I'm trying so desperately to put my experiences in Zimbabwe into words for you. I have draft posts just sitting there, waiting for me to hit the publish button. Why can't I just spit it out? Why can't I just share with you all the things we experienced over there?

I'm so frustrated. I write, I delete. I write some more....I delete again. It's not coming out like I want it to! I feel as though I'm communicating dissatisfaction, complaint....even disgust....when all I want is to verbalize the reality of their situation. There were so many beautiful moments - that when isolated from the unfavorable circumstances - aren't quite as beautiful. It's something I want so badly to be able to express eloquently and with all the emotions that I felt with each day - but feel as though I'm falling short. I want to get it just right...

In response to the recent article "10 Myths about Introverts" floating about Facebook lately, I felt the irrepressible need to explain the extroverts of the world. Read with enjoyment - and an open heart! :)

Myth #1 - Extroverts like to talk and can't be silent.

  • It's not so much that we LIKE to talk - but what we DON'T like. Which is awkward silence. This is what occurs when you put a bunch of introverts in a room who don't like making small talk! We like to "break the ice" and talk about anything and everything we can think of, just to avoid the awkwardness of everyone pretending not to be listening or looking at anyone else in the room. If others are talking and there's no awkwardness - we embrace the opportunity to stop brainstorming random and totally unnecessary subjects!
Myth #2 - Extroverts need to be the center of attention.
  • Need? No. We simply ARE, due to introverts not me...I believe it's refusing to "beat(ing) around the bush with social pleasantries". There we go. Or liking to spend an abundant amount of time in public. We end up being the center of attention by default!
Myth #3 - Extroverts enjoy public speaking.
  • Just because we are comfortable talking to YOU and the person standing next to you (and the next person that comes along), does NOT mean that we have any desire to talk to a room full of people at once. Our level of comfort in verbally communicating with others stops when they actually all stop to listen and do not respond. Must I use the word "awkward" again?
Myth #4 - Extroverts love meeting people.
  • Though we get our energy from being around others, do not mistake this for wanting to be the designated "new person" greeter. Being shoved towards a person that no one in the room knows is just as uncomfortable for us, as it is for introverts. However - unlike introverts - we don't know how it is possible to make friends WITHOUT first going through the inevitable "small talk" phase that introverts hate so much. So we push through the hesitation and discomfort and just do it. (Think about it, introverts - your closest friends are extroverts who did exactly what you think is unnecessary to do in public, aren't they?? AREN'T they?!)
Myth #5 - Extroverts don't want to be alone.
  • How would you know? You only see us when we're around you. :)
Myth #6 - Extroverts have a lot of energy.
  • Trust me on this one. We. do. not. exert. any. energy. at. home. YOU give us energy! Isn't that the biggest compliment in the world? We are ONLY energetic when we are around you! We love getting to know you, and finding out more about you, and spending time with you! Woo-hoo....I'm getting more energy just thinking about thinking about you! It doesn't have to be in big groups, either. Extroverts just enjoy spending time with someone other than themselves.
Myth #7 - Extroverts don't need time to recharge.
  • Our recharge is faster than your recharge. Not to sound arrogant or anything. Nothing to brag about, really. kinda is. Do you remember the last time an extrovert excused themselves to the potty? Yep - that's all it takes. Really. We excuse ourselves, head on down to the john, and let everything that's going on sink in. Then we're ready for round 2!
Myth #8 - Extroverts are not shy.
  • We can be. *buries face in jacket*
Myth #9 - Extroverts don't have close friends, but a lot of acquaintances.
  • Here's the thing. We are capable of being interested in more than 5 people at one time on a deeper level. However - we still invest the majority of our emotional baggage in a few lucky individuals - just like you introverts do. I just think we prepare ourselves with back-ups in case our emotions get smashed by close friends we shared them with! Who wants to be left all alone when a close friend moves on or away???? Oh. That's right. Introverts do.
Myth #10 - Extroverts don't care what others think.
  • The biggest myth of them all! Extroverts have self-confidence issues just as you do! When people look at us across the room, we wonder if they're approving our newest clothing ensemble or simply checking out the fresh pimple beside our nose. The difference is - we typically just ask them! I mean, don't introverts "want everyone to just be real and honest"? What better way than to verbally confirm their suspicion??

***UPDATE: Note to all my anonymous readers.

Zimbabwe was more than I could have studied, been told about, or imagined. More emotional. More raw. More surreal. More shocking. More spiritual. Going there managed to tear me down, yet build me up. I felt ashamed of my selfishness, yet proud of my determination. Hesitant to learn more of their everyday reality, yet drawn to each individual story.

I have failed at any attempt I've made to describe my time there thus far - resulting in confusion and a lot of self-examination. Part comedy, part obsurdity - I envisioned myself somewhat as a mission superhero before leaving the states. Flying to a foreign country with a heart determined to seek and save, bringing material possessions that have little to no importance in my life as the ultimate sacrifice for someone with less, "surviving" on mere bread, rice, and chicken - all to make my Father smile down and say"Well done, my good and faithful servant".

But the closest I got to being a superhero was wrapping my towel around my neck as a cape.

They don't need a superhero. They need to see the love God has for them -through us. And when I whisked in with my charming smile and bag of tricks - I wonder where I left the simple sincerity of a heart longing to touch a single soul for Jesus. Somehow it became a matter of impressing them with my willingness to share a bag of candy from the dollar tree, rather than impressing ON them the ultimate gift and sacrifice that's been given for us. If there had been a video camera and some sad music in the background, my interactions would have made a perfect commercial for sponsoring an orphan on TV. It was so easy to get caught up in the moment of 50 kids all wanting to hold your hand at the same time. Such a boost to the ego!

Needless to say, I'm struggling with feelings of failure. Failing those who gave financially to send us there. Those who prayed for our effectiveness during those 14 days. And failing God. Most of all - God. I pray the door he opened for us resulted in good beyond my line of vision. That the failure I feel results in a renewed appreciation for the time I have with others.

My new reality is that...perhaps...the person whose soul needing saving the most during those 2 weeks - was mine.

I wasn't prepared for that possibility. Realizing my lack of superpowers and level of spiritual immaturity was an unwelcome surprise. But I'm finally ready to tell you about God's power beyond my blind arrogance. He did some pretty amazing things while I was over there. Stay tuned. Snapshots of our Lord's awesomeness to come.
It's necessary that I update you on Satan's losing battle in raising funds for Chris and I to serve in Zimbabwe in less than 6 weeks!

Since my last post, we have been blessed with friends who have stepped forward to support us. Not only am I aware of many prayers going up on our behalf, but we have had $640 dollars pledged to us ($250 specifically for our bills in October), and an additional $100 check given to us for our travel insurance since then. One of my past bosses here at work also told me on Friday that she was going to try and rally funds for us through people I work with and with those in her close circle of friends. Though we still have a ways to go, I fully believe that God is going to bless us with the means to go. We're still hoping and praying that Chris's health insurance kicks in before the second rounds of shots, saving us around $200.

We had the wonderful opportunity of spending a fair amount of time this past week with the group from Wichita, Kansas that we'll be joining forces with over in Zimbabwe. It was my first time meeting them, and based on how bad my stomach muscles hurt from laughing, I'd say it's a good match. They are all such sweet and loving people, and seem to share in my desire for a sense of humor in dealing with life. It only got me more excited to serve over there with them.

In other news, Chris and I both got this weird bug on Saturday. He woke up in the middle of Friday night, vomiting. He thought it was the pizza he had had for dinner the night before. Throughout the morning, he developed a headache, and still felt nausous, but eventually began feeling better slightly after lunchtime. Then, in the middle of the afternoon, I started vomiting....but I hadn't had the pizza from the night before. I then got a headache and felt nauseous. But 12 hours later, I was fine again. It was the weirdest thing.

As another update - I've lost 22lbs. total since I started my "Fathead"!. I've plateaud the past month or so, but I know all I need to do is get my butt on the treadmill to jumpstart it. I've kept my eating on track, and continued taking my vitamins. Saying (and thinking) I need to lose 53lbs. is a lot easier to deal with than 75lbs, though. Slowly, but surely!

Please keep praying for us as we prepare ourselves for the upcoming mission!
The devil is a nasty little thing. He works through the thoughts in my mind and on the strings of my heart in ways I easily turn a blind eye to. Ways that make evil seem like a natural reality.

We have exactly 46 days before we leave for Zimbabwe. Mine and Chris's first mission trip opportunity as a couple. I wondered if we'd ever be able to do something like this together, as marriage tends to lead quickly towards having kids, who tend to suck all your time and money, which tends to leave little opportunity for fulfilling God's work beyond the boundaries of your home. But we've been blessed with this amazing opportunity to serve in an African country. Training over the past year has overflowed with information about the country, the culture, and hypothetical situations we should be prepared for. Emotionally and spiritually preparing ourselves (if that's even possible) for the poverty we are about to witness and the everyday reality of yet another child dying from AIDS or malnutrition. And now we're down to the last 6 weeks. My heart starts racing faster everytime I think about how close it's getting.

So where's the devil in all this? He makes me forget that Jesus was able to raise the dead. That God spoke to Moses in a burning bush. That miracles do happen. He's allowed the stress of the financial aspect of this trip to burden me to the point of tears. To make me question if we should be going at all. To feel bitter about the letters we sent out to friends and family asking for support twice - and not getting a single response. To underestimate God's power and ability to work it all out. I mean....realistically...Martha lost hope when Jesus didn't make it to Lazarus' bedside before he died. And was already placed in a tomb. But that didn't matter. And I haven't lost faith that God can and will provide the money for us to do His work.

We originally had to raise $6,000 for the trip, which was due in full last night. Through the support of my immediate family, our church's mission budget, and our own money, we have raised $3,200. Our tickets were bought at $2016.30/each. So without looking at any other aspect of the trip, we now owe $922.60 for the flight alone. The devil tells me it'll never happen. God tells me to trust in Him.

I sat down last night to add up the bare minimum we will need outside of that amount. Including 2 rounds of shots for both of us, money for visas, food, TSA locks for our luggage, emergency money for the "just in case", and travel insurance - we're looking at another $1,200. The devil tells me it'll never happen. God tells me to trust in Him.

Unfortunately, Chris will be missing out on 2 paychecks while we are away, as he has no paid vacation time available at his job. So we also have to have extra money in the bank at the end of September to cover the bills in October we'll still have. At the VERY least - $250. Ideally, $500. The devil tells me it'll never happen. God tells me to trust in Him.

The women are required to wear skirts that come to their ankles during the trip. I have 2. Which means I have to go buy several more. Our team, as a whole, is planning on leaving the majority of our clothing behind when we come back. Chris will also need to purchase clothes to take and leave in Africa. Purchasing 2 weeks' worth of clothes at a thrift store for both Chris and I will be at least $100. The devil tells me it'll never happen. God tells me to trust in Him.

I haven't lost faith. I know God can provide for us to go on this trip. And I know I can't just sit back and wait for Him to perform a miracle. My biggest fear is coming across as a desperate beggar. But I can't allow the devil to crush my faith in God for the next 6 weeks. Matthew 7:7 tells me that I should "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." If you have a heart for missions, and are able to join us in this effort, please visit and click on the “donations” tab at the top. Or, if you have further questions, feel free to email me at .

I will continue to keep you updated on the mission, and are so thankful for the continued love and support you provide. Please keep us in your prayers as we continue preparing for our time over there!

My wonderful husband had the misfortune of losing his wedding band before we even hit our 1 year anniversary! He lost in the ocean one day we were at the beach, and the reality of having to replace his wedding band multiple times over the upcoming years (being realistic and all) was financially frustrating! He's not allowed to wear his ring at work, as it's a safety issue. So IF he wears it to work, he has the potential of losing it there. And obviously, when he's not at work....well....we know about those possibilities.

I may be old-fashioned and all, but I'm pretty strong on the opinion that wedding rings are necessary, not optional, in the world of psycho women today. So it was really important that we got him a new one as soon as possible.

One Wednesday night at church, someone told him about another guy who had gotten his ring tattooed on his finger. I'd heard of it before - but Chris apparently never had. He was highly intrigued and began looking into it. It would solve all our problems! It was cheaper, didn't create a safety issue at work, and he would never be at risk of losing it! And that was pretty much the end of our discussion. Unfortunately, the detail in his original wedding ring was too fine to tattoo on his finger, so he had to decide on another one he wanted. He's always really liked this Christian fish motorcycle symbol. He said it would combine his three greatest loves into one!

So I called him on my way home last night, and ask if he wanted to go check into getting it done. I thought a weeknight would be faster to walk-in without an appointment and get it done. The guy we met did not seem at all thrilled about the idea of doing a ring tattoo. He began telling us that there was no point doing it on the inside of his finger, because it would rub off rather quickly. He then let us know that the top would probably wear off, too, as much as someone typically washes their hands. We were well aware of all of this, and knew that there would probably need to be refreshers in the future. He just wanted to make sure his butt was covered! After we convinced him we understood it all, and had no problem with it, he finally set his station up.

He initially though Chris just wanted the symbol outline on top of his finger, but we told him we wanted it to look like an actual band. I couldn't see any of what was actually being tattooed while it was going on, so I hoped that the guy understand what we were wanting. He got down as far on the sides of his finger as he could, then said he couldn't go any further, do to the lack of space for the needle in-between Chris's fingers. That made sense. So it's not all the way around - not even past the point in you see in the picture, really - but we both love how it turned out! Even with tip, it was cheaper than replacing his old wedding band, and we were both so excited about it! Yay for lifetime commitment!!!

VBS and I have a love/hate relationship. It takes over my life for about 2-3 weeks every year. And by the time it actually starts, I'm ready for it to be over! Although we didn't have an earth-shattering attendance to constitute the extravagency of it all, we still managed to go above and beyond our efforts from the year before.

Last year we held VBS on Friday night and Saturday. We felt our efforts would pay off even more if we held VBS over a 4 day period. So Wednesday-Saturday was dedicated to sending kids 3 to 11 years old through a time warp, back to Nazareth when Jesus was alive. As soon as they entered "Nazareth", they were greeted at a tent, where they were assigned to a Tribe. Once in their tribe, they met for celebration time in the "main" part of Nazareth. There were sheeps, roosters, and hay galore (not pictured)!!

The rock wall pictured was the bain of many people's existence. Not only did it takes hours and hours of labor - but then fell apart at least twice before VBS actually began. I guess the good part is that it stayed together during VBS!

From celebration time, they either headed to the Marketplace, where they spent their coins to purchase food or "authentic" Nazarian souvenirs that they helped create, outside for some Nazarian games, or into my (virgin Mary's) house for some reminiscing about Jesus in the good ol' days. My nosy neighbor, Eunice, would often "interrupt" my storytelling to tell the tribes that she didn't believe any of my stories. This gave the kids an opportunity to tell her why they believed in Jesus and why they loved him. It was a ton of fun, but totally exhausting every night. I had the fortune/misfortune of doing the same skit 4 times every night. I was a pro at the end of it, for sure!! Bring it on, Babylon 2012!

Chris and I were one of the last ones to find out ABC's Extreme Home Makeover was coming to Fayetteville. Apparently they had already had a pep rally the week before to gather interest and volunteers. Somehow, we both missed all of that! Chris was extremely excited for the opportunity to volunteer and help on this project, and went online to register to volunteer. We both figured it would be on the outskirts of town..more in the Blue Ridge Log Cabins was the company building the house. No way they would put a log cabin in town!

Thursday morning, the day they were set to arrive, I was driving to work and heard on the radio that the winner of the extreme home makeover lived off Langdon Street, in Seabrook Hills! WHAT?! That's where I work! And why is this radio guy telling the whole city, when no one is supposed to know until they knock on the door at 10am??! I was about 2 minutes away from work started looking down neighborhood streets to see if anything was blocked off. I saw a cop escorting a textile truck away from Langdon...two trucks waiting by with road block signs...then the parking lot in front of my building was completely blocked off. Woo-hoo! It's gonna be right here! I got to my office and began looking up exactly which neighborhood was Seabrook Hills. I was gonna beat those road block trucks to it!

The news reported that Ty would be knocking on the door at 10am, so I grabbed a coworker, jumped in the car, and headed to Seabrook Hills. We drove by street after street, looking for some sign of their arrival. I wanted to witness it! We even got an escort through the neighborhood by somebody that lived there! But there was nothing. At 10 to 10:00, I frantically crossed the street to another neighborhood. Maybe he meant Seabrook Park...not Hills. We drove in and out, up and down...street after street...after street. An hour later, I "yelled" at Ty for being late on the one day he's supposed to be in Fayetteville. My coworker was convinced that we just hadn't found the right neighborhood. I drove down the other end of Langdon, to turn around and head back to work...when we saw 3 cops in the middle of a main road with their lights on. Then we saw an ambulance pull out. Must have been an accident.

So we sat there and waited for traffic to move....and instead of turning right to go back to work, I was curious what was up ahead. So I kept straight. Low and behold....we found it! Well...we found the bus, anyway! And hundreds of people surrounding it in their blue shirts! And the designers! I was so excited...I pulled off the side of the road to take a picture....just to have a cop stop traffic and tell me to back myself back out! :) I wanted to find a legitimate place to park and get out, but my coworker felt we should get back to work. So I took an incredibly lame picture from my phone and reluctantly went back to my office.

We found out later that when we had seen the bus - it had actually just gotten to town. They didn't go knock on the door till noon. And although the house IS on Langdon St. - it was NOT in Seabrook Hills like the trusty radio DJ said it was!

Fast forward to Sunday night/morning. When Chris went to volunteer, the only shift he could work was 2am-8am Sunday morning. And so he did! He arrived an hour early - got his shirt, a hard hat, and went to work! He said when he got there, they stated that they were 7 hours behind on the project. The part that doesn't make sense to me is that they then were only 45 minutes behind when he left. Way to pick up the pace! Chris said that all the surrounding neighbors had been put up in hotels due to the amount of noise and light needed at night. He was given a list of rules he had to follow as a of which included no pictures. So he didn't take our camera. However, he thinks the guy in charge of yelling at those people was gone, as everyone around him had cameras and were freely taking pictures. The house is worth $750,00, and feels like 2 separate houses put together by a breezeway. The right side will house the director of the center and her family, and the left side has 5 full apartments with kitchens and all....that will hold 5 homeless women and their children. Both sides also have a full basement. They told Chris that it was the biggest house that had even been done on Extreme Home Makeover before.

They opened the project up for spectators starting on Saturday, 8am-8pm. People can park their cars at Fayetteville State University and take a shuttle bus to an area in front of the house. Stay as long as you want and take as many pictures as you want! I haven't gone myself yet - probably won't. But I will get to drive by it every day from here on out!

Michelle Obama is also gracing us with her presense for the final day on Thursday. They said she was coming to "volunteer"...but the house will be done on Thursday. So I feel safe knowing her hands won't get too dirty. I'm going to see if I can be a part of the crazy crowd yelling "Move That Bus!"...but then's going to be hot. I may just wait to see it on TV. Which is schedule to air on October 21st. Mark your calendars.

The following link has a video of the story and progress. Check out how small the house is to the left of the new home!! Ha!
Comically, I blog the most when I'm bored. Hence, when there is no blog post update - I'm busy doing things that are actually blog-worthy. Allow me to catch you up on the past month, in short. Let's pick up on my last diet (where all my blogposts could potentially start off!)
  • Continued on my low-fat diet.

  • Only lost 3lbs. on it.

  • Drove to Tennessee for my nephew's 2nd birthday.

  • Bought 200lbs. of sand to create a sandbox for his birthday.

  • Took my 4 year old nephew to the Planetarium, where he was afraid we would leave planet Earth forever.

  • Bought him honey sticks his mom would object to.

  • Gave him candy his mom would object to.

  • Gave him spaceman ice cream his mom would object to.

  • Attempted to create a slip-n-slide out of a tarp and dishwashing liquid.

  • Got made fun of by my sister for eating a low-fat muffin for breakfast.

  • Was told by my sister about a low-carb documentary called "Fat Head".

  • Drove home and watched Fat Head.

  • Decided to switch my low-fat diet to a low-carb diet.

  • Put my scale in the back of my car, so I wouldn't weigh myself for a month.

  • Engorged on everything I couldn't eat on my low-fat diet.

  • Ate more bacon, pepporoni, and hotdogs in the first week than I care to admit.

  • Realized I could have REAL ranch dressing.

  • Made a bowlful of Outback Ranch dressing.

  • Have only eaten 3 salads since then.

  • Made 2 pans of brownies for my husband's co-workers.

  • Surprised myself by not licking the bowl or spoon in the process.

  • Found out my husband's shoulder injury got denied by worker's comp.

  • Cried about money.

  • Got an unexpected check in the mail from Progress Energy.

  • Felt stupid about worrying about money.

  • Thought I might be pregnant.

  • Cried about money.

  • But I wasn't.

  • Thought I had take the first test too early.

  • Cried about money.

  • But I still wasn't.

  • Felt even more stupid about worrying about money.

  • Spent 13 hours one weekend creating a coupon binder.

  • Lost a coupon battle with Walgreens.

  • Lost a coupon battle with Wal-mart.

  • Poorly planned a trip to Food Lion for groceries.

  • Managed to only eat 1 slice of bread in 4 weeks.

  • Had a date night with the husband and saw "Bad Teacher".

  • Slept in a tent outside for the first time ever.

  • Made it through 3 big functions in a single day without eating cake, cookies, or bread.

  • Found out 2 friends from church also eat low-carb.

  • Found a scale while I was babysitting and stepped on it after 3 weeks.

  • Pretended I didn't actually step on the first scale, and acted surprised when I stepped on my home scale after a month.

  • Lost 12lbs.

  • Spent $7 dying my hair to repair the $100 salon job.

  • Succeeded.

  • My sister and nephews came to visit.

  • Went to the beach with the family.

  • Got called "Grammie" more than "Ambuh" by my 2 year old nephew.

  • Almost drowned in the ocean, and came home with a really bad sunburn.

  • My husband lost his wedding ring in the ocean.

  • Cried about money.

  • Bought my nephews sparklers for the first time.

  • Realized I could eat wings on the low-carb diet and had them 3 nights in a row.

  • Typed up 2nd round of letters for Zimbabwe mission trip support in October.

  • Found the perfect Christmas gift for everyone in my family.

  • Am now wishing away the hours, so that I may leave work and spend more time with my nephews, before my highly anticipated day off tomorrow.
There! I think you're caught up now. :)
Rule #1: Don't begin couponing in a store you're not familiar with. It should not take you 7 minutes to find the cereal aisle.

Rule #2: Create a coupon folder. Envelope couponing is ridiculous. Just don't do it.

Rule #3: Don't get in a checkout line with an old lady cashier. You'll hear about how stupid she thinks couponing is, and how her hours have been recently cut.

Rule #4: Understand that coupon shopping is way different than regular shopping. It WILL take you twice as long as the time you have allotted.

Rule #5: The easiest way to find a item you have a coupon for is not to scan the wide variety of labels on the shelves. Simply look for the empty slot on the shelf, and read the tag.

My first time couponing was exhausting! I probably shouldn't have waited until 9pm to go, huh? The bad news is that everyone else in Fayetteville had gotten there before I did. The good news is that I was late enough that they were beginning to restock the shelves with the items that were previously cleared out. So after I made my first round....I had to go back through to the items I initially wanted that they were out of. I only made one mistake: ended up paying $3.50 for two servings of yogurt because I grabbed the wrong brand. Bah-hum-bug!

But you really just want the numbers, dontcha?! That's all I care about! Here's a picture of my entire purchase (I had to do it....everyone else does!!):

I'm not going to list all the items in the picture...unless you just really want me to. Here's the skinny:

Retail Value: $66.18
Savings with VIC: $3.99
Savings with coupons: $34.96
Out-of-pocket expense: $27.23
Savings of: 59%

Day 2! Less stressful, planned more efficiently, and I knew where to go this time to find an item. However, some of the sale prices displayed were NOT as cheap as the prices that I read they were supposed to be. Don't think I'm not on to you, Harris Teeter!!!

JUST realized, though, that I forgot to give them my 2 coupons for the salad dressing. So I'm going to pretend (only in my head, not in the figures below) that I saved 2 more dollars than I actually did.

Retail Value: $61.84
Savings with VIC: $14.82
Savings with coupons:
Out-of-pocket expense:
Savings of:

I had my hopes set high for a higher percentage (thanks a lot, TLC!), but I certainly wasn't saving 59% on my groceries last week!! I have a few more small stops to make (CVS, Walgreens, Food Lion) for some freebie hotdogs, toothpaste, and so on. This triple coupon deal at Harris Teeter runs through next Tuesday, so I may give it another go on Monday to see if they've replenished any of their empty shelves (and if the coupon crazies have fulfilled their quota!).

faith4jesus247 COU-PON!! Wooo!

First-timer here. My name is Amber Faith Davis, and I am a recovering broke-aholic. I have been broke for 5 years now, but moreso within the past month, as my car decided to die on me, and we now have a new car payment to add to our list of bills. Being broke has allowed me to make excuses for the other aspects of my life - including the main reason the majority of our meals come out of cans.

But I refuse to let my broke-aholism control me anymore! I will gather the strength to collect, cut, and organize coupons until being broke is no longer a part of my life. I will endure the laughter and criticism that comes from carrying scissors in my purse, and I will carry bandaids on me at all times to relieve the pain from the blisters on my hand.!

Either that, or TLC has me hooked on their new TV show, "Extreme Couponing". You pick! :)

Tonight, I will gather my coupons and pray that there are items left on the shelves of Harris Teeter, after it's first triple-couponing day. I'll let you know how it goes!! :)
Typically I wouldn't write a blog like this. But I just can't stop thinking about it.

I talk to my friend, Sheritha, from Holland several times a week. We usually just chit-chat, and she keeps me up-to-date on the latest with the church over there. In fact, she's living in my old room above the church now, which is fun for me to go back and visit!

I heard the usual "pop" sound of her sending me an IM on Friday. She said I'd never guess who just stopped by the church. 4 years ago, when I lived there, the church came in contact with a guy my age, named El, who seemed to have hit a bit of bad luck. He needed money, a place to stay, and a way to get back to his girlfriend in Amsterdam. The men decided to let him sleep at the church (I was upstairs...two locked doors away) for a couple nights until they could find a way to get him on his feet. He was generally nice and pleasant....a bit on the quiet side. There were times where there was an inexplicable awkwardness in talking to him, but no big issues. He was extremely private and very hesitant to talk about his (understood) bad past. He would come to the church services when he could, and engage with all the members. Two of the men of the congregation ended up writing him a recommendation letter for him to get a job in Amsterdam, and he was on his way to be with his girlfriend.

Several months later, he unexpectedly showed up at the church door. I was surprised to see him, and asked why he was back in Eindhoven. I remember him seeming down and discouraged. I invited him into the front room, to get out of the cold. I don't remember our conversation or interactions in detail, but I do remember that I got a really bad vibe from him that day. Something made me afraid to be alone with him...I just couldn't put my finger on it. When he went to the restroom, I quickly grabbed the phone and called Sheritha, who lived just down the street. No answer. I left her a rathered stressed message, telling her to get there as soon as she got the voicemail and NOT to call back...that I just wanted someone with me. I didn't know if she would get the voicemail, but I also didn't want him thinking I suspected anything wrong.

In the midst of our conversation, he said he had something for me. He lit up, and told me it was a surprise! He told me that I would have to hide in one of the classrooms in order for him to go get it and show it to me. *red flag* I decided to buy time by joking with him about how odd it would be for him to have a surprise for me when showing up unexpectedly at the door, not even knowing if I was home. He was persistent, though. I must go in the classroom for him to give me a surprise. I was very careful not to let him think I didn't trust his intentions. I just wanted to appease him until I could think of an exit route.

God beat me to it. Sheritha came right then. I remember a huge wave of relief come over me. She got the message! I pretended to be surprised to see her, as well....and told her that he was about to give me a surprise (imagine entertaining a 3 year old with this act - that's what I was trying to do). She asked him what it was....but low and behold....he told her he didn't have one. That it was nothing. He quickly left after that.

Fast forward 4 years, and he's back at the same church door without warning. When Sheritha answered, he asked if I still lived there. When he found out I didn't, he asked her for the addresses of the two men who had written him the recommendation. She thought that was odd, and gave him their phone numbers instead. He showed up at church on Sunday and mingled. After services, Sheritha noticed both him and one of the church families were gone. With only gut instinct to go on, she sent the family an email, telling them about my experience with him 4 years earlier, and asked them just to be on guard.

Monday morning, Sheritha gets a voicemail from the wife. She was calling to see if Sheritha would check the church and see if El had left his keys behind the day before. A couple hours later, Sheritha gets a call from the husband. This time to ask her for permission to give her number to the they were at his house, taking evidence from El attacking his wife. It seems the "lost key" story was a way for him to get into the house. After the wife called Sheritha about the keys, he began making her feel uncomfortable, so she promptly showed him to the door (she was at the house alone with at least 1 of her 4 children). As she opened up the door, he suddenly slammed it close and began attacking her. He put his hand around her throat, and ended up dragging her from the front door to the kitchen. She managed to grab a filet knife to defend herself, and ended up cutting him multiple times on the hands. However, he still overpowered her and held her to the ground, demanding 1000 euros. After a heavy struggle, he tied her up (all of this with her screaming 1 year old on the floor), took their cash, credit cards, cell phone, landline (to keep her from calling anyone), and her husband's bike (as he does not know how to drive) and left.

I don't know the details of how she got untied, or how soon the police were called - but when they got there, household items were scattered all over the place, and there was blood in several rooms (mostly his blood). She has several cuts and bruises, but is generally physically okay.

There are 2 reasons I share this story. The first is that this family, especially the wife, needs your prayers. Though the physical aspect will heal fairly quickly - I cannot imagine the psychological healing will come near as fast. The husband has already sent out an email, asking for prayers on behalf of El....that he turns his life to God. I sorely wish we had more men in this world like that husband. They apparently now know where El is, but have not yet arrested him. I'm uncertain of the procedure that must be followed over there by the police, and can only hope he is taken into custody soon.

The second reason I write this - is that it could have been me, and I can't stop thinking about that. I've spent the past 24 hours wondering what would have happened had I not called Sheritha and had she not come. God protected me that day, and I'm ever-so-thankful the crime yesterday did not result in death. El must have major issues going on in his life, and if the family he violated is willing to forgive him so quickly after the incident - then God is working through them, as well.

Pray also for Sheritha's sense of security, as she texted the wife during the day about El, not knowing that he had possession of the phone. As he obviously knows where she lives, pray that he is quickly taken into custody, or that her sense of safety is renewed.

Here is a link to news report written about the incident (though you may want to become fluent in Dutch before proceeding):
It only took me 10 months of being in a house to put up frames with personal photos on the wall. Don't get me wrong - I put the frames up a long time ago! I suppose I thought frames with ANY pictures in it would make it more home-y. They simply had photos of my distant relatives from Kohl's, Wal-mart, and Target in them. Farewell, cute kids without a name. You will be sorely missed...

My parents inspired me to finally do something with my frames by giving me a canvas of one of our wedding photos for my birthday. We decided to put it on the red wall! Not the clearest shot of it - but just to give you an idea:

I took letters from my scrapbooking collection and put the following collage together. I love how it turned out!

The next one I'm most proud of. I had pictures left over that I didn't know what to do with. We had a frame with a characature drawing in it that I didn't really care to hang on the walls, so I took it out and got creative. Based on the comments we got from some of our engagement'll see! :)

All in one night! I'm so proud of myself! We now have walls of OUR photos! Come see our homey home sometime! :)
Secretary's Day is comparable to Valentine's Day in the life of secretaries.

You get your hopes up, excited....ready to be showered with love and appreciation in the form of cards, gifts, or food (my fave!). The morning of, you wake up bright and cheery, ready to do anything for anyone with a smile on your face, so that their appreciation for you will be doubled by the single act of sending a fax on their behalf. Although simple "thank you"s are rare throughout the other 364 days of the year, it's on THIS day that you forgive and forget their inability to show appreciation on any other day, as they redeem themselves with gift cards to your favorite store, a box of chocolates to indulge in, or a special lunch of your choice. All the complaints you have about the people you work with disappear, as a solid 8 hours of pure workplace bliss takes its place. There's nothing better than knowing that the individuals you become an operator, answering machine, giver of excuses, ultimate organizer, expert googler, flawless typer, miracle worker, graphic designer, and calendar guru for - truly recognize and appreciate all you do.

But wait. Just like any other day - it comes and goes. No cards. No flowers. No chocolate. Not even a "thank you". It's the ultimate Valentine's Day gone bad. You sit at your desk, googling (after all - you are an expert at it!) Secretary's Day 2011, just to make sure you got the date right. And you did. But no one else seems to notice. And if you DO have the guts to mention it - there's an awkward moment of surprise as they say they didn't know. The awkward moment continues as they nervously chuckle....tell you when they "thought" it was....and find a reason to leave your office as quickly as possible, leaving behind the 125 copies you just finished stapling for them.

Don't worry - although Secretary's Day was yesterday, Secretary's Appreciation Week goes until Saturday. You still have time. Go appreciate your secretary. Go do it. Do it. Go. NOW.
Monday was an exciting day at work. Well...exciting might not be the right word. Eventful is more accurate.

The clock hits 5:00, and I'm starting to close 'er down. I'm organizing papers on my desk, putting items in my purse to take home, wiggling my feet back into my shoes....when I then decide to close my work email, and shut my computer down. But wait. I have a new email! I'm one of those people that can't leave work without making sure every email of the day has been taken care of. Although it's 5:01 now....I gotta see what it is.

"This is a message from the FSU emergency notification system...... FSU officials received information that a non-Fayetteville State University student has made threats to come to the campus at approximately 5 p.m. to shoot unnamed individuals."

I'm sorry? You send me an email at 5:01pm, telling me that an individual is going to shoot people at my workplace at approximately 5:00pm? Don't you think the email should have gone say....4:59pm? At least give us a minute to run!

So then I think....*cue music*....."should I stay or should I go"? The emails continues, politely informing us that this individual is known to "frequent" the student center and University apartments. (Does some calculating in head) So if I walk at 3.287 miles/hour from my building to my car, which is exactly .057 miles away from the front door....he would have to cross my path within the same 63 seconds it will take for me to get from one safety point to another. So my chances of being shot in doing so are.....

Eh...needless to say...I took my chances. I made it to my car safely, without witnessing any "suspicious activity" thanks to you, FSU!! If I left my safety up to you, I could have been shot a mere 30 seconds before I got the email, warning me of the danger!

Thank goodness for my amazing mental calculating skills...
I'm pretty sure it was because I was exhausted. Almost certain that's why this was so funny. I haven't laughed that hard in yeeearrrsss! My belly was hurting, and tears were coming out. I just couldn't stop! Oddly, though - I was alone in my laughter. Usually someone else finds the same thing funny, or my uncontrollable laughter gets them going a bit. But not last night. Chris didn't find it funny. Not at alllllllll....

I had just crawled into bed, and Chris was double-checking the locks on the doors. I hear him say "You've got to be kidding me!" and wait for him to come to the bedroom to ask what's wrong. He walks in, holding this:

I know instantly what it means. And I just lose it!

(A quick refresher - we live in a small house, where the keys are apparently as old as the house itself. Built in 1950, both doors have double-sided key locks.)

As he was locking the front door, the key broke in half. With the top part in his hand, and the bottom half still in the lock. That wouldn't be such a big deal, since we have 2 doors....but our second door doesn't have a working door handle on the inside. So anytime we want to go through the kitchen door, we have to go outside the front door and walk around the house to come in from the outside. But now we can't get out the front door. And we can't get out the second door.

Typically, we would end up calling the person with the spare key to our house to come get us out. Which would be my parents. But I had to take it back from them the last time I got locked inside the house. Now we're REALLY stuck! Chris's tools were outside. I couldn't stop laughing! The comedy of the situation combined with my exhaustion sent my body into spazmastic laughter. I couldn't breathe! Locked inside - no tools - no spare key - almost midnight. Awesome. Chris left me to my insane perspective on the situation and went back into the living room to try and get the other half of the key out. See it in there? No? Well that's how far in there it was!!
Chris begins by grabbing a pair of tweezers to try and pull the key out. It doesn't budge. I eventually stop laughing and get up to try and help him. I decide that (after taking pictures, of course!) it might work better with two steak knives, one of each side of the key. So I work for a few minutes with steak knives, trying to wiggle the key out of there. No luck.

Then I have a brilliant idea! Why not just try to unlock the door while the key is still in there, rather than taking it out? Several attempts with the tweezers, and I was able to unlock the door. Yay! We're out! Then Chris is able to go outside and get his tools. Where he then attempts to use his handy-dandy, brand-new pliers to pull the key out.

Nope....doesn't work. So he decides to just take the whole shebang off the door. At that point, I decided to go back to bed. I could rest easy now, knowing that I didn't have to call out of work for the second time this year, simply because I was locked inside my house!
I've been slacking on my weight progress report lately! Let's get right to it:

Week 5: -0.2 lbs

Week 6: +1.0 lb

To be honest, I was surprised I didn't gain more than a pound last week! I knew week 5 would be a small loss (as week 4 was relatively large), and I ran out of groceries halfway through last week and didn't have time to go get any! So I ended up eating out more than usual. Of course, it didn't help in the slightest that I licked the remaining batter and icing after making the burgers and fries. And THEN I had to try one to make sure they tasted okay...

All that being said - I still feel good about my overall progress. I'm still 9lbs down total, and am back on track with my schedule and refrigerator full of health-conscious foods. Everytime I go to the grocery store, I look for new items to help me get my fruits and veggies in. I'm the worst about those! This week, I got 2 individual packs of Buddy Fruits - one blended, and one "fruit snack" version. Both were NASTTTYYYY! Might be appealing to kids (which I'm sure is who they are intended for!). I found the fruit snack-type pomegranite and acai berry flavor was ridiculously tart and overly sweet. The blended fruit had the consistency of applesauce, but no real distinct fruit flavor. I guess I should just learn to eat the real things, huh?
I spent a ridiculous amount of time last week creating a fun dessert, just because. I saw the idea, and couldn't wait to try it out myself! We had a church camera scavenger hunt for adults planned for Saturday, and it was the only good excuse I had to make 2 dozen of these awesome burgers for other people.

Baking the "burgers" (made out of cupcakes, brownies, frosting, and sesame seeds) and "fries" (made out of sugar cookies) was nothing compared to the time it took for me to make the boxes and McD's fry holder! Ugh! Hours and hours of cutting, folding, and gluing....I felt like quitting way before I even got to the baking process! I started on Wednesday and working on it in-between work projects and tutoring. I did most of the baking in 2 hours (uses all mixes, of course!). The hardest part was getting the brownie circles to come out cleanly (oops - forgot to spray the pan!)

Overall, it was totally worth the effort. I thought they turned out great, and everybody seemed to loved them. I've even been asked to do these for a church event in May! I'm going to stash this idea away for my kid's kindergarten birthday party someday... :)

I had the pleasure of hosting (what I think to be) Eric's first sleepover! Jordan, an amazing catch even at the age of 3, stayed with Chris and me Saturday night, so that her parents could attend a Christian concert that night.
Eric was smitten. The afternoon began with a trip to the movies to see Tangled in 3D. Both kids did great sitting through the movie, only insisting on a single potty trip throughout the time we were there. Neither child got a nap during the day, as is usual in their routine, so I expected some whiny moments throughout the evening. But they never came! These two new friends played very well fighting or arguing all night! Jordan's mom wanted us to take her out to see the moon (as it was supposed to be the "biggest" moon in 18 years!), so Chris grabbed a rug out of the house, and set them up outside to enjoy the view.

Jordan is telling Eric about the "big bright light" in the sky...

I love Jordan's pose!

Thankfully, the two of them fell asleep pretty quickly after being put to bed on Saturday night. They look well-rested! (Notice their matching blankies - Eric's green and Jordan's pink)

Ready for church!

After church, we all went to Texas Roadhouse for lunch. This is the conversation that ensued in the backseat on the way there. (He calls her "Jornan" instead of Jordan.)

Eric: Jornan. Jornan. Jornan. Jornan.

Jordan: I'm playing a game.

Eric: Jornan. Jornan. Jornan. Jornan.

Jordan: I said I'm PLAYING a game!

Eric: Jornan. Jornan. Jornan.....I just want to talk...

Despite this small conflict in the car, Eric (as every gentleman should) held Jordan's hand through the parking lot, to keep her safe from getting hit by a car. He convinced both me and her parents to let her come back to our house for the afternoon, where they both played away the day as I took a nap.

I was excited to get to have my nephew, Eric, spend his first weekend with Chris and me! I've had a blast, and have attempted to document our activities thus far. Anything that his mom would not normally let him due usually makes my list of events.

We started off the day doing our hair. He was "warming his hair".

Chris's antique cars were a hit, and Eric enjoyed playing with them throughout the day.

At one point, Eric saw this hat on our shelf and put it on, telling me throughout the day that it was his birthday.

Although, I didn't help by bringing home cake from a baby shower and singing "Happy Birthday" to him. The cake brought him both amusement and concern for his cleanliness.

We finished off the day with a haircut ("It didn't hurt, momma"!) and a healthy snack of rice cakes! :)

(It's Spring Break this week - so I have a lot of extra time to blog!)

Sad, but true...Chris and I have not been able to afford getting any of our wedding pictures printed for display in our house. I have canvases and albums designed online to order when we get the money, but unfortunately, there's no proof that we're married hanging at the house. So I decided to go the cheapest route possible to get some wedding pictures - a travel coffee mug! I take coffee to work almost every day, and to church on Sunday if I think about it - what better way to make use of pictures we spent a fortune having a photographer take of us?! I got it in the mail yesterday, and love how it turned out!


I know you all are as eager as I am (or so I'll pretend!) to hear about my weekly weigh-ins!
Week 4's weight loss is: -3.4lbs.
1st month total loss: -9.8lbs.
If I were reading this information on someone else's blog, I'd think "Wow...that's awesome! She's doing great." But when I'm stressing out over every meal, snack, drink, and hour of the day - it's exhausting! Last night I was frustrated with myself for splurging on 3 rice cakes instead of only eating the serving size of 2, and drinking only 6 glasses of water instead of 8. Ridiculous? Yes. I'll be honest and admit when I know I sound totally stupid about sweating the small stuff. But needing to lose 80lbs - it's going to take me at least 7 more months! Whew, that's a long time to think about.
What encourages me most, though, is thinking at the end of the week how many places I ate out during the week - and was still able to lose weight. Let me list last week's restaurants:
  • Subway - twice
  • Luigi's
  • Panera bread
  • Jason's Deli - twice?
  • Chili's
  • Ruby Tuesdays

And let's not forget the trip to the ice cream truck with my nephew on Saturday! :)

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector." (Matthew 18:15-17)

I want to scream. Growing up, you constantly hear "We're having an adult conversation", or "Act like an adult!" There was this assumption that when I became "an adult", those my age and older would be "acting like adults". Well it isn't true! I'm so tired of adults acting like children. The game of avoidance and pretend politeness gets old. At this point in my life, I'm convinced "acting like an adult" simply means perfecting the art of acting like a child.

I struggle with the verses up above. I'm really good at the first part. (ha!) I usually don't hesitate to pull someone aside and try to talk to them about the problems that exist. But the rest of the verses - I don't know. If I were to take one or two others along with me to talk to this person (as pulling them aside didn't seem to resolve anything), I can see them feeling ganged up on and pulling even further away from me. Yet I don't know what I did wrong in the first place! And then to take it to the church - it makes my stomach hurt. Part of me just wishes I could let it go and let them live with their inexplicable anger towards me. Mostly because approaching that person results in fake reactions. "What? There's nothing wrong. I don't know what you're talking about!" Right.

I hope I remember to teach my children that acting like an adult means actually dealing with your problems, and not hiding or running away from them.


Tuesday night I was sitting in the K-mart parking lot, wasting time talking to my mom on the phone until I had to go babysit, when billows of smoke began ejecting out of my engine. I quickly turned the car off and watched as smoke continued to float into the air. I had two thoughts while watching the smoke: "Wow...that's a lot of smoke. I wonder if I should get out of the car."

I didn't, in case you were wondering (it was chilly outside!).

But I knew one thing for sure - now I definitely needed to get to my babysitting job - as I was pretty sure we would need that money to fix this new unexpected problem! I called Chris, and he came and switched cars with me, so I could get to my babysitting job. My car is now sitting in the driveway while we figure out what we're going to do with it. The only other vehicle we have is Chris's motorcycle - the other one we're borrowing from some friends. But we're not going to be able to borrow it forever - so I'm not quite sure how this is all going to work out. Chris wants to just look into a new vehicle....I don't want a new car payment. Sooooo...we'll see! He thinks I blew the head gasket - which apparently costs approximately $1000.00. And my car is only worth $1500.00.

Last night, I finally talked to the parents of the boy I tutor for, for an hour. I explained my frustrations and hurt with the lack of communication and follow-through on their end. They then explained their frustrations and where they were coming from. Somehow I ended up getting a raise in the midst of it all. I didn't ask for more money (as I was trying to actually quit altogether), but the dad felt with the rising gas prices, I should get paid more. Who am I to complain?!! So I'll stick it out till the end of the school year, and hopefully will have better communication with the parents for the remainder of the semester.

Chris's new I feel really bad for him. He gets up at 3:30am, gets to work by 5:00am, and didn't get off until 8:30pm last night. He had just enough time to shove some dinner down his throat before he passed out on the sofa. Getting to bed at 10:00pm only allowed him 5 1/2 hours of sleep before doing it all again. Although...just having my engine blow up in smoke does make me grateful for the extra money he'll be bringing in with these long hours. I just feel really bad for him. I know he's in desperate need of some sleep and relaxation time.

As far as my eating goes - I'm still on track! I'm not weighing myself every day this week, so I'm very anxious to get on the scale on Monday. But I've gotten my water in everyday (except yesterday), and haven't had any crazy cravings or temptations I've wanted to give into. Except sweet tea. I think that will always be an issue...

Week 3 weigh-in: -2.4lbs
3 week total loss: -6.2lbs

Poor Colleen hurt her back pretty bad and hasn't been able to go to the gym lately, putting her at a stand still with her weight loss. But I know once she gets back in the gym, she'll do great!

I think I'm going to try to take a vacation day this week to clean my house. That's sad. I haven't been home long enough to run a load of laundry the past week and a half, and I can't handle another week of waking up to dishes in the sink anymore. Chris has been doing what housework he can, when he can....but I'm in need of a serious toilet-scrubbin', floor moppin', dish washin', laundry loadin' day! I know if I leave it until the weekend again, my time will get quickly spent hanging out with my nephews while they're here, or committing myself to other people.

On a side note - I love smacktalk when it comes to "friendly" competitions!! I am SO excited about the upcoming camera scavenger hunt at church, and am FULLY confident that my team will come out on top. We're in full swing preparation mode, and the 19th can't come soon enough! Thank you for all the team members who have donated $10 towards our winning prize! We greatly appreciate it. :)
I have a hot pepporoni pizza sitting on my desk right now, and I'm not even tempted to eat a piece.

(Despite the fact that someone asked me if I was pregnant this morning.)

Usually that type of question sends me into an eating frenzy. But I found it funny and sad today. No biggie. My goal is to not look pregnant...right?

Chris got even BETTER news yesterday concerning work. He found out (at the end of the day) that yesterday was his last day at his current job. Which sucks, being given such short notice. But it was just in time for him to be given yet ANOTHER job (not the one doing the 6-month construction) that wants to hire someone on permanently. He went in for the interview this morning and was successful at getting hired on for Monday. If this position leads to a permanent position, he will not only get paid more/hour, but will have plenty of opportunity for overtime. I'm so excited! He has been amazing these past few months with the jobs he's been given, and it's really starting to pay off!
You thought I quit already, didn't you?! It's only been 2 weeks....give me at least a month. :)

Week 2 weigh-in: +.2lbs

I'm okay with that. I knew it was coming. There's a "2nd week curse" when it comes to weight loss. Though I had higher hopes for this week, as I stepped on a friend's scale on Saturday and had "lost" 4lbs. I think I like her scale better. :)

But I'm still on track and still motivated!

I've been trying to find a new layout for the blog - I suddenly got tired of my old one. I've searched for days trying to find one I like and can't seem to find any that fit my personality. But I'll keep looking...

I desperately want to quit my evening tutoring job. I look forward to the summer where I can make a clean break, rather than give a lame excuse as to why I don't want to do it anymore. I have something planned every weekend from now until mid-April and it just makes having to work in the evenings that much worse, knowing I won't even have time for R&R at the end of the week.

A wonderful thing to report, though! As frustrating as Chris's job situation has been, it's been nice the past few months having him work a temporary construction job to bring in some extra money. Last week he told me that the job he was on was about to end. I got discouraged and frustrated, wondering how long it would take for him to get on with another "permanent" temporary job. The next day, he went by the temp agency he works for and a guy there recognized his name. He told the secretary that he wanted Chris on his crew for his upcoming job. That he had heard a lot of good things about Chris and wanted to make sure that they put "the motorcycle guy" on his job. So after his current job ends, he now has another job lined up that is expected to go on for 6 months. Yay honey!
First week weigh-in: -4.2lbs

Am I excited? Sure. Could I have done better? Definitely. Although I have to give myself a lot of credit - that's including eating out 4 times this past week. Some planned, and some not. I certainly attempted to get my water in everyday no matter what, and tried to juggle the calorie count if I did go out to eat.

I just found an amazing website. It's a fast food nutrition guide for 371 restaurants. And if you click on multiple items, it'll add the calories/fat/carbs up for you. It even has a weight watchers points column, if you're in to that.

The other night, I was talking to my parents about high school and college reunions. When I got home that night, I had an invite to my 10 year high school reunion. I thought it was comical timing. It's set for August 13th, though I don't know where. I'm not sure whether to go or not, so I'm glad I have several months to think about it. I'd be much more excited and ready to go to my college reunion, but I only live 3 hours away from where I went to high school, so it wouldn't be a big deal to show up. I recognized several names on the list of invites, but I barely remember what made them stand out to me in high school. I'll let you know when I eventually decide.

A visit to my sister and nephews is LOOONG overdue...but our weekend keep filling up! I'm not sure how we always end up being so busy, but we do. Thankfully, we finally got the majority of our dishes washed this weekend. And the dining room table cleaned up! It's progress, people...progress!
I had to share the following with you that I got in an email from my new buddy, Colleen. I'm excited to have her as a weight accountability partner more and more everyday. She wrote just what I needed to hear:

"So last night was last night and today is today. Life is like monkey bars - you have to let go to move ahead. So let the slip up go from yesterday and try for better today. Just think about what you want more of right now..take a deep breath, because I know just as well as you do, that we don't want to be at the weight we are right now, and putting food that is no good for us into our mouths isn't getting us any further ahead."

That was her response after I confessed to "cheating" on my diet by eating some pasta salad last night. I'm pretty excited to have her help along the way!
I was very tempted NOT to write about the following, due to potential embarrassment or harassment if I fail (again). But I've got to get over the embarassment factor and just "tell it like it is". Comically...I can do that so easily about any other subject... I go...again. I gotta do it this time. For real. No pills, no liquid substitutes....I gotta start eating right. I've GOT to lose 80lbs. 80lbs is subjective, of course. But that's my ultimate goal to get me to a healthy BMI. Although I'm not completely surprised - I am amazed by the fact that I have managed to gain 35lbs. since my wedding day. I can already hear the "wow" and "that's unbelievable" thoughts running through your head as you read that. That's right - 35lbs. in 4 months. Makes me angry. And sad. And dissappointed in myself. I knew I wasn't going to keep all that weight off with the way I chose to lose it...but I certainly didn't expect to gain above and beyond what I had lost, putting me at a new all-time high for my weight. I've felt worse about myself the past couple months than I ever have before. And the possibility of starting a family in the next year or so is looming before me. I can't carry pregnancy weight on-top of the weight I'm already carrying. I just can't.

So I'm on day 4 today. I began the LA Weight Loss plan on Monday. It's the only program I've ever liked and really stuck to. I then went on a weight loss forum to find an accountability partner. And I lucked out with that! My new friend, Colleen, is from Canada, and though she's starting out at a lower weight than me, is the same height with the same goal. She has an office job, as we've had the opportunity to email back and forth more than 10 times the past 2 days. We seem to have a lot in common. She has a daughter with a rare muscle disease that the doctors can't figure out, and we've had interesting discussion about that. I'm also keeping on online journal of all my food intake, as well as my water and vitamins.

I can do this. I know I can. I've done it in the past, and there's no better reason to become healthy than for my future family.

I weigh in on Mondays, and will do my best to post my progress. The one thing I can't do at this point is post my starting weight. Too ashamed. Maybe after I've lost some weight and feel better about the process...
Back at the end of October, I got a jury summons - a day after I was supposed to report! Mail was being sent to my parents' house and with the wedding and honeymoon, I didn't get all my mail immediately. I panicked, thinking I was going to get fined for not showing. I called and pulled the married card out. It worked. I was fine and I got out of jury duty!

...or so I thought. They then reassured me that they could reschedule me, "no problem". Yay. So sooner rather than later, I received yet another jury duty notice (with my correct name on it) for January 31st. As much as I look forward to the opportunity to get out of work, this was not something I wanted to do. Aside from sitting in a room packed full of strangers, waiting for my name to be called so that I can answer personal questions in front of attorneys and a judge to determine if I'm "right" or not, I was more anxious about being picked and having to decide someone's fate after battling with 11 other strangers about the outcome. No thank you.

You are expected to call in the night before you are told to report...but I had a theory. I figured the longer I waited to call, the possibility of them not needing me to come at all would be greater. You know...have room for 100, send the invite to 250, and only expect 120 to respond. That's not really the case with this, though. I called at 7:30am Monday morning (expected to report at the courthouse by 8:30am) and here "All individuals scheduled for jury duty on Monday, January 31st, are needed." Ugh.

So I gas and stopped to grab some breakfast along the way. By the time I pulled into the parking lot, it was ten minutes after 8. I got one of the 2 remaining parking spaces left in the front parking lot. I gathered my things ( I came well-prepared!) and began walking towards the courthouse. As soon as I entered through the door, I saw security. I put my purse in a bucket and began emptying my jacket pockets. Just as I was checking with a security officer about bringing in my coffee, the guy behind the scanner asks "You got a camera in your purse?". I stopped and had to think. I didn't put a camera in my purse this morning, but it's highly likely I cart one around all the time without realizing it. "Ummm...I think so..." (beginning to hope he would confiscate it and hold it for me until I left for the day). He not-so-gently slung my purse back at me and gruffed "Go put it back in your car!". But it's cold outside! And I had to walk a long way! And if I do, then I'll be late reporting to jury duty! Mind if I leave my coffee, notebook, and breakfast here till I get back - it was quite a juggling act carrying it all by myself...

I contemplated paying the fine for not going. If this was the start to my day, it surely wasn't going to get any better! As I began walking back to my car, I noticed a vehicle driving slowly next to me, slightly out of my peripheral vision. Not wanting to be paranoid, I kept walking without looking over. After a few minutes, it became clear they were following me. Having no desire to be followed all the way to my car, I completely stopped walking and turned my body to the driver side window and stared at the driver. An older lady rolled down her window, and before she could say anything, I let her know "No, I'm not leaving. They're making me put my car back in my camera. Sorry." She complained about the lack of parking and I continued on after she drove off. By the time I got to my car, dug through my purse to find the dadgum camera, went through security, and located the listed room, just about every seat was taken. I felt like everyone in the room looked up at me to see what I would do. I knew I look disheveled and unpleasant at this point. No one looked overly eager for me to plop my rear and armload of items next to them. So I stayed right where I was and put my stuff down. There was a bookshelf against the wall that I put my coffee and notebook on. This is going to be a loooong wait.

I grabbed my book and began reading to take my mind of my tiring legs. I kept shifting my weight from one leg to the other, locking and unlocking my knees, as I leaned back on the wall. I watched as they took a newspaper from a man. Apparently we weren't allowed to read newspapers while on jury duty. But that wasn't mentioned on the card! Eventually someone came out and had us all swear in at the same time. Then we watched a video on what to expect once we were called. Shortly thereafter, they gave us a break. I took that opportunity to move my stuff to an open chair while everyone was up and shuffling around. Ahhhh....relief! Around 10am, someone came out with a stack of cards and began calling names. I realized my hands were shaking. I didn't want to be called. Not in the first group! She finished going through the stack of cards. Not me. That made me happy....Dr. Phil was about to come on! :)

As I watched about a 33-year old man who witnessed his dad killing his mom when he was a boy, they came out with another stack of cards. Here we go again! It's not even 11am - this is going a lot faster than I thought! Nope...not in the second group, either. We had been told that there were 2 criminal cases, and 1 civil case that day. So we were being divided into 3 groups. I was obviously in the third group. And had no interest in being called for a criminal case. But I figured the rest of us would be called within the hour, since the other 2 groups had already been taken out.

But that's what wishin' is for. We sat there allllll day...just waiting and waiting. I watched "Price is Right" for the first time in a long time. And "Let's Make a Deal", too! Who knew jury duty could be so entertaining! Although we got released for lunch, it wasn't until 4pm that we finally got told we could leave - they didn't need us. Now see?! If you had just said that on the phone when I called this morning...
I saw the following today, and thought it was fun!

Guy: Yo, I'm Hungary!

Friend: Why don't you Czech the fridge?

Guy: Ok...I'm Russian to the kitchen now.

Friend: Hmm...maybe you'll find some Turkey.

Guy: Yeah - I have some, but it's covered in a layer of Greece.

Friend: Ewwww man...there is Norway you are eating that!

Guy: Yeah, I know. I think I'll just settle for a can of Chile.

Friend: Denmark your name on the can.

Guy: Kenya do it for me please?

Friend: Ok, I'm Ghana do it.

Guy: Thanks, man! I'm so tired. Iran 2 kilometers today!
While I certainly don't like admitting it to people, I have had babies on my mind a lot lately. It certainly doesn't help that everyone around me is having one...but simply being married makes me realize how close I am to the possibility of starting a family of my own. It's exciting....and frightening!

I'm quite content holding and loving on my friends' babies for now (as I get to give them back and go home to get a full night's sleep!), but looking in their babies' faces makes me wonder what mine will look like. Will Chris and I sit there and argue about who he/she looks more like, or will it be a mini-me of just one of us? I morphed our faces together, and apparently our child will look like this beautiful boy to the right! He's cuter than I thought he would be!

I wonder if we'll be blessed with a boy or girl first. While I, for no explicable reason, want a girl (then my parents will have both grandsons and a granddaughter), I think it would be neat to have a boy (as Chris's parents only have granddaughters!). Either way, we'll be breaking the mold on either side!

I have spent hours just imagining a creative and fun way to tell Chris when I finally get pregnant. I want it to be perfect! He's so excited and ready to have a kid, I want it to be as special as possible. Keep in mind....this is just me rambling, and not me telling you that we're planning on getting pregnant anytime soon. We're still trying to be smart about things. :)

I'm most happy that we live in the same town as my parents, and that they will most likely be there for the birth of the child. And Chris's parents are in great health and have the ability to come down as well, if they like. I would love to have them both there, as I know how wonderful they all already are as grandparents! I said...I've had babies on the mind lately. Don't tell anyone. :)
faith4jesus247 our photographer's blog! They finally caught up to August, I suppose, as they put up our engagement pictures last week. Check it out! (link listed to the right)

Maybe by March they'll have our wedding pictures up! :)
I'm in a ranting mood today, and I haven't posted in a I guess a few posts in one day won't hurt!

My car is paid off, which is an amazing feeling! Having $250 extra a month to apply to other bills (such as my heart-stopping $295 electric bill this month) is a wonderful thing. That being car has issues. It's as though the car is taunting me with what I thought would be extra money each month. The excitement of having more financial freedom is now burdened with the question "How much is that going to be?" when talking to a mechanic about the most recent noise in my engine. Thankfully, my wonderful husband knows a bit about cars, and has been able to take care of the things that have come up recently, though the parts we have to purchase have no mercy on our wallets. What we were hoping (and told) would be a temporary fix to my most recent problem...landed me stranded on the side of the road last night in the dark and cold rain.

Driving home from babysitting last night, I was eager to get home and watch psycho Michelle with Brad Womack (yay for Monday night TV!). I looked down and saw my car thermometer (for lack of proper car part vocabulary) jump to the red zone. I immediately pulled over to the side of the road and turned the car off. I kept the car off until the needle got below the mid-way point, and then started it back up. I was appoximately 10 miles from home, and knew it was going to take me at least 3 times as long getting home at this point (good thing I taped it! :) ). I got about a mile further, when the needle was back in the red zone. I pulled over again, put my hazard lights on, and waited. The only way I could watch the needle go down, however, was to leave the car's battery running. 2 minutes later, the dashboard lights began flickering in and out...which is when I began to get nervous. I turned the key to start the engine and got a "tick-tick-tick" in response. Okay, now I'm going to panic.

I had left the cell phone at home with Chris, so that he could figure out his work situation for the week. Now I'm stranded on the side of the road with a car that now won't start. I couldn't have gotten stranded near an exit or even remotely close to a street lamp. Nooo...I was in the pitch black with woods around me. Awesome. I'll probably look over and see a dead body in the overgrown weeds. But I have no choice. I have to get out of my car and flag down somebody to let me use their phone. This is pretty much where I began flipping out. Waving my arms at oncoming lights with no vision of who sits behind the wheel was terrifying. At 10pm at night. In the rain. And every car that sped by me without stopping only made it worse. After about 7 cars had gone by, I started to cry and pray. I was tempted to sit in my car with the doors locked and wait until Chris realized something was wrong and came looking for me. While I may freeze for a few hours, it seemed much more appealing than trying to get help from a stranger in the dark. But I kept flailing my arms like a lunatic to every car that passed, hoping that someone would realize I wasn't just doing this for fun.

Ironically, a girl named Amber finally stopped to help me. She let me use her phone, gave me a bottle of water, and asked if I had any kids in the car. I was able to call Chris and tell him where I was. She made me feel better by telling me she knows how it feels to be a woman stranded on the side of the road. I thanked her over and over and let her go. Then I jumped back in the car, locked the doors, and waited. Thankfully, I had a blanket in the backseat to give me a bit of warmth. Chris and dad showed up shortly after to save the day! I was afraid we were going to have to leave the car by the side of the road overnight, but they were able to jump the car and put enough water in it to get it back to the house. Yay!

I suppose now is a good time to go get that other part I didn't want to pay for last week...