Saturday, August 30, 2008

Up for a Challenge?

I have a confession....Challenges intrigue me. Especially challenges that provide a step-by-step guide to complete the task at hand. For example, when it became obvious I needed to step up my cardio by moving from powerwalking to actually running, I found the Couch Potato to 5K Program. I completed it, just as the directions told me to, and yes, now I can run 3 miles or a 5K. Then I found the Hundred Pushups Challenge, again, with step-by-step directions. (Can you guess that I don't cook from scratch?) I am now on week 3 I can complete 20 pushups on my toes in one set. It would be very difficult to make it to 100 pushups in 6 weeks, but I still have that goal to work toward. After I hurt a muscle inbetween my shoulder blades this week, Tray asked me why it was SO important that I actually be able to complete the 100 pushps. I didn't have a solid answer for him...I just knew I WANTED to be able to finish the challenge. This all goes back to this really frustating character trait I have of being a great started and a not so great finisher....but that is another post for another day.

Both of the challenges were great additions to my workout program, but really didn't have any impact on anyone except for ME. Now, what good is that? So, I'd like to share two challenges with you that will have a direct impact on your husbands and your kids. These challenges don't offer step-by-step directions, (don't let this be a deal breaker, Type As) but the directions are pretty crystal clear.

Challenge #1- This is a 7 day challenge that calls us to respect our husbands for 7 days yelling, no arguing, and see what God does. You might not agree with EVERYTHING she has to say, but I guarantee it will make you think and you'll take something away from it. Promise me you'll give it a try. Start here and scroll down to the very bottom of the post. It reads in reverse order. And it might help to have a visual a rubberband or string around your wrist.

Challenge #2- This is a daily challenge that stems from the question, "Do I serve my family with reluctance or honor? What is my heart-response to all the day-in-day-out jobs of motherhood? In the words of Tony Evans, "If you cannot say, Amen, you'd better say, Ouch!" Start here and think of a way that you can write this reminder on your heart.

We're all in this together, gals, let's continue to share ways to serve in excellence.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Just What You Wanted to Know

I was tagged by my sweet friend and neighbor, Tami Whitmarsh, to blog 6 random things about myself.

Here are the tagging rules:
1. Post the rules on your blog
2. Write 6 random things about yourself
3. Tag 6 people at the end of your post
4. If you are tagged, DO IT and pass it along

So, here are my Random Facts:

1. I drove a 4o ft. shuttle bus at Texas A&M, so that means I had a commercial drivers license.

2. I am a marketer's dream. If I hear about something new, especially food, I HAVE to find it and try it.

3. Tray and I met Stephen Curtis Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth, on our honeymoon cruise. Where did we meet them? We first saw them while taking a walk on the deck but we talked with them at length in the casino. Shhh, don't tell anyone I was in a casino, I'm Baptist.

4. I have never broken a bone and the first time I was ever in the hospital was to give birth to my 1st son.

5. My Mother In Law was one of my professors at A&M and I walked the stage and graduated with her on the same day that she received her PhD.

6. Someday I'll inherit a Precious Moments collection worth over $60,000. I pray my mother sells them ALL before that comes to fruition. If not, we are giving them away to each person who attends the visitation as party favors.

Tag, who's it? Ummm...I don't know who reads my blog and has a blog of their own to complete this challenge. Those who don't have blogs, how 'bout you answer in the comments section...does that work? And then get on the stick and create a blog, for the love!

1. Jenny Johnston
2. Michele Hackett
3. Kelly Marler
4. Nancy Monarch
5. Nancy Mattingly
6. Melissa Curtis

PS- Nicole & April, I think you are out there too! Feel free to give a shout out!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

On a Mission

The first day of school has come and gone. It feels very odd not having my two 'shadows' with me.

Today I stayed home and made a big fat list of all the things that have needed attention and closure. I am seriously on a mission to get my house decluttered and get our photo albums up to date. Now, I am not a scrapbooker, but I do put our pictures in albums because our boys LOVE to look at them and that blesses me. Also on my list was to backup pictures and music on our computer to make it go faster. Yes, I am a computer genius, can't you tell? The Geek Squad and I are BFFs. Because it was quiet and I knew I would need extreme amounts of concentration and focus, I attempted to install an external hard drive on our computer that has been needed to be installed for quite some time (FOR THE LOVE! I could not get a live person on the phone and on top of that, their on-hold message was broken so it sounded like the Emergency Broadcast System on auto-repeat. And they lie....10 minutes until the next operator can help me, my behindy! I eventually just hung up, twice. Did I mention it DIDN'T come with a manual?).

I still have not gotten used the fact that I don't have to pick up W at 2:00. Checking my watch is a hard habit to break. And I also marvel at what I could accomplish in 5 hours....and now I realize how much more I can with the two extra hours! Apparently that doesn't include lavish dinners....Tray was so hoping for a wonderful array of deliciosa comida because I was at home ALL DAY without distraction. Unfortuntalely, we just had leftover barbecue sandwiches. In my defense, I have to adjust to the new routine as well...wink, wink.

What was amazing to watch Monday was how my youngest never looked back once that Yellow Dog rolled around the corner. He has been waiting to get on that bus for 2 years and yesterday was his chance. He totally robbed me of the 'getting on the bus' shot, all I got was his backpack and the darlin' girl behind him waving away. What I was also not able to catch on camera was his wide eyes taking in all that it meant to be going to school. I love that about him....that dude LIVES life. He is all about experience and often the consequence is worth the fun to be had. So basically, he scares the pants off of this rule follower.

As my Father-in-Law put it so well today, Men never turn back when they are on a mission. So true. I pray that I can spur in them a desire to be a light in their classrooms and an encouragement to their friends.

On a side note...if you are also on a mission and need a bit of help in the organizational area, take a peek at my friend's blog for her new business. Sometimes you just need someone to bring a little bit of vision and help you get the project back to ground zero. Like my car... for example. Did you know Car Spa does this amazing detail job that includes wash/wax, seat treatments, carpet shampoo and they blow out ALL the crevices. Seriously? They are offering me a chance to get all the goldfish and other miscellaneous snacks out of the deep, dark recesses of my 5 year White Knight? SOLD! Now I just need to find the 30% coupon.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

This Little Piggie

On a whim, I entered Nina Loca's Freebie Friday Giveaway last week and would you believe I WON? Girls, hear me, I don't usually enter drawings because I am a bit fearful of the backlash of telemarketing phone calls and emails, but when I DO actually enter, I don't usually win (although I am pretty lucky as I usually score a Bunco gift when I sub and I DID win a Nord gift card from Nancy's giveaway one time). All the prizes were pretty fun, but I have to share one that perhaps you may not have been introduced to yet.

Piggies & Paws is a home party business which focuses on the creative preservation of children’s growth. Their main service is to provide a fun and creative way to preserve children’s hand and foot prints. Unlike casting and plaster impressions, which are typically done only in a child’s first year, their hand and foot art can be done throughout a child’s lifetime, actually documenting their growth.

I had visited the site before and although I thought the finished products were darn cute, I thought my boys were too old. But today when I ran over to NinaLoca's Back to School Bash, Tanya Gorka was there printing feet and hands and she had two huge portfolios filled with ideas for all ages. The cool thing I noticed as I browsed through the books is that you can choose a design to remember what your child was interested in at a certain age (firetrucks, fairies, horses) or you can also use this project to capture a special vacation or memory (sports team, campfire, lighthouse). Forgive me as I am drawing a blank on all the cute girlie choices, but my boys ultimately decided on a fighter jet and a helicopter. They are going to be so darn cute and I was just stunned at how unique each design was when completed.

I know there are bunches of home-based business out there, I just thought $20-25 was a pretty great price for something so creative. What a fun thing to do for playgroup- you just need to find someone brave enough to host 5 or more moms with kiddos, who is also creative enough to keep them occupied after their turn was over. There was no mess at all...bonus!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Do you remember when going on a date meant Dinner and a Movie? When you think about it, the only talking you got to do was over dinner. Maybe that is why it was nice and safe if you really didn't know the person. But if this date is with your man and you really want to talk, then a movie probably isn't the place YOU want to go, but HE does, because he has used all his 40,000 words at work.

Is it just me, or is finding a movie to go see these days a challenge? Now, I am probably a big fat prude when it comes to movies, but I don't like anything super scary or filled with situations(keep it PG-13, please!)or language (is the f-bomb really necessary?) that makes me cringe. Truthfully, unless I KNOW the movie is good and have read the reviews or have crucial friend testimony to back it up, I would just rather pass or wait until it comes out on DVD. A movie ticket can break you these days! And forget about snacks, sister, you'd better sneak them in your big 'ol purse. And as if finding a movie that I actually want to see isn't enough, then I have to figure out if Tray will actually gut through it. We have been known to find movies we EACH want to see at close starting times and just go our separate ways. Don't you worry, we are just fine....we always have dinner before we make our way to our different theaters. There was just no way he was going to see Hairspray or Mama Mia. It is what it is.

Several years ago, a movie called Facing the Giants came out and although it was a bit corny, it was a hit with my boys and had an even bigger impact with its message. And honestly, I really liked it and would totally watch it again. It doesn't suck me in quite like Remember the Titans (watch it EVERY time it comes on tv, doesn't matter if it is half over or at the beginning), but I still have affection for it. In just over a month, another movie will debute, called Fireproof, that is produced by Sherwood Pictures, which is a ministry of Sherwood Baptist Church. Kirk Cameron is the main actor and although it might not have the best acting and perhaps might be a bit corny as well, I think the plot is something many couples can relate to and it has the potential to change marriages. I believe that will my whole heart. And I truly feel marriages are worth fighting for and saving. Period.

So check out the trailer and see what you think. Sometimes a little good can go a long way.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Just Plain Wacky

I had lunch with one of my favorite friends today, Nancy M aka Lover of the Nord. She introduced me to the Cafe at the Nord many moons ago and I am forever in her debt because I am just flat in love with their Crab Bisque. We had a wonderful lunch chatting and catching up, but most importantly, we laughed. She brings me so much joy. I just adore her!

She is really the one who encouraged me to even start a blog. We were chatting today about the blogs we read and the blogs we stalk... You know, the blogs you read but never comment on. Hey, chin up! There is no shame! It is just plain old human nature to want to know other people bi'ness. Why do you think reality tv is so popular? That and the fact that most of those caddy women are just caddy teenage girls who never grew up. Seriously, think about it. You know I'm right.

We also talked about the interesting things we stumble upon when we read blogs. I was sharing with her that I found this great blog about a precious family who felt called to not only minister to those who live in the inner city of Dallas, but also LIVE in inner city Dallas. But tonight, I think I might have won the prize because I found a blog of a gal whose New Year's Resolution is to use her crockpot every day in 2008. It's true! You know I couldn't make that up. So go take a peek at her blog and dig out your crockpot. The recipes are not just main dish, she even has a day where she makes Banana Pudding!

Embrace the crockpot. It really is the hidden treasure of the kitchen.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Apple of My Eye

The day is upon us. The day when you meet the person who will spend time with your precious angel from the Lord for 5+ hours a day, Monday-Friday, or some variation. Meet the Teacher is less than a week away.

We waited and waited for those letters to come in the mailbox. That little piece of paper brought a range of emotions: happiness, frustration, disappointment, uncertainty. Will this teacher really be able to appreciate how smart, funny and special this child is?

Nothing like a new school year to get you on your knees. God knew who your child's teacher would be this year and know without a doubt, He has a plan for them. Remind me of that when I open my boys' teacher letters next Tuesday.

My mom-in-law is the Queen of Susus. What are 'susus' you ask? Susus are little gifts that she finds and sends for no reason, just to say she was thinking of you. As a former teacher, I am very careful what I give or bring to the classroom of my boys' teachers. And as one would guess, I usually steer clear of bath products, coffee mugs, stuffed animals and wooden jewelry because I received a lot of it when I taught. So heartfelt, but still too much bath gel isn't a blessing. BUT, when my friends, Leigh Ann & Julie, let me in on their Meet the Teacher susu secret, I had to share.

Gourmet Apples and More is a little shop right in front of Champion Forest Baptist Church that sells chocolate-covered creations. They have chocolate-covered rice krispie treats, pretzels and as you would guess, apples! But these aren't just any chocolate-covered apples, they are works of art. To give you an idea, they have Plain Jane (dipped in caramel and then dipped in chocolate), Rocky Road and Heath Bar. The apples on their website are the large variety which run $14ish and the smaller size are $6ish. And when I spoke to the sweet man who was answering phones today, he said they will last 2-3 weeks in the fridge. They open for the season on Monday and will be open from 10-6 daily. Bless his heart, he had been receiving phone calls from several spirited ladies that day, frustrated that the store had not been open for the private school meet the teacher events.

So as summer draws to a close and you have a bit more spring in your step, remember to bless those sweet teachers as they begin this new school year. Nothing says love like chocolate!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

One Stop Blogging

Everyone has their guilty pleasures. Some read magazines, some watch reality TV, some scrapbook. We ALL have our things that we do when we have the "I Just Don't Want Tos". I am a book and magazine girl, so it was only natural that blogs would grab my interest because it involves reading. I know, I just might be a closet nerd. I can receive that.

I am not willing to divulge just how many blogs I have bookmarked in my 'Favorites' to read, but I am slightly embarrassed to say I have more than once wasted valuable sleeping or folding laundry time by clicking through them. And then you know how it goes....curiousity gets the best of you and then you are clicking on blogs of people you don't know because surely they are worthy to read because someone has taken the time to link the blog to their blog... and on it on it goes. I am still just baffled how the 6 degrees of seperation lives on...even in the blogging world.

Well, today, I am offering a way to have the best of both worlds. You CAN lose yourself for a bit in the world of blogs and keep your family clothed and fed by using a little site called Bloglines.

This little treasure enables you to add the blogs you read into one place and then updates your tab when the blogs are updated. How great is that? Now, the one downside I can see if that you can only see the first part of the post and if the post includes pictures, all may not be shown. But it does have a way for you to click right to the blog and then you are golden! I am loving the fact that I can jump on, read some new posts, and then jump off. How great is that!

Their site has lots more options that I didn't investigate, but I think it is worth a look. And it just might keep your kids from having to go into the 'emergency' underwear supply.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Shaken or Stirred

I drink a lot of water....and sometimes I just want to drink something that has flavor, if you know what I mean. Couple that with the fact that I am a marketer's dream and now you know why I love those little skinny powder packets you can add to bottled water.

My quest for flavor began with the Lipton Green Tea to Go in the Natural Mandarin & Mango flavor. Loved it, best when cold. Then I moved onto the Crystal Light varieties. Let's just say they taste a bit more artificial than others and are very strong....always add more water than necessary (for that matter, all of these drink additives can stand a bit more liquid than called for). And be prepared for your tongue and anything that colored liquid touches to be a different color....yes, even countertops. When we traveled to Disney, we took along the Propel Fit Powder in the lemonade flavor and that, along with the Country Time Lemonade, were a huge hit.

My two latest finds are the South Beach On-the-Go Tide Me Over in Natural Tropical Breeze and Moo Magic. Tide Me Over is a nutrient drink enhancer (how's that for fancy?) that has a wee bit of fiber, hence, it fills you longer. I really like the Natural Tropical Breeze flavor but have not tried the Strawberry Banana, was scared of it tasting like a scratch n' stiff sticker. I had heard about Moo Magic but never seen it. Well, that changed today at the local Wal-Mart. It comes in two flavors, chocolate and vanilla, and you add it to 8 oz. of milk for 8 calories. Yeah baby! Rumor has it that Big Lots carries the Vanilla flavor.

And my last additive is this. I add it to my yogurt in the morning and you cannot even taste it. Let it be our little secret....if you tell anyone I take fiber, I'll deny it and you'll just look plain silly for even suggesting that I would take fiber. Perhaps this was an overshare, but somewhere, out there, there is a woman with sore jaws crying out for more fiber. She just can't chew anymore to reach her goal of 25-35 grams a day! Don't fear the fiber!

Old School

We are in an interesting place with regard to what we allow our boys to watch on tv. Both our boys are very interested in sports, so naturally, we watch a lot of ESPN and Fox Sports. The upside is that I am a baseball and college football fan, so we have great family time watching it together. The downside is the questions we get (WHY do they have to have so many ED commericials?) and the comericals we have monitor (does shave gel REALLY need women in bikinis to market for them?). I mean, for the love, my 8 year old son was busting out the Viva Viagra song a few weeks ago. I almost spit out my drink! I gently told him that was a song we didn't sing and he wanted to know if Viagra was a bad word. I assured him that it was only a bad word in Spanish. Imagine how hard we laughed when one of our babysitters recounted to us that JT asked her if she knew Spanish and if she did, did she know what Viagra meant. Good times....good times.

Believe it or not, there are still things on Noggin and Disney Channel that both my 6 and 8 year olds will watch. I am aware that most people think these show are for preschoolers....I totally get that, but I am just not ready to take the obvious next step, which is some of the shows on Disney Channel at night. No judgement , just our choice. We are weird like that.

I had heard about a cable channel that had old school cartoons like Tom and Jerry, Pink Panther, Deputy Dog, Pound Puppies, etc and just hadn't done any digging to figure out where is was located. But then as we were looking at the Program Guide one day, Boomerang was just one channel up from Noggin. Now my boys are big fans of Tom and Jerry and Pink Panther. I even found a Tom and Jerry Collectors Set for JT's birthday and then found a similiar disc for Pink Panther. These have been great for roadtrips and brought back a bit of variety for rainy days and hot summer afternoons.

So now, I just have to explain that even though the Inspector from Pink Panther says, "Shut up, stupid and idiot", we don't. But it beats my sons tellling me or some other girl that she is "Freakin' hot" Love those writers for kid's shows!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Choosing to Live

For months, many of us having been praying for Stephen Curtis Chapman and his famiy as they choose to believe God for who He is through their grief. The family was featured on Good Morning America this morning. Click here to see just how they are choosing to continue to live and also choosing to cling to the Hope they have through their grief.

May we, the Body, continue to go before the Throne on their behalf.

On a side note, they will also be appearing on Larry King Live Thursday, August 7th.

*Update: 8/8 - Here is the link to the recap from the Larry King Live show. There are so many parts of the story that hae stuck with me, but there is one particular part that is brought to my mind daily. It was retold during the GMA inteview, but just after the accident occurred and Stephen Curtis and his wife, Mary Beth, were driving to the hospital, he yelled out the window to his son who was involved in the accident, "Will Franklin, Your Father loves you!" This precious son, whose life changed in an instant, heard from his father that indeed, no matter what, His father and HIS FATHER love him. Cling to that today.
Below are links to the Larry King Live Interview on You Tube. There are several instances that were offensive, in my opinion, due to the lack of sensitivity of Larry King toward the Chapmans and then I just was astonished by how they handled each question with such grace.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Shop Around the Corner

If you are a lover of Target like I am, you know they carry pretty much everything a gal can hope for. Where else can you buy a great new pair of capris, dog bones, light bulbs and foot scrub? And 'fess many of you have hidden some very fun purchases in the name of it just showing up as 'Target' on your Quick Books? The Red Circle is near and dear to my heart and the Mother Ship often beckons me home when I have been away too long.

But, sometimes even Target doesn't have the perfect gift.

You know, like when your kiddo has been invited to his tenth birthday party of the year and you really would like to bring a gift that will not only be admired by the child but also will save the mom from having to cling to the gift receipt in effort to return it for something that might hold their child's attention for more than a few days.

My good friend, Brandi, has four daughters ranging in age from 4 months to 8 years. She, hands down, is the queen of catalog shopping. That girl alone keeps those brown trucks moving. She taught me some of the best toys are found in catalogs such as Toys to Grown On , Sensational Beginnings, and Constructive Playthings. Each one of these companies has really great unique toys that can't be found in most stores.

Imagine her joy when a little toy store called Learning Express opened in the Cypress area and they DID carry all those cool toys in the catalogs. Instant toy gratification and no shipping fees, bonus!

Learning Express is owned and operated by two of the spunkiest and knowledgeable gals you'll ever meet, Shannon Fritz and Kristin Janger. I just LOVE them, they are a blast! Their store is divided into sections (outdoor, science, arts and crafts, games and puzzles, babies, preschoolers, etc) and has great toys and educational products for all ages, babies through pre-teen. The staff is super friendly and they are so happy to offer age-specific suggestions for your shopping needs. But wait, there's more! Not only do they gift wrap for free (yes, EVEN at Christmas time) but they have a VIP program which takes the sum of 15 purchases and gives you the average in store credit. How sweet is that? Did I also mention that they offer Birthday Bucket service? When you child is having a birthday party, your kiddos are able to choose some of their favorite things and put them in their bucket. Then you put enclosure cards in the inviations saying selections have been made at Learning Express. It totally takes the guesswork out of birthday party shopping. This is particularly helpful when you have been invited to a party of a school friend you may not know as well.

To park close to the door, have a personal toy guide to help make your selection, gift wrapping is included and your purchases are tracked and then an average comes back to you as store credit. Love the Learning Express!

So the next time you are meeting a friend at Newks for lunch or see a movie at the Cypress Cinemark, pop into Learning Express and check out their Scrabble necklaces, Magnetic Mosiacs, Magformers and Pump Rockets. One visit and you'll be hooked!

And did I mention they are opening a new store in the Copperfield area? Yes! Two locations very, very soon!

Update: 8/7 My friend Sherry reminded me that they will ship your purchases as well! Check our her comment on how she tackled Christmas shopping!


You know you have one... a word that is your 'catch-all' word, the one that covers a range of emotions: happiness, unbelief, sarcasm, disappointment. Maybe it is 'Dude' or 'Wow". I have to say that I picked up, 'Seriously' from a fiery red-headed friend of mine that happens to be one of the owners of a truly cool toy store , which I will blogging about this week. I use this word a bunch.

For example, I was at Wal-mart a few weeks ago with my two boys trying to do some grocery shopping for what we NEEDED, not what they WANTED. We headed to the check-out, minus white powdered donuts and Count Chocula, and I scanned the lines and chose one because it appeared this precious girl was almost finished. As it turns out, she was NOWHERE near finished. She proceeded to pull out 3 ads from competing grocery stores and haggled with the brand-new-wide-eyed cashier over the sale price of every item in her basket, because everyone knows Wal-mart has a low price guarantee, right? Oh, help me!

So, of course, 'Seriously' covered quite a few emotions during that 30 minute ordeal. At one point, I wanted so badly to ask her, "Seriously, can you please just take his word that the baby carrots are the price they say they are?" I eventually got out of the line and made a bee-line to the express line. At this point, I had no concern that I had more than 20 items. For the love!

But today, my darlin' 8 year-old son gave me a whole new reason to use my word.

After church and lunch today, we took a long-awaited trip to Crave Cupcakes in Uptown Park with our good friends and fellow dessert-lovers, Mrs. Becky and Mr. Chappy. As you walk up, you can see the cupcakes being iced and the finishing touches being added. And it is obvious the word is out because the place was packed! Lucky for us, they still had a great selection to choose from. We came home with Vanilla, Red Velvet, Key Lime, Candy Bar and Chocolate Peanut Butter. So far, the ones we have tasted make you want to slap your granny... All of us except for John Tyler. He took one bite... then another... and then told me he just didn't really like it.

Now, I KNOW he is my son because I endured 6 hours of back-labor to bring him into the world AND he might be a tad high-strung, just like me (no comments, please!). But it was the next sentence that left my mouth open-wide. "Mom, can I please have some apples and carrots instead of my cupcake?"

Seriously? I just paid $3.25 for a little piece of heaven with buttercream icing and the dude wants apples and carrots. Hmph.

Well, I guess his title of being a 'Weddding Buffet Eater" because of his standard diet of apples, carrots, cheese and crackers was not too far away from the truth. And anyway, who can trust a kids who wears a chicken balloon-animal on his head. 'Nuff said.