Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Wishes


Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas! Here's our card for this year.....let me know if you'd like one.
Apparently, I don't have as many friends as I thought. I've got a few dozen left.....(you can click on the photo to see it larger).
Also, thank you to all those who allowed me the opportunity of designing a Christmas card for you! I loved each project, and I will hopefully post some of my favorites on my other blog (www.creative-blank.blogspot.com) soon!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Honesty is the Best Policy?

I received this award from my sweet friends, Amy and Autumn. Here are the rules:

"When you receive the prize, you must write a post showing it, together with the name of who has given it to you, and link them back. Choose a minimum of 7 blogs that you find brilliant in their content or design. Show their names and links and leave them a comment informing that they were prized with 'Honest Weblog'. List [if you can and/or dare] at least ten honest things about yourself. Then, pass it on!"

And here are the 10 honest things about me...in no particular order:

1. My friend, Marsha, tells me often that I have "boldness of spirit" but really what I have is the inability to control my tongue. Some things aren't meant to be shared. I apparently don't have that particular filter, and I will say things that, more often than not, hurt someone's feelings. I often leave a conversation feeling as though I said too much or was too "big" for the crowd. Does that make sense?

2. I have severe PMS (me, too, Rachel!). I've struggled with it ever since I can remember, and it oftentimes is incapacitating. Sometimes I can't shake it off, and it will linger for weeks at a time. Sadly, the person who notices this the most is my husband.

3. I find myself often trying to "get out" of my motherhood duties by arranging playdates, shopping with the kids, or asking my husband to help out. I really, really hate those days when nothing is on the agenda, and I have to entertain the girls. It's a selfish response, really. I have to remind myself over and over to "die to self."

4. I am physically out of shape. Although I have been blessed with being genetically skinny, I could not run a race to save my life. At this point, I couldn't even participate in a "Sit and Be Fit" class without getting sore! I know I need to do some cardio to get my heart properly running, but I have no motivation to do so.

5. I am a negative thinker.

6. I am sort of good at a lot of things, but not really good at any one thing. This really bothers me. I'd love to have one talent or one skill that defines me or that I'm known for.

7. I did not have a close relationship with my mom and sometimes I'm a little uncertain how to connect with my girls. My mother wasn't a "hugger" and didn't express her love physically. I really have to work on remembering to physically touch and love on my girls. It's not a natural response for me.

8. If I could have breast augmentation without my girls knowing, I would. I breastfed all three of my babies, and it's a badge I wear with honor. But, let's face it, not every mommy can walk away with a body like Heidi Klum! (this probably falls under the TMI category....but review point #1).

9. I struggle with contentment. It seems I always have my eye on the "next thing" ......next project, next purchase, next home, next phase of life, etc.

10. I bathe every night without fail, which includes shaving my legs and washing my hair. I never miss. On the rare occasion that I have had to skip a shower for some random reason, I usually can't sleep because the bed sheets don't "feel right."

Okay, so there you have it! More information about me than you've ever wished for or wanted. And I'm certain you'll avoid me in the hallway the next time you see me.....

I tag the following people:

Kimberly P.
Nicksterland
Flo
Jamie
Heather
Diary of a Playdate Dropout
Juli B
Kesleigh

I'm too lazy to link them on this post....so just look on my blog lists to find them.

Love ya!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Well, hello there!

I am going to ramble here because I realize it's been forever since I've posted. I was seriously even tempted to just close up shop until after Christmas, but the thought of losing all of you precious readers drove me to post!


My life can be described in two little words: controlled chaos. Anyone know what I'm talking about? There has been so much activity lately....things that really are too boring to mention here. On Sunday, as I was planning my week ahead, I realized that every single night of the week was booked--which meant that I would not be cooking dinner, which meant we would not be eating together as a family. In my book, that's tragic.

I may not be great at most things, but I do get a little possessive about family meal time. I don't really even like to cook, and sometimes the burden of coming up with a menu for Picky #1, Picky #2, and Picky #3 is too much! However, I value the way a home cooked meal feels.....around the dinner table; together as a family.

Please don't misunderstand, even while we're eating--it is still controlled chaos. The two little ones crawling under the table, the oldest hurriedly eating so she can resume checking her email, me claiming a small victory for each morsel of food I get into Emerie's mouth, Cody trying to hold conversation with anyone who is paying attention. Oh, yeah. It's pure insanity.

But you know what? It's a memory. I don't really remember too many meals 'round the dinner table from my childhood. Both my parents worked outside of the home, which kept them super busy. But the times I do remember eating together as a family (even the times I hated what we were eating) are cherished memories.

I was sharing my frustration with my wise mommy friends, and most agreed that I needed to give myself a break. My expectations needed to be lowered, they said. And, I agree. CanI admit to you that when order food at a drive through, I get a little bit embarrassed at who might recognize my car? Isn't that insane?

I guess I feel like a failure when I can't provide a home-cooked meal for my family. Partly it's about nutrition, but mainly it's about the tradition of the meal. I think I'm justified to want to protect that, but I also think I'm a little too consumed by it. A frozen pizza and macaroni shouldn't feel like failure. Driving through Bush's Chicken shouldn't require a trench coat and sunglasses.

Any psycho therapists out there willing to diagnose me? In the meantime, if any of you have any great weeknight meals, could you leave the recipe in my comments section?

Until next time........

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Life With A Toddler

I really don't think any words are necessary! I just wanted to give you sneek peak into my daily life. Hang in there tired and weary mommies! This really is the good stuff......



Applying makeup.....the way mommy does!




Yes, those are panties she is wearing over her jeans!



This is a battle we're just not choosing to fight.


Nice goggles.....and nice nose boogies!




Thursday, November 6, 2008

Because I'm Just Not Busy Enough


Check out my other Adventure Series......Adventures of a Work-From-Home SuperMom!


Just kidding.....


But you can check out my other blog to see what else I've been up to.....because I really needed something else to do, and apparently I like torture.




Many of you know I've been dabbling a bit in digital designing for a few years now, and I've decided to launch a side business called Creative Blank.

My first endeavor will be a Christmas Card By Design Extravaganza--custom designed Christmas cards for your family to be designed by me and printed by you (or some other photo fininshing company!).

You can email me for an information sheet with prices, instructions and details. My email is cbeeler@grandecom.net

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Oh No She Didn't!


.....or rather, Yes she did!







She turned 13 today. This morning around 7 am to be exact.






I am shrieking with misery at the mere thought of being the mom of a teenager! But here I am, and here I go.



I will buy her a training bra and a copy of "Are You There God? It's Me Margaret." I will wrap these gifts in a pretty package and let her open them during her lunch at school.



I will also smile discreetly when she shrieks in horror.





Happy Birthday, baby! You were (and still are) the best surprise of my life.



***********************

(thanks for your prayers for KL and her best friend, Phoebe.....things seem to be moving in the right direction!)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A PMS Rant

I've been in a little funk lately, and I think I know why. PMS. Does anyone else go through this month after month after month? Oh, the docs call it some fancy schmancy name now, like PMDD, or something. They even have a birth control pill with a little "happy component" that supposedly helps you get through the week of funk.

I did try this little pill last fall and let's just say that the side effects were a little too much for me. I wasn't moody......but I was just blah the entire time. This month has proven a little bit more of a deeper funk than usual, and I thought I'd let you in on my PMS-induced ramblings.

Here's how my mind works when I'm in the "funky zone": Saturday I received my Digital Scrapbooking magazine in the mail, which I typically devour in 10 minutes. After reading the magazine, I found myself really upset that there were so many new tips and techniques listed that I had no idea about. This made me think about how little I know about digital designing, which made me wonder why many of my friends consider me really knowledgeable in this area, which made me think that maybe I've deceived my friends, which made me question why I had any friends at all. See? Funky crazy.

My mind just hasn't been itself lately. I am tired of my lack of discipline in the exercise arena, but I refuse to put my kids in the gym childcare. I feel like I'm a jack of all trades, but a master of none. I'm sad that many of my days are spent "just getting by" and that I'm not embracing all that motherhood has to offer me (or all that I have to offer my kids). I'm upset that my husband is at a national meeting for four days, and I have no idea where he is (not because he didn't tell me but because I didn't ask...again, the PMS). And then there's this blog......

Don't get me wrong, I really love writing when I get a chance. But blogging upsets me right now, too. Today it feels like a popularity contest.....or a "pretty blog" contest. Oh, I love all the ones I read faithfully and, oftentimes, feel more attached to these people than I really should. But what irks me are the bloggers who post on subjects like: Give Me Your Opinion If Artificial Greenery In Your House Is Good Or Bad and that post will generate 68 comments. Really. Really? (And for the record I DO have a few artificial plants here and there.....)

And did I mention that my almost-teenage daughter is giving me attitude? I have lost all desire to be "cool mom" (and lost that title years ago), but I am by no means a fuddy-duddy. So why does she act embarrassed at the sight of me or roll her eyes when I'm trying to tell a funny story? It hurts my feelings. And my feelings want to pinch her little head off.

Finally, I'm wondering about a phenomena that continues to occur in my house. Whenever I sit at the computer, both of my little girls think that is the signal for "ask mommy for many, many things in a row".....I need juice (or snack, or movie, or whatever else comes to their little minds), or Landrie will talk incessantly......incessantly, people. Or she will ask me to watch her color....because I simply have nothing better to do, and I'm sitting at the computer which is the universal sign for "completely bored and needs something to do". Whatever the request is.....it only occurs when I'm at the computer. The kids have no use for me otherwise.

Do you feel like you're on a roller coaster? More importantly, are you screaming to get off? Me, too. If any of you have tips or tricks for dealing with PMS....PMDD....crazy......my family sure would appreciate it.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Name That Tune

Emerie has recently graduated from singing songs to singing several stanzas of the same song. Here's a catchy little tune that you might recognize. (don't forget to turn off the background music...just push the pause button.)

Isn't it precious to hear our children singing about our wonderful Savior?! And I love her little hand motions...those chubby fingers.

Enjoy this......(American Idol here we come!)

video

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Just a Few Photos

If writing a post for this blog could take 15 minutes or less, you might see more posts (does this happen to anyone else or am I just a super slow blogger?!). However, that never happens....and my time is so limited that, unfortunately, blogging has fallen by the wayside.

So to appease you until I can get some significant blogging time, here are a few photos from my life.

We attended our annual Fall Hayride at the Lisenby's again this year, with nothing but perfect weather! While this family photo is not worthy of the annual Christmas card, it is rare to capture all five of us looking the same direction!



Here is my phenomenal athlete of a husband showing off his man-skills. How do I know he's a phenomenal athlete? Because he tells me every chance he gets. I married him for his humility.

And here's my able-bodied husband again looking rather dapper! He and Landrie were dressed for the Father/Daughter Tea that afternoon. Yes, we have two other daughters, I know. But Landrie is our favorite, so she was chosen as Cody's date. Just kidding! This tea was for girls ages 3-7. Isn't that such a sweet tradition to start for daddies and daughters?

And, finally.....here is a "Happy Fall" photo that was taken to send out via email. Did you get one? No? Oh....that's because I forgot to do it. The story of my life these days. Plus, I thought it would look odd that only one of my daughters was in the photo. But Landrie was in a bad mood and Kellie-Laine thought the scare crow was embarrassing. Emerie hopped onto the bench, no questions asked.

Do you notice something about the photo? Only my most faithful readers will see.....EMERIE IS SMILING! I said, "Smile, Emerie" and this was the look she gave me!!! Sniff, sniff......my little girl has reached another milestone. She is properly camera-trained. Happy Fall, Y'all!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I've Been Tagged....Twice!

I guess that means I should comply! Here are the rules:


1. Open your pictures folder.
2. Go to the sixth folder.
3. Open the sixth picture.
4. Import into your blog and tell the story.


So here's the photo:



This photo was taken in 2007 on our Spring Break trip to Wimberly/San Antonio. Our orignial plan was to spend three days in Wimberly....hiking, rafting, playing in the river. But Mother Nature had different ideas and it rained.....the entire time.

If you know anything about Wimberly, the entire livelihood of this place is the river and it's associated activities. It rained so hard that our cottage started flooding! Adding insult to injury, Flo and Grace had traveled three hours to partake in our vacation.

After a full 24 hours of being indoors and letting the kids watch too much TV (something our kids can do at home!).....Cody decided he would fix the problem. He took us all to Sea World! Thank goodness that the hour trip there gave us a little distance from the monsoon, and it turned out to be a really wonderful, overcast, cool day with Shamu!

So there you have it......now I tag: Nicksterland, Heather B., Flo, Rachel, Mimi, and Juli B.!

Love you, girls!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Return on Investment

I am going to write this post but let me first add a disclaimer:



The story I'm about to tell is true.

These are actual events.

The people involved are not paid actors.

The moral of the story is not that private, Christian schools are better than public schools...so don't even go there.




Are we good now? This is an important, heart warming story, and I don't want you to miss the point by focusing on whether or not I'm saying private school is a superior education. We can debate that next time....(and I will win) but that's for another time, right?.

First a little history. This is a story about Kellie-Laine and her best friend, Phoebe. Here they are so you have a visual:





And here they are again, showing that best friends really do take on each other's nasty habits:

These girls have been best friends since Phoebe moved here many years ago, and luckily for our families, Phoebe's mom, Julie, is one of my most treasured friends on this planet. Isn't that just a perfect set up?

We have been through a lot with these girls....first camp experience, first crushes, family vacations, countless sleepovers, school projects, etc. But as many of you well know, best friends can have their blowouts....and we've seen this side of things, as well.

(Did anyone else have a traumatic Jr. High experience with their friends, or is it just me? I seem to remember that season of life was peppered with intense insecurity, flaky friendships, and lots of d-r-a-m-a. Can I get an "amen" here?)

So Julie and I weren't terribly surprised when the girls started bickering this week--it is, after all, what Jr. High girls do, right? However, we were surprised when three days later, the girls continued to come home in tears about the cruelty of the other girl. The drama escalated and infiltrated the entire 7th grade, and all the girls ended up choosing to side with either Phoebe or Kellie-Laine. Most chose to be on Phoebe's side, and I was left with a very crushed, very hurt little girl.

So after a quick email to Julie asking for her opinion of the situation and some intense praying over the girls, I received a call yesterday from our school's principal. "Angela, do you have a few minutes?" she asked. I should have known something was amiss, but our principal is pretty connected with each of the families in our school, so I simply thought she was calling about marketing or school board stuff. Her next question clued me in, "Can you tell me a little bit about what's going on with Kellie-Laine?" And then my heart dropped.

In a nutshell, the principal and the girls' Bible teacher had noticed the tension amongst the girls and started asking some questions -- which opened the floodgate of tears. So the principal, Mrs. Moore, called Julie and me to ask if they could pull the girls out of class for some "counseling". In fact, both the Bible teacher (Mrs. Johnson) and Mrs. Moore wanted a chance to speak with the girls, so the principal subbed for Mrs. Johnson during her class so that she could have some time alone with the girls. Mrs. Moore, in turn, kept the girls after school to make sure things were on the right track. Heartwarming, right?

I know I don't have to spell this out, but I cannot tell you how blessed I was by this whole situation. For starters, during the girls' counseling session, I called Julie on the phone and we spent a few minutes tearfully praying for our girls. I cannot get over the completeness and joy in that friendship....our love for each other, for our girls, and for our Lord. Secondly, I love that we are part of a school that values the emotional well-being of a child as much as his or her academic success. Our school truly, truly filters everything through the eyes of Christ. Whether it's a school field trip, choosing curriculum, or even drama-infused relationships....there is always the foundation of Jesus' love, grace and mercy in every approach.

So, Kellie-Laine got in the car after the counseling sessions and had obviously been crying...but she was happy. "I feel a lot closer to Mrs. Moore now," Kellie-Laine said, "but I don't like people to see me cry." (The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, now does it?) And as we talked over her day, the drama, what she learned, and what the future looked like, I knew things were going to be okay. I was reminded of what Paul says in Romans 5: "...but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." This was definitely one of those character-building opportunities that he speaks of, and I'm so glad both the parents and the school administration was eager and willing to walk alongside these girls.

We invest thousands of dollars each year on private school---it is sacrifice at times. Especially when I think about how much money we would save if we weren't paying for two (almost three) girls in private school.....bigger house? Better vacations? But each time that fleshy desire and doubt starts to creep in, the Lord reminds me that our investment is also an eternal one.

Yesterday, I got a glimpse of our investment portfolio. So far, we're making huge gains.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Life in Photos

My life in photos.....



Life with a five-year-old who insists on getting the sparkly character shoes I swore I would never buy:

Life with a toddler who thinks rainboots and cowgirl boots are the same thing:

Life begins when daddy gets home:
Life is dangerous when you go to use the potty and come back to find your toddler here:
Life is simpler when birthdays are simple:

When life gives you pinto beans in a box:


Life with Harley, our new puppy:

In life, the only thing that matters to a 7th grader is that you have the right socks to match your volleyball uniform:




Life is gymnastics....and the perfect leg warmers:







Life makes me smile when I see Kellie-Laine crawl in bed with her sister each night:



Life with Girls:


Monday, September 29, 2008

Tinsel Teeth

In between all of my hiney wiping and juice cup filling, I realized that I never updated you on Kellie-Laine's new grin. Well, here she is......get out your sunglasses!




And, well, it just wouldn't be right or fair if I didn't post this lovely picture of her:


It is, after all, my main goal in life to embarass this child....or at least that's what she thinks. (According to her, I embarass her about 50 times a day. Or whenever I speak.)
So after a few days of eating chicken noodle soup, ice cream and anything she could swallow whole, Kellie-Laine has finally adjusted to her new grill. I must admit that things have certainly changed in the orthodontist arena since I was a kid.
Back when I had braces, the only "cool thing" about it was the different color rubber bands or the color of your retainer. Today, the orthodontist visit is an experience complete with tooth brushing station, computerized check in, waiting game-room, and a Kerurig coffee bar. The kids can earn "money" by wearing the orthodontist's custom t-shirt, making all A's, visiting their regular dentist for check-ups, flossing each day, etc. This money can buy all sorts of stuff from shopping gift certificates to ipod shuffles. No joke.
I'm wondering if the orthodontist would consider refunding some of our money if we opt out of their incentive program?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Less-Than-Traditional Aggie Football Game

Is there such a thing, you ask? I wouldn't have agreed until this past Saturday when the Beeler family hit the road to College Station for the A&M vs. Miami game. And for the record, I am here to testify that this game was, yes, less than traditional....for many reasons.





First of all, let me back up and say that we took Kellie-Laine and Landrie with us to the game, which was a first for our family. Usually, I send Cody and Kellie-Laine to cheer on the Aggies, which means standing up for four hours straight. No, thanks. I'll stay at home with the little offspring and sit on the couch while they play at my feet.





This year, though, I decided that Emerie was the golden child who could actually be given to a babysitter for longer than two hours without that particular sitter feigning some sort of strange illness to get out of the job. She's easy and fun, and she has a cute little dimpled smile which will just melt your heart no matter how rotten she's acting.





The game went much like I had anticipated: I got carsick; Landrie asked to go home after the first ten minutes; the girls went into sugar shock from the snacks we bribed them with; Landrie attempted to spread out her coloring books on the jam-packed stadium seats; Landrie got frustrated when the sixty people on either side of us wouldn't "schooch down" to make room for the coloring book; Kellie-Laine was completely mortified any time I participated in the Aggie yells; Cody was distracted and was pretty useless as a parent; and I experienced extreme fatigue and muscle soreness from climbing 22 ramps to get to our seats in the Zone. What a way to spend $300 bucks, right?





Okay, so back to the less-than-traditional Aggie game. I made several observations while people-watching from my seat (which was waaaaay more interesting than the football game). You need to know that I graduated from A&M in 1997....when things were a bit more traditional (although I'm sure the guy who graduated in 1979 is laughing at that last sentence!). Anyway, the main observation is that the collegiate attire has changed drastically. Back in the day, a cool maroon t-shirt was all you really needed. These days.....that same maroon t-shirt has been fashioned into a skin-tight halter top; complete with Coach handbag and Chanel sunglasses. Also, there were many gals who wore t-shirt morphed-halter-dresses with an Aggie emblem on the chest or buttocks and trimmed with lace or ribbon. (I must admit I thought these were so precious! But not on the two year old). Other surface observations occurred to me as well, like the fact that apparently Daisy Duke shorts have made a comeback. And, the youth of today have gotten so much more beautiful....guys and gals.





But the real diversion from the stereo-typical A&M home game occurred during the half-time show. As a prelude to the Aggie Band (which personifies Aggie Tradition), there was a guest performance by the Prairie View A&M Show Band.



Folks, they aren't called a "Show Band" for nothin'.




Words cannot even describe what took place on that field, but here are a few snippets:


--The Announcer would say things like: "Sit back while we do our thang..." or "Watch us bring it to you" and finally, "Go with us while we swim in the ocean" (this is what he said as the band fell on to their backs and simulated some kind of pelvic gyrating).


-- The dance team sat hunkered in a corner covered in a dark, velvet cape......UNTIL......the announcer introduced us to the "Black Foxes."


--Upon hearing their esteeming introduction, the Black Foxes threw off their capes and stood in all their majesty and glory in nothing more than an outfit specifically made for adult entertainment.


--Upon throwing off their capes, Landrie became hypnotized by their beauty and said: "I wish I could have a dress like that!" (remember her love of inappropriate clothing? This should tell you a little something about their attire.......)


-- The Black Foxes are, apparently, double jointed in places most of us aren't.....and proudly displayed it.


--I had to cover Landrie's eyes during various parts of the "performance."


-- It was the only part of the game Landrie enjoyed.


--Even Kellie-Laine was giving me the "raised eyebrows" look.


--I told Cody we needed to go to church. IMMEDIATELY.


Let me defend all of this commentary by saying that if I didn't have my girls with me.....I WOULD HAVE TOTALLY LOVED THIS SHOW.


It really rocked. But not in a "I'd love for my girls to be involved in this one day" kind of way, you know?


Gig 'em.



Tuesday, September 23, 2008

In Case You're Wondering

Some of you may remember my post about little Miss Emerie and her less-than-angelic poses for the camera. You may, in fact, be wondering if the child has been properly trained by now.


I'm going to let you be the judge:













So the short answer is obviously "no." The child still wads her face up into a tight contortion, and there doesn't seem to be any hope for the future that she'll do otherwise. A smile is kind of a hard thing to describe to a two-year-old, right?
We have a gift certificate with my favorite photographer here in Waco, but I'm too scared to use it. Even the most talented photoshop editor would have difficulties with this face!
*************
In other Beeler news, please mourn with me the loss of my not first, but second laptop hard drive replacement. I don't know if I can say this any clearer: buy a HP Pavilion only if you enjoy losing all of your most precious data every 6 months. I looked up the definition of the word "Pavilion" in the dictionary and actually gleened a lot of information from it. Apparently, the definition of Pavilion is: an ornate tent, which I find rather appropriate seeing as how this laptop is nothing more than a lovely, ornate black box--filled with defective hard drives.
I want----no, I need----a Mac. But for now, I'll settle for this lovely HP Pavilion which makes me froth at the mouth each time I touch it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Angela Economics

I will be the first to admit that I know NOTHING about the stock market, Dow average, American economics, or sub prime mortgages. I took one Economics class while at Texas A&M and the only thing I learned was what an "Opportunity-Cost situation" was. And, believe me, I live most of my days in the opportunity-cost dynamic. A perfect example is this: is the opportunity to participate in the Body Shaping class worth the cost of puking afterwards? To which I mentally yell, "Hell no!" and I, once again, thank my lucky stars that I was forced into that Economics class my freshman year.

Back to the main point...... most of my financial information comes from Dave Ramsey, and I often find myself texting Cody to say: Dave just said we need to put 15% into retirement...do we do that? To which Cody will reply: yes, and I could invest a lot more if you'd quit shopping. And thus goes the conversation......

In the past few days I've been reading a lot about these investment banks that are failing due to sub-prime mortgages, and that got me wondering things that my mind has no business wondering about because it will inflict serious injury on my temporal lobe. So here's my silly, mush-brained question about this situation: if sub-prime mortgages are causing so much grief both to consumers and to the lending institutions--why were the loans given in the first place?

If Sally and Bob can't afford the $450,000 house right now....why give them the loan for it? Why don't Sally and Bob wait and save up money? Or better yet, why don't Sally and Bob go for a smaller, less expensive home? I don't get why America is having to bail out people who are in financial crisis because they can no longer afford their massive house payments. I don't get why banks offer crazy financing options to try to "make it work" for the next five years and then start huge balloon payments, only to find that thousands of people cannot afford the higher payment. Really, people, am I missing something here?


Cody and I live in a very modest home--nice, but modest. And while there are many moments when we feel like jumping the gun and buying or building our dream home, we know that the only way we'll do it is when we've saved up enough money to afford it. Not with the bank's crazy financing.....not by using our retirement....not by dipping into the kids' college fund....but just by good ol' earning and saving.


Cody and I both had some pretty significant debt when we first married, and with Dave Ramsey's help and a little discipline, today we've got zero debt. Zippo. Zilch. I hope this doesn't sound boastful, but I am quite proud that we have accomplished a goal that many people will spend their entire lives trying to reach. It's just not the "American way" is it? It's counter-culture to be debt free and live within or below our means....and we love it.

Now I need to let you know that part of the reason we live like this is because Cody's job is 100% commission.....which means that on any given month his paycheck could be $25. Then I would be forced to find a job that pays well.....at night......because I want to stay home with my children. The only job I can think of that meets these two requirements is a job that involves dancing and a pole--and I'm just not going to do that. But I digress......

Listen, I know you don't visit this blog to get financial lectures or economic lessons, so I apologize for the uncharacterisitc subject matter. Actually, I'm just trying to prove that SuperMom has a little depth and can think about things other than filling juice cups, wiping hineys, or upcoming vasectomies. I just want you to know that if any of you are currently struggling with debt, you should really check out Dave Ramsey's website. He has a book and a radio show (check your local listings.....I've ALWAYS wanted to say that!!), and he has literally changed the lives of so many families in America. And if the Democrats do what I think they're going to do if elected (raise taxes) we'll all need to find ways to make our dollar stretch.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

K for Kim Says......

(here's another post from my guest blogger, Kim.)

Keepin' it Real:

Okay – so now that I’m a sort-of-blogger, my life has suddenly gotten more interesting. At least to me. I find myself going through the daily grind writing a fabulous story about all the previously mundane things in my life.

You know you do it, too.

For some, it’s a soundtrack in your head as your child plays his or her sport. For others, it’s a romance novel in which your husband sweeps you off your feet again and again. You could be that scrap-booker who is documenting a picture-perfect life. Or like me, you could be writing some fabulous story of how you’re saving the world by your amazing talents… or something like that.

All of which has gotten me thinking…why is it we think we need a better life?

I know you all have at least one friend that sends the dreaded Christmas letter. You know the one. Everything in her life is absolutely perfect – which makes your own life seem so pathetic by comparison. Her kids are the smartest, best-looking, most courteous, highest-achieving kids ever born. Her husband treats her like a queen, is the perfect dad, and gets a promotion every single year. She hand-sews all their clothes, cooks certified organic gourmet meals, volunteers all over town, and looks better than she did in high school. Oh and don’t forget - they spent the whole summer in Europe. Blah, blah, blah. (Okay – I am making a little bit of that up. But you know what I mean.)

Sometimes I feel like we are all trying to prove something. Trying to “one-up” each other. Keep up with the Joneses.

How about just being real?

Oh, it’s not easy. The make-believe life is much more fun! But what are we saying to ourselves – and to our husbands, our kids, our friends - when we can’t be authentic people even when life is hard, when it’s mundane – maybe even a little boring?

There’s no glory in scrubbing the toilet, doing endless loads of laundry, or cleaning up dog vomit. (Yes, I did that today.) Believe me, housework is the absolute lowest thing on my list of priorities. If you’ve ever been over here, you know that is an understatement! But keeping house shows a grateful spirit for what we’ve been given – both to God and to the one who is working so hard to pay for it all. Doesn’t have to be perfect…just making the effort counts (at least that’s what I’m hoping!)

I’d rather be shopping than driving kids all over town but by being their chauffeur, I’m showing them that I want to be a part of their lives (and I do!) – not to mention I get to hear all kinds of interesting things, especially if a chatty classmate has come along for the ride! I also hope they are learning what it means to work together by going through the process of “making it all happen.” We all have to give up a little to make it work for the group – a little self-sacrifice can go a long way in keeping the peace in our house full of individual agendas.

And the hard stuff? Like disappointments, loss, illness, suffering…even death. Those are a part of our life story, too. Accepting those, and seeing God in them is part of growing up. And I’m not talking about the kids here. Yes, they learn through those - I’m hoping they are learning what it is to lean on God because they see me doing that. It’s not at all glamorous. Sometimes it is painful. The soundtrack in your head (if there is any) is melancholy and doesn’t always resolve nicely in the end. But you know as well as I do that where real life is - where real growth happens - is in the hard times…where God is all you’ve got.

As I’m going through my days, I hope I can find contentment and fulfillment in my real life…in all of it.And I’m hoping my real life is the same as the one in playing in my head.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Girl In the Window

Each morning I log on to my computer, check my email, and read the Fox News headlines. I will admit that I usually skip over any headline involving politics or business. I read the articles dealing with really, really sad things like the Virginia dad who gave his life to save his drowning son, the mother who made her children drink toilet cleaner and then took her own life, or the baby who is now dead because the CPS system failed....again.

I'm not sure why I put myself through this torture, and at times I wonder if it desensitizes me a bit. I'm really not shocked at the things I read anymore. And more and more, I realize that we are making God not just angry or sad, but heartbroken. I believe He is crying, wondering how we, the very people He created, can so blatantly thumb our noses at Him. And that makes me cry, too.

So I came across this news story about The Girl In The Widow, and, of course, I read it. And the gal who hates to cry....bawled my eyes out.

I'm wondering what it will take to make us act instead of re-act....pay attention instead of ignore. How many lives have to be snuffed out...How many children have to suffer....before we help?

I don't know the answer to this problem, but rest assured I will be on my knees talking to God about it. I urge you to do the same.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Things I've Learned

(thanks for the post idea, Kes!)

For the first time in my blogging history, I'm feeling the burden of the blog. I think the craziness of school, life, kids, athletic events, the endless filling of juice cups, homework, pre-teen attitudes, five-year-old tantrums and hiney-wipings has brought me to the brink of insanity. And adding one more thing to my "To Do" list just might push me over that brink.

Just as I peer over the edge of insanity, wondering if "Ange-La-La Land" will be filled with gummy bears and unicorns, I remember: I haven't updated my blog.

And then I jump.......

So I can't really say that this particular post is filled with inspiration and creativity. Rather, it is filled with obligation and pity. Nonetheless, here are the Things I've Learned in the past three weeks since school has started for my girls:

1. Two Days of Mother's Day Out for Emerie? HALLELUJAH! Praise God for MDO!!

2. Overnight, my oldest daughter morphed into a teenager.....and I now look more like her sister than her mom.

3. The decision to hold Landrie back a year before starting Kindergarten was.....worth it.

4. Getting a new puppy for Kellie-Laine two weeks before school started makes her puppy.....my puppy.

5. Receiving four phone calls before 9 am on any given morning is a blessing and a curse.

6. My summer tan is now my summer fade. Spray tanning, here I come!

7. I said "yes" to too many projects and commitments.

8. I have too many opinions and not enough friends to share them with.

9. My children will not be better off because their lunch box matches their back pack which matches their nap mat which matches their hair bow.

10. Teachers don't understand that some moms have more than one child.

11. Puking after your first body shaping class in two years does NOT increase your self-esteem.

12. The cellulite on the back of my thighs does NOT increase my desire to attend a body shaping class.

13. I never thought I'd be a mom who missed any of my kids' events....until now.

14. I was convinced that my girls hated each other.....until they went back to school.

15. A clean house is an empty house.

16. A clean car means I am dead.

17. I could not do my job without my husband.

18. I'd never laugh without my girlfriends.

19. There would be no need for a "no-no" stick without my girls.

20. I would not trade my life for anything. Thank you, Jesus.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Perspective

This past week, I heard the sighs and sobs of mothers all across the country as their children, once again, started a new school year. The first day of school is tough for some; torture for others....and then there's me. I held Landrie's hand as we walked into the school building, then flung her into her classroom, kissed her quickly on the forehead, and went running through the halls yelling, "Freeeeeeeeedom!"

We're all different, right? In addition to the emotional turmoil associated with the first day of school, I received an email from one of my closest, dearest friends who had just sent her oldest son off to Baylor University last week. Most of you know that I am NOT a cry-er. I hate to cry so badly that I will do inappropriate things to keep from doing so.....like crack a joke at the wrong time or make weird facial contortions. But after reading that particular email, I bawled. And I realized that it was just the right dose of perspective that I needed because as much as I enjoy the quiet peacefulness when I'm home alone, one day it will be a permanent sound.

So, I wanted to share Kim Stevens' email with you (with her permission of course), and together we have decided that she may become a regular Guest Blogger for me. (She is too lazy to start her own blog, and I am too lazy to post regularly. We're a good fit.)

For those of you who don't know Kim (all three of you), she is a mother of four. She has a strong relationship with the Lord. She is fair and honest. She is quite the fashionista. She is also a cry-er and will cry at the drop of a hat which drives me crazy on Sunday mornings because even though I hate to cry, it is a first response for me. And I tear up every time I see Kim cry....which is, like, no less than 40 times on Sunday mornings. But most importantly, she is someone from whom I regularly seek advice, and I believe that God has entrusted her with vast amounts of wisdom. I love this chic, and I hope her email gives each one of you that daily dose of perspective that we so desperately need to get through the hardest job on the planet known as Motherhood.

**********

I’ve decided blogging is the new scrapbooking: a venue to share thoughts, feelings and photos abut your life with family, friends and complete strangers. While I am not ready to hop on the blogging train, there are times when I think, “If I only had a blog, I’d say (fill in the blank here).” Most of the time it’s things like: Britt’s Burger Barn has the BEST hamburgers & onion rings in Waco. Or – this woman-who-hates-to-shave has found a terrific razor, the Venus 5-blade, that actually makes shaving bearable. Or – Johnny Carinos has a great deal on Monday nights for families. (We can feed our entire family for $10-15!) You get the idea.

This morning, if I had a blog, I’d write about our first days of school - the time of year that every mother looks forward to with anticipation and dread. We took our 2nd child on Monday, our youngest two this morning, and will take our oldest tomorrow. We have some monumental first days of school this year. Our 2nd born, Nicholas started high school. Having been through that once before, I thought it might be a little less difficult. But - having been through that once before, I know a little more about what challenges he will face in these next four years…how his character and faith will be tested and proven, how his body will change to become another man in the house, and how his future will be impacted by the choices he makes.

Our younger two, Matthew and Elizabeth, are still at the same school. Their uniforms and shoes are a little bigger, the supply lists a little longer, and the quietness in our house a little more deafening. Yesterday, I was so tired. So ready for a break. This morning, I miss them.

It was fun seeing old friends this morning at drop-off. The kids are excited about new lockers, new teachers, and the new year. All the moms had fake smiles on their faces as they hugged and greeted each other. We’re all “doing great” – yeah, right. We’re all lying…our hearts are all breaking at the thought of another year that will fly by in our children’s lives. We all know they are growing up way too fast.

Which brings me to tomorrow…

Another monumental first day of school.

We will be up bright and early to drive our oldest child, Benjamin, to college. I will spend the day today helping him pack up his life here into a bunch of suitcases and boxes, and that will be that. Those of you who have been down this road know – you know the heart-ache, the pain, the loss. I never knew how your physical heart could literally hurt until this last fall when we began that final year of having him home.

Oh I know, it’s not like it’s forever. It’s not like we’ll never see him (he’s only 15 minutes away for Pete’s sake!) But I’m all too aware that this is the end of a chapter in my life as his mom. It’s a hump we have to get over - on to bigger and better things. Kenny & I are both close to our parents so I know there’s a friendship that will replace the “because I said so” kind of relationship we have had for 18 years. In the meantime though…I’m really, really sad. Those of you that know me well know I’m sitting at my computer with tears running down my face. My nose is stopped up. I’m generally pitiful all the way around. I’m glad to have this day alone with Benjamin. I’ll have a good cry and pull myself together before his eyes ever open. We’ll run around town and pick up more stuff for his room. Maybe shop for a car (his died a painful death). Have lunch. We’ll laugh. I’ll cry. (He’s so excited he can’t stand it!) We’ll all eat out together tonight and spend some family time praying for him. (Actually I’ll spend a lot of time praying – my every waking thought is, “Lord, hold on tight to him. Don’t let him go!”) We’ll load up everything into the suburban and all try to get a good night’s sleep. Yeah, right…

Pray for our family if you think of us tomorrow. It’s a big adjustment for all of us. One less schedule to manage, one less plate at the table, one less laundry basket (not crying so much about that J). The kids have plenty of “he/she’s driving me crazy!” moments but they really do love each other and will miss Benjamin. Even though he might not admit it, I think he will miss them a little bit, too. Kenny & I will be going into a different parenting mode with Benjamin…trying to figure that out. Things are just going to be different…from now on.

Thanks for letting me pour out my heart this morning. I am grateful for each of you. I hope your first days of school go well. If you need a shoulder to cry on, I’ve got one open.

Kim

Saturday, August 23, 2008

It Ain't Easy Being This Darn Smart

We pay good money to educate our girls in a private, Christian school. For the most part, we are extremely pleased with the education, environment, safety scissors, and Godly principles present in our school. When Kellie-Laine came home from her first day of Kindergarten, she proudly told us that she knew God was "omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient," and she gave us the definition for each of those attributes. Our socks were knocked off.

Having our socks knocked off is a daily occurrence since we live with three loquacious girls who constantly demand our attention. I've heard my middle girl engage in full-blown conversations with an imaginary friend who apparently likes to interrupt and disagree with her. I've witnessed my youngest eat dog food like candy more times than I can count. I've seen my oldest break school records at track meets, but today...... not only were my socks knocked off, but my hair also fell out.

And in an instant we realized that you can pay all the money in the world for private, Christian schooling.....and still end up with a child who has no common sense.

In a failed attempt to occupy my girls while I made dinner, I asked Kellie-Laine to work with Landrie in her new Kindergarten-level math book. She begrudgingly agreed, and it was peaceful harmony for the first 2.4 minutes.

"Do the connect the dots activity," I suggested. And they went to work.

"Here's how you do it, Landrie. Just connect the dots one through ten and you'll have a picture," Kellie-Laine said, "I'll show you how to do the first one."

I was absentmindedly doing dishes when I heard Kellie-Laine talking to herself out loud, "Wait....this isn't working right, Landrie, just hold on......Mom! This isn't turning out right......"

Then she explains, "Mom, the directions say connect the dots one to fourteen to find the fish, but it didn't work."

I walked over to the table thinking they might need to count by twos or something. And when I looked at the page......I lost my socks and my hair.

Kellie-Laine had drawn a line, quite neatly I must add, connecting dot number one......and number fourteen.

The fish that should have appeared once the dots were connected was no where in sight.

But there was one, neatly drawn line in the corner of the paper.

"Oh, precious girl," I said "we're gonna get you some special tutoring for this okay?" And maybe even a special bus, I thought to myself.

Sigh.

It ain't easy being smart. Not easy at all......

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

R.I.P.

I am not dead.

But I'm close.

My girls start school this week, and I've decided that I have adult ADD, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, a slight case of dementia, chronic fatigue syndrome, amnesia, and chronic PMS.

But I did see a rainbow yesterday. And a hummingbird at my kitchen window.

Things are starting to look up.

And I will post something of significance once I raise from the dead.....this weekend.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rite of Passage

Since I started this venture into motherhood at a relatively young age, I have had the honor and sometimes the angst of being "THE MOTHER WHO HAS GONE BEFORE" for many of my friends. I guess having an older child translates into having some kind of supernatural parental wisdom (ha ha!) and I'm often asked questions that sound something like this:


"You have an older child, so what did you do about.........?" or


"Since your daughter has already been through this, how did you handle.........?" and sometimes


"At what age does it get easier?" to which I reply, "Never," and then my friends run out of the room shrieking and pulling their hair.

For the most part, I love to give advice about the perils of parenting an almost-teenager, but I'm painfully aware that 90% of the time I'm not sure what the heck I'm doing.


Just yesterday, I had the honor of entering into yet another realm of the"mothering an older child" category when I took Kellie-Laine to her first orthodontist consultation. In my mind, the consultation was something that would give me a plan of action for Kellie-Laine's upcoming dental appliances--upcoming being the operative word here. However, at the end of the appointment and $2500 later....my eldest gal was given the "go ahead" to get braces on September 9th. (And don't even fool yourself into thinking $2500 is all it costs these days for straight pearly whites.....our insurance kicked in half. Plus we got a 5% discount for paying in full!) Nevertheless, getting braces is a symbolic rite of passage of becoming a teenager....and here we go.
I'm having serious issues with the fact that my little girl....is not so little anymore. She's getting braces, wearing a bra (she is definitely going to kill me for mentioning that fact), wearing two-piece bathing suits, shaving, and just recently had her first babysitting job.
Gulp. I swear I do not feel old enough for this.
In my mind, I am still a high school cheerleader driving my Mitsubishi Eclipse through the Wal-Mart parking lot on Friday night...I am at A&M Fish Camp majorly crushing on my 5th-year-Senior counselor....I am two-steppin' with my soon-to-be fiance....I am holding that baby girl in my arms knowing that my life has just changed forever....I am at my wits end trying to figure out how to put a screaming two-year-old to bed....I am holding her hand on the first day of kindergarten....
And today? I am imagining a daughter with a mouthful of metal who keeps me young and makes me feel old......all in the same moment.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

End of Summer Vacay

Everyone take a deep breath with me....ready? Breathe in-------------------and now exhale. Doesn't that feel refreshing? I am happy to report that we have just returned from our 2ND annual End of Summer Vacation to The Avonne on Lake LBJ. Upon my return, I took a deep breath and realized that I had just had the most relaxing four-day vacation ever.





My gracious sister, Flo, blessed us by keeping Emerie...which was a huge part of the reason I was so relaxed and stress-free on the trip. I was a little sad that Emerie wasn't there to enjoy the fun, but there was too much water around for me to feel comfortable taking her. There are three families that travel with us, and we have 12 kids between us. Factor in three boats, one jet ski, an outdoor pool/hot tub, a house directly on the lake, and a toddler who cannot swim but is hell-bent on forcing you to learn CPR....and you've got one stressed out momma.






I'm pretty sure there is a permanent indentation on my backside from all the sitting I did, but it was so very, very worth it. I took my usual position as a boat accessory and soaked up the sun while the kids tubed and skied and took turns pottying in the water just for the novelty of it. The men were up a the crack of dawn each day for some "alone time" on the water as they wake-surfed and simulated spelling their names with a stream of urine off the boat deck. It's true.....I am married to a 34-year-old high school boy (and just so you know, there was no actual urine involved....just a water hose, a video camera and a very funny visual effect.)







The highlight of our trip had to be the "DJ Angela 80's Rock Ballad Night." We ventured back in time and pulled out some oldies but goodies like Cinderella's "Don't Know What You've Got ('til It's Gone)", Tesla's "Love Song", Poison's "Every Rose Has It's Thorn", Prince's "Purple Rain", Bon Jovi's "Never Say Goodbye", etc. The kids thought we were weird, but those songs took me back to my 8th grade trip to see Poison and Tesla in concert with my friend, Juli, in my dad's neon green Volkswagen bus (complete with kitchen sink). Those were the days.....




The trip ended way before I was ready, but it's good to be home. So today I sit and blog here in the real world. Counting down the days until school begins.....making decisions about where I'll serve and volunteer this year......cleaning out closets to make room for school uniforms.....wondering how in the world summer passed right before my eyes.....and laughing at men who think true talent lies in the ability to spell one's name with bodily fluids. Ahhhh, summer.