Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Year in Review: 2009

So many things happen in a year, you're bound to forget things. I know I sometimes can't remember what happened last week, much less 11 months ago! One thing that helps me is to read old blog posts from the year - even though this year's near-screeching-halt in blogging may make things even more difficult to recall.

*We had to cancel our New Year's Day open house because Caleb was running fever on New Year's Eve. He was perfectly fine the next day, so we went out to eat. It ended up being a very low-key day.

*We had to postpone Jacob's and Billy's birthday celebrations because the boys were sick at different times.

*Jacob had to say goodbye to chewy candy because of his orthodontic spacer. They put the wrong spacer in, so we had to get the right one made and put in a week or so later.

*I made a rum pound cake for Billy's birthday - 18 years after the last one I made. My mixer died in the process.

*The van had issues and had to be put in the shop.

*Caleb celebrated his 9th birthday.

*Our homeschool group took a field trip to Mrs. Baird's bakery in Fort Worth. That was a fun free tour, and the boys are eager to go back. Caleb's favorite part was getting to eat a warm, buttered slice of freshly baked bread. Seriously, the boy could live off bread.

*Billy and I went to the Fort Worth Japanese and Botanic Gardens and to Dallas Zoo to take pictures. I was relearning how to use manual settings on my "new to me" digital camera.

*I attended my 4th annual SWIM Spring Retreat, and I taught ladies how to make stretch bracelets.

*Billy and I started thinking about what to do once the lease on the rental house ended.

*We joined a new home group from church. With eight couples, there's a great mix of people in it, and we always have a good time together!

*I worked with my good friend Nino at some group fitness training sessions at church. She taught us some great exercises we can do at home and not have to spend a lot of money on gym memberships.

*The boys went for their annual well check-ups. They're very healthy and growing steadily. Unfortunately their pediatrician was ending his time at the clinic and moving to Rockwall, but we're happy with our new pediatrician, who the boys had seen when theirs was out of the office.

*I took a class on hammered wire earrings at a local bead shop and was asked to teach some classes. The only catch was I had to come up with an idea.

*We became addicted to playing Rock Band. When we visited my family for a weekend, the whole family took turns playing. Not long after we came back home, we had a new Wii, complete with Rock Band and Rock Band 2.

*We took the boys bowling for their first time. It was fun, and I did about as well as they did... :oP

*I got serious about taking more pictures. I'm still working on learning techniques for a more artistic approach.

*We made our first (and last) trip to The Incredible Pizza Company. Pizza, okay; everything else, bad.

*The boys took swimming lessons from a private instructor instead of a local park, and they did remarkably better! Caleb was jumping into the deep end of the pool and swimming across at the end of two weeks. Jacob went from trying to talk his way out of putting his face in the water to swimming across the width of the pool by himself. We're definitely going to use Kathy again next year!

*Our VBS had an outback theme this year. We got to pet a kangaroo on family night.

*The boys made various trips to Camp Mamaw & Papaw and Camp Mimi & Pops during the month. They had a blast and got spoiled. (So did I!) :o)

*I took the boys to the grand opening of the LEGO Store at North Park Center and they participated in building big bricks for the big Yoda the master builder was going to make. They took it down the night they finished it, so we never got to see the end result. The boys now have a favorite store that we have to visit after every dental check up.

*I taught my first bead class at Beads of Splendor on making cage beads. It was a full class and there's interest in me teaching it again. Diana also wants me to teach a class on adjustable wire rings. I just need to get my samples made and the instructions written up.

*The boys and I went with some other homeschool families to a textile design studio to see how the designer works to see her designs from idea to finished product. The kids got to help out with making cording and other things. The boys lost interest after a while, but I would've loved to stay longer and see more of what she does there.

*Caleb got a rapid expander put on his top teeth, so now he has joined Jacob's "No Chewy Candy Club". It's easier now that they both can't have certain things instead of one being able to eat it.

*I took the boys to Six Flags to celebrate their completion of a reading program. It was their first time to an amusement park and they loved riding everything. No queasy stomachs in this bunch!

*We took the boys to the circus for their first time. We all enjoyed it!

*We took our first family vacation! We went to Branson, MO, and had lots of fun. We went to Silver Dollar City (two days), toured a cave (at Silver Dollar City), explored the Titanic Museum, visited a fish hatchery, spent time relaxing at the lake, and played in our resort's Splashatorium. Billy and I hadn't been on an extended vacation since we went to Santa Fe in '97 or '98. I wonder where we'll go next year...

*We found a house we loved and closed on it August 31. We're homeowners again and love it!

*We moved into our new house during the first few weeks of the month. It didn't take long to get settled in, either. We love our new home!

*The boys and I joined some other homeschool friends for a tour of the Trammell Crow Museum of Asian Art in downtown Dallas. (It turned out to be the same day of the failed terrorist attack on one of the landmark buildings nearby...)

*Billy and I took the boys to the Texas State Fair for the second year in a row. Last year was hot; this year was cold and we were under-dressed. Still, we had a great time. Caleb was inspired to make a LEGO model of something to enter in next year's exhibits after seeing that other children had won ribbons for doing that. Billy and I are considering entering some photographs we've taken, and I'd like to enter a few pieces of jewelry. I didn't see much jewelry at all this time.

*The annual Missions Conference at church got me to thinking more seriously about how I could participate in missions more directly.

*We hosted 13 people for our home group's missions dinner. The Spurgeons (India and the Philippines) joined us and shared what their work there is like. They're here on furlough, so they joined our home group for the remainder of their time here.

*I turned 40 and lived to tell about it. Actually, it doesn't bother me at all. It's just a number and you can't do anything about it anyway, so why fret? I feel great and look like I'm in my thirties. :o)

*Jacob learned how to ride his bike without training wheels! He took to it right away, and after several laps with Billy by his side, he was ready to take off on his own.

*Thanksgiving was great, but we received bad news concerning Uncle Mike. His stomach cancer, having spread despite months of chemo and radiation, was winning the battle. He and Aunt Susie made several trips to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Chicago, but pneumonia weakened him severely.

*We celebrated Hanukkah and Christmas with our home group. Steve and Adria taught us about the history and traditions of Hanukkah, and we learned how to play with the dreidel.

*Uncle Mike died in hospice care on Wednesday morning, Dec. 23. We went to his funeral on Sunday, Dec. 27, where Billy was a pallbearer. It's been hard on Aunt Susie and all the family, and now a shadow will be over Christmas from here on.


I haven't posted a slide show in a while, so a look back at 2009 through pictures might be something to work on...

2009 Report Card

Wow! Two blog posts in one day! What's wrong with me? :o)

Last year (2008), I set too many goal for myself and ended up failing on almost all of them. For this year (2009), I set far fewer goals so I'd have a better chance of success. Let's see how I did...

1. Lose 10 pounds by June. Yes, I know this is not as lofty as last year's goal - which I failed miserably at, by the way. I'm working on it, but it's really hard when you love food as much as I do. I wish I didn't like it so much; then it would be much easier.

FAIL! I actually lost about 8 pounds in two months, then I tapered off. Once I started changing my workouts, I lost about 4 more. Then summer happened. We got busy, took a vacation, bought a house and moved, etc. I quit working out and quit watching what I ate. Then the holidays rolled around and I ate even more. I did weigh myself recently, though, and I am 2 pounds less than I was this time last year. That's a good thing, right?

2. Promote to Senior Consultant (Pampered Chef) by May. Not much came in this area last year, either, but I quit trying after a few months. I had a few leads, but they all fizzled. I'm going to work harder at it this time around because the company is restructuring the team-building portion to make it easier and more beneficial. We'll see.

FAIL! I didn't promote, even though they made promoting easier. Really, I just didn't work at it. I'm not a go-getter in this area. I don't want to push people into doing something. I know, that's not going to lead me to be successful in this area, but I just don't like being pushy. In fact, I seriously considered giving up being a consultant. I lost my drive. But I kept getting orders from people and had a few requests for shows. I think that was God's way of telling me to stay in. I lost my increased commission because I didn't turn in enough orders for a certain period of time, but I'm slowly working my way back up.

3. Finish writing my children's book by September. I had a really good start on it, but once I hit a rough spot, I put it aside for a while. Then I forgot to get it back out again. The format I've chosen is harder (rhyming), but it would lose a lot if I changed it.

FAIL! I did get my manuscript out and work on it some, but once things got busy, I put it away and forgot about it. I know right where it is, so I can put my hands on it any time. I just haven't been motivated.

Not so good in these areas last year, but I'm not deterred from setting a few goals for the coming year. Maybe I'll have more success in 2010.

Missions Minded (cont.)

Okay, I'm finally getting to the continued portion of my last blog entry - two months ago! I didn't realize it had been that long!

So, some things have been taking root in my mind about getting more involved with missions. We have friends who are missionaries in different places, but other than catching up on what they're doing when they're in town, that's about all the contact we have. (I'm horrible about keeping in touch by email and even worse by phone. Sadly, if you're not on Facebook and you're not local, there's not a lot of communicating going on.) I want to do more.

We do support one missionary family with a small monthly contribution, as well as being prayer partners with them for one of their children. I would like to work something into the boys' nightly prayer time where they pray for a different missionary family each day of the week: the Finchers on Mondays, the Nolteriekes on Tuesdays, etc. That's the easy part.

I would also like to keep up more frequent communication with the missionary families we know. Scott Way is on Facebook regularly, so I can keep up with his family that way. Some others are on Facebook, but they don't post much or reply much; others aren't on there at all. I need to ask them to include us in their monthly updates, and I need to respond to them. Often missionaries will ask how they can pray for those who support them. I always feel like they're too busy to do that, but they aren't - and they really want to know.

Eventually I'd like to be able to send a small care package every once in a while with things like small toys for the kids, snacks for the parents, etc. I know that can be costly, but maybe if we choose one holiday for each family...

One missionary family we're friends with is stateside, partnering with Cadence. They're based in SC and they host retreats for soldiers every weekend. Recently some friends of ours from church visited them for a weekend to help and they came back with wonderful stories to share of how they were able to minister to soldiers in various ways. They always need people who can help with maintenance on the campgrounds, cook and serve the soldiers' meals, talk with them, play games with them, etc. They are working with the church to plan trips where church members can go for a weekend to help out. Billy and I have decided we'd love to go on one of those trips. He's a great handyman, and I'm good in the kitchen. The boys would love being there, too - and the soldiers love having kids around because they help bridge a gap when they're missing kids in their own families.

I'm not sure when the trips will begin, but we're ready and willing to go!