Friday, March 28, 2008

Easter Re-Cap

It's definitely Spring in Texas! 80 degrees one day, 50 degrees the next. Where else on earth can one find a 30 degree differential in a 24 hour period?!

So our Easter was little cooler than we had hoped for, but the chilly weather didn't damper our spirits too much...especially since I was soooo looking forward to our church service! Highland does such a wonderful job....amazing job....with their praise and worship music, and for some crazy reason they allow me to sing in the choir. It's a huge blessing....(just don't tell Gary Rhodes that I can't really sing that well!)

Here are some random photos of our family after church...notice that I don't have a tripod, so all of our photos are missing one member of our family.

I would like to ask you readers a question if you don't mind. We are desperately trying to put together a summer vacation for our family. We haven't been on a "big" vacation since Emerie was born, and the call of the beach is too much for us to ignore! We have a few ideas in mind, but one direction we're leaning is visiting the Turks and Caicos Islands. Have any of you been there? I'm very nervous traveling with little Miss Tumbleweed (aka Emerie). I'm also trying to decide between an all-inclusive resort vs. a beachfront or oceanfront villa. There are pros and cons to each. If you have visited a particularly beautiful beach or beach resort, please give me your suggestions! I'm already a little late in planning this, so your help would be so appreciated.
By the way, I'm in a real bloggy funk. I don't have anything poignant, creative, or sarcastic to say. I apologize. I'm sure my crazy life will provide me with more material in the days and weeks to come.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Great Wolfe Lodge Review

When they say "Great" Wolfe Lodge, they mean it. It is pretty great, in fact. So great that I thought I'd share with you some highlights and lowlights from our trip over Spring Break. You can read all about their features and amenities on their website....I'm just reviewing our trip and hopefully giving you readers some good tips.

To begin with, we decided to travel with another family. I understand this isn't always the best experience for many families, but we were really thrilled the Stanford's were there with us. Kellie-Laine, Phoebe and the older boys were able to go off on their own and ride to their hearts content. The water park area is too large to try and implement the "stay together as a group" system, and the fact that the whole park basically caters to families made me feel a little bit safer about letting my kids go off on their own. Everyone is given a wristband that acts as your admission to the park, key to your room, and a "charge account" for purchases throughout the Lodge.

We only booked a one night stay, and I highly recommend at least a two nighter. It's nice to have access to your room if little ones get tired, cold or hungry. Check-in is at 4 pm and check-out is 11 am, so there's not much access to your room if you're just staying for one night. (I will say, though, that our room was ready early...which was a plus.)
The buffet was expensive....$20 for adults and $10 for kids, but it was worth it. The food was outstanding and the choices made gluttony seem a bigger temptation for me than it normally is. The dessert bar was fabulous, several kinds of cheesecakes, cupcakes with any topping imaginable, full ice cream bar, crepes, cobbler, etc. Go hungry....leave happy.
The kiddie area was nice and the deepest part was only knee-high. Landrie found a slide that she slid down about 476 times. It was the only thing she wanted to do. Speaking of slides...there is a slide that the Lodge allows entire families to slide down together. Even little Emerie was given the "go ahead" by the staff. So we climbed up what seemed like twenty flights of stairs while I promised myself to get back to the gym as soon as possible. There was a huge floatation device that seated five people, and the staff person helped us climb in while reminding us that everyone needed to sit alone and hold onto the handles. I gave a worried glance at Cody, knowing that our 18 month old was not only incapable of sitting water....on a twenty story high slide...but she was also incapable of holding on to the handles by herself during the ride. He returned me with a "sure she can do it" smile, and with one kick of the staffer's foot, we were on our way. Warning: what I thought was a ride with similar speeds such as the Mini-Mine Train at Six Flags actually turned out to be a ride with speeds faster than the Shock Wave at Six Flags. Our family was traumatized after the event. Both little ones immediately started crying, I was shaking, Cody was laughing, and Kellie-Laine was scolding us by saying, "I told you it wasn't for everyone!"
Here are a few other observations:
Suggestion: bring milk and cereal for breakfast in the morning. Each room comes equipped with a mini refrigerator. You gotta save $$ any way you can.
Warning: if you book a certain type room, call the day of to make sure they have it correct. We booked a two-room suite, but we were given a loft suite with a steep flight of stairs. This did not work at all for us, and the Lodge graciously gave us two side-by-side rooms.
Suggestion: try to get a room on the first 5 floors. You can take the stairs to and from the water park, and you don't have to wait on the sloooooow elevators.
Warning: the beds in the standard rooms are incredibly uncomfortable. Not that I would know from personal experience. I was given a "king suite" which had the dreamiest bed ever. I slept like a baby. But I hear the standard room beds are yucky...or so my husband says.
Suggestion: The Magic Quest Wand game was pretty popular, but a little expensive. It's $15 to play, and you can keep your wand.
Warning: tokens for the arcade are expensive. $2 to $4 a game...but the games are very generous with tickets.
Let me know if you have any other questions or concerns!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Blog Must Read

Do you think it's kind of weird that I keep asking you to read other people's blogs? Shouldn't I be clamoring for your attention in the midst of blog-o-mania?

Seriously though. I found a blog you MUST read. Especially if you're a mom. And especially if you like (okay, love) the Christian group, Selah, like I do. (BTW: If you're not familiar with Selah....get to itunes quickly and download every song possible. They're amazing.) Anyway, this blog is written by the wife of the singer in Selah. They have three girls and she is pregnant with her fourth girl....who will not survive the birth due to some serious health conditions.

I'm not suggesting that you seek out this blog to satisfy a voyeuristic curiosity, but rather for you to read, and feel, their faith. Faith that even in this dark, dark hour still shines so brightly. I cannot imagine what each day must feel like for this family, but what a comfort our Jesus, Lord and Savior, is for them....and for us.

Take a moment to read this blog....and then go hug your children tightly.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Now....Let's Talk About Sex

I told you in an earlier post that I would be discussing ways to approach your daughter about s-e-x. As I thought about all that I wanted to share and didn't want to share, I found myself paralyzed by fear. There's so much that I know, and yet don't know. And I'm just going to admit to you right now that I don't feel equipped or knowledgeable enough to share any insight with you. My oldest daughter is 12, and I have no clue if what I'm doing is worth sharing or if it's even working.

However, in spite of my own fear of inadequacy, I do have some words of wisdom to offer you. I read the blog of a woman named Vicki Courtney who is an accomplished Christian author and speaker on the topic of tweens and teens. She just recently added two posts to her blog that are a must read regarding kids and sex. Look to the right of my blog and click on the "Virtue Alert" link or just go here. (You may have to scroll down a few days to find the posts.)

If anyone has the right to speak about such topics, it's Vicki. And you should definitely keep track of her blog and add it to your favorites list (she's from Texas, too, which is a plus for me!). She has great wisdom about raising tweens and teens and I'm eagerly awaiting her newest book called, 5 Conversations You Must Have With Your Daughter .

I hope I haven't disappointed you , or worse, burst your bubble since you all think I'm SuperMom. I'm certain you'll get more mileage out of Vicki's wisdom than you would mine.

PLEASE take time to read her posts....and then let's sit down with our tweens and teens and "talk about sex, baby."

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Adventures of Spray Tanning

I was sick and tired of my pale, winter-white skin. Skin that looked like it hadn't seen the light of day since August 30th, 1984. I decided to throw caution to the wind....risk looking like an oompa loompa...and signed up for a Mystic Tan session. I know all the horror stories associated with spray tanning. But honestly, the color of my skin was by far more horrific than any accidental spray-nozzle-filled-with-orange-stain catastrophe. (Besides, I think flab looks better tan, don't you?) Study the above picture carefully. See Gene Wilder? My skin was whiter than that. See the Oompa Loompas? That's what I thought I would look like after the Mystic Tan session. But I am here to set the record straight for all of you who have ever pondered or skeptically considered this art of body shlacking. My advice? It ain't that bad...

So here's the scoop. I paid $10 for one session. I stood in a booth, with nothing but my birthday suit on, and allowed three giant spray nozzles to coat me with "light" body shlack (I love that word "shlack"--it's so 70's!). A sexy woman's voice filled the booth and said, "Mystic Tan will begin in five seconds...4,3,2,1." And as the final second escaped her computer lips, I gulped what some might have considered to be my final breath. I intended to hold my breath the whole time, but soon my body let me know that not only was it impossible but also unnecessary. The mist filled the entire booth, and I thought for sure I was going blind.

But in a matter of seconds, it was over. Oompa Loompa or not...there was no turning back now. I had to wait approximately 4 hours before I could shower or see the results. And I'll admit it-- I liked it. Even this morning, the slight golden appeal was a little more pronounced than the night before, and I've only seen two areas that I should have rubbed in a little more. But overall, I really think this is something worth doing again, especially since it's so much better for your skin than UV rays. Upon reaching my 32nd birthday, I realized that all the sun damage from my tanning-on-rooftops-with-Crisco-days had finally caught up with me. The best age-prevention for me is to limit my sun exposure, and spray tanning might be one way to do just that. So if any of you have ever considered spray tanning, my suggestion is Just Do It!

In other news, Cody and I went out last night with three other couples for dinner....and country dancing! This was so out of our comfort zone!! Even though Cody and I met this way in college and kicked it up many a-night while in College Station, we haven't done this since our migration to Waco. Let me tell you, it was so fun! I asked Landrie to take a picture of us as a keepsake and here's her first attempt:

So I aligned her a little better, asked her to actually look through the view finder this time, and this is what we got:

As you can see, there's no confusing me with an Oompa Loompa!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

An Honest Letter To Whom It May Concern

Dear Political Campaign Marketing Strategists:

I know this may be hard to believe, but the recorded phone calls from your party's governors, comptrollers, state representatives, and even your own presidential candidates are not working. These calls are not working because they are annoying the crud out of me. I've received at least ten phone calls a day from various political know-it-alls, and the robotic-monotone-messages left by Obama, Gov. Perry, McCain, Clinton, and my neighbor who lives on Pine Street, really does not influence my voting decision. Really. When my husband's pager went off at 2:30 in the morning last week, we were not thrilled that it was, no, not the hospital calling for his assistance but rather Hillary Clinton asking for his support. This is not good for you, your cause, or our sleep patterns.

I know somewhere in a fancy shmancy meeting room in Political Town, USA, your marketing team sat together and generated this brilliant idea of flooding America with phone calls from various people. In your fancy shmancy meeting room, this probably was a good idea. But me no likey your idea. Here in the real world, people have more important things to do than answer phone call after phone call after phone call. We have things to do like: fill juice cups, wipe hineys, hold down jobs, read food labels, and do our part to stop global warming. So, like, don't bother me with recorded political messages. (Although I have enjoyed looking at the fantastic phone numbers that you have somehow managed to obtain. 1-234-567-8910 was my favorite by far.)
Now I don't want to sound like a political grump, so I've decided to offer you some sure-fire ways to get voters to the polls. This, after all, should be your biggest issue where I'm concerned since I've only voted once in my entire voter-eligible life. My husband will tell me who to vote for, so all of your issues, debates, phone messages, interviews, SNL appearances, etc. really don't matter to me. Your cause really should be to get me TO the polls. Stop focusing on who I'll vote for once I'm there. I've already told you, my husband decides who I vote for. And, yes, I AM that kind of woman. (So there, Hillary!)

But I digress....back to the sure-fire ways to get voters to the polls:

1. Free babysitting. Offer it, and you'll have mothers standing in line waiting to drop their kids off. This is absolutely your ace in the hole. I know this for a fact because I will attend pretty much any meeting or conference in town as long as I see the words, "childcare provided" in the bulletin. (And while the "Single Again" conference wasn't really my cup of kids had greaaaat fun!)

2. Food. I remember when I used to work in the pharmaceutical (catering) business, we would provide lunch or dinner for the entire doctor's office. This got me thinking...instead of calling me during dinner, causing me to leave my baby unattended with a fork and a large piece of pork chop, why don't you show up at my house with a warm meal? Really. It would go over so much better, and face-to-face contact is always better than phone calls. (Didn't you learn that in the first chapter of Marketing for Dummies?) I might even invite you in to sup with us. Then you can stay to help me wipe messy faces, hands and hineys. The media would like that so much better than simply kissing babies on the head.

3. Money. Your party seems to have lots of it, and we the people of the United States would like to have more of it. Share your wealth. Bribe us. It's the least you can do.

4. Limo rides. Pick me up in a limo and whisk me away to the polls! This serves two purposes: 1) you ensure that I actually get to the polls and 2) you make me really feel like my vote counts. Nothing says "you matter" like a limo ride.

5. On-site massages. Voting can really be quite stressful, and so I thought that having certified massage therapists on hand would decrease the number of potential gunmen who might "go postal" during this time. It would also diffuse any situation involving the phrase "she cut in front of me" which, if you've ever been in elementary school or had a child of that age, you know is the precursor to some sort of school violence.

So there you have it, Political Campaign Marketing Strategists. You can thank me later. Really. I know I have served my country well by bringing to light these new marketing strategies. Your needs are simple: you need Americans to vote. Our needs are simple: treat us like the diva that lives inside us all. That's your Marketing Plan Of Action in a nutshell.

Waiting for my limo,

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Let's Do Laundry.....

No, really. I need some laundry advice.

Somehow in my 32 years of life, I have yet to learn the basics of laundry. I'll admit that neither of my parents were great at laundry either, so I haven't had the best role models in this area. I was thinking since many of my readers are could lend me your laundry expertise. Here are my basic questions:

1. When starting a load of laundry, is it really necessary to pour the soap in first (before the clothes go in)? I NEVER do this. But the directions on the box of detergent suggest this method. Isn't it hard to get all you clothes in the washer when it's filling up with water and soap? Is there a reason why we should do it this way?

2. If I use fabric softener, do I also need to use a dryer sheet? If my fabric softener is a different scent than my dryer sheet, will the scents cancel each other out?

3. Do you always have to separate colors from whites? Even if I'm strictly washing in cold water?

As you can tell, I'm laundry illiterate. I approach laundry the easiest way possible....just throw it all in there, pour on the detergent and wash in cold water. But I'm wondering if I'm maximizing my laundry-washing experience this way.....Your advice will be greatly appreciated!

In other Beeler news, guess what my little Emerie can do? She can CHEW GUM. That's right! She calls it "buck" and can actually keep it in her mouth while she chomps away. Pretty good for an 18 month old, right? I know, I know. By the time your third child rolls around, moms tend to get excited over the smallest of things. I don't know if this necessarily counts as a "milestone" but I was pretty impressed!
Thanks for checking in with me.....I've been neglecting my blog for a few simple reasons:
1. American Idol
2. Project Runway
3. Lost
4. The book I'm reading, "Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follet (which is, oh, about 955 pages long). It's rather time consuming....but really good.
Hang with me. I'll be posting more regularly! Promise!