Monday, June 30, 2008

Friendship Hall of Fame: Billie


I met Billie when I was in 4th grade. I don't remember when we actually became friends, but it was probably while we were going to the same church when I was in 5th grade. At the time she was significantly taller than me- that's what I remember most! When I was about to turn 12, Billie had her 13th birthday and we were allowed an amazing treat: lunch out, just the two of us! I will never forget feeling both impossibly grown up and uncomfortably young as we sat in the middle of the Dobre Deli and giggled. It was the first time I wore makeup in public.

In our teen years we dated guys who were friends, so that meant we got to hang out a lot as friends and as couples. We went to Jesus Northwest together, went with Billie's mom to a forest retreat where we read all about the evils of secular music and daydreamed aloud about our futures. We planned to be roommates after we graduated from high school, and have a double wedding when we met our respective Mr Rights.

Alas, I married first and life took me to Portland, then into the military system. Billie married 2 years after I did and went on to have 2 beautiful children. Unfortunately, we don't get to see each other as often as we'd like, but when we do it's just like old times and we laugh like little girls!

I miss Billie, and I love her. She's one of those lifelong friends that we all hope to have when we're little girls. She's more of a sister than a friend. She never fails to encourage me and to allow me to encourage her. She's very thoughtful, and kind, and understanding. And I have fun daring her to do things that she'd never think of on her own- like get a nose ring! LOL! I'm afraid I might not always be a good influence on her! LOL! ;) She has a true heart to follow God and to be an encouragement and a light to others.

Billie blogs when she get the chance at Honeysuckle Thoughts and Daily Gratefulness and The Prayer Journal.

I love you, Billie!

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Friendship Hall of Fame

" A friend is one to whom one may pour out all the contents of one's heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away."
~Arabian Proverb

What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.

Hold a true friend with both your hands.
~Nigerian Proverb

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You, too? Thought I was the only one."
~CS Lewis

"Only your real friends tell you when your face is dirty."
~Sicilian Proverb

"A friend hears the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails."

I've been trying for the past week to come up with something stunning, amazing and new to say about friendship, but as I read through quotes on friendship I found that it's all pretty much been said in far better words than I could find. For most of us, friends are foundational and without them we would be smaller, weaker, and alone.

From acquaintances to friendships cut short by moves and other circumstances to the deep and long-lasting relationships that become like family, we need each other. As I type this I am in England, many thousands of miles from my lifelong friends, but the necessity of their continuance in my life is very real. They help define me. I am less myself without them.

In the spirit of celebration for these God-given relationships, Heather and I are beginning the Kicking It In Crazyville Hall of Fame. Every Monday we will be awarding a new award to friends that you all nominate! To nominate a friend, please:
  • Email us at with your name and the name of your Friendship Hall of Fame nominee. Include as much of his/her name as you want published (we recommend only a first name and last initial), and a link to his/her blog, if they have one.
  • Please state why they deserve this award, including as much background information on the relation ship you want. Please include how you met and what has kept your relationship going.
  • Include a picture if you wish.
  • We reserve the right to edit all entries for grammar, spelling and length. Otherwise, we will do our best to publish all that you include with your nomination.
  • The weekly winner will receive the friendship Hall of Fame button to put on his/her blog, if they have one, and a warm fuzzy feeling for being singled out as a stellar friend!
We look forward to reading all about the beautiful friendships that have blessed your lives!


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Friendship Hall of Fame recipients:

Trip To The Seaside

Here are some photos from our family trip to the English seaside yesterday. One of the things I enjoyed most about it was that we were on a peninsula, so despite the fact that we were in east England, we got to watch the sunset!

I loved the cliffs overlooking this part of the beach; like the White Cliffs of Dover with a beautiful red twist:

One of the two crabs Tim caught. This was the bigger of the two.

Before, during and after the sunset:

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Dessert Anyone?!

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A Day at the Beach

I've just returned from an afternoon & evening at the beach. I love living so close to the coast- no more than an hour from our house and we're sinking our toes into wet sand. Today I held a live crab for the first time. I'm usually a little leery of allowing sea creatures to touch my skin, but as I watched two small crabs walking sideways across Tim's hands I realized I'd never held one. Though it wasn't on my list, holding a crab became one of the things I did before I die.

As we left the beach we met a nice couple who retired to the sea town we were at. The kids played with their dog while Tim and I chatted with them. He's Scottish, she's English and originally from London. They were very friendly, but not terribly remarkable. That is, except for the size of the man! He had red hair (or ginger hair, as they say here in the UK), including a full red beard, and was extremely tall and broad-shouldered. I stood next to him, looking up at his friendly face and silently thanked God that he wasn't hostile. We wouldn't have stood a chance with such a man!

Tomorrow I'll upload the pictures I took onto the computer and post a couple here. Also, we have our first ever Kicking It In Crazyville Friendship Hall of Fame post coming up tomorrow. Come back to see you the first ever recipient is, and find out how to nominate your friends!

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

50 Things To Do Before I Die

More than a decade ago I made a list of "50 Things To Do Before I Die", stuck it in a random notebook and forgot about it. A few years ago I came across it and was surprised by the things I have accomplished, and how some of my goals had change.

For example, since writing the list, I had been ice skating (#1), visited Paris (#43), made biscotti (#9), gone to Disneyland - Euro (#12), and had a facial, manicure and a pedicure (#'s 34, 33 & 32). These were just a few of the things that I had yet to do in my early 20's that have since become realities. Obviously, getting a pedicure is far more attainable than going to Paris; frankly, I didn't think it would ever happen. Yet when I came across the list, I'd already been to the City of Lights.

And a few of the things on my list are no longer relevant, as I've grown and matured and solidified my ideas of myself and my future. I don't want to own another bird (#18), I don't have any solid plans to write a book (#2) and I no longer plan to go into the field of nursing (#21).

And a few of my 50 Things will make it onto my new list; I'd still like to take voice lessons, make jam, rent a house by the ocean for a month, and go on a mission trip. I may even open a coffee shop/bakery one day. Who knows what might happen in the next decade!

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Too Kind!

You guys are too kind! I did a massive mathematical error and you guys never called me out on it! Amanda just got home and saw the blog for the first time (which she was super excited about - her response was "Mom, that's you..and, Darice...and, there's you!")

Anyway, she totally caught me on the error...$5 a day for one year is $1,825 - not $730! What a dork! LOL!

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Know and Tell Friday: June 27th

Okay's another random week in Crazyville! Here ya go!

1. If a five dollar bill magically appeared on your door step at the beginning of the day, every day, what would you do with it?

2. Tell us about your favorite teacher from elementary/middle/high school.

3. If you could make one person disappear for good, who would it be?

4. Do you believe in fairies?

5. What era is your favorite for music?

6. Have you ever, or would you ever, have cosmetic surgery?

7. If you had to change your name, what would you change it to?

Heather's answers:

1. If a five dollar bill magically appeared on your door step at the beginning of the day, every day, what would you do with it? Okay, I'd love to say I'd do something worthwhile with it. I mean, that equals to $730 per year. That's a chunk of change. Reality is that I would probably use it for my daily intake of caffeine.

2. Tell us about your favorite teacher from elementary/middle/high school. I have a two in elementary that really stand out. The first is my third grade teacher, Mrs. Beck. She is the most kind hearted, encouraging, loving person I have ever known. She never yelled. Amanda & Mark were privileged to have her as their teachers as well, and she remains both of their favorites. To give a little clue, when Mark walked into her room in first grade, she got down on one knee, looked him straight in the eye and said to him "Mark, I have been waiting for the moment when YOU would walk into my room". Can you say massive mommy tear jerker moment! The other in Elementary is Mr. Mullen, my sixth grade teacher. He was demanding and loving at the same time. He called me Princess Heatherfern. He has subbed for Amanda and she can't stand him! LOL! In Jr. High, it's hands down Mr. Sperry, or Spud. He was my shop teacher. We had so much fun in his class. I see him sometimes and am always welcomed with a huge hug. High school would be Mr. Kramer. What a kick he was! Not only a close family friend, he was someone you could count on for encouragement and a good laugh in his Social Studies class.

3. If you could make one person disappear for good, who would it be? I have racked my brain trying to think of someone that I really can't stand that much. I can't think of anyone. Okay, well one name just popped in my head, but it's truly terrible, so I'll just leave it at that. I guess on a global perspective I would say someone like Hitler.

4. Do you believe in fairies? I know I'll get a lot of flack for this, but HECK YA! I wouldn't want to imagine life without Gnomes, Fairies and Dwarfs. Did you know that Grizzly Adams lives in the mountains in our Gorge? He does!

5. What era is your favorite for music? 80s...all the way! I love Def Leppard, Guns 'N Roses, Poison, Bon Jovi, Cyndi Lauper, Wham, Journey, Hewy Lewis & The News....well you get the picture. My music tastes vary I loved most of it!

6. Have you ever, or would you ever, have cosmetic surgery? I would love it if someone would offer me a few things. I would love a tummy tuck and a boob job. Sorry, but it's true.

7. If you had to change your name, what would you change it to? That is so incredibly hard..that's why I went with it! LOL! Okay, I always thought my name was extremely BORING! I remember in high school wishing I was something cooler like an Emily, Jamie or even a Jennifer (Now that I think about it, those names aren't super exciting either, I don't know what I was wishing for back then). Now that I've rambled for a bit, I think I would love to be a Tyler (yes, for a girl). I remember when I wanted to name my first born girl Tyler, no one in my family went for that at all. It's very different, which makes it cool! :)

Reese's Answers:

1. If a five dollar bill magically appeared on your door step at the beginning of the day, every day, what would you do with it? I have a "squirrel can" hidden away at the back of my underwear drawer. It's where I keep little bits of money I get: the $2 I find in my jeans' pocket, the coins I fond laying around. Occasionally I even empty my wallet of its entire $2-$7 and put it in there. Then I have a few dollars waiting for the numerous times my older kids come into my room when I'm already tucked into bed and say, "Hey Mom, tomorrow's school pictures/popcorn day/school carnival. Got any money?" That's where the $5 would go: to my squirrel money (the money I squirrel away!).

2. Tell us about your favorite teacher from elementary/middle/high school.
I guess it would be my mom, just 'cause she was my mom and I'm proud that she's the one that taught me to read, write, and do the very basics of math. I was home schooled for much of my elementary school years. Junior high (that's what we called it back in the day) and high school? Ehh... no one in particular.

3. If you could make one person disappear for good, who would it be? Maybe it's to my shame that I think this one is only hard because I can't choose who it would be. Two young men that torment young women I know come to mind first. I just can't imagine how life could be worse for these ladies if the "men" in their lives disappeared. An ex-boyfriend was once a very unsavory character; if he's still up to his old tricks I'd make him disappear. On the world stage, it would be Robert Mugabe, the Iranian president with the impossible name, or the Venezuelan president. No, definitely Mugabe. He's a thug who's oppressed his own people for way too long.

4. Do you believe in fairies? I wish I could say yes. In my happiest dreams they are real, but only there. I desperately wish they were real and that if I snuck into the deepest parts of the forest I could spy on them! One of my favorite book quotes is “When the first baby laughed for the first time, the laugh broke into a thousand pieces and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies” (James Barrie). What a beautiful thought! I do believe in angels, though, and I supposed when you get right down to it, they're cooler than fairies.

5. What era is your favorite for music? Right now. I can hear any kind of music I want, and I love so much of it! Some 80's, lots of 90's, and so many different styles: big band, swing, jazz, some rap, country, rock, classical... it's all right at my fingertips.

6. Have you ever, or would you ever, have cosmetic surgery? Never have, but would consider it. I'd like to have fat removed from my face and neck/chin, a tummy tuck to repair the damage done from pregnancies, a boob lift, and maybe even a nose job. BUT... while aging lengthens my list of complaints, I also am not sure now that I'd be willing to part with the large amounts of money it would take to fuel my vanity. There are far better ways to spend big chunks of cash, with all the orphans and starving families and political upheaval and disease in the world.

7. If you had to change your name, what would you change it to?
I have changed my name, sort of. I stopped going by my first name when I was 12, then insisted that everyone use my middle name. Most people still call me Darice, but since moving overseas I've used my nickname Reese. I have a few different names I use as "pen names" and log-on names for various websites. Renee Stuart is one of them, and the name I decided was my nom de plume when I was about 10 years-old! I almost legally changed my name to Faith back in the late 90's. Now my "secret" spiritually meaningful name for myself is Grace.

We can't wait to read your answers as we all get to know each a little better. If you don't have a blog, feel free to answer the questions as a comment to this post. Also, try to make it to a few blogs to check out other posters answers. That's half the fun! Don't forget to leave a comment and sign Mr Linky.

EDIT: Oops. Ladies, since we've had the blog makeover, it seems Mr Link won't work. We'll get right on it and see if we can have it fixed by next week. For now, just leave a comment and we'll find you!

Edit #2: All better!

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Everything Matters

Many of you know that I read The Shack a few months ago and it had a profound affect on my life and my way of thinking. I'm still trying to figure that all out. I was blessed enough to be part of a study that my mom's church did on this book. We had the opportunity to talk about forgiveness, anger, how to be helpful when others are going through extreme pain plus many more topics.

Tonight was the last night of the study and we went over a certain quote. I think, as mothers' this quote is insightful and helpful. I meant to share it when I was reading it before but there were so many things I wanted to share that I let it slip.

At the end of the book the main character is asking the Holy Spirit if his life matters. He basically states that all he does is work and take care of his family, nothing else. Hmmm, that sounds familiar in my world.

This is the Holy Spirit's answer:

"If anything matters then everything matters. Because you are important, everything you do is important. Every time you forgive, the universe changes; every time you reach out and touch a heart or a life, the world changes; with every kindness and service, seen or unseen, my purposes are accomplished and nothing will ever be the same again."

How profound is that? Everything we do matters. Our routines seem so ordinary, so boring, so very unimportant. Think about it though. Think how miserable your child would be if you didn't change their diaper. To that baby, something that you may be so tired of doing, it means the world.

I want to be more conscious of that as I go through my day to day life. I think I tend to be on auto pilot most of the time instead of being purposeful in my actions. God thinks we are important, glorious even. I think that alone is reason to love those I come in contact with.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Colonies of Kosovoans

When you move into a new house its not uncommon to find nests of birds or wasps, families of mice, or swarms of termites infesting your new home. You plug up holes, set out traps, call an exterminator, whatever you need to get them out of your home.

But what happens if on your initial investigation of your new home you discover a colony of Kosovoans sitting on a mattress in your attic munching on sandwiches? That was the question facing a British man in West Bromwich, West Midlands recently. For the story, click here.

I must say the story cracked me up because of the term "colony of Kosovoans". What a funny way to put it! Not "several illegal immigrant families from Kosovo", but a colony of Kosovoans. Interesting. It may provide some insight into the feelings of the locals toward the illegal immigrants in their area. Makes me consider the language I would choose I was writing such a story...

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Today is the First Day of the Rest of My Diet

It's that time again. I've yo-yo'd down... or it it up?... and now it's time to work my way back in the other direction. Last summer, when Tim was in Kuwait, I lost nearly 15 pounds- all of which have found there way back home.

Sunday I allowed myself a small piece of cake and a cup of coffee, then I started being good. Until Tim bought me an ice cream cone at a church youth fundraiser. THEN I was an angel. Until Kristine reminded me that I owed her a just-us-girls cream tea. Unfortunately, the place we were planning to go was closed, so we went to Tesco and bought a pack of scones, clotted cream, an assortment of jams, and decaff tea, since our tea party was going to be in the evening. I had a blast- Kristine's the sweetest and funniest daughter I could have asked for- but instead of the one scone with clotted cream and jam I would have had out, there was a whole dish of them and I had seconds. As Mark Twain said, "I deal with temptation by yielding to it."

Ah, but today's a new day. I've made it past breakfast and so far, so good.

I think the key is forgetting about food. That's hard for me because I eat when I'm happy, I eat when bored, I eat when I'm distracted, I eat when I'm hungry, I eat when I'm not. So I've assigned myself the cleaning and arrainging of my bedroom. It's right across the hall from Tim's music room and it catches all the odd things that don't fit in there. There were 3 keyboards leaning against walls, just to name three of about 30 things right inside the door that didn't belong there. I relocated most of it and finished half the room. Today I'm going to find a home for the hundreds of cd's that Tim said two months ago would be stacked near my side of the bed for "just a day or two."

I'm back to feeling like my room is a haven and I'm not even done. This dieting thing is turning into a really good idea. Now to see if I lose any weight.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Reminder

Twice yesterday while doing some shopping I heard the song Cinderella on the radio, and then it dawned on me, it was June 21st. Exactly one month since Steven Curtis Chapman and his family lost their little Maria. I almost cried right there. For some reason, I feel a deep sense of loss for their family. SCC has always been one of my favorite singers, and I think his family is an amazing role model for those of us who would love to adopt.

When I heard the song, I also realized how much his family needs our prayers right now. They are having to learn a new normal in their lives without their Maria. I can never understand even an ounce of their pain, but our family has lost a child and I can say that I needed the love and prayers of my friends and family. One month out, six months out, one year out and now, three years out, when someone tells me they are praying for our family or that they had a thought of James the other day it makes me feel so incredibly loved and not so alone when the sadness settles in.

I urge you to pray for the Chapmans. If you are interested in reading about how they are doing, one of his managers is keeping a blog and you can read about it here. It's important that we don't forget. We, as Christians, are responsible for lifting each other up in prayer.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Extreme Makeover: Crazyville Edition!

Heather: Our blog design is in need of attention.

Reese: I'll see what I can do...

Heather: Stop messing with it already! You're always changing the colors and pictures and the buttons on the side bar. I think you have Attention Deficit Disorder. I mean we need professional help. Let's install a pre-made template from one of these incredible sites that offer them for free.

Reese: HEATHER! Not a Wiggles themed blog! The sexy Wiggle has no place on our blog. It's not Kicking It In Wiggleville!

Heather: *sigh* Okay.

Reese: Don't worry, my cousin is an expert and does this stuff all the time. It must be in the genes.

Heather: Please. Reese. Don't. Do. ANYTHING! I visited a blog the other day that had a comment by a gal who has a neighbor with a friend whose blog was designed by a lovely lady named Jennisa. I'll see what we can do to get on her exclusive waiting list.

[3 months later]

YAY! It's Extreme Makeover: Crazyville Edition!

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Know and Tell Friday

This KATF is a celebration of all things summer! Are you enjoying it? Is the weather global-warming-hot where you are? If you're a parent with school age kids, are you enjoying having the kids home? We will delve into these and other exciting topics, RIGHT NOW...

  • Which is your favorite season? Why?

  • Are you a bikini or one piece gal? Do the same rules apply to your daughter, if you have one?

  • What is your favorite summer getaway? Beach? Lake? Mall? Indoor ice skating? Why?

  • You're on a sandy beach, looking out at a perfectly blue ocean. The weather is perfect. What's on the table next to you? What book are you reading? Who is sitting next to you? What are you drinking?

  • Do you tan? If so, are you an all-natural tanner or do you go to a salon?

  • What is your favorite summer clothing?

  • You're suddenly able to transport yourself to any summer in your past. What year would you choose to be in?
Reese's answers:

Which is your favorite season? Why? Very, very hard for me to choose. I truly love them all and feel cheated if I live in a place that doesn't have very defined seasons. Frankly, the English summer isn't currently impressing me much. I'd like a little more heat. And by the end of summer I'll be looking forward to brilliantly colored trees and rain that brings out the wet earthy smells. Then the snow falls and I love that. By the time I'm tired of the cold, spring shows up with some sun and blooms galore.

Are you a bikini or one piece gal? Do the same rules apply to your daughter, if you have one? I'm a no-swim-suit girl. And by that I don't mean I swim nude. I just don't swim. I wouldn't subject the world to the sight of me in a swimsuit. As for my daughter, it's a one piece only, or a tankini.

What is your favorite summer getaway? Beach? Lake? Mall? Indoor ice skating? Why? The beach. I love the beach. One of my favorite summer memories was of out time in Italy and the beach chairs we rented on the beach. It was gloriously hot and the water was beautiful. No, I was not wearing a swimsuit.

You're on a sandy beach, looking out at a perfectly blue ocean. The weather is perfect. What's on the table next to you? What book are you reading? Who is sitting next to you? What are you drinking? On the table next to me is the tall iced tea I'm sipping. I'm reading an enthralling book by an author I have yet to discover, and Tim and the kids are next to me, leaving me in peace with my book while they all have a blast ignoring me.

Do you tan? If so, are you an all-natural tanner or do you go to a salon? I don't tan. I'm very fair skinned. I've become very happy with my light complexion and don't attempt to change it. I used to go to a tanning booth when Tim and I were separated in the late '90's- I found it soothing and stress relieving. The last time I tried it though, I burnt myself to a crisp, including my butt. I couldn't sit down without pain for a week. No more!

What is your favorite summer clothing? Capris, a tank top (I hate covering my arms at all in the heat), flip flops.

You're suddenly able to transport yourself to any summer in your past. What year would you choose to be in? The summer of 1989 was an eye-opening summer for me. I didn't do anything naughty, but I was discovering that I was an independent person. It was a coming-of-age summer, I guess. I wasn't with Tim, though. Maybe I'd go back in time and throw myself at Tim and experience all the non-naughty coming-of-age stuff with him!

Heather's Answers:

Which is your favorite season? Why? Oh, this is very easy! Summer! Did I mention that I L-O-V-E summer? I love the warmth, the late nights, the sun...I love it all! In our town it can get past 100 but, I even love that! LOL!

Are you a bikini or one piece gal? Do the same rules apply to your daughter, if you have one? I'm with Reese. I do not wear a swimsuit, at least if I can get away with it. I wish I was brave enough. As for my girls, my oldest will barely wear a swimsuit but she's a one piece girl. My youngest would be nude if I let her. She's definitely a two piecer.

What is your favorite summer getaway? Beach? Lake? Mall? Indoor ice skating? Why? I love the mountains. It's so peaceful and quiet. I especially love going when it's close to/or over 100 in our town because it's so much cooler.

You're on a sandy beach, looking out at a perfectly blue ocean. The weather is perfect. What's on the table next to you? What book are you reading? Who is sitting next to you? What are you drinking? I am definitely drinking an endless supply of Pepsi. I am reading some wonderfully enthralling book but right now I have no clue what that is. Hopefully Dan and the kids are off playing while I spend my time reading this wonderful book. Actually, this sounds like a wonderful girl-get-away trip, so maybe I have all my girlfriends around me and we are lounging away the day soaking up the sun.

Do you tan? If so, are you an all-natural tanner or do you go to a salon? LOL! I remember when Dan's sister (who was my youth pastor at the time) and I would go tan at this "secret" spot down on the river. We'd time ourselves and flip every 1o minutes or so to get the perfect tan. I also used to tan in the salon and, like Reese, found it to be so relaxing. I love to be tan! Do I tan now? Nope. I'm too scared. If I wasn't so scared, I would in a heartbeat! I haven't quite come to terms with the fact that I am whiter than white, but I know it wouldn't be wise of me to tan.

What is your favorite summer clothing? Capris (sometimes shorts), tank tops & definitely my flip flops!

You're suddenly able to transport yourself to any summer in your past. What year would you choose to be in? That is hard! Summers were so care free for me. I would say any summer would be great! We had the run of the neighborhood, we'd leave at 9:00 a.m. and run, run, run, run until dark and then come home. My mom was awesome about sleep overs so I was either at a friends house or a friend was with me.

You're turn! Link to your post, leave a comment and be sure to check out other's responses as well. God bless!

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Were you a fan of the tv show Friends? I was... am! I own all but two seasons on dvd. I actually bawled my head off when it ended. I felt that I knew the gang that hung out at Central Perk for hours during the work day with little better to do than make me laugh. I recently came across a rerun of Ross and Rachel's emotional first kiss in the darkened coffee shop- all the joy and surprise came back to me in a rush! Ah, those were the days!

I think the show was so popular for the same reason Sex and the City was popular- it was about relationships and whatever else the characters went through, they experienced it with friends. They were as close as family. No matter what happened- big or small, silly or serious- there were always people around that would hug, kiss, cry or laugh them through it.

It's sad that so many of us lapped up the fictional stand-in for true friendship. Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Joey and Phoebe were the ones who went with me to Germany. Obviously, not in real life, but at the time they were a constant for me. The show ended, and my life went on. The fictional escape into a life of close-knit friends ended, and I faced the reality of being in a new country surrounded by people who spoke a language I couldn't comprehend, in a new military life that I was still trying to navigate. It shocked me into my own shell of a life from which I rarely emerged. By the time I left Germany after five years, I knew only a couple of people well enough to maintain any sort of communication with after I left. Looking back, it was an empty and lonely existence.

Yet in my short time in England I have already met people who have retreated into themselves and their lives and neglected the beauty of friendships. I hurt for them because I have known both the drive to avoid people in order to avoid the pain of loss when I (or they) move, and the pain of leaving with no one to care. Fear of pain or honesty about themselves trumps the warmth of friendship, but in the end it only stings the spirit. I know. I can still recall the sting with vivid remembrance.

I delight in the friendships I have known- both the long-standing ones reaching back into my childhood and the newer ones that are only days and weeks old. Already here in England I've chosen to reject my former lonely ways and seek out friends. What a blessing! I love that Heather is like a sister to me, and Billie is more precious than she can know; that Amber is still as dear as ever, and that I am forging new friendships with R and J. They enrich my life and give the opportunity to reach out and share whatever I can whenever it is called for.

In the coming weeks Heather and I plan to put a stronger and more focused emphasis on friendships here at Kicking It In Crazyville. We want you to glory with us in the beauty of God-given friendships.

“This is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth, Love to complete your life.”


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sparkles Kicks the Proverbial Bucket

For Ian's birthday we bought him two goldfish, Plumpy and Googie, and a betta fish Sparkles. We were warned that they prefer warm water and to keep him as warm as possible. I didn't think it would be a problem, as we've had one before and he thrived. But... I kept that fish on top of the tv. Now we have a flat screen tv so keeping it on top is obviously not an option.

So, this morning poor Sparkles was found floating. He mananaged to stir himself a few times over the next few hour and all our attempts at recucitation failed. Don't worry, we didn't try mouth-to-mouth! But I put him near the stove to warm him up (and melted part of the container he was in!), Sean and I took turns poking him with a finger in order to shock him back to consciousness, and we swirled him around in his bowl. He would perk up for a second or two, then float back to the top or the bottom of the tank. Finally, I dumped him in the toilet. Just as he hit bottom, he stirred a bit and the guilt swept over me! But he stopped moving, and as Kristine, Ian and I stood over the toilet silently watching for more signs of life, Ian suddenly exclaimed gleefully, "I know! Let's flush it!"

Apparently he's not doing too badly with the death of his fish!



Oh, the amazing things you can learn in a library! Such as that Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is a village in Anglesey in Wales and has the longest town name in the UK. The name means (in Welsh) "St Mary's church in the hollow of the white hazel near to the rapid whirlpool and the church of St Tysilio of the red cave".

For further reading, see the Wikipedia article here, or the website here. And here is a YouTube video of the pronunciation:

~Reese, who will put Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch on her list of places to visit in the UK.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Wynken, Blynken, & Nod

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod
by Eugene Field (1850-1895)

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe---
Sailed on a river of crystal light,
Into a sea of dew.
"Where are you going, and what do you wish?"
The old moon asked the three.
"We have come to fish for the herring fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we!"
Said Wynken,
And Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe,
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew.
The little stars were the herring fish
That lived in that beautiful sea---
"Now cast your nets wherever you wish---
Never afeard are we";
So cried the stars to the fishermen three:
And Nod.

All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam---
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fishermen home;
'T was all so pretty a sail it seemed
As if it could not be,
And some folks thought 't was a dream they 'd dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea---
But I shall name you the fishermen three:
And Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
Is a wee one's trundle-bed.
So shut your eyes while mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock in the misty sea,
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:
And Nod.

~Reese, who used to have a record that recited this poem. She's always loved it and hadn't heard it for years until she came across it in a book at the library.

Zach's First Day of School

Moving to England has meant many changes for us, including an early start to school for Zach and Ian. Because of his late November birthday, in an American school Zach wouldn't be starting until fall 2009. In the UK, kids start preschool ("nursery") in the school year they turn 4, and kindergarten ("reception") the year they turn 5. That means Zach starts reception this fall, while Ian starts nursery at the same time.

When I went to the school last week to register them for this fall, I was told that Zach could start on Monday (yesterday), as the school year in England isn't over until July, and the half-day nursery schedule would give him a chance to experience school without putting in a full school day. He was thrilled! So yesterday I helped him on with his new school uniform and we met up with another American boy who was starting on the same day. You can see by the glow in his eyes that his anxiety level was a flat zero and his excitement was at an all-time high!

Sending my little boys to school is taking a big adjustment for me. I wasn't mentally prepared to send them to school for another year. I'm grateful that they get to experience school in another culture; what an amazing thing for your average American kid! But it's still hard on mom!


Sunday, June 15, 2008

I Miss Her...Already

I put her on a plane yesterday. That was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Last time, it was me getting on that plane, and leaving for two weeks. This time, she did it. I felt bad, because instead of being strong for her as she boarded that plane, I broke down in tears. She was strong for me.

I like Amanda. I thought you weren't supposed to like your teenagers. I was a terrible teenager, I know my mom didn't like me very much. I was mouthy, rude, selfish...I could go on, but you get the picture. Amanda has her moments for those, but 99% of the time she is kind, compassionate, loving and extremely funny!

Friday while riding in the car with her, I realized that we really enjoy each other. I am definitely the mom, but part of me is her friend too. We love the same music, she makes me laugh constantly, we can talk and sometimes, she's the one encouraging me.

I am thankful for this relationship that we have. I am overwhelmed at the thought that she is now 13 and in 5 short years, she will go on to live her own life and dreams. For now, I will cherish her and the young woman she is becoming. I am in awe of the God who created her and chose her as my daughter. I cannot deny that she is perfect for me, and I, am hopefully perfect for her.

I am counting down the days, she will be home on the 28th!

On a little side note, I am using my pink zip it purse! Yes, it has my wallet, camera, keys and hand lotion in it! I am ashamed to say I have lost my keys about 4 times..and, they were in the purse. The sad part, I had looked in the purse. I guess the purse is not my solution to loosing my keys!

Ian Turns Three

Ian turned three-years-old last week! He's such a joy to me- the kind of kid who I'd expect to wear rain boots with his jammies. He's full of happiness, curiosity and love, with a quirky little sense of humor and an already burning excitement to start preschool in the fall. I'm so blessed to be Ian's mum (as the Brits say)!


Friday, June 13, 2008

Know and Tell Friday: Random Edition

Can you believe how fast the weeks go by? It's Friday again, and here are the questions.

1. Are you a procrastinator or do you get things done?
2. What is the worst thing you have ever eaten?
3. What is your favorite movie, and why?
4. What one physical feature would you want to change about yourself?
5. Would you rather travel the world, or travel through space?
6. Favorite cell phone feature: camera or texting?
7. Sports car or SUV?

Heather's Answers:

1. Are you a procrastinator or do you get things done? I am a definite procrastinator. It drives me and everyone around me insane!

2. What is the worst thing you have ever eaten?
Definitely these disgusting green olives that Reese made me try at the Portland Saturday Market. First of all, I hate green olives, second of all, it was soaked in garlic juice, or something. It truly was terrible! I tried to put on a happy face, but I didn't succeed very well.

3. What is your favorite movie, and why?
Hmmm, that is hard. I like many different movies for different reasons. I love Dirty Dancing because I watched it over 100 times in 8th grade and it brings back great memories. I love Hope Floats, Notting Hill, Two Weeks Notice and Music and Lyrics because they have great, funny love stories.

4. What one physical feature would you want to change about yourself?
My after baby tummy. I would love a tummy tuck! 2nd in line is the double chin.

5. Would you rather travel the world, or travel through space?
Travel the world! I can wait to see more of the world. There are so many things out there to see. I never thought I would be someone who wanted to do that, but after being in Germany and Italy it's made me want to see more.

6. Favorite cell phone feature: camera or texting?
I love to text! I text constantly! I especially love that I can discreetly get ahold of Dan or Amanda anytime and give them little love notes or see how their day is going.

7. Sports car or SUV? I guess with gas prices the way they are, I should say sports car, but I love my SUV. My oldest is taller than I am at 5'7 and the other two are growing just as fast. The SUV allows everyone to have plenty of leg room...just wish it wasn't over $100 to fill the tank!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

My Flops

Alana over at A Kiss, A Hug and A Squeeze did a Flip Flop Swap. How fun is that! Teri sent me these..and, I love them! Yes, I got two pairs, lucky me!

Thanks Teri! I really love them!


Book Review: The Lovely Bones

I considered reading this book for years before I finally had the courage to pick it up. I'm not keen on death-by-rape-and-murder books. There's too much of it the world as it is without spending any of my free time and money on make-believe versions of it. When I was last in Oregon I found an inexpensive copy of The Lovely Bones at St Vincent de Paul, and a lady standing nearby assured me that the violence and graphic nature of the crimes leading to the narrator's death were treated carefully and with respect. So I bought it, and finally got around to reading it last week.

I have to agree that with the possibility of extensive and candid coverage of the rape and murder of a 14 year-old girl, the author treated the matter with delicacy. It's still an unpleasant subject, no matter how it's written about, but I appreciate that the horrors of it weren't exploited.

I found it interesting and enlightening to see how the murdered girl's family dealt with her death- from her father and mother, to her sister who was just a year younger, and to her 4 year-old brother. The book covered about a decade of their lives, including the initial shock and horror, to the playing out of their grief in rather destructive ways, and the eventual healing that came to them all.

From a Christian perspective, the author's idea of the heaven that Susie (the victim and narrator) lived in is laughable. Her heaven is a more self-centered and indulgent form of earth- no sign of a God of any sort other than herself, with whatever Susie wishing for badly enough appearing. She spends much of her time watching her family and wishing she was back with them. After many years she is allowed a short time back on earth in someone else's body; she chooses to use that time to fornicate with a former boyfriend. Then she's swooped back to heaven. Not very realistic or impressive, in my judgment.

If you haven't already read this book, it might be worth a loan from the library or a cheap copy picked up from a secondhand store, but keep in mind that the spiritual depictions are ridiculous. If you can distance yourself from Susie's after-death experiences, the other story lines are an interesting scan of the horrors murder reeks on a family and the healing that eventually comes to them.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My Bathroom Shelf Project

The problem: Very little bathroom or cleaning supply storage space in my home. We've tried to make do with extra shelves, such as in our downstairs guest bathroom. Here is the before photo of the over-the-toilet shelving unit:

The Solution: Cheap baskets from the One Pound Store (making each basket cost about $2 each.)...

Plus fat quarters from the BXtra, along with ribbon and a hot glue gun...

And, voila, my bathroom shelves looks slightly more organized. Actually, I'd eventually like to find taller baskets that hide what's inside better, but I'm happy with this current improvement for now.

~Reese, who isn't an organizing junky, but wishes she was! ;)