Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Great Coupon!

Click here for a coupon from Ben & Jerry's. You can get $3 off a pint of ice cream!! Hit your browser's back button to print this coupon one more time.

Who doesn't love ice cream?? (Even on the last day of December!!)


Begin Next Year's Christmas Shopping Now

I realize it is New Year's Eve and here I am still talking about Christmas. This time though, the topic is going to cover gifts for the family that you can make or where a little can go a long way.

I'm choosing to talk about this early because let's face it, Christmas gift buying can really put a strain on our finances. We did well this year, staying within budget and looking for those bargains, but I believe we can do better. Especially since this year we'd love to see at least one of our credit cards paid off and the next one paid way down.

Since we've already exchanged gifts with both sides of our family, I can share what I chose to do for our brothers and sisters and their spouses this year.

I spent the year putting together a family cookbook!

I anticipated that it would take me several months to get recipes collected, so I started early. I contacted all of the female..and some of the members and asked each of them for their favorite family recipes. I asked that I get at least 4 or 5 recipes from each person and that they would be a mixture of main meals, side dishes and desserts.

As I would get them, I would type them up and print them out on some colored paper. I would then put the recipes in page protectors and into a 3 ring binder. I also printed up a cover page for the front of the binder.

As the year went along, it was great for me to read over these recipes and think about our families and how they fix these very same meals for their own families.
Looking at the ones my mother and mother-in-law gave me, it brought back a lot of memories of meals and laughter shared at their homes. It was definitely a warm-fuzzy time.

I watched as everyone opened their cookbooks and I caught the same look in their eyes as I'd had in my own. Just remembering those dishes we've all shared together over the years.

You could personalize it even more with pictures of the cooks and their recipes, or maybe jotting down some memory that a certain dish brought back to you.

All in all I printed out 10 cookbooks. I bought my printer paper at the dollar store as well as my page protectors. The 3 ring binders came from Wal Mart and whenever I needed ink, I waited for a sale at Walgreens and filled my cartridges for half price or free. Total cost for 10 cookbooks: $30. 7 cookbooks were given to extended family and I kept 3. 1 for me and 1 for each of my kids.

Other ideas that you can work on throughout the year:

1) Look at the thrift stores and yard sales for interesting jars. Clean them up and fill them with the recipient's favorite candy. Cost shouldn't be more than $3 depending on the candy.

2) Again looking for interesting jars...fill them with the ingredients for "Cookies in a Jar" These gifts are a big hit and sure to be used. Cost shouldn't be more than $2.

3) Have a gardener in the family? Look at the dollar stores at the end of summer and you can find those tiny hand rakes and trowels for $1 each...I've even seen them at 50¢. Add a few packs of seeds and a pot and you've spent around $3-$4.

4) A movie buff? Again...the dollar stores are notorious for having old movies for $1-$3. Add a pack of microwave popcorn and for $3 or less..your set!

My biggest piece of advice is to start now. Plan early. Shop ahead. When we wait till the last minute, we tend to overspend because we're just grabbing whatever is on the shelf in order to get someone something. Who needs the added stress on themselves and their budgets??

Every time you go shopping, take a little notebook with you and look for those gifts. When you find one, write in your notebook who it's for and what it is. You'll be amazed at how freeing it is to not be scrambling at the last minute!

As a side note....Wal Mart has their Christmas ornaments at 50-75% off right now. These are great gifts for a teacher, mail person or a last minute gift that comes up...and at my house...that is a very normal occurrence!!

I bought 4 yesterday and will check again when I go back to the store. The Dollar Tree has all of their Christmas merchandise at 50% off..which means you are only spending 50¢ per item. I bought stuffed animals for Operation Christmas Child boxes for next year and also got some pillar candles (because that is one of my true weaknesses).

Leave no stone unturned. Remember this is your budget. Make it work for you.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Doubles

The funniest double of all was between me and DH.

Last Christmas, DH bought me a new/used car for Christmas. Ella ....yes, I named my beautiful!! I absolutely love her!! Everything works on her except the CD part of my stereo. I haven't complained (too much) about the CD player not working. I love listening to the radio, so it really hasn't been a problem.

DH got a new/used Sidekick about 3 months ago that he loves! It had a stereo in it, but it didn't work at all. He's not as much of a music nut as I am, but he loves Southern Gospel music (cringing a bit here.....give me the contemporary or rock any day) and he missed listening to it.

I had my Christmas gift for him all planned out. I was going to buy him a pair of heated motorcycle gloves. DH loves his motorcycle--almost as much as me-- and rides it year round, in all kinds of weather. He has much of the gear he needs to stay warm or dry depending on the weather. His only real complaint is that his hands get cold about half way to work. So I thought that those gloves would be an awesome gift. And they would have...until Suzi (his car's name) came along. Since getting Suzi, he doesn't drive the bike on cold mornings anymore. I don't understand how he ever got on that thing when it is 20º outside!!

As I was doing my Christmas shopping I found myself in the car stereo isle in every store I went in. Yep, I was going to get DH a stereo for Suzi..he was going to love it!

After much searching and checking my gift budget, I found a great deal in a car stereo. It had awesome features. Of course it had AM/FM radio in which he can program up to 24 stations, a CD player, a USB port where he can charge his MP3 player and a thingy (?) where he can plug that MP3 player in and play it over the stereo. I took that stereo to the counter to pay for it and they asked me if I'd like to purchase the extended warrenty for $6.95 more. Of course! I'd saved a good bit on the price and this would give me peace of mind that he'd have a working stereo for at least the next year.

Quite pleased with myself, I take home my purchase, show the kids what I had bought Dad, wrap it and put it under the tree. He was going to be so thrilled!!!!

A week or so later, DH comes home with my gift in tow. He slips into the bedroom and calls the kids in to show them what he had bought mom. He then wraps it and brings it out for me to look at. He let me hold it to see how "heavy" it was and asked if I could guess what it was. Nope. Didn't have a clue.

I did notice however that the kids were snickering and looking all deer-eyed and whispering. Hmmm....what's going on here??

Later that night my oldest comes to me while I'm in the tub and says..where her dad can hear also....Christmas morning is going to be very interesting in this house this year. See, she already knew the guys had bought each other pocket knives, DH and I knew we had bought the two kids new MP3 players, and the two kids new that Dad and I had bought each car stereos.

An hour or so later it hit both of us what had happened. We realized that each of us had a new stereo under the tree!!! It was so funny because neither of us would come right out and speak it, but we truly enjoyed the next 4 days tormenting each other.

DH: "Think you'll like your present??"

Me: "I'm sure I will!"

This went on and on, back and forth until all we could do was laugh at each other.

Sure enough, on Christmas morning, the kids insisted that Dad and I open our gifts at the same time. We begin tearing the paper off only to reveal that not only had we bought each other a car stereo, we had bought each other the same identical stereo!!!!!!!!! It was hilarious!!!!!! We laughed until we had tears coming out of our eyes. DH then proceded to tell me that he'd taken it a step further and bought the extended warranty. I just laughed harder and barely got out that I had done the same thing!!!

In this marriage, two have truly become one!!

While, for me, this was hysterical, it also gave me a warm fuzzy. To think, that the man God has blessed me with and myself are so in tune with each other that this happened is nothing short of great!


Monday, December 29, 2008

Just Catchin' Up

I truly hope that everyone had a blessed Christmas and I hope that I'm not the only one looking forward to getting my house back in order!!

I'm proud of myself. Being the president of the Gotta Keep My House Clean club, one quick walk through of my house will tell you that I need to be...ahhh...replaced.

I haven't stressed about the pieces of wrapping paper still on the floor..and taped to the rug...and under the couch...and under the bed...(yes under the bed!!...) I haven't went around growling because there are empty to half full glasses of drinks sitting everywhere...( I'm the classic 'Don't waste that drink!! That stuff costs money ya know!!'..or..'Don't dirty another glass! Use the same one you have!!'..) I haven't complained because my trash can has erupted and garbage is literally running down the side of the can and I haven't even gotten bug-eyed with fear because my hamper looks like it's going to travel the same path as the erupting trash can..Yes...I've been a very good girl!!

And here's the most awesome part.....even with the state of my house....look out!! I'm going to squeal!!!.....I invited some folks from church over last night!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh yes I did!! They came right in the kitchen door where the first thing they saw was the erupting trash can and guess what??? They didn't run out screaming!! They walked by the island and the sink which was covered up with our Bibles and Christmas goodies and dirty dishes and papers and dish towels. And guess what?? I didn't even apologize! They came on through the dining room where a basket of unfolded towels sit on the table, wrapping paper is leaning against the piano and newspaper is scattered and I never batted an eye!

And guess what....neither did our guests. Just the opposite. The wife looked at me and said, "I'm so glad to be in a house that isn't perfect."

Huh??? What did she say??? Did I just hear her say that none of this bothers her??? You betcha. Wow. What a concept. Just enjoying fellowship without the stress.

Yes, in a day or two, there's going to be a post about that very subject. Fellowship without stress. You see, in the midst of all the Christmas chaos, my Father was able to point out to me that I put entirely too much emphasis on the appearance of things and nobody really cares anyway. But that's in a day or two....

Now for one of those funny Christmas stories...

Funny story #1:

About a month ago I was out with my son trying to help him find a Christmas gift for his dad. Like many men, DH doesn't need much of anything. If he needs something, he buys it and then leaves us to sweat about what to get him for Christmas, birthdays, Father's Day.... Add to that a teenager who has a very limited budget and wants to buy his dad something great and awesome and you have a minor problem.

Anyway..he finally found the "perfect gift"...a small pocket knife. Hubby has a small collection of knives, but doesn't usually carry one on his person because he doesn't like to have "a big, bulky knife jabbing his leg". So..Zack found this awesome, little, small knife that is perfect for a pocket and bought it for his dad. Zack also pointed out several pocket knives in the display that would be "awesome!!" to have.

Fast forward two weeks to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Yes. Hubby and I are doing a bit of Christmas shopping while on our anniversary holiday. He needs my help because he "just doesn't know what to buy the kids". We went into many shops and came out empty handed when it came to Zack. Zack is an A/V junkie and it's hard to buy those type things on a limited budget. Dad...collects knives, swords, throwing stars and the like. In Gatlinburg there is this awesome shop that sells those type items and when DH saw that shop, he fairly lit up. We walk in and DH is like a kid in a candy shop. We are in there for literally an hour when he finally decides on a....pocket knife!!

DH: "Do you think he'll like it?"

Me: "I'm sure he will."

DH: "But what kind of a gift is a pocket knife?"

Me: "A very good one..."

DH: "He'd never buy something like that would he?"

Me: Uhhhh....."He might...."

DH: "I don't know. I'm not sure if he'd like that. Would that be something he'd pick out?"

Me: Uhhhh....."He might..."

See where this is going??? Yes, he finally buys the knife and proceeds to talk about the fact that Zack probably isn't into pocket knives, he prefers swords, and he probably won't like it.

Now this knife isn't like the one Zack bought Dad, but they've bought each other the same gift. This is going to be great!!

Christmas Eve came and we began exchanging the gifts that we bought for each other.

Two little boxes under the tree. One to Dad. One to Zack. Not much difference in the size or weight. Zack gives Dad his first. He opens it and of course falls in love!!

Dad: "It's perfect!! Just the right size!! It won't jab my leg!!"

Son: "I wasn't sure you'd like it. But everyone can use a pocket knife, right?"

Dad: "This is great. I don't carry one because they jab my leg, but you found the perfect one!!"

Zack smiles and tells his dad about all of these awesome knives he found and he just wished he could have gotten one for himself.

Zack's turn. He opens his gift and guess what???

Zack: "Awesome!!! This is great!!! This is so cool!!! Mom did you say anything to Dad?"

Mom: "No. How could I without giving away your gift for your dad?"

Dad: "Do you really like it?"

Zack: "Yeah!! This is so cool!! I can't wait to show the guys at church!!" (??!!)

Dad smiles. I do too because my two guys really know each other.

Then the laughter starts because it just hit them that they'd bought each other the same gift. How funny!!! Guess you'd had to have been there to fully appreciate it but the best thing is.....that was the first of a few double gifts............


Thursday, December 25, 2008


I hope all of you are having a very Merry Christmas and truly enjoying the holiday with those you love.

I have some funny stories to share with you about our Christmas in the coming days!

I know I said I probably wouldn't post today, but something just "hit" me that I want to share with you before tomorrow.

If you are one of those people who hit the day after Christmas sales then I'm asking you to reconsider. Here's why...

Yes, there will be a huge variety of things marked down tomorrow. Yes, you will save a lot of money. You will have a lot to choose from at a very reduced price. BUT....if you will wait about a week, items will be marked down even more. I usually get things like wrapping paper, bows and Christmas cards at literally 90% off!!!! It's true you may not have as much to choose from, but the savings are so much greater that it is truly worth the wait!!

Have a wonderfully, blessed Christmas day!!!!!


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!!!!!!!!!

Merry Christmas Eve!!

It's back!!! That giddy, little girl feeling I get every year at this time. I'm not going to apologize for it either! Yes, I'm 44 years old, yes, I have 2 teenagers who will be flying away (most likely) in the next 2 or 3 years, yes, I have some gray hair, yes, I have wrinkles..but...I just can't help it.

Last night me, DH and the kids got in our pj's, and drove through a few neighborhoods ooing and ahhing over the Christmas lights. We are fortunate to have a few homes around that literally look like a winter wonderland!! They are breathtaking and I get wide-eyed and giggly every time I see them!!

The sound of my teens in the back seat laughing and poking each other and yelling at the other one to "look out my window!" was music to this mom's ears. In my quest to stop taking things for granted, the voices of my kids has to be at the top of my list.

Another thing I don't want to take for granted is you. You who get on my blog and read my ramblings and comment and encourage me. You have given me the best gift of all...yourself. I pray God's blessings on all of you.

I'm most likely not going to do another post before Friday at best....unless something comes up that I must share with all of you!! let me take this time to pray for you.......

Dear Father, I ask You to watch over my friends. I ask you to bless their lives and their families. Thank you for bringing them into my life. Through them, You have given me hope, laughter and love. I ask You to keep them safe and to draw them closer to You that they may know what true peace and love is. Bring them comfort and joy and allow them to see the world around them through Your eyes. In Jesus' name, Amen..

"And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped Him snugly in strips of cloth and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn.That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, but the angel reassured them. 'Don't be afraid!', he said. 'I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! The Saviour--yes, the Messiah, the Lord--has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David!' And this is how you will recognized Him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!' Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others--the armies of heaven--praising God: 'Glory to God in the highest Heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors." Luke 2: 6-14 NLT

Blessings on you, your family and your Christmas. Remember Jesus. Look to Him, live for Him.



Tuesday, December 23, 2008

We Celebrate!!!!...again! is a day of celebration, yet again, in our household.

Today, my baby, my 16 year old son, my last born..became the proud owner of an Alabama state driver's license!!

I'm happy for him. I really, really am. He is a good, confident-without being cocky-driver. He most definitely earned that license. He is so thrilled and has already taken his solo run to Jack's to get a milkshake..and a job application! Oh my...where has the time gone?

Only yesterday he was a tiny baby, completely helpless, needing Mom and Dad for everything. Today, he can drive by himself and while he still needs us, it is becoming less and less.

When Beth got her license and job, it was hard...very hard....but I guess with this one being my baby it is a complete reality check.

I find myself wanting to run up to every mom with kids under the age of 10 and tell them to hold tight! enjoy! don't take anything for granted! this will all be a memory too fast! Would they listen? Probably not. I didn't and I'm pretty sure most of you didn't either.

I'm so thankful that I was blessed to be a stay at home mom. I'm so thankful that I was blessed to be able to homeschool my kids and to be able to spend every single day watching them and having continuous opportunities to join in on everything they were doing. My heart breaks for those Moms who have to sacrifice that time. I pray that they will make the most of the time they are blessed with.

Anyway...celebrate with us!! Our son is legal and our insurance premiums just skyrocketed!!!!


Monday, December 22, 2008

How Are You Feeling Today??

Are you finished with your Christmas shopping yet? I'm not. That is incredibly unlike me. In most years past, I've been finished for a couple of weeks now, and I can be found in the kitchen making goodies and being (for the most part) stress free.

I'm the lady who sends her Christmas cards out the day after Thanksgiving. (I'm still in the process of sending some even now!)

I did do very well, as I've previously posted, getting my extended family taken care of early on. The people I'm scrambling around for live with me!!

I've found myself wondering just what happened this year, and how can I prevent this from happening again.

I think the problem is..

1) I've neglected things. A stroll through my house will let you know that somehow things have gotten away from me...okay..they're out of control. Right now in the kitchen there are dishes in the sink, wrapping paper on the island, cookie crumbs in the floor. Come on into the dining room where you'll find empty pop cans on the table, a baby doll (Baby Jesus, actually, from last night's Nativity at church), a blanket (?!), a bag of corn chips and a roll of tape. On to the living room..which now that I'm looking at it, actually isn't too bad. Anyway, the ball's been dropped. No one has picked up after themselves and it shows.

2) I've been unorganized. I'm a huge list maker and it just hasn't happened lately. It seems as if too many spur of the moment things have kept creeping up and what I planned to do just kept getting pushed back until I had to do it and by then I was so stressed out that I rushed in, did what I had to (and it shows), rushed out and on to the next item to check off my list. I can be a bit of a perfectionist--which I've been working on--but it seems as if instead of trying to reach a happy medium, I've run off in the other direction!

3) Maybe, just maybe, I've been a little hard on myself....
Let's see, in the last 2 weeks I've been wrapping up some homeschooling projects with the kids, gotten sick, celebrated my 25th anniversary in the mountains with DH, celebrated my youngest's 16th birthday, helped the drama team get a performance ready on short notice...very short notice. These are things in addition to the "normal" everyday, laundry, errands, cleaning...and including the extra baking that comes with the Christmas season! Maybe that's why I'm feeling like things are a bit out of control...

How about you?? Are you feeling overwhelmed? Does it seem as if everything is piling up on you and as if you're never going to dig your way out?? Do you feel that if one more person asks one more thing of you, you'll fall out in the floor in the fetal position, thumb in mouth, tears streaming down? Let me encourage you..

It really doesn't matter to your kids if there are cookie crumbs in the floor and a blanket (?!) on the table. It does matter that you bake more cookies with them and relax and enjoy the time with them. It does matter that you talk and laugh with them and make memories that will give them "warm fuzzies" when they are adults.

Maybe your hubby likes his house clean and organized, mine does, but I'm sure that if you'll just keep it manageable through the Christmas season and take the time to curl up beside him with a cup of hot cocoa and watch the lights on the tree and talk and enjoy his company, he won't mind the cookie crumbs or the blanket (?!) on the table.

What I'm trying to share with you--and myself--is that too often we as women think we have to have it all together all the time. In the process of trying to accomplish that, we often miss out on the things that matter most.

And I've saved the best for last--in the midst of all the frustration and chaos, when you feel overwhelmed and over scheduled, when you feel like no one cares how burdened you are....stop!! There is One Who is waiting with open arms to comfort you. He can take away your stress and give you peace. He can lift your burdens and bring the smile back to your weary face. His name is Jesus and He can slow you down, bring you peace and comfort and remind you that what really matters to Him is..... you.

"So I pray that God, Who gives you hope, will keep you happy and full of peace as you believe in Him. May you overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13 NLT

Friday, December 19, 2008

Missing Blogger--Chapter 3

When I felt DH get out of bed, I had this gut feeling that he'd been called as the next landlord for the Stomach Bug. I was right.

His performance in the Throne Room was much like my own. Still being weak and a little nauseated from my own performances, helping him was tougher than usual..but we managed.

This time I led him back to the bed and we settled back in.

As the alarm went off, he confessed he hadn't slept much at all. This was Tuesday..our anniversary.

I turned off the alarm and just continued to lay there. My husband was sick and the only thing important to me, was that he was able to rest like I had been able to on Sunday.

My husband had other plans. I wanted to pet and pamper him, he wanted a cheerleader. Since I wouldn't accept the position, he became his own cheerleader.

"Okay big boy..get up! This is your anniversary! You never had a honeymoon and you're not going to let some pitiful bug keep you down for the count! Man up! Move it! Move it! Move it!" (He has some military in him).... and he did move. He got up and went straight to the Throne Room to bow before the porcelain god, yet again.

After that performance though, he "swore" he "felt SOO much better". "Get dressed. let's go!" By the way, did I mention that he's..."the most stubborn, bullheaded, headstrong, pain in the butt I've ever met.."?? (Where have I heard that before??) Guess that's why we've been married so long!!

This time I conceded. I took my time, but I got dressed and we headed out. My DH was such a trooper. We drove into the mountains and stopped at an information center. There we learned that if we would drive about 24 miles in, we would come upon some old homesteads and churches and such as that. After the 24 miles, there was about 11 miles of those such things then we would need to drive the 24 miles back out. Since we absolutely love looking at old things like that we knew we'd have a blast.

Philip learned that there was a Throne Room at the end of the 24 mile stretch and after checking in at the Throne Room at the information center, he felt we were good to go.

He was truly feeling a bit better by now and we enjoyed the scenic drive into the mountains. We saw a few animals and many beautiful waterfalls and were really enjoying ourselves. Talking, reminiscing, making some future plans, pointing out what the kids would love if they were with us (doesn't everybody talk about their kids when their kids aren't with them????).

Looking down at the odometer we realized we were 3 miles away from our destination and we were talking about how it must have been to live in these mountains 100 years ago when all of a sudden.........flashing lights, backed up traffic. We come to a complete stop.

What's going on? We sit there about 10 minutes and nothing is moving. I make the "funny" remark..."With all of the rain they've had, wouldn't it be something if we've gotten this close and there's been a rock slide?"

Well, there was no rock slide, but there were 2 huge trees laying across the road!!!

Philip went to talk to the ranger that was standing by the trees and found out that as soon as they got a chain saw, they'd have those trees out of the way. Where's the chain saw? Yeah, you guessed it...21 miles back at the information center!! (Shouldn't chain saws be standard equipment in a ranger's truck??)

Anyway....nothing to do but turn around and go 21 miles back to the center. Thankfully God was looking out for DH and he made it back before needing to appear in the Throne Room.

We decided to go back into Gatlinburg and just enjoy the afternoon looking around the shops. We had a really enjoyable afternoon, but I could tell my sweetie was really tired. I finally convinced him that we needed to head back to our room so he could get some rest. He reluctantly gave in.

Back at the room, I curled up under a blanket on the couch while he curled up in the bed and got some much needed rest.

Later we went to McDonalds for chicken nuggets for me and a hamburger for him..he just couldn't stomach a celebratory meal.. then on to Wal Mart to get some sparkling cider. This was still our anniversary after all!

Back at the room we lit candles and toasted 25 years together and prayed for at least 50 more.

Isn't it just like God?

We had made all the plans for a grand and glorious celebration. We knew what we wanted to do and when and where and how. It was going to be great!
But just like over the course of our 25 years, many of our plans never came to pass. God took another direction.

Philip and I are not flashy people. We prefer the simple, slower way of life. We wanted to go and do and spend and "live it up!!" (for us anyway), but God decided the simple was where He wanted us to stay.

Philip and I have leaned on each other for 25 years and God allowed us to lean on each other even on this trip. He showed us that while a dinner theater might have been fun, chicken nuggets at McDonalds can still be a celebration.

He showed us that a wet washcloth and a gentle word is romantic.

He showed us that giving up our plans for the benefit of our spouse is what's made our marriage grow stronger and last these 25 years.

He showed me that no matter where I'm at or what I'm doing, there's no one in this world I'd rather have by my side than my dear husband. He is my best friend on this earth.

The next day found us leaving our beautiful room, headed toward Krispy Kreme and buying a dozen of those warm, soft, melt-in-your-mouth doughnuts..calling our kids and telling them we were headed home.

Many in our shoes may have thought that this trip was a disappointment... but for us it was just the opposite. It was a confirmation of our 25 years...always being there for each other, never leaving the side of the one who loves you and whom you love the most.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Missing Blogger--Chapter 2

Sunday morning finds the alarm clock going off and I'm anything but able to move. Not going to make it to service. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm absolutely miserable if I have to miss church. I just can't stand missing the opportunity to learn more about God and..honestly..hearing from Him through our pastor.

Anyway, not wanting to risk sharing the love with those at church, I watched through one barely open eye as DH and the kids head off to church.

I must have fell back to sleep for about an hour and woke up needing to make an appearance, yet again, to the porcelain Throne Room.

After my encore, I decided I needed a cheerleader. Seeing as I was home alone (ahhhhhh!!!!!) had to be me.

"Okay, girl...get it together. You've got packing to do. You've got to shake this. You're going to Gatlinburg tomorrow. You and hubby have been looking forward to this for months. You're stronger than any ole' virus. Hop in that shower!! Wash those germs down the drain!!"

And... I did.

And... I felt some better.

Managed to get a load of laundry in the washer and then collapse on the couch. I need just a moment to compose myself...okay.

I put our suitcase on our bed and started packing. Another request for my presence in the Throne Room. Is it hot in here??? Back to the couch.

Everyone's home from church by now and asking how I feel. "Better," I say to them..."Liar", I say to myself.

But I'm tough. Gonna beat this bug and head off to Gatlinburg in the mornin'! <<> husband has told me for 25 years that I'm..and I quote.."...the most stubborn, bullheaded, headstrong, pain in the butt he's ever met!".....Guess that's how we've stayed married so long!! (love you sweetie!!!)>>

After several appearances throughout the day to the Throne Room, it's obvious I'm not getting to church that evening either. I watch everyone leave... again. I called on my inner cheerleader... again..

"Okay have got to get something to eat inside you. You are just going to get weaker and weaker if you don't. Try some chicken noodle soup. That makes everything better!"

Managed to keep that down and amazingly, felt some better..honestly.

I finished packing and everyone filed in from church again....along with DD's boyfriend and 2 of DS's buddies!!!

Helloooooo.....dying Mom here..does anyone mind?????

Another shower, 2 Tylenol, a good dose of Pepto and I head towards the bed. Set that alarm for 6:30 am, pray
with DH and go to sleep. Thankfully the alarm, and not the Throne Room, wakes me up!

I smack it and lay real still.....hmmmm...not hurting. Try moving. far, so good. I make my way to the bathroom/former Throne Room (yea!!!) and start getting ready.

After hubby's intensive questioning, 5 rounds of hugs and kisses with the kids, going back over the rules twice, I love you's a bajillion times...we're out the door!!! we come!!!

We arrive in Pigeon Forge and decide to stay there instead. We got a BEAUTIFUL room complete with living room, jacuzzi, fireplace and private balcony. Yes, we've led a Motel 6/Super 8 type of life..and that's okay..but with this, we splurged. And it was sooo worth it.
We spent the evening looking around Pigeon Forge and taking in a few sites. I was feeling a little weak and tired, but overall, not too bad.

Back to the room about midnight and finally off to bed only to awaken about 2am by the Throne Room's request of an appearance darling husband......

Missing Blogger--Chapter 1

Did anyone notice that I just kind of....disappeared? I mean, here I am just blogging and posting and "chatting" with you and then all of a sudden....bloop!!!..I'm gone!! What happened?'s going to take more than one post to catch you up, so let's go at this in chapters....

Missing Blogger--Chapter 1

Saturday the 13th, was a good day. Hubby was at home catching up on some things in his shop that he'd been trying to get to for weeks. DD and DS were doing those things that teenage brothers and sisters do and trying to get things done so their boyfriend and girlfriend could come over later that evening. Me, I was doing some laundry and thinking about some errands that I needed to run later that afternoon. The big day was drawing closer and closer..On Monday, DH and I were leaving for Gatlinburg, Tennessee for 3 days in celebration of our 25th wedding anniversary. Oh the anticipation of it all....

It had been so many years since they had taken any real time away...just the two of them...and they were both looking forward to the upcoming time together..

After running some errands, DH and I got back home and the kids arrived soon after, boyfriend and girlfriend in tow. We enjoyed grilled cheese sandwiches...( I made 20 of those things!!!! honestly...20...really...)...and some soup. We enjoyed some M&M cookies and watching some Christmas shows on TV. Oh yes..I needed to be packing, but I pack pretty quickly and I still needed to do some laundry, so I could just pack between church services tomorrow. Oh! That reminded me...I still needed to make some dessert since we were having our "Eatin' Meetin' " after morning service. That was okay, plenty of problem at all....

Boyfriend and girlfriend go home and DH hubby and I go over the rules with our kids about the do's and don't's while we were in Gatlinburg. Now, I must share that this was going to be the first time that we had ever left our teens at home alone for overnight..That had only happened one time before when I was in the hospital. I was a little concerned...not worried....just concerned..okay, a little worried..maybe..just a little...about leaving them, but they're within days away of being 16 & 18..literally...they'll be fine...really they will....

After going over rules and asking questions and being sure everyone understood who was responsible for what and when and where and how and why and by the way, "Can you think of anything that you need to know before we leave???"...DH and I get our showers and it's off to bed.

Each night before going to sleep, Philip and I pray out loud together. It's something we've done for years. I must confess in the beginning I found it a little strange, but it has brought us so much closer together and has strengthened us as a couple before God that I wouldn't trade those times for anything.

I usually pray first, so I begin my prayer. I'm just prayin', talkin' to God and then...oh..something's not right. Ugghhh...not feelin' too good here...Ummm, " Jesus' name.." Philip starts his prayer then...


Ohhhhh...just not feelin' good.Probably too many M&M cookies. That's what happens when you can't control yourself...Ohhhh.....just say amen already. I need to roll over. "In Jesus name, amen." Quick kiss and hubby asks, "Are you okay?"

"My tummy hurts. Probably too many cookies. I'll be fine."

Famous last words, huh..?

About 1:30 in the morning my eyelids fly open. Something is definitely not right and I've got to get up now!!!!

Stay calm. Just go to the'll be fine ole' gal.

Feel like I might need to bow to the porcelain god. NOT going to happen. Nope. Fight it. Fight it.

Hey! I know!! Pray!!! "God. I really don't want to throw up. You know I'd rather do anything. Help me to feel better some other way. You are God and You can fix this and I pray it in Jesus name!"

Not working. "Please, God. We leave day after tomorrow. Please don't let me be sick. I'm sorry I morphed into the Cookie Monster. I won't ever do that again. Please...please...please..."

30 minutes later....."Okay I give. Whatever it takes. Just hurry."

Amazing how when you allow God to do His thing....He does.

After waking the entire household with my ability to do...uhh...sound effects...DH leads me back to bed. At this point I'm pretty sure it's not Cookie Monster syndrome. I'm pretty sure I've taken my shift at housing the infamous "Stomach Bug". The timing couldn't be worse.

A repeat performance 2 hours later confirms it....our anniversary plans are officially in jeopardy..

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Shopping Savings

A few weeks back, I wrote a post on saving by going to the Bent-n-Dent. (Look at post "here") Since I did my shopping trip yesterday, I decided to show how that works to make for great savings.

I'm going to list what I bought. These are items that had to be bought regardless. The first column will show what I would have had to pay at the cheapest price I could find, (Wal Mart, Sav A Lot, etc.). The second column will show what I paid at the Bent-n-Dent.

Milk (3 gallon--------------$3.19 x's 3-------$1.98 x's 3
Honey Nut O's (2 bags)--$2.78 x's 2-------$1.00 x's 2
1½ dz eggs----------------$2.28--------------$1.59
Tomatoes, 14.5 oz (8)------.59 x's 8-----------.39 x's 8
Green Beans, 14.5 oz (3)---.49 x's 3-----------.39 x's 3
*Ranch Dressing, 16 oz--$1.19------------------.99
Potatoes, 10 pounds-----$4.79----------------$1.99

* Normally I buy store brand dressing which is $1.19 for 16 oz. This was actually Kraft brand which would run $2.24 at Wal Mart.

The savings: $12.78!

I also saved $16.25 in coupons.

$17.11 at Walgreens and got a $5 coupon off my next purchase

$ 2.99 at CVS. I had $3 in ECB's that were about to expire so I bought a tube of toothpaste for $2.99 and a caramel candy (because CVS can't owe you money) and got $2 in ECB's back**

Total savings $49.13 with $5 in Walgreens RR and $2 in ECB's

DH and I sat down and found that we really needed to revamp our budget. I have to admit I wasn't entirely happy about that, but given the current situation with the economy, we want to be on the side of caution.

My entire spending for 2 weeks for basically 4 adults was $214.14. That included household items, dog food and meat (we had almost emptied the freezer!!) and those extras for Christmas dinner. It was a bit of a challenge for me, but I honestly prayed before we left and God opened doors of savings that I didn't even expect!!

Hope this helps you to understand why I value having a Bent-n-Dent so close.

Check out your area and see if you have access to one of these awesome places!!

** To learn how to make CVS work for you, check out Money Saving Mom. Look in the right column and click on the CVS 101 and Walgreens 101 labels.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Let It Snow..Let It Snow...Let It Snow..

Living in Alabama, the prospect of some snow always gets me excited! I grew up in Chicago....where it snowed. Philip and I have lived in Indiana...where it snowed. We've lived in Colorado....where it snowed. I hate bitter cold, but I love snow!

So when our weather man said this morning that our county was under a winter advisory with the prospect of getting 1"-3" of snow (in Alabama language that means a dusting..) I got just like a little kid. All antsy and pacing back and forth to the window to see if the rain had changed over yet.

The prospect of snow takes me back to our wedding night....

We got married at my husband's grandmother's house. Like I said before, we didn't have much money and we paid for our wedding ourselves. My parents bought our wedding cake and that was it. They were a bit upset because I was marrying someone I'd only known for 4½ months..and...he was leaving for bootcamp in March. They couldn't understand why I wanted to marry someone when he was getting ready to leave for at least 2 months. I just wanted to be his wife before he left..

Anyway, DH had picked me up at my house and we were driving towards his grandmother's. It was cold and a bit windy, but nothing out of the ordinary for the 16th of December.

We weren't talking too much about our wedding, but our plans for the future.

Philip had an old yellow VW bug, and if you've ever ridden in one in the winter, you know that it never seems to warm up in there! I was fairly hugging myself trying to stay warm and Philip was talking about the fact we'd need to put a blanket in that car for me (we still have a blanket in our car and the VW has been gone for a long time!!....when we noticed something falling. Another mile or two and it was snowing like crazy!!! Neither of us could remember the last time it had snowed in Alabama and here, on our wedding night, it was snowing!!! We actually slowed down because we were driving on a road that was heavily lined with trees. It was sooo dark, and with the headlights shining, the snow was especially beautiful~or maybe we were just totally in love~It continued snowing the rest of the drive to his grandmother's. When it stopped, I'm not sure. We got busy with last minute things for our wedding, but the picture of that snow falling is forever etched in our memory.

Now that we're back living in Alabama, everytime we get the hope it might snow, both of us go back to that night, almost 25 years ago, when 2 silly, young teenagers said "I do".


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Free Arby's!!

Click "here" to get a free Regular Roast Beef sandwich from Arby's with any purchase.

My family LOVES Arby's and takes full advantage of coupons in order to go.

Hurry though!! This coupon is only good through this Sunday, December 14.


Christmas Planning

I've spent this week wrapping gifts for my extended family--nieces, nephews, in-laws--and I have had most of this bought since early this year.

Since some of my family members actually read my blog, I can't post what these gifts are...but I can share the amount of savings.

I start buying gifts for Christmas next as soon as Christmas now is over. Yes, this does mean that I have to have a place to store them for a year, but the savings is well worth the small amount of space that I have to give up.

I've shared before that I buy for 7 nieces and nephews as well as parents and brothers and sisters (we do couples gifts for our brothers and sisters and their spouses) in our extended family.

I still need to purchase something for my dad...he's the man that has everything and needs nothing, has no hobbies, can't think of a thing he needs or would like to get the picture..

Anyway, to date, like I said I have all gifts bought except my dad's and I've spent $63 on18 people. Not too bad. Now, I've been buying all year, hitting sales and clearance shelves. If I had paid full price, I would have spent $111.90--a savings of $48.90! I'm pretty tickled with that!

I have a notebook, complete with Christmas scene on the cover, that I keep especially for Christmas purposes. I take this with me when I go shopping throughout the year. When I buy a gift for someone, I write the person's name in the notebook and what the gift is. That way I don't end up with 3 gifts for the same person. (Anyone who knows me, knows that this would happen!) When it is time to wrap, I just bring out the gifts and the notebook to remind me who gets what, and I'm in business!

I would also encourage anyone who can to begin a Christmas club at their bank. DH gets paid every 2 weeks and we have $15 taken out of our checking account and put into this Christmas club. We never miss the money (you don't miss what you've never had). The first week in November the bank sends me a check for around $400! Usually we use this to purchase for the kids and ourselves and maybe anyone that we just couldn't find something for throughout the year...Dad....

If you're fortunate enough to have everything bought before that check arrives--that never happens here--then just deposit it in your savings account or pay it toward some debt you may have. It's a win-win situation.

I'm all about trying to eliminate stress and especially around Christmas. A little pre-planning and time throughout the year really helps with that.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Our First Christmas

I remember our first Christmas. We'd been married 9 days and barely had 2 nickels to rub together. The night shift where we worked had ended. I got transferred to day shift, but Philip didn't graduate until Christmas break, and so he was laid off.

I had saved every penny I could and my dad paid the first months rent on our trailer. After buying a few groceries, we had $30 left to buy Christmas presents. Not just for us, but for our parents (4) and our brothers and sisters (5). We weren't a bit discouraged! We were running high on love and that was enough!
My mom had recently bought herself a new Christmas tree so she gave us her old one. It was the tree I had grown up with...a 6 foot tall, silver, aluminum tree!! She gave us 1 strand of lights and 1 strand of red and silver foil garland. Philip's mom gave us 4 ornaments and a sheet that we could use for a tree skirt.

We took $2 and went to Wal Mart and bought a brass ornament that we engraved our names and the year on...which, by the way, started a family tradition that we are still doing today..and a star for the top of our tree...a silver star!!

We took the $30 we had for presents and began shopping. We bought each of our dads a flannel shirt. Each mom got 2 bowls. Each little sister (3) got a book and each little brother (2) got a car. Then we purchased 1 gift for each other. We bought some tape and a roll of wrapping paper and went home to wrap our treasures.

On Christmas morning we woke early and turned the lights on the Christmas tree. We just sat there staring at that tall, silver, thin branched tree thinking it was the most beautiful thing we'd ever laid eyes on.

Finally we decided to exchange our gifts. I went first. Philip had bought me a pair of koala bear house shoes. They were gray and white and on the top of each foot was a koala bear head.

It was time for Philip to open his gift next. I had purchased a socket set for him. You know, one of those cheap socket sets that break the first time you use it. But he was as happy as if I'd just handed him a huge set of Craftsman tools.

I don't remember much else about the day. I just remember that we were as poor as church mice and as happy as we could be. I think about that every time I find myself getting caught up in the hype and commercialism of Christmas.

How simple that first Christmas was. Something we will treasure forever.


I...Just Want to Celebrate!!!!!

Something great is happening next Tuesday!! Something so great, that I want to share it with everybody! I want everybody to help me celebrate next Tuesday (even though I will be out of pocket)! Want to know what is so great about next Tuesday?? it is..

It is my 25th wedding anniversary!!!

That's right. Me and the love of my life will be celebrating 25 years of marital bliss Tuesday..the 16th.

Wow!! 25 years! It truly seems like just a few days ago I was a giggly, silly 18 year old, just enjoying dating and working and learning (?) to be an adult. I was footloose and fancy free and enjoying it. Then one night at work (I worked on an assembly line at a furniture plant) I'm just doing my job, laughing with my fellow co-workers and then out of the corner of my eye..I see him..a new guy. Now, being 18 years old, I noticed all the new guys, but there was something different about this one. Hmmmm.....might have to check him out during break.

Sure enough when break time came, I went upstairs to get my nightly fix of cheese crackers and Coke. I went to sit down and who should be sitting at my break table?? You betcha!..this new guy. (See, I didn't realize it, but when he saw me, he decided he needed to check me out at break too!)

We begin with the small talk. You know that flirty, giggly stuff that our teenagers now are doing that causes us to roll our eyes....We exchange names and continue talking. All of a sudden he asks me a question:

"If I were to ask you to go out with me, would you go?"

Now, inside myself I'm snickering because this dude doesn't know me very all honestly...and I'm fixing to take a jab at this new guy....

"Depends." says me.

"On what?"

Here we go....."On whether you ask me or not!"

I mean, hey, I had a date for Friday night and if this guy couldn't play along, I had a backup..right??

He sits there for a minute, processing what I just said and I'm sure contemplating in his mind if he even wants to give a smart-aleck the time of day, but he follows up with..

"Will you go out with me Friday night?"

Now, remember I said I already had a date for Friday night, but this guy really intrigued me. He was willing to play along with my smart-aleck attitude. Couldn't be all bad, right? So I said sure. Friday night sounded good. (We were off on Friday nights)

Now, I didn't meet my Savior until I was 27 so don't throw me to the lions just yet. I must confess that I didn't cancel my plans with date #1. I mean, what if this dude didn't show up? I had no intentions of sitting at home on Friday night! So we made plans for him to pick me up at 6. If he didn't show, date #1 would be there at 7. No harm right?? By the way... sorry, date #1.

But, lo and behold, he pulled up in my driveway and off we went with my mom fussing in the background about how she was going to have to explain things to date #1.

We had a great time! Went out to eat at KFC, which still happens to be one of our favorite places to eat! The conversation was great and he was SO cute!!

On our way home I made it very clear that this was not going to be a serious relationship. (go ahead and snicker!) I was having too much fun as a single gal and I just wasn't interested in anything serious. Kapiche???

4½ months later, on December 16, 1983, I married my best friend. The love of my life. My safe place. My strength.

Over our 25 years we've had our share of ups and downs, good and bad. We've laughed and cried, been on the mountain and in the lowest valley, but through it all, we've come through it together. Never quitting at the same time. One was always ready for the fight, which would encourage the other to get back up and keep striving for the goal.

I want to share little snippets of our 25 years in the week to come. Maybe it will encourage you, make you laugh or give you hope. For me though, it will be fun just to spend some time remembering.


Thanks to Momstheword!!

A(nother) big thank you to "momstheword"! She was so kind to pass on an award to me for my blog and I really appreciate it!!

Look, can you see me?? I'm sitting on the back of a hot red convertible, going down main street. I'm doing my princess wave and showing my pearly whites!


No, seriously..I am truly humbled and thankful.

Thanks again!! and


Monday, December 8, 2008

"Christmas Love"

Because we homeschool, we take full advantage of the freedom to study pretty much what we want, when we want. In the month of December we veer completely away from traditional studies and study about Christmas. How it is celebrated in other parts of the country. We bake and research and make things to give away. We study customs and traditions and just really relax the studying.

In going through my files of Christmas related studies, I found a little story that I obviously got through an e-mail or off the internet or something.

This isn't going to teach anyone a thing about history or math or English or science. It isn't going to improve your IQ one bit, but I hope it strikes a cord in your heart as it did ours...

The "W" in Christmas

Each December I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience. I had cut back on nonessential obligations-extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating and even over-spending.

Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments, and, of course, the True meaning of Christmas.

My son Nicholas was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six year old. For weeks, he'd been memorizing songs for his school's Winter Pageant.

I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd be working the night of the production. Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher. She assured me there'd be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation. All parents unable to attend that evening, were welcome to come then. Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise.
So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. Around the room I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats.

As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song.

Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as "Christmas", I didn't expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer. So, when my son's class rose to sing "Christmas Love", I was slightly taken aback by it's bold title.
Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snowcaps upon their heads. Those in the front row-center stage-held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song.

As the class would "C is for Christmas", a child would hold up the letter C. Then, "H is for Happy", and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message "Christmas Love".

The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her; a small, quiet girl in the front row holding the "M" upside down-totally unaware her letter "M" appeared as a "W". the audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one's mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her "W".

Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised and we all saw it together. A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen. In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why, even in the chaos, there was a purpose for our festivities.

For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear:

"C H R I S T W A S L O V E"

And I believe He still is...


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Super BIG Thanks

I just want to give a shout-out and a big thanks to my new friend over at "momstheword" . She took the time to contact me and teach me how to do links instead of typing out everything in the URL. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!!

I am SO excited...(you have no idea how computer illiterated I am!!)

I can easily identify with so much she writes about! Check out her site, it's sure to brighten your day!!


Check Out Vocalpoint

If you haven't joined Vocalpoint yet, head on over and do that. I love being a part of this group!! I joined over a year ago and have received so many free samples from them, not to mention the awesome coupons they send for you and for you to share with friends.

I received a Kashi Blackberry Graham cereal bar today. Now, I'm not terribly fond of Kashi products and so I wasn't terribly thrilled when I saw this sample in my mailbox. But...

I tried this bar and it was nothing short of absolutely delicious!! I gobbled this thing up and found myself wishing I had more in the cabinet. I also got 5, $2 off coupons for a box of these bars!! Now, I'm not sure what they cost in the stores, but a $2 coupon is a good thing in my humble opinion. These bars would be perfect to grab on the way out the door when you don't have time for a sit down meal.

No...I'm not getting anything for plugging these bars or Vocalpoint, just wanting to share yet another great find with my friends.

You can sign up for Vocalpoint "here" .


Friday, December 5, 2008

I Haven't Ran Away!!

Sorry for my lack of posting this week. It has been such a crazy, busy week around our house!!

We have been busy dragging boxes of Christmas decorations out of the attic and decorating our house. I love to decorate and we have a lot to set up!! It takes all of us working together, but like I've mentioned before...I absolutely love this season!!

So with that being said, I hope to get back on track in the next few days with some helpful posts about how to make this Christmas season (and next) less stressful and a lot more fun!!

See ya soon!!


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I Love a Parade!!

I love Christmas parades! It starts on Thanksgiving Day with the Macy's parade and just goes from there!

I love to stand in the cold with my hands wrapped around a cup of hot cider or hot chocolate and watch all the floats go by.

I love to hear the Christmas music playing and singing along (mostly out of tune I might add!).

And let me let you in on a secret.......come closer.....I still love to grab for the candy that's thrown from the floats!!!

At this time of year I am still truly a kid at heart.

With all the glitz and sparkles and music and lights it's easy to take our focus off of why we even celebrate this holiday anyway. Our family fully shares, believes, talks about the fact that it's all about Jesus. Had He not been so willing to give up everything and come to this earth, how without hope we'd all be right now. I mean, can you even begin to imagine being up in Heaven, hanging out with God, enjoying all that has to offer and leaving it?? Not me. I have a feeling that once I get there, I'm going to have no desire to leave.

This time of year though, also has me taking a look at Mary. In that day and time it was perfectly normal and acceptable for girls 13, 14 years of age, to marry and begin families, but here was a young girl who had been notified by an angel that she was going to give birth to the Messiah. Although betrothed, she wasn't married, hadn't known a man. How was she ever going to explain that?? She couldn't. I fully believe that's why God sent Joseph his own angel.

It's not like today when we see an unwed pregnant girl. We may have those thoughts of "poor thing", or "she's so young", but it's become the "norm" in our society. Mary had to have been laughed at, made fun of, talked about. I think people may have walked on the other side of the street just to avoid contact with her. Unwed, Jewish girl..pregnant. How many looked at her in disgust and even if she tried to explain, everything she tried to explain wouldn't make sense to human ears.

Yet she held such a place of honor in Heaven. The one chosen to give birth to the One Who would save us from our sins! I am amazed when I think about what an amazing young woman she must have been! For God Himself to choose her from so many young women!

I think about Joseph and how much ridicule he must have had to endure. The scandalous talk that must have been going around their town and the fact that he was still willing to marry her!! He must have lost his mind!!

Have you ever wondered what Mary and Joseph's parents must have thought?? The Bible doesn't say but I can imagine that things didn't go over too well when they told them. But then, Mary being the young woman she had grown to be, has to say something for her parents. So maybe they were upset and then in awe of the fact their daughter had been chosen to be the vessel used to bring the Messiah into this world.

Not unlike today, those 2 families struggled with the right thing to do. They struggled with what will people think. I think that maybe some very heated discussions followed and maybe even some doubt filtered in from time to time. Yet look at the Awesome Result of 2 families being obedient to God!! The Savior!..born to die for me...and for you.

Let's especially remember that this Christmas season.

To tie this in with being a kid at heart......Children are open books. They will tell you what's on their mind, what they think, at a moment's notice. They will readily and quickly tell you about Jesus. As we go about our day and meet people on the we look at the Christmas decorations and stand wide-eyed at the light displays, let's also be an open book, sharing with people about Jesus and what He truly means to us..and to them.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

One Single Minute

Wow! I've been out of the loop for the most part over the Thanksgiving holidays and I'm glad to be back!

When dear hubby is at home, I try to devote my time to him.

So...I try not to stand on too many soap boxes. I've found that for some reason, not many people agree with my way of thinking and that's okay. But....

The title of my blog, "One Single Minute". Things can forever change in one single minute.

In Saturday morning's paper, I read an article about a 30 year old man in the Manhattan area, that was trampled to death.

He was an employee of Wal Mart and was the person designated to open the doors for the Black Friday shoppers. According to the article, there were 2000 people waiting, some since the day before, to get in Wal Mart and get those deals!

Apparently he opens the doors, the crowd pushes through, he is knocked to the ground, along with an 8 month pregnant lady, and is literally trampled to death..

I've got to tell you, when I read that, my heart broke. Even now, it is absolutely unbelievable to me how saving 5, 10, 50, 100 bucks is worth someone's life.

How can you be so focused on something that you don't realize that someone is literally being trampled under your feet??! Not to mention that one of those someone's is an 8 month pregnant woman!! Who by the way, was reported Sunday to be okay (baby too!).

How do you explain to this man's family that you're sorry this happened, but hey I saved $50? I don't understand it.

The article reported that when co-workers went into the crowd to try to help him, they too were injured in the stampede. It also reported that when it was announced the store needed to close for several hours because of the incident ( my opinion) many shoppers got irate saying they'd been in line since the day before and intended to finish there shopping!! just contributed to the death of someone and you need to save a buck??????

I'm all about frugal. I'm all about saving. Part of the reason I write this blog is to share what I've learned over the years and pass it on so others can save too. I fully believe that God wants us to be good stewards of the monies He blesses us with. I love a deal. But at what cost? When have we crossed the line?

How important is it that we get a newer, bigger, better __________? What is wrong with what we already have if it's working?

The main reason I stopped going out on Black Friday was a fight. Years ago I went to our local Wal Mart in the city we lived in at the time. I was there for certain toys and the toy department was across from electronics. I watched 2 women...full grown, older than me women, actually fist fight over a computer!! A computer!! I couldn't believe what I was seeing. The savings?? $75. A computer.

If your financial situation won't cover the cost of an item, if you have to be so aggressive and so mean to save a couple of bucks...then maybe you shouldn't even be out shopping at all. The police was called and these 2 women went to jail over $75. I haven't shopped a Black Friday since.

I ask you to pray for this young man's family and I ask you to pray for the people who trampled a man to death for a few dollars.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

New Use for Shower Caps

I love to bake. I love being in the kitchen making some kind of new yummy or meal for my family, and this is especially true at Christmas time.

I try to have some kind of yummy on hand everyday through the month of December and I try to make something different each time.

I have a 2 tier server that I keep on my island in the kitchen at this time of year. In years past, I would use plastic wrap to cover the goodies on those platters. Until....

About 2 months ago, I was already thinking about my baking days ahead and dreading my yearly battle with plastic wrap. You see, I'm the crazy lady in the kitchen who is confident when she begins to pull on the plastic wrap, that she is going to take her time and it's going to roll off in a smooth sheet. I'm confident that when I go to rip the plastic wrap off the roll, it's going to come off in one clean, smooth tear. Then reality sets in.....I begin unrolling my plastic wrap and I end up with a triangle piece because as I unroll, the sides are missing each other and rolling themselves back together, clinging to each other in fear of what lies ahead.

I lay the plastic wrap across my tummy and begin tearing. By this time, it refuses to leave it's cozy little tube and I've resorted to laying my arm across the top and pulling with all my might. Nope. It's tougher than I am and won't let go. My stress level is climbing and so is my blood pressure and finally I win!! The plastic wrap concedes and comes loose...but not without it's revenge first! Each side comes together in unison and rolls up together (remember there is strength when you pull together!) until they've formed a ball that even dynamite couldn't undo. I end up smacking it around, making the ball tighter than it was and whizzing it into the garbage can!!

Then this awesome product called Press-N-Seal came out. (Can you hear the Heavenly choir??!!) I am a sold out, true blue, commited believer in this product. It's not near as afraid of leaving it's cozy tube as it's plastic wrap cousin, but with awesomeness, comes price. This stuff ain't cheap!!

So as I was thinking about all the goodies I wanted to bake for my family, I also found myself wondering how I could cover them up to keep them fresh and keep the dust bunnies from sharing in our bounty..without breaking our budget on Press-N-Seal.

Then it came to me!! Bowl covers!! Now, these things are as pricey as Press-N-Seal and you only get 3 in a package. So I set myself to thinking again.....

Shower caps!!! You betcha! You can buy 10 shower caps for $1 at the Dollar Tree and by washing and reusing them, they will last virtually forever!! You can use these to cover your potato salad as you head to Grandma's or cover that veggie plate when you have dinner at church. Cover those cookies as you go to a cookie swap! And the best thing is..who cares if they don't come back home with you? Who cares if they get torn from all of the use they get with your family sneaking (?) goodies out from underneath them?? They were only a buck!...for 10!!

Want to be a little more frugal? Think about that shower cap that's all wrapped up nice and tidy when you go to a motel! Bring that puppy home and show it a new way of life as a bowl cover!

Let me share a recipe that's easy to make and will allow you to put those shower caps to use!!

Pecan Bark

1 cup unsalted butter, no substitutes
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans (I've also used walnuts!)
24 Graham cracker squares

Preheat oven to 350º. Line a 10x15 inch cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Lightly grease the foil. Place graham crackers on th cookie sheet in one layer. (It should exactly fit 24) Sprinkle pecans evenly over the top and set aside. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Add brown supar and stir until the mixture boils. Boil for 1 minute. Pour mixture evenly over graham crackers and pecans. Bake for 10 minues. Remove from oven, and immediately place the hot cookie sheet in the freezer. Remove the pan after 1 hour, and break the bark into pieces. This candy does not need to be refrigerated.

These hardly last more than a day at our house!!


Friday, November 28, 2008

Christmas Lights

I hope each and every one of you enjoyed a very blessed Thanksgiving day. My family spent the day in our usual tradition: on the phone wishing those family members who live in other parts of our world a blessed day, in the kitchen baking and cooking with the stove (and Mom!) going into overtime, eating entirely too much, and taking long afternoon naps!

I had hoped to put my Christmas lights on our trees and bushes outside, but that was not to tired body and full tummy had other plans.

I want to start focusing on getting ready for Christmas. As you follow along in the next few weeks, it won't take you long to figure out that this is, indeed, my most favorite time of the year. I turn into a major toddler!! Everything is beautiful and exciting!!..and my wonderful hubby has learned to just indulge my childish fun for a month!

Speaking about those outdoor lights though, let me share what we're doing differently this year.

I, like most of you, have used the same Christmas lights over and over for years and years. I love Christmas lights and while I don't have as many as I'd like, I do have a lot! However, I see myself adding to our light surplus over the next few years in a different way.

About a month ago, we got a flyer from Home Depot in our paper. I noticed an ad for LED Christmas lights. My husband is over maintenance at our local hospital and I'd heard him mention before about how much energy these little lights saved.

A string of 50 lights were $6.99. I thought this was kind of high but hubby explained that while the initial cost may be a little expensive, the lights would pay for themselves this Christmas alone! The box said that these lights could last up to 20 I'm thinking that's 19 years of free electricity for Christmas lights!

Our December electric bill tends to be higher than most months, but like I said, hubby indulges me... However, it's my job as his wife to be saving and as frugal as I can be, so when I saw this ad I started doing the math.

Yes, it was $6.99 for only 50 lights, but I can run 8 sets of these lights for the same wattage that I can run 1 set of the traditional Christmas lights (100 count)!

We have a big evergreen in our front yard that is perfect Christmas tree shape and it takes at least 150 lights to go around this tree ( that amount lights it up, but not like I'd like it). 150 traditional=3 sets of LED

I have 2 bushes in front of my porch that I light up at 100 lights for each bush. 200 traditional=4 sets of LED.

Right now that's all I light up outside, simply because of the electric bill factor. up only what I normally do outside, I can string lights on everything I normally do cheaper with the LED lights.

I feel like I'm chasing myself here so this is what I'm trying to say:

Normally I use 350 traditional lights to light outside. Have you ever watched that little dial on your electric box when you plug those lights up?? That thing looks like it's trying to spin out into orbit! However, with the LED lights I can use the same 350 lights and that little dial doesn't even seem to be moving! Saving electricity which means savings in your wallet and saving our environment. Win-win situation to me.

At the time Home Depot was running their ad, they offered $3 off a set of LED lights for every traditional strand you brought in to trade. The limit was 5 per customer, so I bought 5 sets and dear hubby did as well. We bought 10 sets of LED's for a little more than $40. I use 350 lights outside, 150 on our Christmas tree, and so I have another 100 lights to use somewhere else!!

I'm anxious to see what our electric bill for December will be and I'll pass that along when the time comes.

Maybe you can only buy a couple of sets of LED's this year, but I wanted to make you aware so you can take advantage of sales that might come along before Christmas and especially after.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

I just wanted to wish everyone a blessed Thanksgiving Day!!

Hold tight to those you love and cherish and take a moment today to let them know just how important they are to you.

With that being said, all of you who take a moment to check in and read this blog, those who take a moment to leave a comment or a word of encouragement, those of you who have become friends to me..I am incredibly thankful for you. You have blessed me beyond anything you could ever imagine.

Colossians 3:15-17

"And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all it's richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom He gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father." NLT


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

God and Cars

We don't owe for any of our vehicles. Each one is completely paid for and in good shape. Each one was a direct presentation from God about how faithful He truly is. Let me share...

I drive a 2002 Hyundai Elantra. Prior to that, I was driving a 1992 Plymouth Grand Voyager, and let me tell you, that thing was on it's last wheels. It had made many trips cross country simply because we bought it in Colorado and when you begin driving from Colorado to Alabama several times a year, those miles can really rack up. Anyway, Philip decided last year that he wanted to get me a car for Christmas. Gas prices were just beginning their uphill climb and it was already taking so much to fill the van up. We decided that we weren't going to go in debt for a vehicle and we only wanted to spend $3000. Now, I urge you to spend an afternoon trying to find a dependable, nice looking vehicle for $3000. Not as easy as it sounds.

It was a cold blustery day, even for Alabama, but we got ready and headed out. Car lot after car lot. As the day went on, we grew more and more frustrated. I can't tell you the strange looks we got from dealers when we told them that we only intended on spending $3000! You'd thought we'd asked them to give up their first born!

After getting in and out of the van at least 20 times, we'd about given up when I remembered a small little place just outside of town. We drove out there and this dealer only had a few cars and all looked way out of our price range. I was so disappointed-then Philip spotted "Ella" (that's what I named her after we bought her!). She looked perfect on the outside, not a scratch. I told Philip that after the day we'd had, I was sure that car was way over $3000. He insisted we ask anyway. I wouldn't get out of the van. I was so tired of getting excited over a car only to find out the dealer was hard of hearing. We'd ask for what they had at $3000 or less and they'd take us to every $6000 and above car they had~seriously..

In just a moment, Philip came back and told me to get out and look at the car. The dealer had just got it in and hadn't even had time to clean it up. He only wanted $3000 for it!! I couldn't believe what I was hearing!

I almost leaped out of that van and ran to Ella. She was dirty, but she was perfect! We took her on a test drive and she ran perfectly! I was thrilled!! Back at the dealer, we decided to see if he'd take the van as any part of a trade in. He told us the van was in pretty bad shape, and it was, but he would give us $500 for it. Again, we were thrilled!! Our out of pocket expense for Ella: $2500!! God had truly answered a prayer.

A year later, she still looks great and runs like a dream!

Philip drives a 1994 Suzuki Sidekick and it shares just as sweet a story. He was driving a 1984 Toyota 4 wheel drive pickup and this truck, while faithful to run, ran rough. It coughed and sputtered and wheezed like someone who'd been smoking 4 packs a day for 30 years!! Because he also has a motorcycle, he didn't really drive the truck that much anyway, so he just hadn't concerned himself with looking for something else.

About 6 months ago, unbeknownst to me, he began praying about a different vehicle for himself..only he didn't want to spend a dime. He wanted to trade "Rusty" even up. Now, believe me, in order for that to happen, it would truly take a miracle. Philip made a few phone calls on different vehicles but nothing ever came to pass. Then about 2 months ago, he noticed an ad in the paper for a Sidekick (just what he was looking for) for $1500. He called about it and began talking with the owner. By the end of the conversation, the owner decided that he wanted to look at Rusty..he might be willing to trade.

The next evening Philip drove to the guy's house in Rusty. I thought to myself as he left, "He's going to come back so disappointed." Oh me of little faith! When Philip got home, he was on top of the world, The guy loved Rusty (?!) and was willing to trade even!! Today~an even trade and a new set of tires later~Philip is driving Suzie. Another answered prayer.

Beth's car "Lurch", is, yet again, a product of the faithfulness of God. Philip and I decided way back that when the kids got old enough to get their first car, we would pay half of the purchase price. They had to pay the other half and have no debt.

About 2 months before she turned 16, our neighbors across the street put their 1994 Ford Taurus up for sale. Day after day it sat there with no one stopping by to look at it. The car was in great condition and our neighbors take very good care of their vehicles so we couldn't understand why it wasn't even being looked at. One day as we were turning in our driveway, Beth made the statement that the reason they hadn't sold that car was because it was her car. She was claiming it, God was saving it for her. I smiled inwardly because there was no way that car was still going to be sitting there when she finally got the money for her half.

A few days of persistent begging found Beth and her dad walking across the street to look at the car and ask the price. Great car, sounds good.. $2500...Beth was disappointed, but still determined that somehow, God would give her that car. She turned 16 and went to work. By April she was ready to buy a car. She had saved up $600, which meant that she could afford a $1200 car. Believe it or not, 6 months later that Ford Taurus was still sitting in our neighbor's yard!!

She and her daddy walked back across the street to talk to them again. Our neighbors were discouraged because that car had sat there for 6 months and only 3 people had stopped to look at it. Beth told them no one had bought it because it was her car! She asked what was the rock bottom price they would take for the car~hoping it would be $1200. They looked at her and told her that $1200 was as low as they could go! She fairly floated home in her Ford Taurus! God showed up and showed out again. Almost 2 years later, she's still driving Lurch. She's had to invest a little in him, but it's been minimal which is great for a teenager on a very limited budget!

Please realize that whatever is big to you, is big to God. He wants His children to be happy and He's eager to answer their prayers. His timing may be different than ours and His answer may be no or not now. Philip waited for months before God decided to bring him Suzie, but He was faithful. All we have to do is trust Him and be faithful to Him.


Freebie and Black Friday

I don't know about you, but I love getting samples in the mail! As a matter of fact, I love getting mail! I'm one of those weird people who love to get their mail as soon as the mail person has run and since I've been getting so many freebies in the mail, it makes it even sweeter!

Check out click on the free sample tab and get your own freebie of this perfume!

Just out of curiosity, how many of you are going to get up in the wee hours of the morning and hit the Black Friday sales??

I have only done that once or twice and frankly I wasn't terribly impressed. For the minimal amount of things I would buy anyway, fighting a crowd of thousands and encountering many angry--by the way, I know why they're angry....I would be vicious if I was out and about by 4am too!!...--got-to-have-that, focused people, it's just not worth it. Nope. Think I'll stay snuggled in the bed with dear hubby, wake up whenever, and work on just enjoying the day with my family!


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Suppertime Conversation

I am incredibly thankful for the conversation around our table at suppertime.

The one thing we've always done is eat supper together. As the kids have gotten older and started part time jobs, this has sometimes been a challenge, but as often as we can, we make sure and eat together as a family. If you're not at work, you'll be at home eating supper with the family...that's just the way it is.

At our house, the meal is seldom fancy. Last night it was tacos. The kids (and Beth's boyfriend) sat the table while I finished up the meal and Philip tried to collect himself after a long day at work. For me, it is very rewarding to sit down to the table after cooking a meal~no matter how difficult or simple~and look around the table at your family.

Someone prays thanking God for His wonderful blessings. You can always tell what kind of day the person praying has had. Sometimes the prayers are just blessings on the food~that would usually be our 15 year old, Zack. Sometimes the prayers are thankfulness for the accomplishments of the day and the food~usually me. With Philip and Beth though, the ones that work outside the home, the prayers will reflect their day and after "Amen", the conversation begins. Food is passed around and the conversation is always busy. It can be lively or serious. It can begin with a, "How was your day?"

Last night was no exception. Chris, Beth's boyfriend of 14 months prayed and the conversation turned to his upcoming trip this week to spend Thanksgiving with extended family.

From there it progressed to how Beth should approach her old boss about getting her old job back.

Philip shared about his day and the fact that it was a better than usual day.

Zack shared about his girlfriend getting her permit and needing to go to Birmingham to pick out her Christmas present.

Me...I mostly listened. I listened to the bonding. I listened to my daughter go to her dad for advice. I listened to Chris, who, when he first started dating Beth, thought our supper table sounded like chaos..."So many conversations going at once!"...interjecting his opinions and sharing the plans he has for his very immediate future. In the 14 months they've been dating, he's decided that when he has his own family, he wants it to be open and close like ours~how humbling...I watched as Zack and Chris "fought" over the shredded cheese and taco sauce.

I laughed as Chris pretended he didn't have a root beer for Beth when he came back in from the kitchen to get a napkin.

After our meal, as I was washing dishes, I listened to the rustling of the newspaper as my husband continued to unwind from his day.

I listened to the laughter from Chris and Zack as they cleared off the table and I enjoyed the conversation with my daughter as she helped me clean the kitchen back up.

Sometimes, I feel that we open up the most and grow the closest when we're eating supper. Why? I believe it's because we are all together at one time..not each going their own way. I believe it's a time when we actually are sitting down and we all have each other's attention. I believe it's because the TV is off and the telephone is ignored.

No, it's not as easy as it was to organize supper as a family as it was when the kids were younger, but I am so thankful that it was something we didn't leave optional as a new family. Now, almost 18 years later, we are reaping the blessings of making family..our family.. a priority.

If you don't already, start tonight eating supper together. You may have to eat a little later or a little earlier. You may have to fix something quick because of somewhere someone needs to be..or better yet, drag out that crock pot. You can have an awesome meal with little effort. Whatever you do, put forth that effort to sit your family down together one time a day. You will be amazed at how close your family will become!!


Monday, November 24, 2008

A Week of Thankfulness

Thanksgiving is Thursday and I thought I'd just take the next few days and blog about the things I'm thankful for and the whys behind them.

Let me begin with the fact that I'm thankful for my salvation. I know me and sometimes, even I don't like me..but in spite of that, God still loved me enough to give up His Son. Jesus loved me enough to give up His life. Would I give up my life for one of my kids? In a heartbeat!! Would I give up one of my kids for someone So I cannot begin to fathom the love of God. I'm just thankful that for whatever reason, He loved me..and He loves you. He saved me from the pit of hell, and He'll save you too. Want to know how? Contact me, I'll be blessed to share.

I'm thankful for my husband. Philip and I will celebrate 25 years of marriage on the 16th of December. For the most part, we've had an awesome 25 years, but there was a period in our lives, around the 7 year mark, that neither of us thought we would make it. We didn't know Jesus and our lives were a mess. Divorce was going to happen and we had fought so much, we reached a place of being too tired to try. Our daughter was only 8 months old. We had tried for so many years to get pregnant, and now that we had her we were going to tear her life apart. But we met a Man....Someone Who would not only save our souls, but our family as well. How thankful I am that when we wanted to give up..Jesus didn't. I am married to the most wonderful, patient, loving, kind-hearted, hard working man I know. He is an awesome husband, loving me in spite of me. My kids are blessed to have a Daddy that would give up everything to keep them safe and provided for. Beth has a perfect role model for a husband in her daddy and Zack has a perfect role model of what a great husband and daddy is. I have a safe place. I have strength and completion when he's with me.

I'm thankful for Beth. It took so long to get pregnant with her. 5 years of fertility drugs..and when we finally just gave up, we got pregnant. We had a scare with Spina Bifida and was told it wasn't too late to abort... are you joking??? Now...she will be 18 in January and she is a true blessing. She lives life pushing the limits and can be quite a challenge sometimes, and although she is my daughter first and foremost, she is one of my best friends. I love spending the day hanging out with her. She is so funny and loves life so much! She loves crazy clothes and wild fingernails. Even right now, her brown hair is loaded with hot pink highlights! She loves loud Christian concerts and weeps at sappy commercials. She is strong, but not always confident. She brings a joy into my life that no one else ever could.

I'm thankful for Zack. He's my "Little Buddy", although at 5'11, 225 pounds he's not so little anymore. He'll be 16 in December and fills my life with smiles. Like his sister, I had complications while I was pregnant with him. We know his exact date of conception, and was told when we were 4 ½ months pregnant with him that he had no kidneys or bladder. The sonar clearly showed that these very vital organs were missing. Doc could do what he could, but the Maker of Life was going to have to intervene if my little boy was to live outside the womb. Again, I was told by a nurse that it wasn't too late to abort. Again...are you kidding??? God will choose whether this child lives or dies. 2 weeks later, another sonogram showed that the Maker of Life, decided to let Zack live and made him 2 kidneys and a bladder!! All working and performing in harmony!! He can lift my spirits when I'm down. He's one of my biggest encouragers. He is always taking care of me if Dad isn't around. Still kisses and hugs me even in front of his buddies and tells me he loves me before he hangs up the phone...every time. He's my practical joker and brings so much laughter into our home. He is a tower of strength, in every meaning of the word. My life would be empty without him.

I am thankful for our home. Yes, I'm thankful for our house...a simple 3 bedroom house that has been a constant remodel since we bought it 3 years ago. It's modest and old but notice my wording....I'm thankful for our home. The 2x4's and siding. The sheetrock and paint. The floors and's all's all needed...but our home is one of laughter and tears. It is a place where each one of us long to be at the end of the day. We all know that no matter how tough the day's been, home is our destination. We know when we get here that love, hugs, encouragement, conversation, laughter, tears, a cold glass of water, a hot chocolate, a warm bath, a snuggly bed is waiting. Strength is found. The ability to try again is found. Since I stay at home, I know when my family gets home that everything will be okay. No matter how tough my day has been, my Father, my Safe Place, my Joy and my Little Buddy will make everything worth it.

How about sharing what you're thankful for with me..

I'll share more as I have time. Until then..