Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Reason - trite but right.

I love Christmas!

Utterly, completely, to the marrow of my being love Christmas!

I know the true meaning. I love my Jesus and celebrate His birth.
If I had nothing on the 25th of December but a song in my heart and a prayer on my lips, it would be enough.

But why shouldn't the birth of the King be surrounded by bling-bling?!

Oh Tannenbaum . . .
    You can keep your "chicken in every pot", I want a tree in every room!
We put the family tree with all the traditional and keepsake ornaments in the living room.

But we also have a blast putting up and decorating trees in other rooms with a more, shall we say, personalized touch . . .

Joey has his 'Christmas Story' tree
with Ralphie front and center.

I like Scrooge and Tiny Tim!
"God bless us, every one!"

Madison likes blues and greens
and anything whimsical!

Shelby wants color - and lots of it!

Tea cups and pitchers for the dining room -
Ok, so I've switched from tea to coffee,
but when do you ever see a coffee mug this cute?!

Oh Little Town of Bethlehem . . .
    This idea actually came from my mom. I liked it so I'm continuing the tradition.
Nativities everywhere!
It doesn't matter how big or small. (Our smallest is 1" tall!)
We make it a sort of 'Where's Waldo' kind of game -
"OK kids, find baby Jesus!"

It just makes sense to be surrounded with reminders of the true gift of Christmas.

Oh Come All Ye Faithful . . .
    When we see Santa make his entrance at the end of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, it's game on! It's gonna be all Christmas music all the time!
The First Noel, to Nat King Cole, to The Nutcracker - we want it all!

Oh you little Dickens you . . .
    Everyone has their fav holiday movies.
You can guess from the trees what a couple of ours are!
(By the way, there are a gazillion versions of  A Christmas Carol, but Alastair Sim is the best Scrooge evuh!)
We love 'It's A Wonderful Life', and 'The Nativity Story'.
The girls like 'The Santa Clause' movies and 'How The Grinch Stole Christmas'.
Then there's 'The Polar Express''Elf', 'Miracle On 34th Street'  . . . this could take a while.

Yep, I love Christmas!
I love the family getting together.
I love the smell of cookies baking and candles burning.
I love seeing the children's choir at church singing their little hearts out while dressed as various barnyard animals.

So Merry Christmas dear friends!
May your wreaths hang straight, your Christmas lights never burn out and your hams be perfectly glazed!

And most of all, may you know Jesus -
The reason we sing.
The reason we celebrate.
The reason . . .

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Shhhhh . . .

Peace. Tranquility. The public library!

Oh yeah! I am blessed to have two girls that love them some books!

I once questioned the girls about the number of books they wanted to check out (12 each)!
Madison just smiled and said, "Mom, we read like a hummingbird flies."

OK then.

Few places in the realm of kid-dom are as pleasant to the parent as the public library.
What a retreat!
What a respite!
Quiet is actually a rule!!!

As I sit here in a ridiculously comfy overstuffed chair, looking out a wall of windows at the snow covered Peak of Pike, I finally feel free to exhale and take stock of last week's events.

My last post was anything but thankful, and for that I apologize. But sometimes a girl just has to vent!

You'll be happy to know (or maybe you don't give a rip) that everything worked out!
My hubby, whom I feared would not be home until Wednesday, actually made it Monday!
I sent him a msg asking him to text when he could. A minute later, he sent a picture of our house!
He was promptly mugged in the drive way.

The new bed arrived. No one was forced to sleep on the floor, except the dog. And if you read the last post, you know that was more than justified.

We had a great time with mom and dad!

Everyone spent a little time getting reacquainted!

We took them to The Garden of The Gods
Rode the cog train to the top of Pikes Peak
It was a breezy 6* wind chill up there -

But the view from the train was worth it!

We also took a drive through Cheyenne Canyon

Love the falls!

And here's my favorite vacation pic . . .

Gotta love it!!!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Let the holiday season begin!!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Seeing Red!

The last couple of weeks have been filled with irritations!

Joey is gone for a month.
Usually, for safety reasons, I keep that info to myself until he gets back.
But right now no crook or con man in his right mind would come snooping around this house! I am a woman on the edge! I am in the ultimate 'don't mess with me' mode!

It's not so much being without Joe. That stinks, but we've learned to cope. It's just a month this time. We can do that in our sleep!

It's all the crap that keeps happening this time that's got me seething!
And it doesn't matter if the problem is big or small - it's cumulative. And we are fast approaching that proverbial last straw!

The dog misses Joe, so of course, he poops on one of his army bags - twice. And shatters a plate by knocking it off the counter. And tears up the mini blinds. . . Stupid dog.

As I mentioned last post, we're buying a new bed. Found the one we wanted and was told delivery would be 1 to 10 days. Now they have my money and say 4 to 6 weeks!
(Great. I guess we'll flip a coin to see which visiting family member gets to sleep on the floor this Thanksgiving!)

Ordered a new comforter, shams and curtains to go with the bed. I received one box - no shams, no curtains, and the comforter is the wrong color!

Out running errands today and went through
Mc Donald's for lunch. Girls got burgers, I got a salad. Got half way across town before our next stop, where we discovered they had neglected to put the salad in the bag.

Opened the fridge to get a drink. Water poured out onto the floor! The shelves were all wet and the crisper drawers each had about an inch of water in them.

Maddie requested chicken and dumplings for dinner the other night. Started cooking before realizing we had no chicken!

Started painting Shelby's room. Finished all but a little three foot spot. Had to stop and put everything away, go back to the store and buy another can of paint.

Thought I'd be smart about the painting thing, so while we were at the store I bought another quart of Maddie's color to make sure we'd have enough. Her room didn't even use a whole gallon! The rooms are almost the same size - what's up with that!!

The brakes are going out on my car.

Came home the other night and opened the garage door. Somehow the trash can had rolled against the inside of the door and the lip around the top got caught on the grooves of the door. Up went the door - along with the trash can. It dangled there a minute before crashing to the ground. (OK, so that one was a little funny, but still, no one likes picking up garbage.)

Missed the trash truck - twice.

XM radio, for some strange reason, deducted three payments this month! Yeah, just try getting them on the phone.

Well, that's a short list of a few things making me crazy! I'm gonna leave it there because I need a quiet moment.

And a Dr. Pepper.

And some chocolate.

And a bubble bath. . .

Monday, November 7, 2011

Prudapractapicky - Oh yeah, it's a word!

OK. So maybe it's not a word. But it should be!
It's my own personal formula for making decisions.
Let me break it down for those of you who do not speak 'Angie'.

    I try to be wise in all decision making, especially when the outcome could have a lasting effect on me or my family.

    Yes, I have a spontaneous side. Once in a while I like to take the lid off of my 'crazy' and just go for it - whatever it might be.
But for the most part, I am doggedly practical!

   Time and money are precious. I'm extremely picky about where and when I will spend either!

Why am I sharing this, you ask?
Because lately my formula has been failing! The 'Three P Method' has been leaving me with headaches instead of answers!

A few examples;

I was out last week looking for a new bed.
(Our mattress set has been with us through 15 years, 10 moves, two kids, and countless pets. It has given it's all - and then some.)
The PPP method would have me running all over the city, trying out mattresses, comparing prices . . . C'mon! There are 32 mattress stores in my neighborhood alone!

I also shopped Amazon looking for throw pillows to go with the aforementioned new bed.
Using the PPP method, I would naturally look at all pillow choices so I could then make the most informed decision. HA!! 16,000+ throw pillow options? I don't have that kind of time, sister!

We've been settled in, more or less, for 8 weeks now. We're still looking for a church. It would take forever to visit each one in the Springs area. But if you don't try them all, how do you know which one is the best fit for your family? We liked the one we tried last week. Part of me wants to quit the search and settle already! But what if the next one is better?

When is it OK to settle?
When you can't look at all options, when you have to decide with just partial information, how do you make the prudent decision?

There is another 'P'. The biggest 'P' of all.


Prayer is always part of the process. Maybe it should be the only part.
Maybe the other 'P's just give me the illusion of control.

Lord, please help me give it all to you.


Monday, October 24, 2011

I wonder if it all started with fast food . . .

You want the works?   Try an apple pie?   Super size that?

I did a little shopping last week. I buy for the girls all the time, but this was a 'mommy' day (Thank you to my sweet hubby!) and I was really looking forward to it!
I didn't realize that being grilled for half an hour was now part of the sales girl routine!

After finding a couple of shirts at a favorite retail store, I went to the register to pay.
It started off with the normal checkout chitchat -
Did you find everything OK?
Yes, I did.
Can I help you find a pair of shoes to go with your blouse?
No, thank you.
Pleasant enough, I suppose, considering most customer service has gone the way of the Dodo.

Then it went on.

Do you have a blah blah charge card?

And on.

Would you like to apply for a blah blah charge card?
No, thank you.
Are you sure? You get a 10 percent discount with approval!
I'm sure. No thank you.

Ad nauseum.

What is your phone number?
What is your zip code?
Would you like to receive our mailer?
Would you like to receive calls or emails about upcoming sales?
Would you like to donate 38 cents for breast cancer awareness - it will round out you're total to the nearest dollar amount!

I'd like my stuff in a bag please!!!

The grocery store wasn't much better!
Will that be cash or charge?
What is your zip code please?
Do you have a yada yada store card?
Would you like to sign up for a yada yada store card?
I couldn't help but notice that my few items were racking up a sum a bit higher than I expected.
I thought the items were the discounted price listed on the shelf tag?
Oh they are - if you have a store card!

Even the gas pump is in on it!
I swiped my debit card and prepared to pump my go juice.
Debit or credit? the screen asks with a beep.
Enter your zip code please.
Would you like to add a fuel injector cleaner with today's purchase?
A what?
Would you like to add a premium car wash with today's purchase?

Enough already! Believe it or not, what I got is what I want!
If I want more, I'll ask!

And of course I want fries with that!!!

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Wal-Mart Wormhole, I'm just sayin'

First off, let me just say that I love my life and wouldn't change a thing! The Army can be trying at times, but usually the adventures outweigh the hardships.

That being said, I'm beginning to think the human psyche wasn't meant to handle this much change in so short a time.

2007 - Arkansas
2008 - Tennessee/Kentucky
2009 - Florida
2010 - Mississippi
2011 - Colorado

The houses and neighbors and street names all begin to mesh in my brain becoming a hodge-podge of fractured memories. Am I seriously supposed to be able to keep all this straight?!

What's our address now?
Where again are the cars registered?
What was the name of our church this time?
What time zone are we in?

But,  there is one constant.
One ever-present, always recognizable edifice rising from the streets of the unknown.
A warehouse sized refuge with hypnotic fluorescent lighting and a familiar blue vest waiting to greet me at the door.
I give you . . .  Wal-Mart!

Ah, Wally! You stalwart of industry! You never fail to come to my rescue!
You are everywhere I go! And though your floor plan may vary from store to store, your comfortable familiarity remains!

A warning, though, my fellow travelers, all this 'familiarity' can give rise to a cloudy mind. Let down your guard and you allow the fog to take hold!
Alas, this has happened to me more times than I care to recount!

I'm shopping without a care in the world. I've let go the stresses of the latest move and of trying to navigate yet another city.
And then it hits me - I can't remember where I am!
Wal-mart is Wal-Mart is Wal-Mart. They look, act, and smell the same!
Am I in Florida or Kentucky? Beulah Land or Timbuktu?
And even If I manage to recollect the right state, which store am I in?
Did I stop on Hardy Street or Hwy 49? Am I at the Wiggins store or in Old Town?

I have long pondered the possibility that there is really only one Wal-Mart Store. That as you exit the parking lot in your particular part of the world, you are somehow transported to the Wal-Mart 'mother store' via some strange retail wormhole.
Obviously I have no hard proof, so I digress.

I love to explore new places.
Seeing new sights, tasting new treats, and shopping new stores is always exciting.
But everyone needs a touchstone.

And Walmart is mine!

I'm just sayin . . .

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Mutually Exclusive: Notions of Halloween - Redux . . .

* For those of you who asked - I'm re-posting last years 'Halloween' blog. 
* For those of you who didn't - tough noogies. New coming soon!! 

    First let me say that I am no expert. I've read several books and have studied enough on the subject to satisfy my own mind, but am quite sure I've only scratched the surface.

1. Knowledge is Power

It all started with the Celtic festival of Samhain (Summer's End).
The Celts only observed two seasons; summer and winter. Sometime around November, they would bring the finest of their herds into shelter. The rest would be slaughtered for a feast.

This marked the start of what they called the "dark" time. Nights were longer, darkness fell early, and this time of year was thought to belong to the spirits. It was believed that spirits and demons alike roamed freely during this time. The people took to dressing as ghouls in the belief that malicious spirits would take them as one of their own and pass on by.
Families would lay out food offerings in their homes in the hopes that departed loved ones would drop by for a visit.
Since this time also marked the Celtic new year, people would pay their debts, renew leases, buy land and trade livestock.

Samhain also represented one of the Fire Festivals. The Celts noticed the sun growing weaker in the winter months and feared it would leave forever. They would light bonfires on hilltops in an attempt to "rekindle" the sun.
Yeah, that'll work.

Enter the conquering Romans.

Samhain begat the Roman Festival of Pamona;
The Roman Festival of Pamona begat All Saints/Souls Day;
All Saints/Souls Day begat Martin Luther and the 95 Theses;
Martin Luther and the 95 Theses begat the Reformation;
The Reformation begat Guy Fawkes Day. . .
And so it went.

Fledgling colonies begin in the new world.

Massachussetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut settled by rigid Puritans tried to kill the holiday all together.
Rhode Island and New York championed religious freedom and celebrated many different styles of the festival.
Yada, Yada, Yada. . . the colonies were inhabited by Dutch German, Swiss, Africans, Native Americans, Catholics and Anglicans. The Holiday became a mish-mash of traditions and customs.

So, Halloween has it's roots in Celtic Samhain and the christian All Saints Day.
Today it is predominantly a secular holiday.

2. Ignorance is bliss

I remember as a kid having a blast on Halloween! What kid doesn't love to play dress-up? And then of course there's the candy!
Some years were spent Trick-or-Treating house to house. Some years the churches would have hayrides or bonfires or Fall Festivals of some kind.
I even remember a few spook houses made up in the basements of churches. Say it ain't so!!!

Not once in all my growing did I consider ritual or religion when choosing a costume or handing out candy.

I remember laughing kids and smiling parents. A cool crispness to the air and the crunch of fallen leaves under foot.
I remember costume contests for the little and pie eating  for the big. Roasting hot dogs and telling stories at the bonfires, and being giddy beyond belief when a cute boy wanted to sit next to me on the hayride home.

Then we grew up. And got more smarterer. And realized that there is a meaning behind everything. And when we find that meaning, all the innocent fun goes out the window.

It's exhausting, isn't it, trying to decide where to draw the line?

Take books for example.
*Chronicles of Narnia has witches and mythical creatures and magic. It's a moral tale of good versus evil. It's ok because it was written by a christian.
*Harry Potter has witches and mythical creatures and magic. It's a moral tale of good versus evil.
It's bad! Evil! Stay away!
*Lord of The Rings has witches and mythical creatures and magic. It's a moral tale of good versus evil.
It's ok because it was written by a christian.

Seriously? So when my kids ask why they can't dress up and  wear make-up and rake in the candy, I have to say, "Well, you see, thousands of years ago there were these nut jobs . . .".

Now please understand, I would never presume to judge another's ideals. But - my blog, my soapbox.

Our pastor talks about two kinds of issues.
Ones that are open handed - things that Christians can agree to disagree on sometimes without sin or eternal consequence.
The others are closed handed issues - things that are at the very core of our beliefs and should never be compromised or ignored.

Halloween is one of those open handed issues.

Joey and I have run the gamut with this and have finally reached a peace about it.
-We do not celebrate Samhain. We do not practice divination. We do not burn sacrifices.
-We do not celebrate All Saints Day. As much as I love my family that has already crossed over, no amount of praying or baking "Soul Cakes" is going to help them at this point.
-We celebrate Secular Halloween. We dress in silly costumes and go out in public. We tell age appropriate ghost stories because our girls are at that "love to be scared" stage. We jump out of closets and yell "Boo!". We watch old scary black and white movies, and the girls watch the Michael Jackson 'Thriller' video. We carve pumpkins.

Because it's fun!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I'm back, baby!

To all of our Bloggyland and Face book friends, thank you for your prayers!

Just a few highlights;

Late July we started prepping and cleaning for the move.

The girls were real troopers! They dusted and scrubbed -

but even the best workers need a break every now and then!

The boxes were packed, the truck was loaded, 

we said goodbye to our little Mississippi bayou and hit the road!

We had a bit of a layover in Arkansas with the family. About four weeks worth!                                    
We had a blast!

BBQ and smores at the lake.
Dinner in Jasper overlooking the beautiful Ozarks!

Feeding the ducks at Lake Harrison.

Playing with the dogs,

and riding the 4 wheeler all over Grandma Carol's farm!
And skipping rocks on the Buffalo.
My mom and I even spent a couple of great evenings pouring over old photos!

Love it!

Anywhoo, time came to move on.
From Harrison, Arkansas, to Hayes, Kansas, we saw a lot of this,

and a whole lot of this!

The next day was more of the same, until finally . . .

Woo Hoo!!! We made it!
A couple more hours and 'home' came into view.

Fort Carson, Colorado Springs, Cheyenne Mountain and Pikes Peak!
Absolutely beautiful.

Well, we're still busy getting settled into the new house. Joey has been assigned to 4th I.D. and will be heading back to Afghanistan in the spring.
Boxes are mostly unpacked and the girls will be starting school next week.
We have a list of churches we'd like to visit. And their certainly will not be a lack of things to do here!

We've already driven the Peak,
The girls really wanted to see him!

Yes, that's right. We're higher than the clouds.
OK. I'll admit it. Parts of the one and a half hour ascent
had me white knuckling it! But the view was incredible.

We've also visited Garden of The God's,

And Helen Hunt falls!

(I'll pause here for the oohs and ahhhs!)

OK. So that's what the Smitty crew has been up to the last month or so.
I'll spare you anything further at this point. I'm sure you've seen enough of us in this post to last a while!

Thanks again for all your prayers! 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My Air Conditioned Soapbox

*You should know before you read - this started off as a simple statement about a comment I received. What it became was a full on rant about negative comments that I, my stay-at-home friends, and even my mother have received over the years! I just had to let it out.

Judge not, lest ye be popped right in the kisser judged!

Livin' above their raisin'.
High Maintenance.

I've heard these phrases all my life in general conversation. Most of the time it was directed at others. But recently, I had one aimed at me.
Now, I'm sure the person who said it meant no harm. Just making a passing comment. Heaven only  knows how many times other stay-at-home moms have heard it. But I've seen the hurt that these carelessly dropped words can cause. And the more I thought about it the more it set. me. off!

"It must be nice to stay at home and not have to work."

Excuse me? Crazy bitter lady say what?!?

She didn't stutter. My ears weren't flapping.
She must have said it.

"It must be nice to stay at home and not have to work."

Well you know what sister? It is nice!
It's nice not to have to punch a clock! It's nice to be home with my kids! It's nice to set my own schedule!
But don't you dare say I don't work!
I run a house, manage finances, home school two girls ...

I haven't always been able to stay home, you know.
I've never run from a hard days work, and I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty!
I've had some of the nastiest jobs ever, and was thankful for the work! From hospitals to clinics, day cares to nursing homes (same job, bigger diapers).

And Joey? He's going on 15 years in the army!
Honduras, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq - need I say more?

We've sacrificed and gone without because we knew what we wanted.
The hardships then are paying off now.

And now you come along and see us enjoying a few creature comforts and presume to know all about us?!
Where were you when we were using cardboard boxes for end tables?
Where were you when we were using lawn chairs at the dinner table?
Where were you when we were eating hamburger helper five nights a week to save money?
And when I was walking a quarter mile to use the pay phone - toting a toddler and 8 months preggers to boot - where was your "It must be nice ..." then?
Washing clothes in the tub, cutting my own hair, don't make me go on!
Just because I don't leave the house from 9 to 5 doesn't mean I don't work!

And on another verse of this same in-your-face song, If you want to prove something to yourself by living like it's 1811, well that's your crazy prerogative.
I choose to embrace 2011 and all the God given technology that comes with it, thank you very much!

1) Yes, I have an iPhone and I love it! I even gave it a name - Gigi. She goes with me everywhere and I use her every chance I get! I also have an iPad. An unexpected gift from my sweet hubby and girls.
Really gettin' to big for my britches now, ain't I?!

2) If I hear one more person tell me that 'air conditioning makes you weak', I'm gonna scream! Listen sweetness, glistening with sweat is only sexy if you're Fabio on the cover of a Harlequin. Otherwise, it's just nasty! And I won't even mention the stank!

3) Another "it must be nice ..." inducer -
family vacations!
I don't even know what to say here. We save, we plan, we go. We have a fantastic time together, so quit trying to make us feel guilty with the snide remarks!

The long and the short of it is this; 
we have much according to some, very little according to others, and all of it is the Lord's.

In His time, He provides us with what we need and blesses us with little extras.
And I am happy. And content. And at peace.

And frankly, it's none of your business anyway! So move it along - you're harshing my mellow!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Perspective . . .it's all relative

So, I was checking our bank account a few days ago and discovered that the charges made in Houston, Texas had cleared.
One problem - we were never in Houston, Texas.

I'll spare you the transcripts of the panicked calls to the bank.
All the 'What the...!',
and 'How in the...?'
do not really bear repeating.

It suffices to say, someone obtained our debit number, created their own card, and proceeded to drain our account.

Thankfully, 48 hours was all it took for our bank liaison, the awesome 'Ms. T', to file discrepancy reports and replace the stolen funds.
But it seemed sooooo much looonger!!!

Perspective. It's skewed and unreliable at best. It can change with the wind. Yet we trust it completely and use it for almost every decision.

From my worldly perspective I wanted nothing more than to meet the persons who stole from us,
those who essentially took food out of the mouths of our children,
and beat the ever lovin' , I mean pound them within an inch of their,
that is to say, give them a stern (ahem) talking to!

From the calmer spirit led perspective, I knew that forgiveness and prayer were in order.

We're always told to 'keep things in perspective'. I think it may be more accurate to say 'keep things in relative perspective'.
What happened to us seemed traumatic until I considered . . .

Job lost his family, health, and wealth, my parents lost a child, my dear friends Jerry and Lee Anne lost their lives.

I lost money. Money that was promptly replaced.

Oh God, please help me to remove myself from the center of it all. Let my perspective always be relative to your truth.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

THOSE people, I'm just sayin'. . .

The Fourth of July is just around the corner and we LOVE it!!!

Bring on the BBQs and fireworks! The uncle sam hats and the flag shirts!

Can you honestly tell me that 'Purple mountains' and 'fruited plains' doesn't bring a tear to your eye?

From Lee Greenwood - God bless the USA,
 to Toby Keith - We'll put a boot in your . . .
ask anyone who knows us and they'll tell 'ya, the Smittys are salute-their-country-crazy!

We love the pomp and circumstance, the parades and poems - all the trappings of the day!
And under all that stars and stripes face paint, you'll find a true and abiding love for this nation.

We know we are blessed to be a part of this country.

Yep, we are those people!

We proudly say the pledge with hand to heart. We fly our flag 365 days a year.
We do not consider it unreasonable to wait until the National Anthem is over before munching on nachos or gabbing on the phone. Seriously!

So, prep the grills and chill the watermelons! The big day's coming!

Come on . . . you know you're one of us!

I'm just sayin'.