Friday, December 29, 2006

Oh, the possibilities!


It's here.

My new desk calendar.

It came in yesterday.

Everyone else got theirs a couple of weeks ago, but for some reason, Shirley forgot to order mine.

Look at it. Clean. Uncluttered. Full of possibilities.

Sometimes I wish my life was still like that, like when I was younger - clean, uncluttered, and full of possibilities.



See how fast a calendar can go to "possibilities" to "realities?"

Our lives are the same way.

One minute, you're graduating from high school, or college, or getting married, or in the middle of insert-your-favorite-life-change-here.

The next minute you've made your choices, and you're living with those consequences - both good and bad.

I sometimes get a little blue when I read wedding announcements. Ironic, since it used to be my job to put those things in the paper!

I look at the happy couple, and read what they have accomplished so far: graduating from school, or about to; working their first job, or going to grad school; moving into their first home.

You know, Jason and I never had a wedding announcement. I never got around to submitting one to my local paper, and, well, Jason didn't really care about putting one in Augusta's paper.

I guess if we had, it would've sounded pretty great: we were college graduates, and he had a job at a church, and I was ready to take on the world.

Our reality was much, much different. The first six months, we survived on prayer and $250 a week. We had LOTS of credit card debt, because no one taught us about those things before we went to college. I couldn't find a job to save my life. If it hadn't been for help from some kind souls at church, I'm sure we would've been living with my mother-in-law by Christmas *shudder*.

I suppose those young couples could be in the same boat. I mean, you can make almost anything sound the way you want in print! The people reading the announcements don't follow you home to see if you make something of your life.

This year, let's make our possibilities into our realities. (Boy, some motivational speaker should be paying me big bucks!) Let's take this blank-slate of a calendar, and fill it with good things. Let's be at a different, better place in our lives this time next year.

Even if you're one of those whose life is perfect now (and if you are, I'd like to hang out with you for a day or two and see how you do it!) I think we can all find parts of our world where the possibilities don't match the realities.

Happy New Year, y'all!

Ta dah!


As promised, my Very Special Present.

(Sorry for the not-so-great picture. I took it this morning on my way out the door.)

I got it Tuesday. Jason brought it home, and I came in from work to find it smack dab in the middle of the kitchen where he'd assembled it. Thanks hon!

I really, really like it. It's got a counter that tells you how far, how fast, and how many minutes you've gone, along with how many calories you've burned. I really don't trust that last measure, but the others are all good.

And when the commercials say it's a total body workout, they aren't kidding! I've done a mile a day on it for the past three days, and I can really feel it all over. That's why I chose it over the recumbent bike I was considering, because I didn't think the bike would give me the upper-body workout I needed. I only have a short space of time to work out (I'm so important and pressed for time, you know) so I needed to maximize every minute.

Anna Marie loves it too. I'm not sure how safe it is for her to get on it, but she just kind of swings back and forth a little. I told her she could only get on if I was in the room to watch her.

I hate having it in the middle of the living room, but I don't really have any other place for it. I'd put it in my room, but the bed takes up most of the space. Also, I don't have to worry about disturbing Jason if he's got an early day and has already gone to bed.

Guess it's a good thing I got exercise equipment for Christmas, since I did gain that pound!

My mom is going to get the Ab Lounge. I told her we can switch up - she can come over and do the Gazelle (once her foot heals - she had another surgery yesterday) and I can go to her house to get on the Ab Lounge. Perfect!

I'm really hoping I can keep up my exercise streak. Wish me luck!

P.S. - I'm so (as Anna Marie would say) insighted - we get off at noon again today! Yippee!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Official Thursday Weigh In

Well, I didn't get through the holidays completely unscathed, but I didn't do as much damage as one might have thought.

I gained one pound (bringing me back up to 171) but surprisingly, I'm not upset about it. I suppose it could've been much worse.

But, onward and downward. So to speak. I got a very special present for Christmas (actually the day after) that I'll tell you about later. Perhaps it will help me to get back on track!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Feliz Navidad!


Wow, my sister is so amazing. All I had to do was make a semi-blatant comment that she hadn't gotten me the pictures, and POOF! There they were.

(Along with a shameless plug for her Amanda Goes to England blog. Go to the comments on the Boxing Day post, and follow the link from there. And leave her some comments - she won't think you're weird or anything.)

So, without further ado:

We had a candlight service Sunday night, and afterwards went to mom's house. We ate until the world looked level (well, I mostly had raw veggies, and had a sloppy joe, but that's another matter) and had a great time remembering the holidays when we were kids. Eventually, we got to Anna Marie's favorite part: the presents.

Since mom is still pretty much chair-bound, I took over the job of official present hander-outer.

One of the best parts of the evening was the Christmas crakers. No, silly, not small pieces of dough made to look like ornaments. You know, those things you pull, and they explode, and you get a tissue paper crown, some small trinket of a toy, and some jokes for your trouble.

Here is the official Raney-Turner-Thompson Christmas Cracker Photo:



From left: Dad, my sister-in-law Lindsey, my brother Jeremy, Aunt Debi, Anna Marie, Amanda, and Jason.

Festive, no?

We had lots of fun. Dad had the job of sitting in a corner, having his picture made with random family members.

Like my Aunt Debi.



And me!



(Dude, those are some SERIOUS bags under my eyes!)

And here is a close-up picture of Lindsey and Jeremy. Even though they live in the same town we do, we don't get to see them very often.



And yeah, we did actually get a picture of mom too, this time with Aunt Debi.



We went back home, finished lighting our Advent candles, and went to bed. Thankfully, Anna Marie didn't get up until about 8 a.m. I guess she was tuckered out from the celebrations of the night before.

We opened our presents to ourselves, and got our stockings. My favorite present was a circle pendant that Jason got me from QVC. Anna Marie's favorite, hands down, was the Dora scooter my mother-in-law sent back with us at Thanksgiving. She's basically not gotten off of that thing since yesterday morning, and has ridden it all over our hardwood floors.

My family came over for lunch yesterday, and we had a smoked pork shoulder (yes, we're from Memphis, and we had barbeque for Christmas dinner) along with some leftover turkey and dressing from the auction. Oh, and my aunt made her ex-mother-in-law's fruit salad, and that stuff is addictive, my friend.

So we had a good Christmas, right up until the part where Jason couldn't find the keys to our extra car, and we spent an hour and a half looking for them, and the evening disentigrated into a pretty nasty argument.

Yeah, good stuff.

Turns out the keys had fallen into a gift bag we'd taken to mom's. Wish I'd have known that before I went to the trashcan (already at the curb for today's pickup) and got the bag out with the wrapping paper, and dumped the whole thing out onto my kitchen floor, just to be sure that we hadn't accidentally thrown the keys away.

All's well that ends well, I suppose.

Happy Boxing Day!


Yeah, I know - I didn't post a "Merry Christmas" yesterday. I'm waiting on my Official Photographer, Amanda, to come up off the pictures.

(I'd better be nice to her. She's babysitting the little one today.)

Anyhoo, I thought that whilst I was awaiting the Official Christmas Snapshots, I'd wish everyone a Happy Boxing Day.

What's that? You don't know what Boxing Day is? Let me put on my slightly-snooty-hey-my-sister's-been-to-England-so-I-know-lots-of-British-stuff hat and fill you in.

According to Wikipedia (what did we ever do without THAT?), Boxing Day is a public holiday, celebrated on the day after Christmas, in the British Commonwealth.

"Boxing Day in the UK is traditionally a day for sporting activity, originally fox hunting, but in modern times football and horse racing," so says the Wiki.

There are lots of different theories as to the origins of Boxing Day, from employees taking boxes to their jobs into which their employers would place money (oh, heck yeah!) to churches giving the money out of the collections box to the disadvantaged on the day after Christmas.

I don't know how we'd celebrate Boxing Day here in the US, but traditionally, it seems that people here go to the after Christmas sales and stock up on decorations and gifts, and they promptly forget where they hide them, and then they have to go back next October and buy up all new stuff again.

And then, on Christmas Eve, like at my house, someone's mother is scratching her head saying, "I know I bought you another present. Where did I put it?

Man, that's the worst, especially when you're a kid! A mythical present! It could be anything - a race car, a pony, or an Old Navy gift card that everyone else in the family got except you.

And I'm not kidding on that last part.

So, anyway, happy Boxing Day. Whether you celebrate by playing football (or, as we Yanks call it, soccer) or by elbowing people in line at Target to get your hands on some half price Choxie, have a great day!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Clean and tidy

Well, mostly anyway.

We've worked hard all afternoon on our house, making sure everything (with the exception of Jason's office!) is presentable. I thought we were going to have Christmas Day over here, but Amanda mentioned everyone coming over tomorrow night as well. Whatever - we'll just go with the flow!

Thursday night we realized that the top third of our (brand new, prelit) tree was not lighting! Well, Friday night Jason went to the local Big Box Retailer for a light tester. Apparently it was too sensitive, so we took it back today. It's replacement was one recommended by the consumer reporter from one of our local TV stations. It worked perfectly, and we found the offending (and not blown, just loose) bulb.

Let there be light, indeed.

I can scarcely believe that tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Although, since I've been out in all the hubub the last few days, it should not come as a surprise! We're having a candle light service tomorrow night, which I was charged with writing. Then, we'll probably go to Mom's and open presents. We'll leave some here, like the ones we bought, to be opened Monday morning. I told one of my coworkers that I didn't want Anna Marie to be completely overwhelmed, and he said that was kinda the point.

Not really. Especially when you're trying to teach a young child to appreciate all the gifts she has been given - both the tangible and the intangible.

I pray you all have the most wonderful, blessed Christmas season you've ever experienced. Thank you so much for listening to me ramble on during the past year, and for even posting comments to let me know you're there.

Oh, and say a little prayer for Valerie over at Random Thoughts and her husband (and furbaby) - they're a little under the weather, and they're planning an airplane ride for Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Official Thursday Weigh-In

Yes, it's Friday, not Thursday.

I was too tired to post anything last night.

I'm still holding steady at 170. I know that I should still be losing, but it's the holidays, and I'll admit it - I'm not staying within my points range every day.

(There. I said it.)

So, maintaining it is. Not going to be upset about that, nosiree!

We're having our office Christmas breakfast (complete with gift swap!) and then I get off at noon.

Have a great day everyone!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Ghosts of Christmas past

I found these pictures recently.

WARNING: Viewing these photos may not be pleasant. I'm going to show them anyway.

This is the first year we took a Christmas card picture, when Anna Marie was about 14 months old. We'd just moved from South Carolina to Mississippi, and this was taken in front of a huge tree in the Peabody Hotel in Memphis.



Note: we couldn't get the paci out of her mouth long enough to take a picture. Bad, bad parents that we were. And those were the only pacis she would take, making it difficult to replace them when she inevitably bit the nipples.

(Man, I should get lots of Google hits with those last few words! Score!)

This is the next year, in front of a tree at Peabody Place Mall.



Note the "French Whore" style of makeup I employed at the time. Why did no one point out the amazing amount of blush on my cheeks?

(Ooh, another Google hit spectacular!)

christmas pic

And of course, this year's model.

We did take a picture for Christmas 2004, but I couldn't find a copy. And last year was the infamous waiting-on-the-DirecTV-Man-to-show-up-with-the-DVR year. No picture, no cards.

So I'll leave you with a story from this afternoon.

I was traveling down a main road in our town, which is actually a state highway, on my way back to work after running errands at lunch. There is a car dealership next to a stoplight on said road.

When I was stopped by the light, in my Amazing Technicolor Dream Van, I noticed someone in front of the dealership waving me down.

Thinkin he might be in distress, I rolled down my window.

Car Guy: Hey, aren't you ready to trade? (Motioning to the $30,000 vehicles behind him).

Me: No, not today.

Car Guy (Obviously eyeing my 11-year-old, multi-colored van) Are you sure?

Me: I don't think my husband would be too happy if I did that.

Car Guy: I think he would.

Me: No thanks!

Car Guy: Merry Christmas.

Thankfully, the light turned. What would Jason have done if I'd taken a long lunch, and he came home to a new car in the driveway? A new car we really, truly can't afford the payment on?

I don't know, and I don't want to know. I just know what I'd do if he'd done the same thing, and I think it's in everyone's best interest that this car deal doesn't go through.

Merry Christmas, Car Guy. I just saved you from the Wrath of Jason. You can thank me later.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Grizzlies lose again!

Man, this is just NOT their year.

Friday night, Amanda, Anna Marie, and I met Amanda's friend Kelly in Memphis for a Grizzlies game. We were super stoked, because it marked the return of Amanda's favorite player, Pau Gasol, after an injury over the summer.

You should've heard the (not so jam-packed) crowd at the FedEx Forum when the announcer said his name during the introductions. They went wild!

Although we had stopped for dinner at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant, Anna Marie started saying she was hungry before the game even started. I'm trying to get her to understand the difference between true hunger and, say, smelling the barbeque plate the guy two rows in front of you is eating.

I put her off until the end of the first quarter, to give her time to really see if she was hungry, and we went downstairs for some grub.

(Did I mention we were on row "V"? MUCH better than our last seats on row "Y.")

I figured the best bang for my buck would be a soft pretzel, which we could share and which would also serve to fill her up with its carb-y goodness. I got it without salt, because I figure they have to brush it with extra butter to get the salt to stick.

I dropped nearly a whole "Hamilton" ($10 bill) on the pretzel and a drink! At least the cup was the big 32 oz. souvenier cup, which is reusable, and which I got without ice so as to have more drink for us to share.

Amanda also wanted some hot chocolate, so I went down the escalator to get that too. Somehow, we made it back up the escalator with our pretzel, diet pepsi, and hot chocolate, and spilled nary a drop.

This is what Anna Marie did with her portion of the pretzel, which, by the way, did serve to fill her up so that she didn't get hungry for the rest of the game:



(Oh, this wasn't the only part of the pretzel she ate. In fact, I asked her to hold it and she had eaten about a third of the thing before we made it back to our seats.)

It was a good game. Even though we got the first basket, we pretty much trailed the rest of the night. The closest we got to Atlanta was four points down.

During the last quarter of the game, they had the "Gibson Air Guitar Contest." We couldn't get Anna Marie to play the air guitar, even after extensive lessons from us, but she did dance her little rear off. She even got so hot, she shed her Grizzlies hoodie. She is the queen of twirling several stories up.



During halftime, we went downstairs and walked around, and I went into the Grizzlies Den (team store) to get a window cling for my van. I think it's the first time Anna Marie has ever gone to a game and not come out with something from that store, but I told her it was too close to Christmas.

When we got back to our cars, we spotted a wallet on the ground next to a car. While we were pondering what to do, a police car appeared and we flagged him down. We gave him the wallet, which he figured out went to the owner of the car we found it next to. He took it, and put a note under the guy's windsheild telling him where to pick it up. I guess we did our good deed for the night.

As we were leaving the Forum, I took this picture. I always laugh at the restroom signs in the building, and I think you could find these only in Memphis:



Rock on, baby.

Friday, December 15, 2006

From Valerie

Just for fun on a Friday...
4 jobs I've had:
Fast food worker, daycare worker, retail worker, and newspaper reporter. (Just four? It was hard to narrow the list!)

4 movies I could watch over and over:
Ferris Bueller, What About Bob, A Christmas Story, Shrek

4 places I have lived:
Memphis, TN, Horn Lake, MS, Franklin Springs, GA, North Augusta, SC

4 TV shows I love:
Ugly Betty, CSI Miami, Modern Marvels (on the History Channel), Good Eats

4 places I have been on a vacation:
Texas, Michigan, Virginia, Tennessee

4 favorite foods:
Chocolate, Mexican, pasta, peanut butter

4 places I would love to visit:
Montana, Colorado, California, Washington State

4 Living Women I Admire:
If I name names, someone's going to get left out!

4 Favorite Actors:
Johnny Depp, James Spader, Jamie Foxx (loved him in Ray), Christian Bale

4 Concerts I Have Attended:
Hmm - haven't been to many lately, but in college, we went to see Newsong A LOT. Cheesy, I know, but their concerts were within driving distance, and usually just required a small donation at the door.

Anyone else want to play?

Run, run as fast as you can!

(I was tempted to name this post "The Best Little Gingerbread House in Mississippi," but I didn't want to offend anyone.)

We made our first gingerbread house last night!

And yes, I said "made," because although I didn't bake any of the components, I did labor intensively in the construction phase.

Christmas with Anna Marie has been great. Every little thing makes her, as she says, "So insighted."

This was no exception. I told Jason to tell her that if she cleaned her room yesterday we'd put this together last night.

The place could've passed military inspection. It was spotless.

She was waiting when I got out of the school board meeting.

Here is our pictoral essay, "The Turners Make a Gingerbread House."



See, these kits are great! They give you everything you need to make a gingerbread house that Hansel and Gretel would enjoy nibbling on.



Her "insightment" over the house was eclipsed only by her enthrallment over this, her latest Happy Meal toy. I don't understand! It's an odd thing with a nose that lights up!



Ok, so the pieces had these indentations to help guide where you put the frosting. Idiot proof, right? Wrong! I think I put the roof on upside down, causing me to have to "freestyle" the shingles. Not a good thing.



I'm not exactly sure that sprinkles on icing make the best paving material, but that's what the box picture had, so that's the direction we took.



See, I couldn't even get her to take her eyes off the toy for long enough to smile at the camera properly. Oh yes, I know it's a pitiful picture of the house, but I lack the common-sense photography skills that my sister is blessed with (as in, I was too close so it's slightly out of focus and the flash bounced off all that white.)

There you have it. The first Turner construction project. I declare it a success, and a yearly tradition.

My Papaw Coley, the carpenter/farmer/preacher, would be proud.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Official Thursday Weigh-In

Oy vey! What a day! At least my weigh-in went well.

I didn't lose any, but I didn't gain either.

Holding steady at 170.

I'll take that, especially this time of year!

One problem: WW decided to "overhaul" their plan, and I got new materials tonight, but I couldn't stay for the whole meeting because the school board is meeting again tonight.

Well, I don't know if it's a problem or not, since I really haven't looked over the stuff. And besides, if it ain't broke, don't fix it - I may just keep doing things like I was, since I am getting results.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Especially for Amanda

I'm not a big "Mr. Meaty" fan, but they've been showing this commercial on Nick and Anna Marie thinks it's hilarious.

And she thinks it's even more hilarious to sing it to her (vegetarian) Aunt Manda.



(Man, I LOVE You Tube!)

Wipeout!


That's what the last couple of days have been.

An (almost) wipeout.

(Speaking of which - does anyone remember the 80's rap group The Fat Boys? They had a song called "Wipeout" they did with the Beach Boys, and I had a copy of it when I was in middle school. The lyrics started going through my head for no apparent reason yesterday morning when I was loading the dishwasher.)

We're still having computer problems. Yesterday I had to work in spurts, putting together my Hokey Christmas Greetings Section a bit at a time. I again spent most of the day with two of my coworkers, getting to know one another better, while our poor classifieds/IT/whatever needs done around here guy, Travis, worked on our problem.

He stayed on the phone to our DSL company's tech support until 7 p.m. last night, and got most of our problems fixed.

However, today, none of us can print. We're hooked up wirelessly to one main printer, and all that comes out for us is pages and pages of gibberish.

The solution we've come up with: make a PDF of whatever we need to print, and then print from Acrobat. Seems the only program having a problem is Quark.

Our "official IT guy" hasn't returned our calls today. He's a couple hundred miles away in Jackson, and we aren't supposed to call him into the office (per our publisher) unless there's a real emergency.

I think this qualifies.

At any rate, I got my pages finished (still waiting on a couple of last minute ads) on the greetings section. And now I can start to worry about the next two days, wherein I have to do all the stuff I haven't been able to do the last three days.

At least our publisher is in Atlanta, and won't be breathing down my back Friday.

Thank God for small miracles.

(Hey, did I mention that it's 70 degrees here? In December? Crazy mid-south weather!)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Insert picture of a halo here.

Because, when I tried to find one online, all I got was 3,469,439,458,327 pictures of some dumb video game and some poor people in traction.

GAH!

I have to be on-task today. I have much to do!

And I have little sleep to do it on.

I told myself last night, "Self, you're going to bed at a decent hour. Like, maybe, right after you put Anna Marie to bed. She's had a cold, and you're tired and not feeling so hot yourself, so Self, you need to rest!"

But, I forgot it's almost Christmas. And I had cards to address. And a calendar to finish for my mother-in-law.

Double GAH!

So I stayed up too late. And then, instead of waking up when Jason left (which would've made more sense) I woke up about an hour later - 3:30 a.m. - and had a hard time getting back to sleep.

When my alarm went off at 6:30, it was dark outside, so I got up to check another clock to see if maybe Jason had accidentally reset the time, and it was really 5:30, and I could lay in bed another hour.

No such luck. It's just raining outside.

And yesterday at work was pretty much a wash, because we had internet problems and server problems, and well, all my pages live on the server, so if I can't get to the server, I can't work. Savvy?

Oh, and because the server is next to my computer, every time the server had to be worked on, I couldn't even get to my machine to do anything even remotely productive. I spent the whole day walking around the office, reading the papers.

And I have a really hokey "Christmas Greetings" section to get out this week, in addition to my regular work.

Triple GAH!

So I'll leave you now.

Halo-less.

Time on task people, time on task!

Friday, December 08, 2006

This one is for Jolene

So, Jolene (over there at Jolene George, I'm too lazy to give you the hyperlink) had this tag post. And she didn't officially tag anyone, but just put it out there to the general blogging world.

So now that I'm past my "attitude-of-gratitude" and "Official Thursday Weigh-In" posts, (and my boss has left for the day!) here are my answers:

A - Available or single: See answer B

B - Best Friend: My husband

C - Pie!

D - Drink of choice: Coke Zero, or water with lemon.

E - Essential Item(s) you use everyday: computer, cell phone, contact lenses

F - Favorite color: Blue, preferably dark

G - Gummy Bears or worms: gummy bears

H - Hometown: Born in Memphis, TN.

I - Indulgence: Dove Dark Chocolate

J - January or February: Neither. I'm SO over being cold by then.

K - Kids & Names: Anna Marie, and my big kid Jason!

L - Life is Incomplete Without? My faith, my family, and my friends

M - Marriage Date: July 11, 1998

N - Number of Siblings: 3: sister Amanda and twin brothers Jeremy and Jonathan

O - Oranges or Apples: Apples, and make them Granny Smith, please.

P - Phobias or Fears: Buggy wuggies

Q - Fave Quote: It's really not that you can't see the forest for the trees, you've never been out in the woods alone.

R - Reason to Smile: my family, service to others, blogging buddies, a beautiful day!

S - Season: Summer!

T - Tag 3 or 4 people: Tag yourself!

U - Unknown Fact about Me: Hmm. If I could, I would've been a perpetual student. I loved school that much!

V - Vegetable You Don't Like: I can't think of a single veggie I don't like!

W - Worst Habit: Procrastination

X - Xrays: Ankle, teeth

Y - Your Fave Food: Peanut butter!

Z - Zodiac Sign: Leo, but I don't really read my horoscope.

And that's all there is to it. If you haven't answered this tag yet, here's your chance!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Official Thursday Weigh-In

Drumroll please:

Last week: 172
This week: 170

"Released": 2 lbs.

Total: 67 lbs!

Wohoo!

Now, I have to go cover a school board meeting, but boy, am I happy!

Today, my heart is full…


Of gratitude.

It's cold here. Really, really cold. The weather guys call it the "Arctic Express."

Up until today, I hadn't bought Anna Marie a coat yet. I'm not neglegent, but it's just now really getting cold. She has a long, fleece coat that was a hand-me-down, and that has done her up until now.

We were out for lunch, and decided to stop into our local Super Walmart. Because, what better place to waste the last half hour of your lunch break? I can't think of one.

When we got out of the Jeep, it was apparent that the fleece coat was not doing the job in the icy, icy wind. My baby was cold.

I had looked around for coats - mostly at my favorite consignment shop, Jack n' Jill's. That's where most of her clothes have come from this season, and last year I got her a really nice coat for $5.

Yep, just five bucks. Dude!

No such luck this year. I was beginning to wonder what I was going to do, and I was putting the decision off.

Well, today, I could put it off no longer.

We walked into the store, and Amanda suggested that we look for the poor kid a coat. At first I balked, saying "They're all like $20! I don't want to spend $20 for a coat she's only going to wear this year!"

(Gah! I sound like such a Scrooge! "No, honey, you aren't cold. Just shiver a little more, and your body should be fine!")

Then you know what I realized? I had $20 to spend on a coat for my kid.

Rather than hold out trying to find a cheaper coat, I could just buy her a coat. Right then. She could exit that store warmer than she entered.

What a humbling thought, that I could supply such a major need for my daughter so simply and so immediately.

It goes back to my mindset - I'm not as broke as I used to be. Especially not this year, because I've done some side jobs for a friend of mine and made some extra cash - enough to put tires on my van, and hoses, and, well, buy my kid a coat.

I felt so thankful, and awful at the same time. What do parents do who really can't spend $20 or $30 for a coat for their child? Or who have several children? Especially with Walmart doing away with layaway, what then?

I almost burst into tears in the middle of a Big Box Retailer.

I wished right there that I could mount some kind of campaign to make sure every kid in Tate County had a warm coat for winter.

We found her not just a coat, but a four-in-one coat. She'd had one of these when she was two, and it worked out really well. Our weather is so wonky around here, one needs several forms of outerwear to be comfortable.

The best part was, it was on sale! It was down to $18 from $24!

Ok, maybe not. Maybe the best part was when I put it on her as we left the store and she was warm.

Yeah, that was definitely the best part.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I love a parade!


Well, I don't love it that much, but I have a small child.

And she LOVES parades.

Her favorite part is the marching bands.

Last night, we had our annual Christmas parade in Senatobia. Why they can't have it during the day, I'll never know. I'll also never know why the weather can be sunny and 65 degrees in the days leading up to the event, but that night, it turns blue cold.

We're talking 25 degrees here, folks.

Last year, I didn't even take Little AM. She spent the night with my mom, way out in the county, where she didn't even know there was a parade.

I stood on a street corner for two hours, freezing both myself and my camera, to get pictures that didn't come out anyway.

This year, I had a plan. My general manager doesn't seem real happy with it, but my publisher told me to.

I went to the parking lot where the floats were setting up about 4:30, before it got dark. I got a picture of a group and their float.

I then went to cover the county school board meeting, which had been moved up to 5:00 p.m. so that board members could get out before Main Street was blocked off.

It didn't let out until 7:15. I had to take a back road and park at the bank next door to my office so I could walk over and clock out.

I really, really didn't want to have to get back out, but our house backs up to the businesses on Main Street - it isn't like I could pretend that there was no parade going on in our backyard. Besides, she was ready to go when I got there.

I made myself a PB&J and we set out to find a parking space. Call me soft, but I was not leaving the confines of my van. We'd be cold, but at least the wind would be off of us and we could crank up occasionally and get some heat going. Plus, I wouldn't have to worry about an excited five-year-old running out into the street.

I got lucky - even though it was close to 7:30 when we left the house, and the parade started at 7:00, we found a spot - at an intersection around the corner from my house. We were allowed to park in the middle of the street, because, well, Main Street was blocked and no one was going to be coming through anyway.

The parade was just about to get to our section, so we didn't have to wait long.

Anna Marie kept making these odd, giggly noises. I asked her if she was OK, and she just kept telling me how excited she was.

It lasted about an hour, and then I got out into traffic and found a place to turn around at a red light. We were cold. We were tired. But at least one of us was happy!

Like I said - there was no use in my trying to take the pictures anyway - my shutter gets sluggish in the cold, and it's too dark to get pictures of floats in the dark. Plus, I have a little point-and-shoot, and my flash is absolutely useless.

So I had to endure the disappointment of my GM, when she knows good and well that in the four years I've been working here we've never had a picture of the first place float to go on the front page.

There is another parade in our county tonight, and the GM says she's going to try to take pictures. I can't go, because I have another board meeting to cover.

*and 10 points to whoever can tell me where that song "I Love a Parade" comes from. I have no idea, but it's been circling through my head today.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

MIA no longer

Betcha thought I went to Georgia again.

Nope! (Thank God!)

I've been doing this:

tree pic

(It looks better in person. I didn't do all those neat things that Jolene suggested - I was trying to be quick and easy. Maybe I'll do a better one later!)

The best thing about this tree: it's pre-lit. And, all the presents underneath are segregated according to color, thanks to Little AM.

I did that Thursday night. Then Friday night, I did a little more (garlands, etc.) We still haven't gotten our outdoor lights up, and I suspect they won't go up until at least Wednesday, unless Jason gets a wild hare and does them in the morning.

Yesterday morning, we attended a waffle breakfast sponsored by our local Optimist Club. One of my co-workers is the president of the local chapter, so we go to a good bit of their stuff. It was good - but I limited myself to one waffle (the big, fluffy kind). Jason, on the other hand, ate FOUR. And bacon. They had a Santa there, but Anna Marie didn't want to talk to him. We decided not to push the issue.

(I guess all that not-making-a-big-deal-about-Santa stuff is taking hold.)

Last night, I attended a birthday dinner for my aunt's mother-in-law. It was at a Mexican restaurant, and it was muy delicioso. My aunt got a picture of Anna Marie and her granddaughter Savannah (both wearing their glasses) and I suppose I'll post it when she emails it to me.

Yes, I had my camera, but we played "musical chairs" so Savannah could sit by Anna Marie, and I didn't know where my purse was for a spell.

And then today, we went to take our Christmas card picture. Anna Marie doesn't look forward to these photo shoots, and asked me if we could just draw pictures instead!

Silly, silly child.

If I were as talented as my scrapbooking friends, well, I'd be making my cards. However, a clever picture is about all I have time for these days.

We traveled to the auction where Jason works, because they have a big tree in the middle of a big lobby. Amanda was gracious enough to spend her afternoon snapping the shots.

Here is the traditional family picture I considered:

christmas pic

And I actually spent some time Photoshopping the area next to Jason's head, because the tree was too narrow that high up and you could see the floor behind us. We were on a staircase that was blocked at the bottom by the tree, and Amanda was above us.

But, this is the picture I ended up going with:

christmas 2

Not very traditional. You basically can't see me at all.

But you know what? I think it conveys both how we feel about each other and how we feel about the season.

They're coming from Sam's. Jason will be able to pick them up in a few days, and then comes the fun part - trying to located addresses, because we never keep a list from year to year.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Official Thursday Weigh-In

Well, this is the best news I've had all day.

Previously: 175
Tonight: 172

I've "released" three pounds! And over the holiday and a trip to boot!

I think what made the biggest difference was I seriously upped my raw veggie intake. I can usually tell that I lose, um, release weight better when I eat more raw veggies.

Wohoo! Now, let's see if I can keep it off for next week. I'll probably be buying a Gazelle (the exercise machine, not the animal, silly!) in the next few days.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Chronically Sleep Deprived.

If I were 100% Native American, instead of just 25%, that would be my name.

Yesterday we went to pick Amanda up, and got back to Senatobia (relatively) late. It was about 9:15 when I got home after dropping her off. I had even made a sign for Anna Marie to hold up. I told her that when someone was catching a ride from an airport, they sometimes needed a sign to show them who to ride with. Observe:

anna marie sign

Notice her new, short haircut! She hasn't had it that short in a while, and it looks really cute. Notice also the swanky Little Mermaid necklace she's sporting, courtesy of McD's Happy Meals.

And yeah, she's wearing short sleeves in November. It was like 70 degrees out there, folks.

(Oh, and since we were so late leaving the airport, we decided to nix the Vietnamese food and just hit Fazoli's on the way home. Yum!)

Once we got home, Anna Marie did something she hadn't done the entire 12 days Amanda was gone - she wept. Bitterly. Openly. Broken heartedly.

Until 11:00 p.m.

Let's backtrack, shall we?

When I got to the airport, it was dark and raining. I noticed a police car behind me, but I thought he was just on patrol.

He continued to follow me, and again, I thought he was patrolling the lot.

He didn't flash his lights or anything like that.

When I saw him pull behind my van and walk towards me, I knew something was up.

Apparently, I ran a stop sign. For the life of me, I don't know where. I guess somewhere on airport property, because he was an airport cop.

I apologized PROFUSELY and handed him my license. He took what seemed like forever to call it in, and then let me off with a warning.

Let's note here that this was the first time I'd EVER, EVER gotten stopped by a police officer in my 15 years of driving.

Anna Marie was HIGHLY traumatized.

The whole time we were waiting for Amanda (which ended up being about an hour) she kept telling me how scared she was. The officer wasn't ugly with me, and he didn't flash his lights, and I told her that he was just doing his job. I explained how dangerous running a stop sign was, that if there had been another car coming that we could've had a wreck.

By the time we got home, "scared" had morphed into "angry."

She was angry with me for getting in trouble and causing her to be scared.

I actually made the mistake of telling her that it wasn't my first time to run a stop sign, just my first time getting caught (and explaining that all drivers have done it at least once) and she really thought I was awful.

I even tried to have a teachable moment, where I told her that whether or not the policeman had seen me I'd still broken the law, and that whether or not I saw her do something wrong she was still wrong.

And, that even though I'd gotten a warning, I deserved a ticket - and that God had mercy on us too, when we deserved much worse punishment for doing wrong than what we got.

Didn't work.

As I was getting her into bed, she was still mad at me but getting over it because I told her that I couldn't sing bedtime songs to someone who was mad at me. (Awful of me, I know.) And she was settling down. And then she saw it.

It was a picture of Amanda and me, taken in the spring, that was on her night stand. She picked it up, held it, and began SOBBING. I'd never seen her cry like this - great, heaving sobs, which seemed to come from deep within.

She said she missed her Aunt Manda, and I explained that she needed her rest and Anna Marie could see her in the morning. She was not satisfied.

I reminded her that she hadn't cried the whole time Aunt Manda was gone, and she said she almost did - when she was watching the episode of Spongebob Squarepants where Spongebob loses his pet snail Gary.

"I just keep thinking about Spongebob losing Gary," she sobbed.

Keep in mind, Gary left because Spongebob forgot to feed him, and he was held captive by a crazy old lady - neither of which happened to Amanda.

It took me until after 11:00 to get her to settle down, to stop crying and making her face all splotchy. She admitted that she was scared that I was going to get arrested, and I reassured her that people don't usually get arrested for running stop signs, unless they're also doing something else wrong, in which case, I wasn't.

She's afraid that the next time I go to the airport, I'll run the stop sign and get caught again.

Amazingly, she was back up at 7:00 a.m. Amanda and Mom came and got her to take her to lunch and then around town for the afternoon, and I hope she caught a nap in the car - or she's going to be a real pill when I get home.

Oh, and after I put her to bed, I had a teachable moment all my own.

Remember when I told her that even if no one saw her do wrong, she still was wrong?

Well, I was reminded that since I'd gotten back from Georgia I'd been regaling people with things my uneducated, backwards mother-in-law had said.

Even though she didn't hear me make fun of her, I was still wrong. I was still speaking unkind words.

That, my friends, sent me off to bed with a heavy heart.

If a tree falls in the forest, and no one hears it…

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I'm back!

Whew!

As Amanda once titled an email to me, "We came through it with our lives."

Really, as bad as it was, it could've been worse.

Lunch on Thursday was lovely. We stopped at Cracker Barrel and had their Thanksgiving lunch. We went ahead and stopped about 11 a.m. when we came across one, and figured that if we waited any longer we wouldn't be able to get in the door.

Since we were just a group of three, and it was early yet, we didn't have to wait very long. Anna Marie and I split the dinner, and the waitress brought her a piece of pumpkin pie of her very own - and didn't charge us. We left her a nice tip, seeing as how she was having to work on Thanksgiving and all.

We took our time getting out there, and arrived about 8 p.m. Eastern. Little did we know, my MIL was holding dinner! She had some leftover turkey and dressing from lunch at her sister's, and she made some macaroni and cheese and other vegetables. It wasn't ready until 9 p.m. Which means that the kids there didn't eat until then, and stayed way too late, considering -

considering that they'd be back the next morning at about 6:30 a.m. My SIL had to work a 7 a - 7 p shift at the hospital where she's a Certified Nursing Assistant.

Over 12 hours. It was maddening. They were maddening. We HAD to get out of the house, so we took them to Zaxby's for lunch. I was a little apprehensive, but Jason threatened them within an inch of their lives and promised them Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes if they were good. Christmas Tree Cakes that we had to travel to three stores to find, because Jason was determined to keep his promise to those kids.

Well, for the most part, they were good during lunch. Kimberly, the middle kid, who will be 8 in January, was the instigator. The other kids would be minding their own business, and she'd start kicking, or rip away whatever toy they had, or just generally cause a ruckus. I actually made her stand in time out during lunch, because she was bothering her sister and Anna Marie.

Here is a picture of the little darlings:



From left: Kimberly (7), Anna Marie (5), Christopher (8), and Rebecca (5).

Notice the sidelong glance Anna Marie is giving to Christopher. Not really sure what that's about.

We did get a bit of a break on Saturday, since they left the house so Anna Marie could get a nap and didn't return. I thought my SIL was mad, because we were gone at supper time and she didn't call - I figured she'd gone back to the house, and followed her normal M.O. of calling to see where her mom is. Because, obviously, she can't be at her mother's house with her kids and her mother not be there. However, she was with her ex-MIL because it was her birthday.

I did get to see Jason's brother Charles, who I'd only seen once or twice before. He's the other red head in the family. He also has a red headed daughter, but she's an adult - Charles is probably in his 50's.

(Word of explination here: Jason's dad was married and had six children, and then his wife died of cancer. He then married Jason's mom, who was about 25 years younger than he was, and had two more children. He died in 1995 when he was about 75 years old.)

At least the weather was nice, so the kids could play outside. Get them all inside, and boy howdy, what a crew!

So, we're back. I did pretty well about my eating, and, if Amanda's scale holds true (I weighed myself Thursday morning when we stopped by mom's on the way out of town) I "released" a couple of pounds last week. Thursday's weigh in should be interesting.

Amanda comes home tonight. Anna Marie and I (and Jason, if he isn't too tired) will go pick her up in Memphis, and then hopefully go out for Vietnamese food.

I'm going to get a piece of paper and make a sign for Anna Marie to hold that says "Aunt Manda."

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Just so you'll know

Really, Albi isn't as bad as he seems.



(Wohoo! Three posts in one day! A new record!)

Amanda in London: The Internet Waits


Part Six.

(It reminds me of a Flight of the Conchords song, Albi, the Racist Dragon. Really, it isn't as bad as it sounds. Anyway, after opening up with a description of where Albi lives (marmalade forest, make-believe trees, cottage cheese cottage, and all that), the song says "Part six: and so. . ." and continues on with a story about a badly burnt Albanian boy from the day before. Like we're supposed to know about this already or something. Just makes the song all the funnier. But I digress.)

Amanda went to the House of Parliament. No, not George Clinton's place. The one where the SNL skit takes place, and people with bad teeth are trying to figure out how to keep Oasis from breaking up.

Oasis rules!

Anyway, she also went out to lunch with a Nigerian woman from the church she attended Sunday - and the lady paid! She said it was very posh.

She's also been without hot water since she's been there. The hostel finally got some yesterday, but she had stayed up late so she could talk to mom and missed getting up early enough to get a hot shower the next morning. However, she did get to wash her face with hot water. Sweet!

Her new roomates are more Americans, but this time, they're of the "obnoxious rich girl" variety, the type that goes out clubbing and comes back in the wee hours with men and much booze in their systems. On daddy's tab.

So, when she woke up early this morning and disturbed them, they were put out, but she was not.

She's supposed to go to Birmingham this weekend (pronounced without the "h" by the way) for a camera expo of some sort - the reason she went over there in the first place.

Amanda was also slated to go ice skating today with an internet friend, and I'm worried because she isn't exactly Nancy Kerrigan. I think she's been once before, maybe 7 or 8 years ago.

And me, well, I'm STILL doing laundry and haven't even begun to pack. It's nearly 9:00 p.m. and I still have to do that, and go out to the storage room to get the coolers so they can be packed. But the storage room has buggy wuggies, so I may wait until morning - they're nocturnal, you know.

Happy Thanksgiving! I don't know how much I'll be able to post, because my MIL doesn't have the internet (GASP!) but we'll take the laptop and use her phone line for dialup. (DOUBLE GASP!)

We now interrupt Amanda Watch 2006


To talk about Christmas music.

I love Christmas music.

I know we haven't even had Thanksgiving yet, but I'm psyched for Christmas music.

So far, I've loaded four Christmas albums into iTunes, purchased another, and have two more I'm going to load before tomorrow so I can update my iPod.

See what I mean?

And my collection runs the gamut. I'm listening to Third Day's new Christmas Offerings (purchased from iTunes this morning) right now. But I also have James Brown's Funky Christmas (Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto is one of my favorites) and a mix CD that Amanda made me a few years ago of Motown Christmas music.

I have Kirk Franklin Christmas, Steven Curtis Chapman, Hillsongs, and several old Lane Bryant Christmas CDs, from when they used to do that sort of thing, full of standards like I want to see Santa to the Mambo and Cool Yule.

At home I have a Mercy Me CD I'll get at lunch and bring back to work this afternoon. I love Christmas music!

Of course, I like Blue Christmas - I am from Memphis, after all.

But what I love most of all are the sacred songs - I love to take a minute and listen, really listen to what they're saying. I get so excited to think about my Saviour, coming to earth as a small baby, knowing He was going to die, just because He loved me so much.

Sometimes, I have the urge to shout "Glory!" when I hear these songs. If I were at my church, that wouldn't be a problem, but unfortunately I'm at work, and the others in the office might look oddly upon my religious excitement.

(It isn't that they're athiests - everyone here goes to church - they just aren't used to the type of expressive worship we have at Emmaus.)

So, even though we haven't yet had the turkey or the pumpkin pie, or watched the big balloons in the Macy's parade (wonder which one will deflate this year?) I'm on to the Christmas music. If I had some way to get my iPod hooked into my stereo in the van (I don't want to buy one of those iTrip things, I'll just wait until I get a new CD player that has an input jack) I would have enough music to listen to on the entire 500 mile trip tomorrow, without repeating anything.

Happy Thankgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Amanda in London: The Internet Waits


Part five.

Today, she went to the Tower of London. It cost her about $30 to get in, and then another $7 for an audio tour.

(You may think with all this sight-seeing that she had great gobs of money. On the contrary, she's been eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches so she could save her money for other things.)

She said she'd never seen so many weapons in one place, or a suit of armor with a place for a man's, as she put it, *ahem* before. That last thing apparently belonged to King Henry VIII.

She also went to Picadilly Circus.

Poor thing though - her SLR isn't being very reliable. She has other cameras with her, but she was really counting on that main one.

Oh, and she read the blog and corrected me - her first roomates weren't from Autrailia, they were college students from Boston. I guess the Aussies must have been elsewhere in the dwelling.

Her new roomates are also Americans, girls who are backpacking across Europe.

Thanks to all of you out there in blogland who are putting up with my detailed retelling of my little sister's exploits across the pond!

In my non-Amanda news, I have to start packing mine and Anna Marie's stuff. And since we don't have a ton of clothes, that means I'll be doing laundry tonight and tomorrow so we'll have something to wear. And, since it's supposed to be around 70 degrees in Augusta this week, I'll have to further figure out what to pack, since neither of us have any warm-weather clothes that fit.

For those of you who are traveling tomorrow - stay safe!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Four days down


Eight to go.

Amanda really did go to the church in the picture above. It's St. Paul's. And it cost her nearly $20 to get in!

She said the main atraction was the dome, and that she sat in a chair for a while and just stared at it. She also lit a candle in memory of our friend LaJuan's daughter, Lauren, who was killed on her way to church on Mother's Day 2004 when she was just 18 years old.

(We aren't Catholic, but LaJaun is.)

Her Austrailian roomates left early this morning, and, thankfully, didn't wake her. She didn't know if she had other roommates when she emailed me.

She's going to spend a couple more days in London, and then she's supposed to meet a friend in Brum.

In other, non-Amanda news:

We had our Thanksgiving dinner today. I did really, really well! The only splurge I had was a smallish slice of caramel cake. Oh.my.gosh. The food was fabulous, as always. We have a place here called Penny's Pantry, run by a girl not much older than me named, you guessed it, Penny. She's also a recently-elected member of our Board of Aldermen. Anyway, she makes casseroles and desserts for busy (or lazy, or just plain hungry) folks to take home, or you can make special orders like for a party. She also has lunch during the week - but not this week, because she's so busy with Thanksgiving orders.

It's such a different feeling, to get up from a meal like that and not be stuffed. I had a little (like, 1/4 cup) of everything - hen and dressing, baked corn, green beans, and a fruit salad like I've never seen, with cheddar cheese shredded on top.

Oh, and THE CAKE!

Everything is made from scratch, by Penny and her little helpers, so everything is superb. Amanda, if you're reading this all the way over in London, you missed that cake! Nya nya!

We're on a short deadline this week, and every interview I tried to set up for my feature article fell through. I'm going to have to come up with something else, and quick-like.

By the time Thanksgiving gets here, I'll be good and ready for a break. Except I won't get one, because we're driving 500 miles to see the in-laws.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Amanda in London: The Internet Waits Day Three


Amanda went to church today. Not at this church, but with some missionaries from our denomination.

She didn't give me many details, but did say it was "excellent."

I'm proud of her for getting up and going, because she was up most of the night talking politics/culture/religion with someone who was born to Czech parents in Australia (and whom she said had an interesting accent.)

She thinks she knows what's wrong with her SLR, but didn't take it out today because she didn't want to lug it around at church.

However, her lack of sleep did keep her from doing much, other than walking around some and riding the Tube. She says she's being boring at night, because she can't find much to do that doesn't involve, as she put it, "booze."

So, she's had three days in England, and nine more to go. I don't know what she's doing tomorrow, and I don't think she has any definite plans. She did, however, say that the weather has been beautiful.

And in other, non-Amanda news, our service went nicely today. My Aunt Debi did a little skit about how we have such a poor attitude all the way to church, and then when we get there, it's often hard to find something to be thankful for. I can't tell you how many arguments I've sat through on the way to church, only to have to put on a "brave face" when we got out of the car. As children, of course - my husband doesn't really argue. Drives me up the wall!

And Anna Marie did very well with helping me in my "grocery basket" illustration.

Hope you all have a good week ahead. As for me, I'm preparing for my first holiday challenge - tomorrow is our annual catered Thanksgiving lunch at work!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Tis a gift to be simple



I'm going to be speaking at church tomorrow. We're having, of course, a Thanksgiving-themed service.

I've written a little something for the service. It'll be an object lesson. I have a small toy grocery basket (labeled "Life-Mart") and inside are cans of various sizes with various labels - food, shelter, clothing, God, BMW, big screen TV, Pile O' Debt.

Read this, and then I'll tell you what I'm doing with the basket and cans.

Luke 12:29-31: 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.


As I was walking through Wal-Mart late one night last week, I was irritated.

It seems like there is no such thing as a “short trip to Wal-Mart.” No matter how detailed my list, it always takes me twice as long as I anticipated to get my shopping done.

Then it hit me.

I already had everything on my list. I had everything I needed that night.

So why was I still in the store, instead of at home in my PJ’s drinking hot apple cider?

It was the stuff I didn’t need that was causing the problem. Those things I was looking for but didn’t need were keeping me from being where I should’ve been.

Then God showed me that we’re the same way in our daily lives.

He supplies our needs. We have no cause to worry about what we’ll eat, or drink, or wear. He’s going to take care of us.

It’s worrying about the things we don’t need that gets us in trouble, that keeps us from being where we should be – spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and often physically and financially as well.

It can cause us to spend more time at work than we really have to, to pay for things we don’t need and shouldn’t have bought. It can keep us from having the peace of mind that we should have as children of God. If we’re worried about keeping up with the Joneses, we’re using energy we should be putting into our families, our spiritual life, and our outreach to this lost and dying world.

It can keep us from being able to support God’s work, because our resources are tied up in “things.”

This year, as we enter the holiday season, I think God would want us to be mindful of some things.

In a world that tells us that we never have enough, we need to remember that He is all we need.

In a world that tells us that the measure of success is the size of our bank account, our house, or our SUV, we need to remember that He measures success by the condition of our souls.

In a world that tells us that we need to seek the next big thing, we need to remember that He says to seek Him and His kingdom, and the rest will fall into place.

We need to remember that anything that takes our focus off of God can become an idol. And we need to remember that we serve a jealous God who won’t let idols stand.
(Remember what happened to the statue of Dagon when it was placed in the same room as the Ark of the Covenant!)

As the “pagans” of this world run around during the next month trying to out buy, out bake, and just plain out perform each other, the children of God need to remember what this season is really all about.

We need to keep our eyes off of what the world tells us is important, and remain thankful for the simple blessings He has bestowed upon us.
1 Tim. 6:6-8. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.


At the end of the message, I'm going to play a version of "Simple Gifts" by Yo Yo Ma and Alison Kraus.

Now for the basket.

Anna Marie is going to carry it up on to the stage. Then, I'll read the labels and we'll start putting stuff in the basket. Pretty soon, it's too heavy to carry, and not everything will fit.

And what's usually the first thing to go when "stuff" starts to crowd in?

God.

But when we concentrate on just having what we need, it all fits. Even Him. And it isn't too heavy a load to bear.

I pray we all keep these things in mind in the hustle and bustle of this holiday season.

Amanda in London: The Internet Waits


(Thanks for the title, Valerie!)

Day 2. And yes, I'm putting my own life on hold to live vicariously through my sister.

I got an email (!) today from Amanda. She said today was beautiful, chilly but without a cloud in the sky. She had been worried about her possible roomates (she's staying at a hostel)but they're three students from Boston and she said they're cool.

She also said that when she saw Trafalgar Square, she realized she really was in London!

Amanda walked to see the London Eye (that's the big ferris wheel above) but did not ride. She's having problems with her SLR, but didn't bring a spare because of a lack of space. Pray for her! She also walked across a bridge (the Jubliee bridge, she thinks) and got to see Big Ben!

And, she's even found a way to have peanut butter and banana sandwiches, one of her favorite things, all the way across the pond.

Tomorrow she's supposed to attend church with some missionaries from our denomination. They itenerated in the conference we were in before we moved from South Carolina.

Two days down, 10 to go.

(And I promise, I'll post some other non-Amanda stuff soon!)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Amanda in London: Day 1


Doesn't that sound like it should have some sort of urgent music behind it, and I'm Katie Couric, and it's some sort of urgent situation?

Anyway, I just talked to my mom, and she had talked to Amanda about two hours ago. Poor thing didn't get a bit of sleep as she crossed the Atlantic on her all-night flight.

And this girl does not do well on no sleep.

She took the train from Gatwick to her area of London, but she couldn't check in yet at the hostel (although I think it was about 3:00 p.m. at the time) She told the people at the hostel she was hungry, and they directed her to a place where she ate some pea soup and bread.

What a very London thing to eat! Her first meal in England - I'm so excited. And I'm sure she took plenty of pictures of the food.

She probably will not, however, be indulging in those other two most-London like things, namely fish and chips and Guiness. Being a vegetarian, the fish is out, and being a teetotaler, the beer is out.

(Some friends advised her that it was only proper to go to a pub and get a pint, but since she's never had a drop, and doesn't know what it would do to her, she figured it wouldn't be smart to start drinking in a strange country she was visiting alone.)

As I was starting to feel better about her being over there, Donna (at the Quiet Life) reminded me that her daughter had gone over there by herself last summer - and she's only 17! I started to freak out belatedly for her!

So, keep both Amanda and us in your prayers for the next 12 days. I'm sure we'll need all we can get.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I'm trying to keep my spirits up

So, I won't talk about how I gained 1.5 lbs. this week. (Although, it could be because I ate dinner shortly before I weighed in, because I had to take dinner to my mom, because she had foot surgery last week and thanks to her refusal to take it easy, is still in her cast.)

And I won't talk about how I took half a day off from work to put my only sister on a flight to London. And how I didn't cry (!) until two hours later, when I looked at my watch and figured out that she was about to board the plane, and I started praying for her safety and general well-being, and busted out in tears.

So, I'm going to talk about last night.

We didn't make it to Spaghetti Warehouse. We actually only made it to Fazoli's.

But that's OK.



(Sorry for the poor lighting quality of the picture. My batteries were going down, and, according to Amanda, the camera wasn't metering the light correctly.)

Jason, Amanda, Anna Marie, and I headed up to Southaven for dinner, and my dad was on his way home, so he met us. In honor of his birthday the day before, Jason had some turtle cheesecake.



And Anna Marie had spaghetti.

And we went to Target, where I ended up with a new t-shirt on clearance, and a new case for my iPod on clearance.

And now, my only sister is somewhere over the Atlantic in an airplane full of strangers, and I have no idea when we'll hear from her. Her cell phone is on the fritz, and we don't know if it'll work over there or not. She's supposed to email us at her earliest convenience.

But, we won't talk about all that just now.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Boys, you can come back now.

Girl talk over - and thanks for those who left comments and emailed me. Very, very helpful you were. (That's my Yoda impression for the day, by the way).

Oh, I had SO much to post yesterday, but I was away from my computer from 7:45 a.m. until after 5:00, (You know, MADIDI!) and then after I got home and got dinner, and put Little AM to bed (which took a complete hour!) I had to finish working on some calendars I got rooked into laying out to help a fomer co-worker.



I seem to be getting rooked into a lot these days.

Take, for instance, yesterday at Madidi. (And yes, I should've had someone take my picture in front of the sign, but I was tired and cranky and that would not have been a good idea.) I guess I was blinded by the thoughts of an excellent meal and the prospect of meeting one Mr. Morgan Freeman his own self, and I totally DID NOT GET the whole point of the day.

I thought I was going to a "tabletop exercise" like the one I'd attended at our local college a few months ago, when folks from all different segments of life got together and discussed what to do if/when the bird flu hits here in Tate County.

WRONG.

I was there because a community foundation from this area has partnered with some slightly-shady (at least that's how it seemed to me) community organization headquartered in NYC to get money to combat childhood obesity in the south.

So, I apparently am now part of a steering committee for my county, which has come up with a plan for a program, which, if we get funding (we'll find out in a few weeks) we will be implementing in the public school system next fall.

YIKES! That is such a huge undertaking, that I don't really know how I fit in to the whole thing. Usually, people like me to be on their committees, because, well, I'm the media for our county. They like the free publicity. It isn't that I don't want to combat childhood obesity - I fight that battle every time I take my five year old into a fast food joint and make her have apples and milk instead of fries and soda - but I don't know if I can put one more thing on my plate. Especially since this program would begin just as Anna Marie is entering kindergarten.

But I'm guessing I don't have much of a choice at this point. I went to their meeting. I ate their food. I'm now locked in.

Oh, and yesterday was Jason's birthday. He worked all day, and then was so tired he was in his PJs (new ones I bought him for his birthday and gave to him a couple days early - GAH, we are such old fogeys!) and he sent me out to KFC for some dinner. Festive, eh?

We'll make up for it tonight, when we go to Spaghetti Warehouse for a combination Happy Birthday Jason/Bon Voyage Amanda party. She's leaving tomorrow night for LONDON! Oh.my.gosh!

And now, well, now I have to get off this blog and catch up on all the things I should've been doing around here yesterday.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Time for some girly talk!



Men, if you're out there, you're officially excused.

Now that it's just us girls, let's talk. WARNING: Possible TMI ahead.

Here's my dilemma.

I've been on the pill nearly the entire time I've been married. I went off of it after the first year, and a year and a half later, I got pregant with Little AM. I was nursing her, so the dr. put me on Micronor (the mini-pill). And GAWD, did it make me crazy. It was really, really awful, but I didn't want to fall for that whole "you can't get pregant while breastfeeding" thing, 'cause it's like NOT TRUE, so I stayed on it.

Then, a couple of months before I moved out here, back when I still had insurance, I got back on Tri-Cyclen. Much, much better. Problem was, once I moved out here (and had no insurance) even though I had a prescription, no one would fill it for me because I didn't have a doctor here.

After about a year off of the pill, I got pregnant again. I had no insurance, and Jason wasn't working, so I got on Medicaid. However, I lost the baby almost immediately. But, because I was on Medicaid, the state paid for me to get back on the pill.

Problem here: I was significantly more overweight that I am now, and my blood pressure was up, so I had to be put back on the mini-pill. In fact, before my visit last year (when I'd lost a bit of weight) I had to go in every three months and get my BP checked before they'd give me another three packs of pills. However, this past time, it was normal, so they gave me the whole year. But they kept me on Micronor. So now I'm back to the four-day-period-every-two-and-a-half-weeks thing. AWFUL!

Now, here is the dilemma part. I've been getting my stuff from the Health Department. Hate it, but I still have no insurance. It's time for my visit again, but last month I was sent a paper saying I had to requalify. And then I promptly lost the paper. I don't know if I'd qualify again, because last time, Jason wasn't working and I was making about $1.50 less an hour than I am now. And now, I'm wondering if I should even go back on the pill, or find some other, over-the-counter way to keep from having another baby.

(It's not that I wouldn't like to have another one, I just think for a myriad of reasons it isn't the best thing for us right now. Like, the fact that my job has no paid maternity leave, and I can't be out of this office for six weeks anyway because there would be no one to do my job. And the whole child-care issue. And the whole "we live in a two-bedroom house" issue.)

I know this must sound INCREDIBLY selfish to people who want children and have been unable to have them. For that, ladies, I apologize. I do not mean this to sound that way.

Now, I need suggestions. Short of me (or, preferably, Jason) getting snipped, what other things have you used? I know this may seem like an odd question to ask the Internet, but I'm the only married woman of childbearing age at my job and my church, and most of my friends either aren't married or have finished having kids and took care of things permanently.

So, to sum up: Help!

Friday, November 10, 2006

For those of you who are confused right now

I apologize.

For those who saw my blog last night and into earlier this morning, I REALLY apologize.

Thanks to Valerie's rave reviews of Blogger Beta, I switched. And lo, much fun was had with the colors and the fonts and the changing around of elements.

I was changing colors last night on the laptop, and that green sidebar seemed like a good idea at the time. However, in the light of day and a decent monitor (thanks, iMac!) I realize how garish it was.

Again, I apologize for any permanent damage which may have been done to your eyes. And I may or may not be done playing with this blog yet.

If you have Blogger, and haven't switched over, I highly recommend it. Just make sure you have a decent monitor (and, if you're like me, a decent chunk of time) before you embark on the customization thing.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Official Thursday Weigh-In!

Ok, so I found out that last week I actually gained TWO AND A HALF POUNDS!

That actually pushed me to 175.5!

Now, I've lost two of those pounds, and I hope to never find them.

Tonight's weight: 173.5!

Let's see if I can finally get out of this up/down/up/down cycle, shall we?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

COFFEE! COOOOOFFFEEEEE!



You may wonder why I'm screaming "COFFEE!"

I discovered it's God-given purpose this morning.

Last night was election night, and I was at the courthouse until 11:00 p.m. to wait for the results, so I could put them on our website and send out the email push.

That was after I worked all day, took Little AM to get her glasses (see picture below), covered a city alderman meeting, took Little AM to her soccer awards night, put her to bed, and then went back to work - at 9:00 p.m.

After getting home at nearly 11:30, I was pretty beat. Then to have to get ready for bed, and settle down, well, it was pretty late when I went to sleep. The alarm was not a welcome sound at 6:30 a.m.

I got up and put my pants in the dryer to de-wrinkle (and de-damp, because the Laundry Fairy didn't make an appearance until 9:00 p.m. last night and my pants weren't quite dry), and made myself a cup of strong coffee.

Now, I don't drink much java. I'm more of a hot tea girl. But I do drink it occasionally, and my mom got me one of those nifty pod coffee makers for Christmas last year. I made it black this morning, with the addition of a packet of sugar free hot chocolate for a slight mocha touch.

Oh.my.gosh. I didn't realize that this was what coffee was made for! I'm afraid I could become addicted, one of those people who isn't "awake" until her first cup. Like my mother. For whom my dad and I waited in line for an hour once when we had an ice storm and only one place in town had power to make a cup.



So, back to the glasses. She keeps saying she looks silly, but I think she's just getting used to the sight of herself in specs. The optometrist gave her a cute little case that looks like a pink purse, but no lens cleaning cloth, so we'll have to get one of those. She went to Ms. Kim's today with firm instructions about the proper care of her new spectacles.

She says everything is bigger, which I don't get, but then again, I'm nearsighted, not farsighted. Last night as we were driving to awards night, it was like she was seeing Senatobia for the first time. I guess they really will help her.

She has another appointment in a month to see how she's doing. I really, really hope she doesn't have to get the other half of the prescription filled, because I really, really don't want to have to pay for another pair so soon!

(Oh, and I tried to get a picture at the awards night, but the event really wasn't conducive to good photography. It was fun though - the teams marched in one by one, and the pastor in charge said stuff like "They're here tonight, but not to sell insurance - THE GECKOS!" They also played loud clips from several songs, like "Who Let the Dogs Out." All the kids got a nice backpack, and some got other door prizes. Anna Marie was upset that her name didn't get called for a prize, but, such is life.)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Get to the polls!


I have every confidence that my highly enlightened readership (all three of you) has already taken care of this important civic duty. I did mine a little bit ago.

In the event that you haven't voted yet, you still have time. I know in some races it might seem like there isn't a good choice - good grief, if I lived in Tennessee, I don't know who the heck I'd vote for. But, you still need to vote. You might be surprised once you get to the ballot box, er, Diebold voting machine, at how you are forced to make that choice.

Go on now - get to it! Starving children in China would love to have your rights!

Monday, November 06, 2006

If this isn't one of the funniest things you've seen today

I'll eat my hat.

The nice new one Amanda just gave me.

Seriously.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Flushed Away!


I took Anna Marie to our little movie theater this afternoon. It's basically across the street from our house, and we've walked before, but today was a little chilly.

We saw Flushed Away. Now, when I say little theater, that's exactly what this is. There are no matinees during the week during the school year - except during Christmas break and Spring Break.

Only one of the screens has staduim seating, and we weren't in it. Anna Marie asked me why there were no steps! She sat in a seat for part of the time, but ended up in my lap because she couldn't see over the kids in the front row.

She loved the movie. I thought it would be annoyingly juvenile, but it wasn't too bad. They should give the slugs their own movie, just like they did with the penguins from Madagascar.

So, Anna Marie and I both recommend Flushed Away. We're now anxiously awaiting the release of Happy Feet!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Gah! Goodwill!


I got to go to Goodwill today!

Oh, and then I remembered why I hate going.

We went this afternoon (and by "we" I mean Amanda, Mom, and the Three Turners) after Little AM's last soccer game. I got going in there, and didn't come out for about an hour.

It isn't that I set out to spend an hour in there. It's just that, well, at our Goodwill (and by "our" I mean the one half an hour north of here in Southaven) doesn't arrange clothes by size. They arrange them by color.

Not very efficient, if you ask me.

Sure, there are times when I need a "white shirt" or a "blue skirt" or a "pair of khaki pants." At those times, it is helpful to have clothes arranged by color.

However, most of the time, especially now that I'm so wardrobe challenged, I'm just looking for something, ANYTHING that fits. Really. I'm not picky these days!

So, I needed some long sleeved shirts. I had to go through EVERY LONG SLEEVED SHIRT IN THE PLACE. It took a long, long time, folks.

(I bet you're wondering what I did with my family during this time. They spent part of the time next door at Big Lots, and most of the time down the road at Burlington Coat Factory.)

I gathered several shirts and a pair of khaki pants and took them to the dressing room. The pants fit, but only one shirt - a white cardigan. I figure you can't really go wrong with a white cardigan. Even if it's basically off-white, like this one is.

Then, I found Anna Marie what was possibly the only 5T outfit in the whole store - a pair of plum colored knit pants and a sweater that matched.

The whole experience was not helped by the "Goodwill Radio" that was playing - one minute it was Christmas music, then Contemporary Christian, and then Shakira and Xtina. I guess they're trying to be "all things to all people" but, really. It was too much.

So, even though I dislike thoroughly going on a Goodwill trip, I managed to get a pair of pants and a sweater for me, and the same for Anna Marie, all for about $14.

Now I just have to find some shirts to go under my new sweater. But that will have to wait for another day. And, I think they've got some good ones at Walmart - a place I dislike only slightly less than Goodwill.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Manda's last day



I keep hearing a song in my head from Pray For Rain (or PFR, as they later became known) from my college years called "Goldie's Last Day." Except I hear "Manda's Last Day." (We usually call her Amanda, but, well, that doesn't fit well with the cadence of the song.)

Oh. And that song is about the death of a golden retriever.

Today is my sister Amanda's last day here at the paper. We've worked together for nearly three years here, through family feuds and work deadlines. And somehow, we've managed to survive.

She was here with me when we got word of the death of our aunt and, later, our grandfather. She was a shoulder to cry on for me, because she really doesn't cry much herself, but me - oh, let the floodgates open!

It isn't like we won't be seeing each other. We're still sisters, even though we're not co-workers anymore. She doesn't have any immediate plans for the future, but she'll be traveling to England in a little less than two weeks. Yes, we have one of those jobs where you basically have to quit to get more than two days off in a row. So she did.

When she returns, she'll start looking for work, probably either in Memphis or closer to it. That's where her friends are, and it's where she'd prefer to spend most of her time. She'll also be moving closer there after she finds work. Luckily, she lives at home for now and doesn't have much in the way of bills, so she won't be left homeless by a long job search or anything.

We had a little going away party this morning, with fruit and muffins and a cake that Amanda baked herself. It was vegan, but none of us seemed to mind.

She really, REALLY wants to work at the FedEx Forum. That would be great, because she could get me some $5 game day tickets and I wouldn't have to drive up there or pay the $3.95 per order service charge.

And, she'd have a better chance of meeting her Future Husband, Pau Gasol.

As the Grizzlies played for one of the Knicks who got ejected for too many personal fouls on Wednesday night,

Happy trails to you, until we meet again…

Except, since she's my sister, that'll probably be at Anna Marie's soccer game tomorrow.