Friday, December 23, 2005

Tour Guide Mike



We are on the final countdown to our ultra-itineraried (??) trip to
D I S N E Y W O R L D ! ! !

Y'all...you might think I'm crazy about MANY things....and that's fine...but you HAVE to TRUST ME on this one. If you are planning a trip to DW and want to experience it the SMARTEST way possible, you absolutely, positively MUST subscribe to Tour Guide Mike several months before your trip. Now this website is NOT for the faint of heart. It is mucho information overload. It takes several weeks/months to get through the surface info. However, this great site has prepared me/us for a trip with MINIMAL waiting in line the entire week we are there. If we spend more than 20 (ok, 30) minutes in line at ANY attraction, I will feel like a failure.

You may or may not know that the week between Christmas and New Year's Day is THE BUSIEST WEEK of the year for Mickey and pals. There is no time of year (even Spring Break or any Summer months) that can compare to the crowds we'll be in. HOWEVER, this will be my 3rd trip down during this time of year and it's never been miserable. Of course, I've always been a nerd and have tried preparing the best I could but through the amazing Internet, this TGM guy has surfaced since our last trip 7 years ago and boy oh boy...his site is a Disney Nerd's Wish-Upon-A-Star!

If you're interested in joining, let me know. I think (THINK) I can refer a new person and they can get a discount. I won't get anything from it but a satisifaction of knowing that I helped you...but that's OK.

And no, I can't share my great little secrets with you. Mike actually has an e-contract with all his subscribers that we won't share this information with anyone but will refer them to the site. Once you see how much info is on the site, you will gain a respect for why he says this. It must have taken him years to compile all of this. I think the subscription is less than 20 bucks if I refer you and it is totally worth it.

OH, if you don't want to do the ultra-planning that I have done (along with the help of my sis-in-law, Donna), you could always pay the $100 per hour plus 20% gratuity for Mike (or employee) to do everything for you with a personal VIP tour...

I can't wait to post my pictures and stories!

Tee hee :)

p.s. Bad guys -- We have a house/pet sitter so don't even THINK about paying a visit!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Scared Of Santa


This isn't the reason we don't 'do' Santa at our house but it actually could be a pretty good argument if we wanted to use it! Thanks SO MUCH to Jen for posting this on her blog. They are all funny but I am pasting the direct links to my favorites here:

Picture #2 (seen here)

#5 - I'd be scared, too!

#6 - This kid looks photo-shopped to me.

#7 - How did this Santa get hired?

#8 - Creepy. Is that a kid on the far right or a "My Buddy" doll?

#9 - Unbelievable.

#19 - I think I went to school with the girl on the right.

#25 - I laughed and laughed and then I got grossed out.

Playing With The New Camera

We are SO happy about this new toy!


Ain't we cute?



It's amazing how different he looks with his hair slicked back!



We were going for the "Home Alone" look here. It was difficult to get him to mimic my pose. I guess he'll need to see the movie to understand.



I love this one!



Another great one that shows something our old camera would NEVER have done (take a clear, crisp, close-up.)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Go Tell It On The Mountain

This is the song H.A. just played for me on the piano and since it's a song about telling Good News (that Jesus Christ is born and fulfills Old Testament Prophecy and gives us HOPE that we can trust He will return again and save those who call on His name!) I thought I'd use it for the title of MY GOOD NEWS tellin' blog.

No, my good news is nowhere NEAR as good as announcing the birth of our Savior but it IS good news to me.

News 1 - As I have posted numerous times, our Fuji "FinePix" digital camera is just...well....just a really not-good camera. We ordered a new one and TA DA...it was delivered to us LAST NIGHT! We are LOVING these crisp, clear shots! I can't wait to install the dock so I can share with you. VERY good news!

News 2 - Our Christmas cards are always a hassle. This year we TRIED getting them ready earlier but our first 'session' just didn't turn out well. Finally we had a nicer session and uploaded our chosen shot at www.walmart.com. I knew I was running late so I paid the extra couple of bucks to have them shipped "Priority." Well, it STILL took over a week but FINALLY they arrived today. I'm going to try getting them in the mail this evening. If not, they will definitely go out tomorrow. VERY good news.

News 3 - People still like us :) Am I the only person who gets SO excited about Christmas Cards that I actually watch out the window for the postlady? Or when I come home from my outings and pull up to the mailbox before pulling in the driveway, actually sit there parked while I open the mail? Doesn't anyone else do that!? Well I got some REALLY cute cards/pictures today. So fun!

News 4 - Mannatech, glorious Mannatech! A large shipment of our favorite health products arrived yesterday and today and I expect more within the next few days. We were able to order a large amount to get us through the holidays and vacation and having all of those products here make us SO happy! Also, my PLUS deficiency was beginning to catch up with me and the family. EVERYONE is glad we now have PLUS in the house again. This is definitely GOOD NEWS!

Merry CHRISTmas everyone!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Another Friday Night Brush With Fame

OK, "fame" and "brush with" might be a little strong to describe our PREVIOUS Friday night outing but we've actually had a closer "brush with" a more "famous" person within the last couple of weeks.

A couple of Tuesday nights ago, I ran into a gal at the mall that used to be my 'student teacher' at the dance studio. She was/is a WAY better dancer than me but since she was still in high school at the time, I was the official teacher and she was just the assistant. I let her do much of the class, though!

Anyway, I ran into her at the mall and well....she has a famous boyfriend...and he was WITH her that night! I met him and introduced him to SR, the only 1 of the 4 kids who were interested in meeing him, even though all the kids were there. She actually knew who he was!

So, we chatted for a few minutes and then moved on with our plans for the night.

Later we found out this famous person would be performing Friday night so, OF COURSE we made plans to attend! Now ALL 4 kids think he's cool!

Here he is...with our crappy camera (hope it doesn't make you TOO drowsy, Jen :) and one stolen from elsewhere on the web. This is Elvis Stojko. Multi-world-champ and 2-time Olympic Silver medalist. He's the first to successfully land a quadruple jump! I've always thought he was cool (heck, his name is ELVIS which gives him big points right away! LOL) but now I'm a bigger fan than ever!

We are still shopping for a new camera so please bear with me these few more times.


Our pathetic version of Elvis.


Picture (couple of years old) hijacked from the web.

Quick plug -- Elvis will be on CBS December 10th. Watch "ICE WARS - Battle of the Sexes" 8-10 PM CT.

Before the show:




Monday, November 28, 2005

The Pictures

Here are a few pictures to share with you the bad news I received from the camera shop today.

My camera stinks.

That's right. There is no user errors. I am doing everything right when taking pictures and the pictures are still terrible.

Wanna see what I mean?

Picture 1. Deceptive view of our tree that the girls, YES THE GIRLS...as in S.R. and H.A. -- NOT Momma, put together. I had promised them we'd do the Christmas decorations after Thanksgiving this year (instead of December 20th or 21st like the last few years) and they were tired of waiting. So...since they were on "all-things-fun" restriction because of fighting, they decided to take matters into their own hands. The tree is a little crooked but hey...it's assembled! Looks nice (other than the blurry view) from this angle, doesn't it?

Here's view 2. We DEFINITELY need a taller tree. We're dealing with a higher ceiling than usual this year. I guess we'll cheat our way through it and see if we have any leftover money after the Disney trip. Maybe we could buy a good, tall one on sale after the holidays...

The stockings. One of my VERY RARE retail-priced purchases. We have gone without stockings for 2 years because I got rid of our matching 5 when Hudson was born. My intentions were to buy 6 matching ones on sale after Christmas. Well, uh, it's almost impossible to find 6 matching ANYTHING at after-Christmas sales. So, I forgot about it until the next year. At that time, I wasn't willing to pay retail for a matching set so we just did without. THIS YEAR, I would not let my family go another season without matching stockings SO I found this ADORABLE and PERFECTLY MATCHING set and paid WAY too much money for them. I felt guilty about it for a little while...but now I'm loving them. The green ones perfectly match Granny's chairs and the red ones perfectly match our sofa and loveseat. ADORABLE, don't you think!? (Wish you could see them for their real beauty and not the sadness of these shots.)

Alabama's Got Class Even When Beat Up

Tide fan helps save Auburn fan's life (full story)

By Ray Melick
The Birmingham News


BIRMINGHAM -- It seemed silly at the time, but Blake Thompson's wife suggested they pray for tickets to the Iron Bowl. A few days later a friend called with an extra pair for the lifelong Alabama fan.

Thompson couldn't help but think, "God wants me at this game."

The family of Herman Culpepper is thankful God sometimes answers such trivial prayers.

Thompson, 29, who lives in unincorporated north Shelby County, was sitting with his wife, Brook, in Section 56, Row 19, seats 13 and 14 of the west upper deck at Jordan-Hare Stadium last Saturday night during Auburn's 28-18 victory over Alabama. That's where he heard someone call out, "Somebody get a doctor. This man is having a heart attack!" A former National Guard combat medic, Thompson responded immediately and found the 74-year-old Culpepper sitting in his seat, not breathing, starting to turn blue.

"As a combat medic, I'd actually seen this," Thompson said. "I thought, 'He's dead.' Elderly, that color, he didn't even fall over -- and his wife told me he'd had three heart attacks. I thought, 'He's a dead man, but I'll do what I can.'"

As fans called for paramedics, Thompson and another fan, a nurse practitioner, ripped open Culpepper's Auburn windbreaker and Auburn shirt to begin CPR. While Thompson did chest compressions, nurse Carla Moore began doing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

"I couldn't find a pulse in his wrist or neck," Thompson said. "But his wife was standing there, so we went to work."

It took only a few minutes for paramedics from the East Alabama Medical Center, contracted to provide first aid for Auburn games, to arrive. They quickly attached an automated external defibrillator (AED) to Culpepper, and when the machine could not find a heartbeat, it fired electrical charges through Culpepper's body, literally shocking Culpepper back to life.

"My understanding is that our paramedics from the first-aid station on that level responded to a call for help and found a man wearing an Alabama shirt administering CPR to another man, who you've identified as Mr. Culpepper," said Dan Goslin, director of emergency medical services at the Opelika medical center.

"Our emergency medical personnel took over and transported him to East Alabama Medical Center. He woke up en route to the hospital, and my understanding is he's doing fine and was released (Tuesday).

"We're real proud of being able to help," Goslin said, "but I give all the credit to the Alabama fan who started CPR. That was very important. If Mr. Culpepper had been anywhere else, he wouldn't be with us today."

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Leaves Are So Much Fun!




My Camera vs. Daddy's Camera



Please don't tell the bidders at eBay how frustrated we are with our digital camera. See the difference (and I KNOW it can't be the photographer's fault ALL the time!)

Thanksgiving Morning

My casserole is in the oven and we'll be leaving soon for lunch at my sister's. We plan on attempting our Christmas card pictures today, too.

No really cohesive bloggin' thoughts are pouring out right now but I felt the need to write. After all, I have so much to be thankful for!

Salvation, Mercy, Grace - With age, I'm recognizing this gift more and more and oh how thankful I am...

Donnie - He loves me and the kids so much and does way more for us than any of you guys could imagine. I love him so much!

Children - Like I tell the kiddos, "I love you so much, I just want to SQUEEZE you!" I can't describe the intensely deep emotional, spiritual, and physical connection I have with these little ones. I can't help but pat, hug, touch, or squeeze them whenever they're in touching range. They so easily forgive me when I've treated them poorly or unfairly. They desire nothing more than the love and protection and affection of me and their Daddy. They're preciously sweet children and I kick myself for ever wishing they were better at ANYTHING. They are leaps and bounds above what I deserve. They are wonderful and precious to me.

Home - I just love Home and am very grateful for it.

Parents & Sister - They are STILL there for me.

In-laws - I couldn't ask for any better. Those who know them definitely would agree.

Provisions - God has totally provided us with provisions for good health and income and all other necessities of life. I am so thankful because I know that all of these things are from God and not from any works.

Church - The Body Of Christ is more than just the members of the church we attend. As truly grateful as we are for our physical church and brothers and sisters there, it's the whole Body for which I am most grateful. What a supporting and loving gift from God. This is where I have found true and deep friendship....friendship based on love and wisdom. What a truly awe-inspiring thing to have.

From our family to yours, HAPPY THANKSGIVING. Count your blessings. Name them one by one. See what God has done. The blessings are too numerous to count perfectly but as you take the time to recognize them, reflect on the truth that all Glory is deserved ONLY by our LORD!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

"Aw, Come On!"

"Why don't you just give him the king? Go on...just GIVE it to him!"

Big, fat, sigh.

Grrr.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Night Out With The Guys

(I can't tell you how miffed I am to be re-posting this entry! Somehow this whole thing went into some black hole in the web. Grrrrr.)

Roll Tide Roll!

Please forgive the sometimes-blurred pictures. This amateur photog was doing the best she could in a rushed and dark environment.



Tyrone Prothro


Wallace Gilberry


Simeon Castille


My nephew, Seth :)


Roman Harper


Mark Anderson


Marcus Carter


Justin Britt


John Parker Wilson


Jimmy Johns


Jeremy Schatz



Jamie Christiansen


DJ Hall


Demeco Ryans


Charlie Peprah

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Brodie Croyle


Brandon Brooks


Anthony Madison

Monday, November 14, 2005

Rolling With The Jokes

This is a GREAT week of freedom for publically poking fun at the "other" team...the enemy. Our enemy, is of course, Awbarn. I will gladly take part in some good ol' fashioned, all in good-fun, good-natured ribbing. NOTICE THE REFERENCES TO "GOOD" and please don't take offense. I feel I have to preface the week with that statement or else someone will get their panties in a wad :)

And yes, it's nice to have this kind of fun-making coming off the cuh-rappy football Saturday we just had.

Roll Tide :)


An Awbarn student in an Elementary School in Tuscaloosa.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Giving Them Distance

It's amazing how much more peaceful tired children can be when I'm not around. Don't get me wrong, sometimes my distance from them CAUSES problems and they beckon me with their cries of sibling anguish....but right now, they are all acting TONS better without my presence.

I'm listening to SR and HA practicing their "Ode To Joy" on the keyboard and electric guitar. This is their first combined rehearsal of the song and they are preparing for the school's February talent show. While I was in there hovering, there was a LOT of growling and complaining. As I was giving them attention, the boys (in the tub) were griping and fighting wishing THEY had my attention instead of the girls.

Then the phone rang and as I answered it, all the commotion settled.

Kids are so unpredictable. Sometimes, that phone ringing is a MAGNET for their pestering. But maybe because I was being more of a pest TO THEM this time, the phone call was actually a sigh of relief.

The girls' music is improving as I type. IN FACT (WOW... I wish I could type my surprise) they just went through the verse (or whatever -- I'm no musician) one full time without a mess-up! Goodness. MUCH better than a few minutes ago.

I told them they had to run through the 'whatever' (it's only the first two 'lines' or whatever of the song so far) 50 times before they could quit. They are making tally marks of each time through.

Hud and D are playing peacefully in the tub and laughing.

**************


After getting the girls from school, we're driving out of the parking lot and SR says, "Guess what Caroline named her turtle......" (short pause...no time for true guessing) "Pokey!"

The kids giggle.

HA: "I would have named him Fred."

SR: "I would have named him Bill."

DY: "I would have named him Buck."

Rolling laughter....

Monday, November 07, 2005

Anxiety, Tears, and Rejoicing

The anxiety started yesterday...Sunday evening. I can almost tell you the exact moment it started. I was a little more than a mile from home. I didn't like the familiar feeling and thankfully, I recognized it pretty quickly as being warfare of the non-earthly type.

Things had gone well at church Sunday night. I was heading up a new season of the "dramatic movement" ministry and our first practice was REALLY awesome. I am confident God has very big plans for this group and the work they will do.

I was also mentally working through the events of Friday and Saturday. I had gone to "Mockingbirdville" Alabama to work a Mannatech table and there were many, many things there that God was doing and asking me to do. I knew He was moving and I knew good things were coming.

So the anxiety was pretty painful. I can't say I quite "meditated" on the following scripture while I was driving, but I certainly recalled it during my prayers...

"For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:12 NLT

I knew God was using me and I knew Satan had plans to try diverting me.

This morning, the anxiety reached an all-time high. Tears, stress, nausea. I was working through it while trying to remain calm, peaceful, and even joyful with the boys. I was able to hide my tears and fears enough that they didn't ask questions. I wonder if they noticed...

Donnie certainly did. There was one phone call where I could hardly speak. My voice cracked through the tears. His first phone call to me after that was a voice message on my cell that said, "I'm worried about y'all."

But things turned around QUICKLY.

In my anxiety, I knew I had to pray. There really is no power in ANYTHING else. That was my only hope for strength. And during that prayer, words from bible study rang loud and clear.

An abundant life is not dependent on circumstances. It is a bi-product of dependence and focus on Christ. I prayed and asked God to please help me focus on Christ. I took efforts to focus on what Christ has done for me. I thought about the cross. I thought about Christ's undue suffering. I remembered and looked forward to His return and the permanent extinction of anxiety and fear.

I focused as hard as I could. It was imperfect but I was trying. I begged God for His help. I have no power to do these things on my own.

Minutes later, anxiety released. That physical part of it was erased.

Soon after, a difficult load was lightened. Not removed but lightened.

Next, that lightened load was made to look bad again and more efforts had to be put forth to change my focus. Satan wanted my focus on my former pity party. I had to allow the Holy Spirit to move me past it.

Minutes later, that load was totally removed.

Hours later, the biggest mercy was poured out through a phone call from Donnie. Answers to prayers were coming through the cell like crazy. Wow.

A few hours later, I was able to do something that God evidentally had planned to use to bless someone else. I called with some news and was told that this news was a perfect answer to a very detailed prayer concerning this exact situation. I was then able to hear of other answered prayers that had happened for this family earlier in the day. We were able to praise our Lord together! Awesome!

God truly is amazing, y'all. I'm so thankful for days like today. It started out SO bad. And tonight I am here to tell you that His mercy is unending. His grace is unwavering. Regardless of circumstances, abundant life is possible.

"And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus." Phillippians 4:19 NLT

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

NaNoWriMo


Impressive. I have at least two of my "froggers" who are hooked on the NaNoWriMo event. That's writing a novel of 50,000 words during the month of November folks! Whoa.

Best wishes to:
Max (a guy I've never met but a friend of Jen's that I've been reading for a long time. I did figure out that my sis & brother-in-law go to the same gym Max does, though. Weird how we figure out things like that isn't it?!)
and
Willena (another friend that I've never met in person but a dear friend nonetheless. Bet you didn't know she was Canadian! Did ya, eh?)!

We look forward to hearing how it works out for both of you!

Any others out there?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

H A L L E L U J A H !

Hours after not being able to find Sam Catser, we FINALLY did!

Donnie was standing in our bathroom and hearing me near tears about how sad it was that we couldn't find him. Then he said, "I think I heard something." I hopped up and raced in with him. Yep...a soft 'meow'. I thought it was in my closet so I was digging around. "Meow." It was behind me. I opened drawer 1....no....drawer 2....no.....drawer 3.....THERE HE WAS! CRAMMED IN WITH A BAG OF COTTON BALLS AND JUNK!

Sickening: I thought I had heard something earlier in the day when I was in the same spot Donnie was standing when he heard the noise. I searched drawer 1....no....drawer 2.....no....did NOT open drawer 3 because I knew how crammed it was with junk and that the drawer was never opened so 'surely' he wouldn't be in there. I looked under the cabinets, closet, nothing. How SICK that I didn't look there. Harris Anne said SHE had looked in drawers 1 and 2 as well but skipped drawer 3...just like me.

COOL: I was getting really distraught. The darker it got outside, the sadder I was about not being able to find him. I went to the bedroom to read the bible and focus prayer on finding him. I was FOCUSING ON THE FOLLOWING SCRIPTURE:

"Keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks." Matthew 7:7-8

When I was reading, I felt 'drawn' to this passage and just claimed it in my prayers. Honestly, it was only a couple of minutes before Donnie heard Sam crying in the bathroom.

PRAISE GOD!!!!!! He answers prayers!

Murphy's Law??

I am REALLY hoping that if I write a blog about our kitten being missing that as soon as it publishes, he will come strutting around the corner.

You know...Murphy's Law...that's what it's called, right?

He's been missing for close to 2 hours. Granted, that's not long for a cat but this is a playful kitten who has NEVER been outside and who normally sleeps where we can find him. We have searched this house inside and out. We have prayed for his safety and appearance. Now we're just waiting.

The big kids have looked around outside the house JUST IN CASE he slipped out somehow.

Surely he will show up soon...especially now that I have written about this...

Picture From P-Paw


Dad took this picture of the kids in the van. We all happened to show up at the same time to check on my folks' new house (still under construction) this past Sunday.