Friday, November 30, 2007

Familiar strangers.

I had to FedEx a package this afternoon, and the man at my friendly neighborhood Pack N Mail was there--as always--to help me. I love that he knows my name, even though I haven't been to his store since May when we shipped the last issue of the student newspaper. Last year I would show up once every six weeks, but we submit our pages online now. I wondered if he would remember me, and sure enough, he did! I guess that's why I drove a little out of my way to frequent his shop instead of one closer to home.

Then there's the man I often see when I'm walking. It's crazy how often he's out there when I round the corner and head down his street. In the morning? He's there smoking by his pickup. After school? Yep! There he is, leaning against the bed of the truck, watching the world go by. One afternoon a few weeks ago, all four of us were walking together--a nice change of pace. Well, the smoking guy was there, and as usual, Brett and I said hello. Much to my surprise, he commented on how much Ryan and Katie have grown. "I remember you pushing them around in their stroller," he said, and WHOOOOOOSH! I flashed back to those days when the kids would sing and count mailboxes while we pushed the double buggy. I was amazed that he recognized us as that particular family of four; we haven't exactly been regular walkers all these years. Still, it was nice that he shares that special memory of our babies.

And there you have it: Day 30 of NaBloPoMo! I'm not quite sure what I've proven to myself, but it sure has been a nice stress-reliever to force myself away from household chores, away from ongoing projects to spend just a few minutes a day writing.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Running on empty?

It's day 29 of NaBloPoMo, and I'm spent! What to write, what to write...

I could resort to tales of what we had for dinner (Frito pie), or I could update my weight loss saga (since I hadn't updated my weight loss ticker for EIGHTY days until today). I could talk about how the four of us are cozied up in the living room watching the Cowboys-Packers game. We could get into how Katie and Ryan are filling our house with Christmas music these days, getting ready for their school programs. There's "Shrek the Halls" that we just watched on tape; that could be a short post. Brett just made another banana smoothie, his snack of choice lately, and I could write at least a paragraph about his blended love. And of course, there are always cat stories to be told, if only to uphold our reputation as the C.C.P. Hmm. What to write, what to write...

When I started this whole post-every-day-for-a-month thing, I said I would be blogging gratitude, but how simple is it to say I'm thankful for, um, just about everything? I'm thankful for all of the daily blessings that make me smile, from Fritos to trumpet music to animated ogres. I'm so glad to have "just a Thursday night" in my home, surrounded by my precious family, my belly full, my heart fuller.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Have you heard this?

KLTY Christmas wish

We're praying for Jill, an HCC member who's on hospice care because of cancer. What this clip doesn't say is that Jill's mom, who also had cancer, died on Thanksgiving day.

In his sermon Sunday, Jim talked about how, on his way to see the family, he was thinking that this must be an awful holiday for them. When he got there, though, they told him that this Thanksgiving was extra special, even though they had lost their wife, mother, grandmother. Jim explained that when Jill's mom was diagnosed with cancer, she was given six months to live. That was in 1978. Her family was grateful for the 29 years they had after that diagnosis.

I'm thankful to have heard their story, and I'm thankful that KLTY was able to fulfill this Christmas wish for Jill and her three kids.

And we'll keep praying...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Penguin power.

Katie has become quite the Club Penguin fan! When she gets her turn on the computer, Club Penguin is where she (or her penguin counterpart) "hangs out" with her penguin peeps.

As a secret agent, Katie's penguin takes on all kinds of missions:
For completing certain tasks, she earns medals:
She loves it, and we love the way she uses problem-solving skills to help her penguin!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Meanwhile, around our house...

This weekend, both kids did all they could to soak up every last second of our Thanksgiving break. From the recording studio they set up in Katie's room to the "war" Ryan created in his, they had a blast all weekend!

Getting back to the grind today was rough, and tonight's math homework seemed especially trying. But we can make it to the next break! Christmas is coming! The goose is getting fat! (Or maybe that's just ChaCha...)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The halls? They're decked.

We usually have our tree up as soon as the Thanksgiving turkey's digested, but we were a little behind schedule this year. It took us until Saturday to get the tree decorated (and until today to get this posted!).

As usual, Ryan and Katie did a wonderful job adorning our tree with our eclectic assortment of ornaments.

Even though R&K have long outgrown the baby stuff, we still decorate with the kids' old favorites like Barney and Sesame Street--even if they do make me stick those ornaments on the back of the tree!

We have 11 years' worth of Texas Capitol ornaments (thanks to our friend Cynthia):
a few from our life BK (before kids):
Notice the "retro" film canister from WAY back in '93!

more than a couple of "Baby's First Christmas" and birthday ornaments:
a healthy assortment of superheroes and sports teams:

plenty of pop culture references:

and a variety of school and church craft projects:
Our tree is more refrigerator front than magazine cover, that's for sure! But we love all the memories and the ways our crazy personalities are represented on our tree.

So far this season, we've only lost one ornament: this souvenir from last year's California trip. With two cats in the house, it's probably just the first of several casualties, but whatchagonnado?

The only other downer from the day was the missing Granny box. We have 17 (I know, I know) Christmas boxes, and only 16 made it inside from the shed. By the time I opened them all and checked our inventory, I figured out that the missing one is the one with the oldest and most precious decorations: my grandmother's. There are a few other fragile decorations in that box, but I'm mainly missing the choir boys and the dainty little angel figures that were in there. There's also a Santa doll I've had since I was a baby. I usually put these priceless items on top of our piano where no frisky kitties can hurt them, so right now, there's an empty place up there where those heirlooms should go.

We're sure the box is still in the shed--somewhere. We'll need a nice, sunny day so we can unload and reshuffle all the stuff in there in search of the missing box. I know it's in there, but what if it's not? I cried, Brett and the kids reassured, I wiped my tears, and I'm holding my breath that we'll find it. Soon.

Saturday was also a great day for family time...

...and our first fire of the season!
Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Dear Santa,

Think you can find a Kindle for me? It's only 10.3 ounces, so it's not like it would take up a ton of space in that magic bag of yours. I've been a really good girl, and I promise you'll get only the best cookies and milk on our hearth.

I've always pooh-poohed the notion of reading books on a screen, but the idea of replacing the unruly pile of books beside my bed with this paperback-sized gadget makes me giddy! Never again would I have to choose which books to pack for a trip and which to leave behind.

Now, I know it may be too late to add this to my list for this year, and yes, the pricetag's just a teensy bit high. But someday? PLEASE?



Friday, November 23, 2007

Good thing I don't obsess over football.

If I did get wrapped up in such a dumb sport, I'd feel like throwing up instead of putting up our Christmas tree.

If I did invest so much of my energy in the Horns, I'd be yelling for coaches' heads, completely baffled by how our defense never really overcame the struggles (blown coverage, missed tackles) that we saw in the first game of the season, problems that good coaching could've-- should've--corrected.

If it mattered that much to me, I'd be angered by Heard's hit to Colt's head, the second year in a row he's gotten away with a cheap shot. It'd make me even crazier that he'll be glorified for low blows (or in today's case, a blow to the head).

If I were the die-hard, obsessive type, I'd be crushed that in spite of playing his heart out, Colt didn't get revenge on those losers who called him Cart McCoy and made fun of him when he was injured last year. That one would really get me riled up. I'd be so disappointed in those dropped passes that could've made a difference, too.

If I did care, I'd be SO MAD right now. Instead, I'm whistling a happy little tune and skipping around the house, overflowing with Christmas spirit.

Good thing.

My hero.

Brett fixed our garbage disposal this morning, AND he let me sleep in! In fact, it was the sound of the working disposal that finally got me out of bed at 9:15 this morning!


Wednesday, November 21, 2007


While outside this morning, Brett discovered THIS:

Our old Taurus is not long for this world. Until we unload it, it's sitting in front of our house, but some idiot felt compelled to stick a pushpin in one of its tires. Now WHY would anyone do that? ARGH. Pure meanness.

That discovery put a damper on our day, as did our garbage disposal later on. What is it about appliances that causes them to break down the night before a holiday? It was 6 p.m. tonight when Brett flipped the switch and heard a hum instead of a grind. We tried a couple of Googled fixes, but we've had no luck so far. We're stuck with a lame-duck disposal until at least Friday. Yippee.

So yeah, in spite of having a holiday, in spite of having some great family time outdoors, in spite of enjoying a productive day around the house, I managed to get pretty pooty over the dumb disposal and one stinkin' pushpin. In fact, I had just slammed the door under the sink closed and thrown the stupid, useless allen wrench across the counter when Ryan walked into the kitchen.

"You know, this Thanksgiving I'm really thankful," he said. "We're so lucky just to have water."

In social studies he's been learning about places where many homes are without our conveniences, so he's particularly aware of our many blessings.

And then there's our precious Katie, who never, ever, ever forgets to pray for Megann's family. This week her prayers have been especially fervent because she knows the holidays will be hard for them.

I'm so thankful for Ryan and Katie's sweet spirits that remind me to take a deep breath, to refocus, and to truly be grateful.

Good morning.

We made it to Thanksgiving break! Of course, the holiday didn't keep our resident early writer--I mean, RISER--from getting up at 5:30 a.m. to work on his book. He loves getting up that early: "the best time to write," he says.

I didn't get up quite that early, but even without the alarm, I still woke up at 6--just when I thought I could catch up on my sleep. UGH! At least getting an early start meant Brett and I could get in a walk before the weather took a turn. We enjoyed the usual sights, especially the cool trees in our neighborhood:

Later on, the cool weather meant we could enjoy some good basketball without breaking a sweat, and the four of us played a little one-on-one, two-on-two, and even some four-square.

(He sank this shot--nothin' but net--by the way.)

Not a bad start to the holiday!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Happy, happy, joy, joy!

To celebrate the beginning of our Thanksgiving break, Ryan and I went on a date tonight. Brett and Katie were meeting up with some friends in Arlington, so this was the perfect chance for Ryan and I to enjoy some fine dining together. Good times!

It was a great way to wind down from this week's computerpalooza at school. Our new student Macs are all in place, and today, this little beauty came to live on my desk:

Can you tell I'm just a wee bit excited? Actually, we're all just tickled to have some days off! Woo-hoo!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Goodbye, hello.

A week or so ago, I wrote about my frustrations with our J lab. Our poor old workhorses were about ready for the glue factory:

Can you say UPGRADE?

The morning began with our district tech people packing up and hauling off our old iMacs and G4s:

There were no long goodbyes, no sorrowful send-offs--just a quick "Don't let the door hit you on the way out!"

In place of the broken down machines, we now have 24 new iMacs, and we're hoping by this time tomorrow, they'll all be set up with the new Leopard OS and our software.

(A couple of my students commented that the lab looks like it's full of giant iPods!)

I know Thanksgiving's still a few days away, but today has felt like Christmas!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Yea, team!

Our first-place Bible Bowl team was honored at this morning's assemblies. The kids worked so hard, and they brought home the hardware to prove it!

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Our high school band won FIRST PLACE at the Grand Nationals competition in Indianapolis tonight! Way to go, band! OUTSTANDING!

It's a nice place to visit...

Tonight I made good on a promise to Katie. Back in February, she and Ryan were playing Upward basketball at another congregation's building (you know the one I'm talking about, but I don't want to name names and make this post Google-able). Katie was intrigued by the noisy worship service going on in their sanctuary on a Saturday night. I told her we'd visit sometime, and tonight was that "sometime." I was really curious to attend the instrumental service anyway--change of pace and all that.

I'm glad we got to worship there for several reasons:

1. R&K saw two of their teachers in attendance, so that was neat.

2. I appreciated all the A/V stuff they had going on (of course, I had to notice that!). They do a great job of seamlessly mixing on-screen text and video without distracting from the message. (My sweet children told me I do a better job because I have TWO screens to deal with. ;) )

3. The service really helped me worship, in spite of my discomfort with being in a new place surrounded by strangers. The music, the sermon, the dramatic presentation, the way the Lord's Supper was served, even the response time, all contributed to a moving service.

4. I'm so excited to see how that group is reaching people, bringing them to Christ. We're all here for the same purpose--on the same team, you know--so it's wonderful to know they're touching lives. It's just awesome to see what they're doing to add to our body.

However, as Ryan said on our way back to our car, I'm so glad we have Heritage. I know it's ridiculous to compare my worship experience with strangers to worship with the family I've laughed, cried, eaten, served and grown with. But I still feel like I've found a home at HCC, and I can't imagine feeling that way at this other place--at their Saturday service, anyway. So what was it that made me feel like that place wouldn't be a good fit for me and my family? I think it's based mostly on my gut feeling, but I have to admit, music was a big part of that reaction.

Did the praise band bother me? In a word, no. First of all, I have absolutely no objection to instrumental worship. When musicians use their talents to praise God through guitars or keyboards, they're "making music with their hearts" as much as vocalists do. Christian radio uplifts me; Christian recording artists inspire and bless me. Why would it be OK to worship with instrumental praise on that station or with that CD in my car but not in a particular building on Sunday morning? In spite of my opinion, though, I've wondered why I attend an acappella congregation. Am I just more comfortable sticking with the tradition I grew up with?

(At this point, I have to add this: I didn't choose to attend our congregation based on music. Nor did I check off a list of C of C requirements before placing membership. If gender roles were the basis for my choice of a church home, for example, I wouldn't be at HCC. But that's another post...)

Tonight I think I figured out the answer to my acappella question. Singing without instruments helps me connect. There's just no substitute for the blending of voices, the four-part harmony symbolizing the way we all have different functions as members of the same body. (What is it about instrumental music that makes people sing everything in unison, anyway?) I didn't feel like the guitars or drums kept me from worshiping; I did, however, feel disconnected from my brothers and sisters around me since I could barely hear them. Please know that I don't think instrumental music is "wrong." Acappella just happens to be my preference, and tonight confirmed that for me.

I also figured out how wonderful it is to worship elsewhere now and then. Besides HCC and my old church home in Austin, I really haven't visited any other congregations in ages. I think it's good for Ryan and Katie to see how other folks worship, and whenever we can connect with other Christians who are part of this amazing body, we're better off. Our Father doesn't want his children to be those distant siblings who never see each other. He expects us to be a family.

Speaking of family, that's what we've found at Heritage. The acappella music is just one of a thousand reasons why we're members at HCC. So yes, I'm glad we got to visit the other place, but I'm even happier that tomorrow morning, we'll be heading back to home, sweet home!

Friday, November 16, 2007


Several weeks ago, Brett and I saw Across the Universe, and I've been humming Beatles tunes ever since. Buying the soundtrack helped feed the fever, and just being around teenagers who are all gaga over the movie hasn't hurt, either. (Gotta tell you: Pretty cool to hear 17-year-olds singing "Hey Jude" in the hallway between classes!)

Tonight, out of the blue, Brett suggested we watch Yellow Submarine for our family fun night, so my Beatlemania continues! The kids weren't entirely enthralled by the film, but we grown-ups got into the tunes, man. Those scenes were pretty trippy. Groooooovy.

Sail the ship, jump the tree
Skip the rope, look at me

All together now...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Katie-ism.

I've loved A.1. steak sauce for as long as I can remember. For years I preferred it to ketchup on my french fries, and I still love it on hamburgers. ("'Cause after all, what is hamburger? Chopped ham? No! It's chopped steak!")

Tonight Brett cooked fantabulous steaks for dinner, so out came the ol' A.1. But Katie seems not to share my love of the stuff:

She decided it should be called Z-100!

Even with the all the sports babble?

Imagine my surprise:

cash advance

(Thanks, Wade, for the link!)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Bring it.

Come on, fall, bring it on. I can handle it! Just give me the chance and I'll whip out my long-sleeved shirts. Oh, yeah, I'm ready.

Right now, see, you're teasing me. We had a few chilly days in October, just enough to make me pull out my jackets, which are now on the back of my dining chair, oh-so-ready to be used again. These last few warm days, though? YOU'RE KILLING ME!

It is so cool the way you make the leaves dance behind cars this time of year, and the colors--LOVE the colors. But how 'bout those cooler temps? Please?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Turn out the lights...

...the home season's over! But at least it ended in STYLE.

Saturday was Senior Day, and all the student groups (band, cheer, pom, team) recognized their members who were performing/playing in DKR for the last time.

LHB seniors in the smaller T

Football seniors hugging their parents

Praying Horns honoring their tradition in the endzone

The offense in the red zone

The day's biggest bummer: Tony Hills' injury

On the move toward the goal line

Did he cross the plane?

YES! Yes, he did!

Yet another TD

Time for "The Eyes"


This was my idea of the perfect football game. Not only did we win, but we led the entire game. It was still close throughout, though, which kept it exciting. Colt was Colt, and his spin-around-and-score move was PHENOMENAL! The weather, although it wasn't quite the ideal sweatshirt-worthy football weather, was pleasant.

The only sad part was saying goodbye to our Section 1 friends. Because of the tailgates, we've gotten to know many of them better. It's funny, but at the last game, people usually say, "Have a good Thanksgiving!" I guess that's easier to handle than "See you next year." It's flat-out depressing that we won't be together again until next September when the '08 season begins.

Where did this season go? Even though we still have the A&M game and a bowl remaining, the year seems over now that we're out of home games. At least we have great memories from this home finale to hang on to until we can share our next round of high-fives.