Saturday, December 30, 2006

What a Way to End the Year...

With a trip to the emergency room! Yep, I spent the morning/afternoon in the ER. I am fine, but it turns out I have something called pleurisy. Basically it's an inflammation of the lining of the lungs, which causes pain when you breathe. I had been having weird, sharp pains in my chest, but I just thought it was nothing. : / This morning the pain actually awakened me from my sleep and just would not go away. I eventually called Rande at work and he said to definitely go the ER and have it checked out. Our dear friends the Maldies took me and after a bunch of tests, it was determined I had pleurisy. There isn't much you can do but take Aleve or Advil and eventually the pain will go away. The doctor thinks I developed it because I had two colds in the weeks before Christmas, which can cause this type of inflammation.

So...all I can say is...I am thankful it isn't anything more serious AND I have had enough of emergency rooms! I didn't say anything about it here on my blog, but I made another little trip to the ER a few months back. It turned out I had a (sorry for the details!) ruptured cyst on my ovary. I was in the most excruciating pain of my life and was (of course!) home alone so I had to call 911. NOT a fun thing to do when you are the wife of a firefighter. Anyway...through all the tests they did, it revealed some other things which are ongoing. I can't remember a time when I have been as sick or seen by so many different doctors as I have in the last 4 months. It has definitely given me compassion for those who suffer all the time with illnesses. I am very thankful though...nothing I am going through is very serious or life-threatening.

So that's my story for today. : ) Talk to y'all next year...Happy New Year!!!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas 2006

As some of you know, this was our daughter Ashleigh's first Christmas away from home. She and her wonderful husband, John (and our grandbaby) are in Colorado spending the holidays with John's family (go here to see pics). John hasn't been home for Christmas in eight years, so while we miss them, we know it's exactly where they need to be.

My hubby is a firefighter, which means sometimes he has to work on Christmas day. But this year he was off from work. So...because we didn't want to be home, just the three of us, missing Ash and her little family...we decided to do something REALLY crazy on Christmas day. We went to Disneyland!! : )

We broke from tradition (gasp!) and opened gifts after coming home from Christmas Eve service at church. It did feel a little strange at first, but somehow we made it through (LOL!).

Christmas morning we got up early and headed off to "the happiest place on earth". Our sis-in-law and her family met us there, which made eight of us in our group. We heard it might be crowded...and indeed it was! In fact, the park maxed out their attendance and had to turn people away. Despite the crowds, people were polite and I can't remember encountering a single rude person. The park was decorated so beautifully...lights everywhere, Christmas carols playing and one of the tallest Christmas trees I have ever seen. We went on a ton of rides, watched a couple of parades, saw a spectacular firework show and laughed A LOT...but most of all, we enjoyed being together as a family. We talked to Ashleigh throughout the day and shed a few tears because we missed each other (thanks John and Carol, for being so understanding!). It was a good day though...different, but good. I am really glad we went.

So that was our Christmas! I spent yesterday recovering...we were at Disneyland from 8am until it closed at midnight. Crazy, I know. : )

Have a great Wednesday!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

"For unto us a child is born,
unto us a son is given:
and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called
Wonderful, Counsellor,
The Mighty God,
The Everlasting Father,
The Prince of Peace."
Isaiah 9:6


It matters not, that we don't know the exact date of Christ's birth...was matters most is that He was born. He was born to be the Savior of the world and then given so that all who believe in Him could have everlasting life. Truly...the Greatest Gift of all.

Wishing you and your family a blessed and joyous Christmas Day!

Chocolate Dipped Cookies...

I don't remember where I got the recipe for these cookies, but I have been making them for years. They are super easy and super yummy! They make nice Christmas gifts too...just put them in a wide-mouth canning jar, top with pretty fabric and a rafia bow.

Chocolate Dipped Cookies (for lack of a better name!)

1 box Ritz Crackers
1 jar of creamy peanut butter
1 jar of marshmallow fluff
2 packages of Candy Quick--chocolate flavor (or use any quick drying chocolate dip)

Melt Candy Quick according to package directions (I use the stove-top method, using a double boiler). Prepare the cookie filling by spreading one cracker with peanut butter and one with fluff. Put crackers together and dip in melted chocolate then place on wax paper until chocolate hardens. So easy!!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Walking In A Winter Wonderland...

I asked Ashleigh if I could post some of the pictures she has sent while they have been in Colorado. They are spending Christmas with John's folks in Leadville. The elevation is 10,500ft. Yep, it's WAY up there in the Rocky Mountains. John and Ash got married in Leadville, at the little church where John's dad is the pastor. John's parents are the best and I am so thankful our daughter married into such a wonderful Christian family.
John, Ashleigh and Troy pulling the freshly cut Christmas tree. They actually hiked up to find just the "perfect" tree...then John and his dad cut it down.

Troy and his daddy...enjoying the snow. : )


Troy helping his Grandma Baker and Mommy decorate the tree.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Window Update...

I know it's kind of hard to see...but I took this picture last night of our little Christmas tree (the one we decided to use instead of our big one) in front of one of the new windows. It looked so pretty with the lights off and the tree aglow! Zach and I sat there for the longest time...just staring at the window. : ) Rande didn't get to see the windows until this morning when he got home from work.

Today the workers installed the rest of the windows, but it didn't quite go as well as yesterday. One of the workers accidentally broke one. I guess it was leaning against something and he tripped and it fell to the ground. The contractor was here before we even knew there was a broken window, because they were afraid we would be very angry in light of all that happened with the old contractor. We weren't upset at all...are you kidding?! This is easy to fix and doesn't cost us a dime! Sure we have a piece of plywood up until tomorrow, but please...this is nothing!! LOL

We found out today the workers are going to start back up right after Christmas...so the work continues! Yeah!!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

It's Window Day!

I am happy, happy, HAPPY!! Today is "Window Day"...which actually means...after almost 2 years, our new windows are finally being installed.

It doesn't matter one bit that the temperature is only in the 30's and all that cold air is coming into my house as I write this. I will just bundle up even more because....my windows are finally being installed!! : )

I posted a few weeks ago about our nightmare (uh, I mean remodel) which has lasted nearly two years. In a nutshell, our contractor used the money we had already paid him (obviously not on our house) and left us with an unfinished home.

The windows though, have their own little "story". The contractor measured for new windows throughout the house and then we wrote him a check so he could order them. Seems normal enough, right? Well...when he confessed a few weeks later that he had used all of our money, it included the money for the windows. : ( He never ordered them. After months of waiting on our contractor to make good on his promise to repay us, we decided to order the windows ourselves and pay someone else to put them in. The company where we were ordering the windows from still had all the measurements, ect... in their computer system, so we went down and wrote another check (essentially paying for the windows a second time) and ordered the windows.

Three weeks later, the windows were delivered. Everything looked good, until I went to open one and realized it opened backwards. At first I thought I had it upside down, but I soon realized no, it truly opened backwards. My heart started to sink. I looked through all the windows. Every single one opened the wrong way.

We called the window company and they confirmed that this was the way the contractor put the order in. But the worst was yet to come.

Rande called the contractor to come out and look at the windows and after inspecting them further, he realized he had measured wrong, which meant...none of the windows were the right size. In plain terms...the windows were not going to work. At all. And because they are custom fit windows, we couldn't return them. Needless to say, we were stuck. : (

Fast forward a year later (this past summer). We had someone (who actually knew what they were doing) come out and measure properly. We hired a new contractor and ordered the windows again. Yep...for the THIRD time. Crazy, isn't it? But there has been a blessing in all of this mess. The company we ordered the windows from and the window manufacture, graciously gave us a much better deal this time around and we are very thankful for that.

So that's our window story and you can see why I am so HAPPY today! : )

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Brrrrr...It's Cold Outside

This was our evening sky tonight (from our backyard). You can't see it, but there is a mountain behind those storm clouds and I am sure when we wake up in the morning that mountain will be covered in beautiful white snow. There is a big storm coming our way tonight and we are supposed to get snow in our little desert town. Woo-hoo! I LOVE snow! : )

Thanks Guys!

In our family we have another tradition. This one started on Rande's side of the family. Each Thanksgiving and Christmas since the women cook, the men and boys do the dishes. Nice, huh? : ) Yes it is!! The funny thing is...the men often help with the cooking, but still have to do the dishes. There is no way the ladies would allow for anything else. This is one tradition that you can be sure is set in stone. : )

Before a man marries into the family, the other men pull him aside and warn him of the tradition which was started long ago by Rande's Grandpa Sperou...lest he change his mind about marrying his intended and joining our family.









But at least that man has a choice. There are those who are simply born into the family and have no choice. And yes indeed-y, we start them young! : )















So this past Thursday we celebrated Christmas with John, Ash and Troy before they left for Colorado. It's Troy's first Christmas, so here he is in the kitchen, "helping" Grandpa do the dishes. (John and Zach did their part, then left to deliver a food basket.)




Thanks guys, for being good sports. And thanks to Grandpa Sperou for starting this very excellent tradition!







Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Frienship and Gifts...

This morning I went to breakfast with an old friend. We went to a new little place in town and the food was really good. Most of all though, I was thankful for an opportunity to spend time with my friend. Our friendship has had some rough spots in the past few years and our families have gone in totally different directions. It was good to catch up and even though we didn't talk a lot about serious things, my prayer is that the Lord would use today as a stepping stone towards restoring the friendship. It will never be what it once was...and that's ok. In the past it was always wrought with stress. I left today feeling hopeful that maybe we can move forward in some way. What a wonderful gift that would be at Christmas time!
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I was able to go to breakfast this morning because my family is not home today. So...I just lit my Yankee candles, made some Starbucks coffee (added Pumpkin Spice creamer and just a little bit of whip cream) and now I am ready for a marathon gift wrapping session. It's so much easier when no one is around. : )

Have a great evening!

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Fiddler...

Here is Zach...in costume, just before yesterday's performance of "A Christmas Carol". Ashleigh and John went to the Saturday night performance, and Rande and I went to yesterday's matinee. It was very impressive to see the performance after only seeing rehearsals. It's amazing how it all comes together. Everyone has worked so hard and it's definitely paid off.

I let Zach sleep in this morning. After the Friday night opening performance, a Saturday morning cantata practice at church...then a Saturday night play performance...THEN church yesterday morning, the afternoon play performance...BACK to church for choir practice and then church last night...whew! He was so exhausted last night, that he didn't feel good. So yeah, I let him sleep this morning. : )

Commenting Woes...

I have heard of this happening to others, but it's never happen to me...until today. We have been crazy busy and I have missed reading everyone's blogs. So I made my beloved spinach salad for lunch and thought I would sit a spell, eat my lunch AND catch up with everyone. I was able to make a few comments on people's blogs, but then Blogger wouldn't let me post any more comments. : ( Ugh! So I'll try again later.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Uh-oh

Once again, this is Ashleigh, trying to work on my mama's blog. I tried to switch her to the Beta this morning, and, unlike when I switched mine, something went wrong. Now all comments are appearing as anonymous and without icons (with the two exceptions of Mom's and Happy Mama's). I've done about everything I can think of, but to no avail. Does anyone have any suggestions... or has anyone else had this problem??

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Easy Cheeseburger Pie


Wow! I am feeling rather "post-y" today. : )

Anyway...I just wanted to share a quick and easy recipe that my family loves. I am not big on using a lot of pre-packaged ingredients, but when life is busy and I don't have a lot of time to make a meal, I would rather do something quick and easy at home instead of getting fast-food. We had this tonight for dinner, served with coleslaw and green beans. It was delicious!


Bisquick Impossible Cheeseburger Pie

1 pound ground beef
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
1/2 cup Original Bisquick (or you can use Light Bisquick)
1 cup milk
2 eggs

Heat oven to 400°F. Grease 9" pie plate. Cook beef and onion until beef is brown; drain. Spread in pie plate; sprinkle with salt and cheese. Stir remaining ingredients until blended. Pour into pie plate. Bake about 25 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes.

Jesus Is The Reason...

If you have a moment, I would encourage you to read this post of Sarah's at In The Midst of It. I honestly wanted to cry after reading it. I appreciate the heart and honesty of her post and if you struggle with keeping your focus on the Lord during the busyness of the Christmas season...this is THE post to read.

"A Christmas Carol"

Tomorrow night is the opening night for our little town's version of Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol". Zach is involved in a community orchestra, which is accompanying the play and it's the first time the orchestra has done anything like this. The musicians and cast have been spending hours this week practicing and rehearsing. It's been quite the experience watching (and listening) to it all coming together.

What is amazing to me though, is seeing Zach up on stage. Not only is he behind the curtain playing in the orchestra, but he is also part of the cast as a fiddler (imagine that!). He has a few small speaking parts and plays a few songs. This is the boy who would reluctantly agree to put on a "show" with his sister, only to get scared at the last minute and run out of the room. Once during a children's Easter production at church, he was so scared being up in front of people, he started crying and had to be taken down from the platform.

You can see why it amazes his Dad and I. We would never have thought Zach would be doing something like this. This is really BIG for him!! And we are really proud of him for sticking with the commitment he has made. When this started months ago, he thought he was only playing with the orchestra. It hasn't always been easy (it's been a HUGE time commitment), but he has kept up with his church commitments, teaching fiddle lessons and school. It's been a neat thing to watch the Lord work through Zach, teaching him life lessons...important lessons...like commitment, time management, doing things even when it's hard and dealing with difficult people.

So tomorrow night (and for the next three weekends) he'll be "the fiddler" and I will be the nervous mom, praying for him to do his best. I trust that he will. : )

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

The Work Begins...

Can I say a loud "Woo-hoo"?!

The work on our remodel has officially begun! Or should I say the remodeling of our remodel has begun. The workers are here re-installing two sets of french doors and tomorrow work begins on our unfinished dining room.

Ahhh...the sound of a drill. It's music to my ears! : )

Monday, December 4, 2006

Christmas Traditions...

Does your family have any special Christmas traditions? Is there something you do that if you didn't do it, your Christmas celebration just wouldn't be the same?

In our family we have two special traditions. The first one is that every Christmas Eve we have Squash Soup (3 types of squash, Velveeta cheese, half-n-half...very low fat!), french bread and salad for dinner. I have even made it at the fire station when Rande has worked on Christmas Eve. I am not sure Zach will continue the tradition with his family though, because we found out a few years ago he doesn't even like the squash soup! After all these years we never noticed he ate mostly bread and salad. Poor guy. But it doesn't stop us from having it every year. : )

The other tradition we have is each December we go to Knott's Berry Farm. Knott's graciously allows firefighters and their families in for free or a reduced rate (depending on how many guests you have). They started this tradition in the early 90's and we have taken advantage of it every year. We enjoy the rides (and the Christmas Craft Fair) during the day and end our time in the park by going to the Bird Cage Theatre to see "A Christmas Carol". Then we head over to Mrs. Knott's Chicken restaurant and wait in the long line (1-1 1/2 hrs.). It's SO worth it!! The chicken, the boysenberry pie...it's all so good! After we eat all that comfort food, we make the long trek home. Oh, but we have to stop at Starbucks first. : )

I've posted some pictures of our trip this past Friday to Knott's. It was Troy's first time, so I am warning you...Proud Grammie Pictures Ahead!


Troy and his daddy on the merry-go-round


Zach and Troy


Grandpa Dule and Troy pretending to be NASCAR drivers


Grammie and her Little Man waiting in line at the Chicken restaurant

**I didn't post a picture of Troy and his mommy because all of them had a lot of people in the background.**