12.31.2008

What the heck have we been doing?

Been a while, no? Well, at least since you've gotten a real update and some good pictures. I've learned that living in a guest house has been good for breaking me of my internet addiction, but it keeps me out of touch with the world. As you know, we got Rhiya on Saturday and we've been trying to make the most of our time with her. The visits are too short and too far spaced.

Here are some pictures of the house progress. I see an end in sight! The exterior guys have said it will only be a couple more weeks on their end of it and the sheet-rockers started painting today. They won't paint every room, but they are doing the upstairs bathroom and the kitchen for us.
Here is my dining room. My question is: is Allan ready to fix those stripes? ;) Haha, he'll probably tell me I have to do them.
This is the laundry room. It looks TORE UP, but it's a lot better than it was already. That's a new door on the back, (we have to order the glass), and they're going to paint this as part of the kitchen. We pulled out lots of ugly cabinets and switched the entrance around.

The exterior guys actually did the door for us. It was really nice of them! These are the volunteer fire fighters. They're doing all of this for us for free, and they're nice to boot, so I really like them. They've been super polite and cordial and always tell us if they will or won't be here. You can see the replacement boards on the bottom right side of the stairs and the new trim work. They've done a ton of work, (there are only 2 of them!) and it already looks so much better. I can't wait to see the finished product!Here is the upstairs bathroom painted. Allan started laying the floor down today, so we should be able to get the plumber in there and get our toilet and sink done now. We've got to do the tiles and put up some bead board and it's done. That color is green, even though you can't really tell.
In the picture above we were making pinecone bird feeders. Have you ever made those? We found some fantastically huge pine cones on one of our country drive and snagged a few off the side of the road. Just tie a rope around the small end, slather in peanut butter and roll in bird seed. Then if you have a tree-climbing step-daughter, have her hang them from all kinds of high points in the yard. It was good fun and got me to thinking we haven't set out bird seed in way-too-long, so we went to Lowes and got some more seed, suet cakes and a new honey-bird feeder.

The neighbors 2 doors down have been moved out of their house for months. They are trying to sell it. We've been toying with the idea of getting a swing set for a long time now. The problem is that they're expensive and all of them on craigslist need to be hauled away. We don't have a vehicle with a hitch right now, so it's just not an option. There's a house here in town with a run-down swing set just sitting back next to the fence that Allan has wanted to buy from the owners for a long time. We've tried 2x to get in touch with them, but to no avail. The last time we tried they still didn't answer, and then I remembered that the empty house had a brand-spanking-new swing set in the backyard. Amazingly enough we saw the owner the following day, (I haven't seen her in months!), and we asked her if she'd be willing to sell it. She said she'd love to sell it to us and that her daughter never got to play with it because of the sweet gum seeds in the yard, (these are round, hard balls with prickles on them so they A) roll your ankle when you step on them and B) hurt your booty when you fall on them). We asked her how much and she said 40! I was totally going to offer her 75, so I was THRILLED to pieces when she said 40! You can see the girls are having a blast on it!

It didn't come with a baby swing, so while we were at Lowe's on our bird feed expedition we picked one up. There was a plain-old red swing and a bug for 2$ more. You all know my husband--which do you think we had to get? It has yet to be adorned with stickers, but it will be soon, I'm sure.

P.S. Is that not the cutest hat you ever saw?!?
Rhiya showing off her purity ring. We celebrated her graduation from the Passport 2 Purity at Carinos and presented her with this white gold diamond ring. She loves it. She promised to save herself until another man replaced that ring and we promised to take care of her until another man replaces that ring. It was pretty cool.
Violet loves to look out this window. When we were on the little bed her favorite thing to do in the morning as soon as she woke up would be to sit up and have me move the curtain out of the way so she could bang on the sill and yell at the birds. Now that we're in the big bed with Allan and the girls are in the smaller bed, she likes to get up, try to crawl over Allan and yell "HAAAAIII, GUH!" at GraceAnne. Then Rhiya picks her up and she gets to look out the window with them. For those who can't read Violnese, that means, "Hi, GraceAnne!"

Well, there you have it...a decent amount of pictures. I hope you didn't plan on hearing from me anytime soon now. ;) Happy New Year everyone!!

12.29.2008

It's Us

Things here are going pretty good. Rhiya got here Saturday and we did our 2nd Christmas with her. We took them shopping with Christmas money yesterday before Allan and Rhiya went to Dallas to spend a night in a super nice hotel together and today they're going to see the King Tut exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art. The real purpose of the trip is a cd set of lessons called "Passport 2 Purity" that teaches her why the bible says she should stay pure until marriage. They've completed 3 lessons out of 5 so far, and Rhiya is having a good time. She's especially looking forward to King Tut and dinner tonight. When we all meet up for dinner, (Carino's=YUMMMM!), we'll give her a "graduation" passport and a promise ring we bought her a while back. It's a beautiful little diamond, perfect for her dainty hand. I was a little nervous, but Allan says she's having a good time and really enjoys the projects they're doing. YAY!

If you're the praying type, please pray that she retains this and learns from God and the bible how to live her life, instead of all the earthly influences around her, including us especially.

Hope all is going well. We love and miss you!

12.20.2008

Randomness

As we get ready for the holiday I have such a strange mixture of emotions. I want to go back home and have winter again, but I hate snow and ice and cold. I'm excited for our house to be done, but I do NOT want to clean everything up. In fact, I really want to just throw everything away and get new crap. I want to be with my family but I want to be alone because everyone gets on my nerves. I feel so great about the gift God gave us in His son, but I'm bummed out that some members of my own family could give 2 sh*ts that we even exist. I really want to get my business off the ground, but I have no motivation to do squat given the circumstances. I could go on and on and really what it boils down to is I need to vent and I need to shut up. Since you don't come here to read my venting, I'll shut up and show you pictures.Here are the girls with their cousins, Kellyse and Zekaeus. They belong to my sister, Kelly. Kaeus is 4 and Kellyse will be 2 in January. They're cute kids and GraceAnne had fun playing with them.

Here is GraceAnne playing in the snow. Here's what I love best about our family. GraceAnne and Allan love snow. I hate snow except to look at it. So Allan takes GraceAnne playing in the snow and I get to watch them from the comfort of the kitchen through the patio window sipping coffee. That's my idea of perfection--I don't have to deal with the cold, the wet and the squealing, but I can watch the people I love best having a great time! Then they think I'm a hero when I have hot cocoa with fat marshmallows waiting for them when they get in all red-faced and wet-footed. I've told Allan that if we ever end up moving back up north I need a BIG bay window looking out onto our back yard so I can sit at the table and watch the birds.This is our living hole. In case you were ever curious, it's not fun. BOTH of the kids were sleeping, though. That's totally rare. It was fabulous to get some time alone. So you can see what we were doing...eating and reading crap on the internet. I was cleaning the kitchen. What an exciting life we lead. *insert eyeroll here* I can't wait to be back in the house where I can sleep with my husband and ignore my kids while they play in their own rooms again.
Here is our livingroom. How pathetic are we, a friend said, "where did you guys get that fireplace??" when she saw it. I looked at her a little sheepishly and said, "uhhh, it came with the house." Yepp, it's always been there. We just had so much stuff piled up in front of it that no one has ever seen it. Those windows are going to be replaced with longer windows soon. Right after Christmas. Yeah AFTER Christmas. Looks like we're going to be out here another month. Rhiya should love that.
Here's my poor Falcon. *sniffle* When you look at it from behind this side is much higher than the driver's side. We think they're going to total it out. Our neighbor is a claims adjuster and he said that we should be prepared for them to lowball us in the offer. I don't know what a lowball on this car would look like, but it's a classic. I also don't know if they'll let us, but I'd like to keep the car to give to someone we've met who has a Falcon he's restoring. Does anyone know if they make us surrender the vehicle? That would be a shame. I think Allan is planning on fixing up the Ford truck a friend from church gave to him with the money from the Falcon. He's always complaining about wanting a truck anyway, so I guess that will work out. No fear of me stealing that from him either. *sigh* Guess I'm stuck with my POS Oldsmobile for another God-knows-how-long. Cars like that make me think I wouldn't mind going into debt to get a new one. Hmmmmmmmm.

12.18.2008

Home Again, Home Again


Jiggity Jig.

The house is still not done. Hell decided to freeze over, (yes...the temperature in Texas was below freezing while we were gone!), and apparently contractors can't work on the outside of your house in the ice and snow, so nothing happened.

Our trip was fantastic, really. I loved being home and seeing everyone. It was a great time and I actually got to sleep in the same bed as my husband. I'm usually oh-so ready to leave by the time we go, but I was NOT happy to be home this time. I was hoping to get snowed-in. We did get 3-4 inches the night before we left, but we made it and made the plane and all was well for traveling by plane. But not so much by car. Yeah...we were in Dallas for all of 30 minutes when Allan got hit in stop-n-go traffic. Some lady hit him from behind. The car is JACKED UP. Allan went to the ER this morning because his neck hurts and he can't move it much. He has a sprained neck. *sigh* The lady wouldn't give Allan her information, so we have no idea what to do and won't until the officer puts his report out to our insurance company. What a load of horse you-know-what.

To keep myself from dwelling on the BS that is really ticking me off today I'll tell you about all the cool things God did:

Wednesday was the ONLY day we would have gotten out of WI. They're supposed to be getting 27 inches of snow between yesterday and Sunday.

We got the last 3 seats on the flight. This is a HUGE deal on stand-by. I almost didn't get on, but it all worked out in the end. We even got to sit next to each other from Kansas City to Dallas.

The weather was clear from Chicago to Dallas. This is rare this time of year. Especially considering all the snow in Chicago and the fog in Dallas.

Allan had left his car in Dallas...this was not our plan. I was even mad that it happened. But since it was there and we had to pick it up, the girls and I were not in the car when he got hit.

GraceAnne was not in the car with Allan. She wanted to ride in the Falcon with him and we probably would have let her, but she passed out about 2 minutes before we got to his car, so she stayed with me.

Our neighbor so happened to be at the exact same exit as Allan when I called her to tell her about the accident. She hung out in a parking lot off the exit so she could take him home, even though he didn't end up going with her. She said it was strange she was there because she had to snake around the city due to traffic and wasn't intending to be where she was.

A friend of ours towed the Falcon behind his truck so we wouldn't have to pay to have it towed back to Ennis. He saved us almost $200!

When we got back to the house, our neighbor, (the hubby of the one who was going to bring Allan home), had put a pretty wreath on the front door of the guest house, a cute rudolph decoration in the yard and a tiny Christmas Tree in the "house." I was so excited since I've been having a hard time with Christmas spirit. GraceAnne thought it was all about the coolest stuff ever. Allan was even cheered by it when he finally got home. We have the best neighbors ever!

My only show for December cancelled last night. This doesn't seem like it would be a good thing, but it is because I was totally stressed about what I was going to do. Everything is packed up and I don't have a clue where anything is right now, plus it's all FILTHY. Everything in the house is covered in a 1/4" layer of sheetrock dust.

It's a lot of Blessings. I'm still bummed, but I do feel better typing it all out. I hope ya'll had a great week!

12.11.2008

Pics @ T-minus 5 hrs and counting...

We're going home in 5 hours! I have so much to do still, but I wanted to get these pictures posted before we go. Here's the wall Allan and Russ put up a couple weekends ago. Allan sheet rocked it and now it's ready to get the half walls put up. YAY for my hallway! :D
This is why we live in the guest house. Literally every room in my house looks like this. Everything pulled to the middle and covered with plastic. It's not even helping keep the dust off, but I guess it would be lots worse if we didn't do this. We're going to be CLEANING for Christmas!

I don't know if you can see it, but here's the side of the house pressure-washed, scraped and ready to be painted. How exciting! They're coming tomorrow with the new windows and yesterday they dropped off the replacement pieces of siding for the rotted stuff. It's in our garage waiting :)
Here's the porch. I'm aware it's a crummy photo but I'm not going out to take more right now. That's what you get.
Here is the cubby hole Allan built for the fridge. Where the fridge is right now is the old hallway into the laundry room and where the new hallway is, was the wall that the fridge was in front of. As soon as the sheet rock is finished, we'll push the fridge into the cubby and we'll be fancy! It's adding lots of room to my too-small kitchen, so that's a real plus!
Did I post this picture before? If I did, sorry, but there's the happiest Christmas baby you'll ever see. She's so darned precious!! She looks so much like GraceAnne and Rhiya!

This morning I woke up and said, "GraceAnne, what day is it??" She said, "it's 2-ones!" She ran and got her My Little Pony advent calendar and we opened the 11. I said, "where are we going today?" She said, "TO SCHOOL! and then to WISCONSIN to see Gramma!" I said, "what are we going to do tomorrow??" She said, "PLAY IN THE SNOW!!" She says she is going to make a snowman and that she even knows how to already. "You just roll snow into a big ball and then roll another little ball and then another little ball. I'll use 3 stones and a carrot and I guess I can just use my finger to make a mouth."

I'll miss the blogs I follow, but I'm so glad to be going home! God Bless you all!

12.09.2008

We're Off

I'll try to post pictures of the house before we leave, but I'm not making promises. We're leaving Thursday afternoon for Wisconsin and we won't be back until the following Wednesday. Wish us luck as we're flying standby and we've had some rental car/carseat issues. Pray for my sanity, please. I could use some ;)

12.05.2008

Dear Santa

A friend of mine does a special topic on her blog every Thursday and then invites everyone else to write on the same topic. This week I'm going to go in on it because I realize that yesterday's post is pretty revealing of the toxicity in my heart lately.

Dear Santa,

How are you this year? I'm sorry to only write one time per year, when I want something. I realize that's a little selfish. I'll try to write more often. Here is my wish-list, however:

1. I'd like to have my house back. My babies are so bored and I'm so tired of not sleeping with my husband. I appreciate that we have this little guest house for this season, and I realize that the stay is oh-so worth it, but I'm ready to be in the big house again.

2. I'd like to be content in what we have. We've been so well Blessed, and I hate feeling so ugly about being "stuck" out here. I pray that I can adequately humble myself so that I am not humbled by circumstances.

3. I'd like my babies to be happy and healthy and I'd like the power to raise them in Christ so that they become loving, kind, forgiving and secure in the Lord. I'd like for Allan and I to be able to raise them according to their purpose with love and patience.

4. I'd like to be able to open my heart to the Lord instead of being scared and hiding away from Him. I want to learn to pray more readily, stay in The Word and just let go.

5. I'd like to learn to trust in the Lord completely. I want to learn my purpose and to fulfill it with Joy and Exuberance. I'd like to learn those lessons from my children, who are so wonderfully gifted with both of those fruits.

6. I'd like to be a better friend to everyone who God has placed in my path. Instead of asking what my friends and family have done for me lately, I'd like to focus on what I can do for them. I want it to be blatantly clear to me who God wants me to be to the people in my life, (my husband, my kids, my family, my friends, my neighbors), and to have the strength to be that person. I hope they always see me as giving and loving and strong.

7. I'd like to pray more readily to Christ and to not only think of Him when I want something or when something is wrong or when His birthday is upon us. I'd like to walk daily with Him and feel the freedom that I KNOW is in Him everyday.

8. I'd like more and more people to find the reason for this holiday, season, year and life. If I can be instrument in that, I'd like to be. Not for my glory, but for His.

Thanks for all you do, Santa. I hope you have a Blessed season and a Blessed year!
-Tara

12.04.2008

Some Photographic Evidence of Change

I realize there are far fewer than necessary photos of the house, but so far not much has taken place that's photo-worthy. There are a lot of really large holes in rooms that we worked really hard on, (anyone who has been in our house knows how proud I am of the paint jobs in the dining room, movie room and GraceAnne's room. Yepp--all ruined). Then the exterior guys pressure washed the house and sanded it, but you can't really tell that by the photos, either. Stupid crappy camera. So instead, let me entertain you with my adorable daughters:
We "made" gingerbread cookies. It's been really hard for me to get into the holiday spirit since I can't decorate, can't have a tree, we're not really going all out for gifts this year, etc. SO..while at HEB feeling sorry for myself, Violet and I decided we'd get a gingerbread cookie kit and force the holiday spirit. I really didn't even want to decorate the darned things, (not like it's hard), but after GraceAnne was so stinkin' excited to see the kit and begged me to turn on Christmas music, I had to smile. After I took a couple of sips of homemade hot cocoa with marshmallows, helped her decorate her first gingerbread men and heard 'Silverbells' I was sold. It is Christmas, tree-be-damned!
And what better gift than a tiny smiley baby? She's so darned sweet!

As far as the house is concerned, some pretty major changes have taken place in the last two days. Apparently hell has frozen over and the electricians decided to show up and actually do some work. They've even got their "rough" inspection done. There are now new light switches and outlets and new lights and new wiring...we'll have a doorbell wired in and our smoke alarms, (omg, we have more than one!?), will be wired in, too. Obviously none of that is very interesting in photographs.
The porch, however, ROCKS THE HOUSE! Or rather, preceeds it. I didn't know they were going to do this, so it's a Christmas surprise and I was SO EXCITED to watch them pull the boards off this morning. They were so rotted and disgusting and covered with about 20 coats of ugly paint. It's completely done now with nice new boards, but I haven't taken a picture of the new porch yet. Allan told me I should go out there, but seeing as it's in the 20's tonight and I'm in my skivvies already I'm not going anywhere. He said he didn't feel like hopping out there, either. Guess you'll have to wait. No whining...we've done our fair share of waiting on all of this, too!

Hope ya'll are having a great holiday season! We love and miss you all :)

12.03.2008

I DID IT!!

This will sound so lame to you mommas who have done this before, but I'm so excited about what I just did! Let me give you some background...

Almost 4 years ago, when we lived in Seattle, I babysat a little girl named Iris. Iris was 2 days younger than GraceAnne, (they were both 9 months old at the time). GraceAnne HATED baby food. She always did. I fed her food from my plate, smashed or cut into tiny bits and she did okay, but naturally there were some things she didn't get to experience thanks to her age and gag reflex. One of my jobs with Iris was to give her her evening meal. Her mom was way more crunchy than I and made all of Iris' food. I would pop two cubes of food from a ziploc container in the freezer and heat them in a mug until they were melted. Usually I would sit GraceAnne on the floor with some cheerios or puffs while I fed Iris in the high chair and then let GraceAnne eat whatever I was eating. Sometimes GraceAnne would be hungry while I was feeding Iris and she would cry. I felt so bad about this, but what could I do? Then, once in a while, I would feed GraceAnne a cube of whatever Iris was eating. She mowed on it! I figured it was because Iris was eating it and it was all about getting what her friend was getting. Whatever it was, I was just happy she was eating SOMETHING and I knew it was healthy and organic, too. I swore when we had more kids I would make their food.

Then Violet was born. 4 years later. I was tired and REALLY into couponing. I managed to get A LOT of Gerber Organics baby foods for super cheap, (think 5 cents a container and that has 2 meals in it.) I figured "at least she's eating organic..." She likes baby food MUCH better than GraceAnne did, but she's taken much more to food off of my plate than the jarred stuff.

Yesterday I fed her a 3rd food called Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal. I thought, "how ridiculous...this must be SO easy to make!" So I looked at the ingredients and noticed that I had them all on hand and this morning I was bored beyond belief, so I ground some rolled oats in my food processor, (the chintzy little kind that almost everyone owns), and cooked them in the microwave with water and cinnamon, (I would have used breastmilk, but I have too much of some enzyme that causes breastmilk to spoil when frozen and thawed), steamed some apple slices with apple juice and mashed a banana, (yes, that was in the ingredients of the Gerber, so I used it). I blended it all together in the food processor and she LOVED it! GraceAnne even liked it. She ate a bunch, but I had enough to freeze some cubes for other days. I am SO EXCITED that I actually did it. Now I need to make other varieties, but I don't have much on hand as we are leaving for WI in a week, so I haven't gone all out on groceries this month. I really hope I can keep up with this, because I have more coupons for baby food, but I haven't seen anymore sales and I was about to pay 50 cents a jar yesterday. *gasp!*

Another step taken on my quest to be more crunchy. YAY!

P.S. Yes we are still in the guest house, no the electricians have not gotten their jobs done and they are now TWO weeks late and yes, I still have faith that God can get us back in this house by the week before Christmas. We shall see.

11.30.2008

Some Photos

Here is the cantilever Allan and Morris had to put in because a wall we removed was actually weight bearing after all. It won't be incredibly aesthetically pleasing, but at least our upstairs won't cave in.
Here is the new wall Allan and our friend Russ put in yesterday. Above you are looking from the front window into the dining room. You can see the wall on the left side. This will give me a hallway to put pictures in.
Here is the same wall looking toward the front window where the previous picture was taken from.
Here is a picture of one of the happiest little things you'll ever see. No doubt about the exuberance of our girls. Today she mastered crawling. She could get wherever she wanted anyway, but today she mastered it. Now she's fast. Of course, I'm thrilled, but the timing is less than ideal, considering we live in a 350 sq ft box with no room anywhere to crawl or to hide things. She also has been saying MMMMM when I feed her. For the last 2 days she has been saying "Mom, MMMMMM" Maybe it's an accident, but it sure seems intentional when she screams it until I nurse her or feed her. They grow up SO fast!

I'm going to be leaving it at this, I really just wanted to publish some photos for you all to see. We are counting our blessings and it's sometimes easier to count the discomforts, so if we're quiet it's only because we don't want to say anything since we sometimes don't have anything nice to say. Hope all is well with you. We love and miss you all!

11.26.2008

A Full Week?

Oh wow. It's been one full week since we moved out here. We have internet for today. It's been on and off since the electricians are actually here doing some work. I'm grateful it's on today as I have 2 shows to submit today and need the internet to do that. My business has taken a serious back burner, but so has EVERYTHING.

Things are moving along quite nicely, but we might still all kill each other. Allan and I worked out an issue last week and we've been good since then, but I'm not sure how good I am with the kids. I am leaving the house as much as possible and spending entirely too much money in the process. This stress is compounded by the fact that GraceAnne is off school this week, so she doesn't have ANY release and I don't have ANY break. She's been coloring A LOT.

BUT...we'll all get over it and we'll all be better for it and it will be OH SO WORTH IT when we get back into our house and can set the thermostat upstairs and not worry if the kids are too cold or not. And when we get up in the night to go potty and the seat is not icy. And when we can actually unpack ALL of our books for the first time in 5+ years. And when we can send our eldest to her room to play with ponies again. HAHAHA, I'm an awful mom, I know it.

We've been listening to Christmas music for the last week and it makes me SO EXCITED for the holiday. They still promise they'll have the house done the week before Christmas and I'm floating. Tomorrow is turkey day and I'm super excited for that, too. Ahhhhh, only 1 month until Rhiya is here and I can't wait! I want to sip hot cocoa with her and work on an art project of some sort and talk and play. I can't wait for her to open her present, either. Monday was her birthday and she loved the purple spider Violet picked out for her. I only wish she could have been here to open that, too! Yeah...I'm a greedy step-mom. I can't wait to have all 3 of our babies together, again!

Hope you all have a great Thanksgiving--know that we are thankful for each and every one of you!

11.21.2008

Our Days...

well, we've been in the guest house 3 days now. Mostly we just use it to sleep in and spend our mornings in since there are STILL no contractors here, (the electrician is apparently a real reliable guy *insert eyeroll here*), so we still have a kitchen and my computer is still on. There are no lights upstairs, though, so come nightfall, (6pm), we go out to the guest house and hunker down for the evening.

I'm so grateful to have that place back there. I was very upset when we were first remodeling it, because I felt like it was the biggest waste--after all, we were living in a torn up construction zone of a house but had a nice guest house--but now I'm really glad it's nice out there. No way would I want to be living in it, (I probably would NOT), if it were still the way it was before. See? God always has a plan--even if it's not our plan!

If nothing else, this is teaching me the importance of cleaning things as we go. The guest house is too small to let get cluttered and icky. I have no computer out there, so there's really nothing else to do but keep it organized. So far in the last 3 days I've been getting everything done that I need to get done and we've even baked cookies! GraceAnne helped, and she hasn't gotten to do that in probably almost a year, so we're golden. My patience, however, is wearing thin. So if you all could pray for me in that aspect, I'd appreciate it. I'm a mess these days.

I was also thrilled to go Thanksgiving dinner grocery shopping yesterday. This year will be a little unorthodox, as our house is TORN UP, but it will be fun! We're going to our friends' in Midlothian and I'm cooking dinner at their house. We're going to have a couple people from Allan's school down, too. As always, the menu will consist of turkey breast, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, green bean casserole, (Thanks, Branch), mac n' cheese, (Thanks, Mallory), rolls and my from-scratch pumpkin and apple pies. Amy is going to make brownies and rice krispie treats, too. YAY! I always look forward to Thanksgiving dinner. The only thing we're missing is Rhiya. Hopefully when Allan gets his job we'll be able to afford to fly her out every other year for turkey day.

Hope all is well, we love and miss you all!

11.19.2008

Will Be Gone a While

We're moving completely out to the guest house. The house is a wreck and there's no fighting it. Hopefully we'll be back in a few weeks and can hire serv-pro to get this place cleaned up. Praise God that we have a guest house and please pray we don't kill each other or the contractors.

As for my other blog, I'm still reading the bible and studying and even listening to some Beth Moore studies, so I'm still keeping myself accountable, I just won't have time to update the blog for now.

Love to you all!

11.16.2008

It Begins...Again!

Well, there was NO ONE here to work on the house this week, but Morris came over yesterday to get some stuff done and clear the logjam. Apparently we'll have the AC guy and the electrician here tomorrow and they're going to start work on the exterior Tuesday. This will be one of those, "I have to see it to believe it" things, but I have faith. Here are some pictures of the destruction of the bathroom Morris and Allan did yesterday:




Here's a picture of Violet being cute as ever, sleeping. She's been sleeping a lot lately. As well as coughing and pulling on her ear...so I guess my joy tomorrow will be to take her to the doctor and listen to how I should have had her vaccinated.And have I mentioned how excited I am that this month is stoneware month?!? OMG, the new pieces I have are SO BEAUTIFUL and I can't believe I never cooked on stones before. Crusts turn out crispier/flakier and cookies are so much better. Plus they're non-stick after a few uses and I'm just flat out IN LOVE with them. Check them out, those are mine :D
So...that's the end of my update. Now I must stop procrastinating and finish cleaning this room up. If I get it done, I'll be able to get twice as much work done during the day, because Violet won't be so bored. I'm going to fill it with the baby toys so that she can play safely while I do boring mommy things. Hope all is well with you all!

11.14.2008

Another Day Another Blogger

I made another blog. It's mostly just a journal that I'd like to share with anyone who is interested. It will be a sort of bible study. I'd really like to see people's comments and get some conversation going.

Here it is

Hope you enjoy it.

11.12.2008

Some Days

Some days just never end. Today is one of those days. It's not even noon yet and I'm at my wits end with everything. Allan has a long day and night at school today...GraceAnne is stir crazy and making me nuts...Violet is demanding as ever and all I want to do is crawl back into bed and take a nap; but I can't. My goals for November probably won't work out for me because no one seems to want to have a party. I've tapped all my friends and family. For the 3rd day, there is no one here to work on the house because of God knows what excuse today. I want my toilet and my sink back and sometimes it's easy for me to forget my Blessings--that Allan has the ability to go to school and work towards a degree and will soon have a job. That the kids are here with me and not in heaven like one of our others. That GraceAnne can and wants to run and jump and play. That my business is growing, even if not at the pace that I designate. That the house is being worked on at all. And so many other Blessings.

I know that a lot of you feel this way sometimes, too, so I thought I'd post something that I have kept in my inbox for a long time that gives me motivation. Let me copy and paste so I can do some dishes and bake some cupcakes with my daughters. There's work to be done!

"It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?" Obviously not. No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor or even standing on my head in the corner because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible. The invisible Mom.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?

Some days I'm not a pair of hands, I'm not even a human being, I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?" I'm a satellite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney channel?" I'm a car to order, "Right around 5:30, please."

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude -- but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a hair clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this."

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: "To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees."

In the days ahead I would read -- no devour -- the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals -- we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it." The workman replied, "Because God sees."

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become."

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction, but it is not a disease that is erasing my life, it is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who showed up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table." That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. Then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, I'd like him to add, "You're gonna love it there."

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. One day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women."

Hope you all have a great day and a good rest of the week!

11.11.2008

Happy Veteran's Day


I made those shirts for the girls. You probably can't see them, but they say on the front, "My Daddy is a Hero! Operation Iraqi Freedom" with a picture of a bronze star, which is what Allan was awarded for his service in Iraq. On the back they say, "Cpl Allan G Doyle US Army Ret" with a picture of his rank patch. They didn't come out so hot, but hopefully you get the point.

To all you vets out there, have a great day! I hope you feel proud of the time you served and that you know you have your country's admiration. Thank you for your time and sacrifice!

To my hubby, thank you so very much for your sacrifice. I know that it's not easy to be an amputee on a day-by-day basis, but when I think of how much we've gained because of the few inches of leg you lost, I soar. I thank God everyday to have even met you, let alone started a family with you, married you and made a life with you. You are gracious and graceful and amazing to me. You are truly a hero, MY hero and I hope you know how very much I love and appreciate you. I hope you have a GREAT day, (even though you're at school, which I think is BUNK!), and that you feel all the pride you deserve to feel for what you've done to ensure our freedom to worship God, have a good life and to post to this blog. ;)

For anyone who doesn't know Allan, he's truly amazing. He's a fabulous father, a loving husband and a handyman extraordinaire. He's strong and brave and beautiful. He's funny and smart and when you talk to him, you feel truly listened to. He also happens to be missing his lower left leg due to an accident in Iraq. No one would ever guess it if he's wearing pants because he doesn't limp. Despite his missing limb, he has never looked for pity or felt sorry for himself. In fact, he was such an inspiration to his original prosthetists and physical therapists that they suggest he work in the field. In May he'll graduate with his degree in Prosthetics and Orthotics. I am, (obviously), proud beyond words to be married to such a wonderful man.

I hope all of you are Blessed enough to know a Veteran and if you are, please tell them Thank You for all you did. If not, stop someone in the store today and shake their hand if you see them with a hat or shirt indicating their service. Even if we don't all agree on our politics, we can all agree that we appreciate the men and women who fought for the freedom to disagree that we enjoy in these Great States of America!

11.10.2008

1 Week Done

We got our shower back on Friday. There's still no toilet or sink upstairs, but that will come in time. Allan wanted me to share an updated video of the water pressure.

video


Wahoo, right!? Pretty stinkin' awesome to me!

I had 2 shows this weekend, so that's why no updates. They were small, but fun. I'm still exhausted, (funny thing about having kids, you never seem to be able to "catch up"), but I'm sure I'll get over it. It's a stormy day today so maybe GraceAnne and I will make some hot cocoa and watch the rain.

11.05.2008

Day 4 of Work

Well, day 3 was rather boring, picture-wise, so we left it out. He just cut a hole in the floor of the livingroom to get down to the plumbing there. Today was more visually progressive.That is a picture of where our sink was. He took that out and the vanity that was against the windowed wall.

He also took out our toilet. You can see where the vanity was and that it goes straight down to the original hard wood flooring. I'm not sure what will happen with the tile work on the walls, if anything. There isn't any sheetrock on the walls, just the original tongue and groove boards with wallpaper over top of it. It's OH SO attractive!

Here is the 2nd installment of the newspaper article. She was misinformed in a couple places, but it will work.

Hope all is well with everyone.

11.04.2008

In the Paper

Ennis Daily News is doing a 2-part report on Allan and the house getting fixed. Here is part one. Our neighbor called them to do a story last week, when she knew that the repair guys were actually going to be coming. Pretty cool, though I hope the writer grows a little more interested for the next installment.

Day 2 of Work

Here is our livingroom, which was already torn up long before the plumber got a hold of it. In the 2.5 years we've lived here we've never had a livingroom, so it will be awesome to have this finished and opened up.
He tore out the ceiling to get to the pipes for the upstairs bathroom. He's going to replace those pipes so that we have some pressure in the tub to actually take a bath or a shower!
Here's the dining room ceiling opened up. I think that about broke Allan's heart since he had done all that hard work to get that room the way it is, (albeit not finished), but they'll fix it, so all's well!

video
This video is exactly the reason he's fixing the pipes. This is no exaggeration, this is what we've been dealing with for the last year. It was slightly better when we bought it, but by no means "good." I can't wait until I can take a shower and have the water BEAT me on the back. Woohoo!

It reminds me of this song...LOL

11.03.2008

VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!

http://www.1061kissfm.com/pages/contests/baby/
Not in the presidential election, though you should probably do that, too! For Himaya! This is the daughter of one of Allan's classmates and she's in the top 5 from over 300 kids! You can vote once per email address per day, but you have to A) use a valid email address, as you'll have to verify your vote and B) clear your cookies between voting.

When she wins the family is going home for Christmas and they'll start a college fund for Himaya. Two pretty great causes, eh? The coolest part of this contest is that it's local...no phony baloney here!

What are you waiting for?? Vote already!

http://www.1061kissfm.com/pages/contests/baby/

11.02.2008

I Hate Falling Back

Daylight Savings Time is totally lame. The strangest part about that is I absolutely hate the "standard" time. I can't stand "falling back." The kids don't know or care that 7am becomes 6am. They don't care that I'll have to spend an extra hour dealing with their cranky butts tonight. Not to mention I'm not overly fond of it being dark at 6pm. It feels like it should have been bedtime HOURS ago, but instead GraceAnne's just now picking out a story. Tonight was just the night from h*ll with her, anyway. She'll drive me to drink, I swear it!

It started out like any other Sunday. Except earlier. After I took a nap and felt a little better we decided we'd go to Olive Garden since I have a coupon and a gift card. On the way there GraceAnne was messing with her sister. By messing with her I mean poking her repeatedly in the head and face with whatever she could find. Do you suppose Violet minds this? No. So the lesson is completely lost on GraceAnne every.single.time. we tell her, because Violet says nothing, so she must not be bothered by it, right? And if we're not bothering anyone, we're not really doing anything wrong, right? *sigh* So she was poking her with a hair bow which we told her to keep to herself because Violet doesn't have enough hair for a bow. She then proceeded to put it in her own hair and rip out a huge chunk by pulling it out instead of un-clipping it. She said, "I really don't like this bow, it makes my hair get in knots!" So Allan took it from her. Then she whined about wanting it back and made a huge fuss and I said, "I thought you didn't like it." She said, "I don't." So I did the only logical thing that could be done...I threw it out the window. Which caused a HUMONGOUS fit to be thrown, the likes of which you've probably never seen unless you've tried to kick your teenage daughter out of the bathroom before prom. Then we heard the truth...she DOES like the bow! She wants it back RIGHT NOW! I make her SO MAD! Right about this time we pull into the parking lot of Olive Garden and she's freaking out kicking the back of Allan's seat, crying, screaming, throwing a class A fit. I told Allan to drive once around the parking lot and turned around to tell her, (calmly, I'm so proud!), "If you don't calm down before we get around this parking lot, we will go home instead of eating out." Apparently she felt like testing me, so she gave Allan's seat a good kick and let out a good wail. So we drove home--with a squealing, shrieking, pissed-off pre-schooler in the backseat. She kept repeating that she wanted her bow, didn't want to go home, wanted to eat at Olive Garden, etc. etc.

And then the ultimate awesomeness happened...I was snickering at her being an idiot and she pointed her little finger at me and started to wag it and said, "I'm telling you ONE MORE TIME! I WANT my bow back and YOU WILL go in that road to get it!" Well, by then Allan had about had it. He pulled that car over so fast and pulled her out and made her apologize for being ugly to her mother. She finally apologized over all of the blubbering and I said, "I forgive you." She didn't say another word all the way home. After we got home she tried to sass a couple more times, but all we had to say to her was "you're skating dangerously close to being a sass" and she stopped.

Someone please tell her that she is FOUR and not FOURTEEN! Is the day over yet???

11.01.2008

6 Mesas

Wow...today Violet is 6 months old. She's getting ready to crawl and is very good at climbing things. I'm happy to say that she's had nothing to drink but breast milk and water and she's only eaten organic foods. She's not had any immunizations at all and she's held ALL THE TIME. Look at us...we're AP and we didn't even try. Haha. Mark my words, though...as soon as these people fix our house and it's warm, dry and bug-free...she's getting sleep trained. She's a pretty easy going kid, but I'm ready for my bed back!

I also have exciting news today. Today I promoted to Future Director with The Pampered Chef! I signed my 2nd recruit and now I'll get a percentage of my recruits' sales plus a raise on mine. I'm going to get a bonus and I can attend the Leadership Conference in January if we have the money to go. I'm REALLY excited about this, because I was totally not trying to promote, but I asked God to make it bigger than I imagined and He is! WOOHOO! I'm hoping to make this month a $3k in sales month, because this is sell-a-thon. Stoneware is 20% off for guests and 60% off for hosts, so it should be easy enough. I want my spring products!

We had a really great day today. We drove through Kaufman and found a Christian bookstore where we got Rhiya's Christmas present, part 2. I'm not going to write it here in case she reads. Suffice it to say we're going to celebrate her last year before becoming a teenager and I think she's going to have a FABULOUS time. We also got some Christian sing-along Baby Einstein-type DVD's for Violet and The Love Dare for us. Along with the best mocha we've had in a while and some spectacular chicken caesar salads. On our beautiful country drive we found a couple garage sales and stopped in. We found a present for GraceAnne, too, that was brand-new in the box and about $20 below retail. Gotta love that! Then we drove to Canton and discovered that we REALLY like east Texas and we REALLY need to go to Trade Days sometime. On the way home we were driving west and the sunset was nothing short of stunning. When we got home we watched one of Violet's DVDs while we ate dinner. It was so relaxing and beautiful. We really need to do that more often! OH YEAH--super cool thing we saw on the trip, too? Gas for 1.99/gallon. Crazy! Most of the stations had it for 2.17 which is EXACTLY the price it was when we drove into WA state almost 5 years ago and I cried because I didn't know how we'd survive with such high gas prices. Of course now I'm excited it's "so low." Ha!

Well, I'll close this so I can snuggle with my first and last hunnies. The middle hunnies are in WA and in bed ;) Hope you all had as Blessed a Saturday as we did! HUGS!

10.30.2008

Fall Festival

The two cutest Trunk-or-Treat babies I know!!
I can still put it all on. Nevermind that I'm slightly fatter and lots grayer...my God, when did I get old?
Not too bad for doing it myself in the mirror with no glasses on! I can't say the web on my neck turned out as aesthetically pleasing.

Tonight was Trunk-or-Treat at the YMCA in Waxahachie. Vendors got to come and decorate trunks for the kids to trick-or-treat at. Of course, mine was all Pampered Chef. I passed out a lot of cards, so hopefully I get some calls soon. GraceAnne had a blast, but Violet was less than enthused to be in her Hunny Pot costume.

Speaking of Violet, today was her 6 month check up. She is 16lb 13.5oz and 27 1/4" long. That's 75th percentile for her weight and 90th percentile for her height. She's gonna be lanky just like her sister! I looked up GraceAnne's stats at the same age and she was 18lb 3oz and 27" long. Vi's been trying to crawl and usually ends up going backwards thanks to the hardwood floors. Who told these kids they could grow up so fast? Oh, yeah--that would have been my husband...oh so eager to have it be just us. :)

10.29.2008

Punkin Pictures

I always forget that these load backwards and then load them in chronological order and they come in wrong--of course. Oh well, I'm too pressed for time to change it. You were promised punkin pictures, so punkin pictures I posted!
I always have to make a stupid pumpkin. Last year I made a mooning butt pumpkin and mine was the ONLY one NOT stolen! How lame. This year my guy is upside down, representing the all kinds of crazy I am. Uhh...you are. Yeah, how crazy YOU are!
Allan likes to do artistic pumpkins and they always come out very basic, but pretty cool. He can't be bothered with the kids' pumpkins, (GraceAnne is so fickle about her design and then it looks like, well--like a 4-year-old designed it), so he picked seeds from the guts so I could bake them later. They turned out AWESOME, too!
Violet's was actually a pie-pumpkin, so it was very thick fleshed. I like the eyelashes and GraceAnne liked them so much she added some onto hers with the marker after I was done.
Here is GraceAnne designing her punkin. You can see the end result above. I do my best to stick to the exact lines she makes.

Carving pumpkins this year was pretty awesome. It was chilly out so we all got to wear sweatshirts and it felt like it was actually pumpkin carving time! It was dark in time to light them on the porch and we were all in awe of the glow from the very different faces. Then we blew them out, turned them around, (lest someone steal Allans, GraceAnne's and Violet's and leave mine, thus making me doubt my artistic skills), and went in the house to bake our seeds.

Hope you all are having just as wonderful a time this fall!

10.28.2008

Oh, and Look at Our New Pritties! :D

Stainless Steel beauty #1! My gorgeous new-to-me stove!
Stainless Steel beauty #2. My gorgeous BRAND new dishwasher!

How cool is this? They are BOTH GE. They both work FABULOUSLY and they're both GORGEOUS! Yeah, we're cool. Now to figure out how to paint the fridge stainless look....hmmmm....

Please, um, excuse the mess. My house is under construction. Yeah, construction! That's what's wrong with it! ;)