Friday, October 30, 2009

Glossophobia

I had a moment yesterday morning. A sweaty palmed, heart palpitating, nerve wracking moment.

This was the week for safety meetings at work. I'm employed by a mechanical contracting firm, and our field employees are brought in once a month for safety briefings and ongoing safety training. It is a rare occasion to have all of these employees together at once, so if there are any pressing HR matters, I make an appearance to address the group. We used to have one huge meeting, with all 100 or so field employees packed into our training room and overflowing out into the warehouse. Those were not so fun for me, as I'm not terribly fond of public speaking, and I always had to use a microphone so everyone could hear. Somehow the microphone multiplied the stage fright. But after 7 years, I've gotten pretty used to it, and I do a much better job at it than I ever thought I could. In the last year we've actually divided everyone into four smaller groups, and it's even less intimidating.

So you would think Thursday, when I had to address only 11 people, it would be no big deal. But ah! You would be wrong. I was holding a manager's meeting to go over some changes to our disciplinary process. And standing there in the room with 11 of my peers, in the exact spot where I had confidently contributed to two safety meetings that morning, I froze. I had all of my carefully prepared documents, my well crafted handouts, and a case of nerves the size of Canada. Days of preparation had gone into this meeting, but I couldn't get a well organized thought out of my mouth to save my life. I sped through my presentation, almost choking on words as I tried to cram too many of them into one breath. I could hear the slightest shake in my voice and I willed myself to slow down and pull it together.

After the meeting I asked my assistant just how terrible it was. She said it all came out fine, but the whole time she was thinking, "Take a breath, girl!". UGH! Why do I do this? There is no logical reason for me to be nervous in front of these people who I work with every day. Literally - I was joking with these guys 10 minutes before the meeting, but the minute the room got quiet and all eyes turned on me - whoosh - all the air in the room got sucked out and my brain went to mush.

Things people have suggested to me to remedy this affliction:
  • Picture your audience naked - Ew. No thanks. Also, this does not work.
  • Make prolonged eye contact, one person at a time - This weirds me out and makes me lose my train of thought.
  • Be prepared, know your content and audience - Check, check, and check. I've got that down.
  • Pretend you are all alone in front of a mirror - Right. What are all those people doing in my mirror?
So has anyone out there ever come across something that works?  I could certainly use the advice.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Turning 31

This Sunday, November 1st is my birthday and I will be 31!
Wow, 31, really? It's crazy how old I used to think being in your 30's was...now it seems SO much younger. Don't get me wrong, I am not one of those people that is scared of getting older- I grew up with my parents always telling me that age is all in your mind...which I really do believe.
It has been funny to notice some definite changes from getting older...one being gray hair, yes, I have started getting gray hair...I try not to go looking for them, but they seem to want to make themselves known by being the hairs that stick straight up from my head-really??
Another, being how early I go to bed and how tired I get at night...didn't I used to stay up at 3am in college to just hang out? Yeah, that is a thing of the past for sure...

Overall, I love being in my 30's- what a wonderful time of life. So far, it has proven to be a great time of knowing myself well and appreciating where God has me...I wouldn't trade it!

See you next Thursday...Stace



Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Give Thanks (Crafts, Juice Box Wings, and Garth)

It has been neat to begin new traditions as a family. One thing I started doing a few years ago was having a special Thanksgiving tablecloth. Each year, we (and whoever is celebrating with us) add something(s) on there that we are thankful for. I bought a simple white tablecloth that has some leaves cut out around the border or something, and then I bought a few fabric paint pens. My children have not been old enough to write yet, but we asked them what they were thankful for and wrote for them. I think it will be so neat to look at it throughout the years and see what has been added each year.

Something fun that we're doing this year... well, I guess it's not really a tradition but really just a craft. (But I guess it could become a tradition if we do new letters every year as my children get better and better at writing them.) Anyway... I'm not even sure how I receive Parents magazine, but I do. Has anyone else had this happen? I never received magazines before, but then I got pregnant and WHAM! They just started coming. How do they know?? Who gave them my information? And why are they still coming (five years later)? I've never been asked to subscribe. I've never changed my address, but they've followed me for at least three moves now. Very interesting (and I've never really thought that through until just now)... Back to topic, I was flipping through one of those magazines recently and saw a cute craft idea.

So I decided this would be something fun for the kids to help create. Plus, we have a giant island that just needs something long and fall-ish. So we've been collecting acorns. (We're using those instead of the lentils or split peas.) Aidan (4) is really just starting to write a few letters (I know your child is probably more advanced and can already write the entire alphabet. Pat yourself on the back, okay. :) ), so he was excited to help with this project. A few of the letters were tough for him, so I had to make dots for him to follow around and form the letter. I noticed one of his teachers did that, and I thought it was brilliant. Sometimes it's amazing how simple something can be, but I may have never thought of it on my own. Like juice boxes. If you lift up those little tabs on the side (we call them wings), then you tell the mildly aggressive and somewhat clumsy children to hold the wings instead of the actual box. This prevents those accidental squeezes from becoming spills! Amazing! But I digress. (But someone please tell me you've never heard or thought of doing that before so I know I wasn't the only one out there!) I actually didn't read the Parents Magazine directions until just now, so I didn't really do anything the same. But it still turned out cute! I may paint the sticks later, because I do think that looks really cute in their picture. I just haven't had time to get the paint out and let the kids make a crazy mess with that. They've been making enough messes with all the mud in the yard, but that's another story. I did use different colored paper instead of brown paper bags, so maybe the colored paper mixed would be too much with painted sticks. I'll let you know if I get crazy and try it! But I got to thinking.... this could be really cute to change out for different holidays. I was thinking for our Christmas greeting, we could put the letters on long candy canes (if they make them long enough). And then the glasses could be filled with small ornaments or peppermints (if you weren't using the candy canes, because the two together might be a bit much) or Hershey's Kisses in the Christmas-colored wrappers. And then you could use candy hearts at Valentine's (I know I'm getting carried away here.), but they would probably slowly disappear, because my dear husband loves those things. Anyway... the possibilities are endless! And I think this could be really cute whether you have kids or not. I would have done something like this pre-children. And bonus - the letters would probably be much easier to read! Anyway, here are a few pictures of our craft. Keep in mind, I made up my own instructions! (And I did mention in my initial post that I like parenthesis, right?!)



Counting acorns was also a good part of the project. And this is Aidan's latest look. Cowboy hat and old earphones turned into a headset. Looks like a little Garth. :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fall

Before I begin my blog I have decided to start my blogs with a Christmas Countdown! So here you go:

59 days til Christmas!

So this past weekend we took Reagan to Eckerts Millstadt Farm. This place is amazing. It costs $8 per person to get in (but we got a buy one get one free coupon online)! They have pumpkins and apples everywhere. They had camel and pony rides, pig races (which was hilarious!), and underground slide, rides, fair food, country store with homemade jellies and such, and hayrides out to pick your own pumpkin or apples. The craziest thing was this huge canon that they shot pumpkins out of. It was so neat and Reagan really had a good time! We even picked out our own 45lb. pumpkin! I have attached pictures from our adventure!






Beth

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Rain drops on roses

And whiskers on kittens...These are a few of my favorite things:

People.com:
If I ever need to catch up on the latest celeb news, I just go to People.com. Sometimes I need a little break from work, some mindless reading if you will, so I'll just head to the website and see what's been going on. For instance, today's headlines read:
  • 5 Things to Know About the Wonder Girls (um, who?!)
  • Grey's Anatomy New Mommies Return to Set (yeah for Meredith...I could care less about Izzy right now though)
  • Ivanka to Wed This Weekend - Trump Style (over the top, I'm sure)
Hey, at least I don't go buy the celeb magazines from the store. :)

New York & Company:
So, before I got pregnant I used to love to shop at NY&Co. They always had some really cute stuff and you could sign-up online to receive special offers, mainly a certain amount off if you spent so much. I had no trouble at all spending the minimum amount! Their clothes seemed to fit me just right and they always have some really cute accessories. I can't wait to shop there again...my gold card is collecting dust in my wallet.

E.L.F.:
Go to eyeslipsface.com. This site has amazing deals on all kinds of makeup, starting at $1.00. From eyeliner to lip gloss to nail polish and makeup brushes, you can get some great stuff for only $1.00!!! Try it out...if you don't like it the best part is that you only spent $1, not $7 from the store. And if you get on their email list, you can find out when they have 99 cent shipping...score!

Shoe Carnival:
I love shoes, and I found a store where I love to shoe shop. Sadly, it's in Lubbock though. And the closest one to the DFW Metroplex is probably the store in Lufkin. So, any time I happen to be in Lubbock, I always go to Shoe Carnival. They always have pretty good prices. My favorite pair to date are my red/black snakeskin heels. Since I'm not in Lubbock very often, I'd have to say that I've found some cute shoes at Kohl's, Target, Payless, and Ross.

Snapfish:
I love Snapfish because you can get 4x6 prints for as cheap as 9 cents a picture...plus they have all kinds of fun gift ideas, greeting cards, etc. After I got married, I created 3 picture collages of our wedding through Snapfish. I was able to capture lots of fun memories into one big collage, for one frame. Which leads me to my next favorite thing...

FatWallet:
You have to check out fatwallet.com. Before you do any online shopping, you need to go to fatwallet first to see if that store participates in the cash back program. For example, I know that Snapfish is on there, so I'll go to FatWallet's site, find Snapfish, click on the link from there (b/c that's the only way it'll work), and then make my purchase. You will get a certain percentage back depending on the store. So for Snapfish, you can get 10% back from your purchase total. There are tons of participating stores/sites. Check it out.

Okay, that's it for now. Almost time for Brothers & Sisters to come on! : ) Would love to hear if you try something out...or if you have something fun to share.

Cass

Friday, October 23, 2009

If I had a hammer

(Did anyone catch that song reference? My mom would be so proud that all the records she played in my childhood didn't slip past me.)

I am involuntarily the chairperson of our Charitable Events Committee at work. This is a committee I would love to be on as a volunteer, but being in charge of it is a whole different story, and a vastly different time commitment. But chairing it is part of my job description, so I don't have the sideline option.

Each year the committee selects a charitable organization to support, and this year we were nudged in the direction of Habitat for Humanity by one of our owners. Habitat is a great organization that provides a great service. They make owning a home possible for someone who normally could not achieve that dream on their own. And the way it's set up is pretty cool, because you're not just giving your money and walking away wondering if it actually did any good. You put blood, sweat, and (in my case) tears into someone's future, and you see an end result.

I believe Habitat is a worthy organization, HOWEVER, I am not much of a builder. I am, in fact, a dainty flower who has no business on a construction site under any circumstance. Since I chair the committee, I didn't really have the option to just give money and pass on our construction day. And what were we doing on our construction day you ask? Why, that would be roofing and soffits. Not painting, or landscaping, or any other earthbound task. Nope. There was one (ONE!) task that day that did not involve a ladder. I don't do ladders people. I barely do walking without tripping.

Let me just show you how that day went for me:













Do you notice a recurring theme? See that sweet look on my face in all but that last shot? Don't I look serene? Can't you see how I'm thinking about all the good I'm doing for someone less fortunate? So very zen. Ahem.

Let's just say I won't be building more houses any time soon. It's a pretty cool experience, but it's definitely not one that was made for me. At one point I found the most stationary task available and stood on a ladder pounding in a nail by hand every three inches. While hammering the very last nail - there were literally hundreds, I did this for four straight hours - I smashed my thumb and immediately burst into tears in front of a poor unsuspecting co-worker. He now probably thinks I'm mentally unstable.

It was a rough day for this pansy. But if you're of a sturdier persuasion, I highly recommend giving some time to Habitat for Humanity, I think you'll be glad you did.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

So, the rabbit died...

You know that phrase "The rabbit died" was used back in the olden (sp?) days to indicate a woman was pregnant...so, I "googled" about the phrase and found out exactly what this means...


Around 1927 it was discovered that if you injected the urine of a pregnant woman into a rabbit, there would be corpora hemorrhagica in the ovaries of the rabbit. These bulging masses on the ovaries could not be seen with out killing the rabbit to inspect the ovaries, so invariably, every rabbit died, even if the woman wasn't pregnant. The phrase, "The rabbit died," came to be a euphemism for a positive pregnancy test after the late 1920 and early 1930s.

It is sad to think about how many rabbits had to die to tell women they were pregnant in a timely manner...thankful for modern medicine and the ability to just take a pregnancy test at home without any harm to an animal...all that said... I guess the "hypothetical" rabbit recently died at the Hollar house...because we are going to have another baby...after 4 positive pregnancy tests, we finally were convinced that we were being blessed with a new addition to our family.

I did go in to see my Ob when I was 5 weeks pregnant, and they did an sonogram- and discovered that I wasn't far enough along to actually see a heartbeat, there was a visible gestation sac and yolk sac, but no heartbeat. I was disappointed by what I saw, but the Dr assured me that at 5 weeks you shouldn't see a heart beat, and to come in the next week and we should see one. So, I waited for what seemed like the longest week ever until I was at 6 weeks, and the Dr did another sonogram and immediately we saw that little heartbeat flashing on the screen...it was ABSOLUTELY amazing! I was just reminded of God's miraculous handiwork by going through those few days of unknown- how in one week...God allowed the cells in my body to bring together a heart that beats...I am fearfully and wonderfully made took on a new depth in that moment...for me and for our little nugget.

On another note, 10 years ago I was in a really tragic accident- that sent me 70 feet through a windshield and it left me really beaten up (broken spine in 2 places, broken collar bone and broken arm, collapsed lung, 2 Pulmonary Embolisms, tilted pelvis and internal bleeding) and I was in ICU for a few weeks. By God's grace and healing, I have been able to make a full recovery, aside from arthritis that flares up in my spine/neck from time to time...all that said, one of the unknown factors from this accident was if I would ever be able to carry a child b/c of all the trauma my body had gone through...so just the idea that God has given me not one, but two opportunities to have children is beyond me...such a precious gift!

So, we are so excited and gearing ourselves up for having 2 babies under the age of 2...sounds intense, huh, but I know God doesn't give us more than we can handle(Romans 8:28) and He equips the called, right...my due date is May 29th (which interestingly enough, is my nephew, Miles 1st birthday). So, there will be a lot of celebrating going on around then.

Here is one of the latest pics of our baby Hollar #2...at 8 1/2 weeks old!
Oh yeah, and I'd always heard your show/grow faster with the 2nd one and for me it's true...I've already gained 5 pound and my skinny jeans are officially tight again(boo!)...I didn't really start showing with Allie until about 5 months...but looks like I am already starting to pooch out there...could just be flab, but I'm saying it's baby... Ciao for now! Stace





Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Spice it Up

Per Jessica's request, I'm adding a pic of me and the hubs from last Halloween. Easiest costume (and quite funny)... cut out labels from spice containers, glue them in a row, pin to chest... spice rack! :)

I don't know about you, but I can always use some fresh ideas in the kitchen. These recipes have been passed along from several friends, and I have used them all many times. I would love to hear how it goes if you try them. Next time around, perhaps I will post the recipe for Grandma Hood's Chocolate Cake. If you know me well, you know Grandma Hood's cake. :)

BBQ Pork
(I have to give credit to Andrea (one of my OKC pals) for this one. Thanks for passing this along! I miss you!)

1 (3-4 lb) shoulder pork roast
1 (18 oz) bottle Head Country BBQ Sauce
1 (12 oz) can of Coke (regular coke, not diet)

Place pork roast in crock pot, pour BBQ sauce and coke over roast. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until roast pulls apart easily.
Serve on buns.

It just doesn't get much easier than that!


Notes: I usually get the larger bottle of BBQ sauce. That way I can use some for the roast, and then we have extra to drizzle onto our sandwiches. Head Country BBQ Sauce is made in Oklahoma, and I was so glad to find it in stores here when we moved back home. This is great served with baked beans or chips. It's quite tasty, super easy, and my kids even eat it!

Cream Cheese Dip
(This is a great dip to serve at showers, and this comes from my dear friend Becky.)














Three packages of cream cheese
1 packet of Ranch dressing buttermilk mix
Lawry's Seasoned Pepper

Mix up the cream cheese and ranch packet. Sometimes mix them up in a gallon size bag, because it's easier to mash it around that way.

Fill bowl with cream cheese and then generously sprinkle the seasoned pepper on top.
Serve with Wheat Thins.

Note: I am not a big fan of pepper, but that seasoned pepper is good stuff!!







Baked Sandwiches

-2 dozen King's Hawaiian Rolls (they come in a package of 12 (They are in the deli section at any major grocery store.)

-Mesquite smoked turkey breast slices or the turkey breat of your choice (I get this fresh sliced from the deli, and I use almost 1 slice on each sandwich or a little less so I usually ask for 24 slices.)

-Swiss cheese in slices like what you'd put on a sandwich. I buy the 6 oz pack.


The dressing:

1 stick butter, melted

3 tbsp sugar

3 tbsp honey mustard

3 tbsp poppy seeds


I make the sandwiches first. Cut each roll in half and stuff with about 1 slice turkey and about a quarter slice of Swiss cheese.


Use a 9x13 pan and the sandwiches will fit perfectly (they should be tight together)


Then make the dressing and brush/pour over top of the sandwiches. Then bake at 350 degree's for 15 minutes. You can make the sandwiches ahead of time, but make the dressing and bake the sandwiches right before serving so the bread doesn't get soggy.

Notes: I have made this for lunch when we've had family in town. They are super tasty and reheat well, too. I usually just split the rolls as a whole group, and then lay the turkey and cheese. In other words, I don't try to fold up the turkey slices and place them on each individual roll. Once they're baked, they're easy to cut, even if the turkey is overlapping. However, if you want it to look nice and pretty for a shower, then you may want to do it the "right" way. I have also experimented with different meat/cheese combinations, and it's always been good. I think the dressing makes these tasty, no matter what. And I almost forgot to give props... This sandwich recipe comes from Beth, who is a good friend of Staci's. She brought them to Staci's baby shower, and I immediately fell in love (with the sandwiches, not Beth... although she is quite nice). :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Two things, random

1. Admitting my fears about upgrading my cell phone gave me the strength I needed to take the plunge. I am now the owner of a white and red Samsung Propel. So far, so good. I was more than a little concerned when on the first day I was out of commission for several hours due to a random error saying I could only make emergency calls, but that issue has not repeated since then. It's still nice to know my old phone is there if I need it! :)

2. On a more serious note: Cassandra has a co-worker who is friends with the Rainey family. Missy and Chad Rainey have a 7-month-old son named Walker. Last month, doctors discovered a rhabdoid tumor on baby Walker's kidney; the cancer has also spread to his lungs and a few lymph nodes. Rhabdoid is one of the most aggressive forms of infant cancer. As a new mom, I am finding it hard to imagine how difficult it must be to deal with this kind of news, and they have been very much on my mind. The Raineys have VERY strong faith in God and a strong network of support; they are very optimistic and committed to trusting in the Heavenly Father to perform miraculous healing in their child. Walker is scheduled to have scans tomorrow to determine how his chemotherapy is working. I just want to ask everyone to lift this family up in prayer! You can get more information on this cute little guy at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/walkerrainey. Let's remember to hug on our kids and our other loved ones. Life is a gift!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Team Impact

So this past week Team Impact came to our church for a 5 night event!

If you don't know what Team Impact is, then let me just tell you. They are a group of amazing men of God who can do amazing feats of strength. Here is their website for more info: www.team-impact.com

During the day they go to various schools and do their feats and then tell the kids to not do drugs or to stay pure and then they invite the kids and their families to the church that night. Then at night they do more feats and then share their testimonies and the Gospel. It really is incredible! Over the 5 nights we had around 3457 people and 180 salvations. Praise the Lord!

And let me just tell you these guys are the real deal! They aren't hyped up on performance enhancing drugs and they truly love the Lord! John, Reagan and I really got to hang out with them while they were here. Here is a pic of Jeff Neal "Man of Steal" holding Reagan. Reagan would squeal with joy whenever she would see them!




If you have never experienced a Team Impact event I encourage you to ask your church to host these guys!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Seriously

So I'm almost in my 18th week of pregnancy and it has been an interesting ride to say the least. I've decided that every single symptom one could possibly have in your first trimester I have experienced. I have to admit that I did buy the book "What To Expect When You're Expecting," but I don't even think I've gotten past the introduction. Those Twilight Series books have me otherwise occupied right now. Anyways, so I really don't know what one should expect during their first trimester really, but let me just tell you what all I've been through:
  • Vomiting - I feel I've had my fair share and then probably the share of several other women who are pregnant. I've spent so much time with toilet and trashcans that even my mom feels sorry for me. I even developed an odd pattern...being fine about five days and then horribly sick the next two. It was so strange. Thankfully I've gotten past the consistency and now it's just random moments (Ex. Throwing up as I'm driving home from work on Friday...that's no easy task. And the dang bag I had did not help either)
  • Acne - Seriously, I feel like a freaking high school kid right now, going through puberty or something. My face has broken out like a pizza with double pepperoni (I don't know...it was the only analogy I could come up with)
  • Saliva - excessive saliva at that. I don't even know if it's a pregnancy symptom but I seriously seem to have a lot more saliva than I did before I was pregnant. So much so that I know how to gross my husband out right now...I spit an awful lot!
  • Ouch - I know there may be some men who read this, so I'm sorry about this, but my boobs freaking hurt! I know there getting ready for this baby too but oh my goodness. And when I'm cold...HOLY COW!!! Enough said.
  • Emotional
  • Exhausted
  • Moody
I think that is it for now...or at least that's all I can remember for the time being. And I'm just now into my second trimester...can't wait for the weight gain, the fat ankles, the swollen feet, etc. I'm sure to experience those too. But really and truly, it is all worth it every time I go to the doctor and get to hear my sweet baby's heart beat. Next month we get to find out the sex! So stay tuned.

Cass

Friday, October 16, 2009

He didn't eat my homework...



I've mentioned before that Milo is a bit of a handful. He's outgrown a few of his idiosyncrasies, most notably the poop eating phase - which I wasn't sure we would survive. But OHHHH, the laundry phase. He has definitely not outgrown the laundry phase yet.  


You see, Milo apparently has a thing for that Downy softness. Dryer sheets and fresh clean clothing are just too unbearable for him to resist. When that dog gets a hold of a dryer sheet, you might honestly think he discovered the canine equivalent to crack. He will lick and chew it until he has eaten the whole thing. (Obviously he only makes it that far when we're not watching.)   


When I take a load out of the dryer it inevitably lands on the couch until I have time to fold. Milo, being the sneaky little bugger he is, will take the 10 seconds you are out of the room to hone in on the perfect item, snatch it, and run. When you return, he's curled up under the coffee table, chewing on what you assume is a toy. Until you realize, that's not a toy, that's my favorite freaking thong! The thong that I bought at a Victoria's Secret clearance sale that would cost $16 to replace. I do not spend $16 on a single pair of underwear people. And this is the third pair this month! Seriously Milo??? In his defense (kind of) he also eats Mark's socks. But I don't think Mark's socks are sustaining the same damage. Or at least he hasn't told me if they are. My thongs are peppered with tiny tooth holes that you don't even notice until you run them through the wash again to remove the dog slobber and they come out looking like swiss cheese.



The other irritating part of this behavior? When you realize Milo is eating something he shouldn't be (which is 65% of the time) and you tell him to drop it, he interprets that as some form of challenge. "Drop it" is apparently dog code for "run for your life". He then proceeds to run around the coffee table. I refuse to chase my dog in circles (there are so many better ways to lose your dignity) so what typically happens is that we stand on opposite ends of the table trying to fake each other out until I get extremely frustrated and begin moving the coffee table toward the corner where the couch and love seat meet. When he realizes he's trapped, he rolls over on his back (sometimes with the forbidden object still held firmly in his jaws) as if to say, "Oh, but I'm so cute. Wasn't this a fun game we played? Don't you want to end it with a nice tummy rub?"


It's a good thing I love him.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

The dollar store

So, now that I am a stay at home mommy- that means we are a one-income family...which I have been given the great challenge to try to find bargains and better deals to improve our bottom line each month. I have recently discovered the dollar store-I mean I've always known it was there, but never really considered it a shop stop for me. So, I have tried several thing from the dollar store to see if its quality is comparable to items I buy at other stores for a higher price. These are my findings thus far...

Pack of 12 razors- saved 2.50, but the razors were not great quality and I could really only use each razor once, then have to throw it away from the rusting on the blades.

Dish soap-saved .99, and found the exact same soap I use already, just cheaper-Yeah!

Dish scrub brush- saved $2.00, and it has been a great dish brush and has lasted for a long time-and we are still using it.

Tissue paper(for gifts)- saved $2.00, great purchase

Shredded colored paper- saved $1.00, great for goodie bags for Allie's birthday party

12 Silly straws- saved $3.00, great purchase saw the same straws at Walmart for $4.00

Pregnancy test- saved $8.00, and yes, they really work

Toilet cleaner- saved $2.00, it's okay quality-seems a little watery...seem to do the trick, though...

Bathroom trashcan- saved $4.00, for the exact same trash can at Target it was $4.99...great buy for sure!

Hawaiian tropic SPF 30 spray sunscreen- saved $21.00 b/c I bought 3 cans, for this exact same sunscreen at Kroger it cost $8.00 a can...and the sunscreen worked great on our trip in Hawaii.

This is what I have found so far...now, I will say it is interesting at times to see the people that come in to the store...great people watching for sure(of course, someone could be saying the same thing about me)...I'll keep you posted on any other things I come across that are worth the stop into the dollar store.

Happy shopping! ~Stace








Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Taxes, Schmaxes...

So today is Wednesday, and I JUST realized it. It's 11:41 pm, so I barely made it. And I am zapped and have nothing left to offer. We just finished up our taxes that we had filed for an extension on. So I could go on a rant about how the IRS stinks or how I now want to eat lots of ice cream, peanut butter, and chocolate... but I won't. And now Aidan's waking up for the second time with cramps or growing pains or something. So this is it for me today... I'll do better next week, I promise!!

Actually, I'll add a couple of pics from the trip Mary and I took to see Beth last weekend. If only I had a picture of the outfits Mary tried on during our "Best Worst Outfit" contest at Macy's. :) She (and her Apple Bottoms) won by a landslide!
World's Largest ketchup bottle.
Crazy red hat ladies! Corn




Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mobile technology

I have had the same cell phone for about 4 years. I love it. It's a Nokia 6010 and it's pretty much the most basic phone out there. It's literally impossible to get a cell phone this basic anymore (I know, I've looked). It doesn't take pictures or play music; you can't check your e-mail or watch movies. You can make phone calls and text. You can play a few games. I mean, sure, it has a few extras like a calendar, alarm clock, to-do list, calculator. Truly helpful, low-tech things. I think there's other stuff you can do if you pay for it, like IM, but I wouldn't know about that stuff. I don't really want to know - my phone's simplicity is its most redeeming quality. Plus it's pretty much indestructible. I'm not as hard on cell phones as some people (ahem, Adam Sweeney who drops and/or washes his phone like once a week), but considering it gets smashed at the bottom of a purse pretty much constantly, it has held up like a champ (sidenote: Adam got this same phone a while back and has yet to successfully destroy it - to me, this means the phone is officially un-destroyable).

Sadly, time is starting to take its toll on my beloved phone. The plug for the handsfree thing no longer works (no bluetooth capabilities here), and even the plug for the charger is spotty at times. So today I faced the inevitable - I broke down and checked into getting a new phone. People get new phones all the time, I know, but I almost felt like I was betraying my Nokia! What if I get a new phone and I hate it?!?!? What if I regret this decision forever??!?!? Aaaahhhh, CHANGE!!!! BEWARE! Ok, so I'm exaggerating a little bit, but the truth is...after browsing the website for quite a while, I couldn't bring myself to do it. I couldn't buy a new phone. Not yet. I need more time. More time with my wonderful old phone. And then I'll get over it and move on :)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Don't steal my thunder!

This phrase really irritates me! I mean what a selfish thing to think or say!

I recently heard a story of a girl who had just found out they were pregnant with their second baby but didn't want to tell another friend that recently found out she was pregnant after trying for several years. Why didn't she want to tell her friend this exciting news? Because her friend doesn't like to share the spotlight! Her friend would eventually be excited for her, but not at first. How sad!

That is definitely not a characteristic of a true friend nor the attitude of a follower of Christ! Phillipians 2:3-4 says, "Do nothing from rivalry or conceit. But in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.". Scripture is definitely clear on this "stealing my thunder" business!

I am also including the definition of friendship found on wikipedia. Even a secular site recognizes that a true friend desires what is best for the other person. Putting the other person above themselves!

Friendship is the cooperative and supportive relationship between two or more people. In this sense, the term connotes a relationship which involves mutual knowledge, esteem, affection, and respect along with a degree of rendering service to friends in times of need or crisis. Friends will welcome each other's company and exhibit loyalty towards each other. Their tastes will usually be similar and may converge, and they will share enjoyable activities. They will also engage in mutually helping behavior, such as the exchange of advice and the sharing of hardship. A friend is someone who may often demonstrate reciprocating and reflective behaviors. Yet for some, the practical execution of friendship is little more than the trust that someone will not harm them.

Value that is found in friendships is often the result of a friend demonstrating the following on a consistent basis:

John and I have several friends who had tried to have a baby and could not. When we found out we were pregnant these friends were truly excited for us! Those are friends you want to keep! So if you have friends that you can't share exciting events in your life with freely then they are not truly a real friend! If you are a person who doesn't like to have your thunder stolen then you need to work on putting others ahead of yourself.


PS... I do want to say that I am so very blessed to have the best friends in the whole world! Love you gals!


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Herbie

Okay, so before I got married I dated around...I mean, who didn't. Well, I know some people who didn't really date around, but whatever, not the point. Well, one particular boyfriend (a/k/a That Which We Do Not Speak Of) unfortunately left me with something to remind me of him for the rest of my life. I've got your minds racing with possibilities, don't I? A STD...Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, HPV, PID, Syphilis, the list goes on and on. It's nothing like that, thank you very much. It's freaking lip herpes...at least that's what I like to call it. More specifically, Herbie the Lip Herpie. The (insert bad word) freaking gave me cold sores for the rest of my life and the little sucker(s) pop up randomly at least once a year. Well it just so happens that I got one last Thursday right on my lip. My mom has this amazing stuff from Arbonne for cold sores that I have religiously used ever since I discovered its healing powers. By Saturday Herbie was almost gone! However, something happened and the little booger decided to move a little up north to right under my left nostril! So not one, but two Herbies were infecting my face. Curse words running through my head. I mean, obviously it's not enough that my face is already breaking out like a freaking high school kid because I'm pregnant, but let's go ahead and add some cold sores on top of that. It really makes a girl want to cry. Thankfully Arbonne Bio-Nutria Herbal Lip Ointment is saving my life/face/sanity. And if Arbonne needs a spokesperson for the stuff, I'll gladly sign up, for a fee. In conclusion, choose your men wisely...you never know what they could leave you with!

P.S. I'm in Vegas this weekend and amazingly wrote my blog ahead of time. Hope to have some good stories for you next weekend.

Cass

Friday, October 9, 2009

And the thunder rolls...



Well…I made it to Illinois…but not without a little hysteria along the way.  We haven’t delved into the depths of my psychosis here, but another piece of the fear puzzle I mentioned last week is my fear of storms.


When I was in college at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, what began as a normal March day turned into one of the most unforgettable days of my life.  It was a Saturday, and my roommate, one of her little sisters, and a few of our friends had piled into my stylin’ gold Dodge Aries to drive up to Little Rock and shop for the day.  With the carefree spirit I’ve long since lost, we were just off to do our own thing, not paying any attention to what was going on around us.


Little Rock was about an hour away, and I still have a picture in my mind of looking down at the fog on the water below an overpass on our way out of town and thinking the weather seemed strange that day.  As we got on the highway and started our trek, the rain started coming down, and I started feeling a little uncomfortable about driving this carload an hour down the highway in my old bucket.  We all agreed that maybe we should turn back and just rent a movie and stay in for the day.  So we pulled back onto one of the main roads in town and stopped at the creaky little old house that served as the video store.  We all piled out and hurried in, and as we sorted through the movies, we were taken aback by a loud siren outside.  One of us asked what that was, and the clerk informed us that it was a tornado siren, and it was about the third time it had gone off.  Apparently the giggling, talking, and singing of the gaggle of girls in the car had drowned out all other noise. 


We all rushed back into the car and determined that my roommate’s parents house was the closest place to take cover.  Just as we stopped at a red light before turning into their neighborhood, all the lights went out.  The stoplights went blank, the WalMart across the street went completely dark, along with everything else in sight.  It was a surreal moment as we realized that we were actually in danger.  It had stopped raining at that point, and everything was still.  There were no other cars out, and we seemed to be moving in slow motion as we hurried the rest of the way to the house.  We ran inside and were greeted by my roommate’s mother, who was relieved to see us.  We huddled in the hallway with pillows over our heads (and I believe a mattress too) as a tornado touched down just blocks away.  There was one moment of comic relief when one of my roommate’s sweet sisters heard me say I thought I was going to pee my pants, and brought me a towel - just in case.


We wanted to get home to the dorm as soon as possible, so once we had the all clear that the storm had passed, we headed back.  The first shock came when we were barely out of the neighborhood and found trees and power lines down.  We saw more damage as we drove, and by the end of the day we learned that a string of tornadoes had occurred that day – the largest traveling right up I30 – exactly where we would have been driving had we not turned around.  That tornado was an F4, and it devastated the historic downtown area of Arkadelphia, wiped out a mobile home park and various neighborhoods, took 6 lives in town, injured over 100, and took 19 more lives across the state that day.  We knew that we had been spared.


I had always been afraid of storms growing up, but that day in Arkadelphia took my fear to new heights.  And it’s a bit strange – because I was protected.  I was right in the middle of the devastation, and I wasn’t even touched.  So you might think that would give me confidence, but that’s not always the way our minds work.  Instead I developed an incapacitating fear.  I couldn’t drive in the car in a storm without having a panic attack.  I became obsessed with knowing what the weather was going to do at all times.  If there was severe weather of any kind – I did everything I could not to leave home, kept an eye on the weather, and had my tornado shelter room ready.  I’ve really worked on that over the years, and I still have a lot of it in me, but I’ve improved.  You can’t live in Texas and never leave the house when there’s a storm, it’s just not possible.  So over time I’ve learned to cope and manage my fear a little better.


All that to say this…


Tuesday night when I saw the forecast for the St. Louis airport the night I was scheduled to fly in, I immediately had a panic attack – and I don’t have those all that often anymore.  It was two days ahead of time, but I was paralyzed with fear.  There was a 90% chance of thunderstorms at the time we were scheduled to land.  NINETY PERCENT.  I don’t like those odds.


Let’s look at a little equation, shall we?


Fear of flying + fear of severe weather = Sheer Terror


Bingo!  The first math problem I’ve ever gotten right, folks.


I tossed and turned that night, and still felt the same panic the next morning.  I kept repeating the mantra, but we were beyond rational at this point.  I really wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to physically get my body on that plane without having some kind of breakdown.  I’m sure this sounds completely nuts to all of you normal people out there.  While I joke about my funny little neuroses, there is a serious side to it, and this is it.  Just the thought was dissolving me into tears.  I also knew people who were on this flight in 1999 - and that does not help my situation.  So what next?


After talking to Amelia and verifying that she didn’t mind if I changed flights (I think she was actually grateful for the reprieve!), I managed to schedule myself on the same flight that Beth was taking the night before.  No foul weather in sight - I was set.  Now all this did require me to take an extra day and a half off work and do all kinds of shuffling and rushing to get things done, but my boss, husband, and my traveling buddies were all understanding.  Sometimes it takes a lot of work to get around the crazy.


I can look back and see where I’ve been, and I’m proud of the progress I’ve made in getting where I am today.  But it’s weeks like this that remind me that there’s still work to be done.  And it’s weeks like this that make me thankful for the love and understanding and support of my family and friends, because I KNOW how hard I am to deal with when the crazy rears its head again.


And just so you know, Amelia made it safely here on the flight we were scheduled on together, just as I knew she would.  They had some turbulence that I'm thankful I didn't have to endure, but in the end all was well.  The flight I made it on a day ahead had a little light turbulence, and a bit of a rough descent, but I made it!  Beth can attest that I handled it pretty well.  I think I was so relieved not to have to get on the flight with rough weather that it took me down a notch for the other one.  And I did use the mantra to get through the turbulence, and it helped!


What was it I said last week?  Ah, yes…baby steps.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Shoulder pads?

I was watching the Today show this week, and they had a fashion expert talking about how shoulder pads are back on style this fall...I had to rewind that part of the show to make sure I heard that right...who invented the idea of giving women bulkier shoulders, really? It make me thing of the punky brewster episode where she got a jacket with HUGE shoulder pads...goodness!
This also makes me think about how I saw a guy the other day wearing Zack Morris type hytops with tight rolled jeans...I was like, what?? Really? Is this back? and better question- WHY?? I did tight roll back in 8th grade- and was proud to do it- but some things belong in the past-so that you can laugh about it and say, Yeah, that is so funny I used to do that- not hey, can you help me remember how to tight roll my pants?? Craziness...next thing you know we are going to see woodpecker bangs, t-shirt clips and Cole-hanns...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

the things we do for our children

It all begins with hours of labor and extreme pain.  It then progresses to include things such as wearing a swimsuit in public (and in broad daylight), showing off stark white legs.  This is especially fun when you've just had a baby, but you're trying to keep the older one entertained.  Pumping while driving the car.  Cooking dinner while holding a fussy baby.  Finally giving in and buying the ultimate mom-mobile.  I could go on and on... And now I've achieved a new high.... or low, depending on how you want to look at it!  I volunteered at Aidan's school to be Clifford on Monday morning.  It was either work 2 hours in the book fair or 30 minutes as Clifford, waving at all of the kids as they came to school.  Since my volunteer time means someone (my parents) have to be watching the other kids, I chose the 30 minute time slot and dressed as the big red dog.  And it was actually kind of fun.  The kids, for the most part, were so excited to see Clifford as they got to school.  And a lot of the parents had big grins as well.  I think I only made one kid cry.  Actually, I made Aidan cry, too.  I told him that I was going to be dressing up like Clifford the next day.  After thinking about it for a while, he asked, "Are you going to be Clifford for all days after that?"  I think he thought maybe I was going to turn into Clifford forever.  Poor boy!  I took him with me to put the suit on, because I thought he would get a kick out of it.  Instead, tears immediately started streaming down his face, and I had only stepped into the body part of the costume.  His teacher came and got him and took him to his classroom early.  Apparently, I should have just sent him to class early, but I didn't know that was an option.  He was absolutely fine when I picked him up.  He was probably just glad to see I hadn't turned into Clifford for good!  I guess someday I'll be dropping him off around the corner from his school so nobody sees him getting out of the car with his MOM!  He would probably die of embarrassment if I were to dress like Clifford when he's a teenager.  I'm glad I can go ahead and check that off my bucket list.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Traffic

So, I know I'm preaching to the choir with all you D/FW-ites, but traffic in Austin is fairly horrible. In fact, it's downright ridiculous. We live approximately 10 miles from downtown, where I work, and it routinely takes me 45 minutes to get there. 45 MINUTES?!?!?!? TO GO 10 MILES?!?!?!? When we first moved to Austin, we lived about 2 miles from downtown, so my drive to work was super-easy and fast. Then we moved into our house two years ago; it was the middle of the summer at the time, so there was no school traffic. I could get to work in 15-20 minutes. Boy was I surprised when school started up again! The extra vehicular congestion tripled my commute.

I've always been fairly agitation-prone when it comes to bad drivers, etc., but I pretty much reached road-rage level there for a while. No joke. I would get soooooo worked up, to a level that was very out of character for me. I actually asked my church family to pray for me about it, because I knew my attitude and anger was not godly. With all that prayer and a little bit of "just get over it"-ness, I'm happy to say I'm in a different mental place now. In fact, most mornings I spend that ridiculously long commute in prayer; being in that frame of mind helps keep me from thinking horrible, evil thoughts about the inconsiderate, clueless drivers around me :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Loving Texas but missing Illinois

So I have been in Texas 6 days now and have 2 more to go. So far I have eaten at:

Chick Fil A
McAlisters
Mi Chulas
Cantina Laredo
Corner Bakery

And I plan on eating at Rosa's and La Madelines and possibly On The Border.

I have hung out with my fam and inlaws, done some shopping, seen friends, and seen my old coworkers. It has been so good to be back in Texas! I have missed the mexican food terribly. And let me just tell you that Cantina Laredo was so good! I enjoyed every bite!

Today, my parents celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary! Go mom and dad! So they went to dinner and Reagan and I went and had dinner with my in-laws and John's grandfather, who is turning 100 in December. And he doesn't look a day over 70! Just amazing!

But even though I am having so much fun here, I am missing Illinois. Mostly I am missing my husband!! I don't like to be away from him this long!!! I miss my puppies too and my church family up there!

But it has been so good to see my family and friends! I have missed them!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Which team are you on?

Hi. My name is Cassandra, and I'm a Twilight Series Fan. I don't even know that I became a big fan until I started reading the books a couple of months ago. See, I saw the first movie when it came out and loved it. After having several conversations with some friends and them telling me "you HAVE to read the books," I finally caved in started reading. I began with Twilight even though I had already seen the movie...then moved on to New Moon (finished it in about 2 days...helps when you're home sick) and Eclipse. My MIL is letting me borrow Breaking Dawn, which I hope to start this week. The books are so easy to read too. So, if you've read the books already then you understand the title to my post. Which team are you on? After reading the first three books I must say that I am on Team Jacob. Can't help it...there were times while I was reading that I seriously felt so bad for him. I mean, he LOVES Bella and she LOVES Edward and it is just not working out for him. I love that he still tries though. Though in this case I don't think persistence is going to pay off. Why am I on Team Jacob? I really don't know what it is actually. Nothing really specific...though it certainly has helped to see previews from the New Moon movie coming out in November and have an "idea" as to what Jacob could look like. The boy definitely pumped up since the Twilight movie. My jaw dropped when I saw him without his shirt and I said, "oh snap!" I mean, Edward is cute and all, but I am all about Jacob. Plus, I'm not a big fan of being cold and since Edward is a vampire and all and has cold skin, it just wouldn't work between us. And Jacob, being a werewolf, has this like natural warmth to him...so I'd be totally fine snuggling up to him on a cold winter's day.

I can't tell you how excited I am about the New Moon movie. Every time I see a trailer for it I just get more excited. So yes, I am a 31-year-old woman who is a Twilight fanatic...though I haven't bought Edward's high school ID card (um, Cindy! Love you). Here's a little something to leave you with:

Team Edward











OR
Team Jacob (um, I can't put whatever picture I want!)



















(He's probably not even legal...I could go to jail!)

I'd also like to give a shout-out to Kassie and Kallie...two sisters who love the Twilight Series and have a fabulous website and podcast. Check them out at www.twilightseriestheories.com. These girls are awesome!

Cass