Saturday, December 31, 2011

The End of One Year and the Beginning of Another

Well, as I sit and type, 2011 is coming to an end and 2012 is knocking on the door...or is it exploding at the door (neighbors are blasting it in). I jest. I'm all for the fun and excitement that the changing of years seems to bring.

As many people seem to be stating about this past year, 2011, it was quite the rough year for us. We have had, through our almost 14 years of marriage, some highs and lows and 2011 was one of the lower years for us...though not quite as low as some of our other lows. We are definitely looking forward to some high waves we can ride...preferably on a sunny day and NOT in shark infested waters.

I am not referring to our marriage. I should point that out. Oh, sure, we have had highs and lows in that respect...but we persevere.

I remember, a couple years ago, we were in church and the Pastor was talking about something called a "recession". Now me, my naive self, leaned over to Matt inquisitively. What recession?? Matt gave me the cliffs note version of the status of the country and how bad things were getting. I asked if we were ok and he patted my knee reassuredly and said we were better than ok. I sighed in relief and got back safely in my bubble.

Over the last few years, I have heard story after story of job loss. I know people who have been out of work for years. Houses are foreclosed on. Families are splitting up. Every once in a while, my worry feathers rise and I inquire on Matt's stability. Thank God, he has been stable at his work.

But, 2011 became one of our hardest years. The economy has definitely taken it's toll on us...expenses go up but salaries don't. Often, I have worried that we would not make it. God, of course, always provides. We have yet to go without.

By the time I finishe this blog, I can safely say we survived another year. It was hard...but I know we are stronger for it. And there are promises for a new year with it's hopes and challenges. I have come to understand that while some financial security does provide you with less stress and, yes, happiness (I am not talking wealth, I am talking security), it is not everything. And security needs to be put in perspective. I have a house with central air and heat. I have appliances to cook my family dinners on and a bunch of other equipment that allows me to cook new and different things. I have my health and the health of my family. I live in a great state...and in the best part of this great state. I have my freedom.

I have never been one who cares much for the turning of a new year. January 1st is much the same as any other day. But, after a year that caused quite a bit of stress (and yes, equally or more good), I felt that 2012 should be allowed some possibilities. I do not tend to make resolutions, but decided to this year...and I have asked my family to, as well. Just 5 goals for the coming year. I plan on printing them and posting them on our fridge as a reminder. Daniel will likely say he wants to be crazier and play more. Sierra's will likely have to do with clothes and make-up. I won't even begin to wonder about Matt's.

As for my goals, they are simple: 1) To be a better wife. 2) To study my bible more. 3) To be better about our finances. 4) To lose 10-15 pounds and maintain it (isn't that a version of everyone's goals). and 5) To write...a book.

So, now it is 2012....fireworks are going crazy....cheers are ringing out...and I say "HOORAY" to the end of what was and to the beginning of what could be!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Merry Christmas, From Our House To Yours

We had a lot of fun with our Christmas cards this year. We decided last year to stray away from the serious, posed picture and to, instead, have fun. Here is the card I made:

And here are the poses we came up was SO MUCH fun. We intended on using only 2 pictures, but loved them all so much we ended up using more...

And than there is the POPCORN battle!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The End of the World

What is it with humans and our obsession with the end of the world? It seems to be a topic that is talked about like crazy on many levels. So many Christians are obsessed with the "end times" fiction fanatics are fixated on alien attacks...germaphobes fear some super bug...environmentalists and global warming with melting ice caps. Are we all so afraid of our own doom?? I suppose there is something there that can warrant this obsession...the loss of humanity.

I mention this because of some of the movies and shows I have watched recently. I started thinking about how many of these depict some sort of world tragedy on one level or another.

A couple months ago, Matt and I saw the movie "Contagion". Ok, not quite a world ending movie, but it was certainly an epidemic that was world altering with an incredibly contagious disease that killed millions and caused chaos world-wide. Yesterday, I watched the first episode in a British made television series calld "Survivors" which had a basic premise like Contagion...except this disease was more of a killer than the one in Contagion, leaving much of the population dead. By the end of the first episode, there were only, seemingly, around 6-10 survivors.

Then there are the movies and shows that millions of viewers watch about Zombies. This one is, for some reason, fascinating to so many. The premise is always the same...a disease that kills people and than causes them to come back to life as mindless beings that seek live flesh to eat....get bitten and you will get the disease as well. Utterly ridiculous....and yet loved by so many. Personally, for some unknown reason, this genre really gives me nightmares. I mean...come on. Zombies!?! You can't get much more fictional than this, but I still have problems. No "Resident Evil" for me, please!! Course, I did recently watch the entire first season of "The Walking Dead". I will admit to getting sucked into this series about the world having this disease and the living trying to survive. Upon completing season 1, I thought how much I would like to start season 2....and promptly had a nightmare than caused me to sleep with a light on.

Of course, one must not forget the apocalyptic movies like "The Book of Eli" or "The Postman". This ending seems more logical...a nuclear attack that causes many to die and those who live to have to learn to live in a much different, harder world. If there is any that I would fear, it would be this. I would rather not live through a nuclear winter that would last years (decades).

And what about those natural disasters like "The Day After Tomorrow" where we get another ice age or "2012" where the Mayans predict our end?? The instability of our planet which has survived so well for many thousands of years would all of the sudden...without warning, turn on itself and, once again, only the hero plus a few more survive .... maybe even evolving with the changes ("Waterworld" -- Kevin Costner and his gills). Yeah, I don't think so either.

Of course, those of the know...know how it will all end. God has laid it out. That, of course, leads to movies like "The Seventh Sign" or any of the many anti-christ movies. Of course, these are laughable...much like the recent doomsday predictions. No one can truly know when the day of judgement, tribulation, armageddon will really take place. That's the point, right??

So, just some thoughts rolling around in my head this Tuesday afternoon. Odd?? Yeah, I guess. It's weird that I have been watching this type of movie or show recently...and I have not done it on purpose. I am not seeking dooomsday genres, they are just what I am unwittingly watching. Am I entertained? Sometimes. I view it as I would any fiction work...entertaining for entertainment purposes. I just find it odd how much we watch this type of genre. What is so fascinating about humanity's demise?? I'm not sure....but I think I might have to stay away from Zombies. That is just one facet of the end of humanity that I just cannot do.

Now, to see if Middle Earth can avoid doomsday...time for another Lord of the Rings Marathon.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Catching Up!

It has been a while since I have last posted anything. A lot has been going on, but not much that is really worth mentioning. We are a typical American family with busy schedules. Well, that is not entirely true. For the first time in a long time, our schedule has not been so busy with too many things like sports or school activities and more with just family time activities. It has really been wonderful.

I thought, though, that I would share a couple things that have been a part of my last several weeks.


It has been a while since I told you about some books that I have read, so I thought I would now.

These are a few of the books I have read in the last couple weeks. I have enjoyed reading books that have made me think, made my heart race, and made me cry. I would easily recommend any of these books to my friends.

If you are looking for a book series that will have your heart pumping almost from beginning of book one to end of book three, than the Hunger Games series is for you. I would not even begin to try to tell you about the is best left to the surprises within. I will, however, forewarn you that the third book is a pretty bad disappointment. It is definitely worth reading, but I question the author's direction with her characters. Definitely fell short of the first two books.

If you are looking for a book that makes you maybe pause and think that maybe your viewpoint on some of the world you would rather forget should not be overlooked, than The Santa Shop is for you. It is written from the perspective of a homeless man. It brought tears to my eyes on a couple of occassions. I do have to say, though, that I was disappointed in the end. It just abruptly ended....and was a fairly short book. Still worth the read.

Over the Edge was a good book based on a medical condition that the author herself has suffered through. Brandilyn Collins, the author, is one of my favorite authors and it was exciting to find out about this new book. It was unlike most of her books, though. It was a mystery both in medicine and crime and it had a bit of a surprise ending.

Where Mercy Flows is a good book I received as a gift. It was such a good book about a woman who was lost....much like the prodigal son. It was not a preachy book as many Christian fiction books can be. It had a slight cheese factor, but I really enjoyed the book. It was easy to relate to the main character of the book as she dealt with familial issues as well as some health issues. You could not help but love the family.

I am currently reading a book that is a free download currently on Kindle... I have not gotten very far into it, but am enjoying it. It takes place in the 50s or 60s. It is interesting, but I do not tend to read Christmas books at Christmas time, but this is my third this season. Of course, this is the first Christmas I have had my Kindle, which makes it so much easier to read books!! It truly was a favorite among Christmas presents EVER!!

I have read a couple other books here and there in these past few between these...but these have had the best impact on me.

Other than reading, life has been normal. We are finishing up homeschooling for 2011 and will begin gearing up for 2012 soon. Christmas is going along smoothly this year with the joy of Amazon (and the ease). Should be finishing up Christmas shopping this week.

Our church is pushing for a "Simple Christmas" for all of it's members and we have had a rather simple one. I decided this year to hide the presents until Christmas Eve the kids won't focus on what's under the tree and will focus elsewhere. No counting daily to see who has more or whose weighs more. It has been quite nice, actually.

I promised to post my dad's bean recipe...and I will, soon. I was going to attach it to this blog, but I think it deserves it's own post. So, I guess this post is more geared towards books and less towards other things. But, it's Chritmas. Put on some Christmas music, brew some tea, curl up in your favorite spot....and read a book. That's what I find myself doing lately and it has been wonderful!!