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Of Bible Studies and Little Promptings

A new year is the perfect time for new or renewed habits, even though that's so cliche, it's true.

After an embarrassingly long hiatus from bible studies it feels wonderful to get back on track. The Girls and I did Priscilla Shirer's study, Discerning the Voice of God last year and really enjoyed it. Sometime in the mid-spring (I forget) we attempted to do her Jonah study, I think we may have finished one week's lesson, but just never quite got it together. #life. I'm sure it's a wonderful study too, but it was definitely one of those cases of "It's not you (Jonah), it's me (or us)", we tried to get it going in the fall again to no avail, so the timing of a fresh start this January was perfect.

Over the past few years the Girls and I have done all three of Kelly Minter's Living Room Series (No Other Gods, Ruth and Nehemiah) and they are all FABULOUS (like seriously, highly recommend you try them if you are looking for a meaty yet do-able and real-life applicable bible study--with recipes no less!). When we saw she had a new one published we couldn't wait to get our hot little hands on it and dig in!
So far (one week, but hey) What Love Is on the letters of 1, 2, and 3 John is excellent. Several times during the daily lessons I had to really stop and think a bit more deeply about certain areas of my life where I might be rationalizing sin. It also felt good to get back in the habit of spending some time in God's word each morning. The cold, hard, sad truth is that when we aren't doing a study together my bible is gathering dust on my nightstand. This time I'm using a fun set of colored pens to spice my writing up a bit, plus there's the well known fact that colored pens help spread happiness.

In loosely related news, I was blessed Sunday by the outcome of a small prompting. I try not to totally ignore spiritual promptings, although I know I do quite often out of moods or timing or whatever. We sat a few pews further up than usual, possibly knocking other regulars out of their usually claimed pew, but I say, whatever, get over it and mingle with new people, people. There was a woman sitting on the other end our pew, by herself, that I was fairly sure was a visitor. I smiled and tired to make vague eye contact when I passed the communion trays to her, noticing that she had a bit of a hard time turning to take them. Once services were over I felt prompted to introduce myself to her (yes, this is something that should always be a habit when I see an unfamiliar face but sometimes I'm good at that and sometimes I'm not, you know, in the mood to be social beyond a smile and a head nod #truth).

I am so thankful I didn't ignore that small nudge because she was delightful and as we chatted she mentioned she has been in pain from a herniated disk in her neck (so much so that she struggled over going to church that morning) and will be having surgery soon and so of course I dragged Scott into the conversation so he could tell her about his experience with the exact same thing! Who knew we'd have that in common? Um...God! She got a little teary because she'd been having anxiety about all of this but now felt relief after hearing Scott's experience. I was all goose bumpy and totally blessed by her grace filled words and evident faith.

Anyway, lesson to myself (and anyone else interested): don't ignore those spiritual promptings! Blessing either for you or another or both will always result. Which, ironically, was one of the themes in Priscilla Shirer's Discerning the Voice of God study.

I love it when things come full circle!


Miscellany Monday

A few random tidbits of late and not so late...

Scott and I had a day date (my favorite) recently on his day off that involved eating and movie watching (more favorites).
We started off with breakfast at our favorite place, The Egg and I, as per usual. I have a new delightful dish to add to my rotation, the chicken apple sausage scramble which includes egg whites, spinach, tomatoes loads of Gouda cheese and aforementioned sausage. Can I get a yum? Scott got Viva la France because he's a sucker for french toast (ew!). 

Once we fueled up we headed over to the early bird showing of Selma, which, oh my goodness, was powerful. In an I'm embarrassed to be white and from the south, but it is what it is and it's our history kind of way. I know there's controversy about the way the movie portrayed LBJ and MLK's relationship (as in not historically accurate) but it's still a great movie. It's a shame the actor portraying MLK wasn't nominated for an Oscar, he's deserving. If you get a chance to see it, GO!

FYI: I also watched a PBS documentary on YouTube about MLK called Citizen King and there are also full length versions of the Eyes on the Prize documentaries about the overall Civil Rights movement, even one specifically about the Selma to Montgomery march. Good stuff!

Post-movie we dropped off Annelise's charm bracelet at James Avery to get her Christmas present from her Aunt Karen added (a rabbit and a cat charm) and since La Madeline is so conveniently located, as in right next door, we soon found ourselves enjoying salad and soup for lunch. Can I get another yum?

After picking up Annelise after school we made an emergency stop for cupcakes, as you do.
(It was Friday after all, and the start of a three day weekend, so I guess we were celebrating.)

Annelise went over to a friend's house Sunday afternoon for a sleepover (woohoo for MLK day!) so Scott and I hightailed it back to the movies to see American Sniper. I knew that movie would be hard to watch going in, and I was right, but it was really powerful though difficult to stomach at times (like Selma). Of course I was a heap at the end. The theater was absolutely silent as we left, I think everyone (a full house) was overcome with emotion and respect.

Annelise had a fabulous time with G. and S., epic Nerf battles--I think they were reenacting the Hunger Games, trampoline jumping, Minecraft construction, silliness, staying up until the wee hours and general girl stuff (but no drama, thank goodness). When I picked her up Monday afternoon she had that wild-eyed crazed look which is the sign of sleepover success.

In unrelated news, I have never been one to listen to podcasts. No reason really, other than I didn't know of any good ones.


Enter Serial.
The bad news is it's about a real-life murder of a teenage girl but the good news is it's chock full of twists and turns and wait...whats and whodunits.

And you can totally binge listen now (which is what I did) instead of waiting each week for the new podcast. Sometimes there are perks for arriving late to the party. I even got Scott to listen so we could discuss and compare theories. He listened on his commute and I listened in the car or when insomnia struck.  Is Adnan guilty and wrongly convicted? Why does Jay seem so shady? What about those phone calls? I don't know!! It's so addictive!

Now I have to find new podcasts to get hooked on.

Two things:

01.) Annelise got glasses.

It's like a whole new world.

They're mainly for school (she sits near the back in two classes and was having trouble seeing the whiteboards) but she likes to wear them as much as possible.
02.) Annelise dusts and accepts payment in frappucinos.

It's a win-win.

In cooking news, last week I made Edie's Cheese Tortellini soup, except I added turkey sausage because my people tend to want meat with their supper, whatever, man. Not only is it yummy, it's pretty easy and quick to throw together, so it meets my criteria.
I also made Pioneer Woman's Sour Cream Noodle Bake, which is slightly similar to lasagna, but not, yet still has that comfort food quality going on.

Tonight we're having Mexican Meatloaf (Annelise actually cheered when she heard the news), which is an easy but always delicious go-to meal. Perfect for Mondays (or any day). We eat it on a bed of spinach with salsa, tomatoes, avocado, crushed chips--whatever you have.

(Just sharing those recipes in case y'all are looking for something new-ish to feed your people, you know how they always expect food at certain times and all.)

Happy Monday, y'all!



After seeing the shamefully low (55 posts might seem like a lot to some, barely anything to others, but when compared to the previous years it made me sad) number of total blog posts for 2014, I had big plans of blogging more in 2015.

I've missed using this space somewhat regularly as a journal for my thoughts and our life happenings, along with occasional fashion/lifestyle and exercise tidbits here and there.

I figured the dawn of a new year was the perfect time to recommit to blogging (along with all the other re-commitments of cleaner eating, regular exercise, bible study/prayer time, et cetera).

Then two days into the new year I got sick and quickly lost all motivation.

What started as vague aches morphed into sore throat and congestion which soon turned into a 75 year old's hacking smoker's cough (I don't smoke) (I'm not 75, thankyouverymuch ). The kind of cough that can soon escalate into heaves and convulsive seal barks. Scott kept telling me to go to the doctor but since I don't really have a GP and each day I thought I felt slightly better (not really) and I was worried if I actually went to see a doctor they'd say it was just a cold and I didn't need antibiotics and I might as well have stayed home.

I tend to over think things.

This went on for a week.

I know.

Then this past Sunday night Annelise started running a fever.

Great. Cue extra mom guilt.

When Scott came home Monday evening I told him fine, I'd go to the doctor, but wouldn't it be great if Annelise and I could both go at the same time and knock this out in one fell swoop instead of trying to coordinate separate appointments. Then I had the brilliant idea of going to one of the nearby Urgent Care clinics. I was all in, let's get 'er done!

The clinic wasn't too busy and we were seen fairly quickly. They saw us both at the same time and swabbed Annelise for strep throat and the flu since she was running a fever, which came back negative (praise!). The doctor was really nice and we could understand what he was saying (yes, that's a problem sometimes). He made me really happy when he said he wasn't opposed to giving antibiotics for upper respiratory infections (praise!).

About an hour and a half after arriving we left with prescriptions for antibiotics (both of us), 'roids (me) and heavy duty knock you loopy cough syrup (both of us but we only filled one because it was a crazy $62.00).

The draw back to my brilliant plan was the difference in co-pay prices between regular office visits and Urgent Care. I had no idea. #clueless

Scott was not amused.

I kept saying, hey, at least we both went to the doctor! And we have meds!

He relented once he remembered he could file all of this on his flexible spending account, which that in an of itself is weird because you pay your own money and then you get reimbursed with your own money that had been set aside from your paychecks, but just whatever, man, he was happy again.
And he had the grace to not say I told you so when I told him how much better I felt the next day.

So there's that.


Due to the plague and all I never posted about New Year's Eve and Day.

We enjoyed our third annual ringing in of the New Year at Pat and Robyn's house (they are so gracious to invite the craziness into their home each year) with the Smiths and Sabs, as per usual.  We feasted on all kinds of appetizers, including but not limited to most forms of cheese, chatted, laughed and so forth. Rinse and repeat. The kids played basketball, jumped on the trampoline, played hide and seek and tag until the wee hours of the morning. We rarely saw them.
There were also many rounds of ping pong, for all ages.

This photo documents one version of Around the World (or ping pong table) where even the lack of extra paddles is not a problem.

That's what books are for, right?
(I think Annelise and Kamri were either playing basketball or chilling out and therefore not pictured. Macy wasn't there because...

she was at a party at Roger Clemens' house.)

What the what?!?!

Needless to say the men all felt a tiny bit cheated.

The next day, once we got ourselves together after crawling home around 4:00 am, we went over to my dad and Peggy's for black eyed peas and cabbage. And football. Lots and lots of football.

For the love.

Happy 2015, y'all!


Christmas Wrap Up 2014

I have quite possibly been the most ambivalent about Christmas this year as I've ever been, although I can't say with certainty as to why. Maybe because Thanksgiving was later and then BOOM here comes the Christmas snowball and I was not prepared.

Not that I ever am.

Scott hung the icicle lights on the house right after Thanksgiving, so the outside of out house was semi-festive, but the inside was oh-so-not (other than the holiday  dishtowels on the oven and changing out my subway art frame). We didn't get our tree until December 13th, which is rather pitiful.

After a long standing tradition of choosing Frasier Firs we switched things up for 2014 and got a Noble Fir, (what?) which we (I) named Norville. He stood naked for a while in the corner before lights and then eventually decor. Norville was a good sport about our general lack of elf-ittude.

(We did watch Elf though.)
In random but still holiday related news, the Girls and I, along with several ladies from church enjoyed a wonderful Christmas Mugs & Muffins brunch at the lovely home of one of our elders. It was perfectly delightful, as always!

Along with our decorating procrastination we also did our traditional loser late Christmas card photo session. Again, I was lacking motivation and felt like we threw together barely coordinated outfits and highly un-creative poses, as we were scrambling to get something before the sun set.

We took a selfie to document the fact that we managed to not kill each other during the grueling photo session.

We then we retreated to Starbucks for treats, as per our tradition.
Annelise got her first ever frappuccino, java chip, needless to say, color her hooked.
One thing that I did manage to get together early (what?) were gifts for Annelise's three main teachers, Starbucks gift card in a to-go cup with holiday kisses and a scarf. Her PE, band and computer teachers got Mrs. Meyer's soap and peppermint bark, which is useful and tasty. We did the same thing for her dance teachers (we don't usually, not sure why this year was different) and put together a little gift for her dance class gift swap (lip balm, nail polish, socks and candy--hopefully the girl that got it liked it, you never really know).
The Girls and I got together for Pink Christmas, the Painting Version, which was fun.  We had planned to eat dinner first at a local steakhouse but did not count on needing reservations (whoops), so we ended up eating pho at a Vietnamese place which was really out of the norm for us but quite yummy just the same.

We painted these monogrammed ornaments which was fun but way more stressful than I anticipated, what with all the straight chevron lines to you know, not smudge up and all.
But they turned out super cute.

From a distance at least.

Christmas day was low key, as per always. Since my dad was (is) still recovering from his surgery we went down there after opening a few presents at our house. Peggy cooked a big country breakfast and I added bubble bread so we feasted and opened more gifts.

Annelise got a new bike and so did I (what?), which is fun. Hers is a black mountain style bike with a touch of pink and mine is a purple retro style. I predict much biking in out future.

(There are no photos from Christmas Day because I am currently too lazy to whittle through them and upload them, my apologies).

She also got purple Beats headphones from us which sent her directly over the moon, so, yay.

Peggy's son and his family came over for a short visit that afternoon, Annelise loved getting to see Cole and Colin, even for just a few hours.
We spent the rest of the day snacking, chatting and doing a whole lot of nothing.

Which is always a favorite.

And that is a WRAP on our Christmas 2014.

I hope yours was blessed and joyful!


On a Monday

(My lame title makes me sing "I Got Stripes" by Johnny Cash & George Jones.)

My sweet daddy had hernia surgery yesterday.

I'm still slightly unclear about what a hernia actually is. I mean, I think I know that it has something to do with some of your parts poking through other parts of your parts and it's uncomfortable.

I'm okay with being vague.

All is well, thank goodness, but any surgery is still surgery and there's usually lots of anxiety and waiting and prayer and pain along with good drugs, possible nausea, and then recovery.

He had met his deductible for the year (apparently this is a thing) (thankfully I don't know much about meeting deductibles due to doctor visits, tests and so forth) and decided to go ahead and get his hernia situation taken care of. 

It was supposed to be outpatient/day surgery with a probable overnight stay (I'm not sure how you classify that). Some doctors do hernia surgery laparoscopically but his must be more old-school so he's got a good ol' incision going on and will most likely stay in the hospital until Wednesday.

After taking Annelise to school and getting myself together, I ventured toward the Houston Medical Center, about 40ish minutes away under ideal conditions. As I was approaching Methodist Hospital I got a call from the school nurse saying that Annelise wasn't feeling well.


No fever but headache slash vague stomachache slash I really don't feel like being at school today thing.

Thankfully Scott said he could pick her up and work from home so I could be at the hospital. 

I got to see my dad for a while before they took him back, so that was good. Two couples from their camping group were also there to keep Peggy company while she waited which was sweet. You wouldn't think waiting would be hard but it can be. I was all prepared with a new book to read headphones and snacks (coffee, apple and cheese) but I mostly just sat there and listened to them tell stories. I really had wanted to start my new book but thought it would be rude to get it out. Hashtag introvert problems.

The room was full of people waiting for news about their persons and I kept wondering what their stories were. I'm nosy that way.

This group of singers came up to brighten things up a a bit with some Christmas carols. They were accompanied by this darling little five year old. She was a hoot!
Sidenote: I really like Methodist Hospital. I mean, I don't know personally, just as a visitor, but from my dad's experiences and I'm really impressed. Everyone is so helpful, polite and friendly. Plus, you know, good at their jobs.

It's like the Chick-Fil-A of hospitals.

We got to see my dad in recovery for a minute and then later up in his room. He was mostly snoozing, which was good.

I left around 4:00 to try and beat the monster known as Houston traffic--and all things considered, (including missing my intended turn and taking Loop 610 home instead of the Beltway, oh well) it wasn't too bad.

Listening to my Merry& Bright playlist on Spotify helped bunches (played on shuffle).

I may have even cranked the volume up and sung along quite dorkily to this song:
I may have even repeated it three or four times in a row.

Whatever gets you through the crazy Houston freeways, man.


Miscellany Monday

A few randoms of late...

I got to hear my little trumpet player perform at a special Christmas chapel last week. Fifth grade band played Good King Wenceslas and Jingle Bells and did a great job, meaning, the songs were not only recognizable they sounded pretty good too, so it was not at all as painful as I feared.
After six-ish months it was finally time to mix up another batch of homemade laundry detergent. I used all of the ingredients pictured below plus three bars of grated Fels-Naptha laundry soap, adding them alternately to my large glass jar and mixing well (I also ended up with a bit of overflow stored in a small plastic container and the empty Oxy-Clean canister).

I use an Oxy-Clean scoop per load (I put it in the bottom of my top-loading HE washer before adding clothes) which is a bit more than 2 tablespoons and it cleans really well while smelling super fresh (but not knock you out fragrance-y). There are tons of variations of recipes on Pinterest (this one is from Edie @Life in Grace on Instagram), even liquid ones (which seem a little too labor intensive for me), so if you've never given homemade laundry detergent a whirl, I'd highly recommend it. Not only is it easier than I thought, it's cheap and makes you feel ever so slightly like Ma Ingalls (minus the hog killing and all that mess).
Scott and I had a breakfast date Friday morning at our favorite place. Again.

We are so predictable.

(Some might say boring.)
Except THIS time I got an egg white frittata (I've never had a frittata before) (it's fun to say frittata, btw). Scott got the Viva la France french toast, as per always, because he loves it and likes to order it with a touch of french flair.

We ventured into downtown Houston this weekend to eat at the Spaghetti Warehouse for an early dinner.
Before making our way over to the Hobby Center to see this...
It was a fabulous show and a great way to kick off our holiday season. The Rockettes are amazing! 

Sidenote: We still don't have a Christmas tree.

We finished off our night at The House of Pies for well, um...pie and such.
Annelise had hot chocolate and a brownie AND a chocolate chip cookie. Scott had Coconut Cream pie, I had Key Lime and we shared French Silk (layered milk and dark chocolate) because we had to have some chocolate too (you have to cut the tart of the key lime and the intensity of the coconut with an alternating bite of chocolate, you know).

It was like our own little pie buffet.


Don't worry, we did not eat it all, maybe half. It's amazing how quickly you can go from YUM to sick, it's a fine line.

Happy Monday, y'all!


Miscellany Monday (The Turkey Edition)

Hello December.


This morning's alarm was rather rude after a week of not having to set one and re-entry into the morning get-ready-for-school-shuffle was a tad rough. But we made it, in fact we were a little early, go us.

Last week was mostly an exercise in laziness punctuated with occasional spurts of activity followed up with more laziness and slothdom. I met The Girls one night for coffee and chit chat and laughter, which was delightful of course, Annelise had a sleepover with Pappo and grandma one night and most of the other days were a hazy blur of nothingness.

Except for Thanksgiving.

My dad and Peggy hosted 20 people (if you count the one currently gestating, which we did) for a Thanksgiving feast. There was way too much food and no vegetable was allowed unless it was coated in cheese or sauce, except for my Big Salad, which has kind of become my thing to bring for every family gathering, usually by request, which is fine, but only a few people really bother eating it because there's always too much other competition from all the beige comfort food, which I totally understand.

After the first round of feasting, during a break in one of the football games, we gathered outside for group photos. 
Daddy and Peggy's dear friends, Jack and Penny (front chair on the left below) spent the day with us too which was nice. Sidenote: They brought a fried turkey which was slap your mama delicious, I'd never had fried turkey before, I might be a convert.

There were also two doggie guests, Snuggles, the teacup Yorkie and Jojo the boxer.
Annelise had a BLAST (as per always) playing basketball, football and hide and seek with Colin, Cole and Cadence. Some of the big guys played basketball too in between their football viewing and naps. The outdoor fun didn't stop until way after dark when we confiscated the flashlights and shut it down due to the cold and the fact some of them had to go home (boo hoo).

We did not, I repeat did not, do any Black Friday shopping.

Not that this is anything new, we've never gone Black Friday shopping because I am not down with that kind of crazy.

I am however down with online shopping in my jammies with a cup of coffee beside me.

Yesterday after church and lunch we did something a little outside of our norm.

We went to see two movies back to back.

I know, we are WILD.

We started out with Big Hero 6, which we all three LOVED and were surprised by how much we loved it since we didn't really know that much about it going in. After that we walked directly over to the ticket machine (we love the ticket machine and hardly ever use the ticket windows) to get three tickets for Mockingjay.

Over the last several months Annelise and I have watched the other two Hunger Games movies on Netflix so she was anxiously awaiting this next installment. I'm not crazy about them milking the last book into two movies, I mean I know a lot happens but I still feel like they're just trying to capitalize on the HG mania and make more money with two movies. But whatever.

We liked it. I probably like the first two better but I kind of expected that going in because Mockingjay in general is just a darker story (yes, darker than teens killing each other in a televised competition) what with the rebellion and all.

We don't usually get popcorn or candy at the movies because I'm a smuggler but we didn't smuggle anything in this time so we all shared a big popcorn and got drinks for eleventy billion dollars. We noticed several people going out with empty buckets and coming back with filled ones and then finally saw the Free Refill note on our bucket. No we did not NEED a refill, a refill was not healthy, but we got one anyway just to stick it to the Man a little.

Subversive popcorn refilling. It's a thing.

We didn't eat it all either.

In other news, Scott finished putting up our Christmas lights over the weekend. We still do icicle lights like it's 1999, but whatever. That's our only nod to Christmas so far. We need to shop for a tree but I refuse to do that until we have colder weather again, because sweating while picking out a Christmas tree sucks my Christmas spirit out faster than you can say The Grinch.

Note to self: Now that the Chrismas lights are twinkling around our house we might should move the scarecrow by the front door back to the garage muy pronto.

Timely. Is what we are.

Happy Monday, y'all!

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