Friday, November 30, 2007

A must read

I was reading my friend Heidi's blog yesterday and with her permission, I wanted to direct everyone to check out her most recent post called "I'm Thankful For...". Heidi's blog is linked over on the right side of the page under my favorite blogs. Hers is called Slightly Cosmopolitan But Profoundly Ordinary.

I think everyone should read it, because it's so well-written and it really touched me personally.

Check it out!!

And thanks, Heidi!

Keeping the holidays in perspective

This was posted on Mommy Zone, and I really liked it so wanted to post it here as well. I think it is a great sentiment to keep in mind during this time of year.

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata, but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way, But is thankful they are there to be in the way.

Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return, But rejoices in giving to those who can't.

Love bears all things, believes all things, Hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails.

Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, Golf clubs will rust ...but giving the gift of love will endure.

You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Let there be light!

"At Christmas, play and make good cheer, for Christmas comes but once a year."
~Thomas Tusse

Jamie has surprised me with Christmas decorations the last 2 days when I've arrived home from work. Yesterday I came home to the snowman in the yard, and tonight he was hanging the lights on the house when Elise and I pulled into the driveway. I pitched in and helped get the snowmen up along the driveway and the lights in the bushes.

Elise had a great time "helping" us. She was so excited to see all the fun things going up in the yard. I had a lot of fun watching her. It's nothing too fancy, but we think it looks pretty festive!

We are so happy to have all of this done. I was anticipating a weekend full of work on the decorations, and now we won't have to worry about any of that. Everything is officially done and we can sit back and enjoy it for the next month or so. Hooray!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

O Christmas Tree!

We decorated our Christmas tree this weekend. Elise really enjoyed it and only broke 2 ornaments in the process, so I guess we will call that a success! I am not uploading all of the pictures into this entry, because I have included a bunch of them in my new slideshow at the top of the page and don't want to bore everyone by posting them twice.

We also went to Eric's 21st birthday celebration today and had a great time. Jamie & my dad really enjoy the company of Mark, Eric, and Ken - and of course mom and I always have fun chatting with Erin & Mary. Elise was excited to see Ethan again (we attended his 3rd birthday party last weekend). Pics of today's get together are also in the slideshow.

I can't believe how cold it is outside! I think the rain has made it feel even more chilly. We were planning on getting our outside decorating done tomorrow, but if this weather keeps up we will have to rethink things. I hate to put it off another week, but it's looking like a real possibility. That is okay if it happens. We will make the best of it! I just hate for the guys to do all that work for only a few weeks of enjoyment. We will probably try to keep it pretty simple this year. We are sitting on the couch admiring our tree, and I am reminded that it doesn't matter how little or how much else we get done. After all, the true meaning of Christmas has nothing to do with the decorations anyway!

Friday, November 23, 2007

What is your Christmas name?

This is hilarious!

Click Here

Mine is Cutie Brandy butter-Cracker.

What's yours??

Family, Food, Festivities, & Fun!

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday - it was perfect and maybe our best ever! It's not often that we all get together at the same time, and I enjoy it so much when it happens.

Jamie, Elise, and I woke up early yesterday and started putting the final touches on the cooking. Jamie prepared the chocolate pie filling the night before and I had boiled the eggs for the deviled eggs on Wednesday night as well. Jamie does the pie filling completely from scratch, and it is to die for!!! He has it perfected.

Last year we had some issues with the meringue, so this year we bought extra eggs just in case things didn't go well the first time. We also bought some meringue mix as a back-up in case we couldn't get it right from scratch. I am very pleased to say that I was able to get the meringue just right! I told Jamie now that we have the filling and meringue down from scratch, next year I am going to attempt to do the crust from scratch as well. I think they turned out beautifully!

We had so much fun spending quality time together in the kitchen. We turned on our Christmas music and had some great talks while we cooked. Jamie took care of the mashed potatoes and I picked up champagne and orange juice to make mimosas.

Mom had a beautiful spread at her house. We had turkey, honey baked ham, broccoli rice casserole, macaroni & cheese, green beans, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, rolls, and corn! Then there were the mimosas, tea, coffee (with chocolate mint truffle creamer), pecan pie, chocolate pie, and key lime pie. Darlene made brownies and brought them, and her Aunt Elizabeth made a really yummy jello/marshmallow dessert. We had so much food it was ridiculous! I am already thinking about the leftovers today. YUM!

We were joined by my in-laws, Wes & Darlene and Darlene's Aunt Elizabeth. We had never met Elizabeth before, and it was a pleasure to share our holiday with her. She is such a great lady. I enjoyed her company a lot. After we ate, there was a lot of visiting. This mainly consisted of Wes and my dad talking about multiple subjects from the military to sports! My mom had a nice conversation with Elizabeth, and Jamie and I kind of just sat back and listened to everyone else.

Mom also managed to get in a game of Candyland with Elise, which is always a bit hit.

The boys couldn't go along to mom's house for dinner, but we made sure to spend plenty of quality time with them during the day before we left the house.

All in all it was a wonderful day! One of the highlights for me was having Elise lead our Thanksgiving Day blessing. She instructed all of us to hold hands and said her blessing. It was absolutely precious!

Today is a big football day, so we are hanging out at home and relaxing. As much as I'd love to shop the sales, I have no desire to get out in the mad crowds today! I was able to find some great Black Friday deals online and get Elise some more jeans. She really needed those and I got them on sale. I've gotten out some Christmas decorations, and I'm beginning to work on putting away the fall things. Wes kindly offered to come over on Sunday to help Jamie hang lights on the house. I think by the end of the weekend we will have the house fully converted over to Christmas. We are planning to decorate our tree tonight and let Elise write a letter to Santa.

It's a great, fun-filled time of year!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Giving Thanks

I’ve been working on my Thanksgiving Day post for over a week now. There are so many things I wanted to say, and I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. I decided to go ahead and post this today, even though Thanksgiving is tomorrow. Jamie and I will be busy in the kitchen preparing our half of the meal tomorrow, and it will be nice to just focus on family for the day.

I think it is easiest to begin with the most obvious things for which I am thankful:

It seems like an understatement to say that I am thankful for Jamie. It would probably be more fitting to say that I am eternally grateful that he entered not only my life, but Elise’s as well. I am thankful for the peace and serenity that has enveloped our home ever since the day that we met. I am humbled by the way he loves us and sets an enduring example of what a husband and father should be. It sounds cliché, but there is truly nothing that we cannot accomplish together.

The past 2 years have been a whirlwind of change, and I am thankful that the change has all been positive. I’ve married the true love of my life. I’ve seen Elise blossom into a beautiful, smart little girl with the world at her fingertips. I’ve been presented with a career opportunity to expand my horizons and earn more money while having more time at home with loved ones. Jamie and I have made a very cozy home in the first house that we purchased together. We’ve grown closer to friends, even across many miles that separate us, and we’ve developed stronger relationships with people that we see each day as well. It seems that life has fallen nicely into place for us. That is not to say that we haven’t been faced with any struggles, but even our struggles have been blessings in disguise. In confronting those things together, our bond has strengthened and our love has grown.

I am thankful for the continued health and prosperity of my close friends and family. My mom was given the opportunity to transfer to a new department within her organization to reduce stress and work hours, and that has truly been a blessing for her. She’s also had the privilege of traveling to several major conferences and representing her organization in a worldwide arena of professionals. This is something she should truly be proud of, and I am thankful that it has been a possibility for her. My parents are designing and building their dream home. After many, many years of hard work and sacrifice, they deserve it! I am so thankful that they will retire and spend their golden years in style and comfort. I am incredibly grateful for my father. Yet another year has come where it has been a blessing to have him retired and available to help out. He has been there for me through so much, and continues to do so even now. With hectic schedules it is always a comfort to know that Dad is there if we need him. This is something that so many young couples are lacking, so Jamie and I know how fortunate we are. I am also thankful that Elise has such a strong bond with her grandparents. Due to physical distance, this is not something I ever had growing up. It is truly a precious gift, and we are thankful to witness it on a daily basis in our home.

We gained 2 new furry family members this year. I am very thankful that Elise will grow up alongside Bailey and Dexter. I have fond memories of my childhood dog, Daisy. It makes me smile to know that Elise is forming childhood memories with “our boys”. Some days I need to remind myself that I’m thankful for them – especially when they eat my car! I’m also thankful that my dad was able to fix that.

I am thankful for modern day medicine and all that it is able to accomplish. I am also very grateful for people like my mom and her amazing colleagues that make this possible.

I’m thankful for the growing relationship with my in-laws. It is wonderful to know that there are 2 more people that I can call if I need to talk. They give some of the best advice, and I've taken comfort in their encouragement lately.

I just learned a few days ago that my grandmother is moving here to be with us!!! My mom and I have been trying to convince her to do this for at least a year now. I've never had a grandparent nearby, and I am so thrilled that she will be here with us. I worry about her being alone so much, and now we will never have to worry again. She will be right here with us, and we can check on her all the time and include her in all of our family get togethers. I can't even begin to explain how thankful I am about this. Families are designed to come together in times of need. Now that my grandmother is older and needs us, we will be there for her. I'm so grateful that she will give us that opportunity.

Now that the more obvious things are out of the way, I’d like to express thanks for some things that are more subtle. I’m very thankful this year for the concepts of mercy, grace, and forgiveness. I’ve truly seen all three of those things at work in my life, especially recently. It humbles me to know that I am forgiven…maybe even at times when I do not deserve to be. I’m also thankful that I’ve received the ability (no doubt from a higher power) to show grace in dealing with an issue that has been difficult for me in recent months. I’ve had a few moments definitely lacking in grace, but for the most part, I have been able to smile through it all and still find something positive in the whole situation.

I’m thankful for hope and optimism. It is always there, even if you have to really look hard to find it. I’m thankful that my search for hope has proved to be very fruitful.

I was talking to a friend yesterday, and we were discussing why we love Thanksgiving. I think it might be my favorite holiday. I love it because it is centered around family and does not involve the stress and complications surrounding gifts. It's a time to reflect, be thankful, and spend time with loved ones...and of course EAT! I wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow. I hope you are all as blessed as we are.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Just when you think you know all there is to know about someone...

One great thing about my marriage to Jamie is that it's constantly evolving and never gets boring. We got Elise tucked into bed last night, and I came downstairs and curled up on the couch with my laptop. I've been wanting to burn a CD of my favorite Christmas songs, so I was playing around on iTunes searching for holiday music to include on my CD. Jamie came over and sat next to me and asked what I was doing. When I told him, he started making suggestions about songs I should include. He got on yahoo and did a search for the most popular Christmas songs - he was really into it! We ended up spending over an hour on the couch together listening to samples of a bunch of different versions of our favorite Christmas carols. I had no idea that my husband loves Christmas music as much as I do! I got a huge kick out of that. Once we had our playlist perfected, we burned 2 copies - one for his car and one for mine.

I would have never guessed that he would be interested in that! So, I learned something new about my love last night even after more than a year of marriage.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Haircut

I am really happy with how it turned out! I had the color lightened and brightened while I was at it. It is so much healthier and looks a lot fuller. I really should keep it around this length, I think. This isn't the best picture, but you get the idea!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Christmas Downloads

I am having a little bit of fun with my cell phone tonight. I decided to download some Christmas ringtones. Here is what I chose:

Default tone - Christmas Time is Here (from Charlie Brown Christmas)
Jamie's tone - All I Want For Christmas Is You (Mariah Carey)
Mom's tone - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (Martina McBride)
Dad's tone - White Christmas (Bing Crosby)...his favorite!

I also downloaded graphics! When I assign them to certain callers they pop up when that person calls.

My wallpaper - 2 cute little snowmen dancing in the snow wearing Christmas scarves
Mom's graphic - A Christmas penguin (her favorite animal)
Dad's graphic - A really pretty Christmas candle burning (it's an animated graphic - very cool)
Jamie's will stay the way it is now...a pic of our family together.

I also downloaded some answer tones, but I am going to wait to activate those until Thanksgiving - otherwise I am certain I would endure ridicule from my family and friends! What can I say...I am getting into the spirit early this year!

Have to is time for Dirty Sexy Money and cuddle time!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Salute To Veterans

In honor of Veteran's Day, I wanted to post a salute and a heartfelt thank you to all of our brave veterans. Near and dear to my heart is one specific veteran who left the University of Texas one semester short of an Engineering degree to defend our country in the Vietnam War as a member of the United States Marine Corps. You wouldn't know he is really that tough by looking at him with those little kittens a few posts down the page, but the person I am speaking of is my father-in-law. Thank you, Wes.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Football season comes to an end

Our season officially ended last night with a 20-21 loss to Texas City. The coaches made the decision at the end of the game to go for a win by trying for a 2-point conversion, and we were not successful. They had nothing to lose, and I think going for it was a fitting way to end the year for the Mustangs.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to be at the game last night, but Jamie said the kids played very hard. I am a bit sad to see the season come to an end. I'm going to miss it. It will be nice to reclaim our weekends, though.

Farewell to our 43 seniors...we will miss you! Thanks for a great year. It's funny how you become attached to watching certain kids play. This is Jamie's first full class at Friendswood to graduate, so I know he had a special attachment to them as well.

Congratulations to Will Ebner, Cameron Kaufhold, and Blake Sargent who have signed with UH and will play for the Cougars next year.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Thinking about a haircut

I am thinking about cutting my hair. I really don't want to, but here is the reason why...

I have been working to grow my hair out for well over a year now (basically for 2 years). Here is a picture of me back when Jamie and I first met:

We actually met a few months after this was taken, but it's the closest thing I have to that time. I was all dressed up for a Christmas party.

Anyway, I digress! Here is a picture now (again a few months old, but you get the idea):

The thing that I don't like about my hair now is that there are some long layers, and it's causing the bottom layer to look really thin. I don't have particularly thick hair to begin with, and with these layers mixed in, it just looks even thinner. I would really prefer to have my hair all one length with the possibility of some long, side swept bangs.

So, I am considering cutting a few inches from the bottom to allow the layers to catch up with the longest part of my hair. I hate to give up the length that I've been growing for so long now, but I don't know of any other way to fix this issue.

Any thoughts, opinions, ideas? Should I just leave it alone?? Cut it?? Does it look like crap?? Honesty is much appreciated!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

We are such nerds!!!

My dad, Jamie, and I really wanted to see the playoff volleyball game tonight, but it was being played in Kingwood. With my long drive home there was just no way we could turn around and drive all the way back out to Kingwood tonight - plus we didn't want to keep Elise out that late on a school night.

My dad read that the game was being broadcast on the radio tonight, so we ordered pizza and listened to the game! The Lady Mustangs won easily in 3 games. The scores were 25-18, 25-19, and 25-12. They should play again on Saturday and will be playing the winner of the Santa Fe/Brenham game. We are definitely planning to go to the game on Saturday.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Our Season Ends Prematurely

I am disappointed to say that our football team will not be going to the playoffs this year. We got quite a shocker on Friday when Dickinson beat La Marque. There had been some controversy going on earlier last week surrounding an "ineligible" player that Dickinson had utilized in every single game of the season. Teams are not permitted to play kids that are participating in more than one athletic class per semester. Dickinson's kicker (who is also a soccer player) has been enrolled in a football class as well as a soccer class for the entire school year so far. This all came to light early last week, and Dickinson turned themselves in to UIL. The district held a meeting on Friday and voted unanimously to sanction Dicksinson with a public reprimand and one-year probation and NOT force them to forfeit all of the games played by the "ineligible" player.

You notice that I have ineligible in quotes above. Apparently UIL has determined that although it is a violation to play a kid who is enrolled in more than one athletic class, it is not an issue that would render that player ineligible. That really surprises me, because if the kid is not ineligible, then what is he??? This was our argument; however, we were unsuccessful in proving our case.

Apparently Dickinson was so energized over this ruling on Friday morning that they went out Friday night and used that momentum to their advantage and were able to defeat La Marque very soundly. I believe they won by more than 20 points...really shocking.

That sealed our fate. There is no combination of wins and losses that could occur next Friday that would get us into the playoffs. Our team will be playing for pride alone next Friday in Texas City. Jamie is very disappointed, and I am also. It is not very often that a team has a record of 8-2 (assuming we are able to win next week) and does not make the playoffs. I am really sorry to see it happen to our team this year.

Jamie is at the school right now planning practices for next week. To look on the bright side, this will be the last working weekend of the year (with the exception of 3 baseball tournaments in the spring). It will be really nice to have Jamie home more often, especially around the holidays. I know that he's tired and will enjoy the break. We will have an adjustment period, though. I'm sure everyone can relate...when you've been so busy for so long and gotten into a steady routine - all of a sudden when it's over it is hard to figure out what to do with all the extra time for a while. I used to go through this same "let down" at the end of each volleyball season, so I really can understand Jamie and how he feels. That is part of what makes us such a great match - we've lived such similar lives in a lot of ways. We understand one another without explanations. I know it will feel strange to me to have Friday nights free again. I will miss the games, because I really do love our football Friday nights.

Now we look to baseball season which will begin at the end of January.

Jamie will begin his accelerated master's degree program in about 2 weeks. I have a feeling that will keep him busy in the absence of a sport in season.

I also have to get in one quick plug for my alma mater's volleyball team. I went to see their playoff match last Friday night vs. Dickinson where the Mustangs were victorious and advanced to the next round. I love watching my old team play. They make me very proud, because they are just great and incredibly talented. I hope to catch a few more games and maybe even make a trip to the state tournament to cheer them on! Go Lady Mustangs!!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Cat Woman

You know how people joke around about the scary old people at the end of the block with 20 cats?? Well, I've been teasing my in-laws about becoming those people! This all began a few months ago when they took in a stray female cat. Well, apparently she was pregnant at the time and they didn't realize it. Okay, that was fine - she had a litter of kittens. But the problem multiplied (literally) when she continued to get pregnant and deliver more kittens...who also started getting pregnant! They now have probably over 20 cats in a matter of months. It's crazy! They have been trying to find homes for all the cats, but it is so very out of hand now that it is nearly hopeless. My father-in-law is now on a first name basis with the vet who has been fixing all the cats for them. They have one last litter now, and these will be neutered in the next few weeks, which should finally put a stop to the vicious cycle.

My father-in-law wanted to take me out to a belated birthday dinner tonight, so we went to Guadalajara and had a great time and great conversation. After dinner we hung out at their house and played with the kittens for a while. What a bunch of cuties. I was tempted for a brief moment to bring a few home.