Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Resolution...In One Word

We've all done it. Made lists of our New Year's resolutions. And year after year, we not only fail to achieve those goals, we forget what they were in the first place. Two years ago, my sister introduced me to a life changing concept. Her pastor, Mike Ashcraft of Port City Community Church, did a series called One Word. Because a long list of resolutions is so daunting and we don't really believe that we're going to be successful...it's pointless. So maybe we don't even try any more. But what if we took a different approach? We can't do everything...but maybe we can do one thing. One word.

Mike challenged the congregation to choose one word to focus on for the coming year. Just one word. Surely we can remember one word. And focus on making that word a part of you. Build on it all year so that by year's end it is ingrained in your character. That first year, Mike's word was finish. He had lots of half-read books on his desk, lots of unfinished projects at home...lots of beginnings with no ends, so he wanted to focus on finishing. He even suggested creating opportunities to practice your word. For example, if your word is patience, then purposely get in the longest line at the store. Focus on your word.

After a couple of weeks that first year, Mike told a story of a woman who came to him and said that her husband wouldn't reveal his word. "Pastor," she said, "tell him he should tell me his word." Mike wisely replied, "Let me think about that." His conclusion was this...wouldn't it be incredible if by the end of the year, your word became such a part of you that your spouse knew what it was without you having to say it?

So this is my challenge to you. Choose one word to focus on for the year. Be creative. Pray over it. Ask God to reveal that thing he especially wants to develop in you this year. And then look for opportunities. Be mindful. I've done this for two years now and it's really been incredible. If you did this last year, reflect on how you've done. Has the Lord done a work in you? Have you been changed?

In my next post, I'm going to share my word for 2009. If you decide to join the challenge, please share your word in the comments. Maybe it will help spur some ideas in others. And get ready for an incredible year of change. Remember, you can't do it all...but you can do one thing.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Top 10 Christmas List

Top ten things heard at the Brothers' house on Christmas day.
(Mostly while playing Wii with Jody and Dina until 1am)

#10 You're up first next.

#9 No, Fats Domino.
Did you just call me fat?

#8 Did you say underpants?

#7 Speaking of handsome, we put in our wedding video today.

#6 You're full of Shatner.

#5 Can I just recommend that you not sing?

#4 Okay Cosell, I don't need your comments.

#3 She went ass end over tea kettle and meatballs went flying everywhere.

#2 He beat me at bowling right handed and left handed.
Well, you know...he is amphibious.

#1 That's what I like about the holidays at the Brothers'....no blah, blah, blah.

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

It's Potty Time!

We have a little test in our family that we give anyone new who comes in. We always like to ask, very early in the relationship, if the person is a folder or a wadder. If you're not sure what I'm talking about...I'm referring to your toilet paper. Do you fold neatly? Or do you wad it all up? We have very strong opinions about which is best and what it says about you. The more anal (no pun intended) people in our family tend to be folders. On the other hand, the...shall we say... freer spirits...tend to be wadders. Everyone has their opinions about which is best. There are issues of padding, maximum coverage, comfort, cleanliness...you name it, we've discussed it.

Now when I first started dating my husband, I learned something very intriguing about him.. He might be the only guy on the planet who doesn't think poop jokes, farts, or other related potty talk is funny. I mean, I know lots of women grossed out by the topic (they have all probably quit reading this post by now) but most men I know don't fall into that category. For years, YEARS, he refused to tell whether he was a folder or a wadder. We often speculated about which he was much to his dismay and our lively analysis would always send him running to another room. He HATES talking about anything related to the bathroom.

Now, obviously he's had to adjust his tolerance levels a little since we've had children. (Although, he still claims he may vomit whenever changing a dirty diaper.) He's had to learn to tolerate the randomly emitted gas at any and all locations, mostly in public, and smile along with the fits of giggles that follow. It hasn't been easy my friends. That is why I had to smile tonight when I heard his voice yell with great enthusiasm from the upstairs bathroom, "Mama! Little Sister just went poo poo on the potty!"

Yes, dear friends. Little Sister has reached that all critical milestone in life...learning to tee tee and poo poo on the potty. We have been telling her for two months that once she had her birthday, that she had to go tee tee and poo poo on the potty like a big girl. We haven't even attempted sitting on the potty this entire time, just prepping her for what was to come. Well, I'm happy to say that yesterday, our first day of trying, after wetting her pants all day long, she finally did it right before bed. We had quite the party and had to put off brushing teeth until after marshmallows. Today has been great as well. She's only had two accidents. The rest of the time she's gone on the potty including POO POO! She got marshmallows and M&M's for that.

And...of course...we're working on wadding. Considering she wads her paper into the smallest possible ball she can form, I'm thinking of teaching her folding. But I don't want her to need therapy later. What do you think? Defend yourselves folders and wadders of the world!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Jingle Bells

If you don't look at anything else in this post, please go to the end and see the video of the girls.

A few nights ago we decorated for Christmas. I LOVE Christmas decorations. I don't like putting up all the stuff but I love when it's finally up. Here are some pictures of what I did this year. This is our card tree. It sits in our kitchen. The branches are nice and stiff and by the end of the season it is full of Christmas cards. I'd like to find another one like it.

This is my bedroom. I love reading at night by the twinkle lights. I found this ribbon and these ornaments this year so these are new.

I also changed my arrangements on the mantle to look more wintry.

And I even decorate the guest room.

Here is the girls' room. They get their own little tree to decorate. If I could have a tree in every room, I would.

This is my favorite. The dining room. I got these ornaments for 50% off at Lowe's and I stole the idea of hanging them like this from another house I saw. I also love having all my fine china out. We rarely use it so it's nice to look at it for a while and it always looks like I'm about to have a dinner party.

This is my village which has been discontinued. It's mine, but I beg my husband to set it up every year.
Finally, this is our real tree. I love the smell of a real tree at Christmas. This is where we hang all the special ornaments. I even have some on there I made when I was Little Sister's age. (see videos below). This is where Santa leaves three gifts for each girl symbolizing the three gifts given to the Christ child and helping us to focus on the real meaning of Christmas. Decorating this tree together was especially fun this year. The girls are at that age where it is all so exciting to them. We got some great video that I hope you'll take the time to watch. Each one is just about 30 seconds long and I think they're hilarious. Especially funny is the last one of Little Sister singing "Jingle Bells". Hope this brings joy to your day and inspires you to get into the spirit!

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Class of 88 is Great!

And do I mean great! Everybody looked wonderful. I might have been the only one who added a pound for every year we've been out of school. We had a blast! Well...let me start at the beginning. After finally making it out of Nashville with only a couple of bumps in the road (see here), we landed in Philadelphia. We rented our car and drove straight to Millville, NJ. We got off at the old exit next to the mall so we could drive by my old house and BOY HAS IT CHANGED. There used to be a bunch of nothing there but now there are huge strip malls and shopping areas and loads of restaurants that weren't there before. I still managed to find the way to our old house. Not much had changed in the neighborhood but the tree to the left of the house was one my parents planted. It was tiny back then so that was weird. We were starving so I headed to Jim's Lunch. Jim's is famous for their burgers which you must order with "everything". Oddly, "everything" just means cheese, onions, and secret sauce. They're also only open from sometime in November until the end of May. The last time I was in Millville, it happened to be August so I missed out but I was ecstatic to find it open this time. We sat at the counter and my husband ordered a cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, and mayo and then I proceeded to tease him, much to our waitress' delight, that at Jim's you order a cheeseburger with "everything". I savored every bite, it was soooo delicious. I think the waitress was confused by this clearly southern sounding girl who was so knowledgeable about a Jim's burger. I have been gone for 20 years and I definitely sound like it.

We then headed a little further down the road and stopped at the Harley Davidson dealership to see my old friend Sam. His family has owned the shop forever and it was BUSY. Guess the Harley crowd isn't suffering from the economy too much. My husband enjoyed finally meeting my old friend, Sam. He's the epitome of a 100% Italian guy from Jersey. So sweet and funny, he was a good friend. He's married with four kids now, bald, and still looks like he lifts weights daily and is really enjoying life. We laughed about the old times.

Next we went to Amy's house. We were staying with her overnight. She ran through the list of everyone who was coming and gave me the latest scoop on everyone. I was happy to have the last minute cramming session on who's who. We got dressed and headed to my friend Mary's. This was in large part the group I hung out with in school and in the neighborhood. I moved to Millville in the middle of my junior year so these were some of my first and closest friends.On the far left is Mary who often drove me to school and was a regular at the Jones/Carter house. The two in the middle are Amy (who we stayed the night with) and Susan. They both cheered with me in high school. Amy taught me to do a back handspring and Susan was our captain. She's the one who convinced me to try out. Gretchen is next. She is loads of fun and we often looked for trouble together. Robbie is on the right and he lived in our neighborhood too. Robbie rode the bus with me on my first day. I guess you could say he was the first person I met when I moved to Millville. We also got to see my friend Kenny who graduated a year earlier. I met Kenny at church camp before I moved to Millville.My husband and I ran into Kenny in New York City around New Year's Eve in 1995 when we were first dating and I brought him home with me to New Jersey for the first time. I hadn't seen Kenny since then and I was happy to tell him about all that had happened.

We finally headed to the Elk's Lodge and met up with the rest of my classmates. The time FLEW by. I didn't have any of those uncomfortable moments where I didn't remember someone. In fact, I didn't have time to talk with everyone I wanted to see. Some people didn't recognize me because I didn't have such HUGE hair. My husband was great. He didn't need to be babysat at all. He even made a few friends of his own.

Here he is with the husband of my crazy friend, Rhonda. I had such a blast catching up with her. She's a flight attendant with Jet Blue and he's a pilot. They just got married recently and were such a hoot. I bugged them to death about coming to visit us. You can see our husbands had fun acting goofy and trying to embarrass us and each other.
It all went by way too fast. We got up the next morning and had to head back to the airport. There are talks of a 25th reunion. They're thinking of having it in the summer. I'm all for that as it will be easier to get there and stay a couple of days and at least I might have a tan. Either way I look forward to seeing them all again. Thanks for the memories!

Monday, December 1, 2008

So Much To Blog About, So Little Time

Okay, so I've been pathetic with my blog lately. It's not that there's been nothing blog worthy, it's just that there's been no time to do it all justice. I've got three must tell stories in the works. Today you will get Thanksgiving, next it will be my 20th high school reunion (yes, I'm that old), and finally, decorating for Christmas.

So...Thanksgiving. I've turned making Thanksgiving relaxed and low key into an art form. It is my goal in life that holidays be as stress free and Norman Rockwell as possible. We're staying home and whoever wants may come and join in. We eat what we want and don't feel the need to eat "thanksgivingy" things we don't like. And we don't have a formal time of stating what we're thankful for, but it does come up in regular conversation. No pressure. Just, you know, conversations like this:

The Coach: I'm so glad we don't have to go anywhere today.
Mother-In-Law: Yeah, me too, and thank the Lord for Honey Baked Ham.
Grandmama: And I just LOOOOVE those sweet potatoes.
Me: Well thank you grandmama.
Little Sister: I'm sleepy.
The Coach: I'm so glad we don't have to go anywhere today.

So, you see, there are general expressions of thankfulness all the way around.

But after stuffing myself (pun totally intended), I was thinking of my 20th high school reunion. The Coach and I would be leaving Friday morning and my mom, my sister, and her husband would be staying with the girls overnight. I wasn't concerned about the girls, I admit, I was concerned as to whether or not I could still fit into my pants. But chubby or not, I knew I would be one of the happiest girls there. How could I not be? More about the reunion later.

Friday morning, we left for the airport at 7:30am. We had plenty of time and were sipping coffee in the terminal when the phone rang. It was my mother. Already. Here's how the conversation went (basically):

Me: (laughing) Having a problem already?
Mom: (not laughing) Everything is fine. The girls are fine. Everything is fine.
Me: (not laughing anymore) Ooookay.
Mom: I just wanted to call in case one of your neighbors called you to see what was wrong.
Me: (dead silence, heart pounding)
Mom: The fire department is here.
Me: What?
Mom: I was trying to clean your oven.
Me: What?
Mom: I set your self-cleaning oven...and...well...something caught on fire.
Me: What?
Mom: (in a rush) Erin called 911 and then it went out and then we hung up but then they called back and we said everything was fine and then they said they wanted to come check it out anyway so they're here now and they're checking it and the girls are fine and everything's fine.
Me: So did the smoke alarm go off?
Mom: No.
Me: Is the oven broken?
Mom: No.
Me: Why are you trying to clean my oven? I've only been gone an hour and you've almost burnt the house down?
Mom: I don't know. You know, the firemen said those self cleaning ovens are so dangerous. They said it was a good thing I didn't open the door or the house would be full of smoke. But they're down there now with some big fans and they're checking it out and everything's fine. I don't think the girls even know anything happened. I was just afraid your neighbors would call you and tell you something was going on at your house and I didn't want you to worry.
Me: You didn't want me to worry? Huh. Well, that's what you get for cleaning.

Well, turns out everything was fine. I did get one more call from my sister about 15 minutes later because the TV wouldn't work. Turns out the HD cord unplugged when she was vacuuming. So I gave her the speech about how they were supposed to be watching the kids, not cleaning. I swear, my house is pretty decent. It's not like I live in filth. I don't know what they were thinking but I did come home to all the laundry, dishes, and floors clean. I can't speak for the oven. I guess they reminded me how thankful I am to have a home. And I'm definitely thankful to have family who loves me and doesn't mind too much being the object of my blogging sarcasm. Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving.