Wednesday, 30 December 2009

The best of 2009

As the year draws to a close, I thought I would re-visit some of my favourite posts from this year.  The following are my top ten, in no particular order.

Well, there you have it, folks.  The good, the bad and the downright silly.  Hope everyone had a wonderful year, and I look forward to seeing what 2010 will bring!

Monday, 28 December 2009

Christmas festivities!

Despite concerns over a smaller budget for Christmas this year, we still managed a nice one!  From MP3 players for the girls to bass guitar gear for Jonathan and way too much for Mommy, it was a fun day!

The doggies got matching bowls with iron stands, and they're no longer able to push them all over the kitchen.  :)

Celestia is happy to have her Nintendo DS back.  It was broken earlier this year, and we got it fixed for Christmas.

Tatiana is loving the new stuffed Planet Earth Panda she got, and doesn't want to put it down.

Christmas would be complete without all of us getting new books, and Jonathan got an almost complete set (missing volume VI) of Edgar Allan Poe books published in 1904!

We will be adding a new addition to our household soon, in the form of ... a turtle!  I had pet box turtles when I was a kid, and something about them just makes me smile.  Jonathan bought me all the gear, with the promise of a turtle as soon as everything is assembled, and I choose a breed.  You may also notice a difference in my pictures very soon, because my seven-year-old digital camera has been replaced with a shiny new one!  Once I figure out how to use it, I'm sure the pictures will be a much better quality!  ;)

The Dallas area had our first white Christmas in eighty-three years!  Our girls (and especially Tatiana) were SOOOO excited to have snow on Christmas morning that they could hardly contain themselves!  Despite the frosty morning, it all melted from the roads by lunch time, so we were able to go over to Nana and Papa's house for our traditional Christmas dinner.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season, and I'm looking forward to 2010!

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Christmas dresses!

After three grueling weeks of battling with my sewing machine, I finally finished the girls' Christmas dresses the day before Christmas Eve!  YIPEE!!!  My plan was to take pictures of the girls at our church before the Christmas Eve service and post them on Chrisrmas morning.  A white Christmas nixed those plans, however, so I had to wait until this morning to get pictures in a pretty setting.  I think the three weeks was worth it, don't you?  I apologise for the poor quality of some of these pics, I'm still learning how to use my new camera!  :)

Friday, 25 December 2009

December fun!

What a December it's been!  Jonathan had two weeks off of work at the beginning of the month, and it was the BEST Christmas present just to have him home for that time.  We took the girls to Caroling at the Adolphus, and the aquarium during the week when it wouldn't be too crowded.  We always enjoy the animals at the aquarium, but it's even more enjoyable when there's not a thousand people there and you can take your time.  We also went to the Trail of Lights at the Heard Museum.  Cool idea, poorly executed.  On the other hand, we basically saw the entire museum (minus the nature trails) at a reduced admission.

Celestia and Tatiana were a huge help in preparing for Christmas this year.  They decorated our tree completely without Jonathan's or my help, and wrapped all of Jonathan's presents , in addition to the dog's presents!

Later today, I'll post some pictures of Christmas day taken with my NEW CAMERA!  Oh yeah, we had a big Christmas again this year, reminding me that we are so abundently blessed here in the Martin household.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Confessions of an overly ambitious mom

I do too much.  Ask my husband.  A few weeks ago I saw the most fabulous Christmas dress fabric.  I wasn't even looking for it, but it called my name.  It said "You NEED to make Christmas dresses for your girls out of me!"  So I took it home.  And it sat.  It sat while I wrote lesson plans.  It sat while I taught.  It sat while I worked.  Jonathan has been home for almost two weeks now, and there's no reason in the world I should not have been able to finish these dresses in that time.  EXCEPT, everything has gone wrong.  When I say everything, I mean it, too.  I hadn't had a pattern when I bought said perfect-Christmas-dress-fabric, so I guestimated at how much I would need.  It wasn't enough.  No problem.  I just made the skirts a little shorter, and added an underskirt and tulle ruffle.  I like tulle ruffles, anyway, what the heck?  I found the most prefect trim, but needed thread for it.  You'd think I would have bought that when I bought the trim, but not so much.  It's OK, I had other parts of the dress I could work on in the meantime, namely the tulle ruffle...  and sewing the bodice together, and pressing the seams of the skirt, and hemming it...  Plenty to do.  Not hard work (so I thought) so it shouldn't really take that long.
First I planned on finishing the skirt.  I pinned it together, and had both of them sewn in under an hour.  See?  Easy.  Now to press the seams, and hem.  Have I mentioned that my perfect-Christmas-dress-fabric was beaded?  Have any of you pressed beaded fabric lately?  The glue melted and stuck to the iron.  Lovely.  It's nothing you can actually see, but it DID necessitate a towel between the skirt and the iron.
On to hemming my skirts!  I broke four needles before running out.  Four.  And I'm pretty sure I'm looking at about an eighth of one skirt being hemmed.  Why, oh why is this fabric just now giving me problems on the hem?!  I THINK it may have something to do with the beads coming off and falling down into the machine.  That didn't happen when I was sewing the seams, because all the beads were on the inside.  Think I'm going to try using tissue paper and see if that helps.
Next for the tulle ruffles.  How about gathering tulle?  Tried that lately?  Fun stuff!
Amidst all this drama, my thread broke at least a half a dozen times for no apparent reason, I knocked over the iron, and realised that I'm going to need to cut twice as much tulle as I originally estimated.  Good thing I bought plenty of that!
My greatest annoyance is that I had planned on having these fabulous dresses finished by tomorrow, so we could take the girls to the Gaylord and make pictures to put in Christmas cards (which the girls wrote in for me this morning).  Now, unless I hit up Starbucks on my way home from work tonight, that's not going to happen.
*sigh*  When will I learn?

Monday, 7 December 2009

Seven years!

Today, I am celebrating seven years of being married to my best friend!  Last year, I did then and now posts to commemorate this event.  Sadly, I haven't been nearly as organised this year!  Nevertheless, I am so blessed every day to be married to this wonderful man!  Thank you, Jonathan, for being an amazing husband and father!  Here's to the next seven(ty) years together!  I love you!

Friday, 4 December 2009

Birthday fun!

We had a great time celebrating Celestia's and my mother's birthdays at The Magic Time Machine last night!  Everyone had fun, and ate too much!  Lilo was our server for the evening, and the magician was good.  Enjoy a few pictures!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Sweet Celestia

Twelve years ago today, after thirty-seven long hours of labour, I became a mom.  Never have I been so instantly in love as I was when I held that little six pound, eight ounce sweetheart for the first time.  She was beautiful.  She was perfect.  She was just the sweetest, happiest baby ever!  Really, she was.  I was determined to be the best little mother I could possibly be.  While I've certainly made my fair share of mistakes along the way, I'm proud of the lovely young lady Celestia is growing in to.  I'm so blessed to be able to homeschool her and spend hours a day trying to teach her not only educational fundamentals, but moral principles.  It is my dearest wish that she will grow up and not only be able to follow her dreams, but to learn how to make her sweet, helpful nature work for her.
So today, I just wanted to say thanks, sweetheart.  Thanks for making me a mom, and a better person.  I love you so, so much, and can't wait to see the wonderful things you're going to do with your sweet life!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

It sings!

I have never been a big Black Friday shopper.  True, in years past, I have gone shopping on Black Friday, but I am not one of those people who sets my alarm, getting up at gosh-awful hours just to hit a sale.  I don't scour the ads, trying to find the best deal, and if I get somewhere and find it too crowded, I usually just walk out.  I enjoy shopping, but in a whirlwind kinda way.  Stores employ marketing folks for shoppers like me.  If it doesn't jump off the shelf, screaming my name, it's probably not going home with me.

Last Wednesday, the latch mechanism on my washer broke for the second time in a year.  It's a simple little mechanism that consists of a peg and a button, and tells the washer when the lid is shut, but without it, the washer won't spin out.  Not good.  The last time we had it fixed, it cost us $200.  For a part that was probably all of $15.00.  Now, my washer has done its job faithfully for seven years, but it was a standard, no frills Kenmore model that (according to Sears website) costs around $400 new, NOW.  Not seven years ago.  I'm thankful for the good job it's done, but I wasn't about to pay another $200 to have it fixed again.  If you have been keeping up with us for a while, you may remember that we also had problems with the dryer over the summer.  It was simply time for a new set.  How convenient that it should finally give up the ghost just before Black Friday?

The first place I checked for Black Friday deals was Best Buy.  Though I prefer Frys any day of the week, (Talk about a geek's paradise!) their website is rubbish, and didn't actually have any spoilers.  I have had my eye on the beautiful red Samsung washer and dryer for a year now, alas, the price on those wasn't great.  What they DID have was a Samsung steam washer and the dryer to go with it for HALF OFF!  Normally, these would be $1200 each, but they were selling them for $599 each on Black Friday.  They also offered 18 months no interest financing, if you put in on the Best Buy credit card.  While I don't have a Best Buy card (and there's no way I would be accepted for one!), my mother does, and she agreed to put it on her card so we could afford the washer and dryer of my dreams.  I must be an adult now, if I'm excited about a new washer and dryer!  Woohoo!

Driving to my parents' house for Thanksgiving lunch, we saw the tents already set up outside two out of three Best Buys that we had to pass.  The one closest to my parents house was the ONLY ONE that didn't already have a pretty good group of people waiting.  At 1:00 in the afternoon.  Jonathan decided then, that we had better go ahead and stake our place in line as soon as possible, so once we were through eating, I drove him up to the store and dropped him off.  The time was 2:30 or so.  That's right, 2:30.  On Thanksgiving afternoon.  And we were a good fifteen people back in line.  I NEVER thought I would want something so badly that I would be willing to spend the night on a sidewalk outside a store to get it.  The need for new appliances, however, apparently trumps common sense!  ;)  The night was not actually so bad.  I brought a big comforter, pillows and coats.  We had books, video games, and Jonathan's laptop.  Another couple in line with us had board games, and they looked out for our spot in line, so we were actually even able to take a break together and go over to the Wal-Mart across the street for snacks and the restroom.  At around 2:00 AM, lying on Jonathan's chest resting, and listening to the buzz around me, I actually felt quite peaceful.  Jonathan has that affect on me.  :)

Once they opened, we were in and out of Best Buy in under twenty minutes, with directions to their warehouse so I could get my new washer and dryer that day instead of having to wait until Monday for it to be delivered.  Good thing, too because although I did manage a load or two of laundry in the bathtub, stomping around in it like Lucy, we were running short on clothes!  When we got to the warehouse, they brought out the washer and dryer in no time flat, and we were just ready to load it in the truck when they discovered that there was a problem: The sales person at the store (who was the only one in appliances, by the way.  Poor guy.) had set us up to pick up the washer, but not the dryer at the warehouse.  The dryer was, apparently, still at the store.  We couldn't have the one that was sitting right in front of us, because it had been sold to someone else!  Well that's frustrating.  The store manager was very gracious, admitting that it was their fault, and said he would try to find us an upgrade.  AN UPGRADE!  :)  Half an hour later, they loaded a washer that was .3 cubic feet larger than the one we paid for and the dryer to go with it!

Darling Jonathan installed my sparkling new washer and dryer while I was at work on Saturday, and left me a voicemail saying that it "sings and dances".  He wasn't kidding.  It playes a song when you turn it on, when you turn it off, and when the cycle is finished.  hehe!  I LOVE my new washer and dryer!  While I certainly never expected to spend the night at a Best Buy (or any store for that matter) the outcome was MORE than worth it!  We got something that we needed, and I'm certain that it will save us money in the long-run, as it is a newer, energy star model.  We'll be able to pay it off in manageable payments, with no interest (Thanks again, Mom!) and paid HALF what it's worth and then some because of the upgrade.

Has anyone else out there spent ridiculous amounts of time in line for something you really wanted or needed?  If so, what was it?

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  I thought, in honour of the holiday, I would make a list of things I am thankful for this year.  So with no further adieu, the top ten things I'm thankful for, in no particular order!

I am thankful for my parents!  They have always done everything they could to make sure I have what I need.  From basic necessities as a child, to child care and financial help as an adult, they've always been there.

I am thankful for awesome in-laws!  How many people do you know who would voluntarily go on vacation to stay with their in-laws sans spouse?  Jonathan's mom and dad raised an amazing man.  They have always made me feel like part of the family, and I even got a little brother when I married my awesome husband (Love you, Chris!)!  Much like my parents, Jonathan's mom and dad have always been there for us whether we needed advise, or financial help.

I am thankful for my house!  For the last year, I have been able to walk through my neighbourhood and see how many homes have been forclosed.  Sometimes I take this one for granted.  On days when Jonathan gets stuck in traffic coming home, or I wish we had a little more space, or I see how much my home is actually worth now, (Yikes, we couldn't sell if we had to!) I get frustrated with it.  All things considered, though I am thankful for my house.  Nothing beats having your own space!

I'm thankful for my truck!  When people find out that we only have one vehicle they look at us like we're crazy, but I honestly don't mind it.  It's awfully nice to only have one to maintain and fill with gas.  It's been very reliable transportation for us, and I am so glad to have it!

I'm thankful for the internet!  Does that seem a strange thing to be thankful for?  With the internet, I'm able to keep in touch with friends than have moved out of state, family members I never knew, and Jonathan when he's out of town.  The vast majority of our homeschooling materials come from the internet, and I can keep up with current events easily.  Is it a silly thing to be thankful for?  Maybe, but we can't be profound all the time!

I'm thankful for my job!  When I was laid off in February, I was just scared.  I knew there weren't many jobs out there, and that finding one at even near what I had been making would be a stretch.  After several months of being unemployed, we decided that I would just stay home.  We were spending less on just about everything without me working, and that's what we had been working towards anyway, so why not?  It didn't take too long of that for me to realise that I need a little adult interaction, and a little more cash.  When a friend sent me a message to let me know that the music store he worked at was hiring, that was perfect.  Even more perfect, they needed someone to work nights, so I could still stay home with the kids during the day!  I "heart" my job!

I'm thankful for Jonathan's job!  This is the job that he searched so hard for for several years after graduating, and another one that I take for granted for sometimes.  Lately, it seems like if something can go wrong while Jon is on a show, that it will go wrong.  Nonetheless, I am so thankful that Jonathan has a good job that he enjoys, with a stable company which has allowed me to work part time and spend more time with the kids.

I'm thankful for my dogs!  These mutts are big ol' cuddle bunnies.  They sound big, and look tough, and help me feel safer when Jonathan is on the road.  They love to cuddle, and give puppy kisses, and keep me warm when I'm napping on the sofa.  Earlier this year, when someone let two of them out of our yard, we were devastated.  We searched long and hard for them, often losing sleep in order to look longer.  When Floppy found his way home, we were excited, and sad at the same time.  Calypso has always been a tough girl, and we assumed when poor, traumatised Floppy showed up on his own, that something had happened to her.  When she actually ended up in the shelter over two months later it was nothing short of a miracle.  These dogs make us all smile, and I'm so glad they're part of our family!

I'm thankful for my kids!  Of course, this should go without saying!  What can I say about my beautiful girls?  I am so blessed to have such wonderful children.  I love that we've chosen to homeschool them so that we're able to spend even more time with them, and develop their personalities in a way that they wouldn't be able to do in a classroom with 20 other kids.  They're smart, silly, beautiful, wonderful girls, and even when they're misbehaving I love them SO MUCH!!!  :)

Last, but certainly not least, I'm thankful for my husband!  I have the best. husband... ever!  It's true!  He spoils the heck out of me - certainly far more than I could ever deserve.  He provides for our family, and is an incredible father.  I could go on and on, but our anniversary is in a couple of weeks, and I'll save it for that post!  ;)

Well, there you have it, folks.  things I'm thankful for on this beautiful Thanksgiving morning.  What are you thankful for this year?

Monday, 16 November 2009

I wonder

What makes a church your "home"?  If you're anything like me, you grew up going to church and the people who go there always refer to it as their church "home".  Is it the place?  The people?  Or perhaps it's something more intangible than that.  From the time I was a child, this church captured my attention.  We used to drive by it and I would marvel at the beauty of the building.  Even as a little girl with no inkling that I would ever leave Walnut Hill I wondered what it would be like if I could just go inside.
Shortly after I turned 21, I left the church I had spent my teenage years in.  I was divorced, broken, and wanted nothing to do with church.  I never truly believed that there was no God, but I was quite certain that he wanted nothing to do with me.  I spent several months not bothering to go to church at all, but when I began to suspect that Jonathan would be proposing, I decided that I'd better suck it up and pick a church.  I still wasn't sure God cared, but I wanted a big church wedding.  I also had a vague idea that I wanted to raise my girls with Biblical values.  Something in me remembered the big church on Northwest Highway that I'd always wondered about.
On a beautiful October morning, I packed up the girls and drug my best friend and her roommate to Park Cities for the first time.  I was in love.  In a church of literally thousands, the director of women's ministry came over and introduced herself to us during meet and greet.  How could she possibly have known it was our first time there?  We happened to visit on the anniversary of the church's founding, and the pastor outlined the wonderful history of the church.  It all started with one simple statement:  "There ought to be a church in the Park Cities."  The berobed choir was amazing, and the soloist clearly loved singing for the Lord.  Jamie never came back, ultimately finding her home in Wylie, but I just knew it was where I belonged.  My family stayed there for four years.  I sang in the choir, loved on babies, and Jonathan and I were married by the young marrieds minister from there.  When Celestia's father was hospatilised (and ultimately died) I first went to church and sat in the middle of the aisle of the sanctuary all alone, praying for him before I could muster the courage to enter the emergency room.
When Celestia was in first grade (and Tatiana was still in pre-k) we moved here to North-of-Everywhere, and she couldn't handle the late Wednesday nights at church.  Every Thursday, like clockwork, she was getting in trouble at school.  She cut clothes with her scisors, stole other students' classwork, and was just downright mean.  One Thursday afternoon, I was sitting in her teacher's classroom (I worked at the school) chatting about the phenomenon, and it occurred to me: we were keeping her out too late the night before.  She just couldn't handle it.  We would have to find something closer to home.
I tried out several chruches, and none seemed like a good fit until a sweet couple from First Baptist Anna knocked on my front door one Sunday evening and envited us to church.  We had not had a proper church home for almost a year, and everyone was very inviting.  In our time at First Anna, I sang on praise team, loved on bigger kids, and saw both of my girls baptised.  Our time there recently came to an end.  This time not for any logistical reason, but because I felt that God was calling me to move on.  Where to next?  I visited for a month at FBC Wylie, but as much as I love Jamie, that was her home, not mine.  We tried some other churches earlier in the year - FBC Melissa, FBC Haslet, Cottonwood Creek - all nice churches, but none that gave me that sense of "home".
Two Sundays ago, I walked back in to Park Cities Baptist.  Despite the huge new addition that had been nothing but a construction crater the last time I had been there, it was like we had never left.  Sure, the pastor has moved on as well as the choir director, and the teacher of the class I attended.  The children's minister is different, and I'm certain that they've added staff.  But it felt the same.  I still know so many of the faces.  Everyone there is still so welcoming.  It still felt like home.  Sunday morning, I had no intentions of making any decisions one way or another, but when the meet and greet time rolled around, Celestia and Tatiana both skipped over to say hi to friends from their Sunday school class.  Both girls flipped to the songs in the hymnals (Yes, some churches really do still use them.  Yay for reading music!) and sang even the songs that they didn't really know.  Tatiana leaned over to me after about five minutes and said "mommy, I like sitting in the pews better".  Suddenly I knew, that there was no need to think about it any more.  We were home.  Don't ask me why God has called me to a church 45 minutes away from where I live, with a group of people who are WAY above my socio-econimic status.  All I know is that He has.
What about you?  What makes your church a "home"?

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Happy Halloween!

Some years, we take the girls both to a church carnival for Halloween and Trick-or-Treating, some years we choose to do only a carnival.  Beacuse you know, sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't.  This year, I opted to take my beauties to not one, but two carnivals at different churches.  We started here in Anna at First Baptist.  They ran their carnival from 4:00-6:00, so that left plenty of time to go for a bit and then head to a later party.  After all, I'm a night owl and now that the girls are older they don't fall to peices early in the evening.  We wrapped things up in Anna at about 5:00 and headed to First Baptist Denton where our good friend Carla is the children's minister.  The girls got big bags of candy from the "trunk-or-treat", got their faces painted and silly hairdos, had fun on an inflatable slide, bungee bounced, and even rode a mechanical bull!  Sadly, my old faithful digital camera finally bit the big one while Tatiana was riding the mechanical bull, so I haven't any pictures after that.  Guess I know what my next big purchase will be.  Fun stuff.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Presenting Mr. and Mrs. David Lacombe!

This past Saturday, Jonathan and I went to his cousin, David's wedding.  Weddings are extremely rare occasions for us, and I think the last one we attended together was...  ours...  almost seven years ago.  David and Chelsie had a beautiful wedding, and we had a great time getting out just the two of and dancing together.  Pretty sure the last time we did that was at our wedding, too!  hehe!  The pictures we took didn't turn out great, but I think you'll be able to tell that a good time was had by all!  :)  Let me apologise for all the spaces between pictures up front.  I'm still trying to figure out captioning.  You'd think I would have gotten that down by now.  lol

I didn't get a good shot of Chelsie, but she looked beautiful!

The father of the groom was worried about his dance with the bride.  I don't think he should have been, do you?

We danced the night away.  Even Jonathan.  Yep, that's me on the dance floor with bare feet!
Oh man, he's HAWT!  I think I'll take him home

David even managed to sit down for a minute or two and talk to his mom.


Christina was a beautiful bridesmaid!

This groom cleans up pretty nicely!

Friday, 9 October 2009

My new second home!

I am SO excited to be working at the Music and Arts store in Allen! Now, before you ask: No, I am not teaching voice lessons. I would certainly not consider myself anywhere near qualified to do that! ;) I'm working primarily evenings and a bit on the weekends, which is PERFECT for us! I can stay home with the kiddos and teach them all day long, go to work in the evening, and still have enough time to come home and have a good hour of quality time with Jonathan before bedtime! :) Plus, I have an awesome manager who has given me Wednesdays and Sundays off so I can still be involved in church! (Now, I just need to find the right church! hehe) Currently, I am brushing up on my instrument knowledge, and man is there a ton of it! Maybe I'll pick up my old clarinet and start playing again! :) Thanks to everyone who prayed for God to give me the prefect job, and thanks to Clay who let me know that they were hiring! :)

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Happy 30th birthday, Darling!

Today is my most wonderful Jonathan's birthday! Looking through my computer, I realised how few pictures I actually have of him. In all fairness, that's probably because he simply doesn't like having his picture taken. Here are a few fun ones I DID have, though. Aside from the obvious, I have pictures of him unlocking the door to our house for the first time, and a picture of him and Arynson when we got him, on Jonathan's 25th birthday. I'm not sure what they were watching together on the tele, but it must have been good! :) The most recent picture in the group is a picture of Jonathan and the girls together on Tatiana's 10th birthday at the Rainforest Cafe.
I love you, Baby! Hope you have a great birthday even though we're not there to celebrate it with you. Now go on over to the Cheesecake Factory and have yourself a slice! :)