Be Happy Anyway

Be Happy Anyway
From Brave Girls Club

Friday, December 31, 2010

Here Comes the Sun and the Year 2011

I am excited about the upcoming year and about these:

The sketchbook challenge


You can click on either to find out more. These are my tools toward exploring creativity. I like that they are low pressure, but will provide me some much needed inspiration.

Now here's my last submission for the Top 2000 Blog Party.

I would like to thank the many people who have left posts on this blog over the course of the year. I have had over 7000 visitors since August 2008 when I started using ClustrMaps. The other counter at the bottom is not reliable because I think it counts when I come to the page, too. I have just never bothered to delete it.

A lot has happened over the course of this year. I got my first passport. My husband "lost" his former job and was required to relocate to his current job. I played single mom over the summer and am doing it again. I went on a long awaited sabbatical from being a mommy for two weeks and did something people thought I would never do by going to Norway with a new travel buddy. My son started school. I changed from teaching gifted students and began teaching inclusion students. I cleaned my house company clean twice okay maybe three times. I decided to be happy and to be grateful.

Next year should be great with a planned move in June and Caitlin becoming a high schooler.

What are you looking forward to next year?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Message in a Bottle

As a girl, I loved The Police. I still do. Part of it might have had to do with the fact that my friend Renee used to sleep with the radio on and The Police was really popular at the time so I probably got a lot of it poured into my subconscious during sleepovers.

When I saw Message in a Bottle on the TOP 2000, I knew I had to do it but couldn't figure out what I wanted to do. That's usually the case. I got this picture in my head and here it is:

Lots of little circles.

There is still one day left at Marit's play-along for the TOP 2000. Go on over and hear some good music and check out the great work everyone is displaying over there. Marit has some very creative friends. Just click the blinkie at the top of this post.

I am done creating for this project. The last one was emailed last night. For once I was ahead of the game. I only missed one day of playing along. But this has given me the kick start I need to work on my word for the year: CREATIVITY. I already have in mind my post for January. I am only requiring myself to make one post toward this word each month so as not to overwhelm myself. But I am also participating in a Sketchbook Challenge (see the blinkie in the sidebar) for this coming year also. Fortunately, this is also a monthly thing.

Hope you all have plans for New Year's Eve to spend it with someone you like, even if it is yourself. I will be making milkshakes with the kids and eating popcorn and, I'm sure, playing LOTS of Wii.

Oh, and don't forget to come back tomorrow to see my last page for the TOP 2000.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fun With Paper, Paint and Paste

I decided that other than spending time with my kids, the one thing I wanted to do was expend some creative energy. My computer being down gave me the opportunity to do some things I would neglect like painting and drawing.

Marit invited us to follow the TOP 2000 songs of 2010 as is her tradition every year. She said we could make ATCs or scrap or draw or whatever comes to mind in response to different songs on the list.

Below are mine submissions and can seen over at her blog.
MacArthur Park by Donna Summer (paper)

Everybody Wants to Rule the World, by Tears for Fears (mixed media, tissue, acrylic)

I Just Called by Stevie Wonder (collage)

If You Love Somebody by Sting (Yes I know I wrote "something"...once you put something in ink...) (acrylic painting)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Part 1

Quick! Take a read before my husband finds me on his laptop. :-)
I took some pics and videos yesterday and today, so here goes...

This kid is the goofiest kid ever, not that this is news to most of you.

We were hanging out at my mom's house last night and started our new "tradition" of KFC for Christmas Eve dinner. Really mom was too cold to go to church and didn't feel like cooking so Andre suggested we have KFC instead. (Who knows? It might catch on.) We then played an old game I found in my childhood bedroom closet.

After finally convincing James that Santa won't bring presents to boys that don't sleep in their own beds, Gary and I got to wrapping. And let's not get into the argument of whether Santa wraps presents. The point is moot.

This morning, oddly enough, the kids didn't get up until 8:3o even with the tv on and Gary and I talking in the living. It was kind of nice. Finally, they woke up and emptied their newly made stockings to find chocolates, oranges and mini gifts like kaleidescopes, harmonicas and puzzles.

James, trying to figure out what he got

Each kid got one present from their wish list and Caitlin got some long needed dance clothes. I had wrapped up new mugs with hot cocoa mix and marshmallows for them to have with the long awaited gingerbread house.

And while James entertained us with his harmonica melodies, we watched The Christmas Story.

This afternoon we will go over to my Aunt Rose's house and open more presents and eat some yummy food. I am sure there will be more pictures to share.

Just don't tell my husband.

Friday, December 24, 2010

No texting while driving was done in the sending of this post.

Yet another cell phone post from western front. I could wax Quixotic about the joys of Christmas. Instead I will share this lovely photo.
One could take this downpour many ways, so I will quickly share with you where my mind went this Christmas Eve.
It started pouring like crazy while I was grocery shopping so immediately I began thinking how I was going to get to my car. At first I was annoyed. Then I found a place in HEB to wait out the storm rather than crowd with the other frightened rats on the front porch. When the rain slowed, I ran to the front to the checkout to get out before the rain came back but it was no use. The deluge began again. This left me with the drowned rats.
That's when I saw humanity in action. A woman with an umbrella saw a man with a cart and offered to walk him to his car. It made me smile. Kindness in the midst of chaos. So as I sit in traffic in the pouring rain, I watch the rain refresh the land and bring cheer to someone - all because of an umbrella.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas

I know this is sideways, but I just had to show you what I have been doing. I finally pulled out the sewing machine and made the kids christmas stockings. Caitlin chose the red one and James gets the green one.

I don't have a computer right now. (Waiting on a motherboard on one and a power cord on the other.)

Been having fun making candy cane reindeer with the kids, visiting with brother and lunching with friends. I don't think I want Christmas break to end.

Merry Christmas everyone and a very happy new year!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Brain Under Construction

I am not sure where my brain is right now. Don't have much to say. Haven't taken very many pictures lately. I guess my brain is experiencing renovations right now. See you when renovations are complete.

Monday, December 6, 2010

My Year in Status Updates of Facebook

I enjoyed this. I used an app that allowed me to post the following image of a compilation of my status updates on Facebook. If you want to read it, click on the picture and it will show larger when you click the magnifying glass.

It let you pick the statuses you wanted to include. I thought that it was funny that a good number of my updates were regarding allergies and lack of sleep. What does that mean?? I am not sure, but it makes me want to work on posting more positive updates next year.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Tale of Unexpected Expenses Leads to Recognition of Self-Worth

I have an interesting outlook on life, but I don't think it is much different from many other American moms out there. We feel we don't have enough money. Now I am not including those out there that truly don't have money. I am speaking of the middle income American with a home and two cars and 2.3 kids (the 0.3 is the dog in our case.)

Every payday, I plan where all the money will go - $75 a week for groceries, $40 a week for fuel, mortgage, utilities, insurance, dance school, eating out once a week because we aren't home, entertainment for the kids (entry to zoos, museums, fairs), etc. There are two things missing from this mix: the first being a tithe of my income (we can discuss that later) and the second is putting anything away just to dress myself. I have not purchased clothes for myself since before my trip for Norway and even that I had saved for 3 years to do. (My trip budget included travel clothing.)

Why is it that I have no qualms over dropping money to clothe my children or to take them to a street fair, but when I need a new pair of pants or shoes, I hem and haw and put it off and then just never buy them? Case in point: I was looking at my favorite trousers this morning and realized that I got those in 2004 when I received a scholarship to go to California for an educators conference. At that same time, I bought a tan pair of cropped trousers, a brown dress, a jacket two shirts. Those things are still in my closet and I still wear them to this day.

This in no way is a cry out of poverty. It's just about a certain mentality that prevents me from valuing myself enough to spend even $20 on a new shirt or $40 on a pair of pants and CERTAINLY NOT $100 on a pair of boots even though winter is coming and I could use them. This is just me realizing that somewhere there IS money because just this week, I had to drop $450 on car service when my car broke down last week. Meanwhile, I will more than likely have enough money to feed my kids for the next two weeks.

So where does this money blindness come from. I am pretty sure when I added everything up at the beginning of the month, I allowed for everything that we needed, and when I got to the end of the mental ledger, the final balance was zero. How is it then that I can drop a huge chunk of change on this car and still make it to the end of month? Do you realize how many pair of boots I could have bought with that?? Yet, here I stand bare legged.

I just say this because, this month the large sum of money went to a very important piece of equipment so I am glad I didn't buy a pair of boots. But when do I finally say yes to myself and give in and buy something for myself? When do I decide I am worth a shirt, a pair of pants or (dare I say it?) a new pair of boots? When??

This next payday is dedicated to Christmas, but after that I would really like to show how important I am to myself by setting aside money to buy things for me. 'Cause truly, what am I teaching my children about valuing themselves if I am only showing them that mom is only here to take care of them. This goes not only for money but also for time...but I could write another whole post about how I budget my time shows I value my children far more than I value my mental health.

So until next time, ask yourself this, how much do show appreciation to yourself? What do you do to show yourself that you are valuable?

And now for some photos from yesterday's Krist Kindl Market and last night's Salado Stroll.
Didn't buy that either even though I liked it.

I was fascinated by this lady's sand jars that were really votive holders.
Wish she used other colors though.

Mmm! Street food.

A couple singing John Lennon's "So This is Christmas"

Carriage rides going down the streets of Salado.
This unique lady caught my eye. Hmm, I wonder if they'd notice her missing?

Yes, this duo's name is really Dazzling Weasel Faces
They were playing some Moody Blues

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire??
No, just some great smelling burgers.

A live nativity from First Baptist Church

James finally worked up the nerve to talk to Santa

Hey, act like you like each other.

My little street urchin

I will end with this last video taken outside the most popular house in Killeen. She started setting up October 1 and finished this weekend. She does it every year.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

It's December!!!

Although I love fall, I have decided that December is my favorite month and since fall doesn't officially start for a couple of weeks December still lands under the autumn category, especially in Texas. The leaves are just now changing color and falling from the trees. My poor son is dying to live where we can pile up leaves and he can jump in them. I don't think our new townhouse in Kansas City has any trees, so he will have to wait a little bit longer until we get a house. I will have to make sure it has lots of trees with leaves that fall off. (Note to self: Tell husband to buy a rake.)

This morning is just beautiful. The sun is streaming through my large picture window in the living room. Even though it reminds me that I should get outside and clean off the dog prints, it brings a smile to my face. The wind is strong enough to wave the branches of the strange little ash tree out front but not so bad that you want to stay inside. I was talking to a girl last night who moved here from Michigan last year and she commented on how surprised she was of the amount of wind there was last winter. When I asked if it was along the lines of a Chicago wind, she agreed. It kinda made me smile because most people who live up north snub their noses at how we complain about the cold here in Texas. Granted, we get very little snow. However, considering that we spend three months of the year approaching the 100°F, our 20° to 30° is pretty unbearable to us and add the aforementioned wind you have some pretty unbearable weather, at least for us Texans.

Regardless of the cold, I look forward to December because my profession allows me 2 weeks off each year. I get paid early to cover Christmas presents. AND most importantly, this year my brother gets to come visit for a good portion of the break. I can't wait!

This December I plan on taking a least one memorable photo a day. Some of my friends are doing a daily journal or scrapbook page, but I won't be so bold as to say I will do that. Maybe when I am done with December, I can gather all the photos and make one mini album like this or this, but certainly not as much work as THIS. Maybe more like this. Simple, to the point, photo with journaling. I can't do anything that adds more stress to my life, no matter how fun it appears.

So here are the two photos that begin my month. (Yes, I know it's the fourth, but I didn't start until the second and today is not over, yet.)
From the "Cozy Christmas Coffee" at church. Table decorated by Leslie Petty. Cup made by her daughter.

Me, headed to our staff Christmas part. Had some fun editing and Picnking it.

Well, I hope you are all enjoying your December. I will be back tomorrow with one or two more photos for my December Daily.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Frustration and Thankfulness

Well, it has been an interesting couple of days. Let's start with today.

Mondays are my busy day. I left work about 3:30 and drove over to Caitlin's school to pick her up and get her home earlier than the bus would. I do this because she has dance from 5:20 until 7:00. This gives her time to get her homework finished before class. On this particular Monday, I had to run to the post office store to mail two shirts to Gary that he left hanging to dry in the bathroom. James was dilly dallying while getting out of the car giving a woman with 500 packages the opportunity to get in front of us. This is not hyperbole. Picture the biggest gift bags you have ever seen. Multiply that by three. Stuff these bags to the gills with individual boxes. That is how much she had to send to BOSNIA!!! This didn't bother me too much though because I had plenty of time to go get Caitlin from the house. Unfortunately, the unthinkable happened. My son begins doing the peepee dance. I tell him to hold it because the man doesn't have a public restroom. Neither does the cleaners or bookstore. The man is the only person working in a very secure store, so my son can't even pray for mercy from the man. I keep hoping that this will go quickly. Then it happened. He wet his pants. I had to leave the store with the shirts unsent and put James in the car so he can change clothes. After that, I gave up on sending the shirts.

It became time to leave for dance so I wrangle James into the car again. By this time, he is upset because I won't let him run back into the locked house to grab a game charger. I said, "If the game dies, it's time to stop playing." This doesn't sit well with him and he throws a fit - a full on fit. I immediately take the game system from him and try to start the car. That's when the even MORE unthinkable happened. The car wouldn't start. It would make the sound like it was starting and even vroom, then it would cut off. It took me a couple of times of trying to figure out what was happening when I finally lost my cool and kicked Caitlin and the screaming boy out of the car so I could hear what the car was doing. (That is how loud he was crying.) It was no use. I couldn't get the car started. I went in and called the mechanic, but the phone rang and rang. It was only 5:05. What time could they possibly close? The ad showed they were open until 6. I rang and rang and re-rang until I realized it was futile. I then called my mother to come get me so I could use her truck to get to a doctor's appointment tomorrow. On her way there she noticed the garage bays were still open and she called me. On our way back I stopped there and walked into the garage. The guys said that the owner closes at 5:00 in the winter. Fortunately, these were nice guys. They listened to my dilemma, called the tow truck and told the driver to bring the car there to be looked at first thing in the morning. Thank goodness for small favors.
The car being towed away on a flatbed

This takes me back to yesterday, a day that puts all of my trivial problems into perspective. It is hard to see the anything other than despair when you are smack dab in the middle of it all, but I want you to listen to what happened yesterday.

Yesterday morning I got a message from a stranger on Facebook. I read it anyway. It was titled "Eileen's Funeral Arrangements." Now I know more than one Eileen so my mind started reeling. As I read the date and time and then the location, I figured out it was my childhood friend who I learned to play flute with. She and I sat together for years "duking it out" with one other girl for first chair. We were in girl scouts together, her mother our troop mom. We had the most awesome Halloween party in her parents' garage. I can still remember the bowls of ick her mother had us put our hands in pretending they were brains and intestines and such. I remember it like it was yesterday. When she moved away, I got her new address and wrote her a few times, but you know how letter writing goes. One person forgets and the other delays writing until the day that one person no longer lives where they lived before. This was long before the internet. On occasion, I would find her mom and dad and ask for her email address. They would give it to me and we would write again and then drop off again. Then came Facebook. We could look in on each others lives, commenting from time to time without worrying about remembering email addresses or even remembering each others birthdays. My biggest fear, however, with long distance friends is that something would happen to them and I would not know. I am sure it is the last thing anyone is thinking about when making funeral arrangements for a loved one. "Hey, let me get into her address book and Facebook pages and her Linkdin pages and so on to let all her 'followers' know about her passing." I remember when my dad died, I tried to contact certain people who would send it through the grapevine. I am sure there are people who didn't know and still don't know two years later that he is gone.

So back to today. I could be sitting here feeling sorry for myself thinking about the broken car, my naughty boy, my embarrassment at the post office, the pee in the car seat, or a botched errand, but I am not. I am suddenly thankful for my son who has all his faculties and my talented daughter who graces the stage bringing joy to many. (Eileen's adopted son, Polo, will never walk or be able to take care of himself.) I am grateful for having a car at all. I feel blessed to have mom who will come and get me at the drop of a hat and lend me her truck whenever I need it. (Polo will never get to a visit from his mom again.) I appreciate the mechanics who helped me instead of just saying, "We're closed." I am relieved that I already have tomorrow off because of a previous appointment. Now I don't have to take a personal day to get the car fixed.

Most of all, I am thankful for my life, my crazy, mixed-up life because there are definitely worse situations to be in. Unfortunately, it took the passing of a dear friend to help me recognize it.

Dear Eileen, I miss you so much words cannot explain. I am thankful you were not alone at the time of your passing. I am thankful that another person named AnneMarie was at your side to hold your hand. Were it not for this mysterious AnneMarie that no one can figure out who she is, I would not have been notified of your passing. (Everyone thought I was the one with you...Oh, how I wish it were me.) I don't know what else to say except, we were supposed to be friends forever. Your were my favorite person to compete with for first chair in band. You weren't supposed to be the first to do this. I will miss your smile, your procrastination, your tech tips. The world is a better place because you were here but a sadder place because you are gone.

Love, Annemarie
NOTE: I have since found that AnneMarie was actually AnnaLouise. 12-1-2010

Girls skipping at an athletics carnival
I can't wait to jump rope with you again.

(Photo courtesy of Powerhouse Museum Collection)
public domain


Have you seen me??
Christmas 09-16

Or us??
December Daily 2

These little characters have decided to take a holiday from my living room. I have no clue where in the garage they are as my husband is in charge of putting them away each year and pulling them out. All I have so far is a my fully decorated Christmas tree.

So if you see these rascals wandering the highways and bi-ways, please tell them to come home. We miss them.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Some Yummy Food and Pie Review

Being the organized woman that I am, (I hear laughter out there) I had everything ready yesterday for today's Thanksgiving meal. I tried a precooked turkey from the local grocery store. They also provided the pie. We had the traditional green bean casserole, cornbread dressing AND the best sweet potatoes that ever have graced a Rodriguez-Victory table if I do say so myself. All of these were prepared yesterday, ready to go in the oven right after the turkey. Man, I was on top of it. It made for a lovely table and a great meal.

Yes, there is turkey at this meal, but it's waiting for a serving dish.

James is determined to eat this leg.

(Please note the clean windows and sills for my mom.)

The piece de resistance should have been dessert, but my shortcut fell short...according to my five year old who begged for pie before dinner even started. I think his teacher must have talked about what you have at Thanksgiving dinner. He even ate things that would have never crossed his lips just to have the right to have dessert. To put it lightly...he was disappointed. But don't take my word for it. Hear it straight from the horse's mouth.

At least there was ice cream. I am going to let him make some cookies this weekend to make it up to him.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I just wanted to take a moment to be thankful before I start worrying about clean houses and such.

I am grateful...
...for two healthy kids
...for a roof over my head
...for a car to drive
...for a working kitchen
...for a job I love be living in the best state in the US. (We will see how I feel next Thanksgiving when I live in Missouri
...that my husband was able to come home for two weeks.
...that my class size is shrinking
...for a generous mother
...for a decent camera (Took this photo Wednesday morning)
Birds On a Wire - Red
...for friends who love to chat over wings and a drink
...for short lines at the grocery store two days before Thanksgiving
...a beautiful sunrise
Sunrise - sorta

I am sure I could go on, but this short list has already lifted my spirits and prepared me for the wonderful day that is ahead.

Hope you all have a great day, especially those celebrating Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Be Happy Anyway

THANK YOU EVERYONE who left kind words this week after my visit with my mother. She is a loving mother and would never intentionally say anything to hurt me. I think most of us are that way. Words come out and we don't realize the impact they have.

I have decided to take on the another challenge from Brave Girls Club. It's a simple one...I am going to BE HAPPY, regardless of the things life throws at me. If I continually tell myself to BE HAPPY I can't help to be so.

I am a good mother, a good teacher and a good friend. I keep my children and students first. (I know I should remember myself.) But their success is important to me. It is mark of what I do. I have had very successful students come back and tell me how important I was to them. It's something you don't necessarily see when you are getting on to them for using unkind words or for forgetting their homework, but everything I have done over the past 12 years has impacted someone in someway.

Scripture from The Message: James 1:2-4 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

Scripture from the NIV: James1: 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

It's because of this that I will have to remind myself to BE HAPPY ANYWAY.

Head on over to The Brave Girls Club (You can click on the photo above) and tell them how you go out and be amazing.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

21 Challenge - A Tidy House Continues

Well, the house is still clean. (In my opinion.) I was able to invite my mother over for Gary's birthday. I baked a cake the night before and left no dirty dishes in the sink. I came home from work and iced the cake. That didn't go so well, but that was just a problem overly soft cake (tasty) and overly soft icing (yummy) pushing the cake all over the place.

By the time my mom got to the house, I was feeling okay. But when we sat down, I could feel her prying eyes, noticing the finger marks on and around the light switches and the piece of wrapper my son had left on the floor. She even went on about a story of friend who had bought her son and daughter-in-law a VERY nice dining table only to have the inconsiderate DIL use it for a craft table and destroy it. She went on about how bad their carpet looked and so on. Now, I do not have the benefit having two "perfect" children as mother supposedly did. (Actually, we were just scared to do anything wrong, according to my brother.) Instead, I have a daughter who was ill as a child and threw up neon yellow medicine on my light beige carpet and a boy who loves to jump on the furniture like he is an action hero. I told her she was talking about me. She tried to make excuses that she wasn't talking about me, but knew exactly what she was trying to say.

Why do I feel I need her approval for something like this?? Is her never ending disapproval what causes me to just throw my hands up in the air and give up. As if to say, "I can never be what you want me to be, so why should I try anymore."

Today, I will say. I am good enough. I am happy with my house. I know there are things I would like to do differently. But for today??


Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Beautiful Fall Day

This morning Gary came home for two weeks. We went out to this place today:

Skip to page 9 through 12 to see what we were doing specifically.

It was fun to see the Scottish Gathering in person. I hadn't been since junior high school. The kids had a great time and Gary enjoyed himself as well.

I am just going to share the pictures and a simple caption. Following the pictures will be my progress on my 21 Challenge.
The day started off beautifully. This set of "clouds" followed us the whole way.
There were lots of dancers dressed like this girl.
This man's garb was unique compared to the rest of the Highland Visitors. (I especially love how he was color coordinated with his child's stroller.)

We ate some faire food.
And watched these men conduct the bagpipe players and drummers.
I think that man should move.
This little Scotsman stood outside the game area dreaming of the day he could toss the hammer or caber.
James found a hat he liked.
These pups had it made in the shade.
We ended the day with some ice cream at a new shoppe at home
21 Challenge:
I made breakfast - waffles and the kitchen still looks the same as when I cleaned it the other day. The living room is still clean and laundry is being folded right of the dryer. My bathroom counter is being wiped down after use. Now to work on a regular cleaning schedule to keep things from getting out of hand as before.

How do you keep up with the things that need to be done regularly around the house?
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