Monday, December 21, 2009

The weekend before...

I know I said I was going to take a blog-cation, but DJ had to work this morning and I find myself up early with a massive to do list before he gets home and we head to his family's house. Therefore, I feel the need to blog. :)
Friday we celebrated the end of the semester with a free pizza coupon we found. Then we realized the coupon was no good and found an even better deal on-line. Then we drove 20 minutes to pick up the pizza and 20 minutes back. I thought living in the Metroplex was supposed to make things easier because there was so much more stuff - not make things harder because none of that stuff was in the city you live in. I've never not been able to get a Pizza Hut delivery. It's a strange world I find myself in!
Saturday I slept in and woke up to the smell of coffee and breakfast. What a wonderful husband I have! DJ had to work Saturday afternoon so I decided to run a few errands. Here are the lessons I learned.
1. The last Saturday before Christmas is NOT a good time to look for a last minute gift if you haven't already decided what that last minute gift is going to be. It's also not the time to go bargain hunting!
2. I'm a small town girl trapped in the big city! And I was going to the only mall within a 45 minute radius. And I was in a much bigger city than I've ever lived in my entire life. And people here back into cars in the parking lot, smash in the bumper, look a police officer square in the eye and drive off. And my car stopped working. And I got buggy-wrecked 16 times at Target. And I wanted to curl up in the camping department and hide from everyone until someone came to rescue me. And there were no cute boxers for DJ's Christmas present. And when I did find boxers a group of teenage boys started laughing at me and I was so upset I ran away to the furniture aisle.
3. The cashier's at Target don't care that you've been waiting in line for 45 minutes. They're just enjoying chatting with their high school buddies who happened to be in line in front of you.
4. The iPhone is a wonderful time filler when you're stuck in said line for 45 minutes and you have no one to talk to. I'm loving me some Bejeweled!
5. Don't tell your husband you're parking spot based on the cars that are near you. The cars move and change out before he gets there.

The whole shopping trip was truly stressful. I handled the Black Friday shopping much better than the Saturday before Christmas. It was no good. I was so traumatized by the entire thing that I made someone from the school drop DJ off at Target so he could drive for the rest of the day. Sadly, the traffic was so bad that she had to drop him off about three blocks away. He hiked through the cold wind, the mall parking lot, and across 8 or 9 lanes of the busiest street in town to get to me. My husband is so amazing!

Sunday was the anniversary of DJ popping the big question so we went on an all day date! DJ surprised me with a copy of "The Proposal" wrapped and hidden under the tree. It was wonderful! We went to the ballet and then to Spaghetti Warehouse. It's not our favorite restaurant in the world, but thanks to our super coupon hunting, we payed only $9 for two dinners, two drinks, two salads, and lots of bread! We then came home and enjoyed the time as a couple. We wrapped gifts, we talked, we goofed off, and we loved every second of it. We ended up staying up until 1:30 in the morning talking. I wouldn't trade it for the world!

Now I need to do some serious laundry before DJ comes home and we head out for the holidays. I'm so excited about the next two weeks together and even more excited about our first Christmas as husband and wife! What a precious time it is! I'm determined to cherish every second of it...

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Proposal (just for Leslie!)

Leslie,

I forgot that you weren't around as our love story unfolded like everyone else from that LIFE Group. Just for you, here's a recap of how we met and how he popped the big question. Warning: Those pregnancy hormones just might get the best of you. Be ready to cry!

Much to the surprise of our friends and family, we met on eHarmony. We were matched on March 4, 2008 and slowly got to know each other over (long) e-mails and (even longer) phone calls. We finally met face to face on June 9, 2008 and fell in love instantly. After dinner at Panera and an evening with the LIFE Group, we went to Starbucks to talk. There, D.J. told me that he wanted to court me with the intention of pursuing marriage. Three days later, he asked for my dad's blessing - which he enthusiastically gave. The rest, as they say, is history...

The day we both got out for Christmas break, D.J. was acting super funny but I didn't think much of it. (Looking back, I can tell just how "off" he was!) He said that he had missed me tons and wanted to go on a fancy date. I'd just bought a new dress for a friend's wedding and was anxious to show it off again. D.J. told me to be dressed and ready to go on a fun, fancy date at 4:30. When 4:30 arrived, there was a knock on my door. It wasn't D.J. at all - but Jay Mathis! He handed me a rose and a card from D.J. The card was a simple letter from D.J. explaining that the night would be a celebration of our love. Jay would drive me to all of the places around town that were special to us. So I climbed into Jay's car, more nervous than I could ever say (and really really hoping this was the proposal I thought it might be), and headed to Panera. When we got there, my little sister was waiting for me with another rose, a card, and a camera. After a few (very) tearful words of encouragement and blessing, she handed me the next card, took a picture, and sent me on my way. The next location was the Starbucks where D.J. had made his intentions clear. Waiting there was a precious couple from church that we were really good friends with. They were far too nervous to offer many words of encouragement, so after a few giggles, several hugs, and a shaky picture, was on her way again. However, I was a bit nervous and mis-read the clue. It told me to go to where we had our second date. So I headed to Barnes and Noble where we had met up with Jay for coffee just days after we officially started dating. When I got there I wandered the store, shaking violently with nerves and anticipation. I was sure someone was going to jump out from behind I bookcase, I'd scream bloody murder, and trip on my high heels, falling flat on my face with no ring on my finger. Jay ran to the car and made a quick phone call only to discover that we were supposed to be at the Dr. Pepper Museum. (Oops!) Once Jay and I finally arrived at the correct location, D.J.'s sister was waiting for me with another rose and a card. She had a few more tearful words of encouragement and wisdom before sending me off to Johnny Carino's. By this point, I was dying to see D.J. (and go to the bathroom) but was thoroughly enjoying the evening and the special friends I was seeing along the way. At Johnny Carino's a friend from LIFE Group was waiting for me. When I walked into Carino's I busted out with, "Dang it! Where's D.J.?" My friend re-assured me that I would see him soon, but she was so nervous that she forgot to give me the rose! (Random side note: We were both thrilled that our friends were so excited for us that they were as nervous as we were...) This final card led me to the church. When I walked in, I was greeted by 200 tea light candles lining the walk way from the door into the sanctuary, up the aisle, and across the altar. Waiting for me at the altar was D.J. (At last!) He told me how much he loved me and how much he looked forward to all of our tomorrows and then said, "It would do me a great honor if you would answer me this one question..." He then got on one knee, pulled out a ring box, and quietly said, "Will you marry me?" I was shaking quite violently by that point and trying hard not to cry but said "YES!" several times. I think I might have even screamed it. After celebrating and admiring the ring, we had our very first kiss. After attempting to race to blow out all of the candles (and finally getting to go to the bathroom) D.J. suggested that we head over to my parent's house to show off the ring. When we arrived, however, there were almost 20 people waiting for us with a surprise engagement party.

He did an amazing job planning and pulling off every single detail. I was so proud! I still am proud to tell that story and to know that it's my forever husband that did all of that for me. I truly am the luckiest girl on Earth!

And on it goes...

Did you hear? I'm in love. So very in love.
Seriously - this stuff is amazing. Last night we made Quick Skillet Chicken Macaroni Parmesan. I can't decide which dish I love more. I just know that this cookbook has earned it's spot on the kitchen counter and not in the back shelf. At least until I memorize the recipes. I don't want to bog you down with recipes you don't care about so let me know if you want last night's delight. I'll be happy to e-mail it as well as the Fake 'Em Out Ravioli Lasagna.
I thought of another reason I love this cookbook. It doesn't make an outrageous amount of food each time. We can easily eat it in one night or in a night with a few left overs to follow. It doesn't make so much that you're sick of it by the time it's gone.
Most of the recipes we've tried have used half a box of pasta. Therefore, I already have the stuff to make it again. Or, if I had a bigger crowd to feed I could double the recipe without much trouble. This makes me happy deep in the mommy part of my heart.
Enough about the cookbook. (I'm still in love though!) Now on to the other major love of my life. Sunday marks the one year anniversary of when the man of my dreams got down on one knee and put a ring on my finger. It was an amazing, incredible night. (If you don't know the story, let me know and I'll be happy to share. It's the best engagement story on the planet - bar none! But then, I'm a little biased...) To celebrate we're getting all dressed up and cashing in our Spaghetti Warehouse coupons for a super cheap fancy dinner (that I don't have to cook!). Then we're going to see "The Nutcracker". Or maybe we're going to the ballet first. I don't know what time the show is. I just know we have tickets and my heart is happy. AND, I get to be with the man I love. Life is good.
This will probably be my last post for a while - I'm going on a blog-cation. We're spending the next two weeks enjoying vacation and family. I can't tell you how excited I am about our first Christmas as husband and wife! What a precious time it is!! One of these days we'll get around to buying our ornament to commemorate the occasion (hint, hint) but until then I'll hold the lap top up next to the tree so I can pretend that on-line purchase has been made. (HINT, HINT!!) Since I have a new iPhone, I'll still be able to check e-mail and keep in touch with the cyber world but I probably won't blog. :)
Have a wonderful, very merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I have an announcement to make!

Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention please? I have an announcement to make. Or, as one of my students used to say - "a-mouse-ment".
I am in love with my cookbook.
Everything we've made has been heavenly. While we were engaged, somone saw this book for sale in the teacher's lounge at school and told me it was full of husband pleasing recipes. It was only a few bucks so I bought it. I haven't made anything from this delightful book until last week. After only a few recipes, I'm in love. Love I tell you!
Here's what I love the most - in completely random order.
1. There are no crazy ingredients you never buy.
2. The instructions are easy to follow.
3. The pictures are pretty. (I'm serious about this one. Pretty pretty pictures make food look good and help you decide what to make. It also lets you know when you've done it wrong!)
4. The cover is red. It matches my kitchen. This makes me happy.
5. There are easy to follow kid instructions on most of the recipes.
6. There are little symbols on each pages showing if they're easy prep, how long it takes to make it, if it's a kid friendly recipe, and if it's a "5 Star Favorite".
7. The recipes are easy to adapt for our tastes.
8. The recipes are easy to spice up a bit and this makes me feel less like a chef in training and more like a gourmet chef for the Hammond House!
Last week we made Cheeseburger Pasta. (I blogged about it. Scroll down and look for "A few items of business") We also made Fake 'Em Out Ravioli Lasagna. It made a huge dish. It lasted all of two nights in our house. I already want to make it again. (If you want the recipe, e-mail me. I'll be happy to share!)
Last night we made one of our favorites so far. No, I loved that Cheeseburger Pasta more. No, the Ravioli Lasagna. Or did I love this one most? Grrr! I can't decide! They're so very yummy! I'll tell you what - you make all three and tell me what you like the most. Okay? Deal!
Last night we made Hearty Lasagna Soup. But first, let's set the scene... The weather man told us that yesterday's high would be 48. He lied. We never got out of the 30's. After a very fun party the night before, I spent the day ignoring responsibility and nibbling on left overs. And painting. Lots of painting. (Christmas is coming, ya' know!) No shower, no laundry, no real food - just paint, cookies, and some wonderful e-mails with my friend Brandi. (Don't you love old friends who know your heart so well they can read your mind over e-mail even when you haven't seen each other in months? My heart just sighed a little!) My husband has little to no heat in his tennis office. And it's on an outside wall. And he had hall duty by a drafty door yesterday. And his car is very slow to heat up. And when he got home he had to take the trash out. So... Very cold. I'd eaten nothing but cookies. DJ was a frozen husband-sicle. So I made the warmest thing I could find in our new best friend! DJ made a fire. (A big one.) (In the fireplace.) When DJ saw the picture for this meal, he turned his nose up. I told him we were having it anyway. Then he came to the stove and smelled what I was cooking. Then he got very excited and kissed me. :) Now you know the story - on to the recipe!
1 pound ground beef (We used turkey. DJ burps with beef.)
1/4 t garlic powder (I threw in some onions. I could have thrown in more. And more garlic.)
3 and 1/2 cups beef broth with onion (I didn't have any. I used chicken broth.)
1/4 t Italian seasoning, curshed (Much to my surprise, we didn't have any of this either. I just sprinkled in a ton of oregano and basil until it smelled good.)
1 can diced tomatoes (Note: Don't buy the cheap stuff. They are icky. And green. And sometimes white. Next time I might use Italian tomatoes for more flavor.)
1 1/2 cups of uncooked mafalda or rotini (We used rotini. And we used more like 2 1/2 cups. As previously stated, we like pasta.)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (We did more like 1/2 cup. We like cheese.)
Cook the beef (or turkey) and garlic powder (and onion) in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until the meat is well browned, stirring frequently to break up meat. Pour off any fat.
Stir the broth, Italian seasoning, and tomatoes into the skillet. Heat to a boil.
Stir the pasta into the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 10 minutes or until the pasta is tender but still firm, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cheese. Serve with additional cheese, if desired.
I didn't read right and added the pasta with the broth and other stuff. It made our pasta super tender, which we were looking for. We topped it with mozzerella cheese. YUM! I made a loaf of French Bread from a can. My plan was to have left overs for lunch today. There are no left overs. :( I'll eat our taco pizza from the other night instead.
Are you in love with my cookbook too? It's fantabulous! I want to keep it with me always! :) If you'd like to buy one for your family, you can - right here!
I am not getting paid to endorse this cookbook. I just love it. We're making Chicken Macaroni Parmesan tomorrow night. (Tonight we have another party!) I'll let you know if it's as yummy as the last three have been. My guess is yes!
Have a fun day - and cook something new!! It's good for your heart...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I'm back!

As my friend MK so lovingly pointed out, it's been a while since I posted. Isn't it amazing how the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas seem to be so jam packed? Every year it remains true. Parties and presents and cuddling by the fire on a cold night seem to take every minute of the day. I'm not complaining - just stating the facts.
Last night, DJ and I hosted our first Christmas party together. I decided everything had to be perfect for this crazy group of teenagers we were inviting over and put myself into a tailspin. I'm not sure why I felt this way - but I see now what a bad idea it was. I cleaned until I made myself mad. In a single day, the dishwasher broke, the dryer went out (again), and I sucked up some foreign object into the vacuum cleaner and it went kaput. Then I ruined a cake that I was making for my nephew. By 1, I was a large sobbing puddle on the floor. So I sat down with a fork and the ruined cake and ate like a mad woman. Strangely, I had a stomach ache and didn't feel a bit better. When I made my no bake cookies, I got the chocolate too hot on the stove and melted the wax paper to my kitchen table. It was a heck of a day! (The dryer is still on the fritz, the dishwasher fixed itself as far as we can tell, and my wonderful husband pulled the junk out of the vacuum cleaner and made it suck very well once again.) (Yes Megan, I know vacuum cleaners don't suck. I wrote that just for you!)
Despite my insanity, the party was wonderful! We had a great time! Here are the cute little gifts I made for the tennis team out of toilet paper rolls. Isn't my mom amazing for collecting and saving a thousand of them for me? :- )
There was a TON of food and the kids ate way more than I thought they would! They did not, however, eat as much as DJ thought they would. Teenagers are funny little critters, aren't they?
Last weekend was our nephew's birthday party. (His real birthday was on Thanksgiving and he was with his dad so we haven't gotten to celebrate until now!) He loved DJ's birthday cake so much that he begged me to do it again. After ruining the first cake I made him, I finally produced this:
I love how happy he looks! (He's not a big smiler. Just trust me - he was happy.) He actually clapped and hugged me and told me that he loved me. From what I know about teenagers, this is a huge deal for a 15 year old boy! I think Saturday I realized just how much I love those kids as my own niece and nephews, not as extensions of my husband's family. We had our other nephew over for a few hours a week or two ago and I must say that it was one of the highlights of my week! I'm hoping their sister can come over soon to hang out. She cleaned her room, and it seems that our house was her reward of choice! Woo hoo! (I tend to think that she likes Marley more than she likes coming to play, but that's okay. I like Marley too!)
So now for my favorite piece of news. The best part of our holiday season thus far. The piece de resistance. (Did I spell that right? It's French. I don't know how to spell in English, much less in French!) I have looked forward to this night for over two years. The Andrew Peterson Behold the Lamb of God concert! For those who know me well, you know that Andrew Peterson is, by far, my all time favorite artist. For those who don't know me, trust that I border on obsession when it comes to AP. Friday night, I got to see him perform. Live. And then I met him. (Again. But that's not the point. This time I have an actual picture to prove that I met him in person. Face to face.) Brandon Heath was on tour with him as well, but we weren't nearly as impressed with him once we met him. We chatted for a bit - but he seemed more wrapped up in how cool he was and less concerned about a lowly listener like me. But I digress - on to AP!!!!
There he is! DJ hopped out of line, ran about 5 or 6 people up, and snapped this photo to test the lighting. I don't care. I have pictures. :) AND, look at that! He's a leftie! (All the great people are!)
Here we are, waiting in line. I look tired you say? That's because at this point it was very close to the midnight hour and I had spent the better part of my day fighting the massive crowds to find DJ's Christmas present. What did I get him, you ask? I can't tell you. He reads this blog. I also can't tell you because it's still in the store. Somewhere. I'll find it though! I will!
And now for the picture we've all been waiting for!!
The Hammonds with ANDREW PETERSON!!!! You can't tell in this picture, but my feet aren't touching the ground. I'm floating. We got to chat with AP for a bit and told him that we used two of his songs in our wedding and that we listen to "Invisible God" constantly and that it's meant a lot to us as a couple and then we showed him some of our honeymoon pictures. (I love our iPhones! So handy!) He complimented DJ on his smooth introduction of his wife and said that we were "a very cute couple". My life is complete. (Just kidding!) I bet he'll never know how excited I was or how good his compliment made us feel. Oh AP, we love you!
I know this post is long - but let me leave you with two more "Family Pictures" before I go. I think they're frame worthy! (Now if I can just remember to print them off...)


Monday, December 7, 2009

A few items of business

I'm working on a blog about the day after Thanksgiving shopping extravaganza but it's taking longer than I thought. Thanks for your patience!
Did you hear? I won a humidifier! It arrived shortly before we left for our marriage conference and I love it! Thanks Crane!
I'm loving it! I was notified this morning that I won two other prizes. I'll let you know when they come.
We tried a new recipe last night that I just have to share!
1 pound ground beef
2 cups shell pasta
1 1/2 cups of water
1 can tomato soup
1 can cheddar cheese soup
Brown the meat in a 10" skillet.
Drain and return to skillet.
Add pasta, water, and soup over medium heat until boiling. Boil for at least 10 minutes or until pasta is cooked to your liking.
We used turkey instead of beef. I say beef makes DJ burp so I avoid it if at all possible. Next time I make this, I'll throw in some onions to add some flavor. Or maybe some peppers. Or maybe we'll use turkey sausage instead of turkey breast. Who knows!
We heart pasta so we added three additional handfuls into the skillet. This meant we had to cook it longer and it dried out a bit. We added some water, but not enough. Next time I'll add more.
When the pasta was soft we poured it into bowls and ate in front of the roaring fire. Last night we topped it with a little mozzerella cheese. This afternoon for lunch I sprinkled parmesan on it. I'm not sure which I liked more.
We're nuts about bread and bread type products, so we opened a sleeve of crackers. Next time I'll actually plan ahead and make a loaf of bread out of a can. :) (Nothing like homemade!)
I loved it because it was a simple flavor. DJ loved it because it stayed hot for a long time. His tongue has the blisters to prove it.
YUM!

Black Friday - a poem

Twas the day of Thanksgiving and all through the house
Every creature was stirring even Marley - the "mouse"
The ads were spread on the table with care
In hopes that great deals would soon be found there

The economy had hit our small family hard
Without these great deals, we'd have nothing but cards

The sales -how they twinkled, the discounts - how merry
I poured over them while holding my bowl of cranberry jelly
Some deals were so cheery
I laughed when I saw them - in spite of myself

As deals were perused and coupons were clipped
We planned an attack for our Great Shopping Trip
With turkey still warm and the sink full of dishes
Away we all flew to fill Christmas wishes

At 5 we rushed to get fonts from the store
Only to find they had fonts, fonts galore
We debated and wrestled which one was the best
Made our purchase and headed back home to rest

Just a few hours later as the cold settled in
We rushed to find toys (and a few crazy "friends")
A long line outside, and longer indoors
We saved lots of dough but nearly fell on the floor


Everyone trotted right off to bed
But DJ had an idea in his head
An early alarm and to Target he went
Starbucks then breakfast, then for me he sent


We shopped and saw sales galore
Then picked up my sister and hit some more
When day was done and cash was spent
Three tired shoppers homeward went

Desperate times call for desperate measures
In one day alone we got all our treasures
So with some paper and bows and stickers and tags
Presents are done and ready for bags


There you go! My Black Friday adventures... Yes we really were one of those crazy people at Toys R Us at midnight and yes it was worth it! When we finally left at 2 in the morning we ended up with a free box of crayons! Yipee! (We also went to Michael's at 5 on Thanksgiving, but it wasn't quite as crowded or chaotic.) I also got a stand mixer and Up out of DJ's early morning Target run. It was such a great day and we were so very tired. We would have done more shopping if I hadn't had that pesky bladder infection. I eventually made DJ take me home because every time I went to the bathroom the industrial dye pills were staining the commercial toilets and I was uber embarrassed!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A tale of two dogs...

I told you nothing exciting would happen this week. I was wrong. We interrupt our Thanksgiving story to bring you late breaking news: Our two dogs (AKA: The Kids) are as different as, well... Black and white. Night and day.

Before you thank me for pointing out the obvious, let me illustrate with a little story. This morning DJ called me as school was starting.
"It's snowing!"
"It's what-ing?"
"Snowing! Go look outside."
I went to the back door. "No honey, that's rain."
"Look close. I'm sure there's a snowflake in there somewhere!"
I opened the back door and shivered. Just rain.
Cua peered cautiously around the corner and saw the cold wet nastiness outside. She immediately tucked her tail between her legs and hid somewhere warm. Like under the bed. Marley, being the nut case that he is bounded outside with energy only a puppy could muster. I was wearing my pajamas. And my monkey house shoes. I was not in the mood for a chase. So I did what any sensible pet owner would do - I screamed as loud as I could until he returned. He was soaked. Yipee! Marley then proceeded to run around the house and pounce on his toys, my toes, and the Christmas tree. Cua shivered and hid.
Within a few minutes, I realized it was, indeed, snowing.

I frantically tried to reach my box of winter clothes that were still safely packed away in the top of the closet so I could take something black outside to photograph against the snow. Then it hit me. I have a black coat. With black gloves in the pockets.

And I'm wearing black pajama pants.


And I have a black dog. Doh!


I drug Cua out of her hiding place and took her outside in an attempt to take pictures. Marley ran around trying to catch the snow. (It was really very cute.) Cua huddled against the house and shivered violently. (She was so ashamed that she wouldn't let me take a picture.)
After several minutes of photos, I decided to try the bushes in the front yard in the hopes that something had accumulated on the leaves.
No such luck.
Cua sat in the front door way and shivered. Marley ran around happily enjoying the cold. I had to chase him three houses down before I finally caught the mutt. (I had on real shoes at this point, but I was still wearing those pj pants!)
(Speaking of - have you ever seen the front of our house? Here it is:
I snapped this one AFTER I captured the nut case...
There's a close up of our candy cane lights. :) Notice the perfectly placed bows. Thank you very much!)
Now back to the snow story...
Cua is still pouting about the cold. She refused to eat breakfast and won't let me pet her. And forget about trying to get her outside! Sheesh!
Marley has stood at the door all day and whined to be let out. He licks the ice. He runs and slides and lets the wind blow through his fur.
Black and white. Night and day.

Giveaways

I love giveaways! They're so much fun!! Today is National Giveaway Day so I'm entering to win quite a few... You get extra entries if you blog about the prize you want to win, so surf over to these great contests: (But don't enter, because then you'll win and not me and that'll make me sad...)

Win a cute collar for you pooch!
Win a fun "Let It Snow" sign!
Win a cute little hat!
Win a beautiful snowflake quilt!
Win a beautiful bracelet!
Win a muscle relaxer thingy!
Win a MAH shopping spree!
Win a free sihloutee!

Have fun!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving, Chapter 2

Before I continue the Thanksgiving story, I'd like to insert a story that happened this morning at 2am. The suitcase from last week was unpacked, but still sitting in the floor. When our "precious" puppy began to whine at 2am, my amazing husband dutifully got up and let him out. On his way back to bed, he stumbled on the suitcase and almost his his head on the corner of the dresser. The sound startled me awake and I shouted, "Are you okay mom?" He mumbled something about the stupid suitcase and almost getting killed and came back to bed. As we drifted back to sleep I began re-telling the story to myself so I could blog about it. In that suspension between awake and asleep, I thought it was the most hilarious story ever! I was convinced that people would read this blog, laugh until they fell out of their chairs, and send it to their friends. It would be the blog that made me famous! (You know what stage of the awake-asleep continuum I'm talking about here, don't you? The stage where you are amazingly brilliant and think thoughts such as, "My nose itches - I should have it surgically altered!") Somehow in the light of day, the story doesn't seem as comical or as fame-inducing. (It was slightly amusing when my sweet husband tripped over the suitcase again this morning with all the lights on! Don't ask me why it hasn't been put back in the closet yet. It's one of those things we'll never understand...)
Now then - back to Thanksgiving. If you'll recall - no sleep, bladder infection, doctor, drugs, industrial dye, glowing pee. Now that you're caught up:
Let's back track a few hours here... As we were getting ready to leave to pick up my prescription at the only pharmacy open in the entire city, my sister peeked in the oven to get a better whiff of the delicious turkey aroma. That's when she realized the oven was filled with smoke that was quickly billowing out into the kitchen. A few frantic yelps for help brought dad (and three dogs) skidding into the kitchen to investigate. Turns out we didn't do so well at our foil wrapping this year and the broth was spilling out of the seams and landing on the bottom of the oven instead of in the pan we wanted it in. Thus, smoke. A little bit of careful maneuvering and all was well once again!
After our fun filled trip to Walgreens for medicine, we came back and hit the ground running on preparations. Well, D.J. hit the ground running. I kind of crept around carefully and made lots of bathroom trips. Luckily, the industrial dye did it's job rather quickly and I was feeling better within a few hours. We cooked up a storm in that tiny little kitchen! Sweet potato casserole, dressing, the rather large (and somewhat smokey) turkey, green bean casserole, broccoli and rice casserole, Monkey bread, cranberry sauce, cranberry salad, gravy, etc. The list goes on and on!
We dug out the China, the crystal, and the silver. As we polished and set out the spoons, we realized that we only had 8 place settings of silver and crystal glasses and nine people were arriving in less than an hour. So, we tucked a set of regular silverware and a boring glass in the stack and went on our way. When my uncle and cousins arrived, we learned that one of their girlfriend's would be arriving momentarily. We dove back into the China cabinet (which isn't a China cabinet at all - it's more like the top shelf of a closet full of games) and returned victorious with another plate. The silver and crystal were no where to be found, so D.J. and I ended up with the boring, every day stuff. Good thing it doesn't change the taste of the food!!
Once all the cooking was done and we were all starving, we sat down to a table full of food. My cousin leaned over to his girlfriend and began pointing at the dishes on the table. "These are amazing!" "You've never tasted anything like this!" "I wait all year for this dish alone." "It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without my aunt's _____." "My cousin makes the best sweet potatoes this side of the Mississippi!" "Oh! Get more of that dish - you'll love it." I never realized how much my cousin enjoyed coming over for Thanksgiving. It made us feel good to know that he loved it as much as we did!
The dinner was delicious! For some reason, it tasted better than it has in years past. We're not really sure why but everyone seemed to agree. Maybe it was the extra smoke in the turkey. Maybe it was that I sneezed into the sweet potatoes. (Just kidding! I did cough close to the dressing before it was cooked. I think we saved it though...) Who knows! I just know it was scrum-didilly-umptious! :)
That's all for chapter 2. Be excited because the next chapter is all about shopping! What an adventure that one was... :) Just you wait!!!

Another giveaway...

It's like National Giveaway week or something crazy like that. You get extra entries if you blog about the giveaway you're hoping to win. I want a gift certificate to Gussy. Check out the giveaway here!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Photocards Giveaway!

Thanks to Christi, I found another give away. (This morning I won a humidifier thanks to links she sent me.) Check out the give away here!

Thanksgiving, chapter 1

It was a wonderful five day weekend filled with more events than you can imagine. Since this week will be relatively dull in comparison, I'll just take my time re-telling the events of the holiday.

Wednesday we drove to Waco and spent the day doing a lot of nothing. We enjoyed the fact that we could rest and not be stuck with a to do list. About 3:30 we realized that while we usually spend the day baking so we'll be ready for the big feast, we had done nothing but snack on the cheese ball and sit around talking. I take that back - I ate a LOT of ham. It was yummy and the stupidly put the tray right in front of me. I nibbled while we talked and laughed and next thing we knew, all the ham was gone. (Sorry you didn't get much Dad! Should have come home sooner!)

Around 3:30 we started to bake the cornbread for the dressing, but didn't feel terribly motivated. So we went back to talking. We might have played a game or two. Because of our laid-back attitudes we were up until 1:30 or 2:00 working on pies and bread dough and other assorted and assundry delicious things. We were tired, but we loved it.

When we finally went to bed D.J. and I crashed. Hard. I can't remember the last time I slept that hard on a pull out sofa. Sadly, it was not to last. At 5:30 in the morning I woke up with a raging bladder infection. I haven't had one since I was four, so I had no clue what was going on for several hours. I just knew how much I hurt. At 8:00, we busted out the iPhone and did some research. We decided it was either a bladder infection, I had an STD, or I'd stuck the bar of soap too far up my Whoops-a-Daisy! (Yes, really. Those are the three most common answers found on Google when you ask why it hurts when you pee.) We quickly ruled out the last two options and decided that I needed anti-biotics fast. I haven't been sick since moving to Forney, so I called the clinic I went to when I lived in Waco. Amazingly, the doctor on call was my old doctor who knew me VERY well. He called in an anti-biotic and something to help with the pain. It turned out that this "pain pill" was formerly used as an industrial dye. Somewhere along the line, some genius decided to ingest the stuff and discovered that it made his bladder stop the painful spasms associated with infection. It also turns your pee the color of a neon sign. Over the course of the next few days, every single member of the family joined me in the bathroom to see the amazing, glowing pee! It was truly delightful. The fact that I was taking an industrial dye proved to be the source of quite a few jokes and interesting conversations. Who decided that it was a good idea to swallow bread mold? Or to cook the white thing a chicken poops out? Or to drink the stuff that shoots out of a cow? Seriously?
I'll end chapter one here. To sum up, no sleep. Lots of talking and laughing. One round of industrial dye. I love family time!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I'm sorry...

I just got off the phone with my mom and it seems I've gotten my dates mixed up. The Black Friday shopping really began the year that my brother eloped and spent his first Thanksgiving away from home. My grandfather was weeks away from passing away and we were all a little strained. That means that my mother, in her insanity, let a 15 year old dictate the family traditions. Don't do it people! Your family will never be the same again!

Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines!

In my family, Thanksgiving hasn't been a one day holiday in more years than anyone can remember. Over the past decade or so, our holiday has transformed into a 4 or 5 day marathon event! My parents are on their way even now to pick up my grandmother from Austin. My sister is taking off work early tomorrow to partake in the festivities. We're leaving at the crack of dawn to head to Waco so we don't miss a second. Oh Thanksgiving, how I've missed thee!

Wednesday is filled with pre-baking. Cornbread for the stuffing. Pies for the dessert. Boiled eggs for various snacking and recipe needs. Mashed potatoes for bread and potato pancakes. You know the drill...

Thursday is, of course, the big sha-bang. Dad puts the turkey in the oven around 3am while he's on his way to bed. (What a trooper dad is!) The rest of the day is filled with smells and sounds that make the heart soar with joy and happiness. We set up two tables in the living room and dining room, spread all of our tablecloths and finest china across them, and sit down to a bountiful harvest! While we sit, groaning, with our pants unbuttoned someone always pulls out a game. With the tryptophan flowing through our blood, we get goofy fast. It's such a delight. Somewhere in the madness we spread out the sales ads. They cover every flat surface we can find as we sort and plan and plot.

Friday is our newest tradition. We shop. We save. We seek out deals that make the head spin. We're not the freaks in the stores at 3am but we do shop nice and early to get the early bird deals. We started it the year my grandmother died and mom was at a loss about what to do. In her grief, she allowed me to call a few shots. (Don't ever let an 17 year old make decisions. It could change your family forever!) We were at Target at 6am that year. Then we saw the line that wound around the building, across the parking lot, and all the way to the highway. We've never done that again but we still shop each year and love the time together as we elbow our way through crowds. (Last year, Michael's opened on Thanksgiving at 9. We went for the Cricut fonts. At one point I was literally crawling on the floor, laying between some poor woman's ankles, and I grabbed the fonts that fell on my head. Yes, we're crazy. And I can't wait to do it again!)

Saturday we put up the tree. And the Santas. And the reindeer. And the Nativity scenes. Oh, how we decorate. We sing Christmas carols and laugh and giggle and remember Christmas' past. We eat Thanksgiving left overs and re-live the merriment of it all.

By Sunday, we're exhausted and ready for a vacation to recover from the events of the Thanksgiving break. It's wonderful! We love it! It is, by far, our favorite holiday.

So today I am going to clean. And pack. And gather all the dishes we need for the feast and carefully wrap them in newspaper. I need a nap, but I'm way too excited about what's to come.
Ladies and gentlemen - start your engines! And let the merriment begin! Turkey anyone?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fun stories

My sister is currently living with my parents and their 75 lb beast of a dog. (I love that dog!) Last night as they prepared for assorted and assundry family members to descend on their house for a gluttonous feast commonly known as Thanksgiving, they had quite the little adventure. I literally laughed until there were tears in my eyes when mom and Megan first told me about it. I could never hope to tell the story as well as Megan does, so you'll have to surf on over to her blog to read all about it.
(Look Brandi! Another successful link - and all thanks to you!)
Happy Thanksgiving! Yeah for turkey!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Bug's Life

NOTE: I know this is my second blog of the day. Some stories are just so funny, you've got to share them right away!

Today, I have become the family exterminator. I hate bugs and am terrified of going near them, but today I have killed a record number of them. But before I can share that story, you need a bit of background information. So let's go back to my childhood... Come with me, will you?
My mom has always said that fire ants will come from 5 counties away just to take a little nibble on my ankle. I've decided that there are several reasons for this.

1. When I was born, my parent's couldn't afford to pay the entire hospital bill so the doctor invoked the dreaded "Fire Ant Clause". This clause makes your sweet newborn simply irresistible to fire ants.
2. When I was a baby, my parents prayed that my family would love me - especially my aunt. God just got the aunts/ants mixed up.
3. My dad has always said I'm the sweetest thing this side of the Mississippi.
4. I am a blond. (This is no secret.) I am therefore oblivious to my surroundings 99.9% of the time.
5. I am always barefoot. I have been since about the age of 3. Seriously - I hate shoes and am always barefoot. Always. (Well, unless I'm about to walk out the door.)

Thus, when I was little I often got covered in fire ant bites. While my friend standing next to me would get one or two bites, I would walk away with hundreds. Seriously. Hundreds. Sometimes I sat in the ant bed. (Thanks mom! That was a great game you decided we should play!) Sometimes I ran through them. Sometimes I stood in them for a few minutes before I realized what was going on. I can remember no fewer than three times (in the same summer) when I couldn't wear a shoe because my foot was so swollen from the bites!

Now that you understand my history with fire ants, you can begin to understand my situation today.
I had just gotten dressed and was on my way out the door to Curve's. I was letting the dogs out one last time and stood on the patio in an attempt to stay dry and still make sure they did their business. Suddenly, I felt a stinging and crawling sensation on my ankles. I looked down to realize the patio was COVERED in ants and one shoe was already solid black from the ant colony! I screamed and kicked my shoes off right away. In an attempt to get them off my ankles, I managed to rip both socks on the pavement. I pulled them off, tossed them in the trash can, and attempted to rake the ants off of my tender skin. There are several things about fire ants you should know. First, they are covered with tiny little hairs that hold oxygen. Therefore, they rarely drown. This is why the rain didn't help me in my ant-ridding quest. It just got me wet. Second, they make super glue from the stuff on the bottom of an ant's feet. They will not let go. Never. You can't beat them off your shoes. You have to pick them off one by one.
Therefore, I found myself covered in bites on my ankles and hands. I'd ruined my socks and my shoes (as well as myself) were soaking wet. I attempted to cover myself in Benadryl, but discovered that a few ants had survived the incident and were, in fact, crawling up my pants - nibbling all the way. So I did what any decent person would do when you find yourself with literal ants in your pants. I stripped down naked and threw everything in the washer.

As I was working to get everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) in the washer and trying not to get any more bites, I discovered a cricket had made a home in the laundry basket. I hate crickets. They're one of God's more annoying critters, don't ya' think? So I'm standing in the laundry room (naked) and now I'm freaked out by the cricket. I managed to get the vacuum plugged in and sucked the booger up. However, I'm slightly paranoid about sucking up live bugs. I'm always convinced that they'll crawl back out of the vacuum and go on a rampage in my home.

So, the ant laundry is in the washer. The vacuum is in the garage. I've had a scalding hot shower to kill any remaining ants and I'm covered in Benadryl once again. Oh the joys of being home alone all day!

All in a day...

Yesterday I had two very grouchy puppies on my hands. Maybe they knew the weather was changing. Maybe they are ready for some vacation time. Maybe they didn't sleep well the night before. Maybe they, too, were stressed by the dinner delay when I ran out of milk and my husband had the debit card safely tucked in his wallet while he was in Ft. Worth. Whatever the case, they fought all day long. It's like having kids! (Except you can't reason with them, talk to them, or punish them. 'Cause they're dogs.) I do know Marley was anxious to be outside:
and not very happy that I wouldn't let him out for the 652nd time that day...
Therefore, my heart soared and I grinned like a fool when my husband heroically arrived home with a gallon of milk and these:

Gerbera daises are one of my favorite flowers of all time. These look just like 5 rays of sunshine sitting on my table!
This one is streaked with orange. I've never seen one like it! It's so beautiful!
The center also has a stripe across the bottom part of it and the black changes to brown. It's weird, but I love it. I wish they would last forever! They're amazing!!!
This one is all yellow and all sunshine. Doesn't it seem to smile and say, "Have a happy day despite grouchy puppies and crafts that don't work out!"

This one hasn't even finished opening up yet. That means I have lots of loving left! Woo hoo!
My husband is fantastic! Don't you think? Adding to his wonderfulness, he puts up with my four-year-old melt downs. When I get tired - I mean really tired - I tend to have melt downs similar to a small child. Last night I started crying when I dropped an M&M on the floor. I kept crying because I wasn't a good puppy momma and therefore would never be a good human mommy and I was mad that I had run out of milk in the middle of making dinner and I wanted time with my husband and hadn't had any and I didn't have a job and my toe nails weren't painted. Like I said, I melt down like a child. My amazing husband puts up with it all. (Sometimes I wonder if he wonders why he married me.) He stopped me in my tracks when I started spouting lies (like I wasn't a good puppy momma) and held me while I sobbed over the lack of milk and toe nail polish. He then let the dogs out and put me to bed. I fell asleep in a record breaking 3.4 seconds and slept through the thunderstorms, whining dogs, and alarm clock! Like I said, my husband is fantastic!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Countdown

Just in case you were wondering...

There are only 8 days until Thanksgiving.
There are 36 days until Christmas.

This fills my heart with joy and makes it beat to the rhythm of "Baby It's Cold Outside"! True story: The other day I was doing my regular grocery shopping extravaganza at Wal Mart and wandered dangerously close to the Christmas section where they were cheerfully playing Christmas carols through a small boom box. My heart beat faster, I got very excited, I had a small case of the shakes, and a goofy grin spread across my face from ear to ear. The rest of the trip I found myself humming (loudly) and dancing down the aisles. Hopefully I'll never be forced to see the security tapes. But I'm sure I gave someone a good holiday laugh!

But that's not the point of this blog. The point was to create a list of things I'm thankful for. So here we go:

--I'm thankful for grace I don't deserve.
--I'm thankful that God put me in a loving, healthy, happy, family that raised me with a passion for the Lord and for others.
--I'm thankful for a husband I don't deserve.
--I'm thankful for a wonderful home that I get to care for.
--I'm thankful for two puppies that keep us thoroughly entertained.
--I'm thankful for a "mature" friendship with my mom and sister.
--I'm thankful for 7 nieces and nephews that fill my heart with joy.
--I'm thankful for a brother and sister who have always loved and encouraged me - even if they did it with tears streaming down their face as they laughed at my milk bath.
--I'm thankful for inside jokes.
--I'm thankful for my best friend who has never left my side in over 22 years.
--I'm thankful for a new family that adopted me when I fell in love with DJ.
--I'm thankful for TWO holiday celebrations full of love and joy.
--I'm thankful for a dryer that will get the job done, even if it takes all day.
--I'm thankful for opposable thumbs.
--I'm thankful for bleach.
--I'm thankful for allergy medications.
--I'm thankful for crafting blogs.
--I'm thankful for friendships - some old, some new, some very very odd!
--I'm thankful for stainless steal pots and pans.

That's just the tip of the ice berg, but it'll do for now. I wonder - what are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Stories

There is a large part of me that refuses to blog unless I have a glorious story to share. Well, maybe not glorious. Inspiring? No. Amusing? Not always. A story? Not even then... Anyway - on to the blog. Which really doesn't have much of a story today - glorious or otherwise.

Things seem to happen in spurts around here. Monday was filled with 6-7 hours of pre-holiday shopping. I went all over the big city (and by big city I mean Mesquite) and priced holiday gifts so we could budget and watch for sales to find the best deals. I love shopping on Black Friday and want to make sure I really am getting the absolute very best bang for my buck. I figured I had plenty of time on my hands so why not spend 6 hours window shopping? I take that back - I did buy some ribbon on sale for 40 cents and a ton of can goods for 45 cents. Big spender, I know.

Then, Monday night I got two e-mails about interviews for tutoring positions on Tuesday. Suddenly, Tuesday seemed jam packed and stressful! However, one of the people I was supposed to interview with ended up in the hospital with pregnancy complications. The other interview was quite odd and un-organized and I seriously doubt anything will come of it. I found myself all dressed up with no where to go. So I sat on the couch and worked on some towels. Then I sorted M&Ms by color. Then I ate them. Then I made a meatloaf. Thrilling day, huh? So - it's back to Craigslist to hunt for more jobs! (I'm still contemplating selling my crafts. The details are all so very fuzzy...)

Marley has discovered how to whine. He whines when he's hungry. He whines when he needs out. He whines when he's bored. I've seen him whine when he's sound asleep. I understand that the pup doesn't have words and only has three forms of communication available to him. But the constant whine that never stops is no fun at all. Constant. No fun.

While shopping on Monday I discovered a coupon in my purse for dog food. So I trotted over to Petsmart only to discover that you had to buy a minimum of 15 pounds and they only offered our brand in 20 pound bags. Our dog only weighs 9 pounds and eats a half a cup a day! After a little fancy math skills I figured out it would take $52 to buy 20 pounds of food in the 5lb bag we normally purchase. I got 20lbs for $25. It's a great deal! It's like getting 2 bags for free. But now we have 20 lbs of dog food that I'm not sure what to do with. It doesn't all fit in the tub and is piled on top in Ziploc bags the size of the dog herself. Why did we think a dog with a diet of a half a cup a day needed this much food? I can tell you one thing - she'll never need to go hungry! She'll have food until our first child is 9 years old!!!

That is, of course, unless I find a cute dog food craft...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Promised Pictures

I promised some pictures and never delivered because:
1. I forgot.
2. I wasn't feeling well.
3. I got lazy.
4. My second grade teacher was Mrs. Brown.
5. My dog belches like you wouldn't believe.

So here are some of those pictures you've all been anxiously waiting for...

Marley got neutered. Since he's Licky McLickerson, he became the proud owner of the cone of shame. He did not like the cone of shame.


Last week we finally got to take it off. He was so very happy!

We tried the cone of shame on Cua. She was not very happy. But, the white background provided the perfect opportunity to see her face! This does not happen very often!!


Because of the surgery and the cone, Marley couldn't be groomed. He now looks like one of those cartoon characters with no eyes. I feel sorry for the boy. Someone should do something about his blindness...


Last week I felt very crafty! I even blogged about how crafty I felt. I decided to do something about it. I found a cute idea on one of my new favorite blogs. Here is my creation:

I'm quite proud of how it turned out!! I'm already working on three more. :- )
In other news, Happy Birthday Chaselyn! It's her very first! What a big day...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

HELP!!

I've seen several blogs recently that contain something like this:
I found this idea "here".
Here is in blue and when you click on it you are magically transported to another website.
I'd love to learn how to do that. Does anyone out there know how? Please help!! Honey? Do you know how to do it?

Feeling crafty...

Lately I've been feeling crafty. Not like I want to be mean to others, but I want to craft and create and paint and the like. I want to work on something and be proud to hold the results in my hand. I've always wanted to be one of those people that others admired for their artistic/crafty ability. (Kind of like my sister! No, a lot like my sister.) But lately, the feeling has been overwhelming. I think part of it is that I'm a little bored. But part of it is just a crazy feminine desire to create!
Now my friend Christi has introduced me to crafty type blogs. I'm very thankful to her. And very mad at her. Now I want to craft even more! I could easily fill our home with home-made crafts. I would sew and paint and create until my heart felt content. Part of me thinks I could easily sell stuff on etsy or the like, but I'd have to actually spend money up front to buy the needed supplies.
Thus, I have to wait and make myself content with Thanksgiving countdown paper chains. And sweeping the kitchen floor. And making new recipes like lasagna. And attempting to do laundry with our ghetto-tastic dryer.
Oh how I long to be crafty...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Update

I took Marley to the vet. The vet let me know that the stitches I was told would dissolve in 10 days actually dissolve somewhere around the 6 month range. He also let me know that my super power dog had managed to un-bury one of his buried stitches even though he has worn the cone of shame since his surgery.
Thus, the vet pulled and tugged and made Marley cry until BOOM! Out popped a teeny tiny pokie little knot that was in no way dissolved. I guess that's why Marley kept trying to gnaw at his incision and why he looked so relieved when the whole ordeal was over.
However, the incision bled (and bled some more) and Marley gets to spend 2-3 more days in his cone!
The good news is that now that the annoying stitch has been removed he is back to his full energy self. Now when he plays with his toys he bangs them against his cone and the cone bangs against his tags and his head. Combine all of that with the growling that accompanies each play session and we have ourselves one noisy puppy!
The cone will come off tomorrow and hopefully Cua will no longer be terrified of him. Hopefully.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Oh no!

It was pointed out over the weekend that I forgot to tag my little sister in my list of people I wanted to respond to my favorite things post. So here is her very own post - dedicated to her!

Her name is Megan Nicole. She shares her middle name with our niece - Grace Nicole.
Megan has brown hair and brown eyes - just like Belle from "Beauty and the Beast". She's a princess waiting for her beast! Wait, that didn't come out right... She's absolutely gorgeous - even when her older sister prevents her from taking a shower and makes her mad because she thought the alarm was the cell phone ringing.
Sometimes she wears contacts. Sometimes she wears glasses. She's cute as a bug either way.
I call her Meg-a-boo. No one really knows how that got started or why I chose to call her that, but she has her very own nickname that only I call her. She's just special like that!
She just graduated from ACU. When she was in high school she swore she'd never go there because she didn't want to follow in my footsteps. Then she went to the Junior Scholars program. (Again, no one really knows why she did that.) She fell in love and officially became a Wildcat. She didn't follow in my footsteps though. She's an artist. She's way better than I could ever dream to be. She could paint something blindfolded and use her right hand and still do better than my best efforts without the blindfold! (She's a leftie by the way. My dad and I are too. But that's beside the point!)
Megan's dating a guy named Arsu. I can't pronounce his last name but she can. Arsu has a super cool accent because he's from Madagascar. Megan's never been there. Arsu has.
Right now Megan's a part time Nanny to help fill in the gaps of her free-lance work. I wish I had her job. Not the free-lance part. (As previously stated, she has way more talent than me.) The Nanny part. That'd be fun! She gets to cuddle and love on a little baby while her mom works. (The baby's mom - not Megan's mom. Although Megan's mom is at work while Megan cuddles. But that's not the point here either!)
Megan plays in the church hand bell choir. Right now they're using mallets instead of picking up the bells and ringing them. She says it's fun. I think she's cool.
Megan likes to beat D.J. at Solitaire Frenzy. Not that either one of them is competitive about it...
Megan likes to play Guitar Hero. She doesn't own Guitar Hero, but we do and she plays it whenever she can.
Megan has a secret that I can't post on the blog because she'd kill me. But the family knows. Oh, how we know. And laugh. (She laughs too. Most of the time.)
Megan has met some cool famous people. None of them come to mind right now, but I know she has. She's just cool like that. Celebrities flock around her because she radiates coolness.
I love my sister. Her name is Megan. (I also love cheese.)

Wheel of Emotions

I think God put my emotions on a wheel. (Think: the giant wheel in Price is Right that they spin to see who gets in the showcase show down.) Every now and then He gives it a big ol' shove and enjoys watching as my emotions change with each new section. At least, that's the way I like to picture it.
Marley gets his cone off today. (We hope.) While this is the source for great joy, it's also the source of great fear. He's learned to be very dependent in the past 10 days and because I feel so derned sorry for him, I've babied him. Last night I lay in the floor for an hour just to hold a raw hide bone so he would have a chance to chew. (He can't get to his paws right now.)
This morning my husband checked the mail and found a letter from Forney ISD. I didn't get the job. There was a sense of relief that the wait and wondering was finally over. Followed immediately by a deep sense of sadness. Followed immediately by a good dose of anger. Followed immediately by a crushing disappointment. Followed immediately by a long batch of tears. Like I said, God spun the wheel and my emotions flashed from one thing to the other in a matter of minutes.
Last night we had our first round of Starbucks Christmas coffee. We'd been visiting my parents for the weekend and had enjoyed a decidedly high calorie feast for the several days we were there. (No one's complaining. Just stating the facts.) We rounded it out with the high calorie drink. Calories or not, the holidays just haven't begun until you've enjoyed a Starbucks treat. For us, it's peppermint mochas. He likes his with white chocolate. I like mine with peppermint whipped cream. To each his own. There's just something about the smooth flavor, the bitter coffee, the sweet chocolate, and the twang of the peppermint that makes life a little better. I'm telling you people - my tummy actually smiled. I could feel it deep down inside my soul. I was thinking about giving Chick-Fil-A gift cards for Christmas this year but one sip of that peppermint wonder changed my mind. How could you not give the gift that makes your tummy smile? Aw, sweet nectar from heaven! (For those of you like my parents who don't drink coffee, I shall give you a Starbucks gift card anyway and you can make the tummy happy with their steamed milk hot chocolates! Add some peppermint flavor to make your tummy love you forever.)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Homeward Bound

For those who were wondering, this evening we will pack up the kiddos (read: dogs) and all their junk (read: plastic cone of shame) and head to see my parents (read: Waco)! After a week that did a lot of biting us in the rear, we are thrilled to have a mini-vacation where there's no cleaning or cooking required!!!
So, all Waco-ites are here by forewarned. My mom, sister, and I will be doing a bit of pre-Christmas shopping on Saturday so it's best if others just clear out. The Three Musketeers are quite the threat!!
Anyone from Grace, we look forward to seeing you Sunday morning!
Waco, here we come!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens

Brandi asked me to list my five favorite things. Seriously? Only five? Here's my attempt:

My 5 favorite things on-line:
1. Facebook
2. Gmail
3. Blogging
4. Farm Town and Farmville on Facebook
5. Reading other people's blogs

My 5 favorite things about my husband:
1. The look in his eyes when he tells me he loves me
2. His depth
3. The way he continues to pursue me
4. His passion for the Lord
5. His tush (I had to do it!)

My 5 favorite things to do on a rainy day:
1. Scrapbook
2. Curl up with a snuggly blanket (and husband and puppies) and watch a movie
3. Put music on loud and dance
4. Paint
5. Get on-line

My 5 favorite things currently in stores:
1. Fiesta ware (We have purple and red but we're hoping to buy yellow soon!)
2. Scrapbooking supplies
3. Snuggly, silky sheets
4. Books
5. Willow Tree figurines

My 5 favorite things to do on a date night:
1. Go to Red Robin
2. Go bowling
3. Go to the local nickel arcade
4. Go to the movie
5. Go dancing

My 5 favorite movies of all time:
1. 27 Dresses
2. Pride and Prejudice
3. Music and Lyrics
4. Singing in the Rain
5. Hairspray

My 5 favorite colors:
1. Purple
2. Red
3. Yellow
4. Chocolate brown
5. Blue

My 5 favorite foods:
1. Broccoli and cheese (YUM! I think I'll have some for lunch!)
2. Hamburger and fries
3. Salad with chicken
4. Chicken and rice
5. Pasta of any kind, but mostly spaghetti

My 5 favorite games:
1. Boggle
2. Yahtzee
3. Solitare Frenzy
4. Bananagrams
5. Cranium

The 5+ people I choose to do this: (I know not all of these people blog, but they can e-mail me. That's okay too!)
1. D.J.
2. Mom
3. Natalie
4. Sally
5. Mary Katherine (She's told me she's an avid blog reader. I'm testing her!)
6. Stephanie
7. Christi
8. Whoever else is reading this!!!

Brandi, did I cheat?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lessons Learned

1. Marriage is not for wimps! It's hard work but more wonderful than I ever could have imagined! It's an amazing blessing, but takes a lot of effort.
2. Red velvet cake is not my friend. I attempted to make cake mix cookies with red velvet today and they didn't turn out that well. Let me re-phrase that. They were a bitter, finger-staining disaster. I added sugar and they just got sparkly. I attempted to make cream cheese frosting to put on top and it ran off the cookies and coated the platter. So we have red, sparkly cookies with a hint of icing on them and a beautiful fall platter covered in icing. I haven't decided yet if I'll take them to Community Group tonight.
3. When making lemon cookies, if you drop the bottle of flavoring in the batter you should take steps to scoop some of that flavor back out. Assuming it'll be fine results in cookies that make you suck your face in.
4. Professionals sprinkle powdered sugar very gracefully. I do not. Sprinkling said powdered sugar on said suck your face in sour cookies does not make them look like they came from a bakery. It makes them look like you dropped the canister on the plate.
5. God's free gift of grace is overwhelming. He canceled the debt I couldn't pay. Seriously - it brings tears to my eyes.
6. My husband bought me flowers on Monday after our dryer broke. It is, by far, the highlight of my week thus far!
7. When a dog with a cone on his head lays right next to you it is very easy to hook your foot in said cone and fling the dog from here to kingdom come!
8. Dogs steal each other's bones. That's all - they steal bones.
9. Cookie dough is not an adequate breakfast.
10. The black spot on the wall hasn't moved all day. I thought it was a bug. Now I don't know.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sometimes...

Sometimes life seems like it's always one or two steps ahead of you. After a semi-traumatic, tear-filled Curve's visit I decided I would never return. And now, the dryer is broken and emitting a distinct burnt smell.
The good news? God is still God. Marley seems to be in a lot less pain today than yesterday. I have a wonderful husband who loves me. My father-in-law is a master tinkler and just might take a look at our broken dryer. I'll have to feed him meat loaf, but that's okay!

Where to begin?

Lots of "Happenings" have occurred around here since my last post. Let's see if we can get caught up... (Warning: This could be lengthy. I promise to go as short as possible and to not post pictures. Yet.)

--Marley was neutered on Friday. Don't get me wrong - I love dogs and I love that a mommy dog and a daddy dog make new puppies for us to love. I just don't want to take the responsibility when my little "daddy dog" gets friendly with the entire neighborhood! He was already quite friendly with my leg and the table and the couch and the... Let's just say it was time. He is now the proud owner of "The Cone of Shame". When we first put him in it and he was still a wee bit groggy from the surgery, we had ourselves some good belly laughs. (You know, the kind where tears stream down your face!) He ran around like a drunk chicken with his head cut off. He's still not quite used to the extra inches around his face so he often bonks into walls and furniture. Watching him sniff the back yard for the perfect place to use the restroom is stinkin' hilarious! Every so often he gets stuck on one obstacle or another and we have to go rescue him. We also got sick and tired of the sound of his tags hitting the plastic cone - especially in the middle of the night when he would run from one side of the bed to the other hoping someone would wake up and put an ice pack on his pain. (Yes, we put an ice pack on his wee wee. Fun times for the Hammond's!) So yesterday, we got out the tape and taped his tags to his cone. He's silent now. Woo hoo! I'll post pictures of his misery at a later date.

--At my second interview, I was told that they would make a decision within a week. So when I hadn't heard from them a week later we cried our tears and decided God had bigger plans. I stopped hoping and wishing and began praying for a new dream since God clearly didn't have teaching in His plans for me right now...

--Saturday afternoon we worked diligently to clean out the junky craft room and make it functional. I was doing some Internet research to see if the stuff from the back of the closet was actually worth some money when I happened to click on the junk folder of my old e-mail address. (I still can't even figure out why that e-mail was open, much less why I clicked there!) And there it was. Tucked away between the free shipping offers and the true junk you're embarrassed to admit even popped up on your screen. One beautiful, simple e-mail. "Mrs. Hammond, I am in the process of checking professional references for a few candidates and I need you to provide me with several at your earliest convenience. Thank you, from the principal you never thought you'd hear from but would love to work for." (Names have been changed to protect the innocent.) Once I recovered from the joy of seeing a letter addressed as "Mrs. Hammond" it began to dawn on me what this meant. They hadn't made a decision. It wasn't over! I could still have my dream job! I gasped and then began to shake. A lot. I recovered and sent off a list of references. I've thought of two more people I should have included in that list, but what's done is done. I don't think he needs sixteen e-mails from me saying "Oh yeah! Call this guy too!" Now I get to hurry up and wait! God's plan is perfect. He knows what He's doing. Now I need to learn to rest in it...

--We made the BEST taco salad on Sunday afternoon! Wow! I cut up raw chicken (EW!) into little bite size chunks, plopped them in a pan with olive oil and stirred them around with garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, salt, and pepper. (I know, they don't sound like they go together but they do! YUM! That combo is also good on those little red potatoes. Thanks Meg-a-boo!) While that was cooking itself into a tender yumminess, we waded up some foil and draped two tortillas over them, sprayed the tops with Pam, and stuck them in a 425 degree oven for about 6 minutes. We shredded the lettuce, stuck it in our cute little tortilla bowls, and shoved it all in a big bowl to keep the dressing contained. We topped it with colby jack cheese and honey roasted sunflower kernels. I used raspberry walnut dressing (my new favorite) and DJ mixed ranch and salsa. Top it all off with the delectable chicken and go to town. I'm already trying to figure out when we can have it again...

--Sunday night, we went to Nicklerama on a delayed month-a-versary date! It's your basic arcade, but you play with real nickles. We went to play Skee Ball, but ended up addicted to Deal or No Deal. We poured way too much money into that machine!! But, D.J. ended up with 100 tickets!! The prizes weren't fabulous, as was to be expected, but we had a GREAT time!! (What's with the double exclamation marks?)

--I've been reading a few famous blogs recently and now find myself re-telling the events of the day in blog form. (For some reason, I always do it out loud. And I usually pick a title for each story!) On weekdays when I'm home alone, this is no big deal. The dogs enjoy the soothing sound of my voice! HA! However, D.J. didn't find it quite as charming this weekend when I began to chronicle the cleaning process.

-- I have discovered that I cannot spell "convenience" without copying it from another source or using spell check. For those that have known me since childhood, this is no surprise. However, I find I've typed that word a lot recently and my own invented spelling is never recognized by the spell checker. I always (repeat: always!) have to look it up!

--Brandi has asked me to post my five favorite things. However, that could get lengthy seeing as how I can never narrow my lists down to just five. Therefore, I'll post them at a future date. Thanks for the compliment about my story telling abilities Brandi! I'm truly honored!

-- The bread just fell off the shelf in the pantry. (I knew it was going to fall when I stuck it up there this morning. And yet, I did nothing about it.) The dogs got up from their morning naps to bark at the sound. Marley ran into the wall with his cone which made him jump and run and made Cua bark even louder. Sadly, she's terrified of him so when he approached her in an effort to play, she growled and ran away. Marley took it as an invitation to chase until he hooked his cone on the corner and backed up. All is calm now and they're sleeping once again. But I'm glad you guys got to share in my moment!!

That's it from our neck of the woods. Was the post long enough for you?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

What's a girl to do?

What's a girl to do when the sky looks like this:

And there are evil-looking critters guarding your house that look like this:

And this:

(Yes it's a spider. Luckily, he's dead. Trust me - he's bigger than he looks. I'd say nickel sized which is stinkin' big for a spider!)

And this:
(Wait, how'd Marley get on the evil-looking list? He does guard our house though...)

And the list of chores boggles the mind like this:

One might think a girl would bust out the cleaning supplies and get to work. One would be wrong. Instead, this girl pulled out all of her favorite girly movies and busted out the paint supplies. I couldn't hide from chores forever, but for just a few minutes I got to lose myself in the blissful world of creativity!


(This is the shelf I painted for my craft room. It's to put all the scrapbooking supplies on while I'm working. It sits on the table, not hang on a wall.) (I have no clue why it's side ways or why the dark purple paint looks black, but at lease you can see my crafty side!)

H1N1

My sister recently contracted the dreaded H1N1 virus. So did my mother-in-law. This has raised the level of fear in our house to an all-time high. Drastic measures are now being taken to ensure the health and well being of all who live here...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Month-A-Versary

Today is our fourth month-a-versary! Last night I looked at my wonderful husband in shock. We're married! He's my forever husband! When I have a 25th wedding anniversary, it'll be with the wonderful man by my side. When I have children, he'll be the father. I no longer have to dream about the man the Lord will bring to be my husband. He's here. It's now. I kept looking at him and saying, "We're married!" "We got married!" "When did this happen?"
A year ago today, we were just boyfriend and girlfriend. We were struggling to figure out how to make a long distance relationship work. Now we're married and are loving being together! It's like a whirlwind. My mind is still spinning.
We're married! Four months! Seriously, how did this happen?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Snuggies

First there was the Snuggie... (www.getsnuggie.com)
Then there was the original Slanket... (www.theslanket.com)
Let me just say - these look wonderful and cozy! I love the idea behind them!! Plus, the Slanket offers lots of options! They have regular sized in 15 colors, kid sized in 8 colors, travel sized in 4 colors, and now...wait for it...wait for it... The siamese Slanket! It only comes in two colors, but there are four sleeves! (What a perfect Christmas present for newlyweds... Hint! Hint!)
However, my husband and I decided this morning that someone should bottle up the wonderful feeling you get when your puppies are curled up peacefully on your lap. We could then sell the wonderfulness to those who love dogs but are allergic, or to those who have always wanted the cuteness of a lap dog but have a husband who demands a rotwelier. Wouldn't it be wonderful? I'd buy it in travel size and take it with me!! We're thinking about calling it snuppy - for snuggle puppy.
But how do you bottle a feeling so wonderful and warm?

Invisible God

On Saturday night, we were both craving some time together. We were planning on curling up in bed with a movie and falling asleep early. However, when we were letting the dogs out one last time I noticed an extremely bright star. D.J. pointed out that it wasn't a star, but a planet. Curiosity got the best of me and I convinced him that if we bundled up and had big mugs of hot chocolate that busting out the telescope would be a perfect "date" and exactly what we needed. So we did just that. He got out the digital telescope, I made hot chocolate, the dogs got confused. We trekked to the far corner of the yard and set up shop. I've seen pictures from telescopes, but never looked through one with my own little eye. We checked out the moon first and I was amazed! You could sit there and watch it move! I don't know how many times I said, "WOW!" that night, but I'd be willing to bet it reached in the hundreds. After a good amount of time checking out the moon, we focused the telescope on the mystery planet. The first time we got it in the view finder, we couldn't tell which one it was but we could see no fewer than ten moons all lined up on either side of it. They were perfectly straight!! As we zoomed in with the stronger lenses, we realized that the booger was booking it across the sky! It stayed in view for only a few seconds before it was gone again. This made it impossible to bring it into focus, but it was amazing never the less!! After a bit of Internet research (thanks to that handy dandy invention known as the iPhone!), we decided that we were looking at Jupiter. D.J. says that in the summer time it's easier to see the planets and that on a clear night you can actually zoom in on Jupiter's big red spot. (He also says that you can see Saturn's rings! Now that's a sight I can't WAIT to see!)
As we sat in awe, we couldn't stop humming the tune to "Invisible God" by Andrew Peterson. It's become a favorite of ours and remains on the iPod/iPhone/CD player at all times! If you've never heard it or if you just haven't heard it in a while, check it out at http://www.andrew-peterson.com/ There's a music player in the top right corner. Scroll through the songs until you get to "Invisible God". Close your eyes, sit back, and let God's beauty and majesty wash over you. It's so worth it! You won't regret it - I promise. Don't worry, I'll be here when you get back. Now go! (We had this song at our wedding while we took communion and then played it non-stop as we looked at the breath-taking scenery on our honeymoon!)
It was a wonderful evening just marveling at God's handiwork a gazillion miles away. What amazing wonders He's tucked away for us to discover!
Random question of the day: If there's no telescope on Earth powerful enough to see the American flag on the moon (or the spaceship garbage left up there) how is it that we get pictures of other galaxies and stars being born and we know there's no land on Jupiter - just gas? Why can't we get a good picture of Mercury, but we know all about Pluto and the other couple of planet/rock things circling the sun beyond Pluto? And while we're on the subject, why isn't Pluto a planet anymore? They totally messed up the whole "My very excellent mother just served us nine pizzas" thing! I mean, without the "pizza" part, it doesn't even make sense! I think the scientific community is just trying to mess with our heads... Anyway - I digress.
Go check out Andrew Peterson's song. And while you're there, stroll through the music store. He is an amazing song writer with songs that stir the soul. Just trust me on this one!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Wow! (again!)

Just got a call from the school that the interview has been moved to tomorrow at 2! How quickly can I pull a portfolio together? :)