Monday, November 30, 2009

30 Things for Which I'm Thankful

In honor of finishing up NaBloPoMo and the thirty days in November, I'm going to share 30 things for which I'm thankful:

30. Actually making it through NaBloPoMo with only a few missed posts! That's a miracle.

29. Technology. I love my laptop, my awesome camera, and my ipod.

28. Yarn.

27. My family only lives 3 hours away. I wish it was more like 3 minutes, but 3 hours is managable.

26. My job. My students make me laugh every day.

25. Fabric.

24. My sewing machine.

23. My friends.

22. A close ER. A close ER that treated H last night in just a few hours for his kidney stone.

21. Our new couch and chair.

20. Books.

19. M's books.

18. M's love of her books.

17. M's bathtime. I think that's my favorite time of day.

16. M's unexpected snuggles.

15. Leftovers.

14. TV. Specifically CBS.

13. Jessica Sprague.

12. My real life friends.

11. A girl's weekend coming up.

10. Starbucks.

9. Hot jasmine tea. DELICIOUS.

8. E-mail.

7. Sales.

6. My pillow.

5. My fluffy comforter.

4. Comfy socks.

3. Bubble bath

2. H. He loves me. Even when I don't deserve it.

1. Jesus. He loves me--I'll never deserve it.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Holly Days

Memories were made.

The day was holly and jolly.

After all, it was called "Holly Days."

There were cookies and milk with Santa.

So, she made her own cookie.

And it was delicous.

There was hopscotch.

There was window shopping.

There was Santa.

There were games and prizes.

There were crafts. She was in heaven.

There was even a little time for kisses for a girl and her mama.

There were ice skates!

There was anticipation.

There was trepidation and hand holding.

There was falling.

There was trying and succeeding.

There was help from Daddy.

There were millions of photos taken. There were favorite pictures EVER.

There were more photo ops to show where we were--ice skating on the street!

There was independence!!

There were more photos taken and yet ANOTHER favorite picture EVER.

There was snow! Lots and lots of snow!!

There were snow angels.

There was one hurt little girl with a busted chin and a bloody mouth.

There was a happy little girl who made a snowman. (sort of)

There was a little girl who learned just how cold snow could be!

There was a girl with a cold back!

There were more snow angels.

There were snowballs.

There was a daddy teaching his girl how to make and throw them at her mama.

There were flying snowballs.

But most importantly, there are memories to last forever.
Holly days, indeed.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday by accident

H needed to return the moving truck. (Don't ask why we had a moving truck. That's for another post.) I had to drive across town to pick him up from the drop off location.

Some how that turned into a seven hour shopping trip for just the two of us. It was luxurious.

Despite the crowds, which caused my heart to stop beating and my hands to grasp hold of H for dear life, we had one of the best days ever. We laughed and talked, relaxed, took our time, thought about our purchases.

I only {almost} nutted up once. Thankfully, H was able to diffuse the situation quickly. He rewarded my good behavior with a trip to a new yarn store in town.

M will have a wonderful Christmas. We are done shopping for her.

So, despite plans to spend the day here with my parents, brothers, and niece, we ended up having a wonderful Black Friday, by accident.

Tomorrow--oh, what awesome memories will be made tomorrow. I can't wait to tell you about them.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I've had a few (very few, but still) quiet moments today to think about thanksgiving. About giving thanks. The past two years have been a time of much growth for me in so many ways. I've learned a tremendously valuable lesson: how to be thankful for that which is difficult. To find the blessing in the storm.

Today as I've thought of the things for which I am most thankful, I find myself coming back to the things that did not come easy. The things that I've had to work at the hardest. The things that challenge and encourage me to be a better me.

1. My marriage.
2.Our daughter.
3. My family. H's family.
4. The memories that we're making together.
5. The changes the Lord is making in me.

I can't change the path the Lord has designed for me. I'm learning to completely trust in Him, at all times, for all things. Perhaps this is the thing I am most thankful for.

And I'm thankful that my family kindly (well, kind of kindly) put up with this quiz at our Thanksgiving dinner. While it's a serious quiz, it brought many moments of laughter and silliness to our dinner together.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I'm too tired to post much tonight.

We're at my parents' house.

We had a great trip down with just enough traffic to keep me focused.

We had a "surprise party" with hostess M.

We had some sweet snuggle time.

We're looking forward to fun family time tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I've been blessed this year to take some family pictures for the holidays.

I did this precious family this afternoon. Are they not adorable???

I'm going to do their Christmas card, too! I'm super excited to take some time this week to design Christmas cards.

Monday, November 23, 2009


I'm thankful for dreary days when my girl and I spend the ENTIRE day in pajamas. M wore three different pair of pajamas, but that's okay. She stayed in pajamas all day.

We decorated the door for "winter." Not Christmas because it didn't have a Christmas tree. There are snowflakes and a snowman head and the words, "Let it snow!" Whatever. We had fun.

We did laundry.

We did dishes.

She gave ducky a bath.

We cleaned up a little bit. (Remember she gave ducky a bath. The bathroom is much cleaner now, thankyouverymuch.)

We watched a morning movie AND an afternoon movie. Did some snuggling. Ate some popcorn. Drank some hot chocolate.

We scrapped together. I was in the middle of a project, which is 99.2 % done now, thanks to help from M. I'm shocked, but she really was helpful. We now have an album for December--all I need to put in are pictures and journaling each day. Well, I need to run to Hobby Lobby and get some fun Christmas ribbon to tie it all together. Pictures will be forthcoming.

Did I just say pictures? Yes, yes, I did. Jessica Sprague's website is having an annual 20% off sale, so I signed myself up for a digital scrapbooking class. I think I'll always love paper scrapbooking, but I want to know more about PSE and I think it will help me with this whole card endeavor. I'm definitely a "show me" learner and her videos are very logical {to me}. I just completed my very digital page. Would you like to see it?

Not stellar by any stretch, but it's a start. I'm excited to learn more so I can quit fumbling around as I work on making cards. (Hint, hint...H, if you're reading this, I'd love another class from Jessica Sprague's website. Mom...yoooohoooo. Great idea for a Christmas present!)

I hope you had a wonderful day, wherever you are.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

600 minus 1

Kristen is the winner of the card design. The odds were stacked in her favor when she filled my comment sections with her delightful Christmas memories!!! Kristen, e-mail me your favorite picture and I'll get right on designing a card for your precious family!

I thought this would be my 600th post, but alas, I was off one.

To heck with even numbers...I'm doing a giveaway at my 600th - 1 post!

Here's the deal:
Leave a comment sharing one of your favorite Christmas memories OR recipes.
Leave as many comments as you want.
Tonight around 9:00 PM, I'll put numbers (of your comments) in a hat and let H draw one.
If your number is drawn...

**drum roll, please**

I'll design a Christmas card for your family. You send me your favorite picture and I'll use it to design a Christmas card. I'll e-mail you a high quality 5X7 file that you can have printed anywhere.

PS: Don't worry. My designs are MUCH better than the previous two I've posted. And what better practice for me than to use your picture!!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Every where you go...

How is it possible that Christmas arrives earlier and earlier EVERY SINGLE YEAR?? Soon, life will be one big Christmas party!

I knew things were trouble when the Christmas decorations were UP on November 1st at Lowe's Home Improvement store. I know not many people decorate heavily for Thanksgiving, but shouldn't we atleast be allowed the one extra month of celebration before feeling the pull, hurry, must be dones of the Christmas season??? And c'mon...who puts out their Christmas yard decorations before Thanksgiving???

Whew... off my bandwagon now.

I sincerely apologize that I dropped the ball yet again yesterday. I had wonderful intentions of posting, but it just didn't happen. Why, you might be wondering. Let me tell you.

Despite being exhausted and overwhelmed by this life that I lead, my best friend, P2, and I treated ourselves to movie tickets Thursday evening. We saw Twilight at 9:00 pm and New Moon at 12:15 am...and then we both taught the next morning. I'm not sure how we made it through the day, but we did. It was good. Very, very good.

All of that after M's urology appt, which went as well as could be expected, seeing how we were prepared to hear the S word related to our daughter yet again. My heart just breaks for M. Can't she catch a break? She will, indeed, have surgery early in the summer of 2010. We'll do it as soon as I get finished with school. We have two surgical options; both H and I are leaning toward the less invasive option, despite a lower success rate. We really like the new urologist. He has a completely different demeanor than his partner. It was a nice appt. He was smitten with M, as most people are. That's always reassuring to me--when someone isn't put off by her awkward four year old friendliess, the assumption that they want to play with her as much as she wants to play with them which generally manifests itself in a tickle fest. (Just ask Santa. When we visited him today, she plundered into his beard to tickle his face!)

Back to Christmas before Thanksgiving.

Our hair salon invited Santa to come today for a picture day. All of the employees dressed up like elves and there was a huge Santa set up and a local photographer. They did a magnificent job and we have the BEST Santa pictures ever! While we waited for them to print, M and I ran to pick up tacos for some friends of ours. We had to wait a few minutes, so I took advantage of M's good mood and asked (read: begged, coerced, threatened) her to pose for a few pictures. I think I got our Christmas card picture, but I'm not going to reveal which one I choose until I design the Christmas cards.

Just a note of randomness: Did you know that there is such a wonderful creation as SLIM jeans for kids???? I had no idea. Several weeks ago, someone suggested that I look at Gap for some jeans for M because I have such a hard time finding pants that are long and skinny enough for

her. If she didn't look just like H did when he was a kid, I'd think someone switched babies at the hospital: Me? Have a child who is tall and skinny?? The genes got mixed up somewhere. I'm thankful and all, but still. It's a little odd. Back to skinny jeans (genes...whatever). We ran to Wally World tonight to pick up a few things and I browsed through the big girl section. If you saw me, yes, I had tears running down my cheeks because I was shopping across the aisle. But ALAS! Miracles of Miracles!! They carry slim jeans!! M was in a dress, so I just let her try them on in the buggy. She said, "Mommy. I don't like these. They are too snug!" I had to laugh because they fit her perfectly! We came home with two pairs because I was so excited that she'll have a pair of pants that actually fit her.

If you're still reading, kudos to you! I think tomorrow is my 600th post and I've got a little treat for you. Stop by tomorrow. I'll post in the morning and let you know about a giveaway. It won't last long, so make sure you come back.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Sometimes I'm so thankful that my body has the ability to go on autopilot.

Reason number one:
Despite the fact that my daughter is 4 years old, she's decided she doesn't need to sleep through the night. That's just fine for her. Not so fine with me. Thankfully, last night, we both made it through the night. Every time I would wake up, I'd whisper a quick prayer of thanksgiving and go right back to sleep. Thank you, Lord, for rest.

Reason number two:
I signed up (or was forcefully requested) to make a dessert to sell at school. I really love to bake, so I was excited about doing that. UNTIL I realized how busy this week would be. I decided I'd just make a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread. UNTIL I completely forgot. At 9:45 last night, I remember. Way too late to start bread. So I scavenged in the cupboard and found a box of cake mix. I ended up with a delicious coffee cake, after borrowing eggs from the neighbor. Who needs sleep? Autopilot is good, right?

Reason number three:
Emotionally, I'm done right now. School is zapping me. I'm worried about M's appt with the urologist today. There is much brew-ha-ha at church. I'm in a place of coasting and not dealing with any of it. There is nothing wrong with living in this place of avoidance. I occupy it well.

I'll update later about M's appt.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Much ado about...much


Will return to the regularly scheduled program tomorrow.

The author of this blog is overwhelmed.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Values and Goals

I'm taking Jessica Sprague's FREE Holiadays in Hand class. (You can register until tonight at midnight).

Our first assignment is today is to Refocus on Holiday Values.

The problem for me is that I've never focused on holiday values to begin with! Perhaps that's why we don't have any set traditions in this family. So, I'm staking a claim on some values for the Benson family. No more flying by the seat of our pants.

Our new Christmas Values will be:
1.) Family (the three of us, H's family, and my family)
2.) Creating memories
3.) Sweets

The task is to turn those three values into goals. How can I turn those values into tangible goals that we can accomplish?

Beginning this year, we will:
1.) Choose one fun way to celebrate Christmas. (Going to Callaway Gardens or Stone Mountain for the light festivals) This will take care of family and creating memories.
2.) Schedule a Saturday to make sweets to deliver to our neighbors and friends. This will take care of creating memories and sweets.

Not a difficult task for today, but did require a tad bit of soul searching for me. Defining values is never easy for me. Setting goals, much easier. Look for more blogging related to this class. I'm really looking forward to it--I've enjoyed so much the other two classes I've taken at

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Trees and Christmas Cards

We took a family walk tonight. I've got about 65 pictures to document the 30 minute walk. H and I were able to talk M into sitting in a pretty fall-ish tree to take some pictures. After hoisting her onto the branch and forcing her to smile, she actually loved it and wanted to take lots of pictures up there. Here are two that I randomly selected to post without editing a single picture yet.

That's because I'm having too much fun figuring out this whole digital scrapbooking/card making thing. Boy, oh, boy, do I have tons to learn. But I had a ball tonight. This is card attempt number two. Still not even good, but it's getting better.

Anytime I design anything, I have a problem with too much "all the same thing"ness going on. see how there isn't really a dominate feature on this card? I need to learn more about design so I can learn to balance all of that out. I'm very obviously out of practice with actually paper and glue. My real scrapbooks are super creative and have plenty of contrast. Too bad I haven't scrapped in more than a year and really need to get back to it so I can revive my skills!

Also, I've noticed that I've changed some setting on my camera. All of my most recent pictures have a lot of noise. I wonder if I'm shooting at the wrong ISO. I don't think I've changed it, but I need to play around with my camera and figure that one out.

What do you think about this card vs. the first one? Do you like this one a little better? Have any suggestions?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Golden Sun

Oh, my sweet goodness.
Two sweet families in one day!

How did I get so lucky? Look at these precious girls.

No, your vision is not blurred. There is not one, but two of the most precious girls I've had the priviledge to photograph. When M heard I was doing their pictures, she proclaimed, "Mama! I need to be your helper! They are the sisters that look JUST ALIKE!" And they do!

Do you not believe me?

I told you! IDENTICAL! And too, too precious.

Here is the entire family. Good looks abound.
I'm not including the best because I'm saving those for them. They're good. Trust me. Very good.

Camera VS. Sun

Today I did a photo shoot with a sweet family I know. When I say sweet, I mean the whole entire family is sweet. I had to do a little bribing (jelly beans and bubbles for the little boys and a beer for the biggest boy), but they were so EASY to work with. I need to add a bunch of poses to my repetoire to keep everyone engaged and make sessions go a little quicker. I'm a little too laid back, allowing things to just happen. I need a plan.

My camera and I fought the sun.

The sun won.

I just don't have enough tools in the arsenal to fight it. I'm still learning to make the camera work for me!

Anyway, here are three shots from this morning.

The two brothers, sweet as can be.

Another sweet picture of the brothers.

(Darn that sun! Wouldn't this be perfect if not for the blow out?)

The whole family. Sweet like peppermint.

I hope they'll let me do it again another time when the sun will submit to my whims!!

In a few minutes, I'm heading out with my smallest assistant (that's M), to do a shoot with two little friends of hers. When she heard I was going to be taking their family picture, she INSISTED on assisting me. It's late in the afternoon here, so I'm hoping for golden light, not glaring sun.

Darn, Darn, DARN!!

I hope I'm not kicked out of NaBloPoMo. I can NOT believe I missed yesterday!! A.R.G.H!!!

I did post twice on Thursday and I'll post twice today. Can that make up for my dropping the ball?

I'm home alone. H took M to pick up our Christmas tree from his brother's house. (My sister-in-law's brother drove to NC to pick up trees for all of us!!!) I'm listening to my music on the iPod.'s a good morning.

I've washed dishes and folded two loads of laundry. I'm going to download a few pictures, charge my camera battery and grab a quick bath.

I think it's going to be a good day!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Christmas Cards

I'm biting the technological bullet and desiging my own digital Christmas cards this year. I'll be posting my works in progress and final decision here. I really need your input as I have no idea how to do this.

Here is something I was playing around with. I want to remember my very first attempt. While the card is just okay, is that precious girl not the sweetest thing E-VAH????

Yes, I did just say E-VAH and I'm going to leave it here even though that's so not something I would say...

Favorite Shows and a funny

Just a quick list of my favorite shows:

1. Criminal Minds
3. CSI: Miami
4. NCIS: Los Angeles (have you seen this one? It's WONDERFUL!)
5. The Today Show

What are your favorites? C'mon...give me some new ones to check out.

I completely forgot to tell this little funny from dinner. H worked most of the afternoon on the whole bathroom situation: putting in new sheetrock and mudding the walls. He was late joining us next door for dinner. M hugged him. Then she quickly ran to me and whispered in my ear, "Daddy smells like skunk spray!"

SKUNK SPRAY??? Where in the world does she get this stuff?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Breathing Deep


The marathon is over. All the busy-ness of the past 8 days is complete.

I've got a book in one hand. Starbucks in the other. I'm taking tonight off.

Off from the dishes--there are only a few. They can wait.

Off from the laundry. What's another day?

Off from the toys. They'll be there in the morning.

It's just me, my book, and my coffee. And maybe a little TV.

I'm so very much looking forward to tomorrow evening and then the weekend. It promises to be fun: lots of time with M, two photoshoots, and a few naps, if we're lucky.

I'm also looking forward to time to visit with you. I've missed seeing you and what's going on in your life. Look for lots of comments from me in the next few days!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Enough of the posts without pictures!!!

Here is a peek at my night out on the town:

To each her own martini.

The most delicious smoked chicken ravioli ever in the world. Amen.

On to Saturday. Andi, the daughters (hers and mine), and I turned this pile of groceries into the most delicious pile of goodness you've ever tasted.

Sure, we had a little help. We did a little tasting.

But we ended up with this...

And lots of this:

And it was good.
Very, very good. Good for the body. Even better for the soul.