Friday, November 28, 2008

Around the world

These past couple of days have been crazy busy, and fun. I haven't even barely had a chance to sit down to read my email, let alone write on my blog. It all started on Wednesday when I had to get ready for a long weekend at my in-laws house. We finally made it over to Joe's cousin's house at 8.30pm. The Allreds know how to party! We had pizza, talked, played silly games, and ate tons of treats, before going to be at 12.30am. And with we, I mean all of us! The kids just kept going and going, until around 11.30pm when all my kids just kind of crashed on the floor. This didn't keep them from getting up at their regular waking hour though.....
Thanksgiving day we joined the Morphises at White Rock lake for outdoor fun at the park, and a bike ride. I am ashamed to say that I hadn't even touched my bike since moving to Texas over a year ago. I guess I have always had an excuse, but when I finally did get on it, I remembered how much I love to bike. Back in Boise I would go road riding several times a week, and mountain biking every once in a while. I just need to get on my bike with my pepper spray (for mean dogs) and go.After some play time, Ruth and her fiance Brant met me at the park, to take their engagement pictures. We found some really fun places to take pictures. My favorite spot was by this one tree. It was the perfect climbing tree and all of us were up in the tree at one point or other. Ruth didn't let her cute skirt and cowboy boots stop her from climbing too.(this particular picture is more for the interesting angle than for engagement photo purposes)
For dinner we went to the Benac house (Joe's uncle and aunt). There were just short of 30 guests there, so the party was grand. We had some delicious food including homemade apple pie, made by Joe's 14 year old nephew William Benac. Joe and the kids also jumped in the jacuzzi for a little swim.After dinner we headed back to Plano for what was supposed to be a relaxing evening. The problem was that I had to look through, and edit 200 engagement pictures. Also, I wanted to go to CVS to get some screaming deals. I got a whole bunch of stuff for free, and even made money on some products. It was awesome. Now I wish I had taken a picture of all the stuff I got for $1.11 By the time I finally got done with all that stuff it was 12.30am, so I wasn't too excited about setting my alarm for 4.ooam

I did set it though, and like every other year wondered to myself whether or not I was totally crazy for getting up in the middle of the night to go shopping. But then, as I drove past the Kohl's parking lot at 4.14am and saw that there wasn't even one single open parking spot, I felt a lot better about myself. My list wasn't very long this year, but I did want to get a Pre-lit Christmas tree (Texas is just not a good state for real live trees)

After stopping at Walmart to get a $29 bike for Winter's birthday, I drove over to Home Depot to get in line for the tree. I was very surprised to see that I was the second person there. Especially because in past years, Home Depot had a pretty good sized line 45 minutes before opening time. So I waited for about an hour, and when the doors opened I ran for the trees. I grabbed one, paid for it, and was out in the parking lot when I looked at the box. To my dismay, I realized I had grabbed a tree with colored lights, which I just DO NOT like. The sinking feeling! So I ran back into the store, but all super deal trees were gone. Desperate, I started asking people with white-light trees to switch me. After one rejection, I got lucky and a very sweet lady let me switch with her!! So I have my tree, and can't wait to set it up tomorrow when I get home.

After some more shopping in the morning, and even some more later with dad, I finally crashed. Going on 10 hours of sleep in 2 nights, my body had hade enough. I had a wonderful 3 hour nap, a great "wedding sampler" dinner, and then even some country dancing. Ruth and Brant are both avid country dancers, so they taught us to do the 2-step. Joe did really well, and even loosened up his stiff legs after a little while. Oh, and one other major accomplishement... for the first time in 8 years of marriage, I got Joe to try a dance flip with me. He did great, and we went "around the world" with no problems.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Rocks and a plastic baggy

My kids have vacation this whole week, for thanksgiving. In order to keep them happy and occupied, we have been doing a variety of projects. First we made a Christmas countdown chain from paper strips. The kids colored them, and then put them together. One ring for each day until Christmas
Here they are counting their 31 links

This afternoon I sent them out for some physical activity, and they trained to be gymnists on the trampoline. I was pretty impressed with their moves.
The kids also spent a considerable amount of time collecting, counting, and cleaning rocks. Then they had me write on a plastic sandwich bag how many rocks they had: 101
Looking at all the things that kept them happy and busy, non of them were expensive plastic toys. With Christmas fast approaching, I am extra observant to which toys they actually play with. Apparently all they need is paper, scissors, rocks, markers, and a plastic baggy. 

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Last night I went to see the movie Twilight. It was the first time I have been to the movie theater since I moved to Texas, 15 months ago. Usually I don't care to pay $8.75 for one movie, but Twilight was certainly worth it. I loved reading the books, and because of that loved the movie too. I wanted more when it was over, and can't wait to read the books again. 

It was kind of funny to read all my friends' blogs and see they also went to go see the movie. I guess I'm not the only non-teenager who loved the books, and have daydreams about Edward. Now if only the next movie would come out soon!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I am participating in a Father/Mother's day postcard contest and need some help. I am using the picture below
What I need is the text to go with it. I have never been very good at coming up with witty/interesting writing, so I thought I would ask for help from my faithful readers.

Here are the rules:'
  • This will be either a Mother's day card or a Father's day card
  • Cover: You can use up to 100 characters (letters, spaces, punctuation marks) on the cover -or leave this blank

  • Inside: You can use up to 240 characters (letters, spaces, punctuation marks) on the inside. Remember to include some kind of “Happy Father’s/Mother's Day” message.
  • The card needs to target all or most mom's/dad's 
If I win the card contest (1st place), and used your text, you will win a $100
If I am selected as a finalist, and used your text, you will win $25

So don't be shy, submit all your wonderful ideas. Feel free to enter as many as you would like.

Deadline: December 1st, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

Get dressed!

Ginger would run around in her und!es all day, if I let her! It's not so much of a problem when the house is 80, and it's 100 outside. But when it's barely 61 in the house, and more like 50 outside, then it does become a problem. The thing is, she is convinced that she does not want to wear any kind of sweater or socks.  

This morning was no exception, and when she came out of bed in her shorts/t-shirt pyjamas, I insisted on getting SOME clothes on her. I somehow convinced her to wear socks, but just 30 minutes later she had taken them off again. Here's our exchange: (remember, she is only wearing shorts and a t-shirt, while I am still cold with a sweater, long pants, and socks)

Me: "Put you socks back on!"
Ginger: "But my feet are not cold anymore"
Me: "Put your socks back on, or I'll get a sweater that you have to put on."
Ginger: "But they are not cold anymore."
Me: "I'll get a sweater!!"
Ginger: "Oookaaayyy...."

Sigh, maybe one day she'll come to her senses, and WANT to wear enough clothes to keep warm

Friday, November 14, 2008


Texas may not have the most exciting landscape, but it sure does have amazing skies! This afternoon I ran out my back door, and took this picture (okay, it's acually like 8 photos that I photoshopped together)
Joe has taken a few vacation days, and we have been working hard on the wood floor. It has gone painstakingly slow! All the nooks and crannies  just eat up time like no other. The good thing is,
 most of the hard corners are done, and tomorrow we hope to whip out most of the kitchen and nook.

Because Joe was home, I was able to go to the kids' school for a few hours this morning. Winter and Sterling were so excited that I was there, as well as all their classmates. I brought my camera, and the classmates were so excited that I was taking pictures. When one of Winter's
 friend excitedly told her I was taking a picture, Winter turned to her and said: "So what?". I guess she is getting used to me snapping away, which is good, because then I get better pictures.

My hat is off to any elementary school teachers! I was in the classrooms for less than 2 hours, and was very happy to go back home. There's just so much noise, all the time. Teachers have a special talent of patience!

 Sterling's Teacher, Ms Watson, is the greatest! She spends one on one time with each child, even though her class is pretty big
 At PE the kids have to make a "bubble"  in their mouth, to be quiet.
After I spent a while with Sterling, I joined Winter in her classroom. It's interesting to see the big difference between a kindergarten classroom, and a 1st grade classroom. Kindergarten still has many more toys, and visually stimulating things, while 1st grade seems to really focus on the academics.
Such good concentration!
I wasn't even making any noise!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Order in a house

This house is a magnet for dis-order. I don't know if it's the layout, or my lacking housekeeping skills, but I often feel like I'm drowning. There are always more dishes, laundry, crumbs on the floor, and dustbunnies. I guess in my last house, we had it on the market for a good period that we lived there, so it HAD to be clean. 

Today I feel like I'm treading water again, instead of drowning. The kitchen counter is clear for the first time in 2 weeks. The (clean) laundry is all put away. The dishwasher is peacefully humming. Our tummies are filled with a homemade meal. My kids are clean behind the ears (thanks Joe). My pantry is stocked, and the night is still young.

It's amazing to me how a clean house has such a great effect on my mental well-being. It make me calmer, more peaceful, and nicer. Our home truly is a house of God, when we take care of it that way. After all the hard work, I am ready to put my feet up, and just relax!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cricket Cemetary

We had our first real good fall rain last night. When I woke up this morning to get the kids ready, there were about 50 crickets in my front hallway. I don't know if the rain wakes them up, or if they are just trying to find a dry spot. Crickets don't freak me out or anything, but they are mostly annoying, especially when they start singing at night.

Right away, I thought of my chickens. My chickens love live bugs. I went and got a chicken, plopped it down in my hall, and waited. It only ate one! So, figuring this chicken was defective, and grabbed a different one. This one wouldn't even think about eating one. Frustrated, I concluded I had to do it the hard way, and pick up each individual cricket, put them in a jar, and took them out to the chicken coop.

One of my hens showed especially a lot of interest, so when all the jar crickets were gone, I grabbed her. See; outside of my front door there were another 50 crickets (and I am not exaggerating). She went right to work, and in about 3 minutes cleared most of them out. 

The last 2 months or so, we haven't been getting any eggs. We finally found some after we got rid of the roosters, but then it stopped again. I figured that they were hiding them, so I started looking around in the bushes all along the house. At first I couldn't find any, but a few days later, I heard one of my hens making a ruccas by my air conditioner. She had made a little nest out of leafs, and was laying right there. The good thing: I know where she is laying. The bad thing: I have no clue how to get her to lay in the hen house. Actually, there is one solution, build a new fence. The one I have right now is pretty pathetic. Half the chickens just fly over it (and that's the half that actually lays eggs)

Also, 2 of my newer hens disappeared a few days ago. I thought for sure Justin or a coyote had gotten to them. But alas, there they were this morning, as if they had never left. I'll probably find a stack of 30 eggs in the woods some day.....

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Pictures uploaded

My sister sent me some pictures from when we were in LA, for my mom's surgery. The posts that have pics are:


We had ourselves a grand bonfire yesterday, and Josh came to experience it too. The weather has been cool enough to where a bonfire is perfect. When Joe asked me if I would come outside to join them, my answer was: "As long as it's big". See, I'm somewhat of a pyro. I love playing with fire, and make them bigger. I think the fire was a good size. 
There is a spot in the middle of one of our pastures that is our designated fire pit. Grass hasn't grown there since we moved, and fire remnants are always present. Joe piled a bunch of trash wood that has been laying around in our yard, in the fire. One of the things that made it in there was our old mailbox post.
On a seperate note. When we got our kittens back, I treated them for fleas. They were eating inside so the chickens wouldn't steal their food, and I like to cuddle with them anyways. Well, I hadn't accounted for the flea eggs that they might be spreading, and now a few weeks later, we are paying for my mistake. We might have to call a pest control company or something, because fleas in my house is just not acceptable. (Plus I itch all over, every time I think about it)

Today I went out with my friend Anja. I went to Sam Moon's for the first time. That place is crazy, amazing, overwhelming etc. There were hords of women there, and gazzilions of purses, earrings, and other jewelry. I came out with 2 necklace and earring sets, a new wallet, and some hair clippies for under $26! I will have to restrain myself from getting addicted to that place!  Then we made a quick stop at Ikea, where I am proud to say I didn't buy anything (except some food, but that doesn't count right?)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Big Thanks

A big thanks to Joe's brother Josh, for getting our new computer set up. It is so nice to have a computer without any junk on it. I have been very careful about the things I download, and so far the only programs I have added beside the basic windows are
  • photoshop
  • Google Chrome (internet browser)
  • camera software
With my last computer I spent a lot time being frustrated, because it was always bogged down. I'm sure there was a ton of spyware on there. This computer has more memory, less crap, and also a good anti-spam program. Programs like photoshop used to be a drag, now they run like a snap.


Green Pet

Joe found a really big and cool tree frog in our yard. He even said he had never seen such a big one (except for in the zoo). Ginger took a liking to it, and carried it around with her, slept with it, man-handled it, and bathed with it for 2 days. After the bath the frog started looking a little yellow, so I decided to set it free, after which Ginger has been asking for it every since. She really did take good care of it, all things considering. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Democratic Republican

I consider myself a Democratic Republican. Even though I am fairly conservative about most issues, I also grew up in a very Democratic country (the Netherlands) and agree with a lot of Democratic political views.
This election, I chose to vote for the Democratic nominee Barack Obama. It is great to be part of the election that changes history, and something my children will learn about in school. I agree with all those out there that it's time for "change". It's also important that our new president is favored by the rest of the world. Whether or not Obama can actually accomplish all the things he has promised, remains to be seen.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


With my computer crash, I lost all of my family budget information. I had been using Microsoft Money to keep track of all my spending, budgets, and income. I was really distraught about loosing all of that, because it took me literally hours each month to input everything.

Well, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. See, I found this new program called Yodlee. It's a personal finance website, where you can do pretty much everything the Money does. Except, it's WAY better. It automatically links to all my accounts, so I don't have to input everything manually anymore. Instead, I just need to check once in a while that each transaction is categorized the right way, change a few quick things, and BOOM, I'm done.

The other advantage is that it's accessible from any computer, and if when my computer crashes again, I won't loose all the data. Now if I can only get the last 4 months of pictures back!

Election day

Today was the first time I was allowed to vote, in my life. Since I moved to the States shortly after I turned 18, and didn't become a citizen here until last year, I had never had the opportunity to participate in any kind of voting. It was pretty cool. Even though my vote probably doesn't count much here in Texas, it was still nice to know I did everything in my power to elect who I think is the lesser of 2 evils.

Joe took a vacation day today, so we went into Leonard together, to vote at City Hall. I have never seen that many cars parked in the square. The line was relatively short, compared to bigger cities, but still pretty long for the middle of the day (about 30 minutes). As we were getting closer to the front of the line Ginger asked: "Are we getting on the boat now?" I guess "vote" and "boat" sound really similar to a 3 year old, especially when they have never heard of a word like vote. She was very confused and disppointed when we tried to explain there were no boats anywhere around.

During dinner tonight Winter told me they voted in school too. She told me she voted for McCain, and when I asked her why this was her reply: "Because McCain doesn't want to kill babies, and he puts his hand on his heart."  Chicki what, what??? What are they teaching my child in school? I didn't really think teachers were at liberty to impose their political views upon my impressionable child. 

On a seperate note; our computer took a dive the other day. I wasn't too worried because the last time this happened (only about 18 months ago), we were able to recover all the data. This time we haven't been so lucky so far. I had backed up our family photos until June '08, but all our Disney photos are vanished. Other than that, I am not sure how upset I should be about this whole situation. If I loose all my Microsoft Money, finance records, I will be VERY upset. I spend a LOT of time inputting all our expenses, incomes, and bills. I don't even want to think about what I will do if all of that is gone. I don't know if I could start all over again. Not after 2 years of data vanishing overnight.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Some more renovations

Don't we all do this:

We see something that needs to be picked up, cleaned, fixed, or changed. Instead of taking 30 minutes to solve the problem, we look at that problem over and over for months, getting annoyed by it more and more.

It seems like the renovations easily grind to a quick halt, whenever I don't keep pushing along with real intent. There are so many unfinished projects, but here are some I have made a little progress on:
  • New front door: I bought an unfinished front door right after we moved in. It sat in the garage, untouched, for at least 4 months. Then I finally pulled it out, and sanded it. I think I gave it 3 coats total (1 on one side, and 2 on the other). Since that, it's been sitting in the middle of my garage, untouched. Today I gave it another coat. I think it probably needs another 3 (so 3 more days)
  • Wood floor: When we moved in, I ripped out most of the flooring. We got carpet put in relatively fast, and settled into living in the house. The wood floor was laid in the front hall way, and dining room, but progress halted when I got to the family room. One of the windows in the family room leaks whenever there's a big storm, and we hadn't been able to figure out why. 2 days ago, Joe finally found out. He finished fixing the leak today. We also started prepping the back hallway by removing old baseboard, and icky glue from previous laminate flooring
  • Baseboards: we got a little overzealous, and ripped out all the baseboard. It was kind of gross, and we probably could have gotten away with just repainting it, but I was in the "ripping out" mood. Half the rooms have baseboards, half don't. Saturday I bought about 100 feet of baseboard, and that won't even be enough to do all of it. (maybe half). At $1.49 a foot, that bill added up quickly.
  • Painting: when we moved Joe into the girls' old room, I repainted it. Excuse the mess, Joe still needs to organize it
  • Being in the painting mood again, I drove all the way down to Plano's Kelly Moore paint store, and bought 5 more gallons of paint (at a whopping $175!). After I told them I wanted that much, I realized I really only need 1 gallon, but they were already mixing, so I cursed myself and handed over my card. I haven't touched that bucket of paint yet.
  • Rearranging/cleaning: after I took some furniture out of my office and bedroom, there was a lot of dust hiding in those spots. A little bit of vacuuming and dusting: problem solved.
On my list of things to get done in the near future:
  • finish painting in nook and kitchen
  • install baseboards
  • finish front door, and hang
  • install threshold under new front door (I am getting tired of having a towel laying in front of it to stop the wind from howling in)
  • hang art in Joe's office and girls' room
  • lay wood floor in back hallway, and kitchen
  • texture wall in master bathroom (where I ripped the wallpaper off)
The list really is a lot longer, but I don't even want to think about it anymore. Tomorrow Joe has the day off, and we plan to be able to cross off 1 or 2 little things of the list.

*disclaimer: I just showed you some of the worst areas of the house, some parts do look nice

A Wedding

Now that it's finally official, I can talk about something I am really excited about. My sister in law Ruth, is engaged to Brant Gallion. They have known each other for a few years, dated seriously last year, broke up, and recently got back together. They were starting to make plans a few weeks ago, but he didn't pop the question until a few days ago.

Now what am I so excited/nervous about? They asked me to photograph their wedding. I love photography, and am always striving to take great pictures. A wedding is so huge! I have been doing a bunch of research, looking at other photographers photos, and reading tips. I also invested in an external flash, to help in shooting in a dark reception hall.

Big responsibilities like these, sometimes give me strange dreams. Last night I dreamed that my lens was broken, so I threw part of it away. Only, a few hours later I realized I still could have used that lens if I had just kept the piece that was now in the trash. For the next 2 months, until the wedding day on January 9th, I will be doing a lot more research, practicing, and anticipating.

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