Friday, December 21, 2012

His Name is Called...


God with us.

Matthew 1:23,KJV: "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us."

Of all of Jesus' wonderful names, I think this one is my favorite, and the one that brings the most comfort, especially as a single woman who is often lonely, even when I'm not alone.  To think of all Jesus left in Heaven to come here to earth and live as a man - and then die the horrible death He did - just for you and for me, is amazing.  He came, to be with us.  So the lonely need be lonely no more. 

Wherever this finds you, this weekend before Christmas, stop for a second and praise the Lord that He came to be WITH US.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Traditions

I'm linking up today with Kelly's Korner about Christmas traditions.

Growing up, we lived in Ohio far away from both sets of grandparents - Mom's parents were in NY state and Dad's in TX.  So it was generally just the 5 of us for Christmas.  We went to church on Christmas Eve and then afterwards were allowed to open one gift, and it was usually the gift from my Dad's mother and stepfather (not sure why, it just was).

Christmas morning, before any presents were opened, my Dad would read the Christmas story from the Bible, in Luke.

Then one by one, we would open gifts one at a time, so we could see what everyone got - so Dad would open one, then Mom would open one, then I would, then brother #1 would, then brother #2 would, then back to Dad again, etc. until we were finished with all the presents.  I prefer this method over everyone tearing into everything and no one knowing what each other got and seeing the expression on each other's face when Mom opened your present, etc.

Then, we kids would lay out our presents on the sofa on display so Dad could take pictures of what we got to send to grandparents and for the record in our photo albums.  We were blessed that we always had great Christmases - nothing lavish - my Mom didn't work outside the home until my youngest brother went to school, and when she did 100% of it went to college savings - but we got (what I now understand to be) generous presents each year.

Throughout Christmas Day, we would play Handel's Messiah on the record player (yes, I'm that old!)  That's some of my favorite music ever.  We talked to our grandparents on the phone - which, because it was expensive to talk long distance - was a special thing.  We had Christmas dinner - usually ham, Mom's broccoli/green bean casserole, crescent rolls, some kind of jello salad, then pecan and some other kind of pie.  There were probably mashed potatoes but since I don't care for those I don't remember!

From the time I was 12 years old throughout my junior year of high school, Christmas morning also involved delivering the ginormous newspapers first.  My parents were so "generous" to give me a paper route for my 12th birthday.  To their credit, they did a LOT of the work and that money went to pay for college.  The papers were so huge Christmas morning because they had all the day-after-Christmas sale ads in them.

Unfortunately with us now geographically spread out in 3 states and by thousands of miles, my two brothers and their families, Mom and Dad and I haven't been together for Christmas since the last one at the homestead in Lima, OH in 2005.  Maybe some day it will work out.  Mom & Dad have stockings for everyone just in case - including an extra for my spouse-to-be in case the Lord brings one, just so it will match with all the others! :)

So for the past 6 Christmases and this one too, it will be Mom and Dad and I in Houston at their house.  Thanks to the wonderful technology of FaceTime, hopefully we will see my brothers and their families and be able to talk to them sometime that day.  Later in the afternoon, my Dad's side of the family - his sister and her children and their children - will get together for dinner and we will enjoy being part of that.  Since 2001 when I moved down here to TX I have enjoyed being part of a large extended family Christmas dinner.

But if you had to ask me my favorite traditions, I would say listening to Dad read from Luke and listening to Handel's Messiah play in the background.  Because if we lose sight of what Christmas is all about, all the traditions in the world are just worthless.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Our sweet redhead's first birthday

Last weekend Mom, Dad and I went out to CA to celebrate Kaelynn's first birthday.  It was so much fun.  Kaelynn is a sweetie pie.  I was surprised to learn that she can actually pick out Hello Kitty. At first my brother and sister-n-law thought it was a fluke but then store after store, it kept happening.  So that became the theme for the party.  We think it's the big face she sees and likes - and the contrast of the white with black.  Her Mommy got balloons with Hello Kitty on them, including a HK mylar balloon that was bigger than K.  She literally said "!"  I had never heard a one year old say that before!

Kaelynn was fashionably late to her party because she overslept, but we were glad she had a good nap to be in a good mood to host her guests.  We had a house full of about 30 people, including about 8 kids age 6 and under.

When it came to cake time, we were curious to see what Miss Kaelynn would do. Even though the cake was delish (had fudge in the middle of the chocolate layers!), she wanted nothing to do with it!


Kaelynn learned to walk the week before her birthday and is so cute toddling around.  She is a very happy baby.

By far the most precious time for me, though, was the time I got to hold Kaelynn and rock her and read to her.  I know I look a mess in these pictures, but I had just gotten up.  I love how she points to the embroidery on my shirt - and then how she looks up at me, trying to figure out who I am.  Those moments, as well as the ones spent trying to get her to go to sleep at night (she's not the best sleeper and we put her down 2 nights when Mommy and Daddy were out) - were so special.  Because I know all too soon she'll be too big to rock and hold and kiss and cuddle.  I love you, sweet Kaelynn Mae.  Happy 1st birthday, precious girl!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Happy Birthday, Kaelynn!

Kaelynn, my beautiful niece, is one year old today!  I will be headed to CA for the weekend to celebrate her birthday tomorrow and am so excited.

This is such a cute age.  She just started walking and like every baby, she walks like she has wooden legs and wobbles from side to side.  Everything is a discovery at her new vantage point on life/height at which she now sees the world.

She is as cute as she can be with red hair and big hazel eyes.  She looks like her Mommy but is beginning to look some more like Daddy, especially when she smiles.  She is a delight and we are praising the Lord for her little precious, healthy life.  Happy Birthday, sweet girl!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thank you Veterans!!

Today is the one day a year that our nation sets aside to honor our veterans.  I have to admit that prior to my friendship with The Yellow Hats, I was one of millions of Americans that took veterans for granted.  But knowing people my age that selflessly serve with their family has really opened my eyes to the sacrifices that modern day vets make. I have a much greater appreciation now for all of our veterans - past and present.

On Tuesday this week I was going around to people at work and asking them if they voted, saying that people have died for the right to give us this privilege to make our voice heard.  I was absolutely speechless when one girl said "I don't vote". When I said that many people throughout our country's history had died to give her and protect her right to vote SHE ACTUALLY SAID "I didn't ask them to die for me".  I had to walk away, people.  I was so angry I had no words (which for me, is saying a lot).  I really couldn't believe she had said that.  How absolutely irreverent and clueless, among other things I could say.

But I'll save my "why you should vote" soapbox for another day.  I try to appreciate veterans and their sacrifices now year-round and not just one day a year.

THANK YOU to all veterans - past and present - serving here and abroad - for all you sacrifice to make and keep our country free.  I am gravely sorry for taking you and your sacrifices for granted and hope that one day you will receive the honor and gratitude you deserve!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sad Day

Today is a sad day.  My brother and sister-n-law's 6-year-old Boxer Sammy (short for Sampson) lost his battle with cancer.  That is sad enough.  What makes it worse is that they didn't get to say goodbye to him.

I did get to say goodbye to my furry pal (aka child) 11 years ago and it was horrible enough.  He was 12.5 years old and had lived a long, full life.  Sammy was young.

But a couple things I'm reminded of today.  First, in some ways, I need to live my life like Sammy did.  Love life.  Love people.  Forgive fast.  Play whenever possible.  Love hard.

Second, I need to remember that a dog's unconditional love is a reminder of how God loves me.  He doesn't mind when I'm in a bad mood.  He doesn't seem to notice when I don't look my best.  Whether it's been 5 minutes, 5 hours, 5 days or 5 months, He's just as happy to see me.  He gazes at me with eyes of love and devotion.  He loves me without question.  He forgives me completely.  He wants nothing else than to be with me and love me.

Thanks for loving my family, Sammy.  You were such a good buddy.  You've been so brave these past few months fighting hard against the cancer.  I'm glad you're no longer feeling bad.  I hope they have plenty of string balls in doggie heaven!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Mid-Week 20-hour Free Vacation

So I had a very nice, unexpected treat a couple weeks ago.  I needed to go to a conference for work. The location was here:

Since it was technically local, at first I was just planning on driving back and forth.  But then I got to thinking that since the times were 5-9:30 Tuesday night and 7-12 Wednesday and it was about 45 minutes away across the city, it would be great to just stay in a hotel.  Notice I said a hotel.  So I asked my boss.  He said "of course.  Just stay in THE hotel" (emphasis mine).

Here was my room:
Super comfortable bed!
I didn't have time to watch TV, but this gives you a bit of an idea of how big the room was.
This was my view out the window - the beautiful golf course!  Because I got my room at the last minutte, I was in the "East Villas".  It was a 2-3 minute walk from the main hotel.  Would have been a great opportunity for exercise had I not had a bum leg.  But they had 24/7 golf cart shuttle you could call whenever you needed!
And this was my bathroom.  Pure luxury! The shower was huge and the faucet was like a rain shower - so much water, was so wonderful!

The best part of my stay was what I wasn't allowed to take a picture of.  My boss told me I took take part of one of the "activities" offered.  Well, I had already packed my suitcase when that e-mail came in and didn't have suitable clothes for most of the activities, nor would my leg allow things like art museum or the 6th floor (JFK) museum that would have been interesting.  Alas, it was my lot to undergo a free massage!!  The firm would cover the service and I was responsible for gratuity.  I could handle that!  Well, it gets even better!  After a fantastic massage, I got up to the counter and they told me even the gratuity had been covered!!

So that is my tale of a 20-hour mid-week vacation and peek inside how (as my Dad says) "the other half lives".  It was fabulous!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Great News!

I found out today that I'm going to be an Aunt again in April 2013!  My nearly 5 year old blond curly head niece A asked Mommy and Daddy for a baby and they said yes (!!!)  I'm so excited.  This really is an answer to prayer - I didn't want her to be an only child.  As much as I adore my nieces and all the fun things you can buy for them, I'm kind of hoping for a boy this time for my Dad.  It's really important to him that the family name be continued, and my brothers are the last chance for that.  But we will be thankful and praise the Lord for whatever gender He sees fit to give us!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Yard work can be hazardous to my health!

So, purple is my favorite color, just not when it's here....
The weird thing about this is that looking at the foot/ankle you'd assume that the injury was to that area, right?  Well, not exactly.  I was watering my new plants and I tripped on the uneven flagstone.  I landed on the other side of this leg just under my knee and my upper arm.  The next day I stepped down wrong and this ankle turned.  My theory is that this lovely coloring is all the blood pooling at the bottom from all the other lovely bruising I have going on above this. Thankfully nothing is broken or sprained.  It is uncomfortable but ice and elevation help. Just proof that yard word can be hazardous to your health, especially when you're a clutz like me!!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Weekend Warriors to the Rescue!

Here are some "before" pictures of my Garden of Despair:

Pretty much, it's former owners didn't put down landscape cloth + current owner's neglect = a mess.

Then, the Weekend Warriors arrive:

And they do what they do best.  Here are the "after" pics of the Garden of No More Despair:

Amazing, right?  What can I say.  The Weekend Warriors (aka Mom & Dad), are hard workers, perfectionists and love to garden.  We were out at a time on Saturday and Monday mornings that I usually sleep right through, but we had to start early to avoid the heat.  I pulled so many weeds Saturday that every part of me ached by Saturday night.  But now, I'm not depressed every time I come and go from the house to the carport!

After removing the problems.  Here is what we added:
Rain gauge (so I know when I can take off watering) + 2 plants + [very] little tree
Three plants, at least one had/will have purple flowers:
Add the little plant "starts" Mom and Dad brought from their plants at home.  I have affectionately named them The Stick Family.  Supposedly they have great potential.  I'm not sure they are going to survive 105* for a week and the afternoon sun every day, though.  I will do my best to keep them alive but I'm not too hopeful!

Here are some other things my parents helped me with this past weekend, in addition to the yard transformation:
Hanging of towel bars/rings.  Double towel bar took (no exaggeration) 2 hours to hang.  What can I say?  My Dad is thorough and exact. :)

Knobs on all the kitchen cabinets (brushed nickel to match curtain rod):

Hung up some pictures:

These are souveniers from my May 2011 trip to Ukraine to see the Yellow Hats:

This is an addition to my bathroom.  Love me some Anne Geddes babies!

So thankful for Mom & Dad's help with all this stuff!  Hope you had a great Labor Day!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I Support Chick-fil-a

I love Chick-fil-a.

Not just because they have great food (but they do).

I love them not just because they are a Christian company (but they are).

I spent most of my lunch hour today in this line not only because their food was worth it,
but much more importantly, I wanted to show my support for their support of "traditional" (biblical) marriage, as their president Dan Cathy made a statement about in the press (and is now subsequently of course being attacked by many groups).  If you can get to a Chick-fil-a today, show your support!!!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Look who's getting bigger...and even cuter!!!

It's been awhile since I've shown you a picture of Kaelynn.  She's now 8 months old.
 She's growing more and more beautiful red hair and has two teeth on bottom.

She "scoots" around right now and will be crawling very soon.

She and Mommy and Daddy had lots of fun on vacation.
I miss her a lot and hope we will be able to see her this fall, maybe for her first birthday.  Thanks for indulging my Auntie pride! :)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Go Team USA!

Well, I know it's been a while since I've written, but there's not be a whole lot to write about that anyone else would find interesting.  I've just been working hard and long hours at work (so thankful for my great job).  In a couple weeks there will be some excitement with a bath remodel (more on that to come).

But I am SO excited that the Olympics are finally here!!  I LOVE to watch them and will DVR probably every night.  The opening ceremonies are always amazing.  The parade of nations astounds me because I tend to get lost in my little American bubble and lose sight of how vast and diverse our planet really is.

My favorite summer olympic sports are gymnastics and swimming.  What do you like to watch?


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Our wonderful CA weekend

So I haven't re-capped our wonderful Memorial weekend in CA yet that we spent with my youngest brother S, his wife M and their 6 month old baby girl Kaelynn. 

It was great.  We first saw Kaelynn at daycare.  She didn't have a clue who we were but gave us a huge smile.  From there we went to swimming (Mommy & me) class.  She kicked her little legs in the water to get to the toy.

Throughout the weekend we had fun feeding her cereal or fruits & veggies, playing with her on the floor with her toys, watching her jump in her jumparoo, holding her, reading to her and just generally soaking up her 6 month old cuteness.  She's at one of my favorite ages.  Her little mind is just working a mile a minute to learn everything it needs to.  She is responsive to facial expression and makes her own.  Kaelynn is one of the happiest babies I've ever seen.  Even though her teeth were bothering her, she still smiled a lot.  Her red hair is too cute.

We saw a lot of this million dollar smile!
This last picture is hysterical.  We were babysitting and were desperately trying to get her to stay awake until bedtime so she wouldn't wake up too soon in the night for her parents.  She hadn't napped well and was exhausted as you can tell by her little eyes.  My Dad pulled out his phone and started playing songs for her.  She loves music and it worked, but doesn't it look like the poor little thing is saying, "really, Granddad?  Can't I just go night-night, please?"

What a sweet girl.  What a sweet age.  What a sweet time, making memories.  As always our time was too short, but I was glad we got to go.