Thursday, December 31, 2009

A look back. . .

to see where we were this year. Reflection is always a good thing for me this time of year.
We started the year recovering from Andy's big scare at the hospital - Thank God it turned out to be nothing! That all seems so far away now! And his health has been stable and great - except that arthritic hip, which needs replacement, but I'll touch on that more with tomorrow's looking forward post.J made it through third grade, had lots of fun, matured and grew like crazy and for the most part thrived. He provided so much joy! He loved deeply, lost a cat and gained a kitten.I struggled with fatigue, but learned a lot of humility through that, and resolved the health issues. And got to see God work a miracle there! And I'm feeling more energetic than every, again, more on that in tomorrow's post. I started and stopped studying for the bar exam - God had such better plans for us! I took on new challenges (Mary Kay business most notably! And I changed my look!
The economy was a big issue for everyone this year, and we are not an exception. Being in business for yourself is a challenge in times like these! We had a scare that our Public Defender work would dry up as the State of Montana began to make some cutbacks, but God is good to us, and blessed us with a continuation of that source of income. But the scare put us into a good reflective mode and we realized that we needed to make some changes. So, we've learned to cut back on expenses and be more self sufficient - everything from changing our own oil, to getting groceries for under $100 a week,to relying on firewood for more of our heating, to getting a whole wardrobe for under $25 at the thrift stores. This was great because it means we are coming out of 2009 in better financial shape than we entered. Still have some goals to accomplish, but feeling good about what we did accomplish.
But we still had time to play. We enjoyed the company of friends and family who came to visit.I practice my photography and even got a new camera. So much to learn both with the camera and with the computer after the pictures are downloaded!
It was a painful year in some ways, but it was a good year. God was faithful, and we are doing our best to be faithful to him.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Blog Lift!

This morning Stephanie Howell had the theme "I Am" on her blog. I am copying Stephanie Howell, but probably not as interesting as she is.

  • I am a wife and mom, and even more, but sometimes I forget the even more.
  • I am middle aged, but I feel like I'm in my 30's.
  • I am sometimes too smart for my britches - meaning there are times when I am too quick to give advise. But I am always sincere in my desire to be helpful. Hopefully that sincerity makes up for the awkwardness of giving too much advise.
  • I am an aspiring photographer - in my head I see the kind of photos I want to take, but that is not what I see when I download from my camera - yet. I will get there someday.
  • I am sitting in the quiet because my boy is spending the night at a friends and my husband is out for his morning run.
  • I am married to the most wonderful man on the planet - sorry ladies, I know you think it is your husband, but I know in my heart that my Andy has them all beat! He's strong, kind, a spiritual leader in our family and in the community, humble (he wouldn't like it that I'm being so public about his attributes), and very very healthy (we went to the doctor yesterday for a physical, and the doctor literally raved about how healthy he is for a man his age - except that hip that needs replacing).
  • I am craving opportunities to be more creative, but not putting in the effort to make it happen - maybe tomorrow! If I get my craft room cleaned . . . which leads to:
  • I am not the worlds greatest housekeeper. Lots of clutter accumulates in my home. My theory is that this is caused by a very fast moving brain that wants to do ten things as once, and my body doesn't have time to clean up as I'm trying to keep up.
  • I am getting more nervous about my new job which starts on Monday. I do not want to let anybody down and the task I face is quite large. There are a lot of zeros in the number of dollars I need to raise so we can build our new school facility!.
  • I am allergic to milk (found out three months ago) and really missing cheese.
  • I am starting a new diet - Eating Clean by Tosca Reno - and pretty excited about it. I have never seen a diet plan that looked so appealing to me.
  • I'm starting that diet TODAY. I know, it's not the first of the year, the first of the week, the first of the month, my birthday, or any other typical start a diet day. But, today I start. I did the shopping for it yesterday, and we'll see how I do.
  • So, I am eating oatmeal with nuts, Cinnamon, raisins and black berries for breakfast as I type this. It's blander than I expected, but I think if I mix the black berries in better it will be more tasty.

  • Have a wonderful Tuesday!

Monday, December 28, 2009

He's growing up faster than I like!

The other night J had a friend over to spend the night. The both enjoyed playing the new Wii (thanks Grandpa Gary and Grandma Nell), and had a great time. I noticed two things about how J is growing.

First, I thought J's friend was the tallest in the class. As this photo demonstrates, not so. J is taller by at least two and maybe three inches. Wow!

Second, they talked about girls! Ugh! I am so not ready for that. J has hinted that he might have a crush on a wonderful little girl in his class, but I thought it was just one of those following along with the crowd thing because his friend liked the same girl. Turns out his friend likes someone else, and J is sticking to his guns about liking the wonderful little girl. Hmmm. At least he has good taste in girls to like.

We did have the discussion that for the next few years (yes, years) it is appropriate to like in secret! Don't need any girlfriends anytime soon!

I got out and took some photos late in the afternoon yesterday. Went to the top of a nearby hill where there are some fields covered with snow and lined with old dry weeds and grasses. The weeds and grasses accumulate ice crystals and look beautiful.

Since I don't have a macro lens, these photos will have to do. A macro would really allow the beauty of the individual crystals to be evident.

But you can get the idea of what we see daily as we drive to and from town!

I'm thinking it may be time for an end of the year reflection post followed by a New Year's resolution type post. I'll let those ideas brew in my mind a bit, but you can check back later this week to see what I come up with.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

I made 10!

Six of them I did yesterday! Two are not pictured here because I mailed one off already and the other is for J, and I didn't want him to see it. I thought I would make them for a niece and nephews and one for J. That was a total of 4.

Then a family with four children came to my attention that they were having a lean Christmas - blame the economy!

So I made four for them.

Then, I realized I forgot to get something for the two boys who live next door, so I made two more. These two had to be free of chokables because these boys are quite young.

It was fun.

I love these.

I was inspired by the cover of a magazine I saw at JoAnn's.

But mine are very different!

I didn't buy the magazine (not in the budget), and I don't even remember the title.

Happy Christmas Eve!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The last two weeks . . .

have been busy! Too busy in some ways. I wanted to be relaxed and getting things done to prepare for Christmas and my new job. Instead, I ran around doing . . . well, that's the problem, I'm not sure what I was doing.

I know I tried (unsuccessfully) to get a photo of my family for Christmas cards. All we got was this mess:

Not acceptable! So we used a photo from early summer of just J. And, it is in color - a first for us in 10 Christmases!

Then, I had to try a self portrait for the announcement of my hiring in the school news letter. I tried to do that by myself . . . again, no success. I couldn't get the focus right without someone to sit in my place while I set the camera up. So, Andy helped me and we got this:

I did a bit of PSE magic to make it acceptable - you can't see the five huge scratches across my nose - got caught in a fight between older nasty cat and sweet little kitten. The older nasty cat, named Tana, ambushed poor little tiny Sophie while she was sleeping on the pillow next to my head in my bed. It was about 6:30 a.m., and I was innocently sleeping. Blood was everywhere! It was a mess! I freaked out! Now, I'm not all that excited about nasty old Tana cat. And I'm pretty protective of Sophie. There have been two other night time attacks since then, and I hide under the covers with Sophie until Tana passes.

Anyway, the photo turned out acceptable. I guess. Wish I was 40 pounds lighter, but that's a whole other blog post!

The other things that have filled our time include:
  • Lots and lots of work for Andy - poor man hasn't made it home for more than one or two dinners a week. He's tired! But, the biggest case actually unexpectedly settled after he won a series of important motions in it - so now he doesn't have trial in January. But he's still busy!
  • Getting J signed up for Basketball - which starts the night after my first day at work!
  • making Scotch Shortbread to give as gifts - gave up on the fudge because of all the milk involved and my tendency to snitchel. But, the Shortbread has butter, and I still snitchel, so I ended up with a couple of ache and fatigued days - bummer!
  • Finishing up the Spell-a-thon - a huge success at over $12,000 raised for the school, meaning there were lots of awards to give to hard working kids!
  • Finish making some Christmas gifts - and think of other things to make, embark on those projects, and then feel inadequate because I still have work to do on them - if only I hadn't decided to do them in the first place!
  • A day skiing for Andy and J - actually snowboarding for J;
  • A last minute photo shoot for a really fun family of eight! And then editing enough of those photos that they had a couple to choose from.
  • A meeting with J's teacher about his need to improve his handwriting! We are working during the Christmas break on the simple task of just making sure all the letters are on the line - not above, not below, but on the line. Really, he has shown himself to be capable of some very beautiful handwriting, but he does not choose to perform that way all the time. Hurumph!
  • Lots of laundry, grocery shopping, last minute stocking stuffer shopping, and all that other stuff that comes with the season.

So, that's a recap! Nothing too exciting! Just a couple more days until Christmas, and I think I might get it all done!

Tomorrow I'll try to give a more J focused update for you Grandpas out there who might like that focus better than this.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Some Things I've Learned!

Even at forty-five I keep learning and learning and learning. Here are a few things I'm continuing to learn:
  • Force feeding a kitten with a bottle is not easy. I imagined it would be cute and romantic, like breastfeeding my babe! It wasn't. It was a fight to get her to open her mouth. It was dissolved food mixed with Kitten Replacement Milk all over her face and neck and my clothes every four ours. It was stress and worry about whether she got enough, and then stress and worry about whether I was forcing too much into her. We had to do it for almost two weeks, but this little girl is finally motivated to eat her kibble on her own.
(And to use Santa as a sleeping pillow!) So glad of that! Now she's cleaner, more active, and finally growing! She was so tiny, and not eating, and I feared her demise. But now she runs and plays and is growing. She's still tiny for her age - she's got some catching up to do.
  • Not eating dairy really makes me feel better! And that is so wonderful!
  • I don't have much self control.
    Sadly that is true, as my attempts to eliminate dairy from my diet have shown. I feel so much better, but I still I struggle not to slip a little nibble of cheese in here, a dollop of sour cream in there, and butter, well, let's not talk about that at all! I need to have a mission to be 100% dairy free - no butter or milk in my biscuit recipe. No batter fried anything since batter has milk. Well, unless the milk in the batter is goat's milk. To that end, we are having Lemon Meringue Birthday Pie tonight. I just can't do frosting.
  • People who say you can't tell a difference in temperatures below zero degrees are lying! Negative 25 is definitely colder than zero!
    No question in my mind about it! I know this because we haven't seen temperatures above zero since Sunday afternoon and personal experience is that yesterday's high of -2 was much more tolerable than Tuesday's high of -8 and much more enjoyable than Monday's high of -12. But there is hope to break that Zero mark today! Wouldn't that be nice. (By the way, just to be clear, we're talking temperatures Fahrenheit, not Celsius!) I'd take a nice comfortable 10 degrees! Not a loft goal, but a good one all the same. Supposed to get all the way up to the 20's by tomorrow, so a heat wave is a-comin'!
  • Old dogs can learn new tricks - at least I hope so!
    You see, this old dog is going to be learning a new trick at her new full time job as the Development Director at Petra Academy! Yep, that's me, fundraiser extraordinaire! Who knew I'd go from high powered Bay Area law firm representing Chevron and Exxon and Waste Management to non-profit fundraising? Amazing how God has plans for me - and for you too, just in case you were wondering!) The school is building a new building, so I'm stepping right into a bricks and mortar Capital Campaign. This is a little different than my two experiences in silent auctions or my recent stint helping to run a Spell-a-Thon. That $10,000 raised in the Spell-a-thon is short a couple of zeros and then some for my new lofty goals. Haven't started the job yet, but will in the next three weeks or so! Until then, I'm on my knees conversing with God about His choices in my life and how I believe he can do this job and I'll be His vessel but only because he's asked me! Pretty humbling to realize how much I still have to learn for this job! And amazing I found a job where I will be with my child - he goes to this school!
  • My heart aches to take better photos - and I need to improve my Photoshop skills. In fact, I need to upgrade from Photoshop Elements to regular Photoshop.
    I know, silly me to have something so trivial be part of my learning, but it gives me joy to see improvement. With this cold weather I haven't taken my camera outside in days! With the new job coming, I realize I won't have daily opportunities to trek around my neighborhood looking for interesting photo subjects. Heck, I haven't even done our family photo for the Christmas card yet! But I find myself prowling the Internet to learn more and more about photography and processing photos. It's not an obsession - yet - but it can be a distraction. I don't need distractions, so I'm going to have to work on keeping it in perspective. But just because I can, I'll share a little photo with you from a photo shoot I did in November.

  • It is possible to do almost all homemade Christmas gifts for the various children in our lives! This I know now because I'm almost done. Just three more to go! Feels so productive. And the gifts are so cute! Totally inspired by others, but so cute.
  • And even with a job looming, my artistic inclinations are continuing to fester.
    Here is a project I want to try before I start my new job - already gathered most of the supplies! Isn't it beautiful! And it opens up to show a rough quilted image. It is a bit of a jump for me from paper projects to fabric projects, but I'm super excited about it.
  • There is a time to stop rambling on - and this is it!

Have a great day!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.
Know that the Lord Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him; bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His loving kindness is everlasting,
And His faithfulness to all generations.

That is Psalm 100, and it is what the Pilgrims sang on November 9, 1620, when the shot of "La-a-nd, Ho" was heard after 65 days at sea.

We are enjoying a morning around the house getting a few things done before going to Grandma and Grandpa's for the big feast. Christmas lights are going up! Clutter is being cleared! Floors are swept, and laundry is in process. Ah, the joys of festive holiday activities!

Things we are thankful for:

1. For Pilgrims and all we can learn from their story. We go through the Barbara Rainey book "Thanksgiving, a Time to Remember" every year, and are reminded of the hardships faced by the Pilgrims and the provisions God made for them. I am always amazed at how much of the details of their lives revolved around God. Not only were they motivated to leave Europe because they sought religious freedom, but they lived daily with a focus on God and His goodness.

Did you know that just three years prior to their landing in Plymouth the area was occupied by a very violent and aggressive tribe of Native Americans? And that tribe was literally wiped out by a terrible sickness, so that when the Pilgrims arrived the land was available for settlement. No way they could have survived if they were fighting that tribe all the time. God had a plan for them to succeed, obviously!

And, did you know they came into the harbor on a Saturday, and then did not leave the Mayflower on Sunday because it was Sabbath and they were committed to honoring God even if it meant one more day on that awful, smelly, small, cramped, cold boat? Amazing examples to all of us!

2. J is over the H1N1 virus - at least he has no fever for two days, and his cough is improving daily. It was a big deal, but we made it. Now, we are praying that Andy and I will stay healthy!

3. Sophie - our new kitten.

She's got quite a bossy personality!

The vet says she's a bit underweight, so we are pumping the food and watching her grow!

Have you ever seen such blue eyes? And I didn't touch her eyes up at all in Photoshop!

And guess who really likes her? Yes, that is Leo the chainsaw biting, at the gate growling, often stupid dog licking her! He licks her every morning until she is shaking her head to get the wet off. So funny! Clearly, he loves her!

She doesn't seem to mind him either. Now, Tana, the well established cat, she is not so thrilled about Sophie. She always takes a while to get used to new things, so we'll give her some time.

4. A strong marriage - and a happy one at that. Just heard of some good friends who are splitting up after more than 10 years, and it makes me so grateful for my husband who is committed to me no matter how crazy or temperamental I get, and for my own commitment to make our marriage work out. The idea of splitting up is just not even considered. It is amazing how creative you can get when you know that ending the relationship is not an option. Suddenly problem solving gets just that much more effort because you know you either have to solve it or live with it, and usually solving it is the better option. Of course this attitude is 100% a gift of grace from God - not something we can do on our own human power!

5. The way God puts the pieces together so we can have what we need. Sometimes that means us learning to cut back. Sometimes that means items on sale just when we need them - or hand-me-downs in a bag that contain just what J needs in just the right size. Sometimes that means a little extra unexpected income. But always, by the mercy of God, we manage to make it. He is the great provider!

6. Hope! Yes, we have hope. We may not always be good at showing it, but the reality is, because we know that God is a personal God who looks out for us and cares for us specifically. That allows us to keep going even when it just looks so hopeless from our perspective. Things don't always turn out the way we wanted and our ways are not always easy. But we know that "the Lord himself is God" and that he is good. That sustains us when all other things appear to be failing us. What a wonderful assurance for daily life!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 9, 2009

At My Church Yesterday!

Going to church is always enjoyable. I love the particular congregation I'm a member of and the way they have welcomed and loved on my family for the last six years or so.

Yesterday, during the worship music time I notices so many neat things. Really, I wished I had my camera, although I debate the merits of taking photos during worship. But to keep my thoughts organized and preserve the moment, during offering time I jotted down a few notes to share.

  • Children (mostly boys) were spontaneously dancing and jumping joyfully during the singing of These are the Days of Elijah - They've all gone to camp together and learned the same motions and dance moves, and can't resist using them when singing that "rockin' song."
  • My niece Danielle wrote "I love you God, always" on her bulletin cover - not bad for a 6 year old!
  • We prayed for orphans since it was Orphan Sunday across the country - and we honored adoptive families, and we have a lot of those in our church.
  • The worship team drummer was barefoot - is every Sunday. And sometimes he jumps over the chair in front of him during prayer to get up to the platform after the sermon - but only if there is nobody in that seat.
  • Speaking of the worship team, our electric base player is also the electric keyboard player, and yesterday she played both in the same song - although not at the same moment.
  • We had a college age guy with dreadlocks and a college age girl about 7 months pregnant with no husband, and they were welcomed and enjoyed.
  • We honored Veterans, including an Iwo Jima (sp?) survivor who was wearing his medals - my husband commented that he was amazed at the percentage of men in our congregation who have served in some capacity.
  • I saw spouses holding hands as they sang.
  • And college age daughters holding hands with their mothers.
  • One of the men there is the father of a child in a case where Andy represents the mother - but we can still exchange the warm smiles of fellow Christians.
  • Because we have a Life Recovery Group hosted at our church, services are often attended by people battling sever drug addition, and particularly men who are in the "Pre-Release" program at the jail.

Frankly, I could go on and on. I'm sort of proud of my church. Not because they have the best music (although I really like the music), and not because we have the biggest numbers. No, I'm proud because when I am there for worship on Sunday it is easy to see the love of Christ between people, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit in people's lives. Because my husband is a criminal defense attorney I sometimes see people there and know more of their story then they might be comfortable making public - but I keep my mouth shut and just celebrate the fact that they are there and the Lord has the opportunity to work in their lives.

So that is my post about my church. Sorry no pictures. I just don't have the nerve yet to take pictures during the worship service.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Kittens, sheep and a turkey

We went to my friends house meet our soon to be family member:

We can't wait to bring our little baby home in about three weeks.

Along the way we met some siblings of our new baby:

And we were introduced to this gentleman:

And these fine ladies:

It is always so fun to go to Tamara's house! J loves playing with her son! We had a great time, so thank you to Tamara and her three beautiful kids! And thank you for the eggs! We love farm fresh eggs!

My boy called me to the front porch yesterday evening to take this picture. He has an eye for what is good! I just wish I had the skills to get it right!

The light of the moon has blown out the branches that we could see in front of it. I just didn't have time to play with the exposures, etc. Maybe at the next full moon.

Thinks I'm thinking about:

  • Want to get to the project I need to do for a Keepsakes Event in early December, but I've got much to do before then!
  • I finished all the time sheets and got them mailed off yesterday - boy does that feel good.
  • I was pretty tired last night, and my hands ache, so I'm fearful of the dreaded mystery disease coming back, but I'm trying to be courageous and just keep going.
  • A lot of time needs to be spent editing photos over the next few days! Time to get at it!
  • I'm making progress on several projects I want to do for Christmas - have two completed and seven significantly progressed. Guess that's pretty good, except I want to work on those instead of photos - responsibilities first!
  • It is probably time to get out and do some exercise - soon! Like this afternoon, with J, after school. It's a date - hope he wants to come along!

Have a Great Wednesday!

Oh, and please pray for Michael Jullian, a one week old baby of my cousin and her husband, who is in the hospital because he's projectile vomiting and not keeping any food down. My heart goes out to them, as I am certain this is a very stressful time. God is good, and will provide what is needed here, but He loves our prayers too! So, please, a little time on our knees is appropriate!