Saturday, December 31, 2005

On to 2006

Well. It's the New Year. The strange thing about 2006 is that Kevin will probably not be home until sometime in early 2007. I need to make this year count, but at the same time I'm hoping it will go by very quickly. By now they are out of Kuwait and into Iraq, which means into harm's way. Time to step up the prayer coverage, for sure!

The cool thing is, once he gets to their new base and gets all set up, he has 4 soldiers who want to be baptized. Already! One was a soldier that was going to commit suicide, and after talking to Kevin he accepted Christ and turned his life around. He's in counseling now, of course, but Kevin says he's doing much, much better. He has hope and something bigger than himself to hang onto. That's what it's all about.

I've got msn.com on the computer to watch the ball drop in New York, so it works out well that I'm not in that time zone! LOL I'll get to hit the sack early this year, and the kids went to bed at a semi-normal time. No staying up till midnight for us tonight...I want to get us all to Sunday School in the morning.

Also, tomorrow the new issue of ScrapStreet Magazine hits the internet! I'll have a little something in there, as well as my awesome digi-queen friend Cindy! Cindy, if you're listening, you ROCK!! ;)

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2005

Home again, home again, jiggity jig

Well, we made it home. It was a really nice holiday. The only thing that could have been better was if Kevin was here to share it with us. We started out at my dad's and had a great time. Presents, food, family--all you could want. Then at my mom's I pretty much slept my way through 3 days. LOL! I was dog tired and finally could just let go and crash. The kids enjoyed being there on the farm, playing with the dog and cats, exploring the open spaces, pretending to drive the tractor, etc. And more presents and more food. It was nice to get away from Post for a while.

Now that we're home, I feel ready to tackle some things. I've gained back all the weight I lost year before last, and I am going to win this battle--this is the year! I'm ready to go through the house and pack up the Christmas decorations, and get rid of lots and lots of stuff around here. I'm ready to finally get some curtains for the windows (instead of just mini blinds) and organize my scrap room...not just bits and pieces but all of it! I need to get the kids' chore charts back in business, a meal plan organized, the whole shabang. Bit by bit I'm determined that this is the year I get my life under control. Not perfect, just...under...control.

Today I found out that our psycho-neighbor has been active while we were away. Her daughter is a terror, and starts fights with the other kids (boys, girls, older, younger, she doesn't discriminate) and then cries to her mom if it doesn't go her way. The mom, instead of reining her daughter in, goes ballistic on the neighborhood kids and the other moms! It's out of control. The lady is completely irrational and foul-mouthed, and on top of everything, she turns each encounter into a racial battle. I've escaped her wrath for the most part...a couple of months ago there was an incident with Caitlin, but it has blown over and I'm (hopefully) off the radar by now. But the whole street has this oppressive feeling, thanks to this darling mother/daughter duo. I can't let my kids play outside unless I am sitting out there on the bench watching every move any kid makes. Makes me wish more and more for a house of our own. Out in the country. With a very high wall all around. And razor wire. :P

On the up side, I did get an honorable mention in the Polar Bear Press DT contest. It softened the blow for the KMA contest rejection. LOL! I actually don't feel sad about it this time. Maybe I'm getting better at taking rejection. Anyway, I'm focusing on my Scrapworks application, and we'll see how that goes. I have half my entry finished, and great ideas for the other half, thanks to April's help. :D The deadline is in about two weeks, so I'm feeling pretty good at this point. My mom is encouraging me to make a resume to keep up with things like the PBP HM, so I'm going to check out scrapbookresumes.com and maybe start an entry.

Now I'm just trying to decide what to do about HOF. I thought this might be the year to throw my hat back in, but now I'm wondering if I ought to spend a year under April's mentoring, and really work myself up to enter next year. It might be good to push myself this year...the deadline is 5 weeks away, and I'd have to come up with 10 layouts. I think I'll finish my Scrapworks entry, and then try to do a couple of HOF layout assignments and just see what happens.

I'm almost certain I'm going to send back all my pink inventory and be done with Mary Kay. I could make it work, but I just have too much of the wrong things on my shelves, and it's hanging over my head. The last step in my decision will be counting up my inventory and seeing how much money I will get back if I send it all back to MK. If it's enough to pay back my savings account for the initial investment and have more $$ left over to play with, that'll definitely clinch it.

Well, what a mundane entry today! LOL!! We're off to rent our Friday Night movie, cook our pizza, and relax. Happy Friday night to all! :D

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Gettin' Away From It All

Well, tomorrow we're outta here! :)

The kids and I are taking some much-needed time away for the holidays. Tomorrow we're driving to see my dad for a couple of days, and then on to my mom's house for a few more, and then home again. The kids are SO looking forward to it, and it will be a very nice distraction. I'm bringing along the ingredients for my famous Caramel Sticky Rolls, yum!! I know I'll have to make double batches, because my brother eats these like there's no tomorrow!

I'm taking my first assignments from April to work on while I'm away-- Goal-setting and some journaling prompts.

AND I have the perfect presents to give everyone! :D I'm so excited about the easels I decorated--they are unusual, pretty, and useful, which makes them absolutely PERFECT! My family is so hard to shop for, but this year I feel like I hit the bonanza when I saw these easels from my friend Andrea!



I'm giving everyone easels with copies of some of the photos from our family photo shoot in November, when all my siblings were all here at one time. :D I decorated them very simply, but I think they turned out nice. I can't WAIT to see the looks on everyone's faces, they are going to FLIP over these! I'm thinking about making some to sell at a booth at the Officer's Wives Club meetings or Bazaar. I have no doubt they would sell like hotcakes--recipe card holders, calendars, memo pad holders--the possibilities are endless!

Tonight I'm doing laundry and finishing up the gift wrapping and packing. So, back to my chores!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Ready to Learn

Something wonderful just happened.

My friend April has agreed to be my scrapbooking mentor. I want to improve, to reach for the next level, and she's agreed to take the time to teach me more about the hobby and art we both love. A HOF'er, for cryin' out loud! She has the whole package...layout designs that stop you in your tracks, journaling that makes you want to cry or laugh out loud or just THINK about it, and photography that takes your breath away.

With Kevin away, and some late nights to occupy, this is just the perfect timing for this.

Wow. I'm excited to get started!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Subduing of the Tub Drain

I have done battle with the tub drain, and I have emerged victorious!

Becoming self-reliant is sure inconvenient. But I've taken another step in that direction today.

Being out of school for Christmas break, the kids were reveling in the prospect of a "play bath." Normally they have a time limit---"get in, get clean, get out" is our motto. But I didn't see the harm in letting them wallow in a clean tub for a while, since things to do are already in short supply after 3 days out of school.

Little did I know that the first child's play bath would include...marbles. I know a cold chill ran down your spine as you realized the implications of this, dear reader. And yes, the implications came to pass at the end of the first play bath. An indeterminate number of marbles rolled down the drain.

Fishing with my fingers, I was able to get three marbles out, amazingly enough. But I could feel more with the tips of my fingers as I strained to reach into the drain, my knuckles bruised from trying to push just....a little....bit.....farther. But alas, it was no use.

So, I plugged the drain and filled it for the next child's play bath. And during the bath, I plotted. I listened for indications that the bath was coming to an end, and pounced before the drain plug could be removed. In my hands I weilded a plumber's helper. It was my theory that the drain trap would prevent the marbles from going all the way down (hopefully), and on the up-stroke I could suck those puppies out of there. I couldn't let the water completely drain, or it might push them farther down, and besides, the water would help create a better suction around the rubber of the tool and the tub floor.

Pushing slowly down, so as to not force the marbles yet farther away from my waiting hands, I paused for an anxious second, and then pulled with all my might. I heard a click and a rattle! With a thrill of hope I realized, the marbles were out of the reach of my fingers, but within reach of the suction I was creating! With a frenzy of pumping, I heard more clicks and rattles, and pulled the plumber's helper up with a mighty last pull and quickly replaced it to cover the drain lest the little sucker could roll back down into it's hiding place. And there, lolling against the side of the black rubber, was a marble! WOOHOO, victory was MINE!

For the next half-hour, I repeated my trick and recovered a total of four marbles from the drain, and last of all, the cap to the hot/cold water handle. Apparently this had gone down first, and kept the marbles from rolling away down the pipe to clog it in some other, completely inaccessible place. Serendipity is a lovely thing.

Today I feel invincible! Hey, if I can get a total of seven marbles and a plastic cap out of a tub drain, I can do anything!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Blocked!

Well, I'm working on a Circle Journal for my friend Kelly. The circle is almost complete and all the journals are 1 or 2 entries away from arriving back at their homes, but I've been holding hers up longer than I ought to. *hanging my head in shame*

Aside from the fact that Kelly is a sweet friend and I want to do a bang-up job for her; aside from the fact that I idolize this girl as a scrapper (even before she got famous); aside from the fact that her journal is a total work of ART and everyone else's entries are stunning and insightful--aside from all that, the topic is "Defining Moments." I have a few to choose from. But the one I've chosen--and which she also nudged me to tackle--is the one I'm in right now. If you don't know what that is, just scroll down a few entries in this blog, and you'll see it's my husband's deployment to a combat zone. I'm smack in the middle of a defining moment right now, and it's my faith that will bring me through it and determine what about me this moment will define in the end.

But it sure is hard to write about! The page is pretty much complete, but I need to add the journaling. And I'm blocked! I have things I want to include swimming in my head like the school of fish in "Finding Nemo"....skittish little things! As soon as I settle on one and begin to form it into words, it zips away and defies containment in my little journaling box. It might be lack of sleep. It might be not seeing the forest for all the trees. And it just might be that my mind is so clouded with the emotion of it all that I can't pin it down enough just yet.

I will come through this defining moment just fine, with the Lord's help and good friends to lean on. And I WILL finish this assignment, which is helping me work through the current struggles. But, I am going to have to put the journal in the mail with my pages still blank, and finish them here while the journal continues on in the circle---maybe with the pressure of holding up her journal relieved, I will be able to wrestle it down and write it out.

I don't think it was an accident that her particular journal came into my hands at exactly this time. It could have been one of the more light-hearted ones, but it wasn't. I think this is something I need to do, and I'm glad for it. But I don't want to rush it and do a half-hearted job, just so I can send it on its way. I believe in scrapping from the heart, with emotion and passion and openness. I want to be real and raw and transparent. But to do that, I still need the words! ;)

Sundays

When Kevin was a pastor, Sunday used to be my favorite day. I loved going to church, seeing the kids as the self-appointed "unoffical greeters," meeting people as they emerged from their cars and shaking hands and giving hugs. I loved moving about the sanctuary before services began, gathering in and passing out love and hugs and smiles. I loved singing the hymns and being part of the prayers of the Body of Christ as we lifted our voices and hearts toward heaven. I loved sitting on the front row next to Kevin, and then as he ascended the steps and approached the pulpit, I loved to watch him and listen to him. And oh, how I loved his teaching. He had such a way of opening the Scriptures to explain them clearly and lovingly, and his careful exegesis was distilled into a cohesive, clear, and compassionate lesson that was applicable to our lives and hearts. He never compromised, never wavered in his trust in God's Word, never faltered in his defense of it. I loved all that and more about Sunday.

Because Sundays were my greatest blessing then, they have become my hardest time now. Being part of a new church isn't so hard, but it's strange to be overlooked, for our new church is much larger than the one we left, and no one knows us. Even the hymns sound different without Kevin's strong voice undergirding my soprano, because he always loved to belt them out with all his heart. It's strange to sit halfway back in the middle of the congregation, and strange to see someone else in the pulpit. I miss a clearly exegeted sermon, organized and easy to follow, and I get impatient with the little jokes and meaningless stories thrown in just to take up time and "make it interesting." I miss the hugs and the wonderful little gray-haired ladies, and the young married couples who decided to enter the ministry under Kevin's influence. I miss all this and more.

But God is faithful. He accepts my worship and hears my prayers, and collects my tears in his bottle. He helps me bear the grief, and even embrace it, because it is shows how great the love and blessings were that I grieve for now. It would be sad indeed if I was numb to the pain, because I would have to have missed the joy for that to happen. It is part of who I am, just as much as the cheerfulness that is my usual state.

I guess it's all a part of growth. Thomas's bones ache sometimes in the night, because he is growing, stretching out to become a man. Growing requires changing, which often requires discomfort and the giving up of something. I have to let go. And with my hands empty of the things I have to give up for now, I am free to receive whatever blessings the Lord has in store for me next, and I can also freely let Him choose what that will be. If I don't hold on too tight to the old things, the things that I can't keep anyway, I'm able to receive the new things that will come in their place, and the change and growth that is part of Life's adventure.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Keeping Busy

With Kevin in Kuwait, I'm looking for ways to keep myself busy and make the time go by quickly. There are tons of options!

First, I'm going to get in shape before he gets home. I've gained back some of the weight I previously lost, so I'm going to take that off again plus the last 10 pounds. I know I can do it! Well, after the holidays, that is. :D

Next, the FRG group is going to be a good activity. Getting to know the wives of the other men that are with my husband and being able to support one another will be invaluable. Plus, our monthly crop group will be scrapbooking all the happenings so the guys can get all caught up once they return. Coffees, get-togethers and activities for the kids will all be part of the plans with this group.

We'll be getting involved at church more, now that we aren't attending chapel on post. The kids can be back in Sunday School, and I am tossing around the idea of joining the choir or orchestra.

My Mary Kay business went by the wayside recently, and I will pick it back up again and do some parties--but not so many to burn me out, this time.

Also, of course (you knew this was coming) there is scrapbooking. My wonderful friends at www.123-scrap.com are a huge blessing to me! The "Cards for Soldiers" campaign is going to bless Kevin and his troops, and that makes me happy! Plus the endless inspiration and friendly chatter make me feel like I have my buds surrounding me whenever I log on.

There is a flurry of DT calls out right now, and I think I'll just enter them all until I get on one. Being dumped from the Provo Craft team has turned out to be a blessing in disguise...I feel more creative and less boxed in now that I'm not restricted to use only their stuff. The last creation I made was a blast and I didn't use a single PC product--I just remembered how FUN this hobby is! Getting into my own creative world and coming up with something beautiful, useful, and memorable is just like therapy. The only bummer about PC is losing my source of products and "mad money" (read: scrapbook supply money). So, striking out for fresh waters, I'll toss in my hat and see what happens.

So, here's to a great Christmas break, sleeping late for a change and going to see family next week! And here's to a wonderful, busy year!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Begin at the Beginning

Well, all right. I've joined the world of the Blogger. I thought it would be a good way to document the journey that our family has embarked upon. Besides, now that some of my friends are blogging, I feel kind of left out. ;)

Yesterday Kevin left for his deployment. It was a surreal day. We woke up early, feasted on bacon and blueberry muffins (Kevin's request) and then drove him to the baggage loading area. He hugged everyone, got out, unloaded his bags, and then we drove away. He wanted it that way. There was no time to hang on him and cry...we had done that the night before. We just drove home and continued life as if nothing had happened. The kids played and squabbled as usual--it made me wonder why I had kept them out of school for the occasion. The only time it really got hard for them was at bedtime. It was like pulling teeth to get them headed in that direction, and when they finally were in bed, they missed him. They missed his reading their bedtime story, and his hugs, and just knowing he was in the house while they slept. So I read, and I hugged extra tight to try and make up the difference. But it just isn't the same as a Daddy Hug.

Later, Kevin was able to call me from Maine. That was when it hit me--he was on the eastern edge of America, and preparing to travel still further and further east. Some very kind veterans and church folk had come to see them off, and brought cell phones for them to use. We had a few golden minutes to talk, then the phone cut out just as we were saying good-bye. I just wasn't finished yet, but he didn't call back. I'm sure someone else was waiting for the phone...and we were practically finished anyway. But it was just the trigger that opened the dam, and I cried out my loneliness and worry until I had squeezed every drop out. I slept so hard last night, after that.

This evening he called again...this time from Kuwait. It's amazing how he could have traveled half a world in one day. He had more time this evening, and the kids all got to talk to him. Thomas couldn't wait to give him the good news that he received all "A's" on his progress report. And again, they just took it in stride--the fact that it was 4:00 am tomorrow morning where he was, while it was 7:00 pm here; the description of being on the other side of the globe--it didn't phase them. I'm amazed at their adaptability and faith. Amazed and thankful.

So, here we are. I feel strong and ready to face this. I can face a year apart. But I don't let my mind rest on that unthinkable concept that is in the back of my head like a lurking shadow. I force my mind away from that, and let myself rest in the childlike faith that has been modeled to me today by my own children.