Saturday, January 31, 2009

Game On!

I'm off to the Trek games today!

They're in Clearwater.

Near Tampa.

Where the Superbowl is being played.


Someone wasn't thinking clearly on this one!

We're giving ourselves 3 hours to make the 1.5 hour drive.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


What does Jessie, Tyler, a BB gun, a slingshot, and a ladder have in common?

When you figure it out, let me know. Tyler's not talking.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ice, Ice, Baby

I don't normally post twice in one day, but I just received these photos from my Dad in Arkansas. His step-son, who lives on the property with them but in his own house, has a generator and was able to email these to me.

My Dad and his wife are currently without power or water and have been since yesterday morning. They were able to get out last night and get dinner, but as of this morning the entire town is closed down and without power. Jack, the step-son, also had to come over and break the ice off their door so they could get out of their house. This is in Harrison, Arkansas.

Here's a few photos of his "baby truck" that arrived with the note, "Can we come back to Florida? It's cold here!" Click the photo for a larger view.

This tree is completely encased in ice. Most of the trees in the yard are destroyed. They are simply shattering with the cold. Current temperature is 9 degrees.

It's My Job

From the time my satin-skinned firstborn was placed into my arms, all 9lbs. of him, I was working myself out of a job.

Isn't that the hardest irony of motherhood, to love and nurture them until no longer needed?

For you ladies who have gone before me on letting go, know that I have seen and I have learned from you. Thank you for your journeys. Because of your strengths, I know I'll be all right.

It starts when the toddler voice protests, "I DO IT MYSELF."

Next, he's hanging out with friends and I can head back home after dropping him off. (Only after his friends and their parents have been carefully scoped out, thank-you-very-much!)

Soon he's got that driver's license and I don't even need to be in the car. A job? That's so great! Before I know it, he's purchasing his own socks!

But the most beautiful moments are watching him face a trial and choosing the high ground - the biblical ground - no matter how much it hurts. Even when I so badly want to step in like a momma bear and give this trial the what-for, I know he's right where he belongs in the hands of his Heavenly Father, who teaches and trains him far better than I ever could.

So, what's my job now with this man-child in my house?

Consistency, admiration, admonition, support, encouragement; it's a job I am loving full well.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Up and Running!

My laptop has been graciously restored by my friend, Don! The previous 8 posts were done last Saturday and scheduled, then my laptop crashed. Now I have to get back to posting!

I went to a homeschool conference this Saturday. Even though this is my 11th year, I'm thankful to know I am still teachable. I took some nuggets of wisdom home with me and have already implemented them in my homeschool. It was so nice to get a mid-year boost! I usually attend FPEA and it fires me up for the next year, but now I'm determined to finish strongly.

In other news . . . the purple car is gone, sold yesterday. Long live Tyler's Purple Nerple. It takes true skill to drive a purple car and still be the coolest kid I know!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Gallery Exhibit

Since I put photos from my camera on disc, of course there were photos left from Glenna. Many I deleted (like the ones of my raggedy towel. Huh?). Some, I'd like to show here.

I can't believe what she can do with my little point-and-shoot digital camera. Click on them to make them larger!

(There were approximately 40,000 pictures of the dog. I narrowed it down considerably.)

This is actually pretty funny. Missy is crouched and "stalking" Jack. She's about ready to pounce. Jack's posture reads, "Bring it on."

Ace Photographer, Glenna.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


I feel I haven't properly introduced our newest pet. She's Glenna's puppy, and we love to bring that up whenever something gross has to be dealt with.

Remember, Glenna. This is what you signed up for when you said "I'll do it"!

For the most part, she's a good puppy. She's a schnauzer/shi-tzu mix, so she's low shedding. She also has tons of fur, which is adorable!

Here she is with her slight underbite, and with grass seeds stuck in her face.

She hardly gets into anything at all.

She never melts our hearts with her puppy looks.

Jack may seem indifferent, but he's actually concerned in a paternal sort of way.

I'm so glad we got her as a puppy so we could train her to our house rules. Once the housetraining is finished, she's pretty much a keeper!

Note: In case you're wondering what happened to the other dog we were so excited about - she had some habits that wouldn't break. We tried to make it work, but there came an incident with her previous owner that made me no longer obligated to keep her. We found her a home where she's an only dog and they allow her on the furniture, which is her dream house!

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Homeschool Day

We're continuing our study of Russia. We took three weeks to study the different tsars and the historical events of their times.

One of the more fascinating ones was Peter the Great. He traveled through Europe with a sign around his neck reading, "I am a Student and Need to be Taught." What a terrific attitude! Far from professing to know it all, he was eager to learn.

When he returned to Russia, he was determined to modernize their archaic practices. He lined had the men lined up and cut off their robes at the knees as they were wearing them in Europe.

He also insisted beards be kept shorter or not worn at all:

We also studied Napoleon and how his army was defeated by Russia, the land. Any excuse to make a nifty Napoleon hat, right?
Girls smile prettily. Guys are .. . . well, they're just goofy, all right?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Jolly Gingerbread

Living frugally doesn't mean missing out. It just means waiting a bit longer for things! I was shopping at my favorite grocery and spotted these gingerbread kits on sale. I thought it wouls be so fun for the girls to do, and they didn't disappoint.

This one is wearing some pretty snappy trousers:

This one has a smart bow in her hair:

This one appears to be wearing laderhosen. Uh oh. . . what is he looking at with such approval?

Oh! I see . . . .

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Big Dogs

Because my father is from New Mexico, he can't go anywhere without his dogs. While this may be comforting to him and the dogs, it's not without its problems.

First of all, they had to find motels from here to Arkansas that were "pet friendly." Secondly, they had to make sure the motel wasn't just "small pet friendly." Dad does not have small pets.

Dad and Pam didn't even realize the appeal of a smaller dog until they spent time with Jack and Missy.

Here's Maddie, playing with Missy. It was quite comical to see her crouch down so Missy could spar with her properly. We weren't even alarmed with Maddie would put Missy's entire head in her mouth!

Imagine you are sitting on my couch. See the arm rest next to you? See how far above the arm rest Maddie stands?

This is Sarah Bear, the other dog. I think I have finally gotten rid of the last of her fur. We'll see what happens when we move some furniture, though.

She and Jack were the dog police. Maddie and Missy would get a little rowdy, and Sarah and Jack would bark and snap at them to make them behave. (Secretly, Jack and Sarah would also play with Missy. Who can resist a cute puppy?)

Maddie's back, even with our piano keyboard.
These dogs are great, but they're truly not safe for the "folks." When returning to Arkansas, Maddie jerked Dad off his feet at one rest stop. He got back in the truck and headed down the road, bruised and bleeding. The dogs regularly knock them over or shove them off the bed.
At Flea World, they were looking at smaller puppies. Here's hoping!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Folks

Dad's wife, Pam, warned me that she wanted to go to thrift stores while they were here.

She wasn't kidding.

I think they went to the same thrift store three times, and that's because it was the easiest to get to!

We also took them to Flea World:

They were in heaven. They found something for everyone, oh Glory!

One of our favorite days was going to Blue Springs State Park. It was a picture-perfect day! So, here are some perfect pictures:

This is Himself, days after getting his new phone. He was still excited about it and still playing with it. I told him it was a week before he let me see his baby-blues again! Here, he's trying out the camera feature.
Pam was so excited to see a manatee. We also had a mini-picnic. This is the perfect time of year to see manatee if anyone's thinking of going. I highly recommend it!

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Pleasant Surprise

For the next few days, I'll be catching up on all the events that happened before I could get the pictures off my camera. Yay!

One quiet evening before Christmas, Ty came home with Jessie. He encouraged us to stop what we were watching (probably Smallville!) and come outside.

For our Christmas gift, he had bought us a tree!

This is typical Glenna and Kelly. Glenna wants to start decorating before the tree is even in the stand properly. Kelly is "helping" her Dad by poking him with branches as he attempts his concentrated task.

Sorry for the sideways one again. I've learned my lesson! It will get better, I promise.

I can't seem to resist taking pictures of Himself in awkward positions, though. I pray he never figures out where I keep the camera, since Lord knows I'm in enough awkward positions throughout the day!

Ty couldn't have picked a more timely or thoughtful gift. Thank you so much, Tyler!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Question Three

Glenna and Uncle Terry in front of his rental, a Dodge Avenger. We teased him a bit about the car. "Really?" he said with smile. "Am I really in an Avenger?"

Uncle Terry's visit was far too short, but extremely informative. I posted here about some of our discussions, and I wanted to address the last question from that post.

What do we do if someone we love is an alcoholic?

When someone we love is behaving in a manner that's destructive, either to themselves or others, our first instinct is to fix them. We can see the problem clearly and of course have all the answers! Imagine our hurt and eventual anger when they fail to respond to our logic and promptings. What we have forgotten was the first observation in the previous post, an alcoholic loses their ability to listen.

Since we have forgotten that they won't hear us, we have continual thoughts such as shaking them by the neck until their teeth rattle (or maybe that's just me!), dragging them to counseling, or taking drastic measures to "snap them out of it."

This rarely works, and for good reason.

There are instances where an intervention is necessary. The reason this can work is because of true accountibility, as spelled out to me by Uncle Terry.

Accountibility is not telling someone what he or she must do. It's not demanding they behave a certain way or adhere to a standard. Unfortunately, this is usually our first reaction with a destructive loved one!

Accountibility is speaking the truth in love. Truth, without love, is cruelty. Truth, spoken in love, has amazing healing powers.

I can only use my own marriage as an example. Himself was drinking only during the weekends, but I would notice a tension headache beginning to creep up on me around noon on Fridays (since that's the start of the weekend, right?). Sometimes, he wouldn't drink on Friday. Rarely, he wouldn't drink at all. I never really knew, and that's what created the tension.

Things changed for me when I was able to tell him the truth. During the week (read, when he was sober) I explained that if he wanted to drink on the weekends that was fine, but I no longer wanted to be around him when he did. I would no longer sit at a party and force on a smile. I would no longer put up with the unpleasantness of having a drunk in my room (I would sleep on the couch). I would no longer be the brunt of his jokes for the amusement of his drunken friends and family, either. I assured him that I loved him and understood that he would quit when he was ready (he constantly told me this). When he was ready, he could just let me know.

The amazing thing was, I didn't feel angry anymore. In fact, I felt completely calm and in control of my emotions; so matter-of-fact about everything. I didn't have to play the game, so I didn't. I didn't toss and turn on the evenings I slept on the couch. I slept quite peacefully! I began to pursue interests and look for a church. I knew I had to get back to God because life was impossible without Him. I visited several churches (some were pretty whacky!) and found one I enjoyed. Himself was supportive of this because he knew it would let him do as he pleased.

Or so he thought.

It took only one weekend of doing things seperately for things to change. It took only one weekend of me sleeping peacefully on the couch. On November 6th, 1987, Himself took a good, long look in the mirror. He had partied at his sister's house the Halloween weekend before and didn't have his wife around to make him feel guilty. He slept alone fretfully because I was on the couch. As he says it, he saw his future. He could continue down the path he was on and eventually lose everything; wife, job, and home, or he could quit now without regrets.

On that November day, he chose change.

And we lived happily ever after.


His first weekend with purposeful sobriety was h-e-double-hockey-sticks for both of us. He was so unbearable, it was a relief for him to say, "I'm going to a meeting."
"Good, why don't you?" I agreed.

It's not like he didn't know anyone there at the AA meeting. His father had been sober for quite some time now and had helped countless others. Himself knew the truth. He knew the signs and steps. When he finally faced the truth, change happened. He accepted it readily, and our marriage began to heal.

Frankly, our marriage is still healing today! One doesn't stop their addiction and presto! Life is perfect! It's a long, hard, wonderful, worth-it road to discover why. I am so thankful to be on this path with him. I am so proud of all he's accomplished since that November day. He's amazing. He continues to amaze me still.

So, what can one do if their loved-one is an alcoholic? Speak the truth in love. Be honest with yourself and with them.

You're ___________ too much. It's hurting me and hurting yourself. I don't like it. I feel lost and hopeless when you do and afraid for our future. I don't want to live that way and I'm praying for you. It's not hopeless, and there is help for us. Let me know when you're ready.

Drinking is only a symptom of the disease of alcoholism. If you have a loved-one who is an alcoholic, I urge you to get educated. Research it as you would any other disease on the internet. Pray without ceasing. Talk to people who have gone before you. I'd be happy to talk to you, myself!

My name is Mrs, and my husband is an alcoholic.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Kelly Pictures

I have finally gone to Costco, so I can upload pictures from a disc! No more bogging down my hard drive with photos!

However, this also means the photos are unedited. I guess I should have flipped them at Costco, too. Lesson learned. This is why Kelly is coming in sideways.

A peek at the coolest sunglasses, ever. She asked me to hold them for her while we were at church, so naturally, I put them on. Every teen came up and stated, "Cool sunglasses, Mrs!" I of course owned up to the fact that they belong to my ultra-hip daughter.

Despite the appearance of the following picture, they were quite thrilled to be going to the Christmas Dinner at youth group. May I just say I LOVE Kelly's hair?

This is what happens when on the way to Marine Science. Or, perhaps, this was on the way home? Either way, Kate and Kelly got ahold of some chocolate and instantly applied it as lipstick.

What would you have done? It made perfect sense to me!
Special thanks to ace photographer, Glenna, who snapped these from the back seat.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A List of Observations

While Uncle Terry was here, we were able to talk to him about his ministry to addicts and alcoholics. Even with experiences we've had personally, there's always more to learn. In fact, some of the things he said made sense to me for the first time!

Why is it that some can drink and others can't?

What are some signs that one has alcoholic tendencies?

What can we do if our loved one is an alcoholic?

I can say that I have been to AA meetings and Al-Anon meetings. I have learned much, but there's nothing like one-on-one information from a person who knows.

1. Why is it that some can drink and others can't? I am convinced, through my own experience and discussions with Uncle Terry, that alcoholism is a disease. If someone had cancer or MS or cerebral palsy, it's easy to have compassion and offer support. The disease of alcoholism seems to be much more selfish and self-inflicted, but it's no less destructive.

However, I firmly believe it is within reach for alcoholics to change their lives. They don't have to live as drunks. This doesn't mean they'll never again want a drink or that they'll stop having the disease of alcoholism. This is why at an AA meeting with people who have been sober for 20 years, they'll introduce themselves as alcoholics, not as used-to-be-an-alcoholic.

I could drink if I wanted to with no ill effects. Himself cannot. Which leads us to the next question:

2. What are some signs that one has alcoholic tendencies? This may be different with every person, but as Uncle Terry spoke I realized how glaring the signs actually are.

Firstly, an alcoholic loses the ability to listen. There's a reason for the saying, "Never argue with a drunk!" Don't argue, because an alcoholic won't hear what you're saying. A word or two just may penetrate during a moment of sobriety, though, if spoken in love.

In my own early marriage, Himself had lost his ability to listen. I, on the other hand, was hurting and needing my husband to hear me. God alone preserved our marriage through this.

Secondly, an alcoholic changes when drinking. That is to say, alcohol changes them. Himself and I got along perfectly during the week. When he began drinking, he became offensive and I became offended. In fact, I couldn't stand to be around him at that time and eventually chose not to.

There are people who drink and never change. Yes, they may be tipsy and twittery or extremely mellow, but their personality doesn't change.

Thirdly; to an alcoholic it's all about the booze. When I would go to a party, I was mainly interested in seeing my friends, playing games, laughing, and having a good time. When Himself went to the same party, he was focused on what there was to drink. Was there going to be a keg? How about the hard stuff? What type of booze should he bring, and how could he keep others from drinking it all before he got to drink it all? I could have one drink and nurse it all night. Himself would not go to bed if there was any beer left in the fridge. I could bring some Pepsi and gladly share with others. Himself would note every bottle, his, that someone else was drinking. He would or wouldn't say anything, but he definitely didn't like it.

Any party without booze was immediately dubbed stupid, boring or childish. I would do everything in my power to make sure he was happy, and he would do everything in his power to make sure I knew he wasn't.

These symptoms only scratch the surface of the disease of alcoholism. If you have a loved one who struggles with this disease, my heart truly goes out to you. I want you to know that as long as there's life, there's hope! I would encourage you to talk to someone without delay. Sometimes, we don't even realize how much we are actually helping our alcoholic stay drunk. No, I did not say their drinking was our fault.

I will address the last question in another post.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Florida's Finest

So I had this crazy idea.

I mentioned to Himself that we should explore some outdoor activities that we could do as a family. After all, we live in the state with some of the nation's finest water trails.

Let's try kayaking!

Some of you make envision white water and crash helmets when thinking of kayaking. I can assure you - I want no part of that. I'm talking moderate exercise, gentle currents, and Florida wildlife.

Fortunately, our friends at RigelZoo own a variety of kayaks and canoes. They invited us to test out each of them before making any decisions. The result was one gorgeous day, captured on film by DR.

This was my first time at the Wekiva water trail. Himself and I have decided that Florida is trying to reel us in by giving us the most beautiful January day it possibly could; mostly uncrowded, 76 degrees, minimal bugs, and a slight breeze. Well, we're definitely taking the bait.

We started at King's Landing and paddled upstream to the Wekiva State Park. Once we passed under this unused bridge, civilzation was left behind.

Himself and I started in this tandem kayak. I liked that we were sitting down into the boat and not on top. I also liked that Himself could rescue me if I passed out or became too pooped to paddle. There was plenty of room for both of us, bottled water, and snacks.

We seemed to work pretty well together. Himself noted that his dyslexsia seemed to set in when trying to remember how to steer. It only took a few minutes, however, before we were paddling smoothly and avoiding most obstacles.

Do you see the tree ahead? Honey? The tree branch?

I see it. I see it, already!

I tried paddling on my own. I felt like I wasn't really getting anywhere! It seemed that whenever he paddled we would surge forward. Whenever I paddled alone, It felt like we weren't moving at all (or were maybe even going backwards).

Contrary to apearances, he is not about to smack my melon with his paddle. If he were, his smile would be much more sinister.

This is my friend, D, the mom of the gang at the Zoo and wife to DR. Check out her blog! She certainly has her hands full! D is paddling their smallest kayak. It's easy to spin this thing around and put it wherever it's pointed. D made it look especially easy!

A heron, captured by DR. It seemed to pose so prettily for the camera! Most wildlife would let us get pretty close as long as we were slow and quiet.

As we got closer to the State Park section, we found this fella up on the river bank:
Our first gator sighting! I'm not sure if you can click on the picture and make it larger, but you can try. There's about five turtles on a log in front of him, all facing him, of course. All that greenery is floating and only the gator is on land.

Himself spots the gator. I look oblivious, but actually I had already seen it and was laughing at the antics of other canoers.

We went all the way to the state park water-entrace and switched canoes. Here, John is in the Kayak Cadillac belonging to Zach R. He loved it right away!

Coming back from the water-entrace, we passed this sectioned-off area full of duckweed. It make look like slimy water, but actually it's nice and clean! Duckweed is NOT moss or algae. It's actually hundreds of tiny plants growing closely together; so closely, in fact, that it looks like one could walk across it.

Duckweed wasn't the only thing in this sectioned off area. Do you see them? Do you see why you don't want to go walking across?

I've circled them. These are two of the four gators we spotted in this area! Luckily, we could see their eyes and snouts. Ocassionally, we could see their zippered backs above the waterline.

Here's a photo DR took of several turtles, sunning on a log in the background.

Here's what I didn't see the first time we paddled past!
The gator is in the large circle. The smaller circles are turtle heads popping out of the water. This area was not sectioned off with a barrier.

I loved being in this smaller kayak. It wasn't hard to get out of any mess, I could go backward or forward with ease, and I could turn completely around to talk to my companions if I wanted to.

I wanted to! There was so much to see!

At one point, we heard the soft footsteps of deer. With paddles silent and peering eyes, we finally spotted them in the thick brush. I'm not sure if DR got a photo since they were pretty camouflaged.

We decided we needed to give these individual kayaks an upstream test. So far, we had only needed to do minimal paddling and steering as we floated gently downstream toward King's Landing. We all took the branch of the river leading to Rock Springs for a while.

We've spotted something far up in the trees. . .

Good thing it is far up in the trees! Looks like a hornet's nest!

Lastly, I traded the individual kayaks with Himself. The minute I grasped Zach's paddle, my hands and my arms said, "Ooooohhhhh." He paid a little more for this paddle and it was worth every penny. We definitely want to save to get nicer, lighter, more ergonomic paddles!

I didn't think I would like sitting so high above the water instead of inside like the other kayaks, but actually, I liked it a lot. The only thing I had to get used to was the fact that I couldn't maneuver it as quickly as the smaller one, so it took a little more planning. The benefit was that I could paddle in a straight line much easier, where the smaller one tended to adjust my direction with each paddle stroke.

At the end of the day, we were excited about the prospect of spending time with our family this way. Once the kayaks and equipment have been purchased, the expense is minimal ($5.00 launching fee at the park, gas money to drive there, picnic lunch!). It's definitely a healthier, more pleasant form of entertainment. The time together was enjoyable, being outdoors and exercising was enjoyable, and the opportunities to add camping are a bonus.

Plus, I'd rather look at things like this than the television any day:
A red-shouldered hawk greeted us upon arrival!


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