Saturday, August 30, 2008

Whoo! Pig! Sooie!

Football season is one of the most frustrating times of the year around our house. Living in Texas where everyone tends to be either a Longhorn or an Aggie fan, we are rarely treated to a Razorback game. We are Razorback fans to the core...winning season or not. The only thing more exciting than Razorback football to me is Razorback basketball.

Needless to say, there was no possibility of us getting a peek at the Arkansas/W. Illinois game tonight. The kids saw the score while at dinner and the Hogs were trailing..but I just saw on ESPN that the Hogs pulled out the win with a score of 28 to 24. I am not sure what happened, but I am celebrating the win. We play the Longhorns on the 13th and I plan to park in front of my television for the game.

I should order a game day flag so I can 'fly the colors'. I bet it will be the only one in the neighborhood!

Go, Hogs!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Speechless In Texas

I received a phone call on my cell phone just before the end of business yesterday. I was unable to get the phone, which was buried in my purse instead of in it's nifty little pocket. When I finally pulled it out, it showed a missed call from an 800, knowing it was not one my children stranded someplace, I dropped the phone back in my purse and finished what I was doing so I could get out of the office for the evening.

As I climbed into the car, I remembered the missed call and hearing the voice mail tone. I checked the voice mail to find a message from my cell phone provider asking me to please return their call. I debated whether or not to do so, as I knew that the bill was paid and current. I hit the redial button and thought that if I didn't get anyone by the time I made it to the freeway I would just hang up and wait for them to call me back if they had anything of importance to share.

After a two minute wait, a young woman answered the phone and asked why I was calling. I replied that I was returning their call and had no idea what it was about. She checked my balance and saw that I had a credit on the account, so it couldn't be about payment. She continued looking at my account and then the following conversation occurred:

Her - "Oh, I see now. We were calling you about excessive (blah-blah) usage on one of your lines."

Me - "Which line?"

Her - "The one ending in ####."

Me - "What do you mean by excessive usage."

Her - "Well at this moment this line has used ####kb on the web. This usage has incurred a cost to your account of $1,064."

Me (insert racing heart, dry mouth, and pounding head) - "WHAT?!?!"

Her - "We charge $1 for every kb and this phone has used 1 mb. There are 1,064kb to every mb and the charge is $1,064 at this time."

Me - "That phone has web access?!?!"

Her - "Yes."

Me - "I hardly know how to text message. I had no idea they could surf the web on their phones." (PANIC is now taking over...I am talking so much that she can't even respond.) "Can I block web usage on the phones? I didn't even know they had web access, how would I know to block it?"

Her - "We can set you up on a web plan for $15.99 a month and I will back date it to the first of this billing cycle. Then you will be billed an additional $15 for the 1mb used."

Me - "And the $1,000 charge will go away?"

Her - "Yes, ma'am."

Me (No longer wondering in what terrible way I might kill the offender when I get home.) - "Yes, do it!"

We take a few minutes to make the changes to the plan. She tells me I can cancel the plan at the first of the next billing cycle and block web usage at that time, but not now.

At the end of our conversation:

Me - "So, I will have the additional $15.99 for the web plan and the $15 in web charges on the next bill."

Her - "Well, actually this number has accrued another 2mb while we have been on the phone."

In my mind I am figuring out that it would have cost me another $2,000 by now! So, I rush off the phone, call the offending party and ask:

"What are you doing on the Internet?"

Answer: "Checking my Myspace."

I nearly crawled through the phone!

PS...the offender has been told of the charges incurred (which nearly sent said offender into heart failure) and has been warned if it ever happens again, said offender may not be breathing long enough to pay it back!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Look At What's On My Nightstand

What's On Your Nightstand

I missed yesterday's blogging carnival over at 5 Minutes for Books. I spent most of the day with Debbie and Casy before they headed back home. So, when I got home last night I gathered up my books, put them on my nightstand and took a picture of what my nightstand would look like, if I kept all my books in one place.

As you can see, I would have very little room for anything else!

Two of these books I have just finished reading:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I just finished this classic for the very first time. I have been telling myself for years that I should begin reading the classics...but it took the prompting of the classics book club over at 5 Minutes for Books to get me started. Even though I had not read this book before, I have to confess that I knew the plot twist because I had seen the very end of the movie while surfing the channels one afternoon. I really enjoyed the book and I look forward to purposely watching the movie now that I have finished the book.

Is That All He Thinks About by Marla Taviano

I finished this book about a week ago but haven't passed it on yet. I ordered a set of Marla's books for the purpose of giving them to my two oldest daughters after reading a great review of another of her books over at Baby Bangs. Amanda is a young mother around the age of my oldest daughter and I figured that if she found them to be a blessing, my daughters would also. Kelli picked up the copy of From Blushing Bride To Wedded Wife as soon as it made it in to the office. I decided to read this one before passing it on and I must say, if I can use this information after being married for 27 years...certainly my daughters will find it useful. Marla writes in such a way as to feel like you are sitting down to coffee with a couple of close friends. She never claims to be an expert...but shares what she has discovered through research and in her experiences. This is a great read for any married woman, new bride or new grandmother like myself.

My ongoing books include:

Streams In The Desert by L. B. Cowman

This is my devotional for this year. I wish I could say I haven't missed a single day...but that would be a lie. To be honest, I stood in the Barnes and Noble aisle at the end of 2007 and just asked the Lord to open my eyes to the right devotional. Although our immediate family has not been in the desert thus far in 2008...this book has helped immensely in our part of Casy's journey through the desert of cancer. There was no way that I could have known that I would need the encouragement found in these pages when I 'selected' it last December. To God be the glory!

Eat This Book: A Conversation In The Art Of Spiritual Reading by Eugene Peterson

I have tried to read this book two or three times, but just can't seem to get into it. I think I need to move it from beside my bed (this one was actually on the nightstand) to a place where I can read with focus. I picked up this book after seeing it listed among the favorite books of one of the Bible study teachers I adore. I found the first chapter to be powerful...but I can't stay awake long enough to get any further. Maybe I need to pick up the study guide that goes along with it so that I can retain what I am reading.

I just started:

The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

Years ago, the kids and I read The Magician's Nephew and The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe during our bedtime routine. When Brian was in middle school, he was required to read for 20 minutes every day and requested the complete series -- so I picked up this all in one volume. I wanted to catch up on this series before I saw the next movie, Prince Caspian, which came out in May. Since I didn't make it, I haven't seen the movie yet. We finally located our copy in the boxes of unpacked books a few weeks back and I began reading the next two books last night. I will wait for the video release and hopefully, will have finished The Horse And His Boy and Prince Caspian by that time.

The following are on my 'to read' list:

The Good Guy by Dean Koontz

This will be my first Dean Koontz novel and honestly, I only picked it up after reading a review in a magazine.

The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs

I picked this book up after reading about it over at A Chelsea Morning. Barb highly recommended it, so I picked it up during my next visit to Target...and evidently, the next time I found myself in Barnes and Noble I bought yet another one. I realized this when I started gathering books last night for the picture and found one on my dresser (B&N) and one on my bookshelf (Target). I will let you know if it was worth paying for twice!

No Other Gods: Confronting Our Modern Day Idols by Kelly Minter

I made a special trip to Barnes and Noble a few weeks back to pick up this book as there was only one left in stock. I heard about it on the Living Proof Ministries blog. What I didn't realize at the time is there are two books, a book and a workbook. I think I really need the workbook instead of the book. I am pretty sure that I need to 'work through' this one and not just read it. So, it looks like I will have to make a special trip to Lifeway to get the workbook. I hate being so far from Lifeway now!

And finally,

Prioritize Organize: The Art of Getting It Done by Peg Pickering

I attended a business conference a few months back regarding Texas Sales Tax and thought I probably really needed this information. So far, all of it's information has remained inside the covers of this book. I will get to it...probably the next time I feel overwhelmed by life!

Well, that is 'What's On My Nightstand' at the end of August. With the upcoming wedding and the beginning of football season, I doubt I will finish them all by September. If I do, I will let you know!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

For the Love of Books

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I have always had a sweet spot for books. I do not recall how or when this love of books began, I guess it has just always been. My mother tells the story of when I was two years old and I was found, after a little searching, under my parent's bed looking through a catalog. I can never remember a time without books either.

I fondly recall being in the third grade when a family friend brought over a complete set of Dr. Seuss books for my sister and I. At bedtime that evening, I could not stand the idea of so many unread stories sitting on my dresser while I slept. I sneaked out of bed and began to devour the first one in secret. At that time, our family lived in a three bedroom mobile home and my bedroom was the first one down the hall leading to both the bathroom and my parent's bedroom. Needless to say, it was not very long before I was caught red handed with the light on reading. After a stern warning and the threat of removing the books from my possession, my parents relented a little and allowed me to begin staying up 30 minutes later than my sister -- so long as the time was spent in my bed, reading quietly.

Another fond memory from my childhood was the time spent at the library. I loved walking through the rows of books and can remember wishing I could read them all. I do not recall if my mother took me there once a week or once every two weeks, but I do remember checking out as many Nancy Drew mysteries as I was allowed. Nancy was the 'coolest'. I wanted to grow up to be as clever and observant as she. The very thought of signing my name on the library cards...over and over...still makes me smile.

I vividly remember the first day of school in the 7th grade. I couldn't wait to get home with my new text books. (I wish this had remained true after discovering boys in high school!) I still remember the picture on the first page of my World History book -- the statues of Easter Island. How exotic and wondrous it all seemed. I also recall the grammar book with it's black cover and multicolored 'E'. You may not be able to tell from my writing, but I loved studying grammar in school. Growing up in a small town in the deep south, it was not stressed in our everyday speech however. (With the exception of our 8th grade Language Arts teacher who made us conjugate verbs in class and never allowed the use of the word 'ain't' because it was not in the dictionary...which makes me wonder what she said to her students once it was allowed in the dictionary.) I still inadvertently 'entertain' friends today with my deep southern drawl and words like 'fixin' to', even though I am totally unaware of how I sound until it is pointed out to me. Being in Texas these past 19 years, I have been made aware of my tendency to place extra syllables in my words on numerous occasions.

When my children were all small, reading books for pleasure became a highly prized treat. Yet, I read their favorites to them over and over again. I will always remember their faces upon hearing the account of Max in 'Where the Wild Things Are' and the ever popular 'Mr. Gumpy's Outing'. I took advantage of every book order form I possibly could so that they might have a full library of choices. As the older ones came up through elementary and began bringing books home from school, we were introduced to more characters like, Clifford and Corduroy (Meagan's favorite for a long time) and the always daffy but charming Amelia Bedelia.

Unfortunately, none of my children treasured reading the way I did. And if you asked my mom, I probably didn't treasure it as much as she did. I know my love of reading had to have come from watching her. She read books upon books...mostly romance novels with the occasional mystery/scary story thrown in for good measure. She still reads more than I do. And my girls are becoming more and more interested in reading as they have reached their young adult years. Meagan actually left here a few weeks ago with a stack of books from the boxes I have yet to unpack. Most of them were so many of my books have been..."Bringing Up Boys", "The Power of a Praying Parent", "The Power of a Praying Wife", etc. Kelli began to enjoy reading in the 6th grade...finishing her first chapter book ever in Ms. Epps class and loving every minute of it. (You have to love a teacher than passes on an enjoyment for what they are teaching.) She doesn't get much time for reading with Brooke around, but I still see the novels laying on her bedside table or beside the sofa from time to time. Brianne finished a few novels this summer herself. I guess her college reading last spring has gotten her in the mood. Even Will asked last night for an 'interesting' book to read...and though Brian tried to convince him that the 'Chronicles of Narnia' were just the ticket, when pressed on what he was reading, his reply was that he (Brian) preferred to "just wait for the movie to come out". Oh, well...we all have to start someplace, right?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Back To School

It is that time of year again...first day back to school.

I love back to school, if for no other reason than the return to a schedule in our household. The summer lends itself to relaxing...and we take full advantage of the opportunity to relax our schedule as well. Now it is back to a bedtime for the whole household (thank goodness) and a morning routine for the boys and myself.

Brian and Will both got up with little prodding this morning. I wish it would continue to be that easy every morning. They rode in together this morning since Brian had to pick up his schedule. He is hoping for late arrival this year -- his Senior year (can you believe it?). He would really like to have had early dismissal, but since basketball is the last class of the day, that is not an option. Looking at his tardies from last year, late arrival will probably work best for our night owl.

Will is hoping that after-school football practice will start immediately. He can hardly wait to put on the pads and get to work. He has really surprised us with his desire to work out without being prompted. We have already picked up the cleats and football socks so that he will be ready to go whenever the coach says.

Both boys were really looking forward to going back to school this year. They had quite a busy summer, but living so far out leaves few opportunities for getting together with friends. I hope that their enthusiasm is not soon lost.

Bri begins classes today as well. She has to log in to an online math class this afternoon and has a late night psychology class that begins tonight at 7. Can you believe they have to attend class from 7-10 pm? I hope the professor is interesting...because if it were me, I would be out like a light by 9! She has classes Monday through Friday evenings so that she can hopefully get a job during the day. Any money to help cover the commuting expenses would be greatly appreciated by Jim and I!

I can't help but think of how much I enjoyed the first day of school each year. The books that held so much potential for learning and the expectations of what a new year might bring, I remember brimming over with excitement. I still love a new book or the beginning of a Bible study. I still get excited over the possibilities of what I might learn upon a new endeavor. I may have missed my calling as a school teacher...but I never tire of being a student.

Thankfully, we never have to quit learning. And hopefully, the three of them will find something so interesting this year that it keeps them motivated to be successful at their studies.

I know tonight will be filled with 15 zillion pieces of paper to be signed and lists of school supplies that it will take me weeks to track down (just imagine how hard it was when all 5 of them were still in school)...but for now, I choose to celebrate the beginning of the new school year and hope for a successful year for us all.

So, was today your first day back to school? How did it go?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Legends & Tall Tales: The Crossett Light

I grew up in Ashley County, Arkansas. All of my life I have heard the legend of 'The Light' in Crossett. I have to confess to being one of the few who never even tried to see 'The Light' as a teenager. In kindly terms, I was a scaredy cat!

My husband, being much braver than I, has made more than one trip down this desolate dirt road in hopes of finding have my children. As a matter of fact, at least two of the children make an annual trek in search of 'The Light' either during their summer stay with my sister or our Thanksgiving visit. Will and Bri have their own hilarious tale of an encounter of a different kind they had while visiting last summer. Let's just say that Will's account of losing his flip flops and racing my brother-in-law to the vehicle makes for great dinner conversation with friends to this day. Much laughter is always the result!

The legend that I have heard time and again is that in the early 1900's a railroad signal man fell asleep on the tracks (whether or not due to the overindulgence of alcohol, no one can fully agree) and failed to awake as the train drew near, resulting in the loss of his head. 'The Light' is this signal man's ghost supposedly looking for his missing head.

Without comment as to my personal beliefs regarding this strange phenomenon...I wanted to share with you a video that was sent to me via email from someone else's blog. (I am not acquainted with the blogger, but he cracked me up with his account of encountering 'The Light'.) Click on Jeremy's name here and it will take you to his You Tube video.

Hope you enjoy it...and let me know if you grew up with any such legends in your neck of the woods.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Greetings From Cowtown

I am sitting in the old Hotel Texas in Fort Worth with a dear friend tonight. We arrived late last night and found a room. It is a pleasant only negative comment would be the small bathroom, but considering the time it was built, it is to be expected.

This is my first trip to Fort Worth. We came to view the Southern Living 2008 Verona Park Idea House. I fell in love with the Idea House that was in San Antonio in 2004. I didn't see it in person...only in the magazine spread. My darling Mother-In-Law had given me a stack of Southern Living magazines when we visited her for Christmas in 2004. As we drove home, I thumbed through the August 2004 edition and I was enthralled by the Salado View home...especially the kitchen. Beautiful!!!! Even though I do not want another two story home at this stage of life, I just love so many of its features. I ripped the article from the magazine and have it filed in my 'Dream Home' binder.

So, (back to my point about today-finally)...when I found out that one of the Idea Houses would be in Texas again this year, I asked a few friends if they would like to take a road trip with me to Fort Worth. One friend had prior plans for this weekend and couldn't join us. Another had planned to come, but had some family responsibilities arise last week and had to cancel. I had complications arise myself and on Tuesday night we decided to reschedule from Friday - Sunday to Wednesday - Friday.

We didn't know it when we checked in at the Hilton Fort Worth, but we are staying at a historical place. There is a picture hanging in the bathroom that gives a little background of this place's connection to John F. Kennedy. Apparently, this is the place he and the First Lady stayed on November 21, 1963. He made a speech in the ballroom and held a press conference on the steps just before leaving in the motorcade where he would be assassinated. I doubt he stayed in our room...but, hey, I am sleeping in the same building as did a President of the United States at one time.

We went to tour the Southern Living house this afternoon. I wasn't 'enthralled' but it was nice and I got a few good ideas. (LOVED the two, count them, two laundry rooms!) I liked the refrigerator and freezer that have been faced with the cabinet look and the large, roomy stove. The back porch made me want to invite friends over to hang out and talk on a cool evening this fall. The family room had a good vibe as well.

I didn't understand the need for a full bath downstairs (right beside the master bedroom suite) when there were no other downstairs bedrooms...but hey, what do I know! I also wasn't crazy about the wall color in the master bedroom, but I could see how many people would probably like it. And what is the deal with the gilded furniture these days? I guess I am just behind the times and will probably love it this time next year after it has a chance to grow on me a little longer.

After touring the house, we headed down to the Stockyards for a late lunch and a little shopping. As always it was an adventure for us. We ate at Cattlemens Steakhouse. It was a pretty good steak...New York strip for me, rib eye for my friend. We shopped until the stores closed at 6 and then headed back Downtown to our hotel. We walked around for awhile, grabbed a quick bite at Chili's (appetizers and ice water) before heading back to the room.

Now we are sitting in our room...each with our computers, talking and typing as we get ready to turn in for the night.

Hope you are having a great night wherever you are!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Adios, Edouard

The rain has passed. No winds have made it this far. It looks like Edouard didn't like what he found when he arrived, so he slowly fizzled out. Other than some minor street flooding along the Houston freeways, it seems to have been a case of 'better safe than sorry' around here. There is no more rain on the radar for our area unless things change suddenly.

This was just like a 'snow day' in July!

Edouard Noon Update

The rain is just beginning to make it into our area. It has been drizzling here since 10:30 and is falling a little bit heavier now...though not much. According to the radar, the yellow/orange is just to the east of us. The winds have not reached us yet, either. Will keep you updated as the afternoon progresses.

The Calm Before The Storm

It is hazy and overcast outside my window. Yet, we have told the office staff to stay home today and the guys in the field to use their heads as things progress out there today.

The joys of living along the Gulf Coast include the nearness of the beach...the other side of that coin is the possibility of hurricanes and tropical storms. Today, his name is Tropical Storm Edouard.

Thankfully, he didn't get the strength to make it to a category 1 hurricane before hitting land...though his winds were less than 10 miles away from qualifying. We are sitting on ready for massive amounts of rain -- up to 10 inches are possible in places -- and heavy winds. The winds may still be raging about 45 miles an hour when they make it to us early this afternoon. (And we are well inland!)

I am answering calls from home today...though Jim had to go out for a meeting. We will let you know if things get bad...but for now we think we will be okay. Just wanting to be safe and not sorry!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

It Was A 'Hee Haw' Kind Of Day

If anything could go wrong in my life yesterday, it did. Thankfully the Good Lord was gracious enough to allow me to laugh at myself instead of sinking into a pit of despair.

Nothing major happened...just a day of errors, delays and odd circumstances.

It didn't help that Jim was out of town for three days. Things always go wrong when he is not around. The evening he left our new puppy decided that he needed some relief from the sweltering heat of August in he went under the house and chewed a large hole in the air conditioning vent. I suspect we cooled this area of Waller County for at least 6 hours before I discovered the problem.

Anyway, on to yesterday. It was late Thursday night before the boys were able to fix the air leak properly. It took them a few tries, but I was proud of them for not giving up until it was right. I never sleep well when Jim is away, so the two things combined made it easy to oversleep on Friday morning.

I needed to rush through the shower and get to work - quickly. However, due to a early phone call that took two hours to resolve...I ended up leaving for work without my shower and my hair back in a ponytail while still on the phone trying to find a resolution.

The few hours at work produced very little work accomplished before we had to be out of the office. We were having the carpets steam cleaned, so we closed up shop at 12 and I forwarded the calls to my cell for the weekend.

I left the office to drop some things off at the hospital for Debbie and Casy. (Hopefully he will get out on Monday -- if there are no further complications) I headed over to the medical center area, and of course I-10 was backed up by construction and thick with traffic while 610 had a stalled car. I picked up some shoes for Casy to wear around the halls instead of those slipper socks that the hospital provides and ran by the City of Bellaire to take care of a little 'business' so I didn't have to appear in court on Tuesday. (My first ticket in over 25 years!!!!)

When I arrived at the hospital, Casy was having a bad day with pain in his legs. It was agonizing to watch him in so much pain. After seeing a doctor and then talking with his nurse, we were assured that once the pain medication kicked in he would be feeling better. He drifted off to sleep just before I left and according to Debbie this morning, the pain has not returned. (Thank You, Lord, for answered prayer!)

I left in plenty of time to get home, get a shower and to meet friends for the races. Of course, if there is one rule of thumb regarding Houston traffic it is this: Things will be worse when you are in a hurry. A wreck on 610 at I10, a stalled car on one hour drive (with no traffic) slowly turned into a two hour commute.

I rushed in to the house, grabbed a quick shower and headed out the door. I had already called my friends to let them know that I would be late and to leave without me. I kicked myself all the way out the door. Why am I always the one who is late? Even when I leave early or plan ahead? This night out was my idea and I had asked them to join Jim was out of town and I was the last one to arrive.

I finally came to the conclusion that it did me no good to be upset about it. I couldn't go back in time and change any of it anyways. I took the wrong exit and spent an extra 30 minutes in traffic that I didn't need to be in...but I did eventually make it through the gate and to the stands for the start of the third race.

I told my friends when I arrived that either my luck was about to change and this was going to be my lucky night...or it wasn't and I was going to go home with nothing. (Don't worry, I can count the times I have been to the races on my fingers and I take about the equivalent of dinner and a movie when I go.)

Let's just say my horses were not having a good night either. I think I cashed in two or three show tickets, had one horse pull up and let the others pass so that he could try to get to the rail, had one horse come in dead last by about 10 lengths and then the "doozy" of the night. In the last race, I placed my money on the horse who shared a name with my mother. In the middle of the race we saw a horse take a fall, dump it's jockey and roll over. I said to the friend standing beside me, "That would be my horse." And when it got was the number 3 horse, "Is Special June" with her blue silks. I fell out laughing at that point.

As I was driving out of the race park headed home, I suddenly began hearing Buck Owens, Roy Clark and Grandpa Jones in my mind singing:

"Gloom, despair and agony on me-e!
Deep dark depression, excessive misery-y!
If it weren't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all!
Gloom, despair and agony on me-e-e!"

I'm telling, ya' was a Hee Haw kind of a day!