Friday, September 28, 2007

Odds and Ends

We're leaving in a little while for another Colorado weekend adventure. John's parents have been in Steamboat Springs this week and we're going to head up there this weekend and see them again before they head back to Arkansas. We've never been there so we're pretty excited. I always love to visit new places, and I've heard Steamboat is beautiful. I'll be sure to take plenty of photos. I'm not expecting to see another bear, or any elk, but I am hoping to see some snow. I just checked the forecast and there is a 40% chance for some frozen precipitation Saturday night. Fun.

Back in the spring, we had some photos taken by a friend of a friend who was starting her photography business. The photos were AMAZING! She's so artistic and has a great eye. I was so pleased with them, especially the ones of the kids. Anyway, Erin (photographer) moved to Alabama this summer and has gotten her business up and running there. She emailed me the link to her website yesterday and you should really check it out (especially you Alabama friends). She even used some photos of my girls. Sarah is on the kiddos page, and Abbey is on the families page. Click HERE to see her beautiful website (and the beautiful photos of Sarah and Abbey).

It's been a very full week around here. Track meets, homework (always homework!), meetings, playdates, Bible study, etc. I love that it's feeling like fall outside too. There's a chill in the air and I like it! Fall is one of my favorite times of the year.

This week at my Bible study we were talking about the ways that God reveals his love to us. I had been sharing with my group about seeing MY bear and I really want to tell you (again) that was such a gift to me. It was God's way of showing me that my heart matters to Him. It could have been an elk or a moose or a bighorn sheep, but it was a BEAR...something I've dreamed of seeing and prayed for Him to show me. And HE did. When I least expected it. I'm not sure I can really convey how huge that was for me. I'm so thankful...and so loved.

Enjoy your weekend. I'll be back next week (with more photos, of course!)

Small Town Livin'

I woke up really early this morning, and I woke up feeling really sad. I had a dream about the small town where we used to live. I can't remember all the details, but it was a good dream. What made me sad was realizing how much I miss that place.

Before moving to Colorado, John and I lived in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. Arkadelphia is a small town in the south central part of the state. It is home to two colleges, one of which is Ouachita Baptist University. John and I met while students there, and that place is very special and sentimental to us. Imagine how thrilled we were several years later when John was called to pastor a church in that little town we loved so much.

We spent 3.5 years in Arkadelphia, and have so many happy memories.

Milkshakes at Malone's, Wednesday night church suppers, Friday night football games, and OBU games on Saturdays, pounding the pavement with my running friends, Christmas and Homecoming parades, amazing neighbors, college students and college ministry, Lake Degray, the pumpkin patch at the Hunter Christmas tree farm, Adult 6 Sunday school, and Bunco were among some of my most favorite things.

I also loved that going to the grocery store took about 2 hours...because you'd run into so many people. It wasn't just a shopping experience, it was a social outing. Seriously. I loved driving through the bank and having the teller greet me by name, and hand me things like a laminated newspaper photo of one of my kids, or have the lady at the pharmacy ask how Will's bronchitis was. I loved driving around town and waving at people I knew. Loved going to Burger Barn and chit-chatting with a dozen or so friends before being seated at my own table. Loved watching friends' children grow from toddlers to kindergartenters right before my very eyes. You know, small town things like that.

And the people. Wow, what can I say? We were so blessed by the way people loved us.

It was heartbreaking when we moved from there. I remember thinking that I could live in Arkadelphia and be perfectly happy for the rest of my days. When John first started talking with his friend about moving to Colorado, I was so resistant. Wouldn't even hear of it. Over time God softened my heart, and now I really can't imagine NOT living here. But that doesn't diminish my love for a certain small town in Arkansas. It will always hold a special place in my heart.

I've experienced some small town livin' here. I usually always see someone I know at the grocery store. And I wave from my van when I pass friends on the street. Last week when I was walking on the trail, I passed 3 people I knew. But it doesn't feel quite the same.

So, all you friends in're missed! And I love that you live in such a beautiful place. I miss sharing life and memories with you. A part of my heart will always be there.

BUT...I'm blessed to get to see THIS everyday! So I can't really be too sad. By the way, that's Pikes Peak and the snow I told you she was wearing last week was gone within a day or two.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Bear Facts

I have wanted to see a bear for a long time. I've lifted countless prayers asking God to let me see one. And I was thrilled this summer when we were driving to New Mexico and saw a bear on the side of the road. Thrilled! On the trip home, we saw another bear, though it was pretty far away. Wow...two bears in one summer...what more could a girl ask for?

How about a really up-close visit by a rather large I could view from the safety of my cabin?

We spent most of Saturday driving around Rocky Mountain National Park, and strolling the streets of Estes Park. We returned to our cabin mid-afternoon for some rest and some down-time. The weather was wonderful, so we sat outside visiting on our tiny cabin porch. Around 5pm, I went inside to heat up the soup I had made for dinner (cool nights are just made for soup!) I looked out the kitchen window at a pretty rock grouping and thought I needed to get a family photo. The lighting was perfect and we had some time to kill while the soup simmered, AND I had my in-laws there to snap a photo of the five of us. So, I grabbed my camera and started walking the very short distance to the rocks. As I was walking, a lady in another cabin close to ours was whispering and pointing and I couldn't quite make out what she was trying to communicate to me. I walked a little closer and she said in a low whisper, "There is a BEAR over there!" She pointed to the cabin directly in front of ours and indicated that the bear was behind it. I couldn't see it, but I got John and the kids and let them know what was going on. About a minute later, we see this brown nose peeking around the corner of the cabin. And because I had my camera already in hand, I did what any good woman would do and handed the camera to John with instructions to take some pictures, and ran inside with the kids!

Just so you know, he zoomed in to capture these images.

The bear walked behind another cabin and peeked around the next corner. At this point, the bear was fairly close to us. You can sorta tell from the photo (NO zoom this time). The kids and I were inside, along with John's mom, but John and his dad were outside snapping photos...a little too close for comfort if you ask me. Right after this picture, the bear "woofed" at them and stomped his front paws. Kinda scary. After another minute or two, the bear turned around and scampered off.

I gotta tell you it was thrilling, and frightening at the same time. I was so excited to see a bear up close...but my knees were knocking the entire time.

And we didn't let the kids play outside unsupervised for the rest of our time at the cabin.

In retrospect, I think this was such an unusual encounter. Bears usually smell and/or hear people and leave the area before we're anywhere close to them. Right now bears are preparing for hibernation and their daily caloric needs are astronomical. I think this bear was foraging for some grub...and I think that his need for calories probably made him a little more brazen than he normally might be. Nevertheless, I got to see a bear...up close...from the safety of my cabin! AND I have some great photos thanks to my very brave husband and father-in-law!

I am so thankful for the gift. And so thankful for the *warning* from the lady in the other cabin. Can you imagine if I had taken the kids up the photo spot and seen a bear come around the corner? might have turned out quite differently!

Here's the cropped (and zoomed) image...WOW!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

wonderful weekend

we're back from our weekend trip to estes park. it was FABULOUS. the weather was wonderful. cool mornings and cooler evenings. lots of elk. and another wildlife surprise! beautiful mountains and golden aspen.

i'm tired and but i'll leave you with these photos and i'll blog more about them and about our time this week.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Long Weekend

This is a long weekend for us. Our kids are out of school today (yesterday too!) and John took today off as well. In a little while, we're leaving for Estes Park--our favorite spot in Colorado. John rented a cabin for us and we're going to try to see some elk and golden aspens in Rocky Mountain National Park. Maybe some bighorn sheep and a moose or two (I'm praying!). That would be icing on the cake for me!

John's parents are meeting us in Estes Park. They're heading to Colorado for some vacation time, and we're thrilled to get to spend some time with them and show them the place we love so much.

So...I've got to run and finish packing. I gave the kids a list and let them pack themselves (why I didn't think of this time-saving step before now is beyond me) but I need to double check and make sure they've got fleece and socks and clean underwear.

I'll be back on Sunday or Monday with pictures!

Have a great weekend.

Monday, September 17, 2007

I Believe I Promised You Some Pictures

Will and Sarah had their first cross-country meet tonight. They did TERRIFIC!

Sarah ran 1 mile, and Will ran 1.5 miles. John and I were so proud of them both!

Sarah ran cross-country when she was in first grade and HATED it. During one meet, she literally laid down in the middle of the track (think Nestea plunge) and said she was so tired she couldn't possibly finish the race. We cheered and cheered for her and eventually she got up and finished the race. She refused to run after that, and we didn't force the issue. Imagine our surprise when she told us she wanted to run this fall. I gave her every imaginable "out" but she was insistent on running...and she did great tonight. Finished very strong. Good job, Sarah!

This is really Will's "sport". He loves it and has run every year since 2nd grade. It's usually cross-country in the fall, and track in the spring. He's a great runner! He had a choice tonight to run 1 or 1.5 miles and he chose the further distance. I was really proud of him because ALL of his friends chose the shorter distance, so he ran his race alone. I thought it was pretty neat though because all of his friends stayed for his race and cheered for him. They could have gone home after their run, but they stayed to root for Will.

This is funny...he laid down...on the track after his run. Probably for dramatic effect.

And this is the great thing about bedtime on nights that we have a meet...they're exhausted! They fall asleep within seconds of their head hitting the pillow. Or in Will's case, before he even makes it to his bed.

And lest you think I would leave out a photo of Abbey...

O Happy Day!

It's been a cloudy day here. So cloudy we haven't been able to see the mountains until just an hour or so ago.

John emailed me a few minutes ago from work. He has an amazing view of Pikes Peak from there, and when the clouds lifted...there was SNOW on Pikes Peak.

That makes me so happy!!!

Busyness and Boundaries, Homework and Housekeeping

Warning: this is a really random post.

Whew...last week felt really busy. Lot of stuff going on during the daytime hours, and lots of stuff going on during the evening hours. I've said before that I enjoy life at a really slow pace, so when we have a week like last week I feel tired and a little out of whack.

Last year, I was the queen of busy. I took on way too much. I knew it, and vowed not to do that to myself again. Ever. For my own sake and for the sake of my family.

So I've been setting some boundaries for myself and sticking to them. I know that I function best when I have 2-3 mornings each week at home with no obligations. For the last several weeks, I've been able to schedule that time and it has been amazing. It's my chance to keep my laundry caught up, my house clean, exercise, have my quiet time, and stay on top of meal management. I try to spend those mornings completely at home, but sometimes exercise and errands require me to venture out.

I've been surprised by my friends' responses when I tell them that I need my time at home instead of meeting for coffee, meetings, etc. All of them have responded positively and told me that I'm smart to set those kind of boundaries (I like it when people tell me I'm smart). I don't know about smart...I just think that I've learned the hard way what I need to function well.

So, even though last week was a busy one, I wasn't completely overwhelmed because I had some time at home and was able to maintain order (and a tiny bit of sanity).

On to homework...

Oh my word at the homework my children are bringing home. 1-2 hours per night. Add dinner, showers, required reading from their teachers (technically more homework), and it makes for some LONG evenings. Tonight they have a cross-country track meet and I'm already worried about how it will all get done. My friend tried to warn me about this last year when her daughter (now in middle school) was overloaded with homework. I had NO idea what we were in for. Will's teacher even told me last week that she assigns homework over the weekend. Ugh.

I love what John wrote about the whole homework issue on his blog. You can read it here.

So, those of you who don't your kids have serious homework??

As for housekeeping, I've got laundry to fold and put away, and my kitchen floor hasn't seen a mop since last I'm off to tackle the remainder of my chores for the day.

I promise that the next time I post, I'll add some photos! I get tired of seeing all the text on this blog too!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

I Remember

I have been blessed with a very good memory. I remember dates and places and people and faces. I just have a knack for it, I guess. One of the ways that I mark time is by remembering past events. On my birthday this year, I remembered that John's grandfather died close to my birthday last year. This Christmas, I'll probably look back and remember the twin blizzards of 2006 and being snowed in for a couple of days with John's family.

Just this week, I took some time to remember 9/11 and the events of that day. John and I talked about where we were and what we were doing when we heard the dreadful news. I have a feeling that lots of folks did some remembering of their own that day.

Sadly, the events of 9/11 are eclipsed for me by the events of 9/12. September 12, 2004 was the day that John resigned as the co-pastor of our church. Our lives have never been the same.

We moved here in the fall of 2003 for John to co-pastor alongside a good friend. About 3-4 months into it, we both realized that we had some very different personal, idealogical, and theological beliefs from our friends. Sadly, we couldn't seem to agree to disagree on things, and the personal relationship deteriorated very quickly. It was an ugly, messy, and HARD time in our lives. Just a few weeks shy of our one year anniversary at the church, John resigned in an attempt to try to salvage the relationship.

There was so much uncertainty in our lives during the days that followed. Did we miss You, God? WHAT ARE YOU DOING? Where are you leading us?? God was gracious to provide some freelance writing/editing work for him and thus began a new chapter in our lives, and a new career for John. It's been good, but I wouldn't say it's been easy.

I've been stretched in so many ways during the last 3 years. My faith has been challenged, and there are times that I've been strong, but other times that I've been really weak and faith-less. Trusting God means something totally different to me than it did 3 years ago. It's been very hard, but very good, and even though that church experience was one of the most painful of my entire life, God has used it in many different ways to teach me things about myself and about how much He loves me.

So...I remember. Sometimes painfully, sometimes prayerfully, sometimes with anger, and sometimes with thanks...but I always remember. And I hope I will never forget.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Nice Surprises

Yesterday afternoon, John called me around 2:30 to tell me he was on his way home. He'd been playing host to an author all day and was driving the guy back to his hotel which is close to our house, so he called it a day and came home early. Such a nice surprise. Abbey loved having him all to herself for a little while, and Will and Sarah were thrilled when they walked out to the van after school and saw that it was Dad instead of Mom there to pick them up.

Another nice surprise was that John offered to take us out for dinner last night. I'm usually up for eating out, but I had already decided what to fix for dinner and I didn't want to spend the money or drive to the restaurant, but I conceded (okay, twist my arm) and we headed to our favorite Mexican place.

I had a coupon for some free queso, and one of the kids wanted that for dinner, and yes, I let them eat queso and chips for dinner because at least I know they'll eat it and not waste it...nothing bugs me more than to waste food at a restaurant. John and I split an entree (soooo much food!) and two of our kids shared a child's meal. It was so YUM! When the waiter brought our bill to us, it was $11.71. What?!? That can't be right. We told him when he returned that he undercharged us, but he insisted it was correct. Turns out that kids eat free on Tuesdays. Who knew? But can you believe our family of five ate mexican food for $11.71 (before tip)??? I was jazzed! I pay more than that for Chick-Fil-A, and more than that for some meals I make at home! Crazy, huh? But such a nice surprise. And if you're looking for me next Tuesday night, I have a good idea where you might find me.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Okay...because I don't have anything else exciting or meaningful to blog about, I'm going to copy my friend, JennaG, and answer these 20 questions for ya...

1., let me just say that I was in a hurry to lose my very Southern accent when we moved here. It still comes out a little here and there (or so my friends tell me) but I'm always happy when people are surprised to learn I'm from Arkansas because I "don't have an accent". It's just the twang that gets me.

2. I don't drink...anything with artificial sweetener. I won't rant, but it's really, really bad for you.

3. Chores I dislike...unloading the dishwasher. And I don't like to dust either.

4. Pets...we're working on it. Still praying about a dog. Last week when our babysitters were here (the ones that Abbey wanted to be her parents) they brought their dog, and Abbey went to bed rubbing her eyes and woke up with major congestion. I don't want to tell her brother and sister, but I'm afraid she might be allergic to dogs...and that will determine whether or not we can become dog owners.

5. Essential camera.

6. Perfume...Clinique Happy. And my bottle is almost empty, honey (hint, hint).

7. Gold or Silver...definitely silver.

8. Insomnia...only when my husband is out of town and I have to sleep alone.

9. Job Title...Wife and Mom.

10. Most Admired Traits...responsible, organized, neat.

11. Kids...3 great ones--Will, Sarah, and Abbey.

12. Phobia...I'm very afraid of heights, snakes, and mountain lions. And I don't like driving under or over bridges either.

13. Religion...I'm a Christian, but as far as denominations go, I've been Catholic, Southern Baptist, Non-denominational, and now we attend an Anglican church. Interesting, huh?

14. sister and one brother. I'm the oldest. And the bossiest (at least that's what they'd tell you).

15. Time I wake up...around 6:30, sometimes earlier, sometimes later.

16. Unusual talent/skill...I have no idea.

17. Vegetables I refuse to eat...beets and eggplant. I'm not a big fan of cucumbers and celery either, but I like most everything else.

18. Worst habit...popping my knuckes. I can't stop!

19. X-rays...sure, I've had lots of x-rays taken over the years. The most recent was last October when I had a little collision with the back of my daughter's very hard head. I thought my nose was broken. Thankfully, no, but I sported a nice black eye for about 3 weeks. So lovely.

20. My favorite, so hard to choose. I guess it might be cornbread, fried okra, garden fresh tomatoes, purple hull peas, and turnip greens. Okay, now I'm hungry.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

I am SO DONE with sleepovers

I'm all about letting my kids have fun. I really am. Really. But I'm officially canceling sleepovers for the remainder of the school year...and my kids are probably going to label me the meanest mom on the planet.

Will had a couple of sleepovers this summer and let me just say that there was very little sleeping. Same with Sarah. And if the kids are sleeping at OUR house, that translates into very little sleep for their mama, which makes me just a little cranky.

Anyway, Will's best little bud invited him to sleep over last night. His mom is a good friend of mine and I told her I was a more than a little hesitant because the boys just don't seem to get the whole "sleeping" part of sleepover. She agreed, but still wanted to give it a try, so together we talked to the boys and told them that this was a trial run. IF they went to bed at a reasonable hour, then we'd let them have future sleepovers. If NOT, then sleepovers would only be a summer luxury. Because, a cranky, sleep-deprived child can ruin a weekend in nothing flat, and my experience is that it takes forever for them to get caught up on all that missed sleep.

Long story short, the boys lost their privilege. It has a little something to do with finding them awake around 2am and playing Game Boy under the covers, but like I said, it's a long story.

I decided that if Will can't have sleepovers, the girls aren't going to either. It's really just not worth it to me during the school year.

I talked to my friend this afternoon and we decided we can have "almost over" parties. Let them get together on a Friday night for pizza and a movie and some playtime, but end it around 9pm, and let everyone go home and sleep in their own bed!. That is the best idea I've heard in a long time. And I'm so thankful for an understanding friend.

Just pray that after his 5 hour nap that Will goes to sleep tonight! Pray hard.

Guess What Word I Just Heard the Weatherman Mention?

SNOW! It's September, people! The last time it snowed here was the last day of school--May 23.

I should probably clarify a little. The snow is forecast for the county just west of us (where John and I went for our anniversary weekend), and it won't likely snow below 8,000 feet, but that's just over the mountains from us and pretty close to home! Crazy, huh?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


John and I just got home a little while ago from Back-to-School-Night at our kid's elementary school. We asked some friends from church to stay with our kiddos, and they were very happy to do so. Heather and Jesse got married this summer, and they're both teachers, both great with children, and my kids ADORE them. It was so great of them to come over and watch play with our kids.

After they left, we were tucking the girls in bed, and Abbey asked, "Mom and Dad, can Heather and Jesse be our parents?"

I'm thinking they had a terrific time tonight, whad'ya think?

A, B, C, D, E, F, G...

I mentioned in my previous post that we had a wonderful Labor Day weekend. Full of so many good things! I thought it would be fun to post an alphabetic recap of our weekend. So here goes...

A--Arkansas Razorback football victory! Answered prayer (see "N") and Astronaut Farmer. We finally found this movie at Blockbuster and it was worth the wait.

B--BBQ with friends, and Blokus-my favorite game of which I'm the reigning champ at our house.

C--Campout in the backyard! The kids slept out there Saturday night and they had a blast. They came inside for hot chocolate about 7am the next morning...because it was freezing!

D--Dad at home for 3 whole days! We were all very happy about that.

E--Errands, for live football stats!

F--Farmer's Market, Family Weekend, Friends, and Fajitas

G--Grocery Shopping

H--Hama Beads. My kids love making things with Hama beads. They're small tubular beads that you arrange in a pattern and then fuse together with your iron. The kids were Hama-crazy on Saturday. This is a photo of some of their creative handiwork.

I--Ironing (the aforementioned Hama creations), and Ice Cream Cones. We were running some errands late Sunday afternoon and stopped by McDonald's to get the kids an ice cream cone. Would you believe they didn't have any? Apparently, their machine was broken. No worries. We drove to Palmer Lake to the Rock House for a cone...and it was way better than McDonald's anyway.

J--Just the 5 of us...all weekend. So nice.

K--Kick-off. Have I mentioned that I LOVE college football?

L--Library, Laundry, and more Laundy.

M--Movies. We watched Firehouse Dog with the kids on Friday, John and I watched Breakfast at Tiffany's (one of our favorites) and we all watched the Astronaut Farmer on Sunday night. So fun.

N--Nap, No school or work, and New Friends. We've been praying for awhile for a friend for Will at church. The girls each have a favorite friend from church, but there really aren't any boys Will's age. Not too long ago, a new family started attending and their son is Will's age and Will really likes him. John and I like his parents and they seem like a great family. We got together with some friends from church yesterday, and this new family was there also, and I've been feeling really thankful that God answered our prayers and provided a good friend for our son.

O--Outside. I love being outside so much. We all do really. We spent some time outdoors this weekend--working and playing.

P--Pizza, Peaches, Peach Pie (my friend made one for the BBQ yesterday--so good!), Popcorn, and Painting.

Q--Quiet. We enjoyed some quiet this weekend. Nice.

R--Razorbacks, Root Beer, and Room Re-Do. I painted a bookshelf we had in the basement for the girls' room, and re-arranged their beds and hung some stuff on the wall. I spent all of $8, and they were thrilled with the results.

S--Sunshine (lots of it) and the Sunday paper. Love, love, love reading the Sunday paper. Oh, and Snack Chart. Abbey is constantly asking me for snacks. And it makes me crazy trying to keep up with what she's already eaten and the limits I set. So...I copied this idea I saw in Family Fun magazine and in 10 minutes we had a snack system. When she wants a snack, she can consult her choices, choose one, then transfer the stick to her snack pouch. She loves things like this and so far it's working well. Oh...and my system is not nearly as cute as the one in the magazine, but it works for me...and that's better than crafty.

T--Touchdown! I also love hearing that word...especially if it's a Razorback touchdown!

U--Uno. Abbey was on a major winning streak this weekend...and she was very happy about that!

V--Vacation. Technically, no, this weekend was not a vacation, but it sure felt like one.

W--Watermelon (from the Farmer's Market--so juicy and sweet!), Writing (John tweaked a couple of book proposals he's been working on), and Woo Pig Sooie!

X--eXcellent, eXcellent weekend.


Z--Zzzzzz...we got to sleep in for 3 days straight. It was a little bit of a rude awakening (pun intended) this morning.

Monday, September 03, 2007

One Year Ago...

Last Labor Day, our youngest child, Abbey, woke up throwing up. Yuck. Abbey is our child who can't seem to quit vomiting once she starts. We spent this day last year crying and praying and taking turns holding our very sick little girl in our lap. It was awful. We kept praying and hoping and believing she would get better, but she didn't. I took her to the doctor early on Tuesday morning, knowing that if she wasn't already dehydrated, it was only a matter of time. The doctor took one look at her and sent us straight to to the hospital with admission orders. Ugh.

She only had to spend one night, thank goodness, and our friends from church were so great to provide us with prayer and visits and meals and snacks and other offers of help. We felt so blessed and so grateful, but at the time it was so HARD.

Abbey hasn't had another episode quite as serious since this time last year, and we're thankful for that...more than you can know.

I've been remembering all of this today, and remembering always give me some perspective. We just finished up THE BEST weekend we've had in a long time. We played and rested and did some things around the house and spent some time with friends and just enjoyed being a family. It was a weekend for the record books...and seriously, it could have been terrible and still surpassed last year. I believe that God redeemed this holiday for us, and I am so grateful. So incredibly grateful.