Friday, October 31, 2008

Ack! Yuck!!! Ewwwwww!

I love a good Gatorade every now and then...especially the ones with the twisty sports lids. When we went to the State Fair a few weeks ago, I bought one for each of my children with the thought that they could drink the Gatorade and then fill it with water as needed. This really was a great idea. I even let them keep the bottles for later use. However, I haven't seen these bottles in over a week. Just a few minutes ago, Spencer brought me an empty one. When I asked him where it came from, he told me that he found it on the street, but it was "OK because Audrey washed it off with water and it doesn't have any more germs".

Ack! Yuck!!! Ewwwwww!

I'm all for recycling/reusing/re-purposing, and I'm trying to teach my kids about the importance of recycling......but there are limits some of them have not figured out yet - like ONLY REUSE YOUR OWN plastic bottles, or at least keep it within the family.

Fall Fun Festival

Thank you to Matthew Road Baptist Church (MRBC - pictured here (left) - (as viewed from my back yard - see the steeples at the bottom of the photo) and
The Woods United Methodist Church (TWUMC) - (pictured here) - in Grand Prairie, Texas, for your "Halloween Alternative" events. Both churches are neighbors who back up to my house. Every year MRBC holds a Fall Fun Festival and this year TWUMC held a "Trunk or Treat" on their parking lot. People showed up in droves for these events. We had a great time and I always feel safe in this family friendly environment. This year the weather was perfect and fun was had by all. We walked home with more candy than any child should be allowed to eat in one year (lifetime). This is the first year that we actually walked instead of driving to the parking lot around the corner.

Below are a few photos of Spencer. He had a blast.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

TTV Experiments

This is my morning experiment with Through The Viewfinder (TTV) photography.

This one (above) is a photo of my newest acquisition. It is a photo of a Kodak Brownie Reflex camera taken through the viewfinder of the Kodak Duaflex II seen below.

This is a photo of my Kodak Duaflex II taken through the viewfinder of my new Kodak Brownie Reflex Camera.

I love the challenge of getting the shot and the end result with all of the scratches and dust in the picture. As you can tell, the old Brownie viewfinder is really dusty and spotted inside.

My kids are having fun looking at these funny looking old cameras, and they are getting even more interested in photography. Yeah!!!!!

Oh the Humanity of it all!

I can't stand anymore name calling, "mudslinging", rude comments, yelling, arguing, crying, lying, screaming, kicking, punchings, false accusations.....and don't forget the cussing!

And that is just what goes on in the back seat of my car on the ride to school in the morning.

What? Did you think I was talking about politics?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Random Political Thoughts

Voter Registration
There has been talk by some that we don't want to "disenfranchise" voters in the poling place by asking them to verify that they are who they say they are and that they are only going to be able to vote ONE TIME. I don't know who these people are who would be DISENFRANCHISED, but I can tell you this: I took the time IN ADVANCE to register to vote. I voted. I only voted ONCE. I showed my drivers license and my voter registration card when I arrived to vote, and when they walked me over to the electronic ballot box to cast my vote I was GIDDY with excitement and overwhelmed with gratitude that I live in a country where I CAN VOTE freely, privately and ONLY ONE TIME. I left my early voting place doing the happy dance all over the parking lot - Those of you who know me understand what that looks like. My children would have been mortified. But I was so excited that I got my turn and my vote counts.

There is absolutely no reason to be "disenfranchised" - and personally I don't have a clue what that is supposed to mean - by being asked to make sure you are following the law, only registering once (IN ADVANCE so they can verify that you are who you say you are) and only voting once. Be happy to prove you are who you say you are and go pull the lever! JUST DO IT!!!


Undecided Voters
Again - YOU HAVE JUST GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. I can understand if all of the candidates were alike - but they clearly ARE NOT. Who are these undecided voters? How can you be undecided? Here is how I decided.

I KNOW WHO I AM AND WHAT I BELIEVE. I know what I believe about the fundamental issues of life. My beliefs are grounded in my faith in God - The God of the Holy Bible. Its a great book and I would highly recommend that you read.

If you seriously can't figure out who you should vote for - STOP and take some time to figure out what you believe in. Then, the choice will be obvious. At that point you should be able to figure out which candidate or party lines up with your belief. I think there are too many people who are undecided because they are trying to line themselves up with the candidate instead of the other way around. Which candidate fits your belief? Vote for that one.

And if you still can't figure it out, vote for John McCain and we will all be better off in the long run.

What does the Bible Say about Politics?
I'm so glad you asked. I think the Bible has plenty to say about politics or at least a way of seeing the world that we can apply to politics. What we are experiencing today is nothing compared to Israel of New Testament times. Think about this:

  • The Jewish people lived in a land occupied by the Roman Empire, and they were waiting for a long promised Messiah/Warrior King to free them from this state of occupation.
  • They had to live with the daily cruelties of Roman soldiers who were everywhere all the time.
  • They had unreasonable taxation without representation - does that sound familiar from our own American history?
  • They had Roman Law and they also had Jewish law to follow and sometimes the laws were diametrically opposed to each other.

Here are two of my favorite Bible stories that I believe you can also apply to politics:

  1. Mark 12:14-1: Give to Caesar what is Caesar's - in other words: PAY YOUR TAXES - its Biblical.
  2. Mark 5:1-20: This is just my brief synopsis. Jesus entered a village and found a demon possessed man who was so violent that he had to live away from town. They couldn't keep him chained up because he was so violent that he broke the chains. Jesus cast the demons out of the man and they went into a herd of pigs. The pigs ran down a hill and drown in the lake. The man was set free. Here is the Political part: When Jesus cast the demons out and allowed them to go into the pigs - the economic base for the village - he singlehandedly destroyed the economic stability for the village - or at least the economic stability of the people who owned the pigs. Why would he do that? Why would he do anything that would put multiple others at financial risk? After all, that was their livelihood. He did it because he was willing to put people before profits. He cared so much for the one man that he was willing to risked everything - in this case, someon else's profit - to save the one man. I believe the moral of the story and its application to politics today is this: God wants us to put people before profits no matter what that means.

So, when you are trying to figure out who to vote for, ask yourself this: Does this person put people before profits? Whether the issue is abortion, health care, illegal immigration, foreign policy or taxes - What is the effect on the person first.

Lets take care of the PEOPLE. The economy will get better over time.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

My New Vintage Camera Has Arrived!!!

It finally arrived! My brand new Kodak Duaflex vintage camera is here and these are my first few photos taken with my regular digital camera while looking through the viewfinder. The first one was just a quick fuzzy photo with the digital camera.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Dear Aunt Jean...

I was just looking at (coveting) some antique cameras on eBay and I though of you. I wish you were here. And even more than that, I wish I was wiser when you were here. You see, I was just a child, a mere teenager, when you were last with us. Back then, although I loved you, I didn't truly appreciate your uniqueness in the way I do now. I didn't know that it was special that you were artistic, soulful and eccentric. I could only see you through the eyes of a very young, inexperienced teenager who didn't truly appreciate the gifts you brought at Christmas. I didn't really understand their value - like the beautiful antique liquor decanter you gave me when I was about 12 years old. I didn't really understand or appreciate it until you were gone. It sat on a shelf in my living room until a few years ago when it fell off the wall and broke while I was away at work. I was heartbroken, because at that point it wasn't just a unique old glass container. It was part of you and your unique interaction in my life.

I wish you were here so I could hug you one more time and tell you how much I appreciate the relationship you modeled with your sister - my mom. I remember that the two of you talked on the phone for hours and hours... and hours. I didn't know then that it was special when you called or came over to our house but I understand it now. You see, I too could spend hours visiting on the phone with my mom and my precious sisters if I or they had time to do so. Thank God for cell phones with unlimited nights and weekends. There is nothing like being able to exchange calls ten times back and forth while driving down the freeway just to say "Hey! you are not going to believe what I just saw on the side of the road! If you're driving this way, watch out for the pigs", or "Its raining here, is it raining there?" Then there is the all important "Just checking in to see if today was any better than yesterday." You were the queen of talk and your legend lives on. Several of us have your genes and your name is often invoked when describing a moment that reminds us of you. Oh, what I would give to have you with us at one more family get together. You are missed.

You were a brilliant artist, and we all covet that picture you painted of Christ carrying the cross up Calvary. I think we are all secretly plotting how we're going to get to it first when the time comes to pass it along. It has been on Mom's wall all of these years. At times, I forgot it was there, and then when I noticed it again a smile lit up my face, because the significance of that painting is not just the beauty of the story it tells but the the beauty of your story that we all remember fondly. That painting is a little part of you.

You were one of the most humble women I ever knew. You lived in that little old house with boarded up windows in the middle of what I now think of as "crack-town" - a terrible gang infested neighborhood. Yet I never heard or saw you complain - except for the time they poisened your dog.

You were brave and smart and beautiful. I wish I had a picture of you to frame and hang on my wall. Grandma Huff had a few photos of you as a teenager and I thought you looked like a beauty queen.

You had impeccable taste and yet I didn't know it. Looking back, I remember all of those vintage dishes and antiques you had stuffed in that little house. I couldn't figure it out because I was just a teenager. Now I understand the value of old things and of getting older. In fact, somewhere in my attic, I still have some of your gifts: one vase, a bracelet, an old necklace, a satin jewelry bag, the topper to that antique liquor decanter and - move over Michelangelo - my very own Aunt Jean original painting on wood (Mother and Baby Ducks on Dangerous Waters - I still remember the story).

Thank you for the love you shared. Thank you for your generosity. You gave even though you didn't have much of your own to give.

Thank you for the memories. I have a daughter who reminds me of you, and when my eyes glaze over as she is telling me a story about her day - not leaving out one detail - I smile and think of you.

Yes, your genes live on in our family. You are loved. You are missed. Your are appreciated. You are remembered.

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

eBay Intoxication

I'm giddy with excitement and anticipation. Today has been a rough day for me on eBay because I've lost a total of four bidding wars in the last 4 seconds of bidding. Right now I'm trying to buy a vintage Kodak Duaflex II camera. They are also called "brownies" because they are small and brown. Well, I assume that is the reason for the nickname.

My hands are sweating and my heart is beating as hard and fast as a heard of stampeding elephants. I have waited patiently all day, carefully watching each time as the timer counted down to the last few seconds with me as the highest bidder at 1.99. And then BAM! another bidder jumped in and out-bid me. With my finger at the ready, poised on the mouse, waiting like a gunslinger anticipating a shootout, I hit the refresh button to update my status on the current item. Then I frantically hover my cursor over the "1 Click Bid" button, anticipating the moment I will have to click in order to outbid my invisible opponent. BAM! Outbid again. Now I am down to my final attempt for the night - item number five- and we are in the last minute of bidding. I have a new strategy. Back in one minute.

DARN!!!!!! My new strategy would have worked, but with 6 seconds to go on the clock the bidding ended. I think the eBay timer must be delayed over my Internet connection. I could have had this one.

OK. No more bidding wars for me. At least not today. Reeling from a total of 5 losses, I can't take it any more. I just found the same item with a buy now status for $10.00 plus shipping and its mine - ALL MINE! No more bidding for me. I'm done. This is my reward:
Why, you ask, do I want a camera like this? I'm studying a form of photography called "Through The Viewfinder" (TTV) where you take the photo with your digital camera looking through the viewfinder of the vintage camera. I can't wait to get my hands on this puppy to try it out. It is supposed to create a softer vintage look. If it works like I have been told it will, I will post my fine art photographs online for all of my fans to see.
Good night and happy bidding!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

And the Answer is......

Freshen Up Gum. Both of the links below play recordings of the jingle which includes the lines: "She/He didn't know the gum was loaded.

Both of these and more can be found at

Name that Product - Free Giveaway Contest

Can anyone remember the old commercial for chewing gum that used the line "she didn't know the gum was loaded"? It was gum that had a soft liquid center and I think it was popular in the early 80s. I can't remember the name of the gum and it is driving me crazy!

As a reward, the first person who can give me the answer to the question wins their choice of one free 5x7 fine art print listed for sale in my Etsy shop. Most of my photos are larger than 5x7 but I will print anything in the 5x7 (or 5x5 if it is in a square) format. You can click on the link over there at the right to visit my shop.

Seriously, I really want to know the name of that gum and anything else you can remember about it! :-)

Monday, October 20, 2008


My thought for today:

First: NEVER EVER PLAY WITH FIRE….well, its OK if it is your job because you are a fire eater in the circus, and you know what you are doing. Or, if you’re a welder…but do welders ever play with fire? So…

Rule #1: Play with fire if it is your job.
Rule #2: Do not play with incendiary devices in your closet. If you do - do not get flames near hanging clothes thus starting a larger fire. If you do start a fire in the closet, DO NOT close the door and go outside to play as if nothing happened. CALL FOR HELP!
Rule # 3: Not all fire is bad.

Here are some benefits of fire
1. A fire in an overgrown forest may destroy the beauty of the forest temporarily but it also clears out old decay and overgrowth that allows for new growth and renewal. You might see something you would not have seen before.
2. Fire is used to refine gold, silver and copper. It is also used to create steel and make it stronger.
3. Fire is used to create some of the most beautiful artistic creations – for instance Venetian Glass.
4. Fire creates heat for warmth in your fireplace or around a campfire where you can roast marshmallows and make s’mores.
5. Fire in an overgrown field behind your house clears out the overgrowth and the charred remains will act as a fertilizer which will cause grass to grow back greener.
6. And for my favorite….Trial by fire refines our character and makes us better people. It helps remove decay from our lives and sets us free from old, bad habits. It forces us to be creative and brings much needed personal growth and maturity.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hugs and Kisses

I just hugged Spencer - my six year old son. He is my #5 child also known as "the boy", "Doughy" (as in dough boy or cookie dough or sugar dough), or just "#5". He is the one I call the bonus baby because he was the surprise I wasn't planning on three years after #4 was born. She was intended to be the last - only for the reason that there is only one of me and I don't want to end up in the insane asylum at a young age. I knew my limits, or at least I thought I did. And then God decided to bless me with one more child - The Bonus Baby! Don't get me wrong. I loved all of my pregnancies and the payoff at the end when you get to bring the bundle of joy home, but then there is the next 18 years of sleepless nights for one reason or another. I could have kept having an unlimited amount of babies but I just didn't think I could maintain my sanity in the long run. So we have five, which is a quiver full.

When my children (also known as "my collection") are not trying to kill each other or me, our house is full of almost non-stop hugs and kisses. There are many things we can't afford or may never be able to give our children, but all of their basic needs are met. And I have found that often what they need most, and most frequently, is a real good hug and a kiss. These can come at random times and in many denominations. One hug is never adequate. They usually occur with a very long embrace which could last for what seems like forever. Then they are followed by a plethora of kisses, usually one on each cheek and then on all of the prominent kissing spots on the face - except for lips. All of my children have reached the age where they have decided that unlimited kisses are acceptable as long as they are no longer on the lips. These kisses, of course, are followed by more hugs and kisses, and this goes on and on while we talk about news from school or plans for the day or even just a simple exchange of how much we love each other. There is never a lack of love and affection in my house, and I feel confident that when my children grow up and get married they will have a lifetime of love and affection to pass on to their spouses and children. This is a very important part of our legacy for them.

Now back to hugging the Boy. I just hugged him and my thoughts went to this weekend's news of the six year old boy who was kidnapped in Las Vegas. We don't know all of the details of what happened or where he is right now, but we do know that there is a six year old boy who is not at home with his family. He is missing and in extreme danger. My heart breaks for this beautiful boy and for his mom. As I was hugging Spencer I began to think about the hug itself. I thought about all of the things I could sense while embracing him - his smell, the feel of his neck on mine, the bristle of his hair on my ear, his heartbeat, and the sound of his voice as he quietly said "I love you more than the sun and the moon." Then I thought about how important it is to experience each hug as if it could be the last one. We never know when a hug or kiss will be the last, and we should never take them for granted. Each one should be given with purpose, unique and memorable.

As I finish writing this blog, I just heard on the news that a 10 year old boy in Dallas was struck and killed this weekend while riding his bike across a dark intersection. His parents are devastated and my heart breaks for them too.

Now I must wipe the tears from my eyes and go hug and kiss all of my children before they go to bed tonight - this is going to take some time.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Sometimes I'm Selfish

When most people find out that I have five children, the first thing they ask is "how do you do it?". My automatic assumption is that they are asking how I maintain the status of Supermom. How do I get everything done for everyone all the time, leaving no room for failure or disappointment. And usually I give them some kind of answer that indicates that I know it is a lot of hard work but I have a lot of support which helps me keep it all moving forward, otherwise I would have stopped after the first one was born.

But the real truth is: Sometimes I'm selfish.

I refuse to try to be supermom. Only those in my very tight inner sanctum have seen my house beyond the threshold of the front door. Otherwise, the gig would be up and everyone would know what a failure I am at the "Supermom" persona. Don't get me wrong, I am not under any kind of assumption that anyone I know actually thinks I am a Supermom. If I thought that, it would be safe to assume that I have actually lost my very last marble and someone needs to come over here and slap me silly until the oxygen level in my brain returns to normal.

OK, back to the selfish part. Yes, its true. I am not 100% dedicated to every beck and call of my children. Sometimes I let them go without what they are requesting and most of the time I make them wait until I'm finished doing whatever I'm focused on at the moment. Most nights I repeatedly and adamantly insist that they "get out of my room" after 9:00pm because that is MY QUIET TIME. If it didn't happen before 9pm it must wait until tomorrow morning - even if it means they have to get up at 5:00am to do reading homework because they didn't tell me about it earlier.

And now for more selfish secrets:

Some nights (most nights) as soon as 9:00 hits, I climb into my bed with a Snickers bar and a diet coke or three, turn on The Fox Network and fire up my laptop to blog or work on one of my website endeavors. As soon as the door opens with one of my children asking me to do just one more thing before bedtime I very loudly insist that they leave my room immediately - all in an effort to hide the fact that I have a mouth full of chocolate covered peanut and nougat goodness.

No, I'm not Supermom - not even close. But I do love my children and have stayed up countless nights working on finishing a science fare projects even after they have turned in for the night. I've taken trips to WalMart at 6:00am to get that one last thing they needed for school that day. They are all well loved an hugged every day but some days I just have to have my ME TIME. Otherwise I think I will go completely insane.

So, if any of my readers are disappointed to find out that not only am I not Supermom, but that I actually admit that I am sometimes selfish - I'm sorry for the shock, but I just can't keep up with Supermom anymore. In fact, I have secretly been plotting a hit. If I ever find her, I'm going to take her down on behalf of moms everywhere who are at their wits end trying to keep up with her ever expanding reputation. And then I'm going to crawl back into my bed to eat another Snickers bar.

State Fair of Texas

I love the Texas State Fair!

Every year, students in Texas schools receive free tickets and a day off to go to the fair. This is an awesome learning opportunity which is almost entirely free! If you park off-site on a side street, take your own lunch and drinks, and whatever you do - DO NOT RIDE THE RIDES. I have nothing against the rides. In fact there is something to be said about a mother enjoying the look of pure pleasure on the faces of her children as she tries desperately to time her photo at the precise moment they appear around the turn in the whatever ride they are enjoying. However, these rides are extremely expensive and cost prohibitive, especially if you are the mother of five children. Each year, against Hubs desire, we load up the kids and head off to the State Fair of Texas - this year without Hubs but with the help of Auntie D.
It was soooooo much fun - despite the fact that number 4 ended our day with a trip to the emergency room with a broken arm. There is a virtual cornucopia of knowledge and culture to be absorbed in as much time as your feet can stand. Oh yes, if your feet are tired and you don't think you can walk one more mile (and there are many miles to be walked at the State Fair of Texas), if you can spare a quarter you can get the most vigorous foot, uhhhhhh, vibration therapy to help you continue on.
Here is my list of favorite things to see at the fair:
  1. Big Tex - a must see, and how can you miss him? He's that BIG!
  2. The Marine Corps Band
  3. That REALLY BIG genetically engineered pig!
  4. Pig Races
  5. the Petting Zoo sponsored by Children's Medical Center in Dallas
  6. The Domino Man (located in the African American Museum this year)
  7. The Auto Show (great if you have three boys who love EVERYTHING VEHICULAR!)
  8. Dancing Dogs
  9. High Flying Daredevils
  10. The guy who gets shot out of the cannon (that was from last year but most excellent!)
  11. BMX Bike Show
  12. Birds of the wild show (Sponsored by Kroger)

Here are some photos you can enjoy:

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Patriotic Pride, Photographic Addiction and Blindness

Last week, on Friday morning, I was feeling inspired. Let me start by saying this: I have fallen in love with photography. I'm not anywhere close to being a professional photog and I only have a little six mega pixel Kodak EasyShare camera - which I am about to wear out from overuse - but I love taking pictures.

I never leave the house without two cameras and some extra rechargeable batteries. By the way, the best, longest lasting rechargeable AA batteries I have ever used are the Energizer Rechargeable 2500 mAh batteries. My knees shook and my hands trembled when I bought my first four-pack with the recharger because I knew it was a big investment for batteries which I didn't know would stand up to the Energizer reputation. These batteries are not cheap but they last for close to 900 photo shots in my camera before they have to be recharged. And I don't just use them for my camera. I use them for everything in the house. Gone are the days of buying cheap (and they are not really that cheap) disposable batteries. For me its Energizer rechargeable batteries or none.

So, back to my photography addiction - My kids are starting to get annoyed by my constant need to pull over and jump out of the van to take a picture of the sunrise or sunset or some unusual flower on the side of the road - and I have developed a talent for spotting them. Then there are the times when I frantically call out "Quick! grab the camera from my purse and take a picture of the sunrise! HURRY, YOUR LOSING THE LIGHT!" Although they are developing a love for taking pictures themselves, they are really getting annoyed by this new addiction. It cramps their style and brings unwanted attention to them at times when they don't want to be noticed - like when I pulled over in the school parking lot and jumped out to take a picture of the old rusty "no parking fire lane" sign.

So, on Friday morning I was feeling inspired by yet another beautiful sunrise, and off in the distance across the Grand Prairie skyline I could see a gigantic American Flag waving in the morning breeze. I have never been able to get an up close photo of this particular flag, and my camera's zoom is not adequate to capture it properly from down the street. Thus began my chase for the perfect picture. I made my way from one flag to another all across town for about two hours trying to capture the flag and the sunrise all in the same shot. At the risk of permanent damage to my eyesight and about 329 photos later, this is one of the many beautiful photos I captured. I call it "Morning Glory". (And I'm not kidding about the blindness - taking pictures of the sun is not a safe addiction.)

This flag is one of the most beautiful sites across the land and it can be seen everywhere you go on any given day. This is not a natural wonder that you have to travel to see on a hard earned vacation. It is completely man made but worth all of the effort and history that has gone into it. The ideas that it represents have been fought over, wrestled with, debated and dreamed about for more than two centuries. My ancestors came to this country in 1774 to pursue their dream of what this flag represents. They fought for their dream of freedom of religion, freedom from tyranny and freedom of prosperity.

As I stood on the Kroger parking lot, eyes squinting in the sunlight, taking picture after picture in pursuit of the perfect photo, tears filled my eyes at the thought of all of the people who have sacrificed their personal freedoms to preserve and protect mine.

Thank you to all of the patriots and soldiers who have fought to preserve freedom and protect our country from tyranny and terrorism. Thank you to my ancestors who fled religious persecution and came to America only to find that they would have to fight for the freedom they came here to pursue. And most important - Thank you God for allowing me to live in such a great nation where I am so blessed every day.