• ~Psalm 46:4-5~

    There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling places of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.
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Having a Blast and it’s Only Just Begun

We’re here! My cousin and I have arrived in Chicago and we’ve already hit the town full speed ahead. We just got back from our first party where we got our first swag bag which made me squeal and jump up and down. Among the awesome loot was a new Kodak Zi6  pocket video camera! So I’ll have some video footage up here eventually.

Both of us have been recognized by other bloggy friends – that’s a validating feeling – but you have to hear Bridget’s story about that because hers definitely tops mine. I can’t wait to link up to all of my new friends so that you can meet them too. But we have more parties to go to tonight and more swag to bring back to the room. So I’ve got to get dressed! Catch ya later!

My Bags are Packed …

I’ll be heading to Chicago in a few days. There’s this little shindig there, called BlogHer. You might have heard of it. Part of me is ecstatic, but that part of me is being held hostage by the part that’s terrified. I’ve pretty much convinced myself that after this trip I will NEVER, EVER again leave my baby girl’s side. She’d better enjoy this break from me, because for the next sixteen years, I plan to be stuck to her like a bump on a log. (We can even wear matching dresses to the prom!) This trip will be a milestone for us. I’ve never been away from her for so long before. FIVE whole days.

She’ll be staying with Nana and Poppy. I know that my parents will spoil her rotten and that she’ll have a blast. She’ll get to stay up late and eat M&M’s. That part is okay. I love the fact that she has adoring grandparents.

I’m just afraid of all of the “what ifs.” Those tiny worries start to add up when you plan a trip six months in advance. I have a slew of them stashed in the back corners of my brain. What if she chokes on an M&M? What if her cold turns into something serious with a fever of 104F? What if she throws tantrums in public when Mom goes to the store? It’s been really difficult to push those worries aside so that I can trust God to take care of her. In the deepest core of me, I feel that I am solely responsible for her safety.

I know that it’s a ludicrous thought. I know things could go wrong under my watch just like anybody else’s. But like Nemo’s dad, I feel the need to promise that “nothing will ever happen to [her].” I feel the need to be humming in the next room or sitting in the chair beside hers at the table. I feel the need to be close.

I’ve talked myself out of going to this conference about a hundred times. And each time I come back full circle. Hubster often reminds me that I deserve this trip. There are lots of reasons to go. It will be good for everyone involved. Staying home would be selfish and wasteful.

So I’m going to go. I’ll be live-blogging from the mommy-blogger sessions. I’ll be passing out blog cards, meeting friends in real life for the first time and sticking my foot in my mouth. I can’t wait for the photo walk and some of the geek-out sessions. There are souvenirs to purchase and swag bags to haul back up to our room. It’s going to be fun.

But I think my favorite part will be coming back home. My bags are already packed.

New Header Design

Finally changed my header. Took me long enough, huh? Check it out if you haven’t seen it. This one’s even better than the temporary one I came up with yesterday.

And before you get too excited about my bloggy awesomeness, I probably ought to give a hat tip to Picnik’s fancy collage editor. Because I’m nothing if not humble. Right? Did you just roll your eyes at me? At me?

Google Reader Grading System

This idea just rocked my world! One night recently, as I bemoaned the fact that I have NO TIME to read all of these new posts in my Google reader inbox, or spend some time on Twitter or even FINISH a blog post (I have two posts from the last few days sitting half finished in my draft box), it occurred to me that I could re-organize my inbox to make it a lot more efficient.

My old system involved labeling people based on relationships. For example, there was a category for family and a category for 7days. I had a category for “real life” friends. You get the idea. It wasn’t very efficient because, let’s face it, not everyone has the same writing ability. And not to be rude or anything, but I just don’t have time to read or even SKIM all of the 216 posts that come through my Google inbox everyday. (Yes, I follow a gazillion blogs. That’s the whole point of Google Reader, isn’t it? If you haven’t already started an account, then you definitely should. Hop over here to read more about it. And no, they’re not paying me to say this. I wish.)

I noticed that I’d started to prioritize which posts I read based on my preferences. So I took advantage of this fact and redistributed my feeds based on a letter grade scale. I now have a group called A+ and it moves down from there. My favorite blogs land in the A+ category. Ones that I tend to skip over are moved farther down. It’s all completely subjective. Best of all, I don’t have to read everything all the time. The D group is the first to get skipped over. (If a blog “fails” my reader test then I simply unsubscribe. So there are no F’s.)

You’re already familiar with most of my favorite blogs, but I thought I’d share a few recent additions to my A+ category. You may not have visited these people yet, and I love to read their posts. Enjoy!

1.  Annie Blogs for you about becoming a writer, and about her crazy life and about her Jesus. Who happens to be my Jesus too.

2. Katie happens to be a school teacher as well. Holla! And can I just say she has a really invigorating way of writing about life? She’s fun!

3. Millie’s photography blog has absolutely amazing pictures. I’ve spent hours just scrolling through and each one makes me want to be a photographer when I grow up.

4. Mylestones explores medicine through the eyes of the wife of a doctor and the family that they’ve built. She’s an AMAZING writer and I love to see a new post next to her name!

5. Last but not least is Laura, a newbie to blogging who takes compelling photos and has great anecdotes to go along with them. Her current job as a flight attendant allows her to travel throughout North America the way I travel around town and she’s studying to be a pilot. It’s quite an adventure to read her posts.

The Spanish Inquisition

A few weeks ago, Bethany Actually posted a little Q&A meme that I really enjoyed. The origins of the meme came from The Immoral Matriarch who offered to interview a limited number of commenting bloggers as long as they would agree to do the same for their readers, and so forth and so on. When Bethany posted her meme, I jumped at the chance to be interviewed myself!

airplane pilot wannabe

1. You decided becoming a doctor wasn’t for you, and now you are a high-school Biology teacher. If being a high-school teacher wasn’t an option, what career do you think you’d have?
That’s just a cruel question. Teaching is the only job I’ve really ever loved. I can’t even imagine what I would do without it. If I had lots of money, then I’d be a stay-at-home-mom. Although, I might go insane.

If I didn’t have lots of money, then maybe I’d fly airplanes. I think I could be a pilot. I imagine that I’d probably be terrified of landing the plane though. Maybe I could outsource that part of the job? One of my friends from high school has inspired me with a secret ambition to fly one day.

Does teaching at the college level count? Because teaching really makes me happy. It’s the best job ever! And the best part is that I get to stay home during the summers, too. (Which is by far, the best time of year to be at home!)
desks

2. Ocean or mountains? Why?
Definitely the ocean. Whenever I get to go to the beach, I try to slip away to be by the sea for some alone time with God. There’s nothing more amazing than watching the sun set or rise over the ocean. I also love to sing into the crashing waves. I love the fact that no one can hear me except the Lord. Walking along the beach just makes my heart happy.
ocean view

3. What was your first “real” job? Did you like it? Why or why not?
The first job where I received a W-2 was my highschool job as a library paige. I cleaned the books and reshelved them. Occasionally, I helped the children’s librarian with projects that she was working on. Most of the time I ended up reading the books instead of working. The job itself was pure torture for me. I was like a fat kid working in a candy shop. The books would call to me and I would always seem to be reading the most climactic paragraph when someone would shout at me that I needed to, “GET BACK TO WORK!”
4. What’s your guilty TV pleasure?
Seriously? Unplugging the TV is my secret guilty pleasure. It drives me nuts when Bri finds the remote and turns it on. Hubster likes to watch it in the evenings and I’ve grown accustomed to that, but I cannot stand to watch it when the sun is out. It drives me nuts! Ironically, I absolutely adore watching movies. Our DVD library is overflowing, and I’ve arranged them by content.

DVD arrangement

5. Tell me one of your favorite Bible verses. Just one? My life verse, and the inspiration for my blog name, comes from Psalm 46:4-5, “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling places of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.” It reminds me that my goal in life is to please God. If I want to be famous at all, I want to be famous in His city. I want to be the kind of woman where people know that “God is in the midst” of me. I want to stand firm in my faith without wavering. And I want to trust that even in the darkest of nights, my God will help me. The morning will dawn.

holding hands

So now, I’d love to ask you some questions! If you’d like a turn to play (keep in mind – you’re also going to have to interview others on your blog), just leave a comment below and I’ll e-mail you five personalized questions. I will guarantee the first five commenters that they will be interviewed within a week. After that, I will try to respond to everyone, but it may take awhile.

Also, I’m looking for new blogistas for my Featuring You section. Fill it out at your leisure and e-mail me your responses!

Feature Blogista – Reasons Why

Today’s feature blogista grew up with me. You know that ‘Hero’ song that Mariah Carey sang at the Neighborhood Ball? Well, Kels and I used to sing that song into our hairbrushes when it was brand new. We were in seventh grade and we loved to play with American Girl dolls. She’s one of my oldest and dearest friends. Probably the Diana Berry to my Anne Shirley, if I ever had one. She’s been a wonderful friend to me. We’ve laughed together, prayed together, cried together and stood up for each other. I remember playing dress up and having tea parties with her as a girl. We had a secret code that we used to write notes to each other. In high school we were accountability partners for church youth group. In college I drove for four hours with her family to see her perform in a Charlie Brown play. We were bridesmaids in each others’ weddings. Our e-mails usually end with lylas (love you like a sister) and we really mean it.

preggo-pic

Hmmmm….where to begin? My name is Kelli and I am married to the most wonderful man in the world.  He is a Marine, so I have spent the last year traveling the Eastern shore, living in Quantico, VA while he did training there and now we have settled in the deep South again.  They tell us that we’ll be here for 3 years!  Woohoo!  Our first child is due in a little over 4 weeks now.  It’s a girl and we’re calling her Els online.  I can hardly believe it. I’m excited and nervous all rolled into one.  My other “children” are of the feline variety.  Rumor is my 3 year old orange tabby and Charlie is a 2 year old grey and white stray that we rescued from Animal Control.  My brother says that we have the epitome of the two cat extremes.  Rumor exemplifies the “curiosity killed the cat” type and Charlie is our resident scared-y cat.  Both of them think they’re human.

shot of rumor and kels

The craziest thing I did as a youngin’? Besides getting lost in a National Park with you, Cindy?  Yes, let’s tell that story.  Cindy and I went camping together with our families in eighth grade.  Being quite imaginative girls, we had created this whole kingdom for ourselves in the woods near our campsites and named it Vine Valley.  Vine Valley had a “river” in it (read:  small creek) and we wanted to follow it and see where it went one day.  Next thing we knew, we were in a valley, with a dried up creek bed, and hopelessly lost.  We climbed the hill on each side only to see mountains and no sign of civilization.  We panicked.  Well, I panicked, Cindy has always been a voice of reason in my life.  We started to retrace our steps, but could not remember exactly where we had come from.  Long story short, we spent about two hours wandering around before some people from the campsite that were helping to look for us found us.  Our dads were about to report us missing to the park rangers.

kelsandb

B and I have been married for 4 and a half years and it really does keep getting better.  I’m not just saying that either.  We were forced to leave everyone and everything we knew last year to set out on the journey with the Marine Corps and it’s been the best thing that could have happened to us.  We rely on each other for encouragement and still act like little kids when it’s just us at home together. B and I got married two months after college graduation and one month before he started law school.  I worked at a bank for the first year of our marriage, and discovered quickly that banking is not my lot in life.  So, I went back to school and got a master’s in Public Health.  During this time, B joined the Marine Corps, so we both finished school just before we started moving around.  I did a brief stint as an event planner, which I loved and hope to do again someday, but right now I’m employed as housekeeper, cook, and incubator to my little family.

kelswedding

I still don’t know what to “be” exactly.  Right now I’ll be a wife and mother.  I’ve been kicking around the idea of becoming a personal trainer after I have Els and get back into shape.  I think that it would combine what I like about all the things I’ve done so far – working with people, exercise, healthy living, etc.  And it could be flexible.

kelswithagun

My Mama is truly the most amazing woman God has ever created.  She’s still chasing around kids because my parents adopted a girl and boy from China after my first brother, sister, and I were grown.  They’re now 6 and 4 and she says that they’re keeping her young.  And everything she cooks is amazing.  She doesn’t think so, but it is.

big-family

My blog is called “Reasons Why” after a Nickel Creek song that is one of my favorites.  It’s not fancy because I cannot figure out how to put up a pretty template or even a picture in the byline, but I like to write about things I think about.  I try to be open and honest because I feel like that’s what blogs are for.  For us to reach out to one another in the world and know that we’re not alone in life situations.

cindys-wedding

My four year old brother, Micah is very excited about El’s impending arrival.  He loves babies.  He always kisses my belly and will hug Els even if he won’t hug me.  I’m okay with it because I get hugged either way.  He knows he can’t punch me like he does everyone else, so this past weekend when we were all together, he kept coming up to me and putting his head on my belly.  Then he would fall backwards and tell us all that the baby had knocked him down.  Crazy kid.

siblings

As far as deep thoughts go, here’s a verse I’ve been pondering. “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4  Lately I’ve been having the sneaking suspicion that if we were to truly delight ourselves in the Lord, we’d probably find that He’s the desire of our hearts and not the things we were thinking.

Whew!  That feels like a lot.  I can’t wait to hang out together with our little girls!  Maybe Bri will be enough older than Els to have the wisdom not to get lost in the woods.

Feature Blogista – ComfortablyCrazy

It’s a pleasure to introduce today’s feature blogista. Heather, fondly known as CC, is a SAHM living in sunny SoCal. Don’t hate her for the nice weather she’s enjoying. You’ll love the way she tells her story. Her modesty exudes throughout her writing, but it’s quite clear that she has many talents. She’s extremely gifted with a sewing machine and knitting needles (selling all of  her Etsy items within hours of posting them). You’ll often find her gorgeous daughters, Superchic and Rapunzel running around with Annalie and Baby Bug. With company like that, there’s no doubt that this will be an entertaining family!

cc-take-3

Here goes nothing. Let’s start with the mundane, then move on to the more mundane shall we? My name is Heather and I blog as ComfortablyCrazy or CC for short.  I’m 30 years old as of December 2008.

Now my husband Shawn often makes me want to smack him upside the head but who doesn’t feel that way about their spouse every once in awhile?  Truthfully, I think he’s wonderful. We’ve been married for 11 1/2 years.  Shawn and I married approximately 5-6 weeks after we met and 3 weeks before I graduated from high school.  Yes, I said high school.  We conceived our first daughter Rapunzel sometime in the month of August 1997, we were married for three months at this point.  4 1/2 years, and four pregnancies later SuperChic was born,  I was 23 almost 24. Considering that we got married when I was 18 and he was 23 after knowing each other for about a month, most people are surprised we’re still together.  All I have to say is that my family has short engagements and long marriages.  We’re stubborn like that.

couple-take-3

As for work. I’ve worked at a few places in the last 11 1/2 years. I worked at a gas station for one day.  We were in a serious car accident the next day and I wasn’t able to work for three weeks.  I volunteered at our local library for a few months, then worked there as a Paige for a little over a year.  I volunteered at Bible Truth Publishers when Shawn worked there.  Sometimes I filled orders, wrapped orders, shipped orders, packaged tracts, and did miscellaneous stuff others didn’t really want to do.  I enjoyed it most of the time.   I worked as an “Office Girl” for a diesel repair shop.  Though truthfully “office girl” really doesn’t cover it.  After that I worked at Home Depot for 1 year and three days.  I quit to stay home with SuperChic who was having issues with my being away from home so much.  That was in May 2007.  I am officially a SAHM again.  Most times I love it.  Others I wish I was somewhere else.

I do have an Etsy shop which is in need of restocking.  I am working on it.  I enjoy sewing and knitting, but sometimes life gets in the way of that.

rapunzel-take-3

I wouldn’t say that I did anything to crazy when I was young.  I was too afraid of my Dad.  I remember going out trick-or-treating with my junior high friends. We had every intention of egging a friends house.  My Dad said, “Go ahead, but if you get arrested I’ll be there to get you in the morning.”  He was willing to let me have “fun” but I had to be willing to pay the consequences. Needless to say, we changed our minds.

My sophmore year in high school I went with my cousin to her cousin’s house.  Her parents were in Mexico and she had the house to herself.  (She was a junior and 17.)  We broke out the wine and tequila.  They called over a few guys.  Guys that I really didn’t like.  While we waited for the guys to get there they made a gallon of grape Kool-Aid and poured in some tequila thinking it would taste great.  It didn’t, but then I don’t like anything grape with the exception of fresh grapes.  I stuck to straight tequila.  When the guys got there I’d probably had about four shots worth.  They all drank the nasty mix.  One of the guys filled my cup with about 9 oz of tequila, said, ” give this to the litlle güerita;” and dared me to drink.  I drank it all; all at once.  20 minutes later he was throwing up and I was still standing.  We loaded him into the car with his friends. Then we started cleaning, and barely finished when my Dad and Aunt showed up.  They couldn’t even tell that we’d been drinking.  About two months later my cousin and her cousin got busted.  Apparently the wine they drank was what my cousin’s Aunt drank and she knew she’d just opened the bottle before she left.  I never got caught.  I still don’t think my Dad realizes that I was there and participated in what happened.superchic-take-3

Does that count as crazy?  I hope so, because once I got married my life was pretty tame.

I dated a guy in high school for two years. He might as well be dead. But if he was broken down on the side of the road I wouldn’t try to run him over.  It’s taken a long time for me to get to that point.

I haven’t done anything that I would consider a career yet.  My kids are my career right now.  Am I ok with that?  Mostly.  I knit, sew, read, and blog.  That gives me a little bit of an outlet.  One day I hope to teach, but that requires going back to school.  School terrifies me. I mean, have you seen the math the kids are doing now?

My Mom is doing ok.  She’s the Office Manager for a company that paints houses.  She’s good at her job and enjoys it.  Mom only cooks one thing now that she cooked when I was a little girl. I’m not complaining. All of the other recipes have evolved.

ccs-mom-take-3

Here’s the chili recipe:
2 pounds ground beef
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
2 cups water
1 package Carroll Shelby’s Chili Kit
1 large can petite diced tomatoes
1 bulb chopped garlic
1 small onion
1 can kidney & pinto beans (really any bean you like in your chili)

toppings:
sour cream
cheese

Brown onions and garlic with meat. Follow directions on package of chili mix. Though we don’t use the masa, and instead of adding water I just use the juice from the canned tomatoes.

I started blogging in July 2004 on Blogger.  My sister-in-law, Secret-Agent-Josephine, had already been blogging for a few years and I figured, why not?  I like to write, and I’m not horrible at writing. Blogging helps my family keep up with the kids.

groupofbloggersandkids1

I never imagined that I’d have people other than family reading what I wrote.  Don’t ask how I came up with my name, because I don’t know.  Anyone who knows me knows that ComfortablyCrazy just fits.

I write mostly about my two girls, Rapunzel 10 1/2 and SuperChic 6.  Sometimes other things come up and I write about them.  When I sit down to write I never know what is going to come out.  I find that if I think too much about what I’m saying that it just doesn’t work.

I doubt I’ll be able to go to BlogHer ’09, but I really, really want to go.  I miss Chicago.  (We lived in Illinois from April 2001 to September 2005.)  Though I did attend BlogHer ’08 in San Francisco.

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