Thursday, June 14, 2012

Pandora vs TV

Easy access to a plethora of TV and movies has become a bit of a problem as of late here.  We do not have cable, only local channels...but we do have a Roku device and so our library of available shows and movies are abundant between Netflix Instant Watch and Amazon Instant Video.  We even dropped that part of the Netflix plan that allows us to get dvds because the list of shows and movies available to watch instantly was so great.

Therein lies the problem.  I find myself getting sucked into watching season after season of show after show. I recently went through watching all the Biggest Loser episodes....150+ episodes.  I would just sit and slowly go brain dead watching episode after episode of whatever show I was watching.  Oh, I have watched some really good, quality TV.  I love shows from BBC like Doc Martin, Land Girls, Rosemary and Thyme, etc.  But, I am not sure what I got out of shows like Biggest Loser.  The recent show I found myself sucked into was Roswell, a show about teenage aliens....yes, teenage aliens.  At the end of the day, I will find myself with a headache and I feel like such a loser.

Ah, but there is something else about the Roku.  It has a Pandora app.  You put in a favorite band and it will find music from other bands that are like the band you like and you have a 30 second commercial every 6 or so songs.  Oh, I have loved Pandora for some time and long ago gave up listening to regular radio stations.  Recently, I decided to put Switchfoot into Pandora and do some cleaning.  The bands that have been coming up have been incredible.  I find myself dancing around the house as I go from task to task.  Or, I grab a book and sit down and let Pandora play softly as I immerse myself into whatever story I am getting into.  At the end of the day, I may have a headache from reading too much or from scrubbing the floors too much, but I feel satisfied that I did not just let my brain rot out.

I was telling my husband just last night, I love having music playing all day and getting things done...why don't I do that more often??  Why do I allow myself to get stuck in a TV show when there are so many other things I can be doing??  My house is brain is fresher....I am happier.  I am still watching TV, but I am limiting it.  I am falling in love with music more and more each day.  My new favorite band is Lifehouse. I am reading a great book.  I am getting curriculum organized.  I recommend Pandora.  You can have it on your Roku or on your smartphone.  Personally, I love Switchfoot radio and Relient K radio, but you can put in whatever band you like.

Monday, June 4, 2012

What your kids watch

Today, I was looking through the movies available to watch on Netflix instant watch and Amazon prime instant watch.  These movies are free to watch at anytime through your computer, Wii or other devices and are very easily accessible to you or whoever uses the devices.  Our daughter has a Roku device in her room and has open access to Netflix and Amazon Instant Video.

Now, I am more flexible of what my kids watch than most parents and more strict with what they watch than others.  Some people I know shake their heads either outwardly or inwardly when they hear what my kids have seen....and I sometimes shake my head when I hear what other kids have seen.

Summer is upon us now.  Kids are bored.  Some kids are left at home alone while mom and dad work.  As I looked at what was available to watch on these two programs, I was pretty scared of what is available for my daughter (and your kids) to see.  There is no way to filter what they can see.  It is all just out there.  I do not know which is worse, Amazon or Netflix.

Now, I am not here to tout the evil that is either of these companies.  It is not up to them to censor what they put out there, it is ours to protect our children.  It is supply and demand with them.  If people are watching these shows, than they will keep making them available.  But, I any of us check up on what our kids watch?  Are we making sure that they are protected within the walls of what we have set for their viewing?  It is scary!!  A lot of good tv and movies are available in these programs.  Matt and I look forward to a Jack Ryan marathon soon as all of these movies are now available on Amazon (well, not Hunt for Red October, but then we own that one).  Lots of good British shows/movies are also available on each and we can not forget Spongebob and Phineas and Ferb which are staple shows for our viewing pleasure.

But, as I stated, my concern is our children (young and teen)...left on their own.  Curiosity is a dangerous thing. Curiousity killed the cat....and could kill your child's innocence.

I just wanted to state that in hopes that parents might look at the viewing history from time to time...make sure nothing is sneaking by.  There are some crazy, bad shows out there.

Monday, May 28, 2012


I recently watched an episode of 20/20 that was titled "Medical Mysteries" or something like that.  I remember when I saw the title (it was on my dvr) of the episode, it sounded rather boring to me.  I rather like hearing stories of crimes that have been solved...cold cases...etc.  But, I was bored, so I thought....ok, let's see what mysteries there are this time.  The very first story made my jaw drop to the floor and a great weight lifted off my shoulders.  I finally knew what was wrong with me and I wasn't alone (and after talking about it on Facebook, I discovered so many others who are just as sick as I

Misophonia.  It is a condition where one has a sensitivity to certain sounds.  Now this isn't a sensory issue where loud firecrackers hurt your ears.  It is more of a particular sound like the clicking of a pen, chewing, the way someone talks.  It can elicit reactions as little as a small irritation to violent outbursts.  The girl they mostly focused on in the story was so sensitive to certain sounds that she cannot be in the same room with her mother unless her mother does not make any noise.  She gets violent...will actually hit her mother at the sound of her own voice.  Now this is extreme.  They explained that most people who have misophonia do not go to this extreme.

You see, for years/decades, I have felt so.....weird....odd....mad at myself because the smallest thing can elicit a strong reaction with me.  It started when I was very young.  My father would do things that not only irritated me, but would make me angry.  I was fairly scared of my dad (he wasn't violent or abusive, but he was a football coach so could be a bit rough), so I would hold in these emotions, but he would drive me crazy.  What did he do?  He chewed...the sound of him eating would drive me to the brink of insanity.  The sound of his fork hitting the plate would make me mad.  Dinner time was a stressful time for me as I tried my hardest to block out the sounds he made.  I am not talking mild irritation...I am talking wound up nerves, stomach tied up, want to pull my hair out.  You remember those Bugs Bunny cartoons when Bugs Bunny would get all twisted up??

Well, this was me daily.  And it wasn't just the way he chewed or used his fork.  My dad would often smack his lips, or click his pen, or tap the dashboard, or leave the turn signal on.  I was a ball of nerves living at home because I never (well, I would on occasion), ever tell my dad he was irritating me.  I felt guilty.  He was my dad...I am supposed to respect him...and I did.

When I moved out, I discovered that there was more in the world that irritated me and it wasn't some ill feelings towards my dad.  People clicking their pens, tapping, water dripping, foot tapping....all drove me nuts.

When I got married, I discovered new challenges.  There is a long list of things that my husband (Matt) does that irritates me to the point of extreme anger.  Luckily, I do not have the fear of my husband that I did for my dad...but I did harbor a lot of guilt.  I am open with my husband about the habits he has that cause me great irritation....but that leads to other things like is there something wrong with our relationship that he irritates me so much!??!!  He would wonder about it because the seemingly small things would drive me nuts.  He would have to admit that small things in the world would drive me nuts, too....but it was harder to see that since we spend more time together and so his things were brought up more.

Matt has had to learn how to:

  • Eat.  I cannot stand the sound he makes when he eats.  The swishing of the food in his mouth drives me bonkers and I do not understand why people do it.  You can eat is possible.
  • Chew gum.  Oh my gosh.  Gum chewers are awful, awful people.  Smacking their lips...the sound of that chewy substance sticking to the teeth and the sound of the saliva...  He never really smacked, but he would chew with the sound of saliva and his teeth...he now has learned to chew it quietly.
  • How to use a fork.  I hate the sound of a fork hitting a plate.  Why is it necessary?  It sounds (in my mind) like you are using a shovel to eat your food.  There is no reason for it.
  • NO CLICKING HIS TONGUE.  He had a habit of clicking his tongue when he would be thinking of something.  No, no, NO!!!!!!  This would drive me CRAZY!!!  
  • NO TAPPING HIS TEETH.  Oh my GOSH.  He would tap his teeth together all the time.  BONKERS.
I KNOW there are many more.  The thing is, though, this is NOT limited to him.  It has gotten almost impossible for me to go to the movies.  The sound of people tapping their feet, the crumpling of paper packages, the chewing of popcorn, the slurping of drinks, the creaking of seats....ALL OF THESE make me angry and TOTALLY distract me from the movie.  Sierra and I recently went to see a movie we were SO excited to see.  We had the misfortune, though, of sitting in front of a birthday party.  Throughout the whole movie a kid behind us tapped her foot.  It drove me bonkers!!  I kept turning around trying to find the culprit.  I was so twitchy about it the lady next to me asked me what was wrong and I angrily spat out "this kid behind me is tapping her foot and it's driving me crazy".  It took EVERY OUNCE OF SELF CONTROL for me NOT to turn around and BLAST the WHOLE row of kids.

Another instance happened in church.  We were sitting in church listening to our Pastor preach when a lady a couple rows up and an aisle over began clicking her pen.  I got SO angry.  I instantly tensed up.  Matt knew I was mad and quickly knew why.  I kept angrily whispering to him how inconsiderate this woman was with her pen.  The WHOLE sermon, all I could do was stare at this hand and this pen.  Again, it took ALL my self control not to go over to her and grab her pen.  The WHOLE drive home, I ranted on and on about that lady and her pen....stupid, right?

Sierra used to have a friend who would smack her lips together a lot or make weird sounds with her tongue.  I have a friend who smacks her lips together ALL THE TIME!!!  I HATE it....  Keeping these feeling inside (what am I going to do...tell an 8 year old kid to stop clicking her tongue, she's driving me crazy!!!) can be painful.  My stomach actually gets all twisted up.

Upon watching this 20/20 segment, I shouted for joy.  I was not crazy.  I do not have a personal vendetta against my husband...I have a personal vendetta against the world.  lol  Matt was joyous to because as he watched the segment he agreed this is what I have.  He realized it was something in the wiring of my brain and it was not something against is not personal.

I have inadvertently been training my kids as they grow up.  They are quiet chewers.  They do not smack their lips.  Any kind of nervous habit I nip in the bud quickly.  Matt is learning, too.  Many of the noises he naturally makes, he is learning to NOT.  He will still, at times, start to click his tongue when he is thinking, but he quickly stops.

It is hard, though.  It is hard on everyone.  Sadly, I had an issue a couple days ago that ruined my whole day....and it was over an egg.  My husband was downstairs in the kitchen making an egg for our son...I was upstairs in my bedroom doing something.  Matt does this thing with an egg that drives me CRAZY and on this day it drove me BEYOND CRAZY.  He cracks the egg in a bowl, takes and fork, and whips it around.  The sound of the fork hitting the sides of the bowl and the egg swishing in the bowl could be heard all the way up the stairs and I had a Bugs Bunny moment.  Every nerve in my body fired up and I got angry.  I know it is not reasonable...but I also know that when I make an egg, I do it noiselessly.  I did not get violent with Matt...I explained to him that that was one of those sounds that I can NOT handle.......but for the rest of the day, that sound replayed through my mind and I was in a bad mood...the WHOLE day.  It is depressing to think that an egg in a bowl with a fork can make me feel this way.  Sierra asked me halfway through the day if anything was wrong.  I sighed heavily and explained the egg in the bowl thing.  She nodded her head understandingly.  She knows me well.

But, again, I know what it is now.  I can advise my family on what not to do and now their feelings are not hurt.  The weight of guilt is off my shoulders.  Now, if only movie theaters and church could have a thing where I can plug in my ear buds and hear the movie/sermon and drown out the sounds around me.  

Saturday, May 5, 2012


I often laugh at the phrases that come from our youth. They are quite hilarious. The term "frenemies" is one that has caused me to giggle on a couple occasions. It's interesting, though, because I think this word is a powerful one full of sad truth.

A friend of mine just sent me an email. It was from Proverbs 31 Ministries and it was titled "Friends or Foes?". I knew instantly why she sent this to me....luckily not because she thought me a foe, but because she knows I have had my share of foes and have struggled in the area of friends. I was touched because she made sure I knew I fell in the friends side of this blog. Click here to read the Proverbs 31 blog posting...I found I related to it all too well.

I have been blessed to have had many friends in my life, but, like many friendships, there has been some change-ups in the circle of friends. We get married. We get jobs that takes us to far off places. We change common interests and just grow apart.

Or we go crazy.

I love my friends who got married, and, being married myself, understand that priorities have changed (especially when kids enter the picture). I don't like when they or their spouses gets a job that causes them to move far away, but I understand and totally love the internet and facebook for keeping us as involved in each other's lives as possible. I also understand the changing of interests. I had a lot of friends before I became a Christian that I had to take a step back from after I became a Christian. DO I love them any less?? No.

But, I have had the experiences of the just plain LOONY. That friend who, on the turn of a pin just goes off and leaves your head spinning...wondering what just happened. It has happened a couple times with a couple friends and has left me somewhat scarred from having friends any more...or at least letting friends get too close. I often ask myself...are all women Psycho!??!!

One of the quotes from the blog read like this: "Years ago I would've told you that I don't much like women. I counted a few as friends, but the rest I dismissed as too much trouble. Never a "tomboy" by any stretch of the imagination, I just found guys easier to deal with. They generally say what they mean, let you know where you stand, and never size you up to determine who has the better haircut."

I know someone who went through a nasty divorce several years ago. After his divorce, he decided all women were evil. It didn't matter who that woman was, he felt strongly that all women were inherently evil and he spread his venomous words and attitudes to ALL women. It was destructive to see (and to be one of those women he ranted on about *shudder*).

After my experiences with some women, I have found myself feeling at least a tiny percent of what he spewed. Women just seemed to be mean and without reason. Women I had put my faith, love, and hope in had squashed me like a bug under their heel and I began to build the walls of fortitude.

Another quote: "I'm told you can put a frog in a pot of cold water on the stove and gradually turn up the heat, and it will stay in the pot until it reaches a fatal boil without attempting to escape. Evidently the frog doesn't realize how unhealthy the situation is slowly becoming. I can't vouch for the accuracy of that fable - I'd never boil a frog! - but I've been in a few friendships like that. I stayed way too long in the pot before I realized this isn't healthy for me, and I got burned."

The sad thing about that is I had women in my life whom I knew would not go nuts on me...there would be no head spinning or pea soup spewing....but my heart had been so trampled on that there was little faith or trust left in me. I do not think you should feel like you need to walk on egg shells with your friends...they know who you are. I found myself constantly on eggshells.

The funny thing about it was...I built the wall...I built it up high. I hid behind the wall...peeping out through little peep holes in the wall.

I watched as women I knew and wanted to know more would laugh together...have fun and I would whimper and cry and feel sorry for myself that I did not have that. Thing is, I always had a reason why I wasn't a part of the fun. I would get invited, but would have an excuse...."oh, I need to give my dog a bath that night"...ok, not that but something just as cheesy.

When Sierra became homeschooled, she decided to cut herself off from those friends she had in school because she felt like she needed to surround herself with like minded friends. She discovered having a select few friends whom she loves and who love her back is better than having several just ok friends. I saw such wisdom in her choice.

As a homeschool mom, one might think that we would become recluse...and maybe we found ourselves falling into that a bit at first, but then we began to explore the world and see what it has in store for us. In this adventure, I have found a whole new batch of women to become friends with and I love these women. It is indeed encouraging to surround yourself with those whose thought processes often echo your own, who can hold you up on their shoulders when you are down and whom you would do just the same with when things are reversed.

Now, when one of Sierra's new friends wants to spend time with her, her instant reaction is.....what can I do to make this happen. When one of my new friends want to spend time with me, my automatic response is do I get out of this?? It is hard to let yourself allow for the possibility of yourself to be crushed under the heel of a shoe.

"Meanwhile, I prayed for quality friendships with women of faith. God heard my prayers. Fun-loving, God-loving, gracious women at my church sought me out and invited me out. And I made the choice to trust and invest in them. I discovered how beneficial it is to surround yourself with women who inspire your walk with God."

I have prayed for a long time for God to bring to me friends who will listen to me...cry with me...allow me to listen and cry with them...someone who can relate to me. I believe God has answered those prayers is now just a matter of allowing them into my life. Cracking down the mortar that took years to build up is harder than one might think. It is filled with hard memories and broken trust. But, God did not make us to live behind brick piece by piece, I knock down the wall.....I allow that little bit of sunshine into my life. I discover things about people I have never known before. I sit in a restaurant and laugh without a care that someone might turn on a dime on me. Slowly, after character building words of encouragement from some select friends "in the know", I am coming to realize that some "friends" are just not worth the effort that is put in to maintaining the fortified brick and mortar that was so carefully laid. Lucky for me, I am finding that that brick and mortar are not as strong as I thought they were.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Anti-inflammatories and my tummy

Ok, I did it to myself. I managed to TOTALLY mess myself up and at the most inopportune time and now I have to reap what I have sown. I had good intentions...the best of intentions, but POOR results.

As many know, I have ALWAYS had issues sleeping. I believe it is totally heriditary. My dad had issues. Many of my siblings have these issues, too. Unlike some, though, I try to come up with ways to overcome that. Sleep is just something I am unwilling to do without. I like it. I like to sleep all night long. I like to be rested during the day. Without sleep, my function throughout the day is poor which is unacceptable as a mom or even as a human being.

I have tried so many things. I have eaten a small meal before bed (supposed to give that kind of full and sleepy effect). I have eaten ice cream before bed (something about the creaminess). I used to take muscle relaxers to help with my TMJ that would help me sleep (this was the best solution except it caused me to gain weight, plus it is not a good, long term solution).

A little over a year ago (or so), I decided to try a new regimen. It worked pretty well and so I continued it...EVERY SINGLE NIGHT of the last year (or was it two). Each night, I would take 2 advil pms and about 1500 mg of Valerian root. I figured it was better than doing tylenol pm and valerian root because tylenol can cause liver damage. I didn't know about the issues surrounding ibuprofen.

So, when I started getting severe heart burn...acid bubbling up into the back of my throat...I thought something odd was going on. I never checked on causes...I just popped some Tums, peppermints, or pepcid ac. For over a year I have struggled with this intense burn.

One day, I was talking about my issues with some friends and one of them told me how dangerous it is to take ibuprofen so it eats at the lining of the stomach. I mentioned my bouts with heartburn and she very wisely exclaimed "DUH!". Wow, how did I not know about that??

I stopped taking it immediately opting for a more natural sleep aid that has worked WONDERS for me. The heartburn, however, has continued. I went to the doctor today and after a thorough discussion, she agrees that it is due to long term anti-inflammatory use. Luckily for me, the stomach lining can be repaired and she was able to put me on the road to recovery in that area.

BUT, if it were not for the mistakes I made with the ibuprofen at night, I would not be in the mess I am in now. I have been suffering from sciatic nerve pain which is really quite awful. The common choice of alleviating the pain is an anti-inflammatory. My doctor informed me, though, that I need to stay off of all anti-inflammatories until my tummy is better. This leaves me in a place of having to deal with the pain and stick with natural pain relief remedies like the epsom salt baths. I need to give my stomach 2 months to aspirin, no aleve, and no advil!! I can take tylenol, but it won't do much.

I have lived my life kind of just going and not worrying. I heard about stomach problems with ibuprofen but figured I would be immune...though, thinking about it.....I would likely be imune if I weren't taking it EVERY SINGLE NIGHT!! So now, I have to just try and work through this other pain while I let my stomach heal.

This could be a good thing, though. I do not want to rely on medications to feel better. I want to find ways around pharmacy trips. I got a prescription today for my tummy...but it's not a drug that is potent and meant to relieve simply calms down the stomach acid. I would rather stick with the epsom salt baths...stretching...walking... I was so pleased to find a doctor that didn't just start prescribing me meds. I spent years having doctors automatically go for the drugs....or think I was drug seeking when I had legitimate head pain. Now, I am off all prescriptions (except this new one) and I think that is a good thing. My leg does hurt at times, but I have dealt with chronic pain before and this one seems fairly easy to control. BUT, I must admit that I would like to be able to take a medication that could alleviate the pain (an anti-inflammatory)...but I have to deal with two seperate things and Lord knows I do not need an ulcer...or worse, bleeding in the stomach.

Moral: From now on, I must be diligent about what I put in my body.

Lighter note: She felt pretty ok with my natural sleep remedy (MidNite).

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Fast Food Blockout

Fast food. You can find it just about anywhere. Within a mile of my home, there are at least 6 fast food establishments and that does not include the pizza places. They are becoming so convenient that 2 of those fast food places are attached to gas station convenient stores. You can get over price gas and under priced food (are they really under priced...see below) all in one place....and they even have drive thrus. Let's face are out running errands and spending time with the family and it's lunch time. You do not want to spend the time or money to go to a nice, sit down restaurant, so you decide to drive thru Wendy's and get a couple burgers, french fries and some soda. You can sit in your car and eat as you go to your next destination. The problem is the sacrifices you make in doing that. Oh sure, it's cheap if you stick to the dollar menu (which is one of the reasons obesity is such a problem today). But, what're you doing when you grab that oily, salty, perservative heavy lunch and sit in a car to eat? What about that sugar filled, bubbly soda (and don't think it is all that much better when there is a diet soda in that cup, cause it isn't)? What is that doing to your body? Your kid's body? Now, don't get me wrong...this is a trap we (our own family) falls into just about every weekend. Here's the thing...I HATE fast food. The THOUGHT of eating a McDonald's burger or a Wendy's chicken sandwich fills me with dread and makes my stomach turn...I am not much of a soda drinker...I don't like fries. Even kids and husband LOVE this food which aches my heart (well, Sierra is beginning to not like it much). But, we are, more often than not, out most of Saturday and Sunday and we fall into the trap. Recently, we decided to be proactive with our Sundays...have a plan in place for lunch for after church...a lunch we would make at home. This was all well and good, but then Matt and Daniel will go grocery shopping on Sunday me HOURS of quiet time (Sierra will spend the afternoon in her room getting caught up on school)...but then they would need to pick something up for dinner because they are gone so long(TRAP). Last weekend we went to a fast food place we hate the MOST...because Matt heard about something they had and wanted to try, we went to Burger King. First of all, for just a few dollars more, we could eat much better somewhere else. We figured it out...we could have gone to Subway for about $3 more or even Jason's Deli (salad bar...YUM) for just $5-7 more. It is not as cheap as one would think. Secondly, we all came away feeling kind of gross. Sierra and I had tummy aches from onion rings and chicken strips. Ok...well, Matt didn't hurt (he has grown up on this junk) and Daniel loves it and is on the same path as Matt. BUT, I reiterate the heart issue. Matt and I were pretty disgusted, though, with how much money we spent and what we got for the money we spent. As much as Matt likes fast food, he recognizes quality food and prefers to pay what things are worth and that meal was NOT worth what we paid for it. I think fast food places have brain washed us into believing they are cheap. Sure, they have dollar menus, but the choices are limited, the dollar menus are shrinking in variety or are rising in prices making them value menus instead of dollar menus. They slowly bring us in and than when we are addicted, we don't realize that we are eating this incredibly bad food at the expense of our bodies and wallets. Even the salads at these places are ridiculous. It has been shown that their caloric count is higher than one would think and their prices are OUTRAGEOUS. I recently found out that most spray their veggies with this preservative to make them look better and last longer...gross. For about the same price, you can go to Jason's your own salad from their salad bar which has organic veggies on it as well as a wide varieties of toppings. Matt and I sat and compared our bill from Burger King with our recent bills from other establishments and we were astonished. That same day, I started to formulate a plan...Operation Fast Food Blockout. First of all, no more of this being caught out doing things and feeling like our only option is a drive-thru. From now on, we would have breakfast and lunch at home and than leave to do our fun things. Today, for instance, I have all the makings for us to have yummy, deli style turkey sandwiches (which we will also have after church tomorrow) and than we are going to head down to Downtown Houston to sight see with the kids. Secondly, none of's getting too late to cook on the weekends. This morning, since we are not rushing out early, Matt is grilling chicken for dinner. When we get home, I just boil some pasta, prepare the sauce, and add the chicken. Easy, no excuses. Same with tomorrow. I have planned the meal and gotten the supplies ahead of time. Will we have a complete blackout of fast's first. My ultimate goal is NO MORE FAST FOOD, but it has to be done in steps. By next weekend, we will have had 2 weeks without fast food...however, next weekend is a VERY busy weekend that may make it unavoidable. Or maybe it is just a new to avoid it on even the busiest of weekends. Fact is, today I can say with certainty that there will be NO fast food and that makes me happy. I may have to endure some grumbles from a certain 7 year old, but that's ok. And, here is a graphic chart that shows how many calories you get per dollar spent at some of these fast food establishment.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Reading and Daniel

When Daniel finished Kindergarten, I was on cloud 9 telling the world of all his accomplishments. His teacher had tested his reading level past what the principal allowed (the principal only wanted students tested to one grade level above their current grade and no further...weird, right). His teacher knew I wanted to know where he was at. She had to do this while doing her other many duties, and I am not sure she tested him as far as he could go or as far as time allowed, but he landed at reading at a starting 3rd grader. My chest was puffed and I made sure everyone knew where my son was at.

Pride cometh before the fall, though. I began homeschooling Daniel at the beginning of 1st grade after he begged to come home because he was not challenged enough (I explained to his teacher that he was smart and needed to be challenged...she had obviously heard the "my child is special" speech before and promptly ignored it). So, it became my job to begin to challenge my son. With reading, it proved to be difficult.

I started out the year with having him read Magic Treehouse books, something that seemed to make sense to incorporates some history and some fun reading. Daniel did enjoy reading the books and I was pretty content, but halfway through the year I started doubting myself.

You see, it's hard to know what to have your kid read when he is only 6/7 years old but can read at a much higher level. Just because he has the mechanics, does he have the comprehension. Am I dumbing him down with these books and would I be expecting too much if I went to a higher level? I had a feeling I was dumbing him down...holding him back.

Lucky me, I am part of a great homeschool support group and at a park day I aired my concerns about him reading the Magic Treehouse books. I explained how Daniel could read really well, but how I was not sure what to have him read. For example, I tried reading aloud to him "The Hobbit", which went right over his head....he got the general idea, but with a book like this, you want him to get more than the general idea.

One of the moms, very animatedly, said, "stop reading him that Magic Treehouse garbage right now". I was taken aback for a second or two, but then leaned in to soak in her advice...and was it grand. She told me to look on the websites of some of the more literature based curriculum and see what books they recommend for his grade. Another mom (whose son is a lot like Daniel...can read above level and struggles with WHAT to have him read) had gotten advice to not have her kids read anything written after 1960. I chuckled at this, but found most of the books on the sites I visited were, indeed, written before 1960.

I went to Charlotte Mason (Simply Charlotte Mason) and got the book list from there, Sonlight Curriculum, Heart of Dakota, etc. It was amazing to see what they recommended for his grade and comparing it to Magic Treehouse. Night and Day. So, we started working on these books.

I decided we would do two books at a time...he would read one to himself and I would read one aloud.

His first book was "Cricket in Times Square". He read this one to himself. He is almost finished with it and I was so nervous about how he would like it. It fit all the qualifications of those who advised me. It showed up on multiple literature reading lists for his age group. It just met the "only books written before 1960" rule. I was very nervous. It was definitely not the norm for reading for him...definitely not like Magic Treehouse. It is a cute story of a cricket who accidentally takes a ride in a picnic basket from his home in Connecticut to the train station in NYC. He becomes a pet to a boy whose family owns a newsstand and he becomes friends with a mouse and a cat. Most importantly, Daniel has really loved it. After each chapter, he giggles and tells me about some crazy situation the cricket finds himself in.

The book I chose to do as a read aloud, mainly because I thought the language may go a bit over his head was "How To Train Your Dragon". The language is very viking-like. This book is a book I had heard great things about and thought it would be exciting to read though it did not meet ANY of the qualifications. It was written a short time ago and was not on ANY of the lists. We own the movie that was made from this book and, in my opinion, the movie was tons better. Daniel likes the excitement in the book, but as a whole I am not much of a fan of it. It makes me wonder about those rules I had been advised on.

We are nearing the end of both these books and I am looking forward to moving on to two new books. I can breathe easier now that I have a better guide on what I should be having him read. There is a curriculum set I want to buy to go with this new found reading we are is called "Drawn Into the Heart of Reading". I am excited about it...just need to get the money together to buy it. The best part about it is you can use whatever book you are reading for this.

Our next two books we will be reading are Stuart Little (read aloud) and Mr. Popper's Penguins (him to himself). I feel as though we have a good grasp on reading now and I am confident that he is getting what he needs. Now, for free-time reading, I let him read what he wants. He LOVES Calvin and Hobbes and reads and re-reads these books. They really spark his imagination. In the car, he will spend all his time reading and NO TIME playing video games or anything (it is very quiet in the car when it is just him and I).

Here are some examples of what is on our "to read" list:

Charlotte's Web
Chronicles of Narnia
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Peter Pan
The Littles

And much, much more. It is rather exciting to me!!

Reading and Danile

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Hunger Games Review -- Revisited

Ok, I stated in a previous post that I was going to review The Hunger Games even though I knew without a doubt that I needed to see it again. I felt it was rushed and left key elements out of the book. Well, we went and saw it again today and....

At one point during our second viewing, Sierra leaned over to me with a big smile and a level of giddiness expressed "I am LOVING this movie" and I, with equal giddiness, expressed "ME TOO!!!" It was REALLY, REALLY a great movie and it does follow the book better than any I have seen before.

Now, it's crazy, I know, to have been so frustrated with it on the first viewing and than totally opposite on the next, but that is true.

Here are my reasons for changing my mind. First of all, we saw it at a midnight showing. As I stated in my previous review, my eyes felt like golf balls. There were SO MANY screaming girls (none in this one)...I was tired (I had a full night sleep for this one)...

Secondly, I went in to the movie with the book in mind. My mind was thinking ahead on the book while the movie was going on...I wasn't in the moment, I was ahead of the moment and even sometimes behind. I was constantly comparing and was, thus, distracted. Today, we went in expecting the movie and I can honestly say that I did not think once about the book!!!....ok there was a scene that I leaned over to Sierra and asked if it was in the book, but that was it.

We ended the movie with a full 180 degrees! We loved it....really loved it. It is rather amazing and good. I hated that Sierra had been so disappointed in the movie and feel much better now that we both love it (as did Daniel and Matt). Sierra even said she wants to see it again!!

So, there you go!!!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Homeschooling Daniel

Well, it is no secret that homeschooling has been the best decision we have ever made. There are moments where I want to throw my hands up and leave because I am so frustrated...but I remember having those moments when my kids were in school.

One of the main arguments I hear a LOT from people against homeschooling is the "lack of socialization". This was a concern for me when I began this journey a year and a half ago with Sierra...and it was true for a while. Now, it is SO FAR FROM THE TRUTH it is UNBELIEVABLE. Their lives have NEVER been so social...and neither has mine. We are blessed to live where we do. SO many parents in this area homeschool it is UNBELIEVABLE. I have pushed myself out of my shell a LOT in the last several months and have discovered friends for my children and for me that are RICH with knowledge, support and LOVE.

The opportunities my kids have as homeschoolers are far greater than ANY they had when public schooled. Not only is their education MUCH, MUCH better, but the benefits and opportunities they are presented with are SO MUCH greater. For example: Sierra will be participating, tomorrow, in her SECOND class at our local cooking school...this is not simple home ec instruction...this is fine dining. She gets to gather with fellow homeschooled Jr. Highers and prepare and eat a three course meal. Daniel also, recently, got to participate in a cooking class that was INCREDIBLE...much more so than I thought possible. When I think of the things my kids would MISS were they NOT in home schooled, I realize more and more how much I LOVE being able to provide this life for them.

Last week, Daniel got to participate in a field trip to Chick-Fil-A. The management at this location took our kids (there were so many that it was broken into 2 groups) through a behind the scenes tour of the restaurant. I was SERIOUSLY impressed with their patience and the information they shared. The kids LOVED seeing the kitchen, especially the refrigerators and freezers. We were told ahead of time that the kids would ALL get free kid's meals with this tour (which was also free, btw) which I thought was a GREAT blessing. HOWEVER, Chick-Fil-A went beyond that...they gave all of us moms free food as well....AND when they accidentally made one extra meal, they offered it to me to bring home to my daughter's friend. I could NOT believe the generosity (even though I am in awe of the company itself).

Here are some pictures that were taken of my son's group as they went through the kitchen...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Hunger Games

It has been several days since I went to see the movie "The Hunger Games" and I almost hesitate to write about how I feel about the movie because I think I need to see it again. It has raised many different emotions in me...some good and some not so good.

You see, I read the books. Had I not read the books, my reaction would have likely been one of excitement and awe. However, as anyone who reads knows, the books are always better than the movie.

I was hopeful of this one, though, because all the reviews sung it's praises. This movie was supposed to be one of the best adaptations out there and all the reviews raved at how great it was!! I tried hard to stay in reality, but I found myself hoping for that impossible goal of watching a movie that could be just as good as the book. I was, of course, sorely disappointed.

Sadly, I am a literalist. If you tell me you are going to do something, I expect you to do it. If I read that the movie follows the book, I expect it to follow the book. So, when I watch the movie expecting certain events and/or characters and I do not get them, I get confused and agitated...especially if I am sitting next to my daughter who obsessively read and re-read the books sighing next to me as her hopes slowly fall.

That said, I have to admit to watching this movie at a midnight showing, in a theater filled with screaming girls, after sitting outside the theater for hours....I was tired and my eye balls felt like golf balls. So, that may have contributed for my disappointment. For this, I have decided that both Sierra and I need to put some space in between this viewing and going to see it again with the husband and the boy...but we SHOULD see it again. We went expecting the book and didn't get we need to go expecting the movie and see what happens.

That said,I will say that I am pleased at how well it did over the weekend and is going. I am no fan of Harry Potter or Twilight and have hopes that The Hunger Games may squash some of the fervor. I think that Jennifer Lawrence, who played Katniss, did a great job in this role...she conveyed a good amount of brooding and toughness. A couple of the key elements of the book were well the relationship with Rue.

There were some things we were really looking forward to seeing, like the tribute parade, some more of the training, and some more development with the relationship of Peeta and Katniss. Some of this was seen, but seemed rushed and underdeveloped.

I cannot comment on how the movie was, though. It is hard to say good or bad when I am not objective. I constantly think of the book. So...

If you want to know my the books (even if the third book isn't that great). Maybe on a second viewing, Sierra and I will find that we were to harsh and it's really great. Now, the reviews are pretty clear that the movie is winning over critics everywhere. How many of them read the books, who knows? Again, I would like to see it again with the movie in my brain and not the books.

Oddly enough, though, I hope beyond hope that they DO radically change the third book. There are some serious flaws in the story that need to be corrected and if they change just about everything in that book, I think many of us will celebrate the fact that a book was NOT a good adaptation!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Beef Enchiladas

Like many Texans, there is hardly anything I like more than Mexican food. Tacos...Enchiladas...Fajitas...Chips and Salsa...etc. It just does NOT get any better. Making Mexican food can be easy. I LOVE tacos and find I like our homemade kind more than any other. We don't add any of that gross taco seasoning stuff to ours. I just season with garlic salt and pepper...add shredded lettuce, cheese and salsa into Stand & Stuff Taco Shells and they are fantastic!!

I have always wanted to make restaurant style enchiladas...but getting the sauce right is HARD!!! Canned enchilada sauce is kinda gross and watery.

Amazingly enough, last week Daniel had a cooking class (it was FREE at HEB) and they had the kids make a mexican meatloaf and beef enchiladas. I was SO impressed, that I decided to try to make it at home. I did just that last night and my family LOVED them. I followed the instructions pretty good with a few modifications and will make one more modification next time. Here is what I did!

First...I browned a pound of ground beef. As it was browning, I seasoned generously with garlic salt and pepper...having the flavors cook into the meat.

When the meat was done, I put the drained meat in a bowl. I mixed into the meat a small container of prepared Pico de Gallo, a couple handfuls of shredded mexican blend cheese, and a few tablespoons of Cookwell & Company's Chili Mix. I combined the ingredients together and tasted to see if I thought it tasted like it needed something. I wished I had had a bigger container of pico...this one was VERY small. You can add whatever seasoning you think it might need.

I took flour tortillas and heated them up. In a seperate bowl I heated up a can of enchilada sauce (yes, the kind I just called gross). This is the one change I would make next time: I would use corn tortillas.

I took several tablespoons of the Cookwell chili and spread it on the bottom of my 9x13 pan. Next I dipped a tortilla in the enchilada sauce on both sides, put some hamburger mix filling and rolled and put into the pan. Repeat until you run out of mixture (this made 11 enchiladas for me). I then covered the enchiladas with more of the chili sauce...however much it took before I was satisfied that it was covered.

I put in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes and topped with a fair amount of cheese (I am not much on measuring) and baked for an additional 10-15 minutes. YUMMY!!!

Like I said, I will try next time with corn tortillas. BUT, my kids and hubs all loved it. It packed some heat (Matt got the spicy chili). I think it would have been good with some shredded lettuce and fresh pico de gallo on top!!

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things

The song is in my head...and started thinking of a few of my own favorite things!!

Downton Abbey

I, like most of America, have fallen head over heals in love with Downton Abbey. I can't put my finger quite on it...what makes us love this show so much?? Is it the clothes?? I do LOVE the clothes!! Is it the hair styles?? I am a woman; I do notice these things! Is it the love stories? *sigh, flutter eyelashes* Is it the scandals?? Who doesn't love those?? Is it the dynamics with the servants and the relations between servants and masters??

Yes to it all and so much more!!! I find myself excited beyond reason when a new episode has recorded and I am near tears knowing that right now the season finale is on my dvr. I want to watch it and yet I do not want to watch it because I know that is the end for MONTHS!! Why are British shows/seasons so SHORT!!!

The casting for this show is PERFECT, the setting is PERFECT, the story is PERFECT.

The Walking Dead

I know, without a DOUBT, that I should NOT like this show. A movie about people who die of an illness and than come back to life with only the urge to eat raw, fresh flesh. What part of that sounds entertaining?? NONE OF IT!!! It's's gives me nightmares..... So, why do I love it?? I DON'T KNOW!!!!

The main character, Rick, is appealing. He is cute (and I just found out he is British which makes him MORE appealing) and his character is GOOD!! He is just and genuine. This would be a hard quality to have in a world that is turned upside down. There is the character you just can't stand -- Shane -- who makes you angry each episode...makes you madder and madder with each passing moment. But that's it, right?? You get emotionally involved whether it be in anger or respect.

It has it's low points where I need to cover my eyes (zombie trying to get through broken glass...scraping off skin in the process) and other times where I have to make sure my finger is on fast forward (can be a bit overly sexual)...but otherwise, I love this show!!

BBC - Masterpiece Theater

I'm the butt of many jokes in my house!! I am in love with Masterpiece Theater!! With my Roku box came better access to instant watching opportunities. Between Netflix and Amazon, I have access to a LOT of content. Masterpiece Theater is a relative new venture for me and I am LOVING it. I especially love the period pieces...there are few that I have not loved. I could only list a few as I have seen so many in recent weeks, they almost blend together.

I loved "He Knew He Was Right"....LOVED it. It was about a man who thought his wife was having an affair...or was going to. He slowly went mad while she, who was in fact NOT EVEN CLOSE, tried hard to get him to understand. It was GREAT!!

I loved "Daniel Deronda". This is about a man who does not know who his father or mother were. He was raised by a gentleman and became a gentleman. In the end, he discovered he was really should watch it yourself.

There are SO many more. I am currently watching a series called Bramwell about a female doctor of the late 1800s in England...interesting perspective on today's medicine versus medicine of the past....I LOVE living in the 21st century!!

Classic Movies

Is there anything better than sitting down to a good, classic movie starring Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart, Jack Lemmon, Doris Day, and the list goes on?? NO, there isn't. It gives me a greater appreciation of not only simpler times, but times when certain thing wasn't put on screen for the world to see.

I love a good, classic movie. I even love a fair, classic movie. I love the silliness of Doris Day....and dreamy eyes of Cary Grant....the clumsy way of Jimmy Stewart...the classic style of Katherine Hepburn. It just does NOT get any better!!

These are just a FEW of my favorite things. I pondered including The Walking it a show I should hide from the world. But, it is who I am. Well, it is an odd part of who I am. I am not a fan of gore and horror...this is an anomaly. I love a hodge podge of things...many more than what is listed here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My Testimony

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10 NIV

Tonight at church, Pastor Jeff was talking about praying for the lost and how important it was to be ready to speak about our own testimony. He encouraged us to write it down and I thought...what better place than RIGHT HERE!!

My life was one like so many others. I was raised in a kind of Christian home. My dad had me go to church when I was very young, but he would drop me off and pick me up. He had a conversion when I was about 8 or 9 and he began going to the church he had me going to. He decided to get us all baptized together into the Methodist Church. Soon after, he decided he didn't like the Methodist church so we changed to the First Baptist Church....where he decided to have us all baptized as a family (ok, so this was maybe not so typical). After awhile, he decided that Baptist wasn't for us either, so back to the Methodist we went until he finally decided that church wasn't for him (or us) and took to watching church from his recliner and left us to our own devices.

I quickly fell into a belief system that there just was no God. I did not see any evidence or influence, so it was easy to do. I lived life with little to no care of any religious influence declaring myself an atheist.........though, I honestly questioned my own belief in nothing. I chose to live life in the wild fast lane (doing things that would likely shock many people I now associate with). I always felt somewhat lost, but continued this lifestyle even into marriage.

And then, we got pregnant. My husband was a believer (though he was not living it out the way he should), but I was still unconvinced, though I found myself speaking out into the universe hoping someone or something would hear. Upon first getting pregnant, I was pretty upset. This signaled the end to a carefree life of partying. We had not even discussed becoming parents and what that would mean. It was a doomsday event for me.

As my baby grew within me, though, I started to feel things I have never felt before. A love blossomed in me that was unlike anything I have ever felt. I began to question God vs. no God. I began to evaluate deep down how life could be created inside of me and this great emotion could well up in me if I was just the evolution of an amoeba. It didn't seem possible. With every passing day, my love for this unborn child grew and grew and I found myself changing.

When she was born, the experience was unlike anything I have ever felt. The insincts of motherhood kicked in and I became that mother who protects and cares for her young. I would watch this baby for hours and wonder at her perfection...a blend of mommy and daddy....a picture of our love.

It was then that I realized that just as I could look at this baby and feel so much love and emotion, that I knew there was a God who looked at me with great love and emotion. I knew I had sinned....I was as messed up as the next guy......but I felt His power and love wash over me. It was supernatural and wonderful.

It was not by works that I was saved. It was by surender that I was saved. I surendered my life and became forever His. I am a true example of how one marked over in sin with what I thought to be permanent marker could be washed clean by the simple act of prayer and surrender.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10

Saturday, February 4, 2012


I just got finished watching the movie "Courageous". I was a bit less than excited to see the movie, honestly. Sadly, Christian movies are made on limited, independent budgets so the production value is often less than stellar. Admitedly, the movies have been steadily getting better and better. "Courageous" definitely raised the bar for Christian was quite wonderful. It still had some issues in production value, but the meat, story, writing for the movie was significantly better and made it much easier to get over the minor flaws.

There were a couple things that really struck me about the movie. I know without any doubt how important the role of father is in a child's life. No question. I was struck by the man who had grown up without a father and his resolve to do better in his own life, largely due to his having had a mentor. I was especially touched by his visit to his father's grave. He stood at his father's grave and read a letter of forgiveness he had written to his father...forgiving him of abandoning him.

You see, I have the opposite issue. I was abandoned by my mother. Oh, she could try to justify her absense in my life by hiding behind a court ruling in my father's favor for custody, but that is no excuse for a father or a mother. For my whole life, I felt a hole or a trench where there was no mother. So many friends can call on their mothers in time of need or in times of just wanting to chat, or,at the very least, are able to conjur up memories of their mothers. I do not have any of that. My mother visited me once in my whole life. When I became an adult, I tried to find her to gain some semblance of a relationship with her. I did find her and was elated that I might finally have contact, but when I tried to call her again, she had her phone disconnected.

It is quite something to be abandoned by your own mother and, as a mother, I just cannot fathom it. How could one do that to their own child?? But, I have forgiven my mother. She made many bad choices in her life and her life was not easy. In many ways, I feel God was likely protecting me. She is dead (I found out a year or so after she had died) and so it is out of my hands as far as having a relationship with her...but I do know that the hole (or trench) that I carried for so long has long ago been filled. As the men in Courageous declared, it was time to break the bonds of the past and that is what I have been doing. I am a good mother and my kids have no doubt that I love them and would never abandon them.

The other thing that struck me about the movie was that for the most part, each of these dads were what would be considered even in the best circles as good dads. They were as good or better than the "average" dad, but they decided it wasn't good enough. Sadly, it did take a tragedy to bring this to light, but isn't that how God works sometimes?? It was interesting to see these good dads decide good wasn't good enough. I think this should be a mantra for all parents, moms and dads alike. Good is not good enough. We owe our kids better than good.

I resolve to fully give forgiveness to my mother, though she is not here to receive it. I also resolve to be better than good as a mom. My kids would say I was the best mommy ever...but where is the bar set in their eyes and is there a higher place to set it?? I think so.

Friday, January 6, 2012

7 Years of Happiness

It wasn't that long ago that I felt the calling on my heart from God about having a son. I wasn't thrilled with the idea; I had barely begun to understand my girl and the thought of a boy terrified me. But, what could I do? I suppose I could have ignored God's pull, but I am so glad I didn't. My son has brought me such great joy.

Here we are,7 year's later. It is hard to believe it has been that long. It sure doesn't feel like it. I have never once regretted heeding that pull. Daniel is such an incredible boy.

I often get made fun of because of my attachment to both my kids. I am happy when they get older, but, yes, I am sad when they get older, too. I love them so and like so many aspects of these younger years. For instance, Daniel crawls in bed with me every morning when he wakes up. He comes out of his room and into mine. I lift the blankets up and he snuggles in. He says "how can there be anything better than you" and I repeat it back to him. He will snuggle in and tell me about his dreams or about whatever his thoughts are on...or he will, sometimes, fall back to sleep. I love this! I don't want him to outgrow it. I love his sweet voice and how he can still wrap himself around me when he hugs me (arms and legs).

And now he is turning 7, one year older...and the kid is growing like crazy. He says he will always be my teddy bear, but will he really? He has to outgrow it some time. Sierra is almost as tall as me and we do still, occasionally, cuddle, but it ends up being a trial of adjustments as we try to get limbs and space and such. Course, the advantage to hugging her is I do not have to bend down to do it. She is just about as tall as me.

Daniel is so sweet. He is honest and well-behaved. He is a good kid. He is a boy with a wild imagination. His sweet naivete is endearing and I do all I can to keep it. We were watching something the other day and kids didn't have parents and he said "who wouldn't want their kids". I said, "you'd be surprised how many kids don't have parents who love them". His jaw dropped. He could not believe it. I love that about him.

So, I will rejoice his turning 7 tomorrow, but I will also be a little sad. He's my little man...

Monday, January 2, 2012

What's Up 2012?

Yeah, I just wrote a blog about 2011, but what about 2012. What's going to be happening in 2012??

Well, probably the biggest thing that we have to look forward to this year (hmmm....look forward to?) is our daughter will officially become a teenager in May of 2012!! I do not hardly feel old enough to be a mother of a teenager. It is hard to believe it.

Also, in 2012, Sierra will likely get out of braces. I look forward to paying off our balance tomorrow. As excited as she was to get them in 2011, she is more excited to get them off!!

Daniel will, hopefully, go on his first camping trip. He wants to in the worst way. He will go with his daddy and he has already decided that he will cook the meals himself over a campfire.

Sierra will finish her first quilt. It has been a long process, but worth it all.

It is another year of summer olympics that, oddly, brings me joy and I am excited. It is also an election year which is good and bad. I am ready for change and have no doubt that it will be the end of Obama (good), but we will also be inundated with political stuff (bad).

I am also making it a goal of mine to write a book this year. Oh, I have started writing several books, but gotten off track. Whether I pick up one of my old books or start anew...I plan on pushing through and finishing this!!

Due to some changes made last year, and some, hopeful, changes this year we will have less money going OUT and more staying in.

Those are just some of our goals. We have the typical, lose weight....get in better the Word more....etc, and we intend on fulfilling them.

2012 is filled with promises and of hopes and dreams. As Matt says, if you're going to dream, dream big...if you are going to pray for provisions, pray big.

What's Up 2011?

I can be guilty, as so many others can, of focusing on the negatives in life and not the positives. 2011 wasn't a fantastic year for us...we had a lot of challenges. We also had a lot of victories and TONS to be thankful for.

In 2011, Daniel turned 6 which was joyous to everyone (but me), Sierra turned 12 which she was extremely happy for because it had her one year closer to 13 (another not so exciting moment for me), I turned 37 which doesn't bother me so much especially considering Matt turned 40 which brings us many laughs as he has become a target for the old age jokes (yes, 40 is not old by today's standards...but it does not stop us from laughing). While I do not much care for my kids getting older, I also appreciate who they are becoming as they mature. By the end of 2011, Sierra has reached past my eyebrows in height and I know she will end up being taller than me. Daniel has gotten MUCH taller and lost all his baby fat (which is not the best news either...). It is bittersweet to be sure.

Sierra continued excelling at her schooling...beyond anything I could hope for. Her confidence level continues to rise. Her social life has also increased as she moved out of Children's Ministry at church and into Student Ministry. She is proving more and more each day her love of art (not in the classical sense, but in the practical sense). She loves makeup art (which her dad doesn't like). It is my goal for 2012 to find other ways for her to express herself with art....classes she can take. She is more and more determined in her design for life and is working harder in school to accomplish her goals. She is driven. Her maturity over this past year has been exponential, but she can still be silly. The highlight of her year was her trip to Alaska which will be with her always. She wants to go back there so very bad and excitedly told me today that her bff in Alaska may be coming to Houston this summer. I hope that's true.

Daniel finished Kindergarten with a bang in 2011. Any facebook followers know most of his accomplishments as I brag on him all the time. He decided he was ready to be homeschooled after just 2 weeks of 1st grade. As excited as he was to go back to public school and get together with friends, he just got very frustrated with the pace of school (that is that it was going way to slow for his tastes). It has been an exciting time homeschooling him as he gets excited about such fun things. He loves Geography and loves learnng about the states. He can tell you the capitals of every state we have studied and knows the position of every state. He has a world map and an american map and spends SO MUCH time studying them. He has great dreams of traveling the world and I would not be surprised if he does just that. He still loves math and I have yet to really teach him much in this area. He just picks it up on his own, teaching himself along the way. I had a great discussion with a lady who works at a local homeschool store and she told me the best way to optimize his current math curriculum and so we are going to be starting that this year.

For Matt and I, it has been fairly status quo. Nothing too exciting except for the kids accomplishments. We celebrated our 13th year of marriage (we will celebrate the 14th year at the end of this month). Matt's job had some ups and downs, but he has been employed at this company for 13 years in May and we are extremely grateful for that stability. We have had many a challenge with our car situation...having gotten ourselves into a mess with being upside down when purchasing our Kia...and than the mess of OWNING a Kia. So many things have gone wrong with the car, but we must pay it off before even thinking of getting a new one. A big YAY US that did happen over the summer (and just in time since the Kia's ac went out and is out of budget to fix now) is the gift of a "new to us" car!! The only challenge with it is the driver's side window that does not work. Matt has to go in and prop it up every couple weeks as it just slides down on it's own (drive thrus are a particular challenge). BUT, it is a second car which is fantastic and HARDLY worth even complaining about anything (we have been a one car family for 12 years). This gift was a HUGE one and our lives have gotten so much BETTER because of it. Honestly, the biggest challenge for me with it was the lack of auxilary jack. I hate the local radio stations. BUT, even that was remedied when a friend suggested a tape to auxilary convertor (is that the right terminology), so now I can listen to my music without issue!!

There are many more small things I could mention....probably even big things. Even in the hard times, God showed his love and grace. He was ALWAYS there to hold us up and keep us going. He says that in all things to rejoice and I believe this to be an absolute truth (as all things he says is absolute truth). It is hard to rejoice many times when you are in the midst of "it", but when you get to the other side of "it", if you look back and see, really see, you can certainly rejoice. Maybe I will one day even get to that point where I rejoice while I am in "it". My kids seem to be better at seeing the joy in the middle of the pain better than we do.

So...2011 was bad and good....what year isn't?? I hope 2012 is better than 2011, but it is really out of my hands. If it is the same as 2011, than it is the same. We have conquered challenges and stayed, I guess 2011 was a victorious year. Why would I wish for anything different??

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Oh, Pinterest, how do I love thee....I simply cannot count the ways!

For so long, my friends were telling me about this program...I got evites to join the phenomenon and was told I must get the app. I got the app....I created an account....and I let it sit.

You see, I knew....I KNEW I would get addicted to the blasted program. I'm weak. I have no fight in guts....I knew I would enter addiction territory and I just couldn't let that happen. SO, I listened as everyone commented how great the program is.

One day, it happened. I was bored and thought, let's just see what all this hullabaloo is all about anyway!!??!!! I have been addicted ever since....and INSPIRED. I am a woman with little to no inspiration of her own and I have to surround myself with creative people and try to glean at least a little from them.

Yeah, my biggest fear come true! I now have an addiction to the site and app.