Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Blog

**Update....  his blog is now live.  You can find it here.**

So, Don has a new blog starting soon that's about a BIG fitness goal of his... you know *ahem* just like my blog is usually about.

I'll link to it as soon as it goes live (1/1/2011).  'Kay?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Our Christmas Eve so far

Has consisted of:



And science experiments.

All in our jammies. Merry Christmas!

- Darla

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ode to Joy (Re-Run)

*I just heard this song on the radio, and it reminded me of this blog post, originally posted in 2008.  It is still true today!

Last night I was practicing with the trio for a song we're singing on Sunday. It's called JOY.

I don't know about you, but it is SO EASY to forget to be joyful this "joyful" time of year...

I've been crazy-busy at work. The economy makes my stomach hurt. We've all been sick. I haven't finished all my Christmas shopping. ALL of that can distract from our joy if we let it.

The thing is, circumstances don't HAVE to be "just so" in order to have joy. We don't have to have joy BECAUSE of our circumstances. We can have joy IN them.

I can have joy "just because." In my mind, it's a decision I can make.I CHOOSE JOY.

There are some things that give me joy no matter what is going on:

Hebrews 13:5-6
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" That gives me joy... we're not alone in this!

There are other things (maybe not so spiritual) that give me joy (not a complete list... I always think of other things to add as soon as I push "Publish"):
Music... singing it, playing it, listening to it. Right now, I'm LOVING Christmas music... Mariah, Jessica Simpson, Amy Grant, Point of Grace, Avalon (whose song JOY we're singing!)Reading... it can be an escape if it's fiction, funny and/or motivating if it's non-fiction, and completely inspired by God if it's the Bible! :) 
Family... there's a special kind of joy I feel when I spend time with my family. My kids and hubby are joy-provoking. And the rest of my family... well, all I can say is that I'm thrilled that I'll get to spend so much time with them in the next few weeks!Friends... joy, joy, joy!!! There are some I see all the time, some I only see every couple years, and a lot in between... and I count them ALL joy! You should have seen how "joyful" I was with Cara and Ginger last night while we were practicing... I was doing my "joyful"cheerleading jumps while they were doing their solos... (I was NOT a cheerleader, in case you were wondering! Nor do I have one ounce of coordination! But I was immature joyful!)
Photography... it's an old love that's been renewed in the past few years, thanks to my hubby's NEW love for it. Sometimes we tussle over the camera! There's something about documenting EVERYTHING that helps to remind me what's REALLY important in my life...

What are your thoughts? Are they joyful?

I will joy in the God of my salvation. --Hab. iii. 18.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Talented Photographer

Sis borrowed my camera the other day to go outside and take some photos.  I think some of them turned out amazing!

Without any (more) comment, here are Sis's photos.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Did they not realize how close to Thanksgiving it was?

A few weeks ago, we were sitting in the great room on a Sunday afternoon when we noticed some visitors right outside our side door.

Four turkey (turkeys?  no, turkey.  RIGHT?) were right outside our door.  And stayed, even while we called the kids in.  And got my camera.  And got as close as I thought I could without them hearing me talk quietly through the doors.

Look how close I was able to get.  Isn't that amazing?

Then they got bored of us all staring at each other, and took off down the stairs.

They were hanging out right off the driveway, but kept looking back at us as if to say:  aren't y'all coming (well, assuming they're a little southern)?

So, Sis decided to follow.

They actually let her lead them all around the yard.

Once Sis got finished with all the fun, she came back inside and Don was lying on our bed watching TV when he heard a knock on our back door.  Yup, the turkeys were back and were apparently feeling neglected.  No photos of them on the back, but it was a crazy, amazing day with the turkeys!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mysterious Mysterio

So, hehe.  Remember a few months ago, when it was October?  Do ya?  And it was, um, Halloween?  Yeah, I barely do, too.

But funny thing... I was just downloading photos from my camera today to get it ready for the kids' Christmas program tonight, and guess what I found?


Well, of Bub anyway.  Did I mention that Sis decided she was too old to dress up this year?  Oh, the sadness!  (From me, not from her!)  Although, when she heard me tell someone else she was finished dressing up, she informed me that she just wasn't dressing up for THIS year... and it wasn't so much that she was too old as she didn't like what I was going to have her dress up as.  Ah well.

But my GOOD child (just kidding...) (REALLY!) did want to dress up.  As a character I'm not familiar with.  And he LOVES!

His name is Rey Mysterio, and he's a wrestler with the WWE.  THIS is what he look like.

This is EXACTLY how I hoped my son would dress for Halloween... as a masked, shirtless dude with tattoos all over him.

So, guess what he dressed up instead?

Haha!  I TRICKED you!  He really did dress up as Rey Mysterio.

Except his mean mom wouldn't let him go in the cold temperature with no shirt on (say, WHAT?).

So, Don, Sis and I created Bub's costume... on Halloween Day.  Bub wanted to wear green pants (which I guess Mr. Mysterio sometimes wears), so the only pair I could find were in the Women's department at the Walmarts.  So I bought those, and pinned them up in the waist.  Then I did the fancy lettering down both legs of the pants, just as Bub requested.

We bought a long-sleeved white t-shirt that we drew "tattoos" all over to try to replicate Mr. M's tattoos. And then Bub wore his mask that he got at the State Fair a few years ago (yes, he's loved Mr. M that long!).

Here are the finished results.  Please don't be frightened of his intimidating tattoos.  He really IS a softy on the inside.

Happy Halloween, y'all!  And a Merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cookie Baking Extravaganza Weekend

Cookie lovers, beware!  The Brown Family is attempting a cookie baking EXTRAVAGANZA weekend!  I believe I've mentioned on here that I'm not a baker... or even a cook, really... or a good housekeeper...  hmmm, I don't really like where this is going.  :)

But two years ago, we had our first family cookie baking time.  And it was fun.  At least for a while.  Then last year, I'm not sure what happened (perhaps LIFE?), but we didn't have our "fun."

This year, we're stretching it out for a full weekend.  Really, it's for our sanity, more than anything else.  So that way, if we get snippy and/or tired and/or bored, we can take a break, and get back to it later.  You know, instead of leaving some partially done cookies in the freezer for TWO YEARS.  *ahem*

So, here's what's on our agenda this weekend.

Chocolate Chip Cookies (so far, I'm planning on these, but if anyone has any tried/true recipes for this, I'm all ears!).
Sugar cut-out cookies (totally gonna cheat on these... already bought the store-made dough)
Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies
Homemade Oreos
Cake poppers
Chocolate peppermint bark cookies

Pretty ambitious, huh?  I'll document our successes and failures and let you know!

Wish us luck!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Thankful - Part 2

In list form:

1. Seat warmers in my car. I've never had them before, but I'm pretty sure I'll never be able to live without them again.

2. HummDinger Diet Pepsis from Hit n Run. For those of you not familiar with these delights, we have a local chain of drive-thru convenience stores called Hit n Run. They have the BEST fountain Pepsis (& diet) around. The HummDinger is their 32 oz drink. It's the best $0.99 deal around.

3. Tonight is my last class for this session. I don't teach again until March. This session has been CHALLENGING and I'm glad for the small break.

4. Wrestling season has begun again. For a sport I still don't understand very well, I've come to enjoy watching Bub beat the snot outta other boys (or vice versa). Weird, eh? I also enjoy my "wrestling friends" that I only see regularly this time of year.

5. I get to go to a book club tonight. This is the perfect type of gathering to me. It meets my need for socialization and my need for soaking up books. They've already met, but I've not gotten to go yet due to my class schedule. But did I mention that tonight's the last class? And they're just taking an exam (no lecture afterwards)? Rock and roll!

6. I'm thankful for my hubby who is taking the kids to watch Monday Night Football so I can go to Book Club. And that he now uses the less than three sign to text me that he loves me. (<3 for those of you unfamiliar with this texting lingo). And that he works so hard for our family.

7. I'm thankful (I think) that my self-imposed Facebook sabbatical is almost over. I took some time off because I felt like it was consuming too much time. Then I stayed off because teaching this class on top of everything else I had going on took all my spare time. So I'll soon be back. Or maybe a moderated version of the old Facebook me. Like a me that doesn't spend QUITE so much time on there. Did you get thankful from all that?

Today, these are the things I'm thankful for. What about you?

- Darla

Monday, November 29, 2010

Drug Free Poem #1 by Bub

If this doesn't convince you to stay drug-free, I don't know what will.

In case you can't read it, here's what it says:

My Drug Free Poem #1

How do you be drug free?  Just be like me.  All you have to do is not try it once so you don't get addicted.  But if you do try it, your in for a ride of misery.   That's what red ribbon week is all about right, so let's share the love and not try drugs.  Your still tempted?  Just follow these easy steps:
1.  Try not to try one.
2.  Throw away any drugs you see in your house.
3.  Engurage your parents not to use drugs.

Be Drug Free Like Me!

I hope this helps you in your journey to stay drug free.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thankful - Part 1

So, we're going to pretend that I haven't practically abandoned this blog except for a few here and there from my phone, 'kay?

Instead, I'm going to begin focusing* on what I'm thankful for.

Today the focus is on Sis.

Sis is 11 now.  And NOT amused when she knows I write about her.  Or take her photo.  Or sometimes look at her.  You know, 11.

But I am oh so thankful for that girl.  She's had some rough times coming into this age of puberty, but she's coming through with shining colors, in my opinion.  She loves God, her friends and her family FIERCELY!

She's grown a LOT this year.  She just went for a checkup and is 5 foot tall... that's only 3 inches shorter than me!  Did I mentioned she's 11???

I'm going to be really sad if the day ever hits that she DOESN'T enjoy hanging out with me.  She likes to shop with me (yay!) and has a fun sense of style.

She's not afraid to be herself instead of trying to be like everyone else... which, to be honest, is something I've prayed for.  I love that she's always been such an individual... I'd hate for her tween/teen years to be spent trying to be someone else or like someone else.  This next photo was for a mis-match party, but her style isn't too far off of this (she might not wear a tie with this outfit normally!  ha).  I love it!

While she's always been great at art (she's at art lessons right now, in fact), she's struggled to find a physical activity that she really enjoys.  She took swimming lessons for years, but had no desire to compete on the swim team, and eventually begged to quit.  She's been taking martial arts for several months now, and LOVES IT!  She goes twice a week and hasn't ONCE tried to beg off going.

This past week was her first testing period for her class.  She tested for her yellow belt, and while I could tell she was really nervous, SHE DID GREAT!  They even commented on her "report card" how confident she seemed.  She even broke a board with a heel kick!

Last night was her "belting ceremony" where she received her yellow belt.  I'll post later with real (non iPhone) photos, but I did sneak one in with my phone.  As we left, she told me that she feels really accomplished doing this.

In addition, I'm thankful that she has nice girls in her class this year.  They all seem so inclusive and sweet.  I'm thankful that I'm able to volunteer for 1/2 hour at her class each week to read with a group (and meet all her friends).  I'm thankful that she has a great teacher and principal this year.  I'm thankful that she's been memorizing more scriptures through her Wednesday night class.  I'm thankful she's so curious about words/ideas/sights and she's willing to ask me about them.  I'm thankful that she loves hanging out with her parents!  I'm thankful that she gets along (mostly) with her brother (just don't tell them I've noticed, or they might change their behavior!).

I'm just thankful.

*did you know that focusing only had one "s?"  That's something that red squiggly line just taught me.  The end

Friday, November 19, 2010

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Story in Pictures - Shopping for a Suit

So, let's suppose there's a shop at an outlet mall in Vegas called Sarar.

Apparently, the store is pronounced sar-AR, but Tom, Jenny and Darla decide to pronounce it sahr-ahr. You know, while Don tries on lots and lots (& lots!) of suits. I

What do you guys think?

Dude, I was done shopping as soon as we got here.

ANOTHER suit??

I am frightened of all these choices!

Ok, guys, this is my last suit I'm trying on.

Woo hoo!

Rock and roll, dude!

Oh, I'm so happy to leave!

The end.
- Darla

Views from Vegas, Take 1

Here's a Parisian street scene... INSIDE! Unbelievable!

There are tons of people dressed up for you to take photos with on the strip (for a few bucks, of course). Here's the back of Homer Simpson.

Gondolas going by in the canal at the Venetian, again INSIDE!!

A painting I saw at an art gallery. Had to send this mature message to my kids! :)

A shot straight up the Eiffel Tower at Paris (where we stayed the first half of the trip).

A nighttime view of Treasure Island and the pirate ship in front of it.

It's over the top, huge and overwhelming. But oh so fascinating.

- Darla

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Viva Las Vegas

They call it Sin City.

I'm not planning on doing any sinning. Just maybe some sunning.

The say: What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

Well, then how can I blog about it? Because I fully intend to blog about it.

So "they'll" have to go fly a kite and let me enjoy my trip. Prepare yourself for lots of high quality iPhone pics since I forgot to pack my camera.

Don, who's already there, texted me this photo. This was his view at breakfast.

Can't wait!

- Darla

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hair's a changin'

*FYI  - I did NOT shrink in size while I got my hair straightened, even though the photo shows that I did!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Happy Birthday to...

A great daddy and husband...
A good-lookin' man...
My best friend.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

World's Fair 2010

So, I've mentioned before the World's Fair of our little town.  It's not ACTUALLY the World's Fair (obviously), but it's become the carnival's unofficial name...

It's always a great time, though, to see people (ALL KINDS of people... sometimes I wonder where all these people come from... I don't run into all of them at our grocery store... or at the parent/teacher meetings at school... but I digress),

to ride rides (but only on the cheap day, Labor Day Monday... except for when a nice teenager gives Bub some tickets, THEN the kids get to ride ONE ride beforehand), and to EAT!  That's why I go... to eat.  But I did stay away from the fried Oreos... this year, anyway!

The kids were pumped for the rides this year!

Bub decided to ride the Storm... it's part of his year of conquering his fears (let's not talk about the scary water slide he rode earlier in the summer... GAH)!

Here he is right beforehand...  I couldn't even take any pictures during the ride, because just watching him go round and round made me sick!
I was a little afraid his reaction afterward would be the same as the water slide...  no such worries!!

Then on to Pharoah's Fury...  WOW, they got high in the sky!
Then the Himalaya (don't think I remembered all these names by myself... I had to ask the kids)
And finally, Bub wanted to play the hammer game to see how hard he could hit the hammer and make the bell ring.  What I liked about the ride is that all kids won a prize (but just so you know... Bub DID hit the bell!).
All in all, a great day.  Great weather, great family time, great rides, and oh yeah, GREAT FOOD!

Last year's World's Fair:  here