Friday, August 29, 2008

Standing on my soapbax feeling Swiss...

When I was in 10th grade I decided that if I had to live outside of the US, I wanted to live in Switzerland. Surprisingly, it wasn't the Alps, Swatches, or that incredible Swiss chocolate that made me think that Switzerland would be a sweet place to hang my hat. No. Believe it or not, it was the Geneva Conventions.

Because historically the Swiss have been neutral, their country was able to arbitrate when the world was at war. When warring nations decided to talk, they headed to Switzerland. Switzerland is home to many United Nations agencies and headquarters for the International Red Cross. (Then there are all those Swiss bank accounts...) As a rule, the Swiss don't seem to compete with the world. I like that.

You see, by nature I am not a competitive person. Therefore, Switzerland's neutral stand deeply appeals to me. Sure you can be too neutral. But in theory at least, Switzerland seems to know how to do something few other nations have been able to do in the last 200 years... not take sides. They have not been involved a war since 1815. I admire that. (And I have to wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that Zurich and Geneva have respectively been ranked as having the first and second highest quality of life in the world or the fact that despite it's size, Switzerland is one of the richest countries in the world by per capita Gross Domestic Product.)

Of course I love my country and thank God that I live here. (See this post if you want to read me ramble on about that more.) I'm not a USA basher. I can't stand that. But the competitive spirit of the US goes against my nature. I like to win and I like my team to win, but winning is not everything. I'm not really into keeping up with the Jones. If your child wins every award in the world and mine doesn't, I'm still happy for you. I like my 7 year old to play sports, but if he misses one game to go somewhere fun...who cares?! I'm happy when the Cowboys win, but when they loose, it's just a game and it doesn't get me down. That highly competitive spirit just (usually) doesn't flow through my veins. In the past however, there have been three areas of exception to my non-competitiveness: politics, religion, and Scrabble.

I have openly confessed on this blog to debating Baptist kids during lunch in elementary school over whether Jesus was born on Christmas Day and instrumental music. That's so embarrassing now, but I was young! In college I realized God didn't call me to "win debates or souls for him." He calls me to show every soul his love, grace and compassion and let Him win them. It's not my competition.

Then there's politics. I smile when I think of the passion I felt when I discovered politics in the 9th grade! The Ronald Reagan years! Oh was I sure that Republicans were right and that Democrats were going to ruin the world!!! Again it was in college that that changed. A Republican running for Governor made a totally tasteless off-hand remark that in my eyes was not only completely unjustifiable, it was completely unforgivable. I could not vote for him. Ditching my fellow Young Republicans, I openly supported and voted for the "liberal" female Democrat. AND I celebrated when she won! (an ACU buddy of mine still calls me "Governor " because of this.) It was about that time that I changed my major from Political Science to Communications/Elementary education. The world of politics seemed too dirty for a Christian girl like me whose most cherished dream in life was to be a stay-home Mom.

Of course politics can still get my dander up. I was pretty passionate about the last two Presidential elections. However, the talk and acidic rhetoric of both political parties turns my stomach. If I listen to Rush for 20 minutes, I am embarrassed for all conservatives. He doesn't represent me. But I am equally repulsed by the Democrat's talking heads.

So in the midst of this historic presidential election, I am feeling rather Swiss. I'm well aware that being neutral won't make you popular with Democrats or Republicans. (As I predict will be shown by the lack of comments on this post.) American politics encourage a "pick sides and win at all cost" attitude. But I can't get there. I don't think that either candidate is all evil or angelic. Both are great men. Both have incredible stories and families. Both have probably sacrificed their convictions for their parties at times and stood their ground other times. Both are putting their health, happiness, and families at risk by running for President. Both are good Americans. Both love their country. Yes, I know many of you will not agree with at least half of what I just said. But in this age of 24 hours news with politicians having every move/word/expression analyzed and criticized, would anyone run for President if they didn't love America? No, I don't think so. McCain and Obama may have different ideals, different ways of seeing a problem, and different solutions, but neither want to see America go to hell in a hand basket. And quite frankly, I do not believe either would take us there.

Actually I wish they could both be president. I wish they would be forced to work together as a team. I held out hope that McCain would pick Liberman as a running mate till the end. I would vote for a maverick Republican Christian and a former Democratic/ now Independent Jew for no other reason than I think their administration could actually do something, even if if made everyone mad at first. An administration composed of two parties would also reflect what I think is the neglected truth of our two party system. When I examine the voting and stances of the members who make up those parties, I see that there is more difference within each party than there is between the parties. However, both parties spend so much time arguing about what they don't agree on, and on who is "right" for America, that the fact that they are more similar than different is lost. To me that is sad as it unnecessarily further divides our nation.

So while the most of America picks a side and spends the next two and half months trying to out-scream the opponent, right or wrong, I find myself in the lonely position of rooting for both of them. Though historically I tend to agree with Republicans, (Because I believe our government is too big & I used to be a card carrying member of the RNC) I'm not sure who I will vote for. But either way, I don't plan to shout it from the mountain tops, because I honestly admire both men. (And equally despise each party!) When it's all over, I'll feel joy for one and sadness for the other because they are both good leaders who love our country. America needs both of them to truly be America.

Notice I never touched on that third vein of competitiveness... Do you think they play Scrabble in Switzerland?

Have a great, long Labor Day Weekend!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

First day of 1st and 5th

Well, they're gone.
After much hustle and bustle, my oldest two are safely in their school classrooms learning new rules and new routines from new faces.
The house is strangely quiet.
Ella Kate is watching PBS with her "E" and "chawk-it" milk. She can watch whatever she wants. As sad as she was to leave Rhett at school, she seems happy to be the sole princess in the castle.
The remains of breakfast pizza are in the frig.
The calendar has writing on almost every day.
Just 6 hours until I need to leave to pick up carpool.
Those hours will fly by for I have
errands to run,
laundry to do,
places to clean,
food to cook....
Ready or not, summer is over and another school year has begun!
I'm both happy and sad about that, but mostly happy.
It's good to get back into a routine.
It's so good that my kids have good schools full of good friends and great teachers.
We are blessed.
It just can't be summer all year long.
We need to accomplish things
and grow
and learn.
The seasons of our lives change to nurture us
just as the seasons change to renew and replenish the Earth.
It's a good thing.
So why am I all emotional and teary eyed?

Sometimes I fear these days are going by too fast.
I don't want to miss anything.
I wish there was a way to put the days in the deep freeze, to be defrosted and fully enjoyed later in life when the kids are out of my nest.
But that's just not how life works.
I guess we have to squeeze every ounce of joy out of the minute we have when we have it,
because it will not be here again.
I'm off! I have a baby to rock, a house to clean, and the staple of my life, LAUNDRY!
No matter what the date or season, there is always laundry to be done!

Hope you are having a great day whatever season life finds you in. Happy 8-26-08!
It's the only 8-26-08 we will ever see!

Oh, and I almost forgot... Here are our traditional first day of school pictures!
Couldn't post without them!

My babies.

My school age babies.

Crazy kids!

Off to the INTERMEDIATE SCHOOL! No more walking her in and getting a picture with her teacher on the first day. Just off she went with her friend Devon! Car-pool on the first day! She is growing up so fast!

At least we could still walk Rhett in and get a picture with his teacher, even though he said we could just drop him off. AS IF! I've only got five years of elementary school with you buddy... I'm not giving up a minute of it!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I'm not finished with Rhett's room yet, but am definitely making progress! See....

Somehow posting this makes me feel more accomplished. Yes, I need all the props I can get. It's been a long haul. BUT I think I can almost see the light at the end of the "major home improvement projects" tunnel we have been living in for 8 months. YAY! :)

Monday, August 18, 2008

What a Week!

WOW! I can not believe that it has only been a week since I blogged! We have managed to get a lot of living in this last week.

The kids and I went to Abilene last Tuesday through Thursday with my Mom, Aunt, cousins, and their 5 kids. If you are trying to add that up, it's 5 adults and 8 kids in two hotel rooms! It was an adventure to say the least! Sadly, I had a horrible case of stomach issues come the day we were supposed to leave and started the trip out on a bad foot. I got OK enough to get us there but had little energy beyond that. However the kids had a great time staying with their cousins in the Embassy, which has a new name I don't remember just now. (I think I have stayed in that hotel at least 2 dozen times in my life. Lots of memories!) We were able to see my Mom's uncle and cousins who we haven't seen in a long time, which was the main reason for the trip. We were also able to sneak in a quick visit to ACU and Perini Ranch.
Perini Ranch
ACU has changed so much since I started there as a Freshman 20 years ago this month! (Did I really just type that? 20 years??? WOW!)

ACU has become a really pretty campus WITH TREES AND GREEN GRASS! I barely recognized parts of it, while other parts just felt like home. Again, so many memories!
I have not been to Abilene in 5 years so it was a nice trip.
Gata Fountain looks very different!
My old mailbox looks just the same!
I hope we can go back to ACU for Sing Song and Homecoming more and more in the next few years. Kolby is determined that she will go to college there while Rhett says he's considering it. I know where my paycheck will go when I go back to work!

Thursday we drove back just in time to go get Kolby's class schedule for the Intermediate School. 5TH Grade! I can't believe she won't be with her brother at our little elementary any more! Kolby is in the green block as several friends from her old school and one of her best little church friends is in the block right next to hers so they will have the same lunch. Kolby is feeling pretty good about it all. WHAT A RELIEF! You have no idea. Kolby had a hard time last year when she ended up in a class separate from every one of her good little girl friends. She did fine, but we have been praying hard for Kolby to have some friendly faces in her classes as she starts the big INTERMEDIATE school. We are all so excited about her placement!

Friday we tried to recover from our big week and I worked on Rhett's room a little. Saturday the kids had some birthday parties and I spent the majority of the day at Rhett's school where we had our first semi-big PTA event... The school supply & yearbook pick-up/ TEAM SVE TAILGATE PARTY!

The event was great. I loved working with my PTA pals and seeing school friends again. I'm so happy and excited about the PTA board and all the fun we are going to have doing great things for our little school this year! I think I have said it before, but these women are the best! I love being around them and we all work really well together. It's a PTA dream team! I feel very blessed to be a part of this group. GO TEAM SVE!

Saturday Rob had a little accident in the attic. He doesn't want me to talk about it so I'll let this picture speak for itself.

(Yes, that is our living room ceiling.) The good news is Rob is OK and walked away with just some bruises on his leg (and ego)! Anyone know a good drywall guy?

Sunday after church, we tried to implement the day of rest and we did have a few hours of down time. However, Rob and I both have such a long to-do lists that we want/need to get lots done before school starts. We ended up working in Rhett's room the majority of the afternoon and night. The good news is we got a lot done! We only have two big things left to do and I hope to get those knocked out before Rhett's birthday on September 5th.

School starts a week from tomorrow for us. It looks like another full week ahead! Have a great last week of summer!

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Day of Rest?

This Monday finds me and my family trying to pack as much "Summer" into the next 2.5 weeks as possible while preparing for a great/ busy start to the new school year!

Tonight we have our first PTA meeting of the year at school and Rob and Rhett have their first soccer practice of the new season. Last night Rob and I worked late into the night trying to get the all the crown molding in place in Rhett's room. As soon as I push publish, I 'm going out to the garage to paint all the boards for the chair rail. We still have to paint the lockers, but the curtains are ready to hang thanks to my Mom! Rhett's room re-do is going slowly because we can't ever take the time to get it all knocked out at once. Instead, we have to give a few hours here and there. This process a bit frustrating for Rhett and for us, but it is what it is.

Tomorrow the kids and I are going on our last trip of the summer with my Mom, aunt and cousins. We are all excited to go, but I confess I haven't finished all the laundry from last week's trips. I'm not sure how we will get packed and ready by in the morning. More midnight oil? Which brings me to the point of this post...

In Sunday school yesterday our teacher said something about Sunday being the day of rest because God set that pattern in creation. He said it was not that God "worked up a sweat creating the world and needed a rest." Rather he set a pattern for us to work six days and rest one because he knew we would need to work and to rest. Even though the teachers comments were more of an "aside" to his lesson, the whole concept of having a day or rest just zinged me!

A DAY OF REST? Somewhere along the way I totally forgot that we are supposed to have a day of rest! Ever since Rob started grad school and I became a weekend warrior home re-decorator last Fall, I'm not sure we have had a day of rest. For me life has been "do as much as you can in between keeping up with the kids and sleep when you can't go anymore." Actually life has been that way for longer than I care to admit. That's not how I really want to live my life!

So as we start this new school year I'm going to work very hard to make Sunday a day of rest again. I 'm not sure it will happen right away, but gradually I want to take steps to restore Sunday to a family day of resting and reflecting. (After church of course!) Feel free to hold me accountable on this and ask how it's going. I can use all the help I can get!

That's all the time I have for now but I'm curious... Does your family have a day a rest? Just wondering...


This post began last Friday and was revised and revised. I decided to re-publish it today.

“For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation.” (Psalm 149:4)

Last Saturday I briefly mentioned Johnny Stalling's death. This past Tuesday Kolby, Sari and I were honored to attend Johnny's funeral in Paris, Texas. It was a bittersweet afternoon. Sweet because we know Johnny is forever happy and will feel no pain. Also sweet because so many funny, happy memories and sentiments were shared. But it was bitter because all that was said made it even more obvious how special Johnny was and how much he will be missed. Earth's loss is truly Heaven's gain. I am comforted though with thoughts of Johnny now in heaven in his big, strong, tall, healthy angel body tossing a football to the nearest Angelic Alabama fan!

There is no doubt in my mind that Johnny has gone home and received his heavenly crown. I remember hearing Coach say "Johnny has a one way ticket to heaven." He finally cashed that ticket in. The Psalm above could have been written for Johnny. He was humble. I also have no doubt that the Lord takes delight in Johnny Stallings... Johnny delighted those here on Earth lucky enough to know him for 46 years! Johnny might not have been able to read or count past 10, but he had a heart and love for people (and football) that out shined any disabilities. You just felt better after being with Johnny.

For days I've tried to put my thoughts about Johnny into words, but I can't find words that mean enough. After a dozen drafts I've decided to let someone else speak for me. I suggest you read this article "All I Need to Know I learned from Johnny Stallings" from the Paris, Texas newspaper. I don't know the author, but I know exactly what he meant when he wrote this article!

I'll miss the Johnny hugs that always came with a familiar "My friend Steve-nee" greeting! My friend Johnny... I'm a better person knowing him. Goodbye sweet Johnny!

These Youtube videos are about 6-10 years old but they still make me smile... and now maybe cry a little too!

If you would like to leave a comment or note for the family, I believe you can do so
on this site
for the Starett Funeral home in Paris, Texas. On Johnny's page go to Tributes and then to "Condolences and Tributes"

Monday, August 04, 2008

Hot, Hot, Hot

Yes it is hot. And yes we are going to Six Flags this week. Pray for us!

I thought I had a ton of pictures from the last weeks but I have lost them on this computer somehow. Afraid I may have accidentally deleted them. Who needs pictures from their 20th High School reunion anyway?AAACCKKK! (Yes, I am screaming on the inside!)

But here are some cute pictures of Rhett from Baylor B-Ball camp last week with his favorite Baylor player Mamadou Diene! (Mom-a-doo G-n)

Rhett is a bit camera shy and would not get his picture taken with Mamadou until he saw his friend Thomas do it.

Now he tells me the pictures will be worth lots of money someday when Mamadou plays for the Mavericks (?) and he (Rhett) is a famous golf, baseball or football player! :) Dream big kiddo! This Mama-will-do whatever it takes to cheer you on all the way!
However, it must be noted that when I asked "What is the best thing that you learned this week?" (in reference to the camp) without hesitation Rhett put his arm in his shirt to demonstrate his answer, "How to arm toot!"
Well now... That was money well spent, wouldn't you say? :)
Not sure the ranks of pro sports are ready for Rhett!

Have a great week bloggies!

Saturday, August 02, 2008


One of the most incredible guys I ever met passed away this morning. It's the world's loss as heaven shines a bit brighter. God Speed sweet Johnny! You made the world a better place for all who had the opportunity to know you and you always showed us God's love. You are missed already!