a second family if you give them the chance and let them get to know the real you. I'm still in touch with people who were part of my small group 10 years ago! Our current group is coming together very well and I think we have the potential to develop that same family feeling.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Day 6: Taxi!

Here is one of my most used accessories: my car keys. There's my Wisconsin Badgers loop and my orange Tennessee thingy, plus my clicker for the van, a van key, a house key and a key for our safety deposit box, although I don't know why I'm carrying it around on my keyring. I drive the girls to school in the morning, drive back to pick up Quinn at 10:30, and basically ferry people around on various nights of the week. Tuesday night Karis and Harper have cheerleading practice, so last night I hauled them to the church for practice, then afterward we gave a friend's daughters a ride home, then finally back to our house. I like where we live because it's semi-rural but the downside of that is a ten-mile trek to get to Target or Wal-Mart, so my van runs up the mileage. I think right now it's about to top 150,000. We don't want a car payment so we'll probably drive it until it costs too much to fix, then buy another one for cash.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Day 5: Coupon Queen

I am so behind on my coupon clipping! I don't work (at least not for pay) and one of the ways we are able to afford for me to stay home is that I clip coupons. And I mean a LOT of coupons! I joined a website that helps me match my coupons to the sales at the grocery store and helps me get the most out of our money. We get one newspaper delivered on Sunday and I stop on the way home from church and buy three more, so I have four of each coupon circular. When something goes on sale and I have coupons for it, I usually buy as many of them as I have coupons. That's called "stockpiling". It costs a little more at first, but now that I've been doing this for several months, there have been weeks when I didn't buy anything at the store but milk and bread because I had so much of everything else already stockpiled. It is such a thrill for me to get to the checkout and see that total go down and down and down as the coupons are subtracted. Just last night I got two bottles of shampoo for 19 cents each. Occasionally I even get stuff for free! Now if I could just get caught up on the clipping part it would take me much less time to plan a grocery trip.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Day 4: To God Alone

Today is Sunday. I didn't have my camera with me this morning at church so I borrowed Dana's camera to take a picture of "my" microphone. It's hard to make out but that white label has my name on it. It's the microphone I use when I sing with the Praise Team, which I do every Sunday morning (and for special occasions) unless Larry (the Worship Pastor) cancels PT. I try to be careful not to call it MY microphone too much because that puts me in the wrong mindset and makes my worship more about me than about Him. Everything I have is God's and when I put that in the context of Sunday morning worship that means He owns my microphone, my voice and most of all, all my praise. I don't sing for my glory, but for His. I don't sing because the congregation might enjoy it. I don't sing just because some people think I have a nice voice. I sing for an audience of One. Any talent I may have is mine only because God entrusted it to me, and it is intended to be used in His service. If it ever seems to you that I am losing touch with this truth, please feel free to remind me.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Day 3: A Surprise!

I actually had several photos to choose from for today's shot. First there's a picture of Karis and Quinn with the parfaits we made last night. Those two love to cook, and this recipe was from one of their girly cookbooks. Second is a photo of my new storage ottoman. It was a steal for $15 at the Goodwill store - brand new with tags still attached. Then there's a picture of the Mad Wave ride at Chuck E. Cheese, which is where we went for dinner. It's amazing what you will do to avoid dealing with an awkward situation, even if it's in your own home. The Mad Wave is a motion ride and it was apparently "stuck" because it didn't seem to require a token to operate. When one set of riders got off and another set got on, the ride cycle started all over again. Karis LOVED it, maybe because of the vibrations. And then lastly, my favorite snapshot of the day is a picture of the cover of a book my sweet husband bought for me this morning. He took the girls out shopping so he could buy a surprise for me and he had to try very hard to find something that I would like that I hadn't already bought myself! He noticed me working on this blog and my other "normal" blog last night and figured out that I could use a guide to blogging. Isn't that thoughtful?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Day 2: January 2, 2009

I was lucky enough to have taken pictures yesterday, and then when I read about Project 365 and signed up for it this afternoon, I had to take a picture for today. Already I am low on inspiration, apparently! Anyhow, this is a shot of Karis, Quinn and my friend's daughter Sarah (she's the short one on the left). Both of the big girls had their hair up for a change, and Quinn had some Hannah Montana hair glitter going on. I was busy shopping today and probably should have taken a picture of the cool storage ottoman I snagged for only $15! Surely I'll get better as the year goes by!

Day 1: January 1, 2009

I am intrigued by Project 365 and the words "too busy" are not in my vocabulary. I love to take pictures, especially of my kids.

So, off we go! Yesterday afternoon we went to a lovely New Year's Day party at the home of our friends Anna and Steven. This is me with my youngest daughter, Quinn. It took three shots before she would give us any small semblance of a smile. I'm wearing my glasses because I am way overdue for an eye exam and I'm wearing my last remaining contact lenses sparingly. I also did something weird with my hair so it doesn't look like it usually does. Interesting way to start the year.