Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lordy, lordy, looks who's 40!!!

Well, the day has come...it's official...I am an honorary, card-carrying member of the 40s club!!! In honor of my 40th birthday, I thought I'd share 40 things I love about life. So...here goes:

1. My faith
2. My husband, Chris
3. My kiddos, Mary & Ben
4. My parents, Pat & John, who recently celebrated 41 years of marriage!
5. My In-Laws, Ellen & Gary
6. My siblings, John and Joy
7. My husband's siblings, Dana & Ryan
8. My nieces and nephews
9. My husband's and my extended families (grandparents, cousins, etc.)
10. Lifelong friends and new blogging friends.

11. Living on just shy of 1-acre in a subdivision!
12. Our wrap-around porch
13. Living in a 1-stoplight town
14. The little local library
15. Taking Mary & Ben to Dollar General
16. Our town's aquatic center
17. Watching Mary in dance class
18. Being a stay-at-home mom!
19. Being an American
20. Being a teacher

21. Farmers'Markets
22. Mexican Food/Margaritas
23. Chocolate/Deserts
24. Music
25. Quilts
26. Seasons
27. 4th of July; sparklers/fire works/parades
28. Fall Leaves
29. Pumpkins/Pumpkin Patches
30. Christmas trees/decorations

31. Holiday movies with my kids
32. Building snowmen
33. My gift and talent for writing
34. Being blonde ;)
35. Manicures/Pedicures
36. Being a teenager in the 1980s!!!
37. Down comforters/luxurious bedding
38. Long walks along the seashore
39. Picking up seashells
40. Sunrises/Sunsets

I could probably add about 400 other things I love about life, but I'll leave it at that! Thanks to so many of you that have already dropped by and left birthday wishes!


The best birthday gift ever...having our "miracle" baby just shy of my 35th!!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

YNG4EVR


On Sunday night, After a wonderfully fun-filled weekend camping and boating with my husband and kiddos, I was preparing to upload photos and post about our great time together. Before blogging, I quickly checked my facebook page and was horrified to learn that a high school classmate's 10-year old son was involved in a tragic accident over the weekend and was clinging to life at St. Louis Children's Hospital.

Unfortunately, sweet Nolan passed away yesterday afternoon. It is a devastating loss for his entire family and the local community. Nolan was a 5th grader, a soccer player, a Catholic. His family is deeply grieving and mourning the loss of this beautiful 10-year old boy. One can only take solace in the fact that he is now perfect in Heaven and wrapped in God's arms.

This afternoon I saw this on a personalized plate...YNG4EVR. I immediately thought of Nolan.

On the eve of my 40th birthday, I also feel young. I think I spent so much time fretting over turning 40 that I lost a year of my life!!! Now that 40 is upon me, I reflect back and thank God for all of the blessings and lessons He has bestowed on me and vow to really begin living life. As I watch my little ones play, the lesson is not lost upon me that life is short; life is fragile; life is a precious gift meant to be unwrapped!!!

Blessings to all of you,
Valerie

P.S. The daisy is believed to symbolize the innocence of youth. I thought this was an appropriate image to share in honor of Nolan.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I'm Baaaaack!

Have you noticed my sporadic blogging this summer?

Well, two words can sum it up best...computer crashed!

It was a slow death...one that started back in June. Mind you, this is my NEW desktop computer that we are talking about!

After many headaches, wasted time on the phone with different software/security/digital phone/cable providers, etc. we saved ourselves the expense of having to ship the computer to Texas to be "fixed" and had an IT professional from from the local corporate world work on it. It only took Jim one afternoon!

All fixed...the only problem is that everything is gone. Not my pics...b/c those have been backed-up externally and also stored off site. But gone are all my digital scrapbooking kits that I purchased and all the freebies that I downloaded. Now I know why they recommend saving and storing off to a CD!!!

Anyway, we removed Windows Vista and installed XP and I haven't had a single problem this week. I am back to facebooking and blogging! YEAH!!! Can't wait to get those SUMMER vacation photos, 1st day of school pics, and this weekend's boating/camping trip posted!

So, if I haven't been visiting you lately, you now know why! I could only blog/visit when I could use my husband's work computer, and that wasn't often! (My husband swears I "ruined" the computer from blogging/digital scrapbooking, but I disagree!) Looking forward to getting back into the swing of things!

P.S. TWO MAJOR EVENTS COMING UP...Someone's turning 40, ;) and Eli's open heart surgery is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 4th (Labor Day weekend)!!!

Friday, August 14, 2009

"Phantom" Table Setting

Last weekend we took the kids to the county fair (Johnson County, KS), and while working our way through the 4H exhibits I saw this which immediately caught my eye:



We were in the arts and crafts exhibit hall and I was perusing the "table setting" competition. I was amazed by the creativity and ingenuity that many of the young ladies and gentlemen put into their settings. There were so many cute ones: teacher themes, sports themes, pet themes, etc., but the Phantom of the Opera really took the cake (pun intended!) and apparently the prize!



(Click on photo to enlarge and read menu!)





Congratulations to the young lady that designed this table setting. I think we have a future home interior/decorator in the making!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

THE Autograph!


So, I was totally teasing that sweet husband of mine about getting Randolph Mantooth's autograph for me, but guess what? He did!

Chris said that the conference was great, especially listening to Mantooth speak at the dinner reception. Ironically, Chris thought that speech was better geared toward those in the Fire Service (like my husband who is a full-time fire fighter/paramedic), rather than the strictly EMS service folks (those that run and operate ambulance services that are typically for-profit). The conference he attended was for his part-time job; the strictly EMS business that he works for! Ha!!!

Regardless, my sweet husband got me an autographed photo of Mantooth and one for himself as well!

Guest speaker, Randolph Mantooth, at the AMR Business Development conference.





Unfortunately, the amateur photographer taking this shot, didn't account for natural sunlight streaming in! I know that Chris was disappointed this shot didn't turn out.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I am a Promise



As daylight succumbed to twilight, I sat watching my little ones romp and frolic in the dew-dampened grass of the backyard. We have taken full advantage of the beautiful evenings this week to enjoy the residual heat of the day without suffering from the extreme heat and humidity or the sun's powerful rays. We know that summer is drawing to a close. Next week, school starts!

Today, I took Mary Catherine to Open House at her new preschool. She will be attending a PreK (pre-kindergarten) program for kiddos specifically with summer birthdays that opt to wait an extra year before starting kindergarten. She met her new teachers, picked out her cubby location, and found her backpack hook. She explored the classroom centers and spent time chatting it up with new classmates. Needless to say she is brimming over with enthusiasm!!!

Mom's favorite part of the classroom...the giant poem stenciled on the wall that speaks of the promise and possibility that each child brings to the table of life! Beautiful!

Mary Catherine, you are definitely our great big bundle of potentiality!






Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Sweetness of Summer

Then followed that beautiful season... Summer....
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Hawaiian Ice at the county fair.




Bouquets made of sweet-smelling clover.


Lazy afternoons pedaling around in the cozy coupe.


These are truly some examples of the freshness of childhood and the sweetness of summer!

Monday, August 10, 2009

EMERGENCY!


Just a quick post tonight as Daddy is away on business and Mommy is tuckered out from child rearing!

Seriously though, my husband, Chris, is out in California (at Disneyland) for a business conference for American Medical Response (AMR). Chris works in Business Development (part-time) for this nation-wide ambulance service.

And guess who the guest speaker is tonight...none other than Randolph Mantooth himself...AKA Johnny Gage!

For those of you who are quizzically scratching your heads, Randolph Mantooth played the role of John Gage, paramedic extraordinaire (and hottie) on the hit television series of the 1970s, EMERGENCY! (Must be at least 40+ years old to remember watching this show during its original airing...TV Land reruns don't count!)

I am not kidding you when I tell you that as a little girl I had a serious crush on Randolph Mantooth. Of course, I referred to him as Johnny! (I just like saying the name Mantooth! LOL) Go figure that I married myself a fire fighter/paramedic!!!

Anyway, Chris' "get of jail free card" for abandoning me and the little ones to go to Anaheim is to come home with the Mantooth's autograph! Good luck with that one! Ha!!! And in case you're wondering why in the world Randolph Mantooth (there...I said it again) is speaking at an EMS conference, I found this little snippet:

In addition to his busy acting and screenwriting career, he is a frequent keynote speaker at Fire and EMS events across the country. He serves as Honorary Chairman of the Board for the nonprofit County of Los Angeles Fire Museum Association, actively supporting the museum's James O. Page Memorial Building Fund and their effort to acquire a permanent facility

Seems even Randolph can't abandon his alter ego, Johnny Gage! This guy just gets better looking with age! Ha!!!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Life Lessons


(Image from rtsd.org; Radnor Middle School)

We stand at the crossroads, each minute, each hour, each day, making choices. We choose the thoughts we allow ourselves to think, the passions we allow ourselves to feel, and the actions we allow ourselves to perform. Each choice is made in the context of whatever value system we've selected to govern our lives. In selecting that value system, we are, in a very real way, making the most important choice we will ever make. Benjamin Franklin

As a new school year is set to begin, I remember fondly the time I spent preparing my classroom for the eager young faces who would walk through the door. As my former co-workers can attest, I absolutely loved the beginning of the school year and was notorious for being the first teacher "back at school", sometimes as early as the end of July!

Fifteen months ago, I walked out of that same classroom door for the last time. It is a decision that I do not regret. Rather then spend hours, and literally days, working up at school, I spend my hours and days playing with my 5-year old and 2-year old, preparing home cooked meals, and working hard at making our house a home. For me, this past school year was filled with lazy days building ladybug houses, baking cupcakes, and taking FREE Fun Friday Field trips!

This summer, I spent quite a bit of time in prayerful contemplation about past life decisions that I have made, and future decisions that my husband and I need to make. We have been reading Stephen R. Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families and have been working on a family mission statement. While it has been a bit of a struggle (financially) to change our value system, we know that the new value system we have adopted to govern our lives will have a lasting impact upon our children. It has been a life "lesson" learned better late than never.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mary Catherine!



Dear Mary Catherine,

Happy Birthday, darling! It is hard to believe that you are 5-years old today. I can remember your birth day like it happened yesterday. At 6 lbs 12 oz, you were a little bundle of joy; a long-awaited blessing from God.

It has been such a joy to watch you change from infant to toddler and now preschooler. You are no longer a baby; you really are a little girl. One who loves to sing along with Taylor Swift or "Hannah Montana", play with My Little Ponies, and help me bake cupcakes in the kitchen. You really aren't a babydoll kind of girl, but you definitely are "girly". You love dance class, Disney princesses, and arts & crafts.

This year you requested a "Barbie" birthday. It was difficult to support you in this desire; not because I am anti-Barbie, but because to me, Barbies are what the "big girls" play with. I guess I was still hoping you would have an Elmo/Abby Cadabby kind of birthday party. You really are growing up. I hope that your Barbie birthday cake was exactly what you dreamed of!

Mommy and Daddy wish you lots of happiness and many successes this year. May you always know how much you are loved and appreciated for who you are and what you bring to our family.

All of our love,
Mommy & Daddy