Sunday, December 31, 2006


2006 was a year of heartache and heartbreak, but also one of wit and whimsy, hijinks and hilarity, love and laughter. It's those things I'll remember most. My self-motto, "choose joy", carried me through this year; I've etched it on the walls of my heart and my home. Celebrate with me - my Top Ten Favorite Moments of 2006:

10. Darren surprised me with a new (to us) car on my birthday in June. And I mean SURPRISED me. We hadn't even discussed buying a car - hadn't even dreamed of it yet. I've never been more shocked or more totally in love with him than I was that day!

9. My annual ScrapShare Texas Retreat in November is always one of my favorite events. This year was no exception. Hanging out in jammies all weekend, scrapbooking and chatting and hanging out with good friends whose passion about the art of memory making is as strong as mine is.... I love that!

8.We allowed Dani to begin supervised dating in September. Brian proved to be a perfect first boyfriend, respectfully playing along with our somewhat strict rules, specifically mine. To my amazement, I had a harder time with the whole process than Darren did! Brian got a car in December, and so car dating is just around the corner. It's exciting and terrifying at the same time. On one hand, I'm thrilled for Dani and love visiting my own teen memories while watching her make her own. On the other hand, I remember what it was like to be a teenage girl, and it makes my heart stop realizing that I now have a daughter who's experiencing that stage of life. Wacky, wonderful and wild all the same time. She's just like me, and maybe that's what scares me most. ;

7. I loved this photo session with the boys. On the banks of the Trinity River, they played with and looked out for one another. Aidan relishes his role as The Big Brother, and I adore watching him in that role.

6. Driving on this shelf road in the mountains of Colorado was exhilirating. I was peeing myself with every bump and jostle, but I refused to ride in the passenger seat. I wanted to EXPERIENCE the DRIVE, baby! What a thrill!
5. Fortress's 10th Anniversary was fantastic. So much anticipation, work, planning... and all so worth it in the end. It's such a blessing to be a part of this incredible ministry, especially when I get to do it with such beautiful friends. I'm the most friend-blessed person I know!

4. Visiting my friends Jenny and James in Minneapolis in March was COLD!! I walked through snow in my Crocs, caught snowflakes on my tongue, and walked out on a frozen lake. Don't ask my why, but I got the hugest THRILL out of that. I was like a little kid. All I needed was a sled and a hill. Maybe next time! :)

3. On our family vacation to Colorado in July, we tried several times to take photos of us all wearing our Ira Hays wristbands. (see the link in my sidebar). This one was my favorite - overlooking the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.
2. In January, I organized the first-ever Fortress Scrapbooking Ministry retreat. The money didn't come through until the last minute, but as He always does, God provided and we had a wonderful WONDERFUL weekend away from the city. The ladies who participate in the ministry spent the weekend in comfy beds, with hot meals prepared and served and cleaned up for them, with goodie bags full of scrapbooking gifts, and with unlimited cropping time. We laughed 'til our sides ached and grew so close that weekend. My heart was full to bursting when it was over. Our 2nd Annual is coming up in just a few weeks. Again, all the needed money hasn't come through yet, but I'm confident that God will provide somehow. We've all got it on our calendars!

1. In late September, Bobbie and her two girls moved in with us temporarily. I loved having them here. Well, okay. Sometimes, I found myself longing for my home back. I'm sorta ashamed to admit that, but there it is. I'm human. But mostly, I loved having them here, and I missed them after they moved into their own apartment. The past three months have solidified new relationships with my neices, especially 13-year-old Brittani, whom I just adore. And Brianna's relationships with the boys grew to new depths. They adore her, and she them. It's been a blessing having Bobbie and the girls here with us. Definitely, the highlight of my year.

Happy New Year! May enjoy all the little things that 2007 has to offer. :D

the challenge:
As we celebrate the dawn of a new year, let's take a moment to look back over the last twelve months. We're going to celebrate the little things by counting down the Top Ten favorite moments of your year. Use photos if you can, but if not, paint word pictured telling us why these moments meant so much to you. Have fun looking back!

Saturday, December 30, 2006


I have a very good reason for going AWOL from my blog for so long. See, I've been kidnapped. It all started on Black Friday when Target ran a sale on DVD season sets. I stood in line at 5 a.m. for my daughter, who's a huge fan of the show 24. I'd never seen an episode in my life, but who am I to pass up a $16 deal on a $64 set of DVDs that feature Keifer Sutherland, my daughter's older-man crush?

All seemed relatively normal up until Christmas. She opened the DVD set - Season One - and squealed with delight. The next day, we began watching them. That was Tuesday. Tonight is Friday. We've watched all 24 hour-long episodes.

See, I thought I could walk away, I really did. But then I started suspecting that Nina was a mole, because the script was making it seem like Tony was a mole, so I knew they were trying to throw me off course, and I had to stick around to find out if I was right. Turned out that neither Nina nor Tony were dirty, but Jamey was, and her suicide pretty much confirmed it. By then, I was completely drawn into the storyline of Kim and Terri, too, and the cute bad boy Ric, and his evil friends. Several times, I shouted at Kim to STOP BEING A BRAT and just LISTEN to her MOM, for cryin' out loud. Especially when she ran out in the open field and drew fire from the snipers. Oh my WORD, I could've killed that girl myself.

And then, Senator Palmer's wife started pissing me off, then I got away from the bad dudes and was safely tucked away in the safe house then I wrecked the car and it blew up and I had amnesia and then I got kidnapped again and my memory came back and I realized I was married to Jack Bauer who was in mortal danger and I couldn't trust ANYone with ANYthing and then my son was being framed for murder and my husband's speech writer was makin' eyes at him so I decided to take advantage of that situation and THEN I got thrown in jail with a bunch of drug dealers, but one of them fessed up and got me off and I was on my way to be reunited with my Mom when the squad car was hit and once again I was on the run and ended up jumping into Los Angeles bay or whatever it's called fully clothed and with my hands tied, and I'm not even sure I'd eaten a bite in the last 24 hours, but whatever, and the terrorist dudes are all dead now, but Jack escaped and the Senator left his evil wife and Kimberly was reunited with her Dad, who went to find Terri, who it turns out had been killed (I think) by NINA, who THEN it turned out that Nina WAS the mole and Jamey's suicide wasn't a suicide at ALL but a MURDER, and I'm still not sure about Tony, but the season is officially over and we've already added Season Two to our Netflix queue and bumped it to the top, and I've been answering my phone, "CTU, Stacy speaking" all day, and if it's for Dani, I say, "I'll patch her through," and I'm not sure I"ll ever have time to blog again.

Sunday, December 24, 2006


This morning, I was blessed to spend Christmas Eve morning worshiping with some of the very best, most wonderful, beautiful friends I've ever known. Our children put on a precious little play. (Aidan was a shepherd and Ian was Joseph, which he at first was DISGUSTED about, because after all, JOSEPH was married to a GIRL!!!)....

The singing was great, the play was adorable, communion was meaningful, the prayers were heartfelt and moving. But the most worshipful moment of all came when my friend Kristi spoke.

She had barely gotten three words out of her mouth when her voice cracked and she began to cry.

"...I'm just so thankful for the gift of Jonathan," she said. "The court costs have been so high. We've made so many sacrifices so we could pay the adoption lawyer. Last week, we sold my car so we could make the final payment. But the thing is, Jonathan is a gift. He's priceless. And I thank God for giving him to us."

It just melted my heart. I know that money has been tight for Dale and Kristi, and I know they've made sacrifices this year that they never dreamed they'd have to make. But I also know that they're learning tough lessons in all of this, and I know that they're being prepared for the future in some way. And I know without a doubt that they don't regret the sacrifices they've made and are making. In fact, Kristi was grateful that they owned a vehicle they COULD sell for enough cash to pay the lawyer. Jonathan is worth it to them. So this year will be a skimpier Christmas than years past. This year, they'll have to make do with one car for a while. This year, there'll be no big fancy computer purchases and exotic vacations.

But this year, there'll be Jonathan. The gift.

No amount of money could lessen the importance of that.
No stack of gifts under the tree could mean more to their kids.
No new HDTVs or Playstation 3s could bring more pleasure than this little brother they've come to love and cherish.

Kristi GETS that.
And because of her, I get it too.
I love her for that.

Thank you God, for Jonathan. For giving my Aidan another "little brother" to guide and love. (Aidan ADORES Jonathan.) For giving Kristi her heart's desire. And for reminding me today, through Kristi, that it's not about money. It's about gifts. And you're the best gift-giver of all.

the challenge:
I received this in an email from my friend DogtownScrapper:
Hey Stacy, I so love reading your and other’s blogs. I think your challenge is great!! I haven’t got the courage to start one yet, but it always makes me think about what you are challenging people to writeabout. Recently I was reading Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach. I was just randomly opening pages and came across Oct 23rd (if you have the book). The topic is money………. she says, “Take a deep breath. Relax. Be open. …….. The love of it. The lack of it. How we accumulate, spend, save, and squander it, lust for it, worship it, worry about it, work for it. Like success, money is an emotionally volatile issue for most women. It’s probably the most complicated relationship we have - and the one that controls our lives because we let it.”It goes on to say………“...our lives are hell not because money is so important to us, but because it is not important enough, …… if money were more important to us, we would seek to understand its impact and how it influences every aspect of our lives."Anyway Stacy…….I thought this might make aninteresting challenge……….. I think Diane is right. This DOES make an interesting challenge, especially on the heels of the biggest spending season of the year. How did money affect you this holiday season? Did it affect you at all? Did you overspend? Did you work within a tight budget? Did you feel guilt or anxiety over how much you spent? Did you find yourself wishing you could spend more, or wishing you had spent less? Did money control the way you gave, and did it influence the way you received?

Two days ago, I suddenly realized that we were only 4 days shy of Christmas. So in the last 48 hours, we've:
  1. visited Santa in Sundance Square
  2. decorated a Gingerbread House
  3. wrapped umpteenhundred presents
  4. grocery shopped for Christmas Eve party and Christmas dinner
  5. taken the boys shopping for Dani and Dad
  6. created a new playlist and burned CDs for my two bested buds
  7. created the gifts I've known I was gonna make for the last 2 months for those same two buds
  8. managed to company-clean the house
  9. created and delivered a gift for our neighbors
  10. last-minute shopped for someone on our list who I almost forgot
  11. helped Cara create "Granny's Recipe" cookbook covers for her family
  12. finally called my Mom back


My kids are good for my self-esteem. Last week, Aidan was asking why I need to be on a diet. (See, my new lifestyle is a big deal in our family... we're all a part of it.) I explained to him that I want to be healthy and skinny, and BESIDES, I'm gonna be way prettier when I'm skinny. He replied, "But Mommy, I think you're pretty even when you're fat." I love that kid. :)

Today, Ian - the kid who will not give hugs and kisses - gave me a hug. I didn't even have to bribe him or nothin'! Then he said, "Mom, you have spiky thangs on your legs. You need to shave." bwahahaha (IT's WINTER. When's he gonna catch on??)

The food temptations the last few days have been killer. I haven't succombed, but I'm tellin' ya, I've been feeling reallllly deprived and cheated. And it's starting to show in my mood. Tonight at dinner, while everyone noshed on buttered honey bicuits, I threw a tantrum. "I don't feel like eating," I said. "I'm not gonna eat at all." And with that little announcement, I got up and left the table. I think everyone was in shock. Dinnertime is one of our favorite family activities. Much laughter and hilarity and conversation takes place at the dinner table. Tonight, while I sat here at the computer mindlessly surfing and reading, I didn't hear one giggle from the kitchen. I felt sorta guilty about that, knowing that I'd cast a weird cloud over everyone, but not guilty enough to go fix it.

A little while later, when Darren came into the family room to watch TV, I curled up on the couch next to him and fall asleep on his chest. I slept there for an hour and a half. Meanwhile, Dani was upstairs creating the first two pages in what will be my newest scrapbook: my weight loss journey. Her pages are titled "12 Things You Are", in honor of the 12 pounds I've lost so far:

  1. Happy
  2. Full of Life
  3. Choosing joy
  4. a great Mom
  5. fun
  6. loving your family
  8. creative
  9. giving
  10. easy to talk to
  11. faithful
  12. beautiful

I cried. Yes indeedy, I cried.
GOD, I love my kids. Thank you for blessing me with their precious hearts and souls and noses and toes.

Merry Christmas, all!
May your holiday be filled with happy surprises, zero tantrums, and as many carbs as you can bear! :D

Friday, December 22, 2006

Santa needs to pay more attention

At least I'm still on the nice list, but Santa's been preoccupied or something when it comes to my eating habits. Junk food? Why I oughta.... !!!!

Santa says:

Stacy is still very much on nice list, but must continue good behavior. Should eat more vegetables instead of junk food. Was very polite last Thursday! When doing chores, needs to do them as well as possible. Often exhibits good behavior.

It's been more than 6 weeks since I had a candy bar or a bag of chips or fast food french fries. My grocery receipts prove that it's more expensive to eat healthy. I mean, think about it. Ramen noodles and Hamburger Helper and Macaroni and Cheese, and rice, potatoes, peanut butter sandwiches... that's all pretty inexpensive. But fresh veggies and lean meat... that stuff will break your bank! So HMPF, Santy Claus. Pay more attention and bump me up to that "very nice" list. I want a Kitchenaid 5-qt mixer, Empire Red. Target has 'em in stock. And since Darren can't spend 300 bucks on me, it's up to you if I'm gonna get it.


Speaking of pressies (that was for my Austrailian friends), tonight we celebrated Christmas with Bobbie, Brittani and Brianna. I loved watching them all open their gifts. Brittani especially liked what I gave her. YAY!! Funny thing, though. In the course of gift opening, we realized that Bobbie and Darren bought me the same thing, and so did Brittani and Dani! How hilarious is THAT? Do these people know me or what?? No worries. Darren's taking the duplicate gift back to the store tomorrow (it was a red clock from Target that I've had my eye on for my scraproom), and Brittani is taking hers back as well. (Don't know what hers was yet - have to wait 'til Christmas to open the one from Dani.)


Wanna see what Santa has to say about you?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Holiday Baking and photos

Something's strangely wrong with me.
I haven't done any holiday baking. None. Zip. Nada.
But that's not the weird part.

Today, my sister was here with the boys while I took my oldest neice shopping. I asked Bobbie to bake a batch of brownies. I don't miss the goodies much, but I miss the smell of holiday baking! I haven't bought the ingredients this year for ANYthing, but in this house, we always ALWAYS have brownie mix on hand. I figured that would do in a pinch.

So I came home to a house in which the aroma of freshly baked brownies permeated every corner. I loved it. I took it in and savored it.

And here's the weird part: then I asked Bobbie to take the brownies home with her.


In other news, Ian assisted me with Aidan's Kindergarten class party yesterday. He was the official photographer. Here are some of his shots:

Ian is immediately available for parties should you need a trigger-happy, easily-distracted, bouncing photographer. Competetive rates!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


This is the most PRECIOUS thing I've ever heard. Possibly because I love this family so much, but honestly, even if this little girl were a complete stranger to me, I'd STILL think it was the most precious thing ever.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

BLOG CHALLENGE: tears. the happy kind.

It's well known that I'm a sap. Remember those old Taco Bell commercials with the chihuahua? Yah. I once cried over one of those.

It doesn't take much to make me well up. A good sermon, a choir singing "What Sweeter Music", Aidan telling me I'm pretty... and now, listening to my sweet friends Poor Rich Folk singing their newest song. You know the kinds of tears I'm talking about. They start in the depth of your soul, slowly working their way up until they cut off your breath. They stick in your throat for a second, then give you an instant headache 'cause you're trying to hold 'em back. Then they start to well up, balancing precariously on the lower lids of your eyes before finally spilling over - hot beads of happiness rolling down your cheek and off your nose. And then you realize that you're smiling. THOSE kinds of tears. Please listen. They've added two of the brand-new tracks to their MySpace.

Here's the deal. Just over a month ago, PRF hadn't raised the funds needed to record another album. I gave everything I could give, and I prayed for God to put me in touch with a wealthy person who'd be willing to invest in the band. It didn't happen. So on the last night, at the 11th hour, I dragged my sister to the Last Ditch Tryin'-To-Raise-Money-For-Nashville live show. She was supposed to go to an Arbonne meeting that night, but I said, "Bobbie. Skip it. You have to hear this band."

When we got to the concert, Bobbie said, "Hey. This is the church my meeting was gonna be held at!" And sure enough... in another wing of the building, dozens of Arbonne ladies were milling around. Bobbie walked over and said, "Y'all should come hear this band after the meeting."

And so they did.

And one of the Arbonne ladies is rich.
She listened to the last couple of songs. She spoke with the band. She liked what she heard. And she left.

The next morning, Luke had to call Nashville and either confirm or cancel his appointment with the big-time record producer. As he picked up his phone to cancel, his email dinged. It was the Arbonne lady.

"I'd like to give you $1200," she wrote. Luke replied, "That is so awesome. We're very grateful, and we will definitely accept your offer. But just so you know, we're not going to Nashville after all. We fell way short of our fundraising goal, and we can't afford it yet." Then the lady said, "How much do you need?" Luke told her. $12,000, I think it was. The lady said, "Let me talk to my husband." Two hours later, they met with the band. And funded the whole thing!

Now here's the deal. (And this makes me tear up too!) God is in the little things! I prayed for him to lead me to a rich person with a generous heart. In a round-about way, He did that! Through my sister, through Arbonne, through making the two events happen at the same place and time.... our God is an awesome God, and I feel so totally humbled and blessed to have played a tiny role in it all.

And now, Luke and Jon and Andy and Randy - the same guys who played a charity event for me last spring and who sat on my porch swing - the same guys who've been through break-ups and weddings this fall - the same guys who quit their day jobs to follow this dream - the ones who prayed and prayed and prayed and dreamed big and kept writing and making music through it all because that's what they're called to do - the sweet guys who humor me with warm hugs and don't get scared (or else they hide it well!) when I tell them I think of them as little brothers and I love them that way too - these four guys are laying down tracks in Nashville with the dude who produces Bebo Norman and Jars of Clay. And they're recording with Jars of Clay's Dan Haseltine, who sings backup on "To End This Quiet".

Tonight on the phone, I told Luke, "Next thing we know, you'll be opening for Jars of Clay." He wasn't quite so confident. But I am. Big things are happening. I've seen it with my own two eyes. I've heard it with my own two ears. I've felt it in my own heart and soul. And I'm wiping the tears that flow because of it all.

Poor Rich Folk. Listen to 'em. Be moved. Be blessed. Believe.

the challenge:
“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief...and unspeakable love.” - Washington Irving This week, paint us a picture of a time when you cried. Maybe it was recent, maybe it was ages ago. Maybe it was tears of grief over a break-up, or tears of joy over an engagement. Maybe you cry when you get mad, or perhaps you cry when you're laughing hysterically. Perhaps you have a hard time crying at all. Pick one time, and color the story for us.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


I just had the most wonderful night out with two of the best friends on earth. We celebrated our recent weight loss by having Cheat Night. YUM!! Two Colorado Bulldogs, chips and guacamole, Chipotle shrimp, and a slice Creme Brulee Cheesecake later, I'm thinking it was more of a Sabotage Night than a Cheat Night. But s'okay. Tomorrow is another day, and I won't cheat like this again 'til Christmas. :) Between dinner and drinks, we stopped at Target and wandered the aisles. We are a BARREL of LAUGHS. Love me some Cara and Kristi. (Cara, please note that I put your name first!)

Then I came home and found an email from my gorgeous friend Terri, which contained a link to make an elf of myself. So that's just what I did. Check it out!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

BLOG CHALLENGE: Fill in the Blank

1. My current favorite song: Little Drummer Boy by Bing Crosby and David Bowie. It's an oldie, but I love it. Can't get enough of it this year. :)

2. The last book I read: No Way to Treat A First Lady by Christopher Buckley - I got it in a book exchange on ScrapShare. Entertaining enough, but the ending was a cop-out. Author must've had a deadline and had to wrap it up fast!

3. The last book I bought: "The Tale of Three Trees", for my boys for Christmas. Precious folk tale about three trees who each want to grow up to be the biggest tree in the forest - but they all get cut down. One becomes the manger, one becomes the boat that Jesus preaches from, and the other becomes a pile of cut lumber. ...but THAT tree ends up becoming the most important thing of all....

4. The last cd I bought: Celtic Woman Christmas

5. Another CD I wanted but didn't buy: the James Taylor Christmas

6. What I'm wearing right now: brown sweater that was too small last year and blue panties that are too loose in the legs. I already shucked my jeans... didn't even have to unbutton 'em! WHEEE!

7. The last gift I bought for someone: a whole slew of photos of the Fortress 10th Anniversary. I gave 'em out at scrapbooking today. :)

8. The last time I laughed heartily and loudly: about 2 hours ago when we were leaving Fortress, and Nikki said, "Cara, you better put some shoes on 'cause cold feet will make you have diarrhea in the booty hole." BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! She was totally serious, too.

9. My favorite holiday ornament: this year, it's a Radko dreidel
ornament that I RAKed to a Jewish friend, 'cause receiving it made her so happy!

10. My house smells like: Virginia Pine, thanks to the tree we cut down yesterday.

11. The first thing on my to-do list tomorrow is: mail packages to Delaware, California, Australia, South Carolina and Georgia

12. If I could sit on Santa's lap and believe that he'd bring me whatever toy I wished for, I'd ask for: a Wishblade.

13. If I could holiday shop in ONE store, all expenses paid, I'd shop at: Target. I could do some serious damage at Target. :)

14. If an angel alighted on my doorstep today and said, "I'm here to grant a Christmas wish," I'd wish for: complete healing for Ira Hays of Brooklyn, New York.

15. When I see a bell ringer while out shopping, I: go out of my way to use another entrance. I hate to say no, I'm not good at saying no, but I *need* to say no. I *want* to say no. So I avoid the whole situation. Is that bad?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Nine days

My boys.
Aidan, age 5.
And Ian, age 5.
But only for 6 more minutes.
For on December 8, Aidan turns six, and the magical nine days is over.

Nine days ago, Ian woke up on his 5th birthday. He usually sleeps in 'til 9:30 or so, but on that morning, he was dressed, down to his shoes and socks, before 8.

"IAN!" I exclaimed in not-quite-mock astonishment. "What are YOU doing up?"

"It's my BIRTHDAY!" he beamed. "AIDAN! I'm five like you!"

He thinks he's the coolest kid ever, being five like Aidan.

And Aidan thinks it's pretty cool, too. With his cool little smirk, he said, "Only for nine days, Ian. Nine days."

For those nine days, the boys are on even turf. There are no hierarchies. No king-of-the-hill battles. They are twins.

Ian got a $20 check from his Grandma and Grandpa, and when we went to Target to spend it, Aidan whined about not having his OWN money to spend. "But Aidan, it's not your birthday yet," I tried to explain. "You'll get yours in nine days."

He was almost okay with that, but Ian wasn't.

"Aidan," he said. "I'll give you ten and I'll have ten, 'cause ten and ten makes twenty."

Aidan smiled so sweetly, I kissed him right on the lips.

"Ian, when I get my birthday money, I'll share it with you, too."

And I knew he meant it.

Tomorrow, Aidan will be six. Once again, he'll be the older brother. Ian will be the little one. There will be squabbles and turf wars and hierarchies.

But for nine days each year, it all vanishes.

Happy birthdays, boys. You make me love being a Mom.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


So I was being GOOD and RESPONSIBLE and blogging over at Scrapropos like I should've been doing, and I sorta forgot about the eggs that were boiling on the stove. Until I heard a pop. Even then, I thought it was Ian busting up the house with his toy sword. Until I heard another pop, bigger than the first, and I thought, "SWEET HOLY MOSES on BUTTERED TOAST, those are my EGGS!!", and running to the kitchen, found an expoding, sizzling pan of eggs on the stove, which I tossed into the sink, only to have one egg completely blow apart upon hitting the cold steel. Hoo Boy. My house smells like exploding eggs now. And I have no boiled eggs to nosh on this afternoon.


Sunday, December 03, 2006


Dog Lady:
I notice that every day, you dress your dog in a different outfit, and change her leash to match. Is it because you need a hobby? Is it because you have that much money to burn? 'Cause I can help you out in both of those areas....

I think the fact that you're rocking your breast cancer diagnosis by incorporating a huge pink ribbon in to your Christmas yard decor and by throwing big smashing Bosom Buddies parties - well, I think you just plain ROCK. Should I ever have to face such a diagnosis, I hope to do it with the fortitude and grace that you are.

Sarah and Bailey:
It's a good thing I love your owner so much, otherwise I'd string you up by your paws for peeing on my rug.

Every checkout person in America:
No, I do not want to apply for a store credit card. I do not want to save 10% on today's purchase. I do not LIKE green eggs and ham.
Don't ask me again. Thank you.

I miss you. Beautiful brown blobs of bad carba.
*sniff sniff*

the challenge:
This week, your blog challenge was inspired by an old friend - James' Gal from the old S&S days! She's given me permission to say hello and to post her blog here. Check her out!The challenge: Write 5 open letters. People, places, objects, animals. It doesn't matter. Write 5 succinct letters and express what you can't express in person. Strangers? People you'll never see again? People you're afraid to be completely honest with? Corporations? Celebrities? Your sister's cats? Write to 'em.Angry? Disgusted?Enthralled?Amused?In awe?Annoyed?Admiring?Write about it. 5 of 'em.Let it all out. Have fun!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

21 days makes a habit

This past Monday marked 21 days since I started my health challenge. 21 days since I gave up carbonated drinks, refined sugars and starches.

This, people, means that I, STACY KOCUR, have not consumed a Diet Vanilla Coke from Sonic in over three weeks. ME! I can hardly believe it myself. I haven't had Diet Coke for breakfast, even though there's been a bottle of it in my fridge most every morning. I've been drinking water. And occasionally, tea.

A few days in to my new lifestyle, I was craving Coke BAD. (You know, in Texas, all carbonated drinks are called "Cokes".) So I marched right into Target, made a beeline for the cosmetic aisle, snatched up a Bonne Bell Dr Pepper Lip Smacker, and proceeded to drool. It was as close as I could get. And it worked. I carry it in my purse, and now I have another one on the desk in my studio. It's yummy, in a "Oh-I-remember-this-taste-from-way-back-in-1979-way". I really didn't think it could get any better.

Today, I got a package from my most wonderful friend, Beth. Inside was a sweet note about being proud of me for giving up my most favorite thing... and how I can do all things through God who gives me strength... and a little something to make it easier, this:

WORD TO THE MOMMAS. This thing is DELICIOUS! If you see me walking down the street sucking on it like a pacifier, rip if from my paws. I don't need no stinkin' pacifiers!

But THIS. THIS I need.

Thanks Beth! :D :D :D

Sunday, November 26, 2006


I have the best friends. Really and truly, I do. And I'm lucky and blessed that so many of them live right here in Fort Worth! Today, I'm writing an open letter to Jerica. She's 10 years my junior, and is still livin' a carefree single life... still making life's big decisions... still finding time to do the things she wants to do and having the resources to make the things happen that she wants to happen. She doesn't have kids yet, isn't married yet (although David, her adorable boyfriend, needs to hurry on up about that!)... basically, we have nothing in common.

And yet, we do. We have our shared passion of inner city ministry. And here's the deal: in my former life, I was Jerica. When we first met, we had an instant connection. We understood each other. Our sarcasm was on the same plane. Our outward personalities are different, but at the root of us, our inner personalities are a lot a like. We are people pleasers, yet we sometimes come across as harsh. We are independent, go-do-it women, yet we deeply desire and even depend on others' approval of us.

A couple of years ago, Jerica invited me to lunch. She wanted to talk about things that she knew only an older friend could help her with. I was the one she chose. I was honored, and yet, a little freaked. When did *I* become the older friend?? Ever since, we meet quasi-regularly for lunch, and our quick-I-don't-have-much-time-today lunches always stretch to two hours or so - and we always ALWAYS leave conversations unfinished. There just isn't time to talk about everything on our hearts. I wish we could get together more often, but there's this thing called LIFE. We have two of them that just don't seem to be on the same track most of the time.

But I love my time with Jerica. She got a phone call once when we were together for lunch, and I heard her tell the person on the other end, "I'm having lunch with Stacy.... she's the lady I have lunch with every couple of weeks... you know, my mentor."

MENTOR? Again, I kinda freaked out a little. When did *I* become a mentor? Again, I was honored. And humbled. Because even though I'm ten years older than she is, Jerica has given me sound advice and shared amazing perspective with me, and truly, in so many ways, she is MY mentor. I'm blessed to have her as a friend.

Love you, Jerica!

Saturday, November 25, 2006


My friend Colleen is wise. So when she suggested this theme as a blog topic for my weekly challenge (that I issue on, I knew I had to do it.

What are 5 nuggets of wisdom that have been imparted to me by people I've cherished? How do those nuggets show up in my daily life... or do they? Have the words of wisdom shaped me? Which nuggets have I passed on to people who cherish me?

1. "Fill your mind with the things that are lovely and of good report."
This nugget was spoken (or rather, emailed) to me by a friend I've never met in person. I know her only as Scrapper Pearl. After I posted about my depression last summer, she sent me a beautiful email which I immediately copied to my "Smile File". She said many wonderful things and gave me countless nuggets, but this one stands out. She suggested that when I'm working my way out of depression, that I "do what it takes to get better, your beautiful children and your husband need you back...medication, therapy, journalling, hymns....". Well, Pearl, I did it. I filled my mind with the things that are lovely and of good report, and YES, I did get better, and YES, that advice shaped me and molded me. And YES, I've passed it on to others - my daughter, as a matter of fact. Thanks, Pearl, for your pearl of wisdom! I love you!

2. "Be always sure you're right, then go ahead." - Davy Crockett
My Grandpa Lewis lived by this quote, and never missed an opportunity to impart its wisdom on my siblings and me. I can see how the quote was reflected in the way he lived. He never spoke out of turn, never had to eat crow, never needed to apologize for saying something in anger that he really didn't mean. I hate to admit that I'm still working on learning this lesson. I rarely make sure I'm right before going ahead. I've eaten enough crow to sprout wings and fly. I've apologized way too many times for speaking in anger. It would do my Grandpa proud if I'd heed his advice. I'll try harder, Grandpa. I will!

3. God doesn't need our flattery. He finds glory in our honesty. -Luke Brawner
Luke is one of my outer-fringes friends, but I love him like a little brother. He fronts a band I love called "Poor Rich Folk". Maybe you've heard me mention them a few times. ;) At every concert I've been to, they've performed a song called "Leaves Like Eve's", about how we try to hide our sin from God, how we try to talk big and holy when we're in prayer, how we try to make God believe that we're all into Him when we're really not at all. And how that's so pathetic. God doesn't need me to try and flatter Him. He doesn't need false adoration. He'd much rather hear me say, "God, I can't find You, and frankly, that doesn't bother me much right now." He'll find much more glory in my HONESTY than he could ever find in my flattery. Those words ring so true to me, and I'm proud to say that Luke's lyrics have shaped how I approach God. He knows my heart anyway. He just wants ME to know it, too. And unless I can be honest about my heart, I can't allow Him to shape me and change me and make me whole. Thanks, Luke! (...and Jon, and Andy, and Randy....)

4. "It is OKAY." - Ali Edwards
Okay, so I've never met her. I've never even exchanged an email with her. But I stalk her blog, and I consider her a friend. I wonder how freaky she'd think THAT is? She often says, "It is okay", in reference to scrapbooking screw-ups and life screw-ups alike. And you know what? She's right. It *IS* okay. I love that.

5. "Waugh a Widdle." - Ian Kocur
Once upon a time, I asked Ian, "What makes you happy?" He answered, "Well, sometimes when I get in trouble, it makes me a wittle bit happy. Because sometimes when I get in trouble, I just waugh a widdle." Crack. Me. UP!!! I could stand to laugh a little when I'm gettin' in trouble. Good advice, Ian. :)

blog challenge:
What are 5 nuggets of wisdom that have been imparted to you by people you've cherished? How do those nuggets show up in your daily life... or do they? Have the words of wisdom shaped you? Which nuggets have you passed on to people who cherish you?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Let Every Breath

There's a song I love to sing at Fortress. I close my eyes, I lift my face to the sky, and I sing from the bottom of my soul. I don't care how loud I am or how off key I might be or how many people are looking at me funny. When I sing this song, I am so much more than singing: I am worshiping in every sense of the word.

My Jesus, My Savior,
Lord, there is none like You;
All of my days
I want to praise
The wonders of Your mighty love.

My comfort, my shelter,
Tower of refuge and strength;
Let every breath, all that I am
Never cease to worship You.

Shout to the Lord, all the earth, Let us sing
Power and majesty, praise to the King;
Mountains bow down and the seas will roar
At the sound of Your name.
I sing for joy at the work of Your hands,
Forever I'll love You, forever I'll stand,
Nothing compares to the promise I have in You.
Written by
Darlene Zschech

This Thanksgiving Day, I offer up this song.
To you, my God -
who instills in me strength and fortitude
who leads me to paths of healing and understanding
who blankets me in truth and opens my eyes to deceit,
who frees me to make my own choices
and disciplines me without punishment,
who stands beside me in adversity
and weeps with me in despair
and has mercy on me in anger
and rejoices with me in hopefulness,
who loves me as His daughter,
His chosen one, His beloved -
who never fails me,
never forgets me,
never disappoints me,
who always cherishes me
always believes in me,
always cushions my fall
and leaves the light on for me
(and all of this just this past year!) -
to you, My Father, My God -
with every breath, and all that I have,
may I never cease to worship you with my life.

Every thing I'm thankful for
on this Thanksgiving Day
is because of You.
I'm lifting my head and singing it loud.
I hope the neighbors hear me.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

turkey butt

I should probably be writing a more reverent post on this Thanksgiving Eve, and I'm quite sure the mood will strike sometime tomorrow and I'll wax poetic about all the things I'm thankful for.

But for now...
turkey butt!

I crack myself up! When people ask me why I don't cook my own turkey, I always tell them that the reason is one-fold: I refuse to put my hand in a turkey butt. No Thank You. Then they always say something along the lines of, "Uh, you're confused. You don't HAVE to put your hand up the turkey's butt. It's the neck...."

Yah. Theoretically, I know that to be true. But even so, I refuse to put my hand in a turkey butt.

And so, this Thanksgiving Eve, I'm ecstatic that THIS arrived yesterday:

Turkey Butt. LOL!! The truth is, I just like saying it.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

grumpy grumpy joy joy

I wake up grumpy. Always have, probably always will.
It doesn't matter how much sleep I get, I hate to wake up in the mornings. It takes me a good two hours to wake up and be human. Before that, I'm just on autopilot.

I married a morning person. I've largely succeeded over the years in corrupting him and making him a night owl. But his true colors still shine brightest in the mornings.

Mostly, he's learned to leave me alone while I'm waking up. I don't want any chit chat, I don't want any hanky panky, I don't want any chipper happy joy joy, thank you very much. Shut up, leave me alone, and keep the blinds closed. Hmpf.

Sunday morning, Darren got crazy. He started harrassing me in a fun-loving way about getting out of bed. I wouldn't budge. I couldn't even chew him out; all I could do was growl. He pounced on me. He ticked me. Eventually, when I made it to the bathroom and started brushing my teeth, he kept joking with me and being all annoyingly happy until I wanted to knock his head off. I glared at him in the mirror and grunted.

"You make me smile," he said, grinning from ear to ear.

"You're a freak," I retorted. "How do I make you smile when I'm bein' cranky?"

"Because even when you're cranky," he answered, "there's this underlying joy about you. And it makes me smile."

And dadblast it, that made ME smile. GRRRR! I checked it real quick, though, and said, "HUMPF! Yo momma!"

Then he gave me a giant squeezy hug and went on his way, finally leaving me in peace to enjoy my grumpiness with a big ol' smile on my face.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Things I like, A to Z

No one I ever ask remembers the song from the early 80s called "Shopping from A to Z". It went like this:

C - (can't remember)
etc etc etc

I thought it was sung by that same chick who sang "Mickey", but I've never been able to find it.

Anyway. Tonight, my friend Jenny posted this little question on ScrapShare, and I answered. THought it would make a good blog post. Most of you have read it, so feel free to hit your back button now. LOL!

A is for apple cider. LOVE it this time of year. With orange juice and cloves.
B is for bra. I need some new ones.
C is for cranked UP - the volume level my car stereo was at today. Dani, Brittani and I rocked OUT, and I liked it!
D is for Dani. It's cool when you really LIKE your teenager.
E is for eggs. I've been eating a lot of them lately.
F is for Fortress, which blesses me and my family daily.
G is for gauchos. Most comfortable pants I've ever owned.
H is for heifer, 'cause I just like that word.
I is for ice from Sonic.
J is for Journey. Still love their music, 20 years later
K is for Kyle. I've always loved the name. Used to name all my male characters Kyle when I was a kid. Now my youngest's middle name is Kyle.
L is for laughter. I like it loud and raucous!
M is for music. I like all kinds, and I gotta have it daily.
N is for nighttime. It's when my imagination and creativity come alive.
O is for Oprah.
P is for potatoes! I'd rather have good mashed potatoes for dessert than dessert itself.
Q is for quarters. Darren works with the dude who designed the Texas one. I like quarters 'cause it makes my heart happy to be able to give a kid quarters for the Coke machine at church.
R is for reading. Gotta do it every night when I go to bed, even if it's 3 a.m. and I'm exhausted.
S is for scrapbooking. It's good for my soul.
T is for Tomlinson. GO LADAINIAN!! 101 NFL career touchdowns!! (He's from my hometown team, TCU Horned plays for San Diego.)
U is for USA. I'm a patriotic American.
V is for Volkswagen Beetle. I drove a '72 model in college and wish everyday for another one.
W is for water. I drink gallons of it these days. No more Diet Vanilla Coke for me! Can you believe it?
X is for Xtreme. My doc required me to make a drastic plan to lose weight. I am doing it. Xtreme measures, and I'm succeeding! Xtremely proud of myself! Gonna be Xtremely fine in about 18 months! LOL!
Y is for youth. I like that I can still be zany and fun, even at 37.
Z is for zzzzzzzz. I love to sleep. I just don't much like to go to bed. heeee!


We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. ~Thornton Wilder

So it's the week of Thanksgiving. I should write a thankful-for blog, right? It's on the list along with "get Christmas cards ready", "buy groceries", and "don't forget to clean the baseboards 'cause Mom's coming".

I was thinking about the thankful blog tonight, wondering how to put a new twist on it so that it doesn't read like every freshman's creative writing assignment, when I stumbled on the above quote.

I. AM. ALIVE!!! I know it to be true, because my heart is ever conscious of my treasures. I am one of the most blessed people I know. I sometimes actually feel guilty for the blessings bestowed on me.

But tonight, my heart is conscious of a specific treasure. My best friend. My dietician. My personal chef. My husband.

The middle two things are fairly new. It's true that Darren's always done the majority of the cooking around here, but 3 weeks ago, he became dietician, meal planner, personal chef, and cheerleader. You see, I had a little chit chat with my internist. He wasn't happy with my weight, and gave me two weeks to decide on a drastic plan. He gave me four options to explore: gastric bypass, lapband, HarrisFast (liquid diet), or lifestyle change. It took me about 10 seconds to rule out the first three.

Two days after that appointment, I left for a five-day scrapbooking vacation with friends. While I was gone, Darren studied, devising a plan for me based on the Curves weight loss system. He planned a menu, including my breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners, and he went grocery shopping. Every night for the first week, we sat down in the evening and I chose what I wanted to eat the next day, then he spent a half hour or so preparing and packaging it all for me. I felt like Oprah! All I had to do was go to the pantry and pull out a pre-meausured snack, or to the fridge to take out a ready-to-heat meal. I've always said that I could lose weight too, if I had a personal trainer and a chef. Now I have it.

The first week, I lost 4 pounds. It's a start. My doctor will be THRILLED. Darren has been amazing. Not only is he doing all the prep and work and encouragement on the outside, but he's doing a lot of praying on the inside. He wants nothing more in this world than for me to be healthy. He dreams of the day I can climb mountains with him again.

And I know his prayers are working, because I've faced dozens of temptations and obstacles and near-sabotages that haven't even TOUCHED me. (As I type this, I can hear my sister munching on yummmmy sweet grapes 4 feet behind me, for instance.) I have no will power. I've proven that for 18 years now. This resolve I have? This will power? It's a God thing.

And it's a Darren thing. He's my treasure. My heart is conscious of it. And I'm ALIVE!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Ahhh. Sweet silence. The whole household is asleep, even the three cats. I've turned off the TV. This is bliss.

But in the silence, I'm starting to notice that even silence has a sound.

I hear the whir of the computer. I hear the occasional clicking of the light bulbs. Outside, the wind is gusting, sometimes hard enough to rattle the windows, sometimes causing the trees to scritch-scratch against the siding. I hear a train whistle, a siren, a car barreling down the main street that is one house away. My swivel chair squeaks a bit when I move. The ice machine comes to life for a second here and there, even though it's not hooked up to anything. The house settles and creaks. My fingers clack away on the keyboard. Someone upstairs is moving. I only THOUGHT they were all asleep. I hear the thud thud thud on the 89-year old hardwoods.

Sometimes I crave silence. Sometimes, in the car, I'll make a rule: NO MORE TALKING UNTIL WE GET OUT OF THE CAR. It usually lasts about 10 seconds, but I try.

Tonight, it's a funny reality. Here I am, surrounded by the silence that I so often crave, and I don't want it. I'm gonna play a CD. Natasha Bedingfield's "Unwritten". (Thanks, Beth!) But I'm gonna enjoy it in silence. I'm gonna actually be able to LISTEN to it.

Ahhhh. Sweet silence.

Monday, November 13, 2006

10 Years - Happy Anniversary, Fortress!

Recently, I had the great privilege of creating a photo timeline for Fortress Church. I started it with the earliest photos I could find of the building that we occupy. This structure, built in 1905, first housed a boarding house for railroad workers. In the following years, it served as a hotel, an appliance store and repair shop, and an antique store. Fortress acquired the building in 1995, and it's now listed as a Cultural and Historical Landmark here in Fort Worth. It was the neatest thing learning about the building's history while I did this project.

But even neater was learning more about the history of Fortress's early years. When they bought the building, it was in such disrepair that it couldn't be occupied. So for 8 months, the church met out in "The Barn", a creaky old building that was once used for antique auctions. So bad was the roof that one Sunday when it snowed outside, it snowed inside as well. When it rained, the churchgoers knew where to sit to avoid the drops and where to place buckets to catch them. It was cold and drafty in the winter, and hot and stifling in the summer. And still, the people came. From the nearby neighborhoods and homeless shelters, the people came for food, comfort, and acceptance. From the outlying neighborhoods and suburbs, the people came to love, to serve, and to be blessed.

Today, every nook and cranny of the building has been cleaned, remodeled, repainted, reappointed. Every square inch is put to use. The barn is still standing (barely), and is used for storage. Last spring, Ms. D was storing some cases of juice boxes out there. One night, the alarm sounded, and Michael responded in the middle of the night to discover a man running from the barn carrying a case of juice. It's pathetic, isn't it? Stealing juice from a church. It gets worse. Also last spring, Michael planted flowers only to have them stolen right out of the ground.

Inner city ministry isn't glamourous. In the beginning, very few people thought that Fortress Church could survive. But survive it did, and not only survive, it thrived. It grew. It dreamed. It persevered. People come and go; after all, inner city ministry is a dirty, sometimes ugly, sometimes thankless job. There's a high rate of burnout. There's a lot of hopelessness. There've been times when our numbers of regular volunteers have dwindled to so few that we wonder, "Is God trying to tell us something? Should we just shut down and go to a megachurch somewhere?" But those questions are just lies that Satan feeds us. That became evident to me (again) on Saturday night.

As people streamed through the doors to celebrate our 10th Anniversary, I was struck by the diversity. We had an older couple from a suburban church who'd never been to Fortress before. It was entertaining watching their reactions to people and activities. There was a family who is near and dear to all of our hearts, who sort of ebb and flow from the Fortress family. It was so good seeing them all there again, together with each other, and together with us. I had to wipe tears when Mr. Clark refused my handshake and insisted on a hug instead. The teen girls who I love so much - all sisters - came with their Mom. Volunteers from affluent suburbia sat among families from the projects. We ate together, we worshipped together, and we reminisced together as we watched an amazing video that chronicled the last decade.

Fortress is so much more than a church. It's a home, it's a safe haven, it's a place to rely on, it's a positive force, it's a light in a dark world, it's an after school program, it's a hot lunch, it's a lesson in manners, it's a cheerleader and a believer in bigger things, it's a reminder of hope, it's a computer lab, it's an advice column, it's a soft place to fall, it's a scrapbooking center, it's a homework help room....

but mostly, it's a family. That's the word that kept singing to me as I watched the video. "It's like a family," Lety said. "It's family. It's always there when we need it," said Mr. Clark. It IS a family. It doesn't matter if we meet in the barn, or in the park down the street, or in my house, the church is wherever the family - the people- go. People who've been there in the past, and people who are here in the present - we're all family through Fortress. Saturday night, I was thrilled to meet two past ministers. I told them both that it was almost like meeting a celebrity, so high are the pedestals that they've been placed upon by the Fortress folks. They both just laughed it off. But as much as I joked about meeting Fortress celebrities, it was really more like reuniting with long-lost brothers. Truly, Fortress wouldn't be what it is today without the people who've given their blood, sweat and tears over the last ten years. It wouldn't be what it is without the people who love the ministry here and dedicate their lives to being in the thick of it.

Fortress blesses me. Every day. I prayed for best friends several years ago, and they came to me via Fortress. As I said on the video, I never in a million years dreamed I'd work in inner city ministry. It's embarrassing to me now to admit that I didn't even realize that Fort Worth HAD and "inner city", so comfortable in suburbia was I. But when we happened on a worship service at Fortress, we knew we were home. We never looked back. We've been richly blessed because of the ministry there, and by the people we've come to know through it.

God smiled on Fortress Saturday night, I know he did. How could He not have, when His greatest command was being fulfilled over and over by people of all different races and backgrounds and economic status? "Love your neighbor as yourself."

That's what Fortress does.
Thank you God, for leading me to this place.

View photos here.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Rite of Passage

Aidan has a problem with scissors. Earlier in the school year, he kept coming home with holes in his pants. Perfectly snipped holes. Not even frayed yet. Freshly cut holes. Hmpf. He was grounded from scissors at home for 3 weeks, and to Aidan, that's a big deal. He loves art and his scissors are one of his favorite tools.

Then last week, he cut his hair.

I know that every child goes through this. Dani did it when she was 2. She still had her baby curls, and she lopped one of 'em off at the ear. I was devastated, and called my Mom crying.

"She cut her curls off!" I bawled.
"It'll grow back," said Mom.
"Her curls won't come back!" I wailed.
"They might," said Mom.
"But she's in a WEDDING next weekend!"

The only way to fix the hack job she did was to give her a super short Bob. She toddled down the aisle with the same haircut Darren's Mom wore. Her curls never came back, either.

This time, with Aidan, I didn't give a hoot about the style. In fact, it was so funny looking - long bangs with an inch-wide chunk missing right in the middle - I had to stifle the laugh. Other people didn't bother stifling it. One of the kids at church said, "Your hair looks like your mouth!" Well, by George, it does. Looks just like Aidan's gap-toothed smile. Anyway... when I first saw the damage, I stifled the laugh and bellowed,


"Me, but I threw the hairs in the trash," he answered in one quick breath without pausing between 'me' and 'but'. See, he was PROUD of that 'cause last week, he got in trouble for leaving his teeny tiny paper cuts all over the family room floor. He actually thought he'd done good.

I asked him if he'd looked in the mirror. He had. I asked if he liked what he saw. "No," he said, hunching up his shoulders and lowering his chin. "You need to take me to the hair cut place so they can fix it."

"I will NOT," I replied. "I don't have any money. You'll have to go to school like that all week."

"But they'll think I look STUPID!" he wailed.

"Well Aidan, you DO look stupid!", I replied.

Sometimes, the best punishments are the ones you yourself don't even have to hand out. For the next day at school, his teacher gasped. "Aidan! Did you cut your hair here, or at home?" When he said home, I'm sure she sighed audibly. Then she made him stand at the front of the class while she lectured about the proper use of scissors. HA HA!

Lesson learned. I hope. He's at the hair cut place right now, getting it fixed. I was starting to get used to it. He had mastered the comb-over. Crack. Me. UP!!

What are the odds that Ian learned from Aidan's mistake and won't repeat it? Slim? Yah. I was afraid of that.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


I've been missing. I know it. You can stop emailing me now. Everything's okay!

I've just been super busy, and I let the ol' blog slip.

But I'm back! Just as soon as this weekend's over. I have a week's worth of stuff to do before Saturday, and only 2 days to do it. Fortress is celebrating its 10th Anniversary, and I've promised to create a photo timeline, but.... I'm still in the "gathering photos" stage. And since I've only been there for 3 years, well, that's kinda tricky. I should've started this months ago. :)

I started a new blog today. It's an exciting adventure for me, because I'm writing for a specific audience, for PAY. It won't be a lot of pay, mind you. It might only be a few dollars here and there. I certainly won't ever get rich writing it. But it'll keep me honest. I'm required to blog 10 times every week. So check back often! (scr)apropos

I'll keep blogging here, of course.
For me.
I need it. I've missed it.

See ya after Saturday! :D

Saturday, November 04, 2006


November is my favorite month of the year, largely because of what's happening this weekend: I'm at my annual ScrapShare Texas retreat! There are 35 women here, and if I may say so, I think we might be the funniest, most talented group of 35 women on the internet! I think I've lost weight this weekend already; the laughing has been an aerobic workout. My sides literally hurt as I type this. :D

This retreat began 2 years ago when I planned the first ScrapShare Texas retreat at my house. ScrapShare, my scrapbooking home on the 'net, had just lost one of its most beloved members to cancer, and the loss made us realize that our friendships, even though most of us had never met in real life, were real and strong. We decided to waste no more time. We decided to start meeting in real life. Since then, ScrapShare retreats regularly take place all over the country. The first weekend in November is always set aside for the Texas one.

Scrapping is what brings us together. We go to great pains to make sure our luggage meets the weight limits for the airlines. If that means that we only bring one pair of jeans so that we can fit 24 fluid chalks instead, well, so be it. That's the nature of the beast.

What's funny is, we all plan and pack and stress over what photos and supplies to bring. I actually worried that I'd run out of photos before the weekend was over. But no. What happens every year is that we end up talking and laughing and eating and laughing some more... and scrapbooking becomes secondary. We drag all our supplies out, we organize them, and we even work on layouts, but really, it's all about the friendships.

This year, I think, is the best retreat yet. I've met and bonded with women I've not met before, and I've reconnected and reminisced with friends from past ScrapShare Texas retreats. We've laughed at each other, cried with each other (seriously.... there are always tears during the Sister Swap), and played practical jokes on each other.

Meanwhile, at home, our families are holding down the forts, delivering Kindergarten fundraiser junk that arrived yesterday (WOO HOO!! Impeccable timing for ME!), cooking the meals, handling the kids' schedules, changing the diapers, chaperoning the birthday parties.... all so we women can enjoy some R&R. We deserve it. This one weekend a year invigorates me, rekindles my scrapbooking spirit, renews my passion for what I do and makes me HAPPY. :)

Thank you, Darren, for supporting me and my friendships, for helping me cultivate them by allowing me the freedom to be Just Stacy instead of Mom. I do love my kids, from the very depths of my heart. This weekend every year cements that when I catch up the family scrapbook. But it also cements who I am outside of being a Mom: a scrapbooker, a friend, a woman.

Here are my sweetest friend Denise and my most ornery friend Gaye, chatting in front of my wall of layouts. Still two full days to go! Imagine the POSSIBLILITIES!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Blog Challenge: Scared

With Halloween upon us, tell us about a time in your life when you were scared. Shaking, screaching, frozen, trembling, crying, sick-to-your-stomach, whatever scared. Maybe you were a child, maybe you were an adult, maybe it was a nightmare, maybe it was a job interview. Whatever. You've been scared before. Tell us!


I've always been afraid of bugs. I blame it on my evil brother, David. Many times when I was between the ages of 8 and 12, he'd stick crickets and june bugs down my shirt. I'd try and try to get them out, all the while feeling their sticky, scritchy-scratchy legs against my skin. But they always had those nasty little barbs on their legs which dug into the lace of my bra and the cotton of my t-shirt, and the only way to escape the scritchiness was to rip my shirt off and go running down the garden rows, flailing my arms in the air in both fear AND fury. He laughed his head off one spring day when I walked into a curtain of tiny green tree worms in the forest. Of course, I freaked out and went running out into the tall prairie grass, flapping my arms around, slapping my head to try to get the worms out of my hair. He didn't help me; he just roared. He'd throw spiders at me, he'd lie and tell me a spider was on my back, he'd capture Daddy Long-Legs by their spindly legs and chase me with them. He'd break their legs off and put them in my hair or down my shirt. I hated David during those years.

I was 17 in the summer of 1986 when I came, literally, face to face with my fear. We were camping in the Ozarks of Arkansas, on the shores of Bull Shoals Lake. Our rustic cabin was dusty and dark and full of spider webs. Mom swept it out, but even so, I was always careful to check between the sheets for spiders before climbing into bed at night.

One night, while the rain gently pounded the tin roof, I fell into an easy slumber. I began hearing my name far, far away. "Stacy," it whispered. "Staaaccccy. Sssssttttaaaaaaaaacyyyyy." It kept whispering, in a sweet, welcoming voice, slowly bringing me out of dreamland until I was aware again that I was in the cabin. My head was nestled comfortably in the billows of my down pillow. I was lying on my right cheek. I slowly opened my eyes, and there, sitting at the tip of my nose, was a blurry blob of.... LEGS!!! A daddy long-legs spider! SITTING ON MY PILLOW, at the tip of my nose!! In the very moment I saw it, my eyes bugged out of my head and my brother fell into gales of wicked laughter. I became hysterical, leaping in one bound out of my bed and across the room, crying and carrying on and threatening to maim him and MEANING EVERY WORD of it. Mom was furious with me for making such a racket. Meanwhile, as always happened with David, he flashed his stupid little grin at Mom and didn't get in trouble at all.

I coudn't sleep well after that. I didn't trust David. I didn't trust Mom to hold him accountable. And I surely didn't trust the spiders that were lurking in every shadow. I hated that vacation. To this day, spiders scare me. I know that a Daddy Long Legs can't bite me. I don't care. I'm scared to even stomp a spider. It's a silly fear, I realize that. It's irrational. I can't help it. When I was senior in high school, just 2 months after the Pillow Incident, I was bitten by a brown recluse. I never saw the spider, but during first period , my arm began to ache, and there was red streak climbing up my arm. The school nurse wouldn't let me drive myself to the hospital. Mom had to come and get me and take me to the emergency room, where they extracted the poison and told me what had bitten me. I still have the scar, which is about the size of a match head on the inside of my arm. Knowing that a spider had crawled on me and bitten me and I didn't even know it gave me the creeps. But I gotta say... waking up with a spider at the tip of my nose takes the cake. That's the most frightened I've ever been. And what's sad? I still get mad at David when I think about it. (And he'd probably still laugh, punk that he is.)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

cat solution

Bobbie's cats are in heat. WORD TO THE MOMMAS, someone better come take this little kitty away before I drop her off in the country somewhere. Bailey the Cat went into heat last week. She was vocal, but sort of dainty about it, if you can imagine such a thing. But yesterday, Sarah the Cat took HER turn, and whoa. That cat is driving me to drink. Prowling around the house, rubbing her wet, nasty rear end against my furniture and walls, utterly MISERABLE, yowling at the the top of her kitty lungs, "MRWOW. MROOOOOOW. ROWWWWLLLLLL. MRR. MrrrRRRR. ROWWWWWWlllllLL!"

I love the internet. You can learn ANYthing on the internet, in roughly 2.7 seconds.

Tonight, I googled "cat in heat"and learned how to solve the problem.

I just so happened to buy a family-size pack of 625 Q-Tips today. Hmmmmm.

Symphony - amateur review

Darren and I have season tickets to the Fort Worth Symphony. Since it's paid for ahead of time, it's like getting a free date once a month - a date for which I'm required to dress up and apply make-up. The symphony always performs at Bass Performance Hall, which is an event in and of itself, so beautiful is its architecture and so inviting its aesthetic. Dani and Brian attended a production of Romeo and Juliet this past week. I forced them to smile for the camera because I want to document Dani's first official date at Bass Hall. (Actually, Brittani took the photo!)

I'm not much of a fan of classical music. I'd much rather take in a Pink Floyd laser light show than a concerto or a symphony. Strings annoy me. I prefer bass. Even so, I enjoy the Symphony, because Darren is in his element there. Some of the most wonderful naps I've ever had were on his shoulder, in a cushy seat beneath the trompe l'oeil ceiling, with classical music droning on in the background. Last month, Darren had to nudge me awake when I moaned in my sleep!

My favorite part of each month's concert, besides our conductor, The Debonair and Gorgeously-accented Miguel Harth-Bedoya, on whom I have an enormous crush, is The Star-Spangled Banner. (Tonight, much to my dismay, we had a guest conductor. I do. not. like. guest. conductors.) As soon as the conductor takes the stage, he bows to the audience, then turns to the musicians and, as the audience stands and faces the flag, launches into the anthem. I sing. Always. I can't hear our national anthem and not sing. And I sing loudly. There's a reason for that. When I'm singing alone (and yes, I sing the Star-Spangled Banner alone), I start it real, real low so that I comfortably hit the notes at the end. At the Symphony, the song is in its intended key, and I can't hit the notes unless I'm belting them out. It's not embarassing, though, because everyone AROUND me is singing (symphony patrons are like that). I. Love. To. Sing. That. Song. Tonight, I got about 4 measures in, then stopped singing. Sitting directly behind me was a baritone. His voice SOARED. It filled the whole space of the Lower Gallery. I kept waiting for people below us to turn and look up to see from where that voice came. It was beautiful. I usually get teary-eyed singing that song, but tonight, as I listened, I heard the music more than the words, and I didn't cry. It took every ounce of willpower in me, though, to keep from turning around and gaping at him. BEAUTIFUL.

I was completely prepared to hate the first piece, Vaughn Williams' "Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis", because it's written for strings alone. YAWN. Oh, but I was wrong! It was wonderful! I was mesmerized. Truly, I sat on the edge of my seat and watched the orchestra play. It's a piece I would actually consider buying and listening to at home, and maybe I SHOULD, because I designed two scrapbook layouts in my head while I listened. It was that inspiring. Darren was more surprised than I was when I actually clapped at the end.

The next piece, a 20th century work by John Corigliano, sounded like angry traffic and wailing sirens to me. UGH. It featured a classical guitarist, and I had been looking forward to hearing him. But the background noise, er, music, ruined it for me. Afterward, while standing in the ladies' room line during intermission, the hall was abuzz with commentary. "It was... strange." "It sounded like every instrument was off key." "I don't even think they were playing the same music!" In internet message board speak, a thread killer is someone who posts their two cents on a subject that's been started, and no one replies after that. Well, tonight in the ladies' room, I "killed the thread". Because after I added my comment, "It was kinda like abstract art, only in music form", no one said another word about it. *oh.*

Finally, the last piece of the night was performed: Brahms' Symphony No.2 in DMajor, Op. 73. It was pretty, it was happy, but it was tooooo long. I could've slept, but instead, I tried to be a grown-up and stay awake. Besides. The shrimp I ate at dinner was causing me some distress, and I needed to be awake to make sure I didn't conduct a symphony of my own. Ahem.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Blog Challenge: Do-over

A few years ago, Dani and I went with our friend Colleen to a free lunch-time concert by Steven Curtis Chapman. I'm a huge fan - of both his music AND his personality. I love hearing him talk almost as much as I love hearing him sing. He just seems real and honest and unpretentious. He's very family-focused, and he adores his wife.

That day in Dallas, I took one of my scrapbooks for him to autograph. I'd taken photos of him at a previous concert, and wanted him to sign the photos. They were in a layout in my album. I also wanted him to sign a layout I'd made featuring song lyrics he'd written. He signed the pages, and complimented the layouts. I rode the high from that compliment for WEEKS. WEEKS, I tell you. My friends got sick of hearing me talk about it. :)

"So, this is what... papercrafting or something?" he asked. I answered, with a giggle, "It's called SCRAPbooking."

"Ah, scrapbooking," he smiled. He was intrigued by it and asked me questions; we very briefly talked about hiring me to scrapbook for him, but it was sorta all in fun and just polite conversation on his part. I was newly "professional" and was timid about selling myself. There wasn't time to talk in detail, anyway, because the autograph line manager was giving me the hairy eyeball and people behind me were getting impatient. I kicked myself later for not having business cards printed up, and for not being prepared that day.

Now I have the cards and a website to direct him to and the complete self-confidence to talk to him about it. I want another chance! Who knows. Maybe I'd have handed him my card and he'd have dropped it on the floor behind him as he signed the next CD. But maybe he'd have slipped it in his pocket and remembered it later. Maybe maybe maybe. Now I'll never know. I want a do-over!

Saturday, October 21, 2006


This is the blog challenge I posted last Sunday. I myself didn't even complete the challenge until just this minute. See? I TOLD you I've been undisciplined!

Pick a day this week, and blog about what's going on outside and what's going on inside. I'm thinking in literal terms: outside your house and inside your house. Or outside your place of business and inside it. But if you want to get creative, feel free to blog about YOU - what's going on inside as opposed to what you're allowing the world to see on the outside.Extra points for posting photos! If you can't post photos, then do your best to illustrate with your words. Give us a clear visual of what's happening inside and out!Don't worry about your house being messy, or your outside being boring. Document a day this week, just as you're living it. Tell us about the sounds outside and the sounds inside... or what the squirrels are eating and what you're eating... or what the temp is out there and how comfy you are inside... or what needs to be done outside and what needs to be done inside.Whatever. Be creative. Just blog about inside/outside. I haven't done mine yet.

Yesterday, after I blogged, and after Elaine blogged, we challenged each other. Today, ALL DAY, we were supposed to stay away from the computer and focus on getting a specific task completed.

Mine was a 3" stack of photos that I needed to scrap.

I'm a 3" stack away from getting paid for this job and moving on to the next one. Since noon today, I've gotten about 2/3 of the way through that stack. I've scrapped 22 layouts. YAY!!!

I think our challenge inspired Darren, too, because before I even rolled out of bed this morning, he'd done two loads of laundry and made a trip to the hardware store. This afternoon, he removed the downstairs toilet to try and figure out why it hasn't flushed properly in forever. We figured it was probably a toy, but it wasn't. It was a lid. It looked suspiciously like one of the lids from Ashlie cat litter jugs. We scratched our chins and tried to figure out why a lid was jammed down in the bowels of our toilet. Could it be...

AIDAN? "Yah," he answered. At my birthday party (which was last December), I put one of my new pirate guys on it and pretended it was a boat, and then I flushed it and watched it start going down and I rescued my pirate guy, but I couldn't rescue the boat in time."

Ok, then. Mystery solved.

Meanwhile, OUTSIDE, Bobbie scubbed the pecan sap off the front porch. It's white again. YAY! This year has been horrible for pecan sap. A google search informed me that this constant fine mist of sap is caused by aphids, which don't cause harm to the trees, but DO cause big-time nasty messes for me. Grrr.

Discipline. Today, I found it again. I actually was logged on to the internet all day long. I had my favorite radio station streaming to keep me company, but I didn't abuse my logged-on status. I didn't check my favorite blogs or ScrapShare. I didn't google. I didn't even answer emails, save for one that I couldn't resist answering, and even THEN, I was only in my Inbox because I was waiting for an answer from the client whose photos I'm scrapping.

Just before I sat down to blog (which I told Elaine last night I would be doing tonight, so I'm not really cheating), I logged on the SCrapShare to copy and paste my challenge. But I did not go to any other forums. I did not open any other threads. I did not collect $200, even though I saw a thread at the very top of the forum that I REALLLLLLY wanted to open and respond to. It said, "Have you ever tried Coke Blak?" Well, yes. Yes, I have. I love coffee, and I love Coke. But never the two shall meet in my mouth again. SputterSputterNastyNastyNasty!!! The biggest waste of $2 I ever spent. I should go back to 7-11 and demand my two dollars back. Like that guy in the '80s movie "Better Off Dead": "I want my two dollars! Give me my two dollars!"

Okay. Enough dillydallying. I'm heading back to my studio now.
Thanks for the challenge, E! I can't wait to see the pics of what YOU got done! :)

Friday, October 20, 2006


For whatever reason, I've thrown all discipline to the wind lately.

For the last month, every structured thing about my life has gone kaput. Bedtime routines, morning routines, work schedule, chores, grocery shopping, meal planning, laundry.... everything. I could say it's because Bobbie and her 4 chicas (including the two cats, LOL) moved in and threw me into a whirl, but that would be a lie. I've used that as an excuse to get lazy and throw my routines out the window, but it's not the REASON I've let everything go.

I stopped taking my medicine around the same time. Go figure. What the heck is THAT about? I'm back on it, but it got ugly for a few days.

I'm far, far hehind on my job queue. I have one that should've been done a month ago. I have two more sitting here waiting to get started. I have another coming in two weeks. At this point, I'm so far behind that I feel paralyzed by it. When I DO sit down to work, it's slow going. I usually fly through the pages, but lately, it's drudgery. And then I'm unhappy with the results, which makes moving to the next page even harder.

Something has to give. I've GOT to find it in me to get back to a routine. I'm lazy. Admitting that pisses me right off! But it's true.

I need discipline. (and NO, Darren. I'm not asking for a spankin'. LOL!)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Stole this from someone else's blog:

1. What kind of shirt are you wearing? ash gray ScrapShare t-shirt

2. Would you kiss anyone on your blogroll? Darren and Ira

3. Do you have a "thing" for anyone on your blogroll?
Darren. :D

4. How many people on your top friends do you know in real life?
This must be a MySpace thing. I have a MySpace, but I only use it to get notices when Poor Rich Folk updates their blog. I think I only have 5 friends listed, plus Tom. No, I don't know Tom.

5. How many kids do you want to have?
Three. The factory is closed.

6. Do you have a good relationship with your parents?
Hoooooo. Yes. It's good as my family defines good. I wish good was different though.

7. What name would you want besides the one you have? None. I'm a Stacy through and through.

8. What did you do for your last birthday? Drove from Tahoka, Texas to a remote cabin above Pitkin, Colorado

9. What's your current ringtone on your phone? a really loud old-school phone ring.

10. What do you think when you get meme's with missing questions?
I probably don't even notice.

11. What were you doing at midnight last night? scrapworking.

12.Where is the furthest place you've ever called to talk to someone?Australia. :) Would you like a load of goats?

13. Do you like having your hair pulled?Um, NO. What kind of dumb question is THAT?

14. Name something you CANNOT wait to do? Hug Beth in person. :)

15. Last time you saw your dad?on his 60th birthday almost a month ago

16. What is one thing you wish you could change about your life?
nothing. I'm hugely blessed and soakin' up the sun.

17. What is your favorite board game?
Scrabble with just Darren, but Apples to Apples with a group

18. Do you have a pimp name? uh, hmmm. Lety's 3-year-old daughter Nivia calls me Sisty. But I don't think that counts.

19. Have you ever talked to Tom? (this survey came from My Space)
Ah ha. There ya have it. It WAS a My Space question. No, I haven't. You mean he's real?

20. What's the last thing you ate?my leftover chicken/spinach quesadillas from today's lunch. Had 'em for a midnight snack. Bad Stacy, BAD!

21. Favorite month? November - it's consistently cool outside, but not cold yet. It's the month of my much-anticipated annual Texas crop with my best internet friends. It's also the month of Thanksgiving, and the beginning of all things festive.

22. Least favourite month? August. Oppressively hot. So is June and July, but by August, I'm just really getting sick of it. And the A/C always goes on the blink in August.

23. What's the last piece of clothing you borrowed from anyone?
Huh. Must've been Sonny's BigDog shirt back when I was nursing Ian almost 5 years ago. Ian hurled all over me and thank goodness Sonny was bigger than I. Otherwise, I'd have had to finish the party topless. :)

24. Who's getting on your nerves right now?
Bobbie's cats. They're wreaking havoc all over my front room. They've knocked books and candlesticks off the mantle, 2 huge scrapbooks off the bookshelf, and a plethora of papers off the desk. Anyone want two cute black kitties?

25. Most visited webpage?
tie: and Google

26. Do you ever sleep in the nude?
Every night. This morning, Brittani knocked on my door, but I didn't hear, so she walked in and said, "Aunt Stacy, we have to leave in ten minutes." I'd forgotten I was enrolling her in school this morning, and I'd slept in. (Begged Darren to get Aidan dressed and off to school.) My first thought was, "Dear God, please let me be covered so that Brittani isn't scarred for life." I was. *sigh!*

27. What is the strangest thing you have in your purse or wallet?
a lipstick in a color I hate and never wear (Clinique Deeply Rose)

28. Last person to make you sad?
Aidan. After dealing with him and his defiant freak-out tonight, I went to my bed and cried.

29. Would you help your best friend fight if he/ she is losing?
I've never fought in my life. But yes, I guess I would. 'Cause Sunday, Darren (my BFF!) was losing to some rock-throwing, unruly kids who were being sent home early from Fortress, and my inner linebacker came out of hiding and blocked their escape attempts. Shocked me as much as it shocked them.

30. coke or pepsi?
Diet Coke. Pepsi tastes like dirt.

31. Do you have a crush?
Yes. Everytime I see him across the room, I get all melty. :)

32. Have you kissed or been kissed by anyone in the past week?
Yes. In the past hour. Sweet, slow kisses from my crush. :)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Cat(s) and Mouse

Friday, Bobbie's two kitties Bailey and Sarah arrived from Tennessee. I wondered how Ashlie (our overweight, territorial, furball-hacking, bipolar cat) would handle the invasion. It didn't take long to find out. Here's how she handled it:

"Hissssssssssssssssss." Teeth bared, hair on end, ears laid back.

The first night, Bailey (the black and white one) ducked between Darren's legs and then hissed back. Hilarious. All weekend long, we'd hear hisses - the cats were laying down their ground rules. Ashlie was winning.

Bailey likes to sit on my shoulder and watch me work in my studio. Sarah likes to pounce across my desk and kick up photos in her dust. They both love to steal my tape runner.

Today, I said, "OFF THE COUNTER, CAT!" to Bailey, just before brushing her off into thin air. Ian took issue with me.

"Mom, you can't tell Bobbie's cat what to do."
"Oh yes I can."
"But you're not the boss of Bobbie's cat."
"I am when she's on my counter and Bobbie's not here."

Clearly, Ian is on the cats' side.

What prompted me to blog about the cats is that just a few minutes ago, I walked into the kitchen to put Aidan's school uniforms in the dryer. But as I entered the room, all three cats were standing at attention in front of the dishwasher. It's the first time all three of them have been that close to each other since they got here. It must be because they have a common goal. I think we have a mouse.

And I tell you the truth. As I sat here writing that last paragraph, I heard a hiss. From my desk here in the family room, I can see into the kitchen and my office. Looking into the kitchen, I saw that Bailey was on the counter and Ashlie was reading her the riot act. Another sound grabbed my attention from my left, and turning, I saw that Sarah was prowling around on my desk. I got up and took pictures.

Bobbie's cats have moved on, but Ashlie's still standing guard at the dishwasher. Good kitty! Only thing is, past experience has taught me that as soon as The Mouse makes an appearance, Ashlie will peel out on the tile, run in mid-air like a cartoon, then fly across the house and hide behind the sofa in one motion.

I can hear Sarah and Bailey laughing already.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

the week in pictures 9


The building that houses Fortress Youth Development Center and Fortress Church is surrounded by razor wire, because, YES. People do steal from churches.

Monday: DANI'S ROOM (before)
Monday was a school holiday. Dani spent the day turning this:

into this:
Tuesday: DANI'S ROOM (after)

That's Brianna on Dani's bed. She helped Dani move one of the futons from the game room into Dani's room, and Dani's twin bed into the game room. Brianna and Bobbie will share the game room; Dani and Brittani will share Dani's room. Think it'll stay this clean for long? :)


After my blog about the nasty scrapbook closet we were using, my sweet friend Beth started a super-secret fund drive for me! It was the BEST surprise. I couldn't believe someone would do such a kind and generous thing. Beth raised $300 in two days' time, which allowed me to purchase the needed supplies to build our closet. My friend JW donated his time and skill and got the closet built in 6 hours. I'll share more photos of it tomorrow after Scrapbooking Day! (Shhhh. Don't tell my ScrapShare friends. I want this to be a surprise tomorrow. bwahahahahaha)


She still wears contacts, but until her eyes heal completely, she has to wear glasses every other day. Actually, she likes them so much that she's worn them every day since she got 'em! She calls it her "I-drink-coffee-and-write-deep-poetry look".


We finally had our first cool front of the season, which meant we finally got to have our first Taco Soup of the season! We shared it with our new neighbors, who loved it so much that they came back later for seconds! :)

Saturday: LAUGHTER
Aidan snapped this shot of me laughing this afternoon. He's quite proud of it!