Sunday, November 30, 2008

Update On My New Job

Well, I made through my first week of my new job! It's been really fun. I'm not learning the camera room yet, so after the pictures have been taken they're sent to me and I enhance them, then show them to the customers and help them pick out what they want. They've told me I'm doing really well and am a fast learner. (who knew?!)

I'm having fun doing it, and so far have worked there everyday I'm not working at the Church. It's usually 5-8 hours a day. So, John and the kids have pitched in to help keep the house picked up and everyone fed, etc. Saturday while I was at work, John, Kyle & the girls cleaned the house and rearranged the furniture to get it ready to put the Christmas tree up. (We usually put it up Thanksgiving weekend, but with me working, we weren't able to yet, hopefully we will be able to decorate this week.) They even made me a special dinner when I got home. So, so far, so good! ;)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Busiest Shopping Day Of The Year

Those of you who know me, know I am NOT a morning person! Except for one day a year. The day after Thanksgiving. I get up before the crack of dawn and go shopping. Yes, I'm one of those crazy people! But it's so much fun!

In Michigan I actually talked a friend into going with me. (Miss you Linda). Sometimes I go with family, sometimes I just go alone. I've even gotten up, gone shopping for a couple of hours, came home, gotten back in bed, before anyone else was up.

So, who's with me?

Happy Shopping!

Sent from my BlackBerry Smartphone provided by Alltel

An Attitude of Gratitude

As parents, we've all had those talks with our kids, like before every Birthday party, or Holiday party where they may receive gifts. You know the talk, it goes something like . . . "Now remember, never say things like 'I already have this one', or 'This wasn't what I wanted', always be grateful that your friend came to your party and brought you a gift, that was so nice of them. Always say Thank you. You can always worry about the gift later, if it needs to be returned, then we'll just pick something else out, you don't have to tell your guest that. (I guess unless your a re-gifter, than you just saved yourself from shopping for the next party! But I wouldn't share that either.) We want our kids to display an Attitude of Gratitude. To be grateful for all the wonderful things in life. Not to take them for granted, or expect to be given everything.

And one day a year we all get that reminder, Thanksgiving. It's a day for us to reflect on all the blessings in life. To slow down and say Thank You. And we all have so much to be thankful for. Weather you go around the table and have everyone say what they are thankful for before you eat, or eat while watching the parade or football game, take the time to share with someone what your thankful for this Thanksgiving day. And always try to keep that Attitude of Gratitude.

Here is a partial list of what I'm thankful for today: My Husband, My Children, Family, Health, Jobs, the Love of God, Being an American and Freedom. Oh yeah, and finding great gifts for great prices! (Christmas is coming!) ; ) What are you thankful for?

Monday, November 24, 2008

I'm Saucy! Who Knew!

So, yesterday while I'm sitting in Church, my BlackBerry starts lighting up like crazy saying I have all these E-mails of comments on my Blog. And I'm thinking "what in the world is up with that?!" Well, I am so honored that what is up is that my Blog has been selected as a "Saucy Blog" from the ladies over at The Secret Is In The Sauce Blog group. How cool is that. So all this week I'll have visitors checking out my Blog and leaving me tons of comments. It's so much fun! I hope you all like reading my Blog as much as I like writing it. And find me saucy enough to come back and visit me once in awhile.

I also started my new job today! My brain is tired from absorbing all this new information I'm learning. (And they say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, well they haven't meet this old dog!) What a great way to start out my week. New Blogosphere friends and a new job. I have a lot to be thankful for.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Dear Mother Nature

I don't know why you think this is so funny, it's not. Yet you continue to play all these "little tricks" on me. And quite frankly I'm sick of it! First of all every time I look at my daughters beautiful skin I'm reminded that mine no longer looks like that. Could you ease up on the lines and wrinkles, not to mention the sun spots. (Why didn't you worn me about those all throughout my teenage years, as I was laying out, seeking that color from you? How Rude! You just let me lay there, rubbing baby oil on my skin. I'm much smarter now, my kids don't swim without sunblock, so there.)

And another thing, I have twin girls fast approaching adolescence. That in itself could send anyone over the deep end. But it's not enough for you, no, you thought it would be oh so hilarious to plan that at around the same time I should be fast approaching going out the other side. The thought of Puberty and Menopause in the same household at the same time. Good one! Now I'm all in favor of a good practical joke, but this is too much! How can I put a stop to both of those things? Get back to me on that ASAP would ya?!

I have a few other bones to pick with you as well. I, who have never worn glasses in my life, and have perfect vision, broke down and bought those little magnifying glasses for reading. Not Funny! I only wear them in my house, but this better not get any worse. And whats the point of making things saggy that use to be "perky"? I liked it much better the other way.

I'm here to try to convince you to change your ways. Undo those mean things you've done to me and all my friends. It's not too late to turn over a new leaf. Please. Forgiveness is yours for the asking.

Sincerely, Star*

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My New Job

I got a new job! "Yeah Me!"

I was just hired by the Portrait Studio in Sears, for the Holidays. I'm so excited, I love to take pictures, and now I'll be getting paid for doing it! It will be invaluable experience and training for me. It's just part time on the days I'm not working at the Church. And the way I love to shop (especially for Christmas) the extra income will be a huge blessing!

To all those who've been praying for me and my job pursuit I just have two things to say: Thank You, and It Worked! It's really "Yeah God!", not yeah me. I start on Monday. Now if we can just find Kyle a job. And I'm sure the people I encounter while working there will make for some fun (and funny) Blog posts. Stay tuned.

Have you taken your Christmas pictures yet? (We haven't, but I am thinking about it! does that count?)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

How To Help Children Cope With Death

Since we've been dealing with this in our family, I've been thinking a lot about it. And I have a friend from church who just lost her mother, which is her young son's first encounter with death. (We're praying for you Christyl!) And I also have two good friends who are facing losing a parent and Grandparent and have young children as well who will face this for the first time. (Dana and Tammy, I'm praying for you too) And as parents we not only deal with the loss to ourselves, but we hurt all the more watching our kids go through it. So, I thought I'd share a few of the things I've learned as we walked through it.

The most important thing is that everyone grieves differently. There is no right way, and there is no wrong way. It can be as individual as we are from each other. Some people cry, some scream, some get angry, some just sit quietly, the list could go on and on.

For my kids, their first real encounter with death was when we lost my sister 7 years ago. She died of cancer in her 40's. She and I were very close, and she was very close to my kids as well. They loved their Aunt Debbie! Then 2 years after Debbie, my Dad, who my kids loved more than life and were extremely close to as well, passed away. It was heart breaking to say the least, for our entire family. Then 2 years after that, we lost John's sister, unexpectedly, to heart failure at the young age of 47. Aunt Linda was gone too.

There is no protocol as to how to get through something like this. You just have to do what you feel is best for your children and your family. I found myself doing things I never thought I would do, and even probably said I'd never do. For example, I am a photographer, I love taking pictures and capturing memories. So it was just natural for me, when I realized this is the last opportunity I will ever have to take a picture of this person that I love so much, I wanted pictures. So, at the funerals I asked all my family if it bothered anyone if I took pictures of the deceased. They all knew it meant a lot to me and said of course I could. Before that I never thought I would have. And at first I looked at those pictures a lot. Now I never do. But, I'm still glad I know that I have them. I've heard people say they could never do that, that's not how they want to remember the person they love. And I understand that. But, I also know that I don't think of my kids only as they are in their last school picture. Your memories are vast and span a lifetime, and will continue to do so. You might think that's disgusting to take pictures at a funeral, and that's okay. What's right for me, may not be right for you, and the other way around. You do what you need to do to get through it.

People want to know if you should take children to funerals. I feel like probably not babies, but if your child is old enough to sit through a service quietly and they know the person and are old enough to remember, they absolutely should go. Just like we as adults need that time to say goodbye, and to morn, children do as well. You know your child and what they can handle. And I would say Don't hide it from them, and don't force it on them either way. I feel like it's okay for them to miss one day of school in their life time for the chance to say goodbye for the last time to someone they love.

When they have questions, try to answer them as best as you can. I try to not make up stories just to make us feel better that aren't really true, like telling my kids that the person they love has now become our guardian angel. If you are a Bible believing family (which we are) the Bible is very clear that angels were created to be angels, and people were created to be people "a little higher than the angels" and "in the very image of God," and just because we pass from this life to the next, doesn't mean we change species. We talk about how that person is now in heaven, and as the Bible says, they will never feel pain again! That is Awesome! Especially if someone suffered. They will never cry or be sad ever again. And best of all, they are with Jesus! There is nothing better than that! Even though we miss them terribly, and are sad here, they are in a much better place. I bought my kids a book written by Maria Shriver, that she wrote for her children when they lost their Grandmother. It's called "What's Heaven?" It might not be theologically sound, but it's a good book for helping young kids understand what's happening.

Another thing I thought I would never do is visit the cemetery. I would drive by one and see people out there and think those poor, ignorant people, the person they're missing isn't really there in the cemetery, they're in heaven. But then I realized you don't go for that person, we go for us. Every couple of years, it's usually my mom, but it has been one of my brothers on occasion, will mention that they'd like us all to go. So, we'll go. This past Saturday was one of those times. It had been a couple of years since we've done this. We all met at my Dad's grave sight (about 30 of us) then we went out to lunch and then over to my sister's grave sight. We cry, we laugh, we talk and remember. Sometimes we might read a verse from the Bible, this time we sang "Amazing Grace" and "I'll fly away," then some of the younger girls sang the song "I miss you" that Miley Cyrus wrote about her grandpa that died. It was beautiful. And I thought "I wonder what people driving by are thinking about us right now?" and then I realized I didn't really care.

Every time we go, Kyle who was very close to his grandpa, as soon as we pull up in the cemetery, starts to quietly sob, and does so the entire time we are there. Others might shed a tear or two, some don't cry at all. And that's all okay. Again, everyone is different. And we respect and support each other, and offer love and comfort. After all that's what families are for. It's okay for your kids to see you cry and upset. Don't try to hide it from them, they are more observant than we think, they already know. Just let them know your missing that person right now, and that you'll be okay.

Also, I want to mention that some kids want to leave something there. Especially, It seems like, the newer the death and/or the younger the child, they NEED to leave something of themselves behind. So prepare for that. Weather it's flowers, a Christmas ornament, or something they've made. This time my girls made Thanksgiving cards. One time, close to Christmas, we decided to leave a Reindeer antenna ball we got from Jack-in-the-box. That may seem funny to you, but Grandpa was a truck driver and he loved Christmas. We thought it was the perfect thing! It can be anything. You can pick out flowers together with your child, or choose something they think reminds them of that person. Even if they say they don't want to bring anything, they may change their mind once they get there. So, one thing you can do is tear a page out of a coloring book that they colored and put it in your purse, then when they start to get upset they didn't bring something, you can say, "I have this picture you colored, do you want to write on it To Grandpa (or whoever it's for) and leave it here? He would have loved to see your picture." I don't know what it is, but it just makes kids feel better to leave something there. My kids have left pieces of Jewelry they were wearing before as well. And whatever you leave, even if it's artificial flowers, don't expect it to be there the next time you come back. Between grounds keepers and the weather, etc. it won't be. Don't let it upset you, just know ahead of time.

One thing I did for our kids (and my mom) on the first Christmas after we lost my dad was to get them each a collage picture frame & put in it pictures of them with my dad. They are all still hanging in their rooms. I also blew up a picture I took the last Thanksgiving Linda was alive of John's parents and all his siblings together, and framed them and gave one to each family member. You can also get a special 'Grandpa' or 'Aunt', (etc.) ornament for your Christmas tree, and each year as you hang it up you talk about them and remember together. Another thing I have done is to create a special memory box. It can be a shoe box or a hat box, whatever size you need. And in the box I keep photos of that person, all the sympathy cards people have sent me, the program from the funeral, newspaper clippings. Dried flowers from the funeral. And with my sister, I had many cards & letters that she'd written to me over the years, I love having things in her handwriting. I now have a Grandpa Box, a Debbie Box and a Linda Box. And if my kids ever need a picture of Grandpa for a school project or something I know right were they are.

And please remember there is no right way or wrong way to handle a death of someone you love. You just get through it the best that you can for you and your family. I have learned that talking about it helps much more than it hurts. It's okay to be honest with yourself and your children about how much your hurting and that you know they are hurting. It does get easier with time. But it never completely goes away. And we wouldn't want it to!

I'm including some pictures from this past Saturday, for my family members that couldn't be there. If it bothers you feel free not to look. Remember I love to take pictures and capture the moment in time.

My family, my mom, three of my brothers and their families
& some of my sisters kids and grandkids.

Kyle thinking of Grandpa.

My mom with her grandkids & great-grandkids.

One of my sisters grand-babies that she never got to meet.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Senior Year - Part 3

Well, this week we had to order Kyle's Cap & Gown, and his Graduation announcements. Ouch! I guess it's official now. (Besides the actual Graduating part, that is! Some years we may have worried about that, but, this year he has all really good grades!)

How did this happen?! And, more importantly, how can I stop it?! I've really loved all the stages of life with my kids, and now, watching Kyle grow into the man God created him to be, but somewhere deep down inside I want to go back to this graduation . . . and stop time.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Speech Easy

When my girls were little, whenever they finished a sentence, whoever they were talking to would automatically look at me to interpret what was just said. A lot of twins seem to be delayed in their speech. It seems that they tend to be a little behind their single born peers in this area. Although, they can carry on conversations with each other that no one else can understand. So, I had them tested at about the age of 3 or 4.

So, since they've been in pre-school, they have been in speech therapy. Everyone can pretty much understand them now, and I no longer have to interpret what they say. Well, they are in Fifth grade this year and Erica has just graduated out of speech! Congratulations Erica! Great Job! All your hard work has paid off. And Lexi shouldn't be far behind either, she is just working on one last sound. (R)

I'm so grateful to the public school system that offers speech & other help to kids who need it, free of charge. I don't think that on a Pastor's salary we could have paid for private speech therapy sessions for two children, for 7 or 8 years. It's just one more thing that makes this country great!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

"It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year"

Last night at 5:00 pm my favorite Radio station (K-EZ 99.9) started playing Christmas music! They are the Holiday station, and will play only Christmas music from now through Christmas. Woo Hoo! Those of you who know me, know I love all things Christmas! I know some of you (you know who you are, and I love you anyway) think it's too early for Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. But I say it's never too early. (I would put up my decorations before Halloween if my husband would let me. I'm a freak, I know.) But, even in the summer in Phoenix, when it's 120 degrees, if a store is having a 'Christmas In July' sale and you hear just a snippet of Jingle Bells, it just lifts your spirits and makes you happy.

The other day John, Kyle & I walked into Sams Club and I actually clapped out loud because they were playing Christmas music. I came home the other night and my girls, all excited, said "Mom, we saw two Christmas Commercials!" Because they knew that would make me happy. I've told my family, that no matter what time of year it is when I leave this earth for heaven, at my funeral they have to play "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" as my final song, or last words, to all my family and friends. "It's the hap-happiest season of all!" and it's starting. I love it. Yeah!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Remembering Grandpa

Yesterday was the 5 year anniversary of my Dad going to Heaven. He was the best Dad/Grandpa that any one could have. I'm so blessed to be his daughter. He was always singing & dancing around. He loved his family, especially his grandkids more than anything, and always took them for walks, or to the store to buy them something. Gifts was his love language. People always said about him that he would give you the shirt off his own back. He was always giving.

My kids were all very close to him, and still talk about him and how much they miss him. And laugh about his driving, or funny things he did. Any time the song 'Dance with my Father' by Luthor Vandross comes on the radio the kids all yell "turn it up, turn it up!" and then it gets really quiet in the car as we all sing along & think about him. Any one who knew him, loved him. We can't wait to be together again in heaven some day!

Giving me Away

Kyle with his favorite person on earth

Zach and Grandpa

Erica & Lexi going for a swim with Papa

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

This Moment In History

Yesterday was a very historical vote for our country. Both tickets had a "first". As I was hoping would happen, we could have put the first woman in the vice presidency. But, just as exciting, is putting the first black man in the presidency. Both are great for all man kind. This is such an amazing moment in our country's history!

I stood outside a poling place all day yesterday, conducting an exit pole. And I was amazed to meet people older than myself who this was their first time voting, ever. And more young people voted than ever before. That is amazing to me. And all day as I stood there, I prayed for God's will to be done in this election.

The Bible, God's written word, says in Romans 13:1 "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God." We need to pray for, and support our president. That's what this family is going to do.

Change, though it may be scary, is a positive thing. This is the greatest country in the world. I am proud to be an American.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Tomorrow Is An Important Day!

VOTE! Tomorrow is the day. Finally. (I can't wait for all the adds to end.) I vote early because I work an Exit Poll. (It's money for my day after Thanksgiving shopping fund! Woo Hoo!) Though if I didn't have to, I wouldn't vote early, because I really enjoy being out there with the people, I think voting is fun. Kyle will be voting for the first time in his life, and he's really excited about it. And I am too. We should all do our part.

You've been given a Voice, use it.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Twins from Different Decades

We didn't buy any Halloween costumes this year. I told the kids we were only gonna use what we already have. With the financial crisis and everything going on, I can think of better ways to spend our money. And we have a huge bin full of costumes from Halloween's and costume party's gone by. So we got creative. Lexi decided she wanted to be a 60's hippie Girl! And all Erica knew was that she wanted her hair pink! And I Love The 80's! So, that is how I ended up with twins from different decades. Take a look . . .