Sunday, November 29, 2009


Like most of you, I've been thinking a lot about gratitude this week. In June, when I was still teaching the Young Women at church, we had a lesson on being grateful. It included a challenge to keep a gratitude journal. It's not a new idea. I've heard of them before and thought they sounded great, but had never actually tried one myself.

I decided to accept the challenge. I got a cute little notebook and kept it on my night stand. Each night I would jot down a sentence or two about what I was grateful for. I'm not a good daily journal keeper, but since it only took a minute, I found that I could keep up with it. It even made the cross-country trek with me this summer. I've written in it every night except for two weeks when I misplaced it.

As I read through some of the entries last night, I was uplifted. I have so much to be thankful for. The process was especially helpful on bad days. Days when I just felt like having a pity party. I forced myself to write down at least one thing that I could be grateful for. And it helped. Tremendously.

The resounding themes of the past six months were family, friends, the gospel, and food. Sounds about right. I found myself reading about them over and over. I hope I tell all of you how much I appreciate you and I don't just keep it secretly in my little journal.

One of the more touching entries, something I don't want to forget:

June 17, 2009 I'm grateful to have a roof over my head. Tonight I talked with an acquaintance who has been living in a homeless shelter for the past few weeks. When I asked her how she was doing, she said, "Well, I'm alive and I'm not in pain, so that's a blessing." What an amazing attitude! So grateful for her example.

Here are some of the more random things I recorded.


*Sunday afternoon naps

*Access to dental care

*The internet

*Long phone conversations


*My van


*Date nights


*Nights spent around a table playing games with loved ones

*Air conditioning


*Cell phones

*Joe, the Autozone employee who installed my new battery

*Our garden

*Tall trees that shade us on morning walks

*Book club

*Fantasy football

*Personal prayer


*Washing machine & dryer


*Retail therapy


*So You Think You Can Dance

*Hot tub


Thursday, November 26, 2009

We were ready for some FOOTBALL!

I had a new experience last week.

A first.

Andrew and I went to an NFL game--Panthers and Dolphins in Charlotte on a Thursday night.

Go, Panthers!

We joined 75,000 other fans to cheer for the home team.
Actually, sometimes it felt like we were the visiting team.
There were SO many Dolphins fans.
And they were LOUD.

It was a really exciting game and came down to a
last second attempt at the end zone, but the Panthers lost.

The game gave me lots of opportunities to reflect
on the psychology of sport.
What makes a person act like this?
Is it the intensity of the crowd?
The importance of each NFL game to the outcome of the season?
Or is it just the drinking?

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we're
watching grown men pound on each other.
And we like it.

Whatever it is, we had an exciting time.
It was fun people-watching.
It was even more fun cheering for Andrew's favorite team.
Great date night.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sunshine Day

I don't know how people in the northwest can handle the long-lasting cloudiness and storms. We had three days of it last week and I was aching to see the sun again. When it broke through the clouds, we took full advantage.

We've decided we want to become a bike-riding family. The big problem? Andrew and I don't have bikes. We have saved up some gift money and are hoping to buy some used ones, but haven't found the right ones yet. (Any bike-purchasing advice would be appreciated!) In the meantime, we do have one adult-ish sized bike that we bought for Brandon but is still too big for him.

We made a plan to go down the street to the park. One parent could walk and push Caroline in her stroller. The other would ride bikes with the kids. And we'd switch roles on the way back. It's only about a mile away, but is kinda hilly. Whit struggled a bit, but made it the whole way. Good job, girl! Brandon got a little frustrated that he had to slow down to wait for his sis, but he hung in there, too.

It was a gorgeous day to be at the park.
Here are the pics to prove it.

So grateful for relaxing Saturday evenings, beautiful weather,
and my fun family to share them both with.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wet carpet

It's never good when there's a smell coming from your bedroom and you can't quite figure out what it is. And it's not a pleasant smell. Last Friday morning, I thought I caught a whiff of a stinky diaper in our room, but I couldn't figure out what it was so I did what any prudent woman would do--ignored it. Bad idea. Then that night Andrew brought it up and I remembered, Oh, yea. I never did figure out where that stank was coming from. We started investigating. While Andrew was standing there thinking, his heel started getting wet. Gross.

Turns out with the five inches of rain that fell for three straight days from Tropical Storm Ida, some it found its way into our bedroom. Dang. I hate dealing with stuff like that. Especially at 10:30 on a Friday night. Andrew left to buy a Shop-Vac (thank goodness for 24 hr stores!) and a fan. He stayed up into the wee morning hours getting as much water out as he could.

In the morning, we made many, many calls to figure out what we should do about it. We were referred to a great carpet restoration service that I would highly recommend to local friends: Keith at Servpro. He was more affordable and personable than any of the other businesses we contacted. He came out on Saturday afternoon (without charging us an arm and a leg!) ran some tests, pulled up our carpet, and hooked us up

with a couple heavy-duty fans and a dehumidifier.

After letting those suckers run for a couple of days,
our carpet looks as good as new.

Actually, it might even look better than before. I borrowed a steam cleaner from a friend to remove the anti-mold chemicals Keith had sprayed for us. Now we're wondering what to do with all of the space on that side of the room. It used to be where my DISASTER of a scrapbooking table went. I haven't used it in years, so I'm thinking maybe it's time to get rid of it. Sad, I know. I miss scrapbooking. Hope to go back to it someday when I'm not chasing a toddler around or frantically writing a research paper for a class that I've procrastinated until the last minute.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Birthday boy

We celebrated another birthday for Old Man Sweat. Actually, he seems younger this year than he did last. The herniated disk, sprained ankle, and kidney stone are behind us (for now) and he's like a new man.

Still kickin'

He took it easy on me this year and
requested Papa John's pizza for dinner.
(No steak--yeah!)
Yum--we were all happy with his choice.

Rather than just hand over his gifts,
the kids and I came up with clues
he had to follow to find them.

The first one was in "a place that feels like Antarctica."
(Rocky Road ice cream. I hope he shares.)

And finally we got to enjoy one of
the best desserts I've ever made:
Peanut Butter Cup Pie
You can find the recipe here.
Oh, man it was good.

Wishing for many more good years to come.
We love you, Drew!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Destinee Blau Photography

My cousin-in-law, Destinee, is a professional photographer.

Let me tell you, that girl has got skills.

She did a photo shoot for us back in Sept. We had to wake Caroline up from her afternoon nap. For future reference, I don't recommend that. She was a grumpy, squirmy baby the whole time. When we finished the shoot I thought to myself, "Nice try, but none of those pictures are going to work out."

I don't know how she did it, but Destinee managed to get some great shots. I LOVE these pics. If you want to see what kind of magic she can work on you and/or your family, visit her website for more info.

I think this will be our Christmas card photo.
Act surprised when you get one. :)

We are a happy family

Candid looking-at-something-cool-below-the-bridge
(Except B who thinks it's even cooler to look at the camera.)

I love the grass in this one.
And Care Bear biting her lower lip.

I like B's feet and W's sassy pose.

One of my favorites!

My left eye is slightly smaller than my right.
Do I always look like that?

Huh. It's the same way in this one. I guess so.
Just wanna kiss those little cheeks!
(hers, of course)

C+B+W= Crazy, but wonderful.

Grandpa, I found the rest of my dwarfs:






Tuesday, November 03, 2009

2nd Annual Pilot Mountain Trip

I set a goal last year to make it an annual tradition.
And so far we're two for two!

We took another trip to Pilot Mountain on the
end-of-quarter Teacher Workday.

Caroline has grown a bit in the past year.

Here she is with her daddy last year.
We hiked around with her in the baby bjorn.
Ha! Way too big for that now.
And she's much more squirmy, too.

We enjoyed the beautiful views again.

Tried to get artistic with our photography.

Snapped some family photos.

Between Whitney's crooked smile and...

Caroline's dirty looks, it was difficult to get a good one.

Hey, I thought you were supposed to look good
when you had wind blowing through your hair.
Apparently someone forget to tell my
wild and crazy mane about that.

My other artsy shot.

Andrew's nature photo

HIS hair looks good despite the wind. Lucky.

The three kiddios on our hike.

I'm the queen of "While we're here, we might as well...."
So we stopped at SciWorks.
Brandon and Flat Stanley were dangerously close
to being eaten by a dinosaur.

Whit had fun with mirror optical illusions.

They had an exhibit on aging.
It said this is what I'll look like when I'm 57.
FIFTY-SEVEN, friends.
I never thought I'd want plastic surgery,
but I'm going to start saving my fun money right now.
Those bags have got to go. I look like I'm 90, right?

And we made one last stop: Our favorite Chuck E. Cheese.
It was an historic visit.
Caroline won her first bonus!
She definitely fits in with this family.