11.29.2008

They're BAAA-CK...

I used to post occasionally about snippets from our worship services. I don't really know what happened, somehow I let those posts fall by the wayside. I was embarrassed to realize my last Sunday snippet post was in September of 2007. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE to chat about daily happenings, all things running, food, recent reads, beauty and hair products, and of course TV shows and movies.

But I feel my blog has gotten a tad, oh, I don't know...shallow.

Ahem.

Maybe an old-fashioned bloggy house cleaning is in order.

So I've been pondering a few things lately. Musing. Mulling. Reflecting. Hopefully changing. Bringing the snippets back. (Take that JT.)

I've been thinking about the effects of our tongues. Mine to be exact. Do I use it for its best purpose? Do my words build up and encourage or do they criticize and tear down? Is my tone of voice kind and gentle or harsh and sarcastic?

"Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry." James 1:19

James goes on to describe the power of our tongues and the need to tame it in James 3:2-12 Verses 9 & 10 stand out to me: "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be."

Thankfully, I do not struggle with profanity or cursing (but I have plenty of other struggles and weaknesses), yet I do find myself falling victim to crude or inappropriate words or humor from time to time. Choosing the low road sometimes instead of higher ground.

"Do not let unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Ephesians 4:29

Gossip, lying, rudeness, unkindness, and misuse of God's holy name are also misuses of our tongues. I think these habits can be so insidious they often take root before you realize you have a problem.

"Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Proverbs 4:24

As a mother of a young child I worry about what she is exposed to through TV and other media. We avoid certain children's shows because of sassy, disrespectful characters and dialogue. We monitor and limit viewing, but we haven't been bold enough to completely cut it out of our lives.

I worry about the impact and influence of media, but I also worry about MY own example and influence. Since a child is truly a video camera with legs, what does she record as Scott and I interact day to day? Do I speak to him with kindness and respect? Do I criticize him or praise him? Do I raise my voice in irritation or anger? Not only my words, but what is my tone of voice? Sometimes that says it all.

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Proverbs 15:1

Ouch.

So I've been pondering all of these things these last few days and have been praying for God to help me make the necessary changes in regards to my tongue.

"If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless." James 1:26

Double ouch.

I want my words to build up and not tear down; reflect God not the devil.

"Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. " Psalms 139:4

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalms 139:23-24

I realize I have shared a snippet about this very topic before. Hmm...it must really be important and something I truly struggle with. This week I am going to make a sincere effort, through prayer and practice, to tighten the reins on my tongue. I am curious to see the results by the end of the week. Do you struggle with controlling your tongue? Would you like to join me in this effort? Please do!

11.26.2008

Gobble Gobble

I have slightly mixed feelings as I prepare for Thanksgiving Day tomorrow. Not about anything really important mind you, I am truly grateful for all the wonderfulness large and small that makes up this ride I call life (yes, that includes YOU).

I'm talking about the shallow stuff.

For the past several years I have either hosted Thanksgiving at our house or contributed to it when it was held at my Dad's house. I usually enjoy cooking and I like the opportunity to use the leaf dishes that belonged to Scott's mom.

This is our first Thanksgiving with Peggy, so she is taking the reins on the turkey and all the trimmings. All we are supposed to do is show up. While nice, it's completely against my southern sensibilities.

I have to bring something. It's in my DNA.

I decided to make a BIG salad and this yummy dessert. Nothing to distract from her main dishes, yet calms my controlling spirit just a smidgen.

I am also grateful that I don't have to clean the house or the dining table that is strewn with sewing paraphernalia from end to end and has a Singer as the centerpiece. I'm just saying.

Oh. One more thing just for fun...


Happy Thanksgiving Y'all! Have a wonderful day with family and friends and don't forget to wear your stretchy pants!

11.23.2008

If You Give a Girl a Birthday...

She is going to milk it for all it's worth.

Especially if she is blessed with wonderful friends and family.

After a surprise celebration this summer, a trip to DC and party with the Marines, I had already celebrated my Big 4-Oh quite a bit. However, the old adage less is more does must not apply to birthdays, at least this one, because it was mine.

Friday night Heather and Kim stopped by to sing Happy Early Birthday and they gave me this adorable Fiesta sugar & creamer set. Girls, you ROCK. Thank you! Thank you! Scott and Annelise baked a birthday cake for me and brightened up my Saturday morning with some flowers and yummy kolaches. After taking Annelise to a rollerskating birthday party,

we took her over to Pappo and Miss Peggy's for a sleepover and...hold onto your hats...

Scott and I went on a date. I know!

We drove across town to eat here:

It's similar to The Cheesecake Factory, yet different. I guess it's considered upscale casual dining, with a rather eclectic menu. Scott and I sat side by side in the booth. I know! We didn't even have to ask for a kids' menu or a drink with a lid. I know!

I ordered the Portofino Chicken Salad, which was all kinds of yummy. They offer lunch sized portions and prices until 5:00. I guess now that I am 40 I'll be all about the Early Bird specials.

Of course we ordered dessert too. See?

Scott ordered pineapple upside down cake and I ordered rustic apple pie. We had no idea the portions were so giganto and immediately realized we should have only ordered one . Don't fret, we still managed to nibble plenty.

We had time before our movie, so we wandered over to the nearby Barnes and Noble. Books and birthdays. Perfect. It was so nice to browse leisurely without the steady chorus of "When can we go to the kids' area? When can we go to the kids' area?" on replay with varying degrees of urgency and pitch.

Before we left, Scott jaywalked across Westheimer to get treats from The Cheesecake Factory to take home for a later date. Maybe even later the same night. Maybe. (There is no way we could be soooooo close to the cheesecake goodness and not partake.)

We drove downtown to an artsy fartsy type theater, The Angelika, to see this:

It was delightful and British. Maybe a tad too indie, but still...pretty good. The main character of Poppy was refreshingly optimistic. Being downtown made me realize how much life goes on within the city and we don't take advantage of it very often. I felt ever so vaguely hip.

Today the celebrating continued. Annelise went with my dad and Peggy to church and sat with them, so it was like Scott and I were on a church date. Nice. After services we went to our favorite Tex-Mex place (yes, they know us and our orders) with my dad and Peggy for lunch, then back to our house for cake. (Are you seeing the pattern here? Food, food, and more food)

I guess that's it. The scoop, the dope, the skinny---well, not so skinny after all the eating and treating--on my Big 4-Oh festivities. I promise not to mention it again. Well, at least not until my next one.

11.21.2008

Heard and Overheard

This is going to be the best cake ever!
Random cabinet doors opening and closing all throughout the kitchen.
I'll pour in everything!
Where are the mixing bowls?
You need eggs, oil and water.
I can do the eggs Dad. I can!
Where's the mixer?
This is very messy, I'll do it.
Can I use Canola oil for vegetable oil?
I crack eggs all the time, Dad.
What in the world? (When hard boiled eggs from the door of the fridge were tried first. Yes. Redirected toward regular eggs resting in their Styrofoam inside on the fridge shelf, baking resumes.)
No, no, no, mix on LOW speed.
Daddy! Can I lick the spoon! MAMA LETS ME LICK THE SPOON!!
Where are the cake pans?
I'll pour the batter in the pans, Dad.
IcandoitIknowhowIcandoeverythingLetmedoit. Repeat.
WAIT!
Are we eating the cake tonight?
No, tomorrow. Mama's birthday is tomorrow.
Ohhhh nooooo! Can we have it for breakfast? PUH-lease???
I'll just do a little lick.
Watch your ponytails!

Navigation of two full cake pans toward the oven begins.
Sigh of relief once the oven door closes.

My sweet family.

Back! And to the Left...Back! And to the Left

Because we should laugh a little (or a lot) every single day.

Because Seinfeld was one of the best shows ever.

Because I share my birthday with the anniversary of the JFK assasination (November 22, 1963--I was born five years later).

Because I am a conspiracy junkie.

Because even I think the Oliver Stone JFK movie was over the top.


Can you name other classic Seinfeld-isms from this episode? Do you think Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone?

11.19.2008

Moments

Moments spent celebrating Annelise's Gotcha Day last week. We baked cookies, talked about our life-changing trip to Moscow four years ago, went out for supper and made a trip to Build-a-Bear for two new outfits.

Moments spent shopping for gifts to fill a shoebox for her school's holiday Samaritan Project. She was excited to pick out the items and helped me put them all together in the box. Doing this gave us another opportunity to talk about being grateful for what we have and realize that some boys and girls might not have presents at Christmas. This seems to be hard for her to understand, whether it's her age, being an only child or our own materialism. I want to look for opportunities that we can practice generosity and service this holiday season (like we always should of course).
Moments spent over the weekend purging her closet and drawers of outgrown clothes and shoes. I reshuffled things a bit for summer and winter clothes too. It's one of those jobs I try to avoid as long as possible, but feels good when it's done. Several bags went to Goodwill and another pile is patiently waiting for me to take it to a local resale shop. The above picture is evidence of a too full closet. These leggings are now capris because we missed wearing them last fall. Oops. Another in my face moment of realizing the amount of STUFF that surrounds us.

Moments spent hugging and consoling when she burst into sobs as soon as she got in the car this afternoon because she wasn't invited to a school friend's birthday party. Tender skin this one.
Moments spent in Bible study.
Moments spent running.
Moments passed in the company of a good book.

Taking a moment to realize how dusty our ceiling fans are. We have had a few days of cooler weather, so the fans have been turned off.

Another moment spent blogging about the dusty fans instead of actually dusting them. Maybe I'll just turn them back on.

Moments spent choosing fabric and working with it to make something with my very own hands.

Moments spent in the kitchen with Annelise. Today she helped me mash bananas, chop pecans and bake a batch of this...

Moments spent enjoying the tasty bread (thank you Paula Deen).
Moments as a family. Moments as a friend.
I am truly thankful for all of these moments.

11.13.2008

Thoughts from an Insomniac

I woke up at 3:00 something this morning and had a terrible time going back to sleep.
Until approximately 20 minutes before Scott got up for work.
Then I woke up again. With a headache.
Which is still lingering around in my head this afternoon.
I made a mad dash to the grocery store when I only had 15 minutes before picking up A. from school.
Why do I always do things like that?
I have only run ONCE since my big run three weeks ago.
I still can't find my motivation and I'm using every excuse that comes to mind. It's hot, I'm tired, it's supposed to rain, it just rained, I don't feel like washing my hair...etc.
However I am still eating like a truck driver that just ran a marathon.
I have decided I want to let my hair grow. I do.
I don't know if I can get past the awkward phases that are bound to come with this decision.
Next week I turn the Big 4-0h.
That's right.
I still don't feel like a grown up.
No way do I feel 40.
I catch my reflection in the mirror and I think, "So, is this 40? Really?"
My mom died when she was 42.
I'm really trying to NOT freak out about that.
Annelise has been mentioning my death in casual conversation. Like, "I'll miss you someday when you die." and "When are you going to die?" and "I don't want you to go to Heaven without me."
Nope, nothing freaky about that.
This morning, when I couldn't sleep, I actually worried about how the mortuary stylist would fix my short sassy do, could she do it right?
So, um, yeah...I'm going to let my hair grow out.

What's been on your mind lately?

11.12.2008

Embarrassing Myself with My Creativity

Each morning, when I settle in with a cup of hot coffee to enjoy a few (or a maybe a few more) minutes of blog reading, I am impressed (and slightly overwhelmed) by the creativity that awaits me. The minds of these women! The talent!

I not only drool over the lovely decorating blogs that somehow manage to inspire and frighten me at the same time, but the crafty ones too. Especially the ones with ideas for kids like The Crafty Crow and Makes and Takes . Laurie over at Tip Junkie has been sharing lots of holiday ideas and crafts recently too. My brain hurts.

Typically, I think "Ooooh! I want to make that!" or "Annelise would LOVE to make these!" and that's as far as I go.

Maybe this Thanksgiving season will be different. The creative winds might be shifting.

Look what I encouraged Annelise to make yesterday when I was trying to work on some good mail:

Cutting pictures out of magazines to make a collage or a booklet. Whatever.

I know, I know, you are insanely jealous of my crafty skills.

I am not quite sure if it's because she's five or the project was truly GENIUS, but she had a fabulous time.*

Here are some of the pages she made.

It was enlightening to see the different things she cut out. A runner/walker, a camping scene, a little baby, a toddler, a doll, a few ladies, rose petals. Oh...and a grilled cheese sandwich.

Hmmm...we just might be gearing ourselves up for some pine cone turkeys or crunchy fall leaf designs after all.

*This afternoon she wanted to do it again, except with fall pictures. Okie-dokie, then.

Washington DC Review: The Final Edition

Well friends it's finally here, the final installment of my Washington DC recap. Cue the marching band and the fireworks. If you missed the others don't fret, you can catch up here, here and even here.

After my big day Sunday, I was rather slow to get rolling Monday morning. No hanging around the hotel nursing stiff muscles was allowed though. Pity.

We (slowly) made our way towards the Capitol building for our tour.

A very sweet young lady (Leigh) that was an intern for Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson's office kindly showed us all around. We rode the underground train from the Senate building over to the Capitol. There is an entire world going on underground there from offices, places to eat or shop--there are even beauty salons! Too bad I didn't have an appointment.

The murals along the walls and on the ceilings were beautiful.

The Rotunda is absolutely amazing from the detailed murals, the paintings on the walls, the sense of history.

Annelise enjoyed listening for the echo inside the Rotunda, searching for Texas' statues (Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin), riding the train, standing in the center of DC and chatting with Leigh.


After our tour, and our own feeble wanderings around the grounds, we decided it was time for lunch. Where else to go but...

Look at all this healthy food! Plus we each washed everything down with a thick, delicious chocolate shake. Good thing I ran a marathon the day before.


After lunch we went to the National Postal Museum. I wish we had a bit more time there because I really wanted to see more of the museum. We made and sent postcards and looked at a few exhibits.

Annelise posed for a picture in front of a collection of stamps from Russia.

We had to cut our visit short to make it over to the Washington Monument. By this time in the afternoon it was cold and drizzly. This trip made me realize I must find a proper jacket that is warm, somewhat weatherproof and stylish.

We enjoyed the views from atop the Monument, even though it was cloudy.

We did not get to do everything we hoped to do, but still ended up feeling completely satisfied with what we did accomplish. I wish we had seen the changing of the guard at Arlington Cemetery, toured the memorials (even if by bus), and visited more of the museums. Don't worry, we'll definitely be heading back when Annelise is older.

Tuesday we had a date with Southwest Airlines and I decided to stock up on essentials...

Plus I picked up an Us and an Entertainment Weekly when we stopped in Chicago. I am ALL about quality reading materials.

11.11.2008

Three Bs

What do you do when your favorite baseball player retires? Like any true fan, after an appropriate mourning period, you continue rooting for your home team.

However things just aren't the same, whether you are five or forty-six. You miss the snippets of U2 being played as he came up to bat. You miss cheering for Biggio. His name had three perfect syllables for extended, rhythmic chanting.
BIG-GI-O!! BIG-GI-O!!

When you glimpse an ad for an in-the-flesh-real-life autograph opportunity at a local (30 mile radius, but who's counting) book store, you make plans to attend.

Whether you are five or forty-six.

They waited, ever so patiently I am sure, for their turn. After 2.5 hours, their moment came...

Annelise was momentarily starstruck as she approached the table.

But not too starstruck to sneak behind the table for a hug.

Baseball. Biggio. Books.

Perfect. Whether you are five or forty-six.

11.10.2008

They're CRACK-A-LACK-IN'

We had a good dose of The Silly this weekend--for a matinee showing {not full price worthy, it is an animated sequel after all}. Still, it was cute.

Who is your favorite character? I have a fondness for those industrious penguins.

11.09.2008

Nineteen

That's right, my friends, 19 pairs of A's unmentionables right after this week's laundry.

Nineteen.

We had our conversation again about this situation. Habit actually. Turns out she changes them often because she likes to vary color/pattern, possibly to match her outfit or her mood.

Little diva.

11.07.2008

Nope. Nothing Superficial About This One

So I've been pondering several deep, soul searching issues lately.

Like beauty routines and skin care.

Well into my thirties (almost to the next-ties) I was STILL suffering from outbursts of acne. Usually several large embarrassing zits at a time that were difficult to camouflage. I tried different cleansers that often made things worse with more redness and irritation.

A little more than a year ago, I finally gave into those pesky infomercials. You know the ones.


Guess what? They weren't lying. The Proactiv system has been wonderful. Sure, I still get one or two zits occasionally if my diet has been all wonky or it's a certain time of the month (and those two ARE related). I just use the refining mask as a spot treatment just like Jessica told me to. Thanks girl, I'm almost twice your age, but no less appreciative.

I alternate using Proactiv with the best mild cleanser EVAH.


It cleans thoroughly without over drying my skin. You can pick it up at your local drugstore or during an emergency TarJAY run and it's easy on your wallet. There is also a Cetaphil lotion that is fantastic.

Now, my inquiring mind wants to know...what is your skin care routine?

Washington DC Review Part Deux: Mount Vernon

Hold on to your hats, my exciting Washington DC play-by-play continues with our Saturday adventure to Mount Vernon. If you have a moment while you enjoy a cup of coffee or clip your toenails, you can read more of our adventures here, and here.

Since we were staying in Alexandria, Virginia, George Washington's home was only 9 miles away. I would have regretted being so close and not going, so of course we did. It was so worth the exorbitant taxi fare. Really.

Having been a chaperone several times for our school's 5th grade trip to DC, I had visited Mount Vernon before and had left each time still not knowing much about our first president. Over the last few years the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association has made some amazing improvements. Seriously.

There is now a Visitor's Center with exhibits and they offer an introductory film about the American Revolution and George Washington's pivotal role in it. Parts were a bit frightening for Annelise (the blue faced Indians and the battle scenes--a horse was shot, people were too, but the horse...), still it provided an interesting overview.

We toured the grounds and the house next. Absolutely gorgeous.

This was a beautiful time of year to visit. The colorful trees, fallen leaves all over the ground and cooler weather.

We tried to capture a self-portrait without much success.

Yeah, so NOT our Christmas card. A kind gentleman also took our photo in front of the Potomac.

Still not our Christmas card.

As it started to drizzle, we made our way to the new museum. It was built underground as not to interfere with the original appearance of Mount Vernon. The museum is a WONDERFUL overview of George Washington's life, his military career, his presidency, his love of farming and his greatest contributions to America. The museum is interactive with plenty of buttons, life-like exhibits, maps, hidden plaques to read, several short videos to watch. There was plenty to keep Annelise interested while we made our way through.

Annelise was fascinated by this French Indian War display, she kept wandering back to it when she wasn't looking at the natural woods/wildlife exhibit (where in attendance was a hooting owl and a chattering squirrel).


She also stared at General Washington's sword for a LONG time and pushed every button and lifted every flap that she could.

Our favorite films were about George and Martha's 40 year marriage, how spies played a part in the American Revolution, and an almost Imax style experience where you felt the cannon fire and it even snowed inside the auditorium. I know!

By far the highlight of the museum for Annelise was the Hands On History area. This was perfect for young children. There were several activities to choose from like playing with a doll house version of Mount Vernon. Needless to say this was a hit.

Besides playing with Colonial period toys, playing with puppets and an interactive farm animal exhibit, you could play Colonial dress up. I know!

Pretend you were George and Martha.

There were also puzzles, magnetic dress up dolls, tea sets and much more. This room was incredible! Bless that Ladies' Association to pieces.

Annelise thoroughly enjoyed her museum experience and took away some tidbits of knowledge about George Washington. This warmed my heart.

So did seeing her gallop around the grounds.

We ended up spending almost all afternoon at Mount Vernon and had a wonderful time. Truly. Now I am inspired to learn more about our Founding Fathers and our nation's early history. If you have an opportunity to visit, do not hesitate. They have made so many impressive educational improvements to make your visit more meaningful and memorable. If you do go, make sure you give me a ring, I might just want to join you.

11.06.2008

To the Rescue

What's a girl to do once she has raided all of her daughter's good candy from her Jack-O-Lantern?

Well, bake of course!

These pumpkin cookies are the absolute best and they are the absolute easiest to make. I stumbled across these last year here and they are now a fall pantry staple. Unless you are morally opposed to using a cake mix (and really, aren't we a tad suspicious of those people anyway?) then these cookies are for you.

1 Spice cake mix
1 can pumpkin
1 bag chocolate chips

Mix cake mix & pumpkin, stir in chocolate chips (use whatever amount you deem necessary). Drop (or scoop with your handy dandy cookie scoop) onto cookie sheet; bake for 16-18 minutes @ 350 degrees. Enjoy with a glass of cold milk or hot coffee.

I have made them without chocolate chips and frosted them with vanilla or cream cheese frosting and added a few fall sprinkles. Yesterday I added chocolate chips and because I was feeling a tad bit sassy, some cinnamon chips too. Smackity-smack-SMACK.

Do I have crumbs on my chin?
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