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!


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!


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!


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!


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!


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.


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!


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!


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.

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.


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.


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!

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



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!



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???


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!