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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Building a Cabin ... part 238

I've written so many blog posts on our updates of building a cabin.. that I have officially given up on keeping track just what number I'm on exactly. 

But, it's time to get back in gear with this blog and update on our cabin life!

We went to the cabin this past weekend .... and we (remember, I use the term "we" very loosely here) managed to finish the ceiling of the cabin, and start the framing of our deck!

I say "we", and I do have to admit, my girls are either lying on the bed watching season 3 of Duck Dynasty that I picked up for $9.96 at Walmart .... or they're riding the four wheelers outside... or they're eating. 

I (emphasize I), hold a board here and there for Mike.  I did do something important!

So we get to the cabin, and lo and behold as soon as I take my shoes off in the cabin, my foot hits one of those cockleburs.  OWW!  They're all over the place.  They're hanging on our pants, on our shoelaces, on our tennis shoes.  They're even UNDER our shoes.  So our shoes are back on our feet for good in the cabin.. unless you want some type of needle inserted in your foot?

I go outside and I find these wicked plants.  I had always wondered what they look like on a plant.  Now I know! 

While Mike is busy getting the front part of the deck ready the girls are out four wheeling.  I put the sprinklers on to keep the dust down to a minimum.  It gets REALLY dusty around here when they ride their four wheelers!

Here is Mike getting ready to add the mesh to the cover the openings.. so wildlife (aka raccoons, possums, etc) won't get in.  I have to say that I did do my part here.. Katie drove us to Lowe's (we lived), I bought the mesh, Katie drove us back, I spray painted it, and I cut it.  Let the record be known that one should ALWAYS wear gloves when cutting this mesh up.  Let's say I was bleeding in a few places on my hands.  Owww...

After Mike starts to hear the thunder start to roll in, I hurry off to my photo shoot, which takes place exactly across the street from our cabin!  Our friend has his girls in for the weekend, and had some great ideas -- so I was game!  I think it all turned out really well!

On our last day at the cabin, Mike set about to finish putting up the ceiling in the cabin.  It took a few hours (and my part on helping him hold the boards, and handing the boards up to him... see, I do important work!) -- but we can say the ceiling is 99% done!  I think he did a BEAUTIFUL job!

A few months ago (or rather, earlier this year), Mike put up two beams at the top of the loft.  It is very scratchy... and I have had several splinters come from this already!  He also built a ladder, since ours was stolen from one of the three robberies we had.  However, he might have spaced them a *little* too far apart.  It's like rock climbing to the loft.

By the time we left, this is what our cabin looks like so far... our doors and windows are boarded up to prevent future robberies, our deck is slowly being framed in, and all is well on the eastern Texas front.

The girls took one last time around on the ATV's ....

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Fundraisers... what a pain

Now that I am serving with the Young Women ..... we prepare for them to go to camp each summer.  This usually starts with a huge fundraiser. 

This year, a recipe book was done -- and we hosted a country themed dinner asking ladies of our church to bring in main dishes of the recipes they contributed to the cookbook.

I was over the decorations ... and Katie & her best friend Madison were under me.  They told me the colors that they wanted to use, went through Pinterest to find some country looking decorations, and took off with what we had.  We had $50 to spend. 

We spent $130 at least.  Oops.

But at least we got a bunch of the money back because we sold a bunch of the decorations after the fundraiser was over!

Burlap ... is a nasty word around here in our home.  I had gotten 10 yards from Hobby Lobby using a 40% off coupon, and two friends came over to help me cut those down to 1 yard square pieces for the table covers (that went over white tableclothes).  Then the remaining pieces went around mason jars, complete with a red and white gingham print ribbon around that.  We placed white, yellow and some type of green flowers in the mason jars, and added cheap babys breath.  It was beautiful!

Here are our fancy decorations. 


We actually bought all the stuff for this centerpiece (which we clearly didn't have the funds for, but we needed more decorations), then two of us tried to see if we could just buy it, and then my friend Jen came by and said "I'll buy it!"  So, problem solved!  However, I did absolutely love all this together!


My extremely talented friend Alyse made all these black silhouette pictures to go on the wall.  She's pretty amazing with her talent!




There's Miss Maddie w/ a vulture right next to her....  eeks!



I think I need to learn how to tie a bow right...


Above is Alex, who is adding in more babys breath to the flowers on the table

and the dessert table that was full of desserts made by the girls which were auctioned off!


Saturday, May 18, 2013

It was a rough start ....to getting back into Highland Dance competitions

I wrote this article for the Scottish Society group here in our city, who wanted an article about Katie.

Katie decided to get back into competitions, after being gone for FIVE years.  Her last competition was when she was 10 years old.  When she found out that San Antonio was going to have a competition, she was eager to jump back in the ring.  She took lessons from Miss B .... (an amazing teacher, by the way!) for six weeks, and was ready for competition the first weekend in April.  Here is the story -- it involves spraining a certain girl's ankles... three times.

Katie became a Highland Dancer when she was six years old. She participated in her very first competition shortly after as a Primary dancer (the youngest group there is). There she learned how to count her pas de basques (16 in a row) and where her feet was to go exactly.  As her mother, I learned the sword dance, and taught the steps to Katie at home, so she would learn it at a faster pace in time for her first competition. After her very first dance competition, Katie would go on to compete for another four years in competitions all around the Midwest, often winning "Best Dancer" award, or "Most Promising Pre-Premier Dancer", and even a scholarship.

When Katie was 10 years old, her family moved from Missouri to San Antonio. There, she joined the San Antonio Scottish Society's Highland Dance group. She was able to share her talents and her love for Highland Dance with everyone. After taking a short break from competitions (OK, five years, really!), Katie started lessons with "Miss B".  In a funny twist, "B" taught Katie's first dance teacher when she was a teenager. Katie had taken several of Miss B's workshops when she was younger.

Katie's BFF Madison holds up a sign she made for Katie

When Miss B announced a dance competition was going to come to San Antonio, Katie decided to get back into competitions. She started her lessons again with Miss B in February of this year, and six weeks later, she was preparing for the San Antonio Highland Dance competition.
Katie as shown before the competition starts ... she was excited!

The big day arrived, and Katie was very prepared. Nervous, but excited! As she stood on stage to perform the Lilt, she took one step out, and when her foot landed, it landed at an odd angle. A gasp was heard from several people. Immediately, all could see she had hurt her ankle. She finished her dance, and limped over to where family & friends were sitting. Ice was applied immediately, and her ankle was wrapped. She went on to dance the Highland Fling, and did a beautiful job! The third dance was the sword dance. She asked me to help her with her leaps. So we walked to the grassy section of the grounds, and she took one giant leap to the right, and landed on the same ankle in a bad way. She fell to the ground.  I pleaded with her to stop ... it was OK to forfeit the dance. She had done a great job and had much to be proud of. However, Katie is a very determined girl. When she has her mind set on something, she is going to accomplish it. She walked on her ankle a bit more, and said "I'm fine ... let's walk to the other side and practice on the practice stage." After realizing little dancers were playing on the dance floor, she said "we can do it here on the grass .. it'll be fine." She took a leap to the left, and this time when she landed her foot down, a LOUD pop was heard,and she fell to the grass and was in dire pain. She looked up at me and cried "why?!"
 Katie dancing the Lilt -- the very next second is when she twisted her ankle the first time

By now, I was frantic, and could barely believe Katie had twisted both of her ankles THREE times that morning. What are the odds?! More ice was added to the other ankle, and that ankle was wrapped. Her turn was coming up quickly for the sword dance .. the dance that she had to perform with leaps. After speaking to Miss B, who assured her it was OK not to do the leaps she needed to do, she walked (limped) to the staging area. She gets on the stage, and starts the sword dance. Next thing we see, is Katie doing her leaps ... I am holding my breath, praying that Katie will have the strength to accomplish what her heart desires, and just to be able to get through this dance in one piece. Tears run down my face when I realized Katie did it .... Katie pulled through perfectly. Through all that pain.
Katie talking with her teacher, Miss B -- asking what to do about her Sword dance with her ankles as bad as they were. 
Miss B gives her a hug before she goes on the stage.



Katie performing the Sword dance 
Katie performs the Seann Triubhas

Katie danced one final dance, and did a beautiful job. All Katie wanted was a stamp. Of course, her eye was on the trophy, but at this point in the game, she just wanted to place in something so she could get a stamp on her dance card. To get a stamp on her card meant she was much closer to going into the next category. 

Katie's group was announced for medals. Seann Triubhas... Katie placed first. Sword Dance ... Katie placed first. Highland Fling... Katie placed first. The Lilt.. she was disqualified because she twisted her ankle. Best Dancer of the group? Katie! Imagine going back into serious practice in only six weeks, and walking away with a Best Dancer trophy of the group! The joy in Katie's face when her name was announced was worth it all. She was truly surprised. She was surprised by the strength she had in her. She said "I can do hard things!"

The first award she wins of the day

After all the awards are given, the Best Dancer award is yet to be awarded. 
Katie's name is being announced here -- see her smile?!


Katie with her dance teacher, Miss "B" after the competition

Katie suffered a second degree sprain in her left ankle, and a first degree sprain in her right ankle.  She had to skip the Houston Games which were held three weeks later because she was not ready, but she did participate in the Dallas games (which will be told in story in a few days!).  Way to go Katie!

Katie told me I had this wrong ... she twisted her right ankles twice, and her left ankle once.  Her left ankle was the worst!


On the way out of the Games, Katie & Maddie both spied with their little eye, my picture of Katie leaping in the air on someone's vehicle!

Back from the dead..... I'm alive!

Wow... it's been TWO months since I've blogged!  Not that nothing hasn't been happening around here in our lives, it has.... but because I've had literally no time to sit here and put my words down on my blog!

After seeing my family members click on my blog to read my newest post, and seeing our dear Smokey on the page -- it was time to blog again.  :) 

So.. what have we been up to?

First of all, I went to a 4/10 schedule at work, and while I love having an extra day off to get my errands done so I can enjoy my Saturday with my family -- it's been at times hard!  Lack of sleep, trying to shuttle the girls where they need to go (drop Katie off at seminary before work at 5:30 -- almost over!!) -- has just been overwhelming at time, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.  Add in overtime that I'll be working for about a month or so -- it's only going to get harder!  So, trying to figure out a way to find the time to work out (which let's face it, hasn't been happening at all since I started working last August), create fast dinners, etc.  I'm just grateful that Mike has been keeping the laundry going.  He's a super hero in my eyes!

The girls and I went to a Bat Mitzvah last weekend.  The girl was a good friend of Maddie's (she has several Jewish friends, and we live near a Jewish temple/synagogue so we have a lot of wonderful Jewish friends around us).  We went for the close of the Sabbath day (I have no clue the terminology they use), and her friend read a story of Ruth in Hebrew.  Very amazing!  It was so interesting to see how the Jewish observe.  The men and women are separated in the room.  They walk in different doors.  Their books they use.... we were told to go to page 602, and I go all the way to the back of the book, and see it's page 158.  I KNOW it's not page 158.  After realizing that the books go the opposite way we normally read.  All in all, so grateful for the experience.

After the service was over, we went into a huge room for a celebration.  They had an amazing DJ w/ a troop of helpers -- teenagers or college kids -- to help get the kids dancing and having a blast.  They passed out beads, light up necklaces, funny hats, sunglasses, leis, etc .... Katie was going to go w/ Maddie b/c I was just exhausted from setting up Mormon Prom the night before and that day -- but I decided to go as well.  I'm so glad I did because all of the moms of the girls were there, and one of the mom (Kelli) and I and Katie went out on the dance floor and had such a fun time.  Brought back memories of my time in Y.O.U. as a teenager dancing w/ all my friends on the dance floor.

We didn't want to come home -- but finally left at 11:30.  Katie was a little hyper from all the grape flavored cotton candy (which was delicious) she ate.  They had the most delicious food there.  Once I realized one of the foods was a BBQ beef sandwich, I was too full!

One of the my friends took this picture of Katie & I while at the dance..  Katie's mouth lately is ALWAYS open like this in pictures.  Must be a thing... like making that duck lips .... I'm sure a fly is going to fly in her mouth someday.  One of the moms I don't really know, looked at Katie and I, and said "is she your daughter?"  another mom laughed and said "yes... can't you tell?!"  The first mom said "I wondered b/c she has your eyes and smile!"  Katie & I lately have been getting more and more comments about how much she looks like me.  We still don't see it much.  Must be the hair.  :D


After we got home from the Bat Mitzvah, I documented the things the girls got, and to show how wild they were... it was so fun to see Katie (Maddie wouldn't let us dance with her == apparently we're too embarrassing) -- dance.  She doesn't dance a lot at her Stake dances apparently. 


This picture below I labeled on my facebook page "Guess which of my kids had more fun than the other?!"



Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Goodbye Smokey Bear ...

Last night the unthinkable happened.  I came home from work, walked into our sunroom/dining room which was full of hot Texas heat, and spotted Smokey lying across his cage.  I've caught him like that before, so I wasn't too alarmed.

Usually when I call his name, he wakes up and sniffs around.  This time, he didn't do anything.  So I opened his cage, and put my hand on him.  He almost snapped at me -- something he's NEVER done in his life.  I picked him up, and noticed he couldn't move.  It was like he was paralyzed, or had a stroke.  I wasn't sure. 

I don't know if he was dehydrated (I checked his water bottle.. it was working fine) -- or the heat got to him -- or if it was just old age.  He was 2 years old, after all.  His poor little bottom had dried up poop, like he was severely constipated, but I was so puzzled.

By now I was alarmed, and put him in some paper towels to cradle him.  I gave him some water from his water bottle, which he slurped up.  Pretty soon he was able to poop some more -- but his belly was getting distended.  I knew then, that the end was near.

I looked at Maddie, and tears were falling from her face.  She was silently sobbing from behind me, as I frantically tried to coax him and sweet talk to him.  When I saw her crying, I couldn't help shedding some tears as well.  I finally gave Smokey to Maddie.  She held him, and just cried.


What a wonderful little hamster we had.  Katie was the one who bought him, who picked him out of the litter.  He was separated from the other hamsters because he had gotten in a fight.  He had wounds on his body, and Katie said "we can nurse him back" and "put neosporin on his wounds!".  I was worried b/c I thought we had a feisty hamster on our hands!  But, no ... we had the gentlest hamster ever.  He never bit anyone.  Loved to cuddle in our sweatshirts or on our blankets.  Maddie was afraid to hold him for about a year, but she came to be able to hold him on her own.  What a proud day that was for her!

One night Smokey had an adventure.  He had gotten out of his cage.  Mike thought we had a mouse in the house, and for sure was going to stomp on the mouse.  When we saw it was Smokey having the time of his life -- I was the one to corner him in the bathroom and save him.  Whew.  What an adventure! 

Smokey made many friends when the family went on vacation.  They stayed with four families -- who all had their own stories to tell about Smokey when we picked him up.

Who could forget the time we decided to paint Smokey's nails hot pink?  Or even forget how much he stuffed his cheeks with food?



One time I left a shopping bag next to Smokey's cage, and by the morning, he was found with the entire shopping bag IN his cage.  In fact, he lined it in his sleeping cove and slept on it.  I tried to take it from him after a week, and he came running for it, and grabbed it right back!


Smokey loved sticking a full carrot in his mouth.  We tried to get him to nibble a baby carrot once, only he stuck it all in his mouth!   We didn't do that again, but managed to feed him bits and pieces of veggies.

Smokey was often found sleeping in his wheel.  Such an adorable sight!


Smokey managed to drive Mike crazy.. especially at night.  He was called "The Rat" by Mike, and often Mike was seen to put him in the garage in the middle of the night -- because he loved to play at night and run on his wheel.

After several hours of holding Smokey, cradling him, petting his soft fur ... his breathing was very shallow.  He started squeaking -- trying to breathe.  He was turning cold. I looked at him, and he was holding his paws as if he were praying.  I had to snap one last picture.  Finally a short time later I had to do the unthinkable .. suffocate him to further his death.  We all sobbed as this happened, but it was finally over.  The girls and I found a place in our yard to bury him.

Rest in peace sweet Smokey Bear. 
Your girls will miss you. 

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