New Year's Resolutions...

My DH asked the question during the Sunday School class this past Sunday. What do you have for a New Year's Resolution?

The rest of the class didn't hesitate and I was left with nothing to say...

I guess I have been too busy with all of the things that needed to get done for the holidays to think about the end of the year.

I typically do not do too much for New Year's never have. The kids always seem to get into the spirit of the event, but it is too taxing for me to even think about staying up that late...

I like to have written out long and short term goals and find that I can accomplish quite abit if I have the goals written down or even spend some time thinking about what is a priority for me.

I do know that a priority for me is to get my haircut. I have not cut my hair since before my littlest DS was born. I have a mass of hair and never like to do anything with it, so it typically is pulled back and up. I was hoping to get a haircut squeezed in before the holidays, but just couldn't find the time...

So I resolve to get my hair cut!

There, I have one goal at least verbalized, now I will have to contemplate additional goals and get them written down.

I know of one major goal that I should have and have family members begging me to do...but haven't been able to commit to placing that as a priority for me...I guess I know how hard it will be...so please pray for me and having the resolve to finally establish a much needed personal priority, yet unnamed and written down....

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Happy Holidays 2008

Wow, we are having a wonderful Christmas and Holiday season for 2008! I hope you are also.

The best thing about the season is being able to see and spend some really nice time with your family and loved ones. I and my family have been fortunate to have been able to drive/visit/host several family members over the Thanksgiving/Christmas time.

Next we are on to some New Year festivities in the Dallas area with my brother-in-law and their family, plus squeezing in some more visiting time in with our oldest daughter and her husband and our two older children in the Dallas area.

Talk about a whirlwind.

Our teenage son has been squeezing in some quality time with saxophone practice here and there, plus enjoying so much quality time with his older siblings, who we get to see too little of during the year.

Our littlest is getting into the swing of things with the gifts. He had no interest in actually opening the presents, just set them out for him to play with and explore. I don't think that there was one gift that he didn't actually love. He really got into playing with his new Learning Bus, firetruck and his learning pad.

One of our traditions at our house is to decorate Christmas cookies, my teenage son has loved this activity over the years and we were really looking forward to starting the tradition with my littlest. He participated by standing on the stepstool and eating cookies, couldn't get him to sprinkle cookies or even decorate cookies, but he did stand there quietly eating away. My two younger sons are so....different in their interests.

My littlest did have a meltdown during the experience, he got some frosting on his finger and got very upset until we could get it cleaned off.

Now, I am talking about the kid who on Christmas Day jumped into the dog's water dish with his best clothes on then proceeded to play and roll around in the dirt and eat mud and dirt pies!!! He only had a meltdown when he got cookie frosting on his finger!!! Gotta love it...

Here are a few photos, click on this link to be able to view some more Christmas 2008.

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Angel Food Ministry

My family and I are blessed to be able to participate in the Angel Food Ministries through our local church. We as a family have participated by purchasing some of the meals to help with our food budget and needs over the past year and now we get to have a local site and also serve other people who participate.

It is a really good program. Our church had over 47 families served last month with over 100 boxes being distributed. This month we will be handing out some more items on this coming Saturday!

The day starts awful early for my DH who willingly gets up at 4:30am and bundles up with longjohns etc. to make an over 1 1/2 hour drive to the nearest large city to pick up the churches order, load the items and also help load up the over 12 churches who are also picking up and then heading back to our church and unloading everything for us to sort and deliver.

The ministry takes alot of effort by several people and we had an abundant showing up of willing servers. It is anticipated that our ministry even in our town of only 2500 will grow to be about 1000 boxes ordered each month!!! Wow...

Check out the national link for Angel Food Ministry and see if you and your family could participate as well.

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Reuse Thrifty Tip

The Thrifty Mama has a really neat posting that I just had to share...

Maybe I am the only person that has a ton of these type of hangers just hanging around in my closet...but this idea really hit home. I have hated to throw them away because they are so sturdy, but I don't really have that many skirts or other items to hang up in my closet, I typically fold as many items as I can.

But, I do have a ton of items that I could use a clip for in my pantry. So I tried this suggestion and it really works!!! So I am going to be destroying most of my free hangers and making lots of clips to have around for a much needed occasion.

One other suggestion, I don't hang my laundry out to dry but I think this idea would work well to hang out items on a clothesline as well.

What do you think?

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How To Save During The Holidays?

Since my DH and I started Conquering Debt God's Way
last year right before Christmas we were presented with the unique challenge of paying our full 10% tithe from our gross salaries and still survive during the Christmas season...

I know that is probably not the term that one would want to use to describe the holiday season, but sometimes that is what it feels like so...I was thoughtful and a little anxious about how this was going to be pulled off.

I have to tell you that little surprises and ideas just seemed to come out of nowhere sometimes, hmmmm. One of the biggest suggestions that I read about that helped us out immensely at that time was the idea of redeeming your frequent flyer miles.

A few years back my family was able to travel to Europe roundtrip and my teenage son and I were also priviledged to be able to travel to Japan roundtrip. I know it was unique, but I had signed up for frequent flyer miles through American Airlines and we flew on this airline for both of our trips.

I didn't think much about the points, but they were just sitting out there, then I read a tip in a frugal website about redeeming your frequent flyer miles through points.com

To my amazement, it really added up!!! We were able to get about $300 worth of giftcards with no hassle or fees. They arrived just in time for Christmas gift giving.

This might be a little late for some people to use this Christmas season, but birthdays and special gift giving needs arrive throughout the year.

Or, how about just treating yourself to something that you might use more than frequent flyer miles?

We were able to get gift certificates to Red Lobster, Nike, Steak and Ale, Target and others, the selection was vast. Check it out and see...

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My Teenage Son Has Been Selected As A High School Aerospace Scholar!!!

I had mentioned in a previous posting about my teenage DS agreeing to apply for the High School Aerospace Program.

He received an email today and was congratulated on being nominated by his state legislature for a spot in the program!!!

He is kinda' shocked and feeling overwhelmed when I reminded him that he will need to complete 10 lessons due every two weeks starting in January.

His nomination to participate in the summer onsite program at NASA in Houston will be based on his performance and scores received on the projects that will be due. I hope the projects interest him and he is motivated to complete them.

He loves Science and one of the reasons I thought this might interest him is the advanced challenges that he might be facing with the modules and lessons. He is not always challenged in his current High School academic program and that frustrates him.

He has been struggling lately with trying to see what type of programs in college might interest him. He didn't receive the type of score that he would have liked on his PSAT exam...But the good thing is that it has motivated him to ask to be assigned to work his last period of the day in the library where they have the Kaplan review program for the SAT test. He wants to improve his knowledge and test taking skills to be placed higher in their ranking system.

So he has alot more challenges to face, but I am thrilled that he is being offered this unique learning experience!

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Crawford Designs

I have to take a moment to brag about mia familia. I am blessed to have the good fortune of having a sister-in-law who has a wonderful design site and tremendous products! She is a gifted artist, talented instructor and the list just goes on and on...

She is amazing and it is fun to have watched her skills and talents develop over all of these years.

Here are just a few of her new items on her site, but there is so much more. Check out her site and see for yourself...CrawfordDesigns.

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Busy, Busy, busy....

My family and I have had a very jam packed filled couple of weeks. We had several events that we celebrated over the weekend, a very nice fellowship at our home with our Sunday School class members, Lions Club member dinner and prep for their Santa Claus activity at the local Primary and Elementary school, and finally our church Christmas Cantata and our special candlelight service where we have our Lottie Moon offerings presented, followed by our Birthday Party for Jesus celebration. Whew, are we tired!!!

This in addition to my husband still working on our kitchen remodeling.

I have added some pictures from some of our activities at our church. FBC Friona click on the link and select the Photos for some more pictures from all of the activities.

Littlest DS with cheetos fingers and my teenage son, along with mom!

Choir Singing at the local Nursing Home

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Holiday Shopping On A Budget

I read a wonderful post this morning from Jane4girls about how to shop during the holidays on a budget and one of her points stuck in my head. Check out her posting for yourself...

My DH and I were able to spend a great evening out together, first a winter dinner at a local restaurant with the Bovina Lions Club and then a really romantic stroll with my DH through the home improvement aisles of Lowes...(yes, we have been married over 19 years and I really do think it is romantic!!!).

Then I spied a huge banner over the gift cards at the front of the store. Receive $10 gift certificate when you purchase over $100 in gift cards. Hmmmm....

So we had just returned over $300 in the wrong style of door knobs for the house and my DH had over $140 of items in the cart, just a couple of quick questions to the clerk and my DH agreed to 'try' my giftcard purchase suggestion.

As Jane said, if you are going to be purchasing items anyway at a store with an offer on their giftcards, then just purchase the giftcard beforehand and use it for your purchase.

So I had hubby by a giftcard for $140 and then turned around and used it for our purchase of over $156 in Lowes items. Pretty good, from the details on the receipt I could then just go home and register online in order to receive my giftcard good for $10 off of a future $10 or greater purchase at Lowes. Works for me...

Keep an eye out for similar deals at your local stores. From what I read at Lowe's website, I am eligible to do this up to two additional times for a total of $30 in giftcards, we'll have to see what other major purchase needs come our way...

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I am on the lookout for a new holiday favorite of my families. Have you seen them in your local store yet?

Sweet clementines! We got hooked a few years back when we were able to travel to Italy for a really special Christmas celebration with my DH aunt and cousins.

Italy is quite unique in their breakfast fare, they will eat cookies with Nutella and capuccino and not much else. I think our dear relatives were feeling sorry for us when we were still hungry and offered up some clementines.

We had never had any before and fell in love, small, sweet and so good to eat!!!

Italy was a joy to experience during the holidays for fresh citrus fruits. The lemons were huge and we couldn't get enough of the clementines. So now we are always on the lookout in our local store for a box or good stash to grab during the Christmas season.

Do you have anything that you eat during the holidays that brings special memories?

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Merry Christmas To All!!!

Twas the month before Christmas
When all through our land,
Not a Christian was praying
Nor taking a stand.
See the PC Police had taken away,
The reason for Christmas - no one could say.
The children were told by their schools not to sing,
About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.
It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say
December 25th is just a 'Holiday'.
Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!
CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-pod
Something was changing, something quite odd!
Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.
As Targets were hanging their trees upside down
At Lowe's the word Christmas - was no where to be found.
At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears
You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.
Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty
Are words that were used to intimidate me.
Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen
On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton!
At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.
And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace
The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded
The reason for the season, stopped before it started.
So as you celebrate 'Winter Break' under your 'Dream Tree'
Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.
Choose your words carefully, choose what you say
not Happy Holiday!

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Thank You For Your Prayers!!!

Your educational fact of the day, this graphic is a visual representation of the full playing range of an Alto Sax.

Just wanted to get a note off to everyone to let you know that my DS was successful with this tryouts for All Region. After a long and tiring day, he arrived home about 11pm and was very happy to announce that he will advance to All Area tryouts in January.

He received a ranking as second chair of the symphonic band, behind another player from Bushland HS whom he has competed against several times over the years. This is the first time that this player has scored a high level than my son, but we heard from the judges that it was a split for first between the two judges on their ranking. Apparently two were for my son placing 1st and two were for the other boy placing first. But honestly, my son wasn't upset at all. I think in fact, it takes some pressure off of him. Last year, he felt like he was going to pass out when it came time to perform in front of the audience at All Region and he looked like he was going to as well, in first chair he has to sit on the edge near the audience. So, he is just thrilled to make it to All Area for another chance at All State.

My DH and I knew our son was extremely nervous Sunday night, he was beside himself with nerves. So what is a parent to do, we sat him down and affirmed him and prayed with him. I also was able to affirm him on Monday before he left when he came home for lunch.

He said it was the weirdest thing...He wasn't nervous at all and felt very warm and calm. He had prayed, taken a deep breath and remembered our words about how he was to demonstrate his gifts and talents that he has received and to let the Lord handle the rest. It took the pressure off of him.

He also remembered that this event is suppose to be something that he is to enjoy and have a good experience with, so that helps keep things in perspective. So many kids feel so much pressure during these events. He is responsible for practicing, giving it his all for his performance but the results are not left up to him. As far as we were concerned he had already demonstrated his excellence.

But watch out young man from Bushland. Our son is fired up for besting you at All Area and making it to All State... I think the ranking as second might have given him more of an incentive to continue to practice aggressively leading up to the All Area tryouts. The key is keeping up an aggressive practice schedule during the holiday season. Something that is very hard to do for most kids and he has struggled with as well in the past two years. We have heard from the band directors that the kids who are aggressive with their practicing over the holidays are the ones who get the rankings to go to All State. Realistically, at All Area he will be competing against 12 other kids for being ranked in the top two to be able to advance. So a pretty aggressive tryout ahead. Some boys demonstrate their aggressiveness in sports events, our son is very aggressive in his academic and playing skills...I don't think most of the people at his school see this side of him.

A little known fact, our son refuses to get any of the patches sewn onto his HS letter jacket because he wants to plan where his patches will go based on the placement around an All State band patch, which apparently is huge and covers most of the back of a letter jacket. Hmmmm......

Apparently, the young man from Bushland might have received some angry hostile looks from the other kids at my son's school. Our sons peers did not like the fact that he was bested in his ranking and were angry, while our son, didn't even have an issue with his placement. He felt bad about what the other young man might have received from his peers.

In addition he heard from the judges that he and the player from Bushland were so tight in their skills, but the other kids that tried out on Alto Sax were no where near their skill of playing. This other young man is a son of a Band Director and I am sure that he has some pressure placed upon him to do his best. I think it is great for my son to be challenged and I hope this year he might be able to get to know this young man a little bit more. They have competed against each other since 8th grade and my DS always sees him at band camp as well as other competitions.

Congratulations, young man from Bushland!

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Family Christmas Traditions

My dear youngest daughter and I had a discussion recently about family Christmas traditions. Maybe you are like me and you have never really thought much about them, or what you might say that they are...

I found this great posting offering up some wonderful new traditions that someone might consider adopting to their family traditions from Faithful Provisions.

I think I need to review and pray about some of these...

I asked my DH this question, "what are our family Christmas traditions and he didn't hesitate to say that we try to put a priority on seeing our extended families during the holidays". That can make for some very hectic holiday travel and times, in fact that is the predominant memory for some of our family...

It was more than a little telling to us when we didn't travel over the holidays a few years back and our then youngest son who was about 10 said it was the best Christmas he could ever remember, just laid back and quiet and not hectic!

So we have decided to pray about this topic and see what we might need to do to adjust our Christmas celebrations to make them more significant and memorable for our entire family.

We did establish the following as our family priorities for the Christmas season last year and it helps keep some of the decisions that you are faced with making during this time in perspective:

1) Our Faith in Jesus Christ
2) Sharing Fellowship with Family and Friends
3) Good Food and Fun

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All Region Tryouts

My teenage DS is in the final stages of preparing for his very important All Region Band tryouts. He has made the symphonic band the past two years and was able to achieve 1st chair last year. His tryouts are scheduled for next Monday the 8th, so I would appreciate your prayers for his musical talent and gifts to show through during this tryout!!!

He is practicing everyday and was busy for about 2 hours yesterday after school and is busy at school playing during his band class.

The top three performers in alto sax at the all region tryouts also automatically advance to the all area tryouts which will be held in Abilene this year on January 10th, 2009.

He hasn't realized it yet, but the all area has been realigned, so he will be competing in a different mix of kids than he has seen over the past two years, don't think I will tell him that, it might add in another level of stress.

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