Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Yearly To-Do List

So last year I was feeling a little panicky because I had so much to do and not much time to do it. I'm much calmer this year. The first batch of cards has been sent - check your mailbox in a couple of days. For the rest I still have to track down addresses.

The shopping is going much better this year, too. I've bought presents for all the kids (the in-laws are probably going to hate me when they find out I got all the boys toy lightsabers). Gifts for the girls are a work in progress, but I do know what they're getting. Same goes for my dad. That just leaves the rest of the guys, and Jeff can deal with that.

I am not sure if I'll make goodies this year or not. I really don't want to sabotage my weight-loss efforts. If I do, I will most definitely keep it to a minimum - which will save time and money.

There are some things I want to do - like take Braeden to Rock City to see the Christmas lights. I also have a few parties to attend, though I freely admit I'd rather stay at home and watch classic Christmas movies than play yet another round of dirty Santa.

So what is my point? I guess that I'm taking it a little easier this year, and instead of letting the pace run over me, I'm trying to soak up the moments. I'd hate to miss out on the spirit of the season.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Back Home Again

Braeden just melted my heart this weekend. As we were eating our Thanksgiving dinner, I asked the kids what they were thankful for. After a pause, Braeden chirped "God!" I promise you - I did not prompt him to say that! It just made me smile.

We got to spend a lot of time with Gabe & Katie the last few days. They were so much fun. Jeff took the boys to Chuck E Cheese, where Gabe requested "tokenuts" to play the games. We loaded them all up to go to the Christmas light show at the Bristol Motor Speedway. One part of the exhibit had dinosaurs, and Katie kept demanding that we "Don't . . . eat . . . di-saurs!" (Every word she says is followed by a pause. I've never seen a 2-year-old anunciate quite like she does.)

Katie loved on me all weekend, and by Saturday night, she'd finally warmed up to Jeff, too. We laughed all the way home about silly things she'd said. Gabe alternated between avoiding me like the plague (out of sheer orneriness) and wrapping me up in bear hugs and not letting go. Braeden just went along for the ride. He got a little cranky because his sleep schedule was way off, but he was mostly a pretty good kid.

Mom & I went on our annual day-after-Tgiving shopping trip. 'Course, we don't really shop for Christmas presents - we shop for ourselves - it's much more fun that way! I came home with a Cricut (courtesy of Mom getting a bigger model), new sheet music for the piano, a book, and a few scrapbooking odds and ends. Not too shabby, eh?

I love my family. I am so happy that Jeff got to go with us for T-giving this year. He was really a doll. Poor guy - he got saddled with the boys quite a bit. Their first attempt to go to Chuck E Cheese resulted in Braeden puking at McDonald's before they even got out of town. They tried again the next day, and Gabe was having so much fun he forgot to use the bathroom until it was too late, so they made an emergency trip to Wal-Mart for fresh clothes. Even so, he said he had a blast with them, and I know he got a kick out of snuggling on Katie-bug.

I have so much to be thankful for! :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


In keeping with the holiday, I think it's appropriate to make a list of the things I'm thankful for this year.

1. I'm enormously grateful that we did not sustain more damage in last week's tornado. It's sad to see so many beautiful trees destroyed, but it could have been human lives instead.

2. I am thankful for friends - both new and old.

3. I'm thankful for the funniest (and cutest) 4-year-old son on the planet. He makes me laugh and smile, even when I want to throttle him. Every day he says something off-the-wall that cracks me up, and every day he does something so utterly sweet that I can feel my heart melting into ooey gooeyness.

4. Jeff is finally going to get back into nursing school. After so many delays, I am grateful for one last chance.

5. The Lord is slowly teaching me how to regain control of my eating habits. Even though I've fought Him every step of the way, He's been patient with me, and the beast is starting to tame.

6. I have the coolest parents in the world. They set a beautiful example of generosity and patience, and besides that - they make pretty good friends, too.

7. Things are going well with Jeff & me. We've settled into a comfortable peace with each other and have enjoyed more time just as a family. It's a good thing.

8. I have a job that I enjoy, that isn't too hard, that lets me work at home, and that pays better than anything else I can get locally. I don't have to drive to work and I can wear my pajamas if I want. Can't beat that with a stick!

9. I have two major outlets for my creativity - my scrapbooking and my photography. I can absolutely lose myself in either one, and I have grown so much this year in both areas. It's exciting to think that I am getting closer to going pro with my camera.

10. I'm grateful to have a mind and body that function well (at least most of the time) and enable me to do the things I enjoy most.

11. I'm thankful that God loved me enough to give me a chance to live my life - and a way to save me when I mess it up.

Friday, November 16, 2007


I thought when I moved here I'd be sheltered from tornadoes. Our small town sits right at the base of Monteagle Mountain, which has usually protects us from the worst storms.

Not so Wedneday night.

I left for church (which is right beside my house) at a quarter to seven. Jeff was at work, and it had just started to sprinkle. I wrapped Bebo up in a jacket, even though it was ridiculously warm. I knew storms had been forecasted, but had no idea there were tornado warnings for our area. No sooner had we sat down and begun services than the power went out. It was pitch black in the auditorium. Everyone that had cells turned them on, and we decided to sing a bit, say a prayer, and wait for the lights to come on.

We'd gotten through the first verse of the second song, and one of the deacons burst through the back doors screaming "Get under the pews! Get under the pews now!"

Those of you who know me well know how terrified I am of tornadoes. All I could think about was getting Braeden safely under the pew, but he was frozen in place from fear. I finally wrestled him down to the floor and wrapped my arms around him as tightly as I could. There wasn't room for both of us under the pew, so I scrunched in as close as I could without pushing him out the other side. One of our elders said a prayer, and in just a few moments, they told us it was okay to get up.

I thought it had all been a false alarm - but I was very wrong. I'm still not sure which direction the thing went, but I know that it hit all the houses on the street behind me. It skipped over the corner where house and the church sits, and hit the Baptist church across the road.

I immediately began trying to call Jeff. Almost everyone around here uses Verizon, so the network was busy. I finally got through and we exchanged "I'm okays." I went to the house to inspect the damage. The power was out everywhere, and the police and ambulances were just heading to the Baptist church. I couldn't see much, though a huge limb had fallen by our old Lumina. At first I thought it had escaped harm, but I realized later that it had gotten dinged up quite a bit - though it was just body damage. Around midnight we discovered that the power meter had been ripped from the back of the house, but thankfully nothing had caught fire.

Amazingly, the house was okay. I really expected there to be nothing left - but God was really watching out for us. In fact, I think He was keeping an eye on the whole town. No one had life-threatening injuries. One woman did have a broken pelvis - but she survived being in her house when the tornado tore it completely from its foundation.

I took pictures when the rain let up, and then some during the daylight hours yesterday. You can see them on my photo blog. I've seen worse - but it's rather unnerving to realize your sense of security in a place was a false one.

Somewhere around 3-4 pm yesterday our power and phone lines were restored. Today has been (at least for me) business as usual - though I'm still offering little "thank you, Lord!" prayers every time I think of how much worse it could have been.

Oh, one more thing - the bludgeoned, half-burned recliner was still sitting in the yard, and despite debris flying all around it, it did not budge.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

How NOT to Dispose of a Recliner

We had a recliner that died. No, the spring didn't break - the framework literally snapped in two. I'm talking a serious, gagging, agonizing death. Dead with no hope of recuscitation. Since we don't have a vehicle suitable for hauling large hunks of dead furniture, it has been sitting in the living room for weeks now in its sorry state. The back leaned severely to one side, making it look rather pitiful indeed. Last night Jeff decided to rearrange furniture - and this meant disposing of the chair.

Jeff is a little creative when it comes to furniture disposal. We once tried to burn a particle-board desk. The thing was so incredibly fireproof that all we managed to do was make a small black mark on the top, despite having doused the thing in gallons of gasoline. I think he eventually ended up taking a sledgehammer to it and hauling away the evidence of his failed attempt.

So as I was in the kitchen, making biscuits for dinner and yakking on the phone with Mom, I heard a loud metallic thwack. I closed my eyes and prayed for patience, then turned the corner to see what the cause of the interruption was. Jeff was attempting to break apart the chair with a claw hammer and small crowbar. After several minutes of unsuccessfully bludgeoning the chair, he came begging for the kitchen shears, with which he proceeded to cut off as much of the upholstery as he could.

Finally he gave up and decided it would be easiest to burn the remains. Now remember - Tennessee has been in the midst of a severe drought. You may have heard of that Tennessee town that ran out of water? That's not 15 miles from my house. It struck me that burning may not be the best disposal method, but I grabbed up Braeden and followed for the show in spite of my misgivings.

Jeff put the chair in the middle of the back yard and lit it in two or three places. For a moment the fire burned contentedly, as if begging for a marshmallow roast - and then Hell suddenly appeared in the backyard. Apparently this chair was not made of the same flame-resistant stuff as the old desk was. When the upholstery lit - it dang near exploded. Within seconds the flames were raging 10 feet in the air, and Jeff was running for the water hose.

I never would have fathomed that burning upholstery could smell so utterly loathsome. I felt certain the chair was getting its last revenge - my eyes are still watering from the stinky, putrid smoke. Blech. It was truly foul. Thankfully, I'd closed the kitchen windows, so the house didn't benefit from the smoking remains.

Once Jeff had thoroughly doused the chair, we left it to smolder in the yard. The torrential downpour that came last night doused any hope of it reingniting.

Now for the fun part - how long will Jeff let it sit in the back yard before he finally hauls it away?