Archive for the 'Counting My Blessings' Category

Promises Whispered

So this year’s theme at church is “Launch Out”. I first got the inkling of just what God was pulling me towards in terms of launching out several months ago, but it just seemed so unreal, so unlikely. Turns out… not so much. The coincidences (both musical and otherwise) speak for themselves, or rather for God. I never thought I’d be led back around to considering, let alone deciding on, divorce by God of all people. By my ‘worldly’ friends, sure. By my ‘unspiritual’ family, maybe. But by Jesus Himself? WHAT?! And yet that is exactly what happened. It wasn’t some booming, thundering voice from the sky, no. It was a still, small voice that said “just open your mind and heart to the idea that maybe the act of divorce might not not frowned upon by God in certain situations”. It started small, it did, and to be sure it came through His chosen vessel. I had my eyes (and my mind!) clenched so tightly shut it hurt. Hurt to keep them closed, but hurt to open them, too. Like when you’ve been squeezing your eyes shut to keep out the light that was suddenly turned on in the midst of the thick dark. It was painful, so very painful, to keep forcibly shutting that light out, but just opening my eyes wide open all at once hurt, too. I’d pop them open, be blinded, and go back to squinting….but that light…even though it was bright and seemed painful at first glance seemed to offer something more. Warmth for a shivering soul for a start. Light to see things clearly, instead of having to plod about in uncertainty. And hope. For the first time in over 15yr I really felt the golden fingers of hope coming through. It reminded me of the poem I wrote in high school with the same title as this post…

Golden Fingers reaching through the clear pane,
Silently touching the sleeping form.
Lingering for a moment to whisper promises of a new beginning;
Slowly they pass — leaving behind shadowy fingerprints.

I’m older now, though, and I like to think a little wiser. Without question I’m more knowledgeable, especially in regards to Truth. Whereas at 17yo I let those Fingers float right on by…whether because of fear or stubbornness to follow along a prescribed or expected path or some other reason that I don’t even remember now…at almost 36yo I refuse to let them pass me by. I don’t want shadowy fingerprints. I want the Fingers that created them. I don’t want to resist the pulling anymore. I don’t want, scratch that, I WON’T lie still and watch them drift away. I refuse. I’m waking up, launching out, and hanging on to those promises. To not do so is to not breathe. My kids deserve so much better than what they’ve had. Not because they’re so great, but because they are children of God. They, as well as myself, were precious enough to Jesus that He willingly held out His hands and even thanked the Father for the opportunity to have nails driven through them, to take on all of our sins and pay for them so that we could be made whole and be free. Jesus gave up everything to save us from a life of pain, misery, defeat, and rejection. There’s been a myriad of reasons, excuses even, why I haven’t allowed myself to live that life, but I’m choosing it now. I’m launching out of the bed of self-punishment-through-others and trying-to-save-others-at-the-expense-of-myself and breaking through the clear pane to go live in the Sonshine…not just a quiet, sedate, ordinary life, either.  No. I’ve been trying to contain myself inside of propriety and calmness and convention for too long. I’m tired of trying to fit into a mold that I was never designed to fit in. I want to be comfortable in my own skin finally. I’m not there yet, not by a long shot, but I WANT to get there…and I will. As long as I do all things decently and in order, it will come. That’s decently and in order according to GOD, not man (including myself!), though. Sometimes there is a big difference.

I’ve written about storms and rainbows before. Not all storms are bad. Some rainstorms are VERY necessary. Sometimes our lives are suffering from drought and we desperately need rain to quench our thirst and heal our parched hearts. Sometimes we even recognize it and pray for something to revive us, to heal us, to satisfy us. Why do we act so surprised, then, when it starts raining? Sometimes we think the rain is nothing but cold, but what if it’s not? What if we’re missing a piece of it and it’s not a ‘c’, but a ‘g’. What if the rain is nothing but gold. Rain is cleansing. It washes away the dust and the heat. Sure, absolutely in the midst of the storm it can be dark and scary and threatening…but on the other side? What awaits us? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… the longer, more frightening, more intense the storm the sweeter, more beautiful, and more precious the rainbow. Rainbows are symbols of promise…promises whispered. And now the circle of coincidentiality is complete. Thank you, Lord. I love you too! =)

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THANK YOU, LORD!!!

Thank you, Lord, for:

  • the Person of You… Jesus Christ
  • the Promises of You… the God who can’t lie
  • the People of God
  • the Provision of You… my Heavenly Father God
  • the Power of You… the Great I AM THAT I AM
  • the Preparation of God
  • the Peace of You… the Holy Spirit
  • the Protection of God… the Creator and Almighty God
  • the Privileges of God

I can never thank You enough! The least I can do is offer my body and life as a living sacrifice to You! THAT even is not enough. Thank You, thank You, thank You!!

It’s Lyme Disease Awareness Month Again!!

I could type up a bunch of stuff about Lyme Disease right now. About how it has stolen several full years of my life and many, many aspects of my life over several MORE years. About how horrible and debilitating it is not just for the person who has it, but for their entire family as well. I could spout statistics to you or give you a VERY long list of symptoms my family (nearly all of us infected) have dealt with. I could recite scores of different medicines and supplements we’ve had to take… some of which have done wonders to help and others which only brought horrble side effects with no gain. I *could* do all that… OR I could share a link that came across one of my Lyme Disease email groups that tells about some of the brain problems that Lyme causes.

The brain problems are the most difficult to explain, the most difficult to understand, and the most difficult to see (obviously!) And for me they were the ones that ‘cinched’ the deal and convinced me there absolutely was something *wrong* with me and that I *had* to get help. That’s because, being born with Lyme, most of the physical problems I was having when I “crashed” a few years back, were just worsening of stuff I’d been dealing with my whole life. The physical stuff I could write off as being just a natural part of aging…at least for me. (Never mind the fact that I was in my mid-20s!)

While I could write off the physical stuff by itself (and had been), it was when my brain “crashed” that I finally realized I was truly sick…and that the physical stuff wasn’t actually normal at all…and everything was likely connected somehow.

The bad news was because my brain (which had always worked REALLY well before) was now malfunctioning on a grand scale, while I realized I was sick and with the Lord’s help even managed to get an idea of what was going on, it took me over a year to actually figure out what to DO about it. Why? Simply put… my brain was too sick to think!

Only by the grace of God and the help of a (now-best) friend who was also sick with Lyme, but in treatment and was making good progress over that year (making her better able to think than me by far!) was I able to get in treatment. For months I was pretty sure what was wrong with me but could not for the life of me figure out what to do next. I tried to explain the problem to my husband, but since my brain was malfunctioning, that didn’t work so well. It was only when my friend was well enough that *her* brain was functioning well enough to “take over for mine” that anything was actually done. I have no doubt that’s because *she* knew exactly…first hand…what the problem was despite my inability to explain things.

If this article had existed back then (and I’d been able to process enough of it to realize just how big of a jewel it is), I have no doubt that this would have saved me months of misery, as it puts into very easy-to-understand words just exactly what I was dealing with and why (and how) I needed my husband to help me. If only he could have read this back then… =)

So, without further adieu, here is the wonderful treasure of Lyme Disease Awareness…

This Is Your Brain On Lyme

The Year the Appliances Revolted

Two posts inside of a month, I must be feeling spunky. lol I’ve been working on getting the house back in shape after my being too sick to do anything with it for years. How many years I don’t want to try and figure out. *sigh* Anyway, the last week or so I’ve been focusing on laundry and the living room.

In the living room I’ve mostly just cleaned, straightened, blahblah. Only exciting (read: different) things were I had Matthew move one of the DVD racks from one wall to another, I changed out some old, yellowed artificial daisies for fresh, crisp, white artificial daisies, and I added two collage frames of pictures.

The laundry had been moving steadily along, but is now at a standstill. Why? Because we are nearing the end of … The Year the Appliances Revolted. I know we are nearing the end of it because we are nearing the end of the list of appliances! Since last spring we have seen the revolt of almost every single appliance we own. In order (at least to the best of my recollection…):

My computer- working fine one day, wouldn’t power up the next
Printer- after installing about a dozen copies of itself on the computer it refused to print again
Dishwasher- put its foot down (or whatever it is that makes it go!) after being slammed one too many times
Camera- *barely* survived our vacation, guess it decided I worked it too hard in AR
DVD player- died, just died
Oven- decided it would no longer heat…at all
Milkshake maker- the mixer bit busted off and stayed off
Hot water heater- rusted plumb through
Microwave- death by fire when I attempted to bake potatoes (hey, the oven was dead remember?)
TV- went kinda funny about powering on for a couple of weeks, then peacefully went to sleep…forever
Heater- developed a leak between the intake and the pilot light, so we had 2 pilot lights for awhile
Washer- death by electrocution; power cord/extension cord connection was laying on the floor (WHY?!?!) and got wet. Fizzle, sizzle, smoke, pop!

Interestingly enough, they have all (but my computer, I believe) gone out since my deciding/starting taking bible classes through F.B.I. I’m no dummy, but the devil is! He must think that I’m gonna get irritated enough to quit school. Ain’t gonna happen, though. =) Joke’s on him. It was through class that the Lord provided a replacement for one of those appliances. HAHA

I just ordered new parts for the oven and washer today. They should be here inside of a week, so I should be able to get back to baking again soon. =) Matthew has been patiently waiting for brownies for about 6mo now.

In the meantime, I will focus on catching the dishes up (by hand, obviously, since the dishwasher revolted), and rearranging and straightening the dining room, kitchen, and master bath.

Lingering projects are something else I’ve been trying to attack. I had some stickers for the tiles in the bathroom sitting on the counter for about 6 years. They are actually on the tiles now! woohoo! Also tonight I went through a bunch of pictures and put together several collage frames, and then filled 3 albums with loose pics. Only one was arranged, though. A small one entitled FRIENDS!!! with pics of the kids and some of their friends, of course. The others were just randomly inserted, not even arranged by date or occasion. lol Hey, after sitting in a box for ten years (give or take a couple) I figure in the album in any order is better than the way they were!

Oh, and as for the rest of the appliances (besides the oven and washer, that is)… For Christmas we replaced the TV, DVD player, camera, heater, and printer with some $$ that my SILs sent us. Unfortunately I’m still without a printer. I sent the new one back, got a replacement, sent THAT one back, and got another replacement, and this one doesn’t work either! Grrr. The microwave was replaced by a friend of mine from class (take that, devil!) and my mom fixed my computer. The hot water heater we replaced over the summer with the $ that would have gone to my doctor for my monthly appointment had he not retired the month before. Talk about providential timing, huh?! That just leaves the dishwasher and the milkshake maker. The former Mike does not want to replace until certain young people around here learn to do the dishes PROPERLY by hand, and the latter is not really a big deal anyhow. It was a novelty/decorative thing to begin with. No worries. I’ve just been making my strawberry-banana milkshakes in the blender the old-fashioned way instead. haha

UPDATE 2/19: I placed the order for the parts for the oven and washing machine yesterday afternoon, and they came in by FedEx this morning. My mom came over this evening and by 10pm had them both fixed!! Praise the Lord! It was so funny… while Mom sat and took a break with a cup of coffee after checking to see that the oven actually worked before putting it completely back together, Dad sat beside her complaining about breaking 2 fingernails today! LOL *note: Mom fixed both appliances single-handedly while Dad ate Taco Bell and watched a movie. haha

MawMaw is home!

MawMaw, my grandmother on my mother’s side, the woman I wrote  about in my post entitled Our Missionary… Maw-Maw, has been home for almost 12hrs now. These first 12 hours I’m sure have been filled with many tears of joy, lots of laughter, and many embraces. She is just now settling in for what will be a long (eternal) life and celebration with her Savior. She has been reunited with loved ones she’d been waiting decades to see again… her parents, 2 of her 3 brothers, grandparents probably, and 4 of her own dear children.

The last move she went through was quite stressful on her, despite the fact that it was a move she’d longed for for over 20 years, and was quite looking forward to it. The stress from getting everything ready for that move landed her in the hospital for a couple of weeks immediately after getting moved into their new apartment. She rallied though. The Lord saw fit to raise her up again to a level of health she hadn’t had in many years, and was able to spend the next two weeks in her new apartment. Enjoying sitting on the patio, enjoying her brand new cherrywood bedroom suite, and most delightful and exciting… enjoying being able to eat basically anything she wanted (she’d had diabetes for many years, but these 2wks, her blood sugar was remarkably GOOD no matter what she ate) and being back PAIN-FREE. Her back had given her intense, severe, chronic pain for years, but for whatever reason these 2wks in her new apartment she had NO back pain.

This final move that she made today, didn’t take nearly as long to make as the one a month ago. It  did, however, take much, MUCH more time to prepare for. She’d been preparing for this final move for somewhere close to 70 years. She would’ve turned 78 this month, and I don’t know for sure at what age she accepted Christ as her Savior, but I know she was raised in a Christian home and so was being taught how to prepare for the move from earth to Heaven even as a young girl. This final move was different from the one a month ago in another way, as well. There was NO stress associated with this move. Only grace, comfort, contentment, and true peace.

I praise God for being such a gracious and loving God. I praise Him for His goodness, and thank Him for helping my MawMaw get home. I am so glad she’s home! I will miss her here on earth every day, but I take great comfort in the truth that one day… in the sweet by and by… we will meet on that beautiful shore. I’m very grateful that I have someone in Heaven whom I can have a reunion with one day.

I love you and miss you dearly already, but I’ll see ya soon, MawMaw!

Back-To-School (and other stuff)

It’s Back to School time here. At least, for the females in the house! Meagan’s school (through the church) starts tomorrow. Matthew (homeschooled) won’t start until after Labor Day.

Something new this year, though. *I’m* going back to school, too! Not just as a teacher, which wouldn’t be anything new, but as a student!  I’ve enrolled in a 3yr bible college, taking 1.5 credit hours a semester. It’s called Faith Baptist Institute, and you can learn all about it here. It’s administered via DVD through our church. There are 12 students in our class. =) *We* went back to school last Monday, the 16th! 

There’s something really cool about that date… I remember when I first started high school, as a freshman, school started on the 16th. I remember because that was the year my brother, James, was born and he was exactly 4 days old when we snapped a polaroid of his chunky little cheeks for me to take to school to show him off to my friends. So I started high school on Aug 16, 1992 as a 13yo and now here I am FINALLY starting college on Aug 16, 2010 as a 31yo. How cool is that?

I’ve actually been preparing for ‘back-to-school’ for lots of girls this summer. First I made a bunch of new culottes for Autumn and Ashlin (my adopted nieces) before we left for Arkansas. Then I bought school supplies and got my registration taken care of. Last week, of course, I went back to school, and then the rest of the week I spent making and mending culottes for Kylie (another adopted niece) and letting out uniforms for both her and Meagan.

You’d think that would’ve been the end of it, but nooooo…. Our bible class (actually 3 classes, but we only meet 1x week, and do all 3 in one night) met again tonight and then AFTER that (and we don’t get out till 9:30pm) I had to mess with MORE uniforms. Not for any nieces or nephews or even Meagan, but for Meagan’s DOLL – Samantha! LOL

Ok, so I didn’t HAVE to, but I had promised Meagan I would make her a uniform skirt back several months ago, and she really wanted it for the first day of school. I just finished it before I sat down to type this post up, and when I snipped the last threads and looked at it, I realized I messed up the pleating HORRIBLY!! =*(

Not in the pressing of them. That I could’ve fixed. In the sewing. I don’t know how I managed to do it, but the front pleats are not quite centered correctly (well, neither are the back ones…they are actually worse), and then on top of that the front and back pleats don’t even come close to matching!

The design of the skirt is such that it has a center solid ‘flap’ with 2 pleats on either side. Well, in the front the center piece is the correct size, and the pleats are just fine, except the whole thing is off-center. In the back, though….!!! The center section is at LEAST half again as wide as it is supposed to be, if not double! I don’t have a clue how I managed that, since I marked the pleats on both the front and back at the exact same time and in the exact same places (I marked one off the other, so I know they matched).

I feel like such a dunce and am so totally NOT happy at ALL with the final product, obviously, BUT it is going to remain the way it is. I can’t stand even thinking that, but it’s got to. For one thing, to undo all the stitching it would require to get back to the point at which I could rearrange the pleating, would take a couple of hours at least (which I don’t have). It would actually be much simpler and quicker to just start over from scratch. Problem with that is I have no more fabric! Last year she switched to wearing just skirts for her school uniform, so I just took the top of the jumpers off instead of buying new skirts. That’s how I had the fabric. She only had two jumpers, and it took almost every bit of both pieces to make the skirt for the doll. All that’s left is the skinny bits that came down from the shoulders and met in the front at the waist to make a V.

So, Samantha will just have to live with a VERY asymmetrical (and not in a fashionable way, either) school uniform skirt. Somebody doesn’t like it, they’ll just have to learn to deal, ’cause I’m not spending any more time or effort on a skirt for a DOLL! lol

I’m still not even done with the back-to-school sewing, though, believe it or not. Tomorrow I need to make said doll a blue uniform shirt! Plus, I think all but *maybe* one pair of Meagan’s 458 pairs of culottes need mending. *sigh* If I’m feeling real frisky or insane, I’ll probably end up making Meagan and her doll hair scrunchies out of the scraps I have left.

In other news… =)   Mike went to church with us last Sunday am. He came to Sunday School with me, and left towards the end to come home and get the Strong’s Concordance. He tried to start/have a conversation/question with my SS teacher between SS and worship service. It didn’t work out so well, though, since my SS teacher is also the music director and he was already running late getting up to the podium! LOL

So, instead, he agreed to let him come by Thurs eve (before he had to leave for work) and answer his questions and talk then. Marcy, my best friend (and adopted sis!), came by and picked the kids and I up and we went to her place while her hubby came over and talked with Mike! This was so totally a work of God. Not even 6mo ago when Marcy and I brought up the idea of David coming over and talking with him, Mike had said there was no point, it wouldn’t do any good, he wouldn’t do it.

Then, THIS week, Mike came to Sun pm service with us! =) He’d actually told me last week (before the first time he came) that he would attend with us on Sun am for 2-3mo to see if it would make any kind of difference or help at all with Matthew’s attitude/respectfulness/discipline. So this week was sorta kinda a cheat. lol In the morning when it was time to leave he bailed saying he was just too tired and not up to it, but that he would go with us that night (which, of course, he did).

When he told me he’d start coming to church with us, I almost fainted! When he said he’d KEEP coming, I thought for sure I would have a heart attack! I didn’t get my hopes up, though, because… well… this was MIKE coming to a BAPTIST church we were talking about.  I wasn’t going to hold my breath, ya know. Nor was I going to truly believe it until I saw it… which, praise the Lord, I did!

I thank the Lord that Mike is giving this a go! It’s a HUGE blessing and borders on being miraculous, really. I’m so proud of him for following through thus far! =)

Speaking of being proud of him… I’m also one proud puppy over the way (and the length of time it took) he got our busted hot water heater replaced with a brand new one. Especially since it required running a new electric line (it’s direct wired to a breaker, not plugged into an outlet). We were only without hot water for about a week and a half. MAJOR improvement over the 2 years it took to fix the ginormous holes in the floors so the bathtub could be put back in the bathroom! LOL

In other, other news… I am officially without a Lyme doctor again. Mine retired the end of last month. =(  I’ve already started running out of different meds, which is not cool. It is totally not cool, because running out of them, is leading to symptoms flaring back up. =(  First I ran out of Mepron, right about a month ago. Within a week, I was having bad headaches again, as well as night sweats and muscle cramps and bone and joint pain. Prior to running out I had NONE of those except some mild joint aches in the morning when I first woke up. After he added the Plaquenil to my mix, I was feeling almost human again. Well, really MOSTLY human. I did great on vacation and was doing just as well until the Mepron ran out.

We took a weekend trip down to Austin a couple of weeks back (after I ran out of the Mepron) to see my very talented cousin, Scott, perform in the Zilker Musical. This year’s presentation was Annie, and Scott got to shave his head bald and play Daddy Warbucks! LOL The play was GREAT, but *I* was not.

We left Friday and were supposed to camp. We didn’t, though. When we got to the campsite (around 12am) it was soooo covered in brush that Mike decided it would be far too dangerous. So off we went to find another campsite. We drove around Lake Travis on back roads that went UP and DOWN and curved around so much they literally had switchbacks in several places for like 3hr! Then we drove around some more for another several hours. All the campsites were either full or locked, so we ended up parking at a WalMart at about 5am to try and catch a couple of hours of sleep before the campgrounds opened back up.

The driving seriously MESSED ME UP! It wreaked absolute havoc on my central nervous system. I was sooo dizzy and off balance and edgy and I don’t even know what all. My CNS was just so irritated!! When we got to the campground, I could barely walk. I was soooo sick and weak! Then after we pitched the tent, we attempted to sleep until time for the play. I couldn’t. The heat was unbearable.

My muscles in my leg and back were cramped up so bad by the time we got home that I couldn’t straighten my leg at all. I was stuck in bed for 3 days! This after a 2 night trip. We were gone for 10 nights when we went to Arkansas and I didn’t have any problems at all and didn’t need any recovery time!

Then last week, after church on Sun and class on Monday night, I was stuck in bed all day Tues. Too sick to move. I’m backsliding, or relapsing, or whatever you want to call it so quick it’s not even funny. =(

I don’t know what I’m going to do. Hopefully I won’t get too much worse before we can figure out what to do about a doctor.

YIKES! It’s almost 3am now. I guess I’d better go take my meds and climb in the bed!

Jan-May and then… VACATION!

Jan – SICK

Feb – SICK

Mar – started Mepron, Cipro, and Zithromax, quit rifampin. SICK

Apr- hmm, feeling not so tired, still HURT. Added Plaquenil.

May- hmm, now not very achy, but TIRED.

June- vacation in Arkansas. 9 days/8 nights in Hot Springs, 4  days/3 nights in Ft. Smith… surprisingly FEEL PRETTY DECENT other than the amusement park day.

Now it’s July and I’m still feeling pretty good.  I did have to take a week to recover after vacation, but it wasn’t a hard recovery. I am SO much better than I was 2yr ago!

I can remember being out in the sun for 2hr, just long enough to have a teensy un-birthday party for Meagan in May of 2008 and I literally couldn’t MOVE to get out of bed for almost 2 full days. It was on a Friday, and I was barely creeping around Sunday evening.

Granted this was technically JUNE, but we left on the 6th, so it was real close to right at 2yr later. We drove to Hot Springs, which alone would have done me in 2yr ago. Then most days we were out and about all day. We spent a day walking around Little Rock. We played mini-golf (yes in the sun!). We spent a day and a half walking around Hot Springs. We spent a full day at a science museum, and another at an amusement park (again with the sun!), and then at the END we camped for 3 days and 2 nights!! In between there were lots of smaller museums, lots of shops/shopping, lots of swimming, and all kinds of other stuff!

We got back on a Thursday afternoon. Friday I went to Mom’s and spent the day there. I was in church Sunday AM and PM both!! (First AM service I’ve made it to in about 6mo!) I did, however, spend the next week (which happened to be VBS…no I did NOT volunteer this year) sitting in my recliner, “recuperating”. =)

Aside from being VERY exhausted and moderately swollen after the amusement park (no sunburn, as I wore a big floppy hat), and the HORRID night I had with my eyes protesting the WAY too chlorinated pool at the hotel, I came through that vacation unscathed!

There is absolutely NO WAY I could have done any of that 2 yr ago. Truth be told, when Mike and I first started talking about maybe doing a vacation this year back in Feb, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do anything at all besides stay in the bed at the hotel. We decided from the get-go to take Dad’s old wheelchair with us so that I could maybe at least do a museum or two. Ended up the only time it was used was as extra seating when we were camping!

I thank and praise God for that vacation and the memories we were able to make with the kids. We didn’t end up with very many GOOD pictures, but we sure did have a lot of fun. The kids got to go to a water park for the first time, and they both rode a roller coaster for the first time. Actually they rode ALL the coasters… some more than once! I didn’t ride anything except the mini-cars and the log flume; mostly I was the pack mule (the kids got souvenir cups, and then after several, several dollars spent on a game on the midway they each got a stuffed animal with a Magic Springs t-shirt on it), but that was ok, because I didn’t care to ride anything. I just wanted my kiddos to have fun and be ‘regular kids’ for awhile.

I must admit, I did spoil them rotten while we were on vacation, though. Hey! Who says you can’t spoil your own kids for short intervals of time? *wink*

They got little souvenirs nearly every place we went. I spent more $ on things that I would normally never have spent so much on. I bought things I would never have bought at all. Each kiddo had almost $50 in spending money to start with (mostly from helping a neighbor down the street, but they each got a 10 spot from me for helping clean the house before we went), and even after they went through all of that, I still kept buying them stuff. LOL

I know as a kid we never had that kind of spending $, and whatever $ we DID have, any and ALL souvenirs came out of that. Once it was gone, it was gone. Looking back I don’t mind so much, but I know at the time I thought it was  a rotten deal, and it made me feel all the more poor and made me worry all the more about our financial situation at home.

I spent so much partly because of that, and partly just because I LOVE  The spending $ on kids. In the 2-3 weeks before we left Mike kept expressing his concern that we would have enough money to even GO on vacation, let alone do anything once we were there.

The kids are so different! Meagan was never bothered. She just trusted we would go and we’d have fun. Really she was only interested in a pool and coasters anyway. We didn’t tell either kid what we were going to do, but she knew I’d promised one night in a hotel with a pool, so she was happy. She wasn’t even all that concerned with having spending $, though she certainly would have changed her tune had we gone and Matthew had $, but she did not!

Matthew on the other hand… he’s so much more mature intellectually that he was near panicked by the end of the last week before we left. He was in tears many times, worried about whether we would even get to go. Right up until the day before we left he wasn’t *really* sure we were going on vacation, despite my assuring him over and over that yes, we had the $, and yes we would get to go. I couldn’t get Mike to keep his concerns out of eyesight or earshot of the boy, so it didn’t really become real to him until  we were there at the hotel. Poor kid!

We did have a bit of behavior problems with Matt a time or two. Mostly because he was SO excited to be able to swim in a pool that he didn’t want to go do anything else. He wanted to be in the pool all day every day and sometimes got upset when we said no to swimming because we were going to go somewhere.

The kids did most of the ‘doing’, but then that’s because momma has been pretty well an invalid for the last 3yr and daddy is such an old geezer. LOL They got to do some unique stuff, though. We let them ride up to the tip top of a mountain tower on Hot Springs Mountain by themselves. They rode all the coasters by themselves, of course, too. They even “virtually” rode a coaster in outer space! In one of the shops, the got to ‘mine’ for gemstones and keep what they found. They shopped all on their own lots of places, and Mike and I pretty much followed them around the science museum where all the exhibits were interactive. They rode bumper cars several times, and played a bunch of different video and midway games. They also got to ride go-carts. Matt wasn’t quite tall enough to drive (so the guys had a cart together), but Meg was.

They came home with so much loot! Gemstones and games, and toys, and trinkets, and even t-shirts from the science museum. And jewelry! Oh the jewelry! Granted Matt didn’t care much for this aspect of the trip, but even he got a few pieces. These new-fangled “silly bands” things? I bought a pack from an overpriced toy store for them to split. Even had some glow-in-the-dark ones. (They also got an overpriced Travel book of games there.)

For Meagan and I, probably the highlight of the trip (ok, for Meg it was prob the pool and the coasters, but this was definitely 3rd!) was a jewelry store called Charmed! in Hot Springs.

I first saw it because it was next to a Cato store which I wanted to stop in and look around in having never been to a Cato store before, and having some spending $ of my own. (I made up about 10 pairs of culottes for my best friend’s oldest girls just before we left.) I saw the sign and thought “oh boy, keep Meg outta there! I’m sure everything in there is outrageous!”

We went to Cato and I tried on several skirts. I settled on a beautiful white linen skirt (size 10!!) and a very pretty hot pink plaid belted shirt. Under $30! Not too shabby! When we came out, Meg begged to go to the jewelry store. I started walking that way ONLY because past the jewelry shop was an ice cream parlor and I thought we might get ice cream.

As we got close to the door, though, I noticed a sign in the window that said “all jewelry $1”! My next thought was they were either going out of business or else it was a junk 99cent kind of store.

Wrong on both counts! They had the CUTEST stuff! All kinds of different styles, and a fair amount was completely metal-free! I ended up buying several pieces for Mom, a couple for Meg and I, and Matthew bought each of my best friend’s 3 girls (he has a crush on the middle one, ).

They also had grab bags for a dollar that had either 2 or 3 pieces of the $1 jewelry in them. A LOT of the pieces were actually SETS, too. Not just in the grab bags, but throughout the store. Like a necklace and earrings, or 2 bracelets, or earrings and bracelet, etc. Meg and I were hooked. We went back I think 3 more times and in the end we bought several pieces for each of us and Mom, as well as a couple of pieces each for my best friend, her sister, their mom, and their 5 girls. Oh, and about 25 grab bags all together! LOL

From the grab bags, we picked what we wanted and then once we got back and handed stuff out, we let my friends got through and pick out what they liked for themselves and the older two girls.

All in all we had a blast, and Mike has even said that he thinks we ought to go camping for a night or two at a time more often throughout the summer.

Like I said before, the first week back the kids had VBS from 7pm-9pm. They spent most of the next week at Mom’s, and stayed at a friend’s one night. Then Monday am (it’s Wed night now), they left for summer camp up in Oklahoma. They’ll be back Friday afternoon sometime. Busy summer for them so far!

The only bad news since Jan is that my Lyme doctor is retiring at the end of this month (July). This is a very scary proposition, since the next closest specialist is WAY out-of-state. I may be doing a lot better, but my symptoms are by no means completely gone. I am not well enough to stop antibiotic treatment, and yet I may not have a choice once I run out of the prescriptions I currently have. I pray that I don’t relapse much or very quickly once that happens. Relapsing is inevitable, but hopefully I won’t be as bad as I was 2yr ago for a long, long time. Regardless, I thank the Lord for the last couple of months of feeling mostly ‘back to normal’. I’m so glad, too, that we were able to go on vacation during this period of relatively good health.


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