Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Words, wonderful words

Here are some of the beautiful words from some of the character-building books I've read this year:

The Phantom Tollbooth--Norton Juster
  • "...since you got here by not thinking, it seems reasonable to expect that, in order to get out, you must start thinking."
  • "...the way you see things depends a great deal on where you look at them from."
  • "...for one of the nicest things about mathematics, or anything else you might care to learn, is that many of the things which can never be, often are."
  • "...just because you can never reach it doesn't mean that it's not worth looking for."
  • "You must never feel badly about making mistakes," explained Reason quietly, "as long as you take the trouble to learn from them. For you often learn more by being wrong for the right reasons than you do by being right for the wrong reasons...it's not just learning things that's important. It's learning what to do with what you learn and learning why you learn things at all that matters."
  • "...many places you would like to see are just off the map and many things you want to know are just out of sight or a little beyond your reach. But someday you'll reach them all, for what you learn today, for no reason at all, will help you discover all the wonderful secrets of tomorrow."
  • "...you had the courage to try; and what you can do is often simply a matter of what you will do."
  • "...many things are possible just as long as you don't know they're impossible."
Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart--Gordon Livingston M.D.
  • "The three components of happiness are something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to. "
  • "When we think about loss of freedom, we seldom focus on the ways in which we voluntarily impose constraints upon our lives."
  • "...we often do not do what is necessary to become the people we want to be."
  • "People mistake thoughts, wishes and intentions for actual change."
  • "The process of building has always been slower and more complicated than that of destruction."
  • "Though a straight line appears to be the shortest distance between two points, life has a way of confounding geometry. Often it is the dalliances and the detours that define us."
  • "The process of learning consists not so much in accumulating answers as in figuring out how to formulate the right questions."
  • "We routinely invoke theories of accident, coincidence and forgetfulness to explain behaviors that we do not wish to examine closely."
  • "To imagine that we are solely, or even primarily, responsible for the successes and failure of our children is a narcissistic myth."
The Traveler's Gift--Andy Andrews
  • "...we are all in situations of our own choosing. Our thinking creates a pathway to success or failure. By disclaiming responsibility for our present, we crush the prospect of an incredible future that might have been ours. "
  • "...outside influences are not responsible for where you are mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally. or financially. You have chosen the pathway to your present destination. The responsibility for your situation is yours. 
  • "Until a person takes responsibility for where he is, there is no basis for moving on."
  • "The past will never change, but you can change the future by changing your actions today."
  • "It is never the duty of a leader to struggle for someone else; a leader must encourage others to struggle and assure them that the struggles are worthwhile."
  • "Truth is never dependent upon consensus of opinion."
  • "Most people fail at whatever they attempt because of an undecided heart...success requires the emotional balance of a committed heart. When confronted with a challenge, the committed heart will search for a solution. The undecided heart searches for an escape."
  • "...life itself is a privilege, but to live life to its fullest--well, that is a choice."
  • "You will never please everyone, nor should pleasing everyone be your goal."
  • "Sooner or later, every man of character will have his character questioned. Every man of honor and courage will be faced with unjust criticism, but never forget that unjust criticism has no impact whatsoever upon the truth. And the only sure way to avoid criticism is to do nothing and be nothing!"
  • "...while public opinion might sway back and forth, right and wrong do not."
  • "When I give forgiveness, I free my own spirit to release the anger and hatred harbored in my heart. By granting forgiveness, I free my spirit to pursue my future happily and unencumbered by the anchors of my past. And forgiveness, when granted to others becomes a gift to myself."
  • "The only limit to your realization of tomorrow is the doubt to which you hold fast today."
  • "Circumstances are rulers of the weak, but they are weapons of the wise."
  • "A person who is depressed is spending too much time thinking about the way things are now and not enough time thinking about how he wants things to be."
  • "Average people compare themselves with other people. That is why they are average. I compare myself to my potential."
The Noticer--Andy Andrews
  • "Think. Learn. Pray. Plan. Dream. For soon...you will become."
  • "A grateful perspective brings happiness and abundance into a person's life."
  • "It's amazing that a person could lose everything, chasing nothing."
  • "Worry...fear...is just a misuse of the creative imagination that has been placed in each of us."
  • "The seeds of depression cannot take root in a grateful heart."
  • "Many of life's treasures remain hidden from us simply because we never search for them...we are so caught up in fear and regret, that hope seems a foolish endeavor."
  • "Most people think it takes a long time to change. It doesn't...It may take a long time to decide to change...but change happens in a heartbeat."
  • "There is no difference in the person who intends to do things differently and the one who never thinks about it in the first place. 
The Diary of a Young Girl--Anne Frank
  • "I don't want followers, but friends, admirers who fall not for a flattering smile but for what one does and for one's character."
  • "...when I lie in bed and end my prayers with the words, 'I thank you, God, for all that is good and dear and beautiful,' I am filled with joy...I don't think then of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains."
  • "And whoever is happy will make others happy, too. He who has courage and faith will never perish in misery!
  • "I can shake off everything if I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn."
  • "If the truth is told, things are just as bad as you yourself care to make them."
  • "There's one golden rule to keep before you: laugh about everything and don't bother yourself about the others!"
  • "I can't imagine how anyone can say: 'I'm weak' and then remain so. After all, if you know it, why not fight against it, why not try to train your character? The answer was: 'Because it's so much easier not to!"
  • "Laziness may appear attractive, but work gives satisfaction.
  • "A quiet conscience makes one strong."
  • "Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands."

Monday, December 29, 2014

A crappy way to start the day

I went to bed early last night, but around midnight I woke up and thought it certainly did seem hot in the bedroom and I needed to make an adjustment to the temperature. Because of where our thermostat is located, our room gets extra warm when we run the heater and extra cold when we run the air conditioner. But then, that feeling of heat I was experiencing changed to a wave of nausea, and instead of worrying any longer about adjusting the temperature,  I did a quick about-face and headed for the restroom, where I became the second household victim of a mild, but no less unpleasant, tummy bug.

Around 3:00, Clay appeared, announcing that he needed to go potty. I took him to our bathroom, and after he took care of his business, the potty made an odd "glub, glub" sound, but it seemed to flush okay, so I took Clay back to his room and sleepily stumbled back to my bedroom, where I experienced the need to use the facilities myself. The toilet seemed to flush just fine, but, after a moment, I realized that the water level was rising. And then, it was overflowing. I trotted off to the utility room to fetch a plunger.

As I stood there plunging, Jeff, who had taken himself to the hall bathroom, since ours was occupied, appeared in the bathroom doorway and proclaimed that the hall toilet was also stopped up and the water level was rising there as well. He took over the plunging duties and was going back and forth between the two bathrooms. I was wide awake by this point, so I was following him around, offering moral support. I was standing in the hall while he worked on the powder bath potty, when I noticed that a small river was flowing out of the utility room. I hollered at Jeff to stop plunging, while I went to inspect. We have a floor drain in the utility room, which is suppose to carry water out of the house should the need arise, but, in this case, it was bubbling like a spring and a steady stream of nasty water was flowing into the house.

Meanwhile, Jeff had stepped into the kitchen, to find that the two floor drains in there were delivering similar rivulets, so that a large portion of the floor in the middle of the house was being soaked in sewer water. I quickly gathered up a handful of towels and old blankets to soak up some of the mess and quietly thanked the Lord that we do not have carpet, but the water continued to flow and the towels and blankets were not making any difference. Jeff shut off all the water to the house and called a plumber around 3:30. The plumber said he could be here around 6:30. We both felt disgusting and disgusted, but we tried to get a few winks before the plumber showed up. He arrived at about a quarter to 7:00 and went right to work.

The problem seems to have been taken care of, and my plans for the day now include mopping the floor, disinfecting various surfaces and washing loads and loads of soiled towels and blankets. It really wasn't a great way to start the day. Still, there is much to be thankful for: my emesis went down and didn't come back up, the tummy bug was very short lived,  we don't have carpet in any part of the house, the water flowing into the house was not stinky or discolored, the plumber was able to get here so quickly.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

It all comes out in the wash

It was at this point last year, in the throes of post-holiday laundry, that I decided there had to be a way to break up the monotony a bit. Inspiration wasn't hard to come by, as I sifted through the few odds and ends that didn't belong in the laundry but had found their way there anyway. Next thing I knew, I had a large jar sitting beside the washer and dryer, and I have been collecting the laundry oddities ever since. Today, the great Laundry Treasure Hunt of 2014 comes to an end. Let's see what interesting things have made their way into the laundry this year, shall we. (This excludes any items found during the two months when we were living in North Carolina and Florida.) I have no idea how most of these things got into the laundry. All I can offer in the way of explanation is to tell you that I am not a diligent pocket checker and that everyone over the age of seven is in charge of their own laundry.

  • A 3"x6" bright green plastic tub
  • One thigh pad, which must have escaped from Weston's football pants
  • An artfully decorated paint stir stick
  • A guitar strap
  • One oversized plastic glove
  • A stretchy orange wrist band
  • A golf ball
  • A ski lift ticket
  • Three lovely rocks
  • Two collar stays
  • A fun hair elastic
  • A used band-aid shaped like a flower
  • A two-foot piece of string with a number of knots tied in it
  • Two balloons that have seen much better days
  • Both end pieces of a blue crayon
  • One intact sticker, featuring a boy and girl riding in a wagon
  • A ragged, unusable pencil with a faded design
  • A total of six keys, which might go to absolutely anything
  • A broken necklace chain
  • Three washers in various sizes and colors
  • A dismantled earring
  • A teeny, tiny rubber snake
  • One binder ring
  • Two parts of a plastic sample cup, like you get at the grocery store
  • 15 whole or partial candy wrappers, four of which still contain their original contents
  • A wingless styrofoam airplane
  • A tube of Chap Stick
  • The remnants of a Nerf dart
  • A pair of blue kid scissors
  • Four washed out Buddy Buck stickers
  • A sporty Hot Wheels car
  • Four little pieces of batting
  • One hex nut
  • Two lag screws, of different sizes
  • One bolt
  • A small black marble, with orange and yellow squiggles
  • Three small pieces of plastic tubing
  • A cuckle burr
  • A triangular Magformer magnet
  • Two tiny twigs and a small piece of bark
  • A piece of willow off a laundry basket
  • A clear, two-hole button
  • A sticker from a piece of fruit that originated in Argentina
  • Nine little bitty green plastic beads
  • Two square-shaped blue jean embellishments
  • One plastic yellow bead
  • A pile of paper that is way beyond identification
  • A scripture memory card featuring Psalm 23:6
  • Five Perler beads in shades of red and blue
  • Two sections of a once-but-no-longer useful zipper
  • A small pile of pea-sized gravel
  • One little leaf
  • A couple of broken acorns and some of the smallest whole acorns I've ever seen
  • A $5 bill, 8 quarters (one purple), 4 dimes, 3 nickels, 22 pennies--for a grand total of...wait for it...$7.77 (You cannot make this stuff up!) I guess that proves that laundry is my "divine calling," so I guess I better get back to it!

collection site

laundry treasures revealed

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Haskell Holiday

We finished up our holiday tour this weekend in Haskell, with my side of the family. Nothing matters more to us than getting to spend time with people we love. What a blessing that we had the opportunity to spend time with both sides of our family this holiday season!

Grandaddy loves to pick on the kids.
(And the kids love for Grandaddy to pick on them!)

Alley Science with Mentos and Diet Coke

Grandaddy's girls

The boys' table, which obviously wouldn't be complete without a finger in a nose

Fun with Nana and Papa

These two cuties had the best time playing with Granny's walker

Pirate invasion

Quality time with Granny, learning some family history through pictures and cooking

The gang's (almost) all here
(Missed you, Phillip!)

White Christmas

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Elegante

We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning at the MCM Elegante hotel in Abilene. What a great place! We had so much fun and made some wonderful memories!

learning to play Shuffleboard 

an intense game of pool

just tall enough for the foosball table

more pool fun

my people, pizza and "A Christmas Story"
make a pretty happy Christmas Eve

Christmas Day twinkies

swim lesson

ready to race

Pirate Max making his way across the pool

little jumping bean

perfect pencil dive

warming up in the hot tub

Christmas coloring pages

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas at The Ranch

the boys in buffalo plaid

braided beauties

choo-choo train

so much sweetness

silly hats

the ranch equivalent of a "snowdeer," which is Clay for "reindeer"

one of the highlights was calling and feeding the cows

book lovers

helping Grandpa make breakfast

beauty shop

Look out, ladies!

domino dude

fun with the holiday party crackers

party to the Max

Christmas joke aftermath

cuteness personified

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Hangin' with the Bigs

Our two little boys went to Mimi and Grandpa's on Tuesday, so they could head out to the ranch with them on Wednesday. Jeff had a business meeting in Dallas yesterday afternoon, so all the rest of us tagged along. When the work was done, the fun began. Jeff and Ruth had already made plans to go see The Hobbit, so Weston and I decided to see Big Hero 6. Both movies were a hit with their respective viewers. (Here's a funny aside about that movie going experience: We decided we better buy the movie tickets before Jeff's business meeting, since it was opening night for The Hobbit and we wanted to be sure they didn't sell out. We picked the theater closest to our hotel, which turned out to be in a mostly abandoned, very run-down mall, that sort of gave me the creeps when I went in to get the tickets. But, on the up side, the tickets were dirt cheap. On the way back from the meeting, after a fairly lengthy stop at REI for some necessary travel gear, we got caught up in some crazy rush hour traffic and realized we weren't going to make it to the theater on time. So, since we had already promised the kids we would see the movies, we rerouted to the nearest theater, which was in all ways the opposite of the previous venue. We've never been so thankful for rush hour traffic!)

Today there was more one-on-one fun to be had. The boys headed over to AT&T Stadium to watch four of the high school football state championship games, and Ruth and I did some serious shopping, had an opportunity to eat at The Cheesecake Factory, and then took in another movie (Mockingjay).

It was so special to have some alone time with each of the big kids over the past couple of days. (I'm sharing our selfies, even though the ones from my phone are horrible, since I recently dropped it and produced a lovely crack in the screen that goes right through the camera lens. Still, they are the best we have, and I want to remember these wonderful days.)

My handsome date and I after Big Hero 6

Waiting on our table at The Cheesecake Factory

Two happy football lovers

Sunday, December 14, 2014

When Nomads Buy Insurance...

Several months ago, Jeff was shopping around for travel insurance for our big trip. He came across a policy with IMG that he liked, that met all our requirements. When he started crunching the numbers, he realized that we could save a ton of money on the policy if we started it now, rather than waiting until May. The only catch was that the policy could not be activated while we were on U.S. soil. But the savings was such (and we're crazy enough) that we began looking into ways to leave the country on the cheap. And what I mean by that is that we literally looked at a map of flights and left our parameters for destination and date completely open, and then we picked the cheapest one: Buffalo, NY (because, surprisingly, it's not a popular destination in December, which is weird given the ridiculous snow storms it is prone to at this time of year). From there, we could rent a car and drive into Canada. We then checked to see if there were any Starwood hotels nearby (since we collect points with them and had a surplus). We found a gem of a place, sitting just across the border and overlooking Niagara Falls. As a bonus, the hotel is part of a resort, which includes an indoor water park, which we could get a discount on by being hotel guests. Win, win, win! This is my favorite insurance policy we've ever bought, and it was a good practice trip! One other thing that's super cool about this trip is that it has allowed us to add to our travel map over on the right hand side of the blog. If you're interested, you can scroll over the map to see where we've been. We will be adding more and more places to that map, with a goal of seeing it turn mostly green.

Welcome to Canada

Rooms with views (from left to right, top to bottom):
1. The view from our balcony at night
2. The view out the side window during the daytime
3. The continued view from the side window around dusk
4. The view from the balcony during the day time
5. Fallsview Restaurant, two floors above our room
6. The view of the falls, from the water park
7. The ridiculous view from our bathroom!
8. Sheraton on the Falls
9. Bonus view of dinosaurs (near the the ferris wheel)

Snow fun!

Fallsview Waterpark
(Your eyes do not deceive you.
We do, in fact, look like dwarves in that family photo.
We couldn't resist playing with the funhouse mirrors.)

Friday Night Fireworks at the Falls

So much sweetness at the Hershey store