Monday, December 28, 2009

Time of Reflection




2009 as we know it is ticking down. What will we remember about 2009? Perhaps that this has been the year for some home improvements, some planned, some not.
In January, we took out the carpet in our kitchen and bathroom in the entryway and replaced it with linoleum that looks like tile. Next up was replacing our square wooden columns on the front porch,(they were rotting from underneath) with round fiberglass columns. We covered the porch ceiling with siding to protect the wood from moisture and it looks great! We also replaced our broken shutters with some new ones!
The next planned renovation was to replace our single pane wooden windows with triple pane energy efficient windows. While this was going on, we hosted the middle school boys group from our church for a weekend. Our home literally busted at the seams! The best memory of all that was hearing the boys play praise music with our piano and their guitars! The music and their voices brought encouragement to our neighbors and smiles to our faces. What a great time, amongst the construction!
About three weeks after that, we thought we were finished. Ha! Our hot water heater decided to leak, causing quite a mess in the garage. Thanks to an awesome father in law it was fixed that very day!
Side note here, my neighbor and I decided to add to our yards this year and line the ditch that divides our lots from each other with fire bushes. We each bought 6 4ft. bushes. The great thing was our neighbor and I got a deal from the bush guy and for just $5.00 a bush we got the holes dug, a liner put down, the bushes planted and mulched! Whoo hoo!
On the outdoor note, Teri and I got busy buying some various day lilies and planted them in our yards this summer. We also planted some monkey grass. I pulled some old ugly bushes and used the grass to replace them. At Teri's home, we pulled weeds and recreated several areas in her yard. I have never shoveled as much mulch as I have this year. The end result is so beautiful!
A few weeks pass and we discover in the heat of summer that we have to replace our 20 plus year old airconditioner unit. The Lord provides and that was so far the last big thing we have had to replace in our home.
On a personal note, Chad was honored at Austin Peay State University this year with the 2009 Radiologist of the Year award. He had no idea he was even nominated! His work with incoming radiology students was recognized in a way that truly humbled him. We are so proud of his accomplishments!
In September, I was asked to become a staff writer for a local magazine, Clarksville Family! To say that I was excited is an understatement! A dream come true. To have something that I pour myself into for fun, to be published for the world to read and to get paid for it too! Whoo hoo!
Chad and I got to work with Extreme Makeover Home Edition here in Clarksville! I never got to see TY, but I was able to work with another star and help install a low flow toilet! It was a great experience to see how that comes together, and to be able to participate!
Cory is navigating middle school well, we are so proud of him! He is on his forth year of piano lessons with Mrs. Magnuson and it shows! His recent recital was an opportunity for him to show off his skills! Cory has true musical talent, it is neat to watch him grow and stretch himself and his abilities.
Brian was able to reconnect with several of his long time soccer buddies (they played together off and on since they were four. This produced a team of 10 year old boys that were able to claim the title of undefeated this season! Congratulations Brian!
Both boys have matured so much this past year. They have poured themselves into helping others by getting involved in community projects on their own accord! Through our church, they both have shown leadership skills in set up early Sunday mornings to leading the childrens worship working the sound and light boards.
We finished a year involved in a small group Bible study and have started up a singles group for 20/30 year olds. We also went to New Mexico and worked with the Navajo, and took a train ride in Colorado.
Second side note! We had an armadillo sighting in our neighbors yard! WOW!
This has been an eventful year, and we look forward to whatever God has in store for us in the upcoming year of 2010!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

ICE - A Charlie Brown Christmas






Merry Christmas!

Our family and some friends that are adopted family also, got to open a present early! We got to go to ICE together!
We were all ready for our work/school day to be over so we could get in the car and drive to Nashville. ICE is held at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. (over by the Grand Ole Opry).
Since it was a Monday evening, there was no line to buy our tickets! Thanks to Clarksville Family Magazine we had a coupon we could use! Next up was to go get our blue parka's. The ICE workers loaned a parka for each of us to wear inside! We needed them!

(p.s. if you go wear gloves.. I forgot and my fingers were cold!)

Once inside we took a group photo and then moved on into the big freezer! Oh! The colors! Yes, the ice was colorful! We took so many pictures! Charlie Brown and Linus greeted everyone in the scene of them leaning on a wall and talking. Further in we got to see the group of friends ice skating. Next up was Lucy at her psychologist booth.
We saw Sally with her list for Santa and Linus with his blanket, we got to slide down a big ice slide. The kids loved this, Sweetie even managed to go down face first.. (even though it was against the rules).
Schroder playing the piano, Cory wanted his picture next to that. Then we went into another room and saw all the different color ice Christmas trees. The following scene was Charlie Brown with his tree showing it to Linus.
Then we got to see and listen to a recording of Linus reading the Christmas story. It was neat, set up with lights and all like a real production!
In yet another room, we heard the group of Peanuts characters sing Hark the Herald Angel sing.
Last but not least, on the way out you get ushered into another room where in clear glassy ice some talented ice makers, chiseled out the nativity. Our eyes were drawn to the 2 story angel at first, then we stopped to listen to the Christmas story. As the story moved on, each character talked about was lit up. Very beautiful.

If you get an opportunity to go, please visit www.wefrozecharliebrown.com and get tickets. It was so much fun!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Merry Christmas!


It is that time of year! The weather outside is a chilly 28 degrees this morning and the news tells of snow falling in San Antonio, TX. WOW!
No snow here. Bummer.
It is amazing how quickly our calendar has filled up for the month of December. My fist signal that the Christmas season is upon us is Operation Christmas Child. (I wrote about that last time). Today was one of my top favorite moments I will treasure all month.
Today, at First Baptist Church, Cory had his piano recital. He played Hall of the Great Mountain King and The Music Box Dancer. He did such a good job! There were several children ranging in age and skill level. It was a beautiful way to start December!
Afterwards, my friend Teri, and I went to the local Catholic Church and visited their craft fair. Lots of fun things to pick up for Christmas! We bought a couple of little things and moved on as we each have lots to get accomplished today!
Tonight we plan to attend Clarksville's downtown Christmas Parade! It will be all lit up and the boys look forward to the little candy pieces that will be thrown from the floats.
Later this evening we will warm up at our friends home in St. Bethlehem, up the road a bit. We are having a Christmas dinner and will sing carols and I've heard that Santa will pay another visit!
As the days and weekends fill up for all of us, please remember the reason for the season. Jesus!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Operation Christmas Child

Today was the last day to bring boxes down to the distribution center!
Our family is so excited! This year, if you pay the shipping cost ($7) online, you are given a tracking number..this will allow you to see where your box goes! Fun!
The boys and I added our final touches to the boxes this morning. They each made their boxes special for a boy overseas. I made up a box for a girl. Good stuff. The boys bought some airplanes, yo yo's, cushie balls, candy, ect.

Cory was able to go with me this year, as I met up with our 'adopted family' Deane and Teri. He was really jazzed to be able to help put the shoe boxes into big boxes and tape them up, then walk them out to the big semi truck outside! One of the volunteers gave Cory an official OCC t-shirt! He plans to wear it a lot!

We were thrilled to see that Veggie Tales in their latest video; Saint Nicholas, put a whole bunch in there about Operation Christmas Child. Maybe this will make folks more aware.

There are so many ways to support others, and share Jesus' love around the world, especially during Christmas!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A little dog, an opportunity to share Christ

Courtesy according to the Websters Dictionary means: civility, politeness, service. The dictionary refers to this word as a noun. My blog today refers to it as a verb. An action, something deliberately done in consideration of another.
Okay, here goes.
Being a proud owner of a puppy/dog comes with many responsibilities. We need to provide them with shelter, food, and keep them healthy by taking them in for vetrinary care. It is my belief we also need to be courteous to our neighbors and clean up after our pets. My gripe today is one I wittness often, sad to say.
Why is it that folks feel they can walk their dogs in the neighborhood and let them poop in everyone else's yard?
I have wittnessed this several times, shocked each time. And yesterday to top it off, I watched (as I was walking my dog Sasha) an owner open his front door, and let three dogs out the door. I was on an adjoining road so he didn't see me. However, his dogs left his yard immediately and crossed the street into his neighbors yards and relieved themselves. By the time I was within sight, I had picked Sasha up as the dogs we all around me by this time, (several houses away from his). We heard the whistle for them to return. The dogs left us, took off and went into the house, with the man waving at me, and closing the door.
WOW! I will give you a minute to absorb that.
Okay..a couple of days ago there was a man walking his huge grey great dane on our street. Beautiful dog. As I watch him approach our home, I decide to wait on leaving for the errands I was going to run, as just the night before I cleaned up a big pile of eww out of our front yard, and really wondered who had left me that treat..
I made my way outside and busied myself with cleaning off my front porch. The man was walking his dog alright, but carried no bag to clean up the dogs mess. I figured since it was still a chilly morning, maybe (giving him the benefit of the doubt) that he could have a bag in his pocket. Unfortunately, the dog decided to take care of business in my neighbors yard. I made it a point to be out in the yard as this was happening. He just stared at me. I looked at him, and looked at his dog and looked back at him. The man turned around and went the opposite way back down the street. I wonder if it worked. It did something as he went the other way, I sure hope it either keeps him from walking down our street or to be responsible and bring a bag. Had he kept on walking past me, I would have given him a bag to go clean it up himself. He hadn't turned the corner yet and he watched me as I cleaned up his dogs mess out of my neighbors yard. THey are an elderly couple that most likely couldn't clean that up, and they don't need to accidently step in it as they come from the house to the mailbox to get their mail.
Sasha, bless her everloving little self is 6 pounds. The little thing doesn't excrete much herself. Little ones she leaves, but if she goes in anyones yard, even ours, it gets picked up. Common courtesy. I carry my bag on my arm as we walk. I want folks to know if she makes a mess, I will find it and clean it up!
One day a few weeks ago, we were on our walk and a dear man was out raking his leaves, Sasha decided to pick his yard. Sigh. Well, I had my bag, I cleaned it up. The man came over to me. I braced myself for a good grilling. But I got a handshake and a big thank you from the man for cleaning up after my dog. I asssured him it was no problem, he laughed and asked how I managed to see it, coming from such a little dog. I told him I was very aware, and wanted to make sure we leave things as we found them. He then went on to tell me about several in the neighborhood who don't follow the same convictions. We then went on to talk about why we had convictions, and I was able to share with that man, where we go to church, why I act differently that others. He told me he hadn't been to church in years, and his neighbor was always trying to get him to go with them. He thought that the world had gone bad. He was glad to see the younger generation had some convictions about what was right and what was wrong, and were involved in church. I invited him to church, but he said he would talk to God about it, and maybe go to church at his church, the one he hadn't attended but on special events.
I haven't seen him out in his yard lately, but if I do, I will ask him about church!
Isn't it neat how God can work through a little dog and a simple walk around the neighborhood? Ask God for an opportunity today, an opportunity to wittness for Him. He will bring someone to you!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Goals

Sweetie and I are on a diet. Bad time of year you say? Nah! We are just implementing new habits. Starting something new is usually easier than following through. Our pastor touched on this yesterday in his sermon. He took it down the road of becoming spiritually mature, digging into God's word and prayer life. It takes dedication to carve out the time in one's day for such things. Discipline for our spiritual health in other words.
We are also working on our physical health. Dieting is easier to do if you don't have children in your household. The kids have the snacks..man do they have fun stuff to eat. But unfortunately as our bodies age, we can't partake in such anymore, or if we do.. suffer the consequences.
We have both put on a little weight over the last few years. Something had to change. It is easy to explain away, but one does have to look in the mirror. Neither of us dared say anything to the other about how we were slacking in our taking care of ourselves. But we both had mentioned to the other about how we would NOT go up in size of our clothing. Not gonna happen. We have our 20 year class reunion next year and we don't want to look like it!
When EIRO came out with a healthy diet, that doesn't increase heart rate or starve a person, we jumped all over it. Now we both exercise average 45 minutes a day. We walk, and we eat more fruits and vegetables and less of the starches.
Our committment to this diet means two meal replacement shakes a day and one sit down meal. We can have snacks in between. We are learning to not eat late at night, and if and when we snack to eat healthy. We do this six days a week, then on the seventh, we just eat three regular meals.

So far Sweetie has lost 15 pounds and I float between 9 and 10 pounds gone. Totally not fair how much faster a man can loose weight than a female. (that is a blog all in itself!)

Must go.. gotta jog. Sasha puppy is on an exercise regiment with me! ha!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Have you ever prayed so hard...

for something, that you actually carried it into your dreams?
As the morning time moves on today, I feel I need to type this out so I don't loose the memory of this.
Our oldest son, Cory got an Ipod for his birthday and he misplaced it sometime early September. We looked everywhere. No luck. We told him to pray about it, and to back track his last time he remembered having it. (prayer for Cory to learn responsibility) Exasperated over his lack of concern here lately, I told him he wouldn't be given anything else of value until he located and kept track of his Ipod. To elaborate on his lack of concern here..I have asked him if he has looked for it, he says he has, but his idea of looking for something and mine are totally different. We have actually witnessed him looking for something and it was within sight. Sigh.
Sweetie and I even gave him the responsibility lecture. So, last night before bed,we prayed about it. I had looked all over and he had looked all over. The boys and I have prayed about everything. If there is one thing I want them to remember about me is that they had a praying mother. We have prayed our way out of traffic, we have prayed our way out of a snowy embankment, we have prayed over bullies, tests, and some little critters to live.
Realizing I had a teachable moment, I went to the Bible story about Jesus looking for the lost lamb.The one out of the fold that has wandered off. (Proof that even Jesus doesn't like for things to be out of place). Cory said he really liked that, as he never thought of it that way. Then he prayed aloud for God to help us find his Ipod, and for me to let him play with a friend this weekend.
Let me backtrack.. yesterday was mentally exhausting. I'm currently helping a company take the next step up in their business. We are re-working all brochures, pamphlets, website, you get it, right? Okay. So with all these details rolling around in my head, I drove home from work exhausted. (praying for God to help Sweetie get Brian to practice on time, did he remember to take the ball? And for God to help me not screw up and remember details)
Cory was home working on his homework, Sweetie had picked up Brian from tutoring and went straight to soccer practice. I had 20ish minutes to get something together for dinner. Quick prayer to God to help me come up with an idea. Got in the door, to Cory wanting to go hang out with a friend, well it is almost dark outside and knowing I would have dinner ready soon, I denied that request. (Again, inside head prayer to God to help Cory adjust his attitude)Then he wants to know if I got him signed up for a retreat the middle school youth group is taking. No, I didn't get him signed up. Then explained how he had plenty to do this weekend at home. A disappointed pre-teen rattled dishes as he got them set out for supper. (another prayer sent up to heaven)
Soon, Sweetie and a hot and sweaty Brian come in. Supper is ready.. homework took a little over 2 hours..its 930 p.m. and I am even more physically exhausted than before. (sweetie couldn't help with homework as he is currently in school also and had a online chat he was participating in).
Then I find out as I get the boys together for bed that there was a mass shooting at Ft. Hood. Sigh. Time to get my prayer on. I was able to get a few words out to God, with the best intentions before the boys started straying from the task at hand. SIGH. Getting boys to go to bed when they aren't tired, but the clock says they should be is difficult. Now, I'm pleading in my head prayer with the Lord to help me be nice as I'm putting them to bed. Seems the more tired I am the more each son wants to chat it up with me before going to bed. Although usually this time is the most precious time I get with them all day.
Then onto Brian. Brian is 10. He is still thinking about soccer practice and how tired he is, but he wants to stay up a little longer. "Let's talk about Lithuania" he suggests. Little booger knows I am never too tired to talk missions.
(This comes from us getting to spend some time with a pastor from there earlier this week.)
He wants to know what it takes to be a missionary and if you have to pass all your spelling tests to accomplish this goal. (okay so he got me there). We chat a little about that. Then I just listened to him talk, all the while praying to God in my head that these seeds planted in his mind become fruitful in some way or another in his life. We talk about the great commission and how missions is not just overseas, it is local too. Then he lights up, he wants to talk about filling his shoe box for Operation Christmas Child, and when can we go shopping. This went on for a little while, then I turned off the light. Night, night little man. He then prays for Pastor Saul and his church, and for the kids that are going to get a OCC box this year.
Leaving Sweetie to his school work downstairs I now have some quiet time to pray. And pray I did. I pulled out my prayer journal (where I write things down and people to pray for). I didn't make it too far before my legs started to tingle indicating that I'd been on them too long. I got up and moved around the semi lit bedroom and just prayed for people. Then my mind got set on prayer for Cory to find his Ipod. I closed my prayer and went to bed.
Around 5 a.m. this morning I woke up with an urgency to go look through the car one more time for that Ipod. I wrestled with the idea of waking Cory up to go look, but got the instruction quickly from the Lord this was for me to do, and not to bother Cory. (God knows when you have evil thoughts of waking your slumbering child to help them learn a lesson)
So, I tromped downstairs, and our cat Lucky and I went into the garage and looked through the car. Finally one of the last places I looked (where I just knew I had looked a million times) I found the Ipod. It was like a heavenly choir started singing Hallelujah in my head. It is now a little after 5:30 a.m., and since I get Cory up at 6 I hurried inside to wake him up.
A sleepy boy greeted me by pulling the cover over his head. "not ready to get up Mom, it's still dark". I then tell Cory that God answered prayer. This prompts him to pull the covers down. "Which one?" he asks. Getting his hand, I place the Ipod inside and close his fingers around it.
Now he hops up and just about takes the air out of me as he rejoices in his lost Ipod being back where it should be. Then he grabs my hand and we thanked God together. What a great start to my day!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Visit To New Mexico, Colorado, Four Corners






Last month the boys and I took a trip out to New Mexico to visit family and help fill a mission need with the Navajo.
When we flew into Denver, there was snow everywhere! Our plane was de-iced twice! We then took another flight into Durango, Co. Where my parents were waiting to welcome us. We then drove an hour and some to Farmington,NM. We stayed in a home on Navajo Missions. This wonderful group of folks takes in children, and provides a family for them. Please take some time to look them up online. www.Navajo Missions.org
We were able to interact with some of the children and the boys were able to learn how to brush, saddle, put in the bridle, and trot a horse. They even managed to take their horses through an obstacle course by weeks end.
We were able to go visit Mesa Verde.. oh the cliff dwellings were so much fun to climb over, and wonder how these folks did it! They lived life so far off the ground! How did they build these massive structures? Amazing!
We drove up to Durango and rode on the train to Silverton, Co. This was a 3 1/2 hour trip up and back. What glorious pictures we were able to take. The boys loved watching them load the coal. Then when the train started! Oh, let the adventure begine. We had reserved seats in a coach where there was a roof overhead. The day before it had been snowing so we were glad we did! However, the day we went was beautiful and sunny.
The boys and I ventured to an open, outdoor car for a good part of the trip as you could experience more of the mountain air, and scenery from there. Sure, it was a little breezy, and sometimes we got coal flakes all over our faces, but what a memory!
Silverton is a little town with some of the cleanest air in America, per the EPA.
Tiny little mining town with a rich history. There are no stop lights, and the streets are mostly dirt. There is no mining done there now, mostly just tourists coming through. The day we were there a lot was closed as the season was over. They were expecting another big snow that evening and most merchants were closing and going home.
The boys were able to have a small snowball fight up there! Bummed the mining part was closed, we just window shopped and looked in the shops that were open.
On another day we visited Four Corners. If you haven't been there, this is where you can put a foot, hand, foot and another hand in four different states. Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, & Colorado.
It was here that the boys and I learned a lot about Navajo. There were some set up in little booths around the tourist site, selling their wears. They were available to sell you something, or to let you observe. I did both.
The boys watched a Navajo shave down a piece of wood into a arrow.. then apply the paint and feathers, then they were able to pick out a type of stone for him to make them arrowheads to go on the ends. What fun!
I watched, and ended up buying the boys each an arrow to bring home to remember their adventure. I enjoyed watching some women make blankets. The fun part for me was seeing how they got the different colors into the blankets. They use flowers, and herbs and boil them. Then soak fabric, whether it is string, or sheeps wool, into the color, then weave it into the rug, into fabulous designs.
The Navajo are very wary of having their photos taken. We respected their wishes and didn't take pictures. See, they believe that part of their spirit is taken with you when you photograph them.
Amazing day.
Our trip was full, and we are looking forward to the next time we can go back!
(the girl in the photos with the boys is my neice Meghan)


Pumpkin Patch 2009




Sigh. I just so enjoy this time of year. Hayrides, bonfires, the crisp crunch of leaves under our feet, and the pumpkin patch.
We have made a pilgrammage to area pumpkin patches each year photographing the memories, trying to hold onto a happy memory our family holds dear.
The boys have gone from us carrying a pumpkin for them, to going to pick their own. They take pleasure in this as the last few years, we have been carving them. No, no stencils for us! The boys want to make their own creation.
It is fun to look at all the colorful gords, and pumpkins. There are usually some grandmas that are chatting up a recent receipe that worked for them using pumpkin. I had heard of pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie.. but this time I learned about a soup.

Pumpkin Soup

1/2 c. onion
3tbsp. butter
2cups mashed cooked pumpkin
1tsp salt
1tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
3 cups of chicken broth
1/2 c. half and half

Chop the onions and brown with butter in a pan. Put mashed pumpkin with onions in pan. Add the sugar, salt, nutmeg and pepper. Slowly add chicken broth and heat thoroughly, but don't boil. To serve, pour into a bowl and add the cream. Makes 4-6 small servings.


These ladies were very sweet. When I brought this up to the boys, they wrinkled up their noses and said. "Yuck!". One day after they have forgotten about it, I may just suprise them and see how they like it!

Happy Autumn all!

10th birthday celebration


For Brian's 10th birthday he wanted to do something special. So, what did he choose? Paintball! So, I called the local facility and gave them our times, and told them it would be a group of us, and they agreed to host us.
There are two different area's to the paintball areana. The first is a city, of sorts. There are buildings, partially open to run around and climb all over, then there is the woodsy part. The boys and Sweetie decided that the latter is their favorite as there are more places to hide.
For 3 1/2 hours our friends and I watched the boys and friends come in to reload, watching the colors (from where they were shot with paintballs) increase on their clothing.

It was truly a day of male bonding. Now, there were girls running around too, but not many. Did I volunteer to get shot? No. I was official picture person for this event. Party planner and host if you will.

The boys and Sweetie discussed strategies, how some worked, some failed and new ideas for how to trap another unsuspecting individual. The excitement was there during, and afterwards.

A dear friend of ours even placed a bounty upon Sweeties backside, telling them they would earn a $20.00 if either could color their dad's behind with paint. They both tried.. but neither was able to succeed. One did get real close, there was paint on his shirt tail!

Mission Minded

Along with the changing colors of the season, I enjoy preparing for the upcoming holidays. A big part of that is Operation Christmas Child.
Our family has been involved in one way or another for the last ten years! Our youngest son, Brian's birthday is a reminder that time of year is near. This year he turns ten! (more on that in the next post). Poor little guy wasn't keeping his formula down, the doctors on our military base changed his formula and gave me all sorts of advice. Finally, after he started losing weight they xrayed him. Poor little guy had pylostinosis. This is where the muscle connecting your stomach to your small intestine is too tight, it won't let food pass through. They sent us to a hospital a few cities away for him to have immediate emergency surgery. He was only 6 weeks old. It was hard for us anyway, but to be away from family and watch your baby so tiny being wheeled into surgery was scarey to say the least. The Lord was in control and he made it through and doesn't have a problem eating now!
While he was in the hospital, we were given the privalege to stay at the Ronald McDonald House. (since then, I support them every chance I get! The difference they made for our little family was immeasurable)
We were there during Christmas week, so there were lots of folks in and out of the McDonald home with various charities. However, I was drawn to Operation Christmas Child. There were ladies that were filling shoe boxes in preparation to be sent out. They asked if I would like to help. While helping fill them, I was able to learn all about this ministry. Wow! While that particular year, I was only able to help fill them, every year since, we have filled boxes for Operation Christmas Child.
If you have never been involved in this ministry, please check them out! They send these boxes out all over the world! These children and their families are in desperate poverty situations, and every little thing you give will make such a difference in their lives. Google the ministry, or go to www.samaritanspurse.
To close up the beginning story, Brian was able to come home Christmas Eve, and we were ever so thankful for all the volunteers involved in making our difficult stay a pleasant one! Look around you, there is pain and suffering every which way we turn. Extend a helping hand or volunteer your time. The blessings will be twofold, yours and the impact you have on others will last a lifetime!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Overwhelmed

What a crazy three weeks!
First Sweetie and I spent a weekend in Dallas to wittness the launch of EIRO Research. We were able to stay at the Gaylord Texan. Wow! Now we are familiar with the Gaylord as we have one in Nashville. This one is all Texas. Everything is BIG.
In the lobby is a huge oilwell, no it doesn't work. There is a huge windmill and a country shack, a huge steer, several train sets and a covered wagon!
Sweetie and I had a great time at the convention and even ordered room service for breakfast one morning. We had never done that before! What a treat! The rooms were nice and spacious and we felt special in our complimentary robes and slippers.
Eiro launched a new diet meal replacement and a metabolism booster pill. All natural.
Andy Andrews was there. What an awesome job he did!
He was gracious and took a picture with us and signed our copy of A Travelers Gift.
When we had a break in conferences, Sweetie and I bolted! We took a cab and went to visit the Dallas Stadium! Oh! It is amazing! I will post pics of this too!
We got home late Sunday afternoon, and repacked (the boys and I) we left less than 12 hours from when we landed. Whew!
More in a minute..

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Operation Serve

Today was our families third year serving in Operation Serve. This year Sweetie picked the project. We went and worked at his old elementary school.
What started out as another grey, wet day turned into a shiny, productive day of spreading Christ's love across Clarksville.
Our project was one of many at the school. We worked at the front enterance. There were neglected areas on either side of the front door. We raked, weeded, laid border, dug holes for bushes and shoveled mulch.
There were several in the neighborhood that came over out of curiosity to see what was going on.
Statements like: "All these young people are working for free?", "It is nice to see a church who will work outside their own walls, "For us? Wow!" Really? This is not going to cost me anything?", "I didn't realize there were folks out there that would take time away from their families and out of their weekend to come out and clean up our community."
I'm not writing about this to bring glory to us, or our church. I just hope if someone reads this, they will consider doing some small act of service for someone else, expecting nothing in return.
Sweetie and I hope that the boys will continue this act of service many, many times in the future.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sasha update..



"The Rat Terrier craves companionship, often using his paws to demand attention, and most are somewhat vocal, "talking" and grumbling, especially when ignored."

Sasha, our year and two month old puppy sure has changed the lives of our family. (And our friends)What a joy she is! She is consistantly the happiest "little gal" I meet any day! It has been fun to watch her personality grow with her.
She listens more than she used to. She knows her boundaries. (she left a chicken sandwich alone when left alone with it)When she is sorry, she is the sorriest (okay maybe not a word, but she is pitiful when she is sorry!).
When we first met her she climbed all over her brothers and sisters to make sure she was seen! Her personality hasn't changed much since then. She makes sure she is around all the time.
Oh! Side note! She is very handy to have in the kitchen! I don't have to sweep as much as I used to! I don't think anything has time to even fully come in contact with the floor before she has scooped it up! You would think this little dog doesn't eat! hmmm.
She is always ready to play, boundless, seemingly limitless energy. Moving and shaking all the time. Just like the quote above from a fellow rat terrier lover, she will "grumble" when she doesn't get her way. Not a lot, just a little cussing. Funny really. She also sighs a lot! I hope that means she is content. However, most of the time, I think she is fed up with the bunch of us!

Protective? yes! She will tolerate folks who come to visit, all will get a protective bark for sure. If the doorbell rings she is gone barking all the way there!
She loves to go for a ride. Due to her little stature she usually has to be held up by the passenger in order to see out the window. If we are stopped and someone is next to us where she can see them, she will bark a warning. When she goes with me to take the boys to school or perhaps to pick them up, whomever comes near the car gets a warning, "ruff", or a low "grrrr". Full fledged barking occurs if they make any move to come closer to the vehicle.
She has definately bonded with our family. She loves us all. Funny though, if any of us leave the room and dont come back for awhile or wear a hat she will bark at us too, we have either suprised her or she forgot us for a moment!
Sweetie takes full advantage of this, and delights in "scaring" her. HE has also found out that Sasha loves to chase a flashlight! We keep her busy with that sometimes!
She follows me around quite a bit, then sees I'm busy involved with something else and she will opt for a nap, but it is usually within sight distance.
Fetch! She will go play all day if you allow it. Doesn't get tired of chasing something and bringing it back.
Adopted Aunt Teri and Uncle Deane, they are the only other two people other than our family of four that she will be thrilled to see! Neat thing is, Deane leaves for several weeks sometimes months at a time between seeing her, and she will still recognize him when he comes back! I think she also likes the fact that he and he alone with share his Boznian coffee with her. No! She doesn't get much. He dips his finger in the last drops of it and lets her lick his finger! ha! We have also found out that she likes key lime pie! Uhuh! Teri? There is a special bond there. She likes NO girls other than me and Teri. It is hard for me to get her to settle down with another gal in the area.
Teri has made Sasha a facebook page. I know, but it is cute, and she has some followers and lots of friends. Teri, our middleschooler, and I keep up Sasha's page with the latest videos or pictures that we have taken of her.
Right now as I type this she is sitting on my lap with an occassional sigh as I type on.. oblivious to the fact that this post is all about her. She sits with me a lot. She loves Bible Study time. How do I know? She will watch my finger follow the words. Sometimes, okay most of the time, I read the lesson to her. Good little puppy. She will sit and listen. I think she understands more than she lets me know.
Teri has also made this pup a hater of monkeys. How? If there is a stuffed monkey anywhere in sight that remotely looks durable, Teri will buy it for her. She will then delight in Sasha's destruction of it.
Sasha wants to go out, so I must close this chapter. More about our delightful canine companion, Sasha later.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Cumberland Science Museum



Over the summer I took the boys to the Cumberland Science Center in Nashville. We had a fun day.
They had all sorts of stuff for the kids to do, and we all learned a lot. They would tell you their two favorite parts were the germ fighting game they played, and climbing around like they were astronauts.
If you are in the Nashville area, or need a suggestion when you come to the area, please check out the Cumberland Science Museum.

Picture day




Yesterday was picture day at our son's elementary school.
Does this conjure up any memories for you?
Ha! Me too!
Our youngest does care, very much about what he wears.
This day was no different.
After several changes he comes downstairs with his hair slicked back and dressed in all black.
He wanted to go looking "cool". He did!
Our middle schooler was out sick when school pictures came, we are still waiting for the make up date. When it happens for him, he will not care what he wears. He probably will forget to give me the date and he will just take an average everyday photo. He says that is the way he is, just average and everyday.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

God's will be done...

Ever catch yourself saying something you don't mean just because it is the "appropriate" thing to say?
When I pray, I generally say, "Your will be done." Basically meaning, "Lord, you are the ONE, if anyone can do it, you can. Or, If it's your will Lord!"
I sincerely do want God's will in my life and all its varied pathways. So, why is it when I get God's answer, (and it's not what I think it will be) I tend to go, "God are you sure?"
How dare I? Who do I think I am? I'm speaking to the CREATOR, the very one who speaks things into existence. The Alpha and Omega. He knows all. Who am I?
Obviously, if I am writing about this, it is something I have experienced of late.
Here goes...

I get a call from a dear friend of mine that has one pitiful kidney, that has to endure dialysis several times a week, daily last I heard. He gets sick quite a bit.
He has been on the waiting list for a new kidney for a long time. Yesterday he got that call. The call of all calls.. There is a kindney for you, come to the hospital.
He calls his wife, and then updates me while she is on her way home to pick him up to drive him out to the hospital.
I'm elated to say the least! There are so many emotions going on with all three of us! I'm singing praises and send up a prayer for safety as they go to the hospital, a prayer for the family of the deceased, and for the doctors.
Nine hours later, I get a phone call. What I was expecting was his wife saying that he was in surgery, or had just gotten out of surgery. But it wasn't. It was the wife telling me that they were on the way home from the hospital. What? It's too early!
She explains that the kidney came from a donor that had died. The doctors found out that this patient had a drug problem. The kidney looked healthy, but they didn't want to take a chance.
My prayer had been that God's will be done. God's will was that he not get that kidney. It sounded good, real good. But the circumstances were not right. I am disappointed and so is my friend. However, we are both thankful that the doctors were vigilant and did their homework before putting a possibly questionable kidney into my friend.
Sometimes when I pray I don't get a answer right away, sometimes I do and don't recognize it as an answer. Sometimes it is right up in my face, blinking lights and all.
I have humbly asked for forgiveness for my haughty know it all attitude.
Moral to this story: If you ask for God's will to be done, and it is.. don't be so suprised! Be honored HE let you in on it!

Monday, August 24, 2009

School is in Session

It's that time of year again!
We are in the groove! Actually, I am late in posting this. The boys have been in school for two weeks now.
Our typical day starts around 5:30 am. It's time to motivate the oldest. Sometimes he moves and sometimes he doesn't. He has learned from last years splash therapy, (see older post) so he tends to get up. This gives him time to eat and get ready. Mind you even though he is twelve gentle reminders to brush his hair and teeth are necessary. He could care a less about what he wears to school,or what he looks like. His bus, should he choose to ride it arrives at 6:40 sometimes earlier. If we miss it, we are not far from the school, and I like to think I've saved him from some middleschool horror by taking him instead. It is truly enough to make me blush just to process what he tells me is talked about between middleschoolers these days!
Since an hour later the youngest leaves on his bus, I'm in waking up our little ray of sunshine just before 7am. This is the child that cares what he wears to school and how he looks. (crazy they are both from the same chemistry set). Depending on his fashion of the day, yes he cares..then he will eat, and then without me asking or reminding, he is upstairs again to brush his teeth and fix his hair. He is really into the bangs being lifted just so in the front. A quick spritz of hairspray and he is ready to go.
I've developed a new plan for school this year. We pack lunches the night before. And preferably, the boys pack them. This has a two fold purpose! One - I'm not doing it, and Two- they always get what they want in there. No more complaining about what type of sandwich they got, or snack. They picked it out in the store, they pack it into their daily lunch bag.
Side note on lunch boxes these days...they don't come with a thermos! They haven't for awhile, and I just don't understand. Each boy has sooo outgrown the Capri Sun stage,they would take 4 or 5 with them each day! So, I went and bought each one a modern type thermos. I still have a old Hotwheels thermos from our oldest's first lunch box. So if one wants to take soup, this can be accomplished also.
This weekend we bought new soccer shoes for our youngest starting his 5th year. Just this spring he was wearing size 5. Now less than three months later he is wearing a 7! This is a MENS shoe size! uhuh. Now I know where all that food is going! A size 7! Sigh, time is going by so fast! Our Saturdays are filled up from now until sometime in November. Good stuff.
Our oldest has decided to opt for piano again this semester. From June 2008 until May of this year he took on violin. He excelled. Violin was such a neat change in the myriad of sounds coming out of our home any given day. Since to achieve a certain note, one has to listen for the appropriate sound, violin was right up his alley! He can listen to a piece of music and then re-create most of it on both violin and piano.
His piano teacher, whom he has played with for the last three years, minus the last year had an opening! Today they met again and both were overjoyed. She let me sit in on the lesson, and wow did I learn a lot! Yes, they spend time on the piano, but she also spends time with flashcards. Yep! Music notes on flashcards. When she flashes a card he has to name the note/symbol and find it on the keyboard and play it for her. If he is right he gets to move on, if not.. try again! Neat stuff! She enjoyed listening to the new songs our middleschooler has learned, and patiently showed him how to work on his timing. After the lesson she explained to both of us, how she wants to work on his recognition of the actual notes, not just the sound they make.
She could tell he still practices on his own here at home as he had many of the attributes of a seasoned player still! Kudos! He hopes to play in the band at church one day..and one day I believe he will!

Monday, August 17, 2009

De-Cluttering Our Lives

It's already mid August! What a challenging year this has been! How are your new year resolutions coming? Mine? Actually quite well. I know, shut up! But, see; I'm truly excited! We have gotten some projects completed that have been on the list a long time!
So far, this year we have been totally involved in home improvement! It started with the setting aside of funds to get new windows. We had the old single pane kind.. ugh! Ya know, the kind you prop open with a stick. Yeah..that kind.
Before we could do that, the water heater decided its contract was up, so it leaked all over the garage. So, we replaced that. Um.. the windows took three months to put in. I know.. long story. We had the windows wrapped so we don't have to get out the super tall ladders to paint them anymore! Yay! We replaced the square columns on the front porch as they were rotten. Now we have round ones! We painted the front door and side panels, and the gutters, and the garage door. We added two flower beds, one up front and two in the back yard! Stained the playset. Umm.. then we added a whole row of burning bushes along the ditch to the side of our home.
Then there was the day we realized our airconditioner wasn't working. Yep, had to replace that! Thankfully in the weeks we put that off, the little seperate unit that cools the upstairs still plugged along. Otherwise,eww..I don't want to think about it!
Sweetie's dad put in some shelves for us in the garage! Now we are garage organized! Whoo hoo! He even has a workbench now! It is so fabulous to go out there and actually find something! Yay! (I know, but it is so exciting!)
By end of September I will have (Lord willing) finished cleaning out the attic. It's amazing the stuff we have kept. Why? Who knows? I guess it's just part of that, 'maybe I will use it again' frame of mind.
The kids rooms will be next, as a neighbor and I have committed to throwing out the clutter this year! So far so good! We might even pull off a yard sale when it is cooler out.
High hopes! Great goals! Really fun, when for the first time in a long time, I am actually taking things off my list, instead of adding to it! How long will this last? If I keep watching the Do It Yourself network, I will always have a project or three ongoing! But that's okay, right? As long as it is within reason..time and money wise that is!
Personally, I've been able to declutter myself too. I am learning to successfully say NO~! For some, it isn't hard to do that. For me;it is. I am keeping track of my time. This keeps me from the frustration and stress I gave myself over trying to be everything to and for everyone! Admittedly there has been some flack from others as I have said no to something they wanted when they were banking on a yes. But, it truly is okay. Wow. I think I am maturing. Eeeks! Don't tell.

So, on to the de-cluttering.. one goal is to spend less time on the computer!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it. "

This quote is from Charles Buxton. He was a writer, philanthropist, and Member of Parliment. He is credited for working to abolish slavery in the 1800's.
I came across this quote early this morning and it gave me something to think about.
Do you know anyone who says, "I would love to do this or that, I just don't have the time." Or maybe you have heard this one:" I'm waiting for things to settle down so that I can commit to doing this project."
To give justification to both sides of this; I know folks who say those things and do find a way to fit in something they are interested in, or a service they want to perform, a group they wish to be part of. What burdens me is the folks that I hear say those phrases and others like them, just to be in the same situation this same time next year!
Did you see the movie THE BUCKET LIST? Or The Christmas Carol? There are movies out there with the same type theme that I'm sure came to mind as these did to mine. They deal with someone who has been living their life not to the fullest, or regrefully let their current circumstances dictate their life outcome.
When you breathe your last breath, do you want to say, "I wish I had", or "wow, I'm glad I did such and such!"
We get one life. We have dreams, and goals, each different. Some seem unattainable. Why? Is it money, time? Are you restricted due to your health? Have you written down your goals? Do you have a bucket list? What are your dreams?

Look at your calendar. See what needs to be cut so you can work toward those goals.
Set the goal, visualize it, look at it everyday! Then when you succeed.. yay! Move on to the next one! This will generate enough positive in your life to keep you motivated onto the next one, and the next one after that!
GO FOR IT!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Serving others

Today was a good day.
What made it good? Our family decided today was going to be all about serving others. Specifically, our elderly neighbors across the street.
We started with getting the grass all mowed, then moved on to the big stuff. Cleaning out all the flower beds, and trimming trees and bushes. We all are tired, hot and sore. Well, some of us. The boys are still plenty energetic. Bottom line, the neighbors yard looks great! The neighbors are happy, and so are we. It feels so good to see the fruits of our labor. And what fun we had blessing them! God is good!
Every year our family looks forward to serving in our church's OPERATION SERVE. Its a day/weekend where we serve our community in various ways. So we got to thinking that we could serve here in our very own neighborhood! Why not?
Now,I'm not writing this to toot our family horn. This is what's top on my mind today and I wanted to share.
Why not be a blessing to someone else? It's been a hard week for me personally in losing a friend of mine to suicide and then an older prayer partner dying yesterday. Seems I spend more time brooding over the bad news versus the good stuff happening to me and others around me.
Isn't it crazy how the "stuff" in our lives makes us loose focus? Is there someone close to you that could use your help? Maybe it is driving them somewhere, or picking up something across town for them, maybe just a phone call.
There are a lot of lonely people in this world, wouldn't it be great to be that difference for someone?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Loss

Early this morning, we recieved a phone call informing us of a friend of ours that shot and killed himself last night. My mind can't help but return to our last conversation, the last time I saw him. It was mid June, he actually recognized me. I wasn't paying any attention, just trying to get groceries loaded in the car. I saw a guy approaching me, but since I wasn't far from the cart return, I just knew that's where he was going.
Then I heard him call my name. Turning toward him, I looked at a shell of my friend. (Little background..we went to higschool together, were in the same youth group, I went to his wedding, been a part of both baby showers, couple of cookouts,ect. Not somone I chatted with weekly, or even monthly, but still one I would call friend)
Formalities aside, we talked about our families, he was divorced, had married again and had just spent some time in jail. We talked about our upcoming reunion, chatted about some folks we had seen, some we were looking forward to seeing again.
He shared how the only time he felt good was when he drank.
It was a quick conversation, but one that will be burned into my memory for years to come.
I invited him to church, his response was that he couldn't come, the guilt of not living up to his family and God's expectations would be too much.
We shared a goodbye hug. I was burdened for him, and now today,my heart just aches. I ache as his friend, and I ache for his family.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dreaming Dreams

Last evening Sweetie and I sat with friends and listened to a speaker talk about How to Live your Dreams. He talked about how we are all faced with choices and if there is something we want to do we need to picture that goal in our minds eye and GO FOR IT!
Aren't motivational speakers something? They just get ya all psyched up and ready to jump out of bed in the morning and change the world, or at least try to change your world.
There are many opinions on how to do this, whether it is a certain product or activity or place to visit. If your family wears this brand of clothing, uses these products, drives this vehicle, all will be well in your world. How does a person choose?
I don't know about you, but I do strive for some of these products, for myself and my friends and family. We are even blessed enough to have a few of these "things" and have gone to some of the places talked about. It was fun, and when it was over, we set new goals.
While it is exciting to go and do, and have new things, I believe it is equally important to make the best out of the situation you are in currently. Is there a way you can help someone in your community? Is it a neighbor, a coworker or a friend? Do you take the time to see behind the mask they are wearing?
If we succomb to the worlds eye view of what will make us happy we will never be content, because there will always be a newer and more efficient model coming in just as we finally get the original item. (and most likely we still have to finish paying for the first one!)
Learn to enjoy the time we have with one another. Turn the electronics off! Talk to each other! We are losing precious time, time we will never get back with our friends, neighbors, and family.
Set small goals for yourself. Something that you can achieve in a shorter period of time. This will keep the disappointment down and depression at bay. With several small goals accomplished, you will have the self esteem needed to pursue and achieve the big ones too.
Another point I would like to make is.. time changes goals. One thing we can bank on is that life is full of change. Month after month, year after year, there are few goals that stay the same.
This country's current economic situation is depressing. We know several folks who are out of job. Losing a job, or two, losing your home..are huge crushing blows to a person and thier family. Everyone is affected.
How can we Dream our Dreams in this economy? How about looking in the mirror? Count your blessings! That will perk you up in this depressing time.
As I look over the last few months I see a change in everyone around me. Folks are helping folks. There is a bigger sense of community. Coupon sharing, harvest out of local gardens is being shared instead of sold, people cutting thier spending, more eating at home than in restaurants. More staying home instead of out and about. I've seen more people hanging out in backyards, on the front porches..talking to each other.
May God open all our eyes to these changes so we may embrace them as yet another opportunity to grow our faith, another opportunity to shine as He wants us too. It's amazing how much more quickly I achieve something when I take the time to help someone else out first. Who's life will you change just by giving of your time, and your abilities without asking for anything in return?

July 2009 Chester's 4th of July

It’s the Fourth of July Chester!



“Chester, Wake up! It’s July 4th!” Boomer squeaked into Chester’s ear.
“What?” Chester asked, wiping the sleep from his eyes.
“Remember last year? We had a picnic, we played games, and then when it was dark there was a big noise, and then the pretty colors! Do you remember?” said Boomer excitedly bouncing around Chester’s bedroom.
“I remember…” mumbled Chester rolling over and hiding his head under a leaf.
“Chester, Chesssster, Cheeeeeeeeeesssstttterrrr!” Boomer yelled.
“I’m up!” Chester barked.
“Knock, Knock!” said a voice from the other outside of Chester’s front door.
”SIGH, why can’t I ever sleep in, even just a little?” Chester muttered while walking toward the door.
As Chester opened the door, Lily buzzed around the corner and into his front room.
“Good Morning Chester!” she said. “Your Mom told me to tell you she is making a picnic lunch for us, and your dad has sparklers, and…”
“OOOH!” interrupted Boomer. “What is a sparkler?”
Chester yawned. ‘Why was everyone in his house so early in the morning?’
“It’s a stick that sparkles when you light it with fire.” Dart replied as he flew in the front door; landing in front of the group. Dart explained how all fireworks need a spark of fire, that’s what makes them explode and have all the colors.
“Then I don’t think that is a good idea.” Chester said shaking his head.
“What; why not?” Lily asked.
“If it has to do with fire, I don’t want anything to do with it. Fire scares me.” Chester said folding his arms across his chest.
“First off, your dad doesn’t HAVE sparklers; he said he knew there would be lots of sparklers tonight.” Dart corrected Lily.
“Can’t we just watch? We don’t have to touch them do we?” Lily asked.
“No, we don’t, we are only going to watch the skies, just like last year.” Dart replied.
“Can we talk about what we are going to do today?” Chester asked his friends.
Once everyone settled down it was decided they would go on a scavenger hunt for supplies they could use while watching the fireworks. The group split up and agreed to meet at Chester’s parents’ tree for dinner. Boomer and Lily went to look for some soft leaves to lie on, while Dart and Chester went to hunt some snacks for them to eat.
“I know where to find some good fuzzy ones!” Lily said.
“I’m right behind you!” said Boomer as he followed Lily down into the woods.
Meanwhile, Chester and Dart were gathering berries off some bushes when they heard some whispering. Dart motioned for Chester to join him under the bush so they could watch and listen.
“Do you think anyone saw us?” a voice said.
“No, did you get some firecrackers?” said another.
“I sure did!”
“I watched my brother light some like these last year.”
“Let me see!”

Chester could see three boys scrunched down under some trees. Dart motioned to Chester he was going to get a closer look. Dart backed out from under the bush and flew up into a nearby tree. He then waved to Chester to come join him.
Once Chester was high up in the tree with Dart, he could see a little better. The boys now had some smoke around them and little sparks of fire could be seen as they threw little white papers down on a rock.
“That’s fire they are playing with, isn’t it?” Chester whispered to Dart.
“Yes, they are using it to light the fireworks.” Dart said shaking his head back and forth.
“I thought humans were smarter than us. What can we do to stop this before the woods catch on fire?” Chester asked.
“I’m going to go find the Ranger.” Dart said.
“How will he know to follow you?”
“I will bug him until he understands.” Dart said as he flew up into the sky.
Chester sat in the tree hidden by leaves as he watched and listened to the boys’ pop fireworks. He wondered how no one could hear them as there were people on the trails and the golf course today.
Soon the boys grew tired of the popping and started pulling out what looked like sticks and lighting them. The thing on the end of the stick would shoot up into the air, followed by a little trail of smoke. Then a few minutes later a little parachute would float down to the ground. This was scary for Chester as sometimes they would shoot right up into the tree where Chester was hiding.
Chester climbed down the tree a ways so he could see when Dart was coming. It wasn’t long before Chester saw Dart and then the Ranger climbing up through the underbrush. Dart flew to Chester, and waited to see what would happen next. The boys were laughing and talking so much that they didn’t hear the Ranger until he was right behind them.
“BOYS!” the Ranger thundered.
All three jumped back, desperately trying to hide the fireworks behind them.
“We aren’t doing anything officer.” One of them stammered.
“Seems to me you were shooting off fireworks. That is illegal here in the park. Let’s gather all this up and walk it back down to my office. Then I have some phone calls to make to your parents.”
The boys obeyed the officer and gathered up all the trash and the rest of the fireworks and sheepishly started to make their way down the trail to the Ranger station. As the Ranger passed by he looked up to see Dart and Chester. With a smile and a wave he mouthed a “thank you” to them. Chester was thrilled. He had never had a human talk to him before.

“Dart you are a hero today.” Chester said giving Dart a high five.
“We both helped save the park today, Chester.” Dart said. “Now let’s finish gathering so we can go eat, I’m hungry!”

Boomer and Lily were helping Mom chipmunk get dinner together when Dart and Chester arrived. They were putting the finishing touches on a strawberry cake.

“Yummy!” Dart said cocking his head from left to right.
“I helped with the frosting!” Boomer said.
“What did you guys find?” Lily asked.
“We found some marshmallows and graham crackers that someone left behind at a campsite.” Dart said as he and Chester set the supplies next to the tree.
“I found lots of nuts and berries”. Chester said.
As the friends and family sat down to eat, Chester sniffed the air.
“Everything smells so good!” he said, whiskers twitching.
“There is something here for everyone!” Dad chipmunk said as he placed a juice pitcher on the table.
As the sun started to fade, the group was still sitting around the table laughing and joking with each other.
“Mom, this was so good!” Chester said giving her a big hug.
“Glad you liked it, does anyone want cake?” she replied.
Everyone agreed that cake was a great idea. Once the cake had been eaten, and clean up was finished, the friends were ready to lie back and watch some color fill the night sky.
The leaves that Boomer and Lily found were so very comfortable, and smelled so good, Chester was afraid he might go to sleep before all the fun started.
“Dart, do you think we should say anything to everyone about what happened while we were out today?” Chester asked as he sat down next to his friend.
“No, let’s just have fun tonight.”
“What are you two talking about?” Chester’s dad asked.
“Oh, just the adventure Dart and I had today! We got to see the Ranger in action!” Chester gushed.
“That’s nice.” Dad chipmunk said as he stretched out on some leaves.
“OH! I see one!” Boomer shouted. “Look!”
Crackle!
Pop!
Fizz! Pffffft!
Pow! Bang! BOOM!

As the sky exploded with color the group sat together beside the lake and pointed out their favorite fireworks to each other. It was a great ending to another fun holiday.

June 2009 Chester's Sleepover

A Summertime Sleepover


Chester and Dart were planning their sleepover. “First we will eat, and then we will play games!” Chester said excitedly.
“Let’s stay awake all night!” Dart added.
“Okay! Ummmm. I need to get home and get things ready.” Chester replied.
“See you in a couple hours, Chester!” Dart said as he flew off to get his overnight bag.

Chester had lots to do to get his home ready for Dart to spend the night. He wanted everything to be perfect. He hurried down the trail back to his home. Hopping inside he grabbed some containers and headed back into the woods.
First, Chester dug up lots of worms, putting them into a small cooler. Dart would love that! Next, he picked two baskets full of berries. One he would mash down into juice for them to drink and the other for snacks. Chester yawned, it had been a full day already and Chester was getting tired from all the running back and forth.

Just as Chester was pulling the second basket into his home, his mom poked her head around the corner.
“Hi Chester! I brought over some snacks for later tonight.”
“Mom, I didn’t know you were here!” Chester said, giving her a big hug. “Your snacks are the best! Thank you!”
“I’m here too Chester!” his father said, coming in the door.
“Hi Dad, what’s up?” he said giving his dad a high five.
“Your mom said that she heard you were having a buddy spend the night and she wanted to bring over some snacks and extra bedding.” Dad chipmunk said.

Chester looked around his home. There were two extra quilts folded in the corner, a bucket full of peanuts, and a stack of games in another basket.
“Thanks guys! This is going to be great!” Chester clapped his hands in delight.
“Your dad brought you boys a surprise!” Mom said as she squeezed the berries into a pitcher.
Chester’s eyes widened. “Oh! What is it?”
Chester’s dad waved at Chester to follow him into the dim hallway. “But Dad, I can’t see back there!”
“Come here, and you will see!” Dad chipmunk was pulling two jars out of his backpack. Each jar had a glow about it.
Chester leaned in close. “What is that?”
“It’s firefly juice, so you can glow after dark. Just rub this on yourselves or anything you want to glow and you will be able to see even in the dark.”
“Dad, you rock! I can’t wait to try it out!” Chester exclaimed.








Mom chipmunk slowly spread the quilts out on the floor. Inside each quilt was a fresh pillow.
Chester sniffed the air. “What is that smell?”
“It’s mint! I put fresh mint into these new pillows so you and Dart will have sweet dreams.” she answered.
“Did you leave us any to munch on?” Chester asked.
Mom chipmunk winked, “I sure did! Over there in the bag on the counter.”
“Mom, you rock too!” Chester laughed.
“Okay, we had better get out of here; it is almost time for Chester’s company to show up.” Dad chipmunk said, opening the door to leave.
“Thanks, both of you! Thank you for everything!” Chester said waving goodbye.
“Have fun Chester!” Mom chipmunk said as she turned the corner out of sight.

Chester was still smiling when Dart knocked on the door.
“Come in Dart!” said Chester.
“Are you ready to have fun? My mom gave me some raisins, and a new box of cards to play with.” Dart said, bringing his bag inside.
“My parents came by and dropped off some things too! We are all set!” said Chester as he showed Dart all the fun things waiting for them to use.

The two friends laughed, and played games for several hours. It didn’t take long for them to work up an appetite. They had quite a lot to choose from for dinner once they set it all out. Dart filled up on berry juice and worms, while Chester ate a little of everything.

Next, Chester brought out the firefly juice. The friends smeared it on their faces and took turns scaring each other. Then they drew pictures on the walls and floors. Soon there were soft glowing pictures of each other, and many of their adventures all around them.
“Sigh! What a great day! Thanks for letting me come over Chester!” Dart said lying back on his fresh pillow.
“No problem, anytime.” Chester said, rubbing his eyes. Even though they tried their best to stay awake, the friends were soon fast asleep, each one dreaming of tomorrow’s new and exciting adventures.

May 2009 Boomer & the Bubblegum

Boomer Discovers Bubblegum


Today we find Boomer, Chester, and Dart picking up litter on the park grounds.
“What did you find Chester?” asked Dart as he threw away an abandoned shoe.
“I found a couple wrappers, and a cup.” Chester replied. “How about you?”
“A shoe, a hubcap, some newspaper, and a plastic bag, so far.”
“Ohhh!” said Boomer; a little further up the trail.
Boomer is Chester’s little brother. He played more than he cleaned up, but Chester
lets him help anyway.
“Did ya find something?” Chester asked as he dropped a cup into the trashcan.
The friends could hear giggles from the other side of the bush.
Boomer didn’t answer. “I don’t see him; he must be in the bush!” Dart said as he flapped his wings and flew up over the bush.
More giggles. “I found a plastic Easter egg!” Boomer mumbled from under the bush. “It has something in it!”
“Boomer, What are you doing? We need to throw that away. Bring it out here and we will help you.” Dart said. It was quiet, and then the friends heard a pop!
“Stop goofing off, Boomer! Did you just open that egg? We don’t know how old that is, the stuff inside might be rotten!” Chester scolded.
Boomer slowly stepped out from under the bush carrying a plastic, yellow Easter egg in two pieces. He was grinning from ear to ear.
“Okay” he mumbled.
“Why do you sound like that?” Chester asked. “What’s in your mouth?”
“Nuttin’!” Boomer said as he pushed past Chester with the egg in his paws. “I’m just going to throw this egg away, just like you said.”
“Humph!” said Dart as he narrowed his eyes and cocked his head while watching Boomer climb up the trash can. Chester wasn’t falling for it either. They both knew Boomer was hiding something. Chipmunks can hide all sorts of things in their cheeks and sometimes it is hard to tell if there is something in there or not.
Boomer quickly ran down the trashcan and off into the woods. Dart and Chester decided to just keep looking for trash as Boomer wouldn’t be able to keep whatever he had to himself much longer.
Chester and Dart were busy finding all sorts of things. Dart found some shoelaces, and a milk carton; while Chester found cans and some soggy socks! Several trips to the trashcan later the friends noticed that they hadn’t seen Boomer lately.
“Where has he gone now?” Chester asked Dart. “Will you please fly up and see if you see him anywhere?”
“Sure, I think we are finished for today anyway.” Dart said as he flew off.
“I will look for him down here!” Chester called out after his friend.

Just over the hill and around the bend, Boomer was un-wrapping the candy that he had found inside the egg. As he ripped open the paper, his eyes widened as more of the candy came into view. The candy was pink, and it smelled wonderful. Boomer closed his eyes and sniffed deeply, wondering what it would taste like.
“Hey, Boomer, what is that?” a voice from behind him said. “It smells so good!”
Boomer jumped and hid the candy in his mouth.
“Nuttin!” Boomer muttered as he turned around. It was Chester’s friend, Lily.
“Uh- huh; I saw you put it in your mouth. What is it?” Lily asked as she fluttered around him.
“I don’t know, I found it in an Easter egg and it tastes wonderful!” Boomer said while chewing on his special treat.
Lily picked up the shredded wrapper. “It says bubblegum, Boomer. It’s bubblegum!”
“Gum is good.” He answered as the sugary candy expanded in his mouth.
“I’ve seen humans with it. They chew it and blow bubbles.” Lily said. “What does it taste like Boomer? Is it yummy? I love sweet things! Oh, please blow a bubble!” a very excited Lily was buzzing all over now.
“I’ve never blown a bubble before.” said Boomer rolling the candy around in his mouth.
“Flatten out the candy with your tongue, then push it behind your front teeth, feel it?”
Boomer nodded.
“Now open your teeth slightly pushing the candy outward with your tongue. Make your lips go in a circle, now blow like you are going to whistle. Blow! Blow!” instructed Lily.
Boomer started blowing, as he blew, the candy formed a bubble.
“Blow, Boomer, blow!” squealed Lily.
Boomer blew and blew again just like Lily said. A small bubble started to appear. A few more blasts and it was quite large!
“Wow!” cheered Lily. “Okay, stop blowing! It’s too big! Boomer!”
POP!!!!
“Ha, ha, ha! That was fun!” laughed Boomer pulling small pieces of gum off his fur.
“Let me help you, Boomer.” said Lily as she tried to wipe him off.
Several minutes passed and the two were still trying to get rid of the gum.
“This is hard.” whined Boomer.
“Yes, it is hard, we need to get Chester to help us.” replied Lily.
“Get Chester to help with what?” said Chester interrupting Lily.
Chester looked at Boomer. Boomer was indeed pitiful. Tears ran down Boomers cheeks as he tried without success to pull another pink piece of gum out of his fur.
“Chester, what do I do? I blew a bubble and now the bubble is all over me!” cried Boomer.
“Oh wow! Boomer, you found gum didn’t you?” squawked Dart as he circled the group in the air above.
“Don’t cry Boomer, we will get this off.” Chester said handing Boomer a tissue to wipe away his tears. “Let’s go down to the lake and get you cleaned up before Mom sees you looking like this.”
By the time the sun started to set; the friends returned Boomer to Mom chipmunk fresh and clean. They had all learned a lesson that day.
“Bye Boomer, Bye Mom! See you later!” Chester said waving goodbye.
Boomer smiled and waved. “See you later Chester, and thanks for everything!”

April 2009 Lily & Her Sparkle

Lily And Her Sparkle


“I found one!” Chester squealed as he checked Daffodil off on his list.
“What color is it?” piped in Dart.
The two friends had been on a scavenger hunt of sorts today looking for new things one can find in the woods in April. So far they had just found flowers.
“This one is white.” Chester replied.
“So you found a White Narcissus!” chirped Dart. Dart knew all sorts of things about flowers.
“Yeah, a white Daffodil!” mumbled Chester. He didn’t care what the technical name was, he was just having fun.
“There are some purple flowers over here. What are they called Dart?”
Dart cocked his head back and forth as he looked the little flowers over. He did that a lot when he was thinking.
“I believe that is a Violet Wood Sorrel.” he replied.
“Hmm. Well they taste good!” Chester said between mouthfuls.
“Chester!” Dart scolded. “You aren’t supposed to pick the flowers! Don’t you remember the sign the park ranger put out?”
“I’m not picking them, I’m eating them, mmm-mm-mmmm!” munched Chester. “Besides, that’s rules for the humans.”
Dart shook his head, “Let’s move on before the ranger catches you! Why do you have to put everything in your mouth?”
“Because that is what chipmunks do! Last week I got nine nuts in my cheeks at once! Can you believe it? NINE! Last fall I could only get seven in there! Then there was this time…” Chester stopped as he realized Dart wasn’t listening to him anymore.
“Dart, what are you doing?”
“I smell something” Dart said as he flapped his wings and flew up into the sky.
“What?” Chester asked. He listened real hard and sniffed in the wind.
An amazing smell was wafting in the air this afternoon. How could he have missed it?
“That smells like popcorn!” Dart called down. “I want to see where that smell is coming from. I will go look around the picnic tables and the cave area.”
“What’s popcorn? “ Chester called back. Dart didn’t answer as he had already flown off.
Chester’s tummy growled. “I will look around the lake. Maybe there is food down there.” Chester said to himself.




Chester looked this way and that to make sure the coast was clear. As he made his way around some bushes, under a broken tree, and through the hollow log; he could see the sparkle of sunshine on the lake. He could hear birds chirping, and an occasional splash of water caused by a turtle, or duck, and voices too! As he climbed down to the water line, he kept watch as he knew there would be others looking to score some extra food, and he didn’t want to be left out!
Chester climbed up into a tree that had branches close to the ground. This way he could watch and not be seen by humans, or anything else!
A family was sitting down on a couple of benches feeding the ducks some bread crumbs. The quacking got louder as more ducks saw what was going on, and wanted some bread too! Nestled in a bushy area over to the side a boy and a man sat fishing.
Setting on his hind legs and stretching himself up, Chester looked to see if there were any other humans around. There were several walking the trails today, and a few having picnics up around the tables.
As he made his way down to the next branch, his foot slipped and down he came! End over end into the grass below. Poor Chester! He fell with little more than a thud. Since Chester is so small, thankfully no one heard him fall.
However, a dragonfly saw it happen and flew over to see how he was.
“Are you okay?” she buzzed.
“Yes, just embarrassed.” Chester sheepishly replied.
“What are you doing down here by the water?’ she said zipping over toward a bunch of flowers.
“I was looking for something.” said Chester while dusting off his legs and back.
“Do you need help?”
“Nah, I think I’m finished.” Chester said as he moved out from under the bushes.
Chester stared. He liked shiny things, and this dragonfly was shiny. She moved quickly wherever she flew. Her wings we moving so fast he could hardly keep up with her. In the sunlight she was so sparkly.
“Hello…are you listening? she asked.
“What?”
“You are a silly chipmunk, aren’t you? My name is Lily, what’s yours?” Lily buzzed.
“Chester.” he said without blinking.
Lily stopped zig - zagging for a moment and said, “Why are you looking at me that way?”
“Do you know you sparkle when you fly?” Chester said as she landed on a leaf next to him.
Lily giggled. The very sound tickled Chester’s ears.
“Wanna race?” Lily asked.
Chester and Lily played tag along the waterline, and then took a break in the sunshine.
“You are fast!” Chester said, catching his breath.
“So are you.” giggled Lily. She was sitting still now.
“I love the way the sun feels on my wings. Hmmm. This is nice.” sighed Lily.
Chester smiled as he watched the sunlight dance in different colors on her wings.
“Watch this Chester!” Lily darted out over the water toward the middle of the lake. Just as quickly she was back.
“Did you see? I get close to the water, but not too close. I don’t want a fish to eat me!”
Chester was so busy watching Lily move about over the water, he didn’t hear Dart calling to him.
“Chester! Chester! CHESTER!” Dart called.
“Huh?” When Chester turned around he saw Dart sitting on a nearby branch.
“I found popcorn!” Dart said. “I saw a boy drop a bunch of it out on the trail.”
Chester clapped his paws together. “Hooray!”
He turned around to tell Lily but she had already buzzed back onto the lake.
“Come on Chester, let’s go eat! Just wait until you taste it!” Dart said, urging Chester along.
Chester looked back over his shoulder and waved to Lily. He wasn’t sure if she saw him or not, but he did it just the same.
As the two friends hurried back to the popcorn, Chester told Dart all about Lily and her sparkle. Chester was happy; he had made a new friend, and was going to eat popcorn with his best friend.

March 2009 Chester's Perfect Day

Chester’s Perfect Day


“Gotcha Dart!” giggled Chester as he climbed up a nearby tree.
“It’s your turn to hide.” replied Dart as he tucked his head under his wing and started counting.
Chester the chipmunk and Dart the bluebird had been playing hide and seek all morning. Chester had a plan, this time he would go further away to hide, he would go where Dart would never find him. Since the wind was blowing through the trees and brush today, it helped disguise any sounds Chester was making as he headed toward the hollow tree around the corner.
“Ready or not, here I come!” Dart shouted.
Chester laughed, and stayed right where he was. While he waited for Dart to find him, he heard the sound of children playing. Peeking out from behind some leaves, Chester settled in to watch.
Dart checked the bushes by Chester’s tree first. Nope, no Chester! He then looked down towards the berry bushes where he hid last time. No, not there either! He looked behind rocks, under bushes and benches along the trail, but no Chester. He finally decided to take to the air. Dart loved to fly, a couple flaps of his little wings and he was high above the tree tops. Dart was about ready to give up when he spotted Chester dart behind some leaves.
“Tag, you’re it!” shouted Dart breathlessly as he landed next to Chester. Chester wasn’t paying attention to Dart; he was too busy wondering what those children were doing. After several minutes went by, Chester asked, “What is that?”
“What is what?” asked Dart, who by now had begun chasing a beetle across the path. “Yum, crunchy.” mumbled Dart as he swallowed his snack.
“What is that thing in the air?” Chester asked.
Dart hopped around the tree and looked to see what Chester was talking about. He could see some kids riding bicycles, some running and jumping, and a girl flying a kite.
“That’s a kite, Chester.” Dart said cocking his head from side to side.
“I want to try!” Chester said as he watched the kite bouncing around in the sky.
“You wouldn’t be able to hold it!” laughed Dart. “You would be tossed about and fly away to who knows where!”
Chester stretched his legs out behind him and his paws out in front of him until he was flat on the ground. He rolled over on his back and looked up at the clouds. The sun was shining so brightly he almost missed seeing something else in the sky.
“Look Dart! That’s the biggest bird I’ve ever seen!” Chester said sitting up straight.
“I don’t see anything!” said Dart, looking aat the ground for more bugs.
Chester stretched himself as high as he could and pointed. “There, see it’s scratching the sky!” Dart looked up just in time to see an airplane streaking across the sky.
“That’s an airplane Chester, it takes people places.” said Dart.
“So, people can fly too?”
“When they get into a plane” Dart replied.
“I want to try!” Chester said as he watched the plane slowly disappear into the clouds.

Chester was quiet as he watched the children play. He had learned two new things today. That gave him a lot to think about. Dart looked at Chester and said, “Do you want me to show you how to make your own kite?”
“Really?” asked Chester, his eyes sparkling.
“Sure! Do you have any paper and string in your treasure room?” asked Dart.
“I do! I’ll go get a piece of each and meet you in front of my tree” Chester called over his shoulder as he ran home.
“Make sure it is a long piece of string!” Dart called out after him.
A few minutes later Chester re-appeared with a green piece of paper and a long string.
Dart pointed to the ground. “Okay, first lay your paper down here. Make sure the long sides of the paper are on the top and the bottom.”
Chester was so excited. He neatly piled the string on the ground next to the paper. He made sure the paper laid right and then said, “Now what?”
“Fold the paper in half, and leave it folded” continued Dart.
The friends were so busy working on making a kite that neither of them heard Boomer creep up to them. Boomer is Chester’s little brother, who sometimes follows Chester and Dart on their adventures.
“Boo!” yelled Boomer. Chester and Dart both jumped.
“Hi guys, whatcha doing?” he squeaked.
“Dart is showing me how to make a kite!” explained Chester.
“What’s a kite?” Boomer asked.
“Watch and see!” replied Dart.
Boomer leaned against the tree trunk where he could see what was going on. It wasn’t long until Dart and Chester were finished. Boomer watched as Dart poked a hole in the kite for the string to attach to it. Chester tied a knot so the string would stay and not come off the kite. Next, Chester tied the other end of the string to a small stick. Then he wrapped the string around the stick, all the way up to the kite.
“Now, I will take the kite and you slowly let out the string. I will take it up high so that the wind will carry it for you.” Dart said to Chester as he put the kite in his beak. Dart flew up to the lowest branch in the tree with the kite in his mouth. Dart let go of the kite just as another gust of wind blew through the trees. The kite was flying!
“Yay!” squealed Boomer.
Chester was too excited to say anything as he felt the tugging of the little kite. He was scared if he talked he might drop it.
“Wow! Look at you! You are flying a kite!” laughed Dart as he landed on the ground next to Boomer.
“Am I doing this right?” Chester asked.
“Yes!” Dart said.
After Chester had flown the kite for awhile, he let Boomer try. When Boomer was done, it was Dart’s turn. The afternoon went by quickly, and before they knew it the sun was getting low in the sky.
“I’d better get going – see you tomorrow!” called Dart as he flew up to his home in the top of Chester’s tree.
Chester and Boomer rolled up the rest of the string and got the kite and put it behind the entrance to Chester’s tunnel. “Come on, I’ll take you home” Chester said to Boomer as they turned to walk toward their parents tree. Dad chipmunk met them just as they rounded the corner.
“Hey guys! Boomer, I was on my way to get you! Did you have fun today?”
“Guess what we did today!” giggled Boomer.
“Dart and I made a kite!” Chester chimed in.
“I got to fly it!” squealed Boomer.
“Sounds like you both had a really great day. Chester, your mom has made your favorite for dinner tonight. Would you like to stay?” Chester’s dad asked as he put an arm around Chester and the other around Boomer.
“I’ll let you have top bunk Chester!” Boomer said.
Chester smiled. “Sure Dad Thanks!”
“After supper will you read to me Chester, will you please?” Boomer asked.
“Sure! Let’s see maybe a story about pirates and a chest full of treasure.” Chester said.
“Hooray! I can’t wait!” replied Boomer as he ran ahead.
As they entered the kitchen, Chester’s whiskers twitched. The smell of roasted acorns was hanging in the air. Chester took a deep breath and sighed. This was the perfect ending to a perfect day.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Holiday

Holiday.
This 4th of July weekend, we are opting to stay home and have a friend or two over to shoot off fireworks! Smaller is better, isn't it? Due to life everyone is cutting back. Somehow, cutting back is better isn't it? Helps us concentrate on what is really important!
Today our youngest son, was able to pick up a new bicycle! He has been saving up for awhile! He has been wanting one for awhile, we found him one at a yard sale a year or maybe two ago. He rode it, until it fell apart! We have actually taped the seat, replaced tires and the chain...! ha! Wow!
Anyway, we decided this too could be a learning experience. So, over the past several months, he has been doing odd jobs for neighbors and extra chores here at home and with the help of a special family was able to work really hard this weekend to get the final dollars needed for his purchase!
Some jobs he worked for cents on the dollar, some jobs he came away with a couple of bucks. Little dude worked hard. Time was on his side, however as once people knew he needed money they started scheduling his help. He has swept porches, pulled weeds, mowed yards, helped clean out garages, picked up sticks, rocks, shoveled mulch all sorts of good stuff! It was fun to see that hard work, character, and money build up!
Not sure what his next goal is.. he now has a taste of money that he is capable of making, so he is dreaming for awhile!

On another note....

The best of intentions! Isn't it funny how we think we have plans? ha! We thought we did for the 4th! Yes, we still got to see some friends and cookout, but God sent us down a different road.
God showed off some of his fireworks through a good summer storm right around fireworks time! We saw a rather ominous cloud, very close to a funnel cloud, called a shelf cloud. Eeks! A local fireworks display was halted and rescheduled for Sunday night due to the storms. Thankfully we were all okay, just some stuff blown around.
We were able to grill out some brats and share around a small fire pit before the storm rolled in. The tornado sirens sounded in the distance while we watched it roll in. Memories, right?
While the storm brewed outside we chatted about Steve McNair and his untimely death. There has been a lot of that lately. Time is precious, life is short. Love those around you! Share Christ!
Finally around 10:45 we went out to shoot off a few fireworks. Good times! I imagine there will be more fireworks in the neighborhood tonight as last night was pretty much rained out!