Monday, December 28, 2009

Sahuaro Ranch Park

Yesterday my parents drove Chloe and I to one of my most cherished parks in Phoenix. We celebrated my seventh birthday in this park and my parents could not believe how much I remembered about that birthday in the park. I remember the first and last name of the girlfriend who came to my party that year. I remember the My Little Pony toy she gave to me, my very first one. It was the year I received my first Bible (which I still own). Yes, I always feel a deep urge to stop by this park whenever I visit Phoenix.

Growing up we nicknamed it The Peacock park for the peacocks roaming the grounds. Unfortunately we were unable to locate any yesterday. When Papa asked Chloe what a peacock was, she informed him, "its a rainbow bird".

We did, however, see many chickens, hundreds of pigeons and even a bunny. I just love the scenery here in Phoenix. I kind of miss it here too. It really is a unique beauty that can only be found in Arizona.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket


Can you see the pigeons roosting in that palm tree? We could hear their cooing and rustling of feathers as they nestled down for the night.

Photobucket

Photobucket


A part of my heart will always remain in this beautiful desert.

Summer-esque Christmas

In my last post I showed you our "pretend" Christmas and the mounds of snow that appeared on our world just in time for it. Well, let me know tell you of our real Christmas.

We barely flew out of our realm in time last Monday morning. According to my brother (who was checking the flight status for our airport) they canceled a ton of flights about the time my plane taxied down the runway for takeoff. Whew! We made it though, to sunny Arizona mid-morning. And what a shock to our system!

Let me see if I can explain it properly. Monday morning at approximately 5:05 am, I shoveled 22" of snow off my front walk so I could carry my suitcases to the car for my ride to the airport. (that's almost two feet of snow!) Monday afternoon around 1:00pm, we rode bikes through a wash in Arizona without any coats on at all...and I sweated. What a day, right?

Tuesday we walked to the local park and played for a bit.

Photobucket

Photobucket


The next day we shopped for our Christmas gifts. During our lunch break Chloe rode a merry-go-round in the mall. What a great incentive for a good girl on a long shopping expedition.

Photobucket


Chloe has taken quite dramatically to my brother Jonathan. I don't know if he reminds her of her Daddy or what, but she always sits on his lap every opportunity she gets. He tries to give her a kiss every morning and she pretends she doesn't like it and screeches and yelps, but I happen to know she is completely infatuated with her Uncle Jonathan.

Photobucket


Christmas Eve we each opened one gift. Chloe opened her gift from Grandma and Papa. A pink dress with a matching dolly dress, bloomers and blanket. There couldn't have been a better gift for her. She twirled about the room in her pretty dress and even showed us a couple of ballet moves in it. She loves it when her baby doll matches herself.

Photobucket


So, I've got loads more pictures to edit and blog about so I will sign off this post for now and get another one typed up in a minute. I hope to keep you all updated a little more regularly during this next week. Bye for now.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Snow

Okay. Its time for an update around here, complete with loads of pictures. Where do I start? Hmmmm....

I think I shall start with yesterday. Our "pretend" Christmas, as Chloe and I have been calling it. The day we marked on the calendars to open our gifts and sip eggnog before we fly out of town to celebrate the "real" Christmas with my family. It began snowing here around 10:00 pm Friday night. We woke up to almost a foot of snow. Perfect for our "pretend" Christmas since I happen to believe we will not experience a white Christmas in Arizona.

Chloe fell asleep on the couch Friday night, much to excited to make it up the stairs to the proper bed. I hadn't the heart to move her so I slept on the second couch. She couldn't have been more excited when she woke up and saw light streaming in the windows. Morning! Presents!

Photobucket


I bought her a Playmobile Castle as her big gift. The box informed me it would take 1.5 hours to put together. Oh ho ho...I felt a challenge rising up from within. Yes. I would beat that time!

Photobucket


3 hours later I finished said castle (and forgot to photograph it). I was cooking, I tell you. There is no way on this earth that the castle could be completed in less than 1.5 hours. Chloe loves it though and has played with it almost non-stop since yesterday morning. We did, however, take a break from play to decorate our gingerbread house. I broke down this year and purchased a kit. I quickly found that I much rather baking my own.

Photobucket


So, our snowy day ended late last night and we woke up this morning to loads of white stuff.

Photobucket

Photobucket


You might be asking "what is she doing?" in that picture. I asked the same question. "Digging" she responded faintly, her voice muffled from the snow. I must say that I have not seen this much snow since I was a teenager. At least not in my own yard. We may have gone to see snow while we lived in Arizona many years ago. That's the wonderful thing about Phoenix. You almost never get snow, but you are able to drive two hours north to the sky resort in Flagstaff and experience all the snow you care to.

Okay. What else have the munchkin and I been up to. Chloe preformed her first recital for us this past week. Her nutcracker ballet. She was darling in her little tutu.

Photobucket

Photobucket


She even received a gummy snowman as a treat. What fun! She sure got excited about ballet this year after I took her to see the professional nutcraker ballet downtown a couple of weekends ago. That was the day of our first snow.

Photobucket


Chloe posed with the ballerinas.

Photobucket


They refused us the privilege of photography inside the theatre and I felt sorely disappointed. How I wish I could show you all how gorgeous this theatre was. Magnificent does not adequately describe the splendor. Chloe sat entranced the entire performance. She giggled and chuckled at the funny parts.

We came home after the ballet and decorated our tree.

Photobucket


So, all in all, its been a delightful holiday season. We miss our Daddy and husband terribly, but we are coping and making it through with plenty of smiles on our faces. I leave first thing in the morning tomorrow (weather permitting) and I hope to be able to update the blog while I am away. I have so much more to tell you all. That's what happens when I wait a week between blog posts. I really must keep the updates more regularly.

Have a blessed day everyone! I must be off to finish laundry and start packing.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Frame of Mind

I must apologize profusely for my lack of posting here on my blog. I am sorry to say that my frame of mind has not been such that I feel comfortable talking about our life. To put it simply, we miss James. A lot. This year marks the very first year since I met James that we are apart for Christmas. (We met 13 years and 5 months ago.)

I am trying to keep a smile on my face for my little pumpkin and so far so good. We have been taking it easy around the house and enjoying ourselves. I have taken some good steps in the right direction, mind you. Our tree stands in the window, complete with lights and our caboodle of random ornaments. I even purchased our ornaments for this year too. Chloe received a glass ballerina dress on a hanger with ballet shoes dangling off the side. I chose a little, white porcelain church for our family ornament this year.

The green garland spirals up the banister and I even splurged and added white lights to it this year along with my dark cranberry bows. I've baked dozens of cookies this past week (some of which didn't make it past the garbage can. That happens when trying out new recipes for the first time). We've even read a few Christmas stories and started a Christmas lapbook for school. So see? Not completely "bah hum-buggish" around here.

I finished my holiday puzzle yesterday and had to run out last night to get another one. I can't have my traditional holiday puzzle finished before Christmas even arrives, can I?

So, things have certainly been happening around here, and one of these days I will get around to showing you some pictures. But for now, I just wanted to let you all know that we are alive and well and trudging along. I feel as though I've hit survival mode, just doing what it takes to get through this deployment. My goal with this blog is to uplift and encourage my readers so when I can't quite get the words out in the manner I require of myself, I just don't post.

Well, goodnight all. I hope to have some goodies for you all very soon. Think Nutcracker ballet, first snow, cookies, candy, homemade bread, crochet and knitting. Oh yes...I do have some delightful things up my sleeve and ready to be pulled out soon.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Christmastime Again

The scent of freshly baked caramel corn wafted through the kitchen. The sounds of Mannheim Steamrollers softly floated to our ears. Laughter and excited mounted. Giant boxes filled with treasures made their way from the storage shed into the house. Our Christmas season officially commenced today.

Christmas lights lay strewn about the living room, covering the couches and most of the floor. Chloe unwrapped the nativity and tenderly set up the scene on the coffee table. She announced to me that Baby Jesus was her favorite as she gently placed the donkey's muzzle against his tiny head for a kiss.

Photobucket

Photobucket


Our grand tree made its entrance today. I longed to drive out to a local tree farm and cut our own tree this year, but alas, time refuses to allow me that reality so our tree came from a local Home Depot instead. Ahhhh...but she is still a beauty.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket


We will make this Christmas as joyous a time as we can in James absence. We miss him terribly, especially when celebrating holidays we normally enjoy with him. I will smile and make this season as happy as I can for my little girl. May you all have a wonderful holiday season!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Parade of Pictures

WARNING: This post will contain a kaboodle of pictures of our past week and a half holiday home to visit family and friends for Thanksgiving. Instead of trying to break it up into smaller posts and quite possibly never getting myself around to posting (or writing about) these pictures, I will attempt to quickly and efficiently post them in one, single post. I am purposefully leaving out the trite photos that every one takes every year for the holidays. This year, I will show you the other side of Thanksgiving.

My heart overflows with gratitude to the airport restaurants who carry bananas.

Photobucket


We thoroughly enjoyed spending Chance's birthday with James' family.

Photobucket


We even enjoyed watching the prank Laura played on her son. Earlier this year, they purchased a shotgun for Chance so Sky could take him hunting. They wrapped two boxes of bullets for his birthday gift, knowing full well Chance was dying for an Xbox gaming system. The test. Would he be grateful for the bullets? or not? His future game playing depended on his reaction.

Photobucket


The boy passed with flying colors. 20 minutes later, Laura called him upstairs to help her with something and sitting on the counter top was a wrapped box, just the size of an Xbox.

The next day we drove over to my sister Sarah's house where Chloe taught her cousins some ballet (since she is the prima ballerina of the family now).

Photobucket


Sunday was spent at my home church and having lunch and tea with some friends in the afternoon. That evening we drove back out to James other sister's house for a family dinner. Everyone attended and we had a blast. Chloe even opened some early Christmas gifts. (Thanks guys.) She sure got squished a lot too. Here below is one of my favorite pictures.

Photobucket


Do you all remember our old dog Tiny? She was previously James' mother's dog and we kept her for a couple of years while living in Louisiana? Tiny is still kicking...just not at our house.

Photobucket


A few pictures from Thanksgiving day. Papa got out the Ukulele for the kids to play on.

Photobucket


I love this picture of Timothy studying the hourglass. This child possesses a mechanical mind. If it can be figured out, taken apart or put together, this boy can do it.

Photobucket


We truly live in a technological age when a four year old can sit next to a ten year old on a couch playing portable playstations games together. They kept taking turns looking at each others game without the other knowing it during their game play. They played together silently for a good 20 minutes.

Photobucket


I have always loved my father's drawings. Comical and fun, they always make me chuckle (or roll my eyes). My daddy has a corny sense of humor that endears him to those who love him.

Photobucket


The night after Thanksgiving, my parents took Chloe and I downtown to the local parade, kicking off the Christmas season. We missed the fireworks and tree lighting ceremony by about 5 seconds because we took to much time to look at the Christmas tree display inside the resort. I did manage to get a horrible picture of the tallest lighted tree. (We couldn't figure out if it was the tallest tree in the nation or in the state.)

Photobucket

Photobucket


My parents live in two houses, sort of. Their second house is actually the parsonage to their little country church. We drove out Saturday night in time for bed and then I attended church with them the next morning. I love this dear little family of believers. They have welcomed me as one of their own and I feel right at home there. One of the items I love in this parsonage is the old stove. My mother actually cooks on it sometimes. I've seen her do it.

Photobucket


Growing up, my mother never cooked on Sunday night. We considered it her night off (or rather she considered it her night off and merely informed us). A diet of popcorn and fudge commonly occurred on those nights. I remember it vividly. She has since ceased her Sunday fudge making ritual so I decided I should take it up while I was in her house. It wasn't cooling quite fast enough. Papa wanted to take Chloe to see some trains and the sky was turning dark, so Mama suggested putting the pot into cold water to speed up the cooling process. Little did I know how much faster this causes fudge to cool. When I returned to the sink 5 minutes later, my fudge was so stiff I had to use my fingernails to clean it off the bottom of the pan. This was all we could get out of the pot.

Photobucket


Oh! But it was some mighty good fudge. We ate every last drop of it. Then we headed to the train yard to see the old trains.

Photobucket


I even saw a pink sunset.

Photobucket


My main picture goal for the whole entire trip was to get a picture of my brother Joel and I. I believed I had failed since Thanksgiving came and went and I forgot until I climbed into bed that night. Well, bless my lucky stars, my dear brother called Monday night and asked if we could stop in town on our way to the airport before I flew home so he could see me. I made sure the camera was sitting in my lap the entire car ride to our rendezvous point and I even secured a photographer (my mother) before stepping out of the car. I got my picture!

Photobucket


This is now the only picture I own of my brother and I in the same shot. I am so thankful this holiday season. I am thankful my brother is alive. I am thankful I could spend Thanksgiving with him in our parent's house instead of a hospital. I am thankful I was surrounded by family for the holiday. I am thankful for a godly husband who stands up for freedom and is willing to spend the holidays away from us, fighting in a war we still believe in to protect our precious freedoms. I am thankful Chloe has been seizure free for 5 weeks.

Now we start the Christmas season! Wheee!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Homefront News

We arrived home late last night from our Thanksgiving adventures (more on those adventures soon to appear in another post, complete with pictures). I learned some things during this trip that I thought I would put down in words. Partly because putting them into words will help me sort through the scads of items wandering around in my brain and partly because they might be of some interest to you. Okay...that last part might be stretching things a bit, but I just never know. It could happen.

Inspiration hit me full force on this trip. I found many inspiring nudges pushing me in the right direction. I will attempt to lasso them and put them down here.

1 - Contentment. I read a definition of contentment that inspired me. "Realizing that God has provided everything that I need for my present happiness." If this had slapped me in the face, it couldn't have hurt worse. Boy oh boy. Talk about instant conviction.

1 Timothy 6:8
But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.


I have been sitting in my own holding pattern for a few months, since James left for his deployment. I wait for the time when he returns and I can start living again. But after reading the above definition, I realize that I should be content with whatever station of life I find myself in...and currently that means husband-less. God still asks that I live. Hmmm...much to think about. Yes, and too much to put it all into words right now. But you get the drift.

2 - Cleanliness. I could also write laziness here. The past few months have been lazy sort of months for me. Broadsided by unfortunate circumstances which I would not have chosen for myself left me feeling sort of...well...lazy. Bad habits formed quickly. These bad habits built themselves upon already established bad habits to create one giant lazy beast. ME! Well, after seeing my mother work hard from morning to night in her own home, and hardly able to keep up with it all in her older age, I found myself feeling rather sheepish when I thought of my own home and the state of cleanliness I keep it in.

Today, I woke up and got busy cleaning the house. I had purchased a kitchen rug from Walmart when we lived in Lousiana and this rug reacted to the floor in our current house negatively. The first time I mopped my floor I lifted the corner of the rug and found it adhered to the floor in a couple of places. Laziness took over my being and I left the rug where it was. For the past three years I have swept and mopped around this rug, procrastinating on the inevitable. Today, I tackled that rug, which had adhered itself entirely to the floor in a 3 year time span. (yes, I know...I should have tackled this 3 years ago and I only would have had to clean a few spots instead of the entire area) The rug found its way to the trash can out back and my floor now shines brightly up at me. I also polished my kitchen table and chairs. I haven't done that since we moved in 3 years ago.

3 - Competence. I am a competent person, or at least I like to think so. Lately though, I have not acted as such. I threw myself a pity party. Things around the house seem to be falling apart and I have left them for days, weeks, months on end for James to arrive home and be my hero. Well, who says a girl can't fix a toilet! I can hammer in a nail myself. I can find the wrench and tackle things myself.

The dishwasher went out today. Tomorrow I shall call the insurance company to get a dishwasher fixer person to come and fix it. I CAN use the phone myself. I really can. I am competent. So, maybe the toilet proved a little beyond me. I broke it while trying to change out the plug thingie and will now have to toddle down two flights of stairs in the middle of the night to tinkle. But hey! At least I tried. And if push came to shove, I could probably even fix this problem on my own. God created a brain inside my noggin and after I wipe off the dust I am quite positive it will still run.

Well, now that I've got that out of my system I suppose its time for me to tackle those supper dishes...by hand.