Friday, November 28, 2008

Ready, Set...SHOP

We barely allow ourselves time for our Thanksgiving dinner to settle before we're up and out the door on the hunt for some gift we think a loved one cannot live without!

I have found the best way to handle the holiday shopping is this... a gift for you, a gift for for you, one for me...

My first example of the this year's equal holiday shopping, the coffee I look forward to all year long - Starbuck's Christmas Blend...ummm....YUM!

I was shopping at 'Bucks for my secret pal at church and scored big time for her! They actually had a pre-made gift box that included the Christmas Blend coffee and an assortment of 5 specialty truffles - coffee and chocolate. Next to diamonds, a girls best friends. And by the time she finishes off her treat, she won't even remember she has a husband and three children!

But as I was combing through the pretties my eye caught this BEAUTIFUL mug. Snow white with doves embossed on it with tiny red hollyberries dotted throughout. I could taste how good that Christmas Blend would be in the lovely mug - and told the barista to add it to my stash.

As I said, one for me, one for you. I am now officially ready to get underway for Christmas 2008. (...and don't tell me you're not out there picking up a little somethin', somethin' for yourselves, too!!!)

Happy Shopping Girls!!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful Thanksgiving Thursday

My blessings are too numerous to count. But at the top of my list would be my health, and that of my husband and family. I learned first hand last year, especially, how important it is to take care of ourselves. I realize that only so much of it is in our hands/control but it's vitally important to do what we can to maintain our own good health.

So on this particular Thanksgiving, I'd just like to say how grateful I am to be in good enough physical condition to have completed the third of our tri-fecta series running races (8k or 5 miles). Yep, this morning while you were basting your turkeys, Michael and I were freezing!!!!! Oh BRRRRRRR... I didn't think it was supposed to get this cold in the south!
We were surprised by the number of runners. There were more than 600 people participating in this event. I'm guessing most weren't the preparers of the Thanksgiving feast or they were going to a restaurant for their meal.
The course ran a beautiful stretch through Carrboro, NC. It was challenging with at least 3 good-sized hills. There were the fans along the route cheering us on and some ladies who were obviously up early starting their birds who took time to step out the front door or wave to us from behind their picture windows. I love it!

Michael was especially excited about the event... He finished in about 44 minutes, a great time.
And I was pretty proud of myself, too. I wrapped it up in about 53 minutes.

But the absolute best part about this day was bearing witness to the greatest form of humanity I think I've ever seen. At the starting line about 2 rows in front of me was a man and a young boy of about 12 who I'm assuming was his son. What makes the scene so warming...the man was blind...and his son was his guide through this race. My throat swelled and tears fell. My heart was so full. First for this boy and his dedication to his father. And then for the man who's passion for running is so great that even complete darkness does not keep him from doing what he loves. I watched these two run as one. I thought how challenging it was for that boy because he had to keep his right arm rather straight and still so that his father could keep his grip on the boy's elbow. That is to say nothing of the challenge for the sightless man. It was a scene I will never forget and one I'm so thankful to God for putting before me.
I have always believed, much to the chagrin of my husband, that there is good in everyone. I believe that to the core of my heart. And when I am witness to experiences like the one today, my beliefs are confirmed.
My cup runneth over and for that I am grateful...
I hope your homes are full of Thanksgiving blessings.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Carolina basketball, to be exact.

I tell you this for free, people, I had never seen a basketball game, live or on the television, professional or college, until I met my husband. Actually, I've never been as close to sports in general in my entire life as I've become over the last ten years. Michael is a junkie. There, I said it. He lives and breaths basketball, football and baseball; professional, college and even little league.

But I have to admit, there's nothing better than being in the arena or at the stadium to get the full effect of the game, the excitement and the enthusiasm of the fans. And, you know the old adage, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em!

I don't know if I've ever shared with you that Michael hails from the great state of Kentucky. If you know anything about Kentucky, you know it's horses and the UK Wildcats basketball team. I remember my first visit back home to meet Michael's family. EVERYWHERE I went, I was in a sea of royal blue. From infants to great grandparents. From Wal-Mart to Nordstrom. From the Gremlin to the Mercedes...Kentucky hats, shirts, shorts, earrings, ponytail holders, gloves, tank tops, sweatshirts, socks, sweaters, jackets, china, tablecloths, flags, yard get the idea. These people were born into it the team spirit; they never stood a chance. And I quickly learned that if I were going to fit in this family, I better don my UK duds ASAP. And the loyal wife that I am, although you can't see it in the photo above, I am sporting a rather striking UK a sea of Carolina Blue. Oh my. This is one of those occasions when I am SO glad my husband is an officer of the law! Ha!

Every two years these cats come to town (sometimes with their biggest fan in tow, Miss Ashley Judd). And ever since we've lived here we've been fortunate enough to attend this match up, except for 2004 when Michael simply could not get out of a work assignment. It was a dark day in Bear Creek that afternoon. And every two years Michael's uncle, Dale Emmons, makes the trek east to Chapel Hill to root on his beloved Wildcats. We've come to so look forward to this tradition that's been established. Dale always makes time in his trip to meet Mike and I for breakfast or lunch and catch up on the family.

This year was no different. We knew Dale was en route and Mike was able to work out his schedule so that we would all meet and have a sweet visit over lunch. We were down, however, because Michael was not able to score any game tickets this year. Little did we know Uncle Dale had come to the rescue! He surprised us as we were leaving the restaurant! He asked us where we should meet up later that night in order for him to hand off our tickets. Michael and I looked at each other like he had three heads. Dale says "oh, did I forget to mention I was able to hook you up?" He just as well handed us two bars of gold.

What made this game most noteworthy was, not only was it a complete surprise, but, as I told Dale, Michael was especially deserving of such a treat.

My husband works hard. He puts his life on the line everyday and I continually pray that the public recognizes that. But when his back is to the wall, Mike takes on true grit. It has been challenging for us since I was laid off in October. But Michael has risen to the occasion, as he always does, and picked up all the off duty work his schedule will allow - thus putting himself further in harm's way.
No one was more deserving...(I'm just sorry UK lost - go Heels (hee, hee, hee) )

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thankful Thursday

A bit of a set-back but I think we're headed in the right direction (she says VERY cautiously and maybe even a little overly optimistic).

I have so much to be thankful for today. First, the beautiful, bright clear sky and warm sunshine even though it was pretty chilly. And for the reflection I had today on the WONDERFUL day I spent yesterday with my buddies, Cathy and Linda (Cathy was our hostess at her home in Cary where we were treated to a crafters paradise and could make whatever holiday treasure we's mine... A pretty wreath in soft blues and silvers that I will hang on the door from the front hallway into my dining room (and all the materials came from Dollar Tree!).

I am also grateful for God's answered prayer, an unspoken praise if you will. He is good, isn't He? And He truly does not forsake us. He knows my heart and for that I'm grateful as well.

And, I'm most grateful for the care and attention our Crunchie Munchie is receiving at Cole Park Veterinary Hospital. Munch had to undergo a second surgery Tuesday and has been in the hospital ever since. The doctors are being careful with me regarding his prognosis and I appreciate that. I wouldn't want them to give me false hope. In the meantime, I visit Munch every day and am hopefully willing him to get on the mend. It's become exceptionally quiet around here because Munch was the instigator - always getting the dog fired up and causing the other cats to hiss and spit and run like their tails were on fire. Munchie has never been the treasured gem in the jewelery box but that never seemed to bother him!

It was good to see him be a little silly this afternoon...more like my old Munch and for that I'm grateful. He's really one only a mother could love...and I do.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fat Baby

Boots people - not wee ones!!

As I've shared with you in the past, I am a boot addict, a junkie. I love tall ones, short ones, all colors, plain black ones and brown ones, low heels, high heels and no heels. I love pointed toes, square toes and rounded toes. I like fashion boots, riding boots, cowboy boots and even rain boots. I don't think I could be any more clear. And, as I shared with you here, I am all about the color red especially.

So when I discovered Ariat Fat Babies - IN RED NO LESS - they couldn't have been boxed and bagged fast enough for me. Don't you just LOVE the "bling"??

And yes, I've clicked my heals again and again but I've yet to be transported someplace magical - other than home that is...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Well, we have another patient in the recovery room (aka the downstairs bathroom) and for that I'm grateful.

I brought Munchie home from the hospital today, after a week's stay at Cole Park Veterinary Hospital and a surgery performed by a board certified veterinarian who removed all but two inches of his colon (it was worse than any of us thought). I will have no heat this winter, good thing I don't have to fill my car with gas every week and, well, I really do like baked potatoes and cereal. The important thing is that the cat's better...right?

I've got Munch all set up in the bathroom where I snapped this photog of him eating the last of his dinner. This is a mile marker people. It's been at least 10 days since he ate anything worth mentioning. Now, we make sure the surgery was a REAL success?...

He goes back a week from Saturday to have the staples removed (a huge incision along his belly - probably 10 inches, easily the length of his body). We're just hoping all stays quiet until then.

Oh what we do for our four-legged loved ones... I know my husband had to look DEEP, DEEP within himself to agree to this one (I love you honey...). But hey, we had to have the dog rebuilt 6 years ago so fair is fair.

Pray, pray, pray that I find work soon!!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Weekend

It's been an emotional, bittersweet last 4 days for us...

This past weekend was our previously scheduled trip home. We (I come up from NC and Bran comes over from VA Beach) go "home" every 4-6 weeks for a visit and for me to meet with my farrier and have my horse's feet trimmed and just spend quality time with him. When I moved to NC 6 years ago, I made the very difficult decision to leave Jess in Virginia. Jess is 26 years old and has been at the MacEwen's farm for more than 15 years, where he's been loved and cared for and has made lifelong friends. I felt like a move would be life threatening to him. The arrangement has really worked out well. While I don't get to see him every week, our time together has been priceless and memorable and it's afforded me time with my family as well.
That's a little history...

Beginning this past Thursday, our animal-filled lives started spiraling downward. My Crunchie Munchie was urgently taken to Cole Park Vet for what we initially thought was a urinary blockage (can be life threantening). After many tests, Munch has been diagnosed with Megacolon. My daughter, who has worked in veterinary medicine since she was 12, has been a ray of hope and inspiration to me and helped me to understand this condition and simply said I need to relax and be patient. Everything that can be done for this little guy is being done, aside from surgery, which is a last resort. He's still in the hospital as of this morning and I plan on seeing him later today.

This is Munch when he was healthy...

Later that same evening, Bran noticed her littlest feline "walking funny". Her front half was walking forward but her back half was walking sideways. Brandi quickly scooped up Bebe and took her back to work with her where blood tests were done and observations were made. By Friday night, it looked as if Bebe were not going to make it (needless to say, Bran did not make the trip home but stayed by Bebe's side). But Dr. Mar was not deterred and pumped little Bebe full of antibiotics, forced fed her and put her on a warming blanket. Ultimately, Bebe was diagnosed with having cysts on her brain that had swelled and were causing pressure and neurological-like symptoms (sorry, cannot recall the medical term). So, as a family we worried and fretted about these cats and comforted each other as only real animal lovers can do. We were happy to learn that by yesterday afternoon, Bebe was almost back to her normal self. Amazing! I love those vets that refuse to give up when they believe there's reason enough to fight but not at the expense of the pet's overall well-being. Good bless Bran's Dr. Mar and our Dr. Pagel. They really understand where we're coming from and how much these sometimes nasty, stinky creatures mean to us!

This is Bran's Bebe not feeling so well at all...

But then, there was this...
About 4 years ago Jess suffered a rather nasty injury to his coronet band - a very deep tissue cut. He was doctored and nurtured but despite the effort, he subsequently began to suffer from "ring bone". Think of the "jelly-like" stuff between the vertebrae in our back. There is similar "stuff" in where the hoof wall meets the horse's leg (where it "bends"). Ring bone is where the jelly-like stuff starts to deterioate and the bones then fuse together. The fusing is a long, extremely painful process. But once it's complete, the prognosis is fair for most horses in that they can resume activity and can still be ridden, albeit LIGHTLY - usually never like before. I watched Jess go through this process for an entire year. I have never felt so helpless or useless in my life. Everytime I was with him, I just cried. I can remember during this time when my farrier was trying to continue to care for Jess' feet. Eric (my farrier) would be carefully and cautiously trimming the hoof, with his back to me of course, and I'd be holding Jess crying my eyes out trying not to let Eric hear me! He'd be talking away and then stand up and turn to find me a blubbering idiot! He'd hang his head and awkwardly pat my shoulder and tell me it WOULD get better!! We can laugh about it now but back then...

I NEVER thought I'd get on my horse again - despite the constant fussing from Eric and the encouragement from Dave & Sherry, the farm owners. They all said it would be good for us both, that Jess needed the work out (and, well, so did I). But my fear of a relapse was too strong. I would not be able to live with myself if I knew I was the cause that Jess went lame.

But this weekend I thought, these people are knowledgable and love me and love my horse and they would never give me poor advice. And my equine vet said all along that once the bones fused in Jess' foot he would be rideable again.
It was a beautiful day and I had time on my side and a persistant niece with me. And I decided that Saturday afternoon how sorry I would be if I never got on my horse again... I will NEVER have to worry about that regret. And God willing, we'll have many more quiet, memorable rides together...
Even Christa took a spin on the old guy...
And to top the day off, we spent the evening with my grandparents. There are so many of us with birthdays in the fourth quarter of the year that we decided to host a little gift exchange (it had to be under $5.00). I'm afraid I was lax with the photos because I was coordinating the game and the dinner and the dessert but I did snap this one.

That's my grandfather in the burgandy sweatshirt, my dad on the sofa and that's my niece Christa with little Natalie, my mom's cousin's daughter. Natalie kept us all quite entertained. Look for her in Hollywood people.
Again, a bittersweet weekend and one I won't soon forget. I'm convinced often that both trials and triumphs are put before us so that we will have a closer walk with God - a time to tell Him thank you and a time to ask Him for support.
How was your weekend?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Just Do It

The day has finally arrived. We made it. And it is my prayer that everyone who is eligible to vote will do so. It is a true privilege to have such a right as to choose our beloved country's leader. Why would anyone simply choose not to be a part of that?

And regardless of the turnout, I think we're in for - and ready - for a change. And while some changes we make in our lives are frightening and can almost be paralyzing, they usually end up being for our greater good in the long run.

Let's exercise our right to vote today and in the coming months, let's exercise our right to pray for our new president. For whomever takes this seat has a difficult road ahead. We need to be supportive and respectful Americans.

God Bless America and God Bless the future of our country...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

It's My Birthday...

"It's my birthday, not a holiday, but I'd like to say, it's my birthday...go Joyce, go Joyce, go Joyce!!!!" (hands raising the roof)...

Yep, today's my special day!! Yeah!! I LOVE birthdays, but I've already shared that with you. I just think it's awesome to celebrate one's being, our very existence.

I've had a WONDERFUL weekend! My parents arrived late Thursday night. Mom and I were up until after 1:00 AM catching up. Friday was a day of errands and some relatively minor mechanical work. Yeah, my folks had a little red trailer made for me for my birthday (I wasn't quick enough to snap a photog or two before my dad tucked it in under a tarp for safe keeping. I'll undress it one day soon and post pics for you). It is TOO cute. It's a trailer to pull behind the truck/car to carry whatever you need (yard waste, mulch in the summer time, hay bales, trash, a cart load of puppies...hee, hee). See, there is no trash/waste collection in these parts - we are on our own! So, the trailer was a much needed and much appreciated gift! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Saturday mom and I spent tooling around Apex. We hit Home Goods and boy was it good!!! She treated me to some after Halloween goodies at unbelievable prices! I got the cutest rug to put at my kitchen sink; a black background with three white ghosts on it. And four great dessert plates (I have a china fettish...); two have these funny witches on them and the other two have pumpkins. I'll have to post pics 'cause they're very hard to explain. Let's see...we then went to downtown Apex and strolled in and out of the shops - LOVELY. And then visited the Garden Supply in Cary - AWESOME. They were decking their halls for Christmas, while it was 75 outside! I love the South baby!!! Back home we changed and grabbed our dessert and blankets and headed for the church. It was our annual Fall Fellowship get together! This year there was a blow up boxing ring. There were two "stumps" to stand on and these "sticks" with these huge Q-tip looking things on the ends. The idea, very Survivor like, was to knock your opponent off their stump. We had husbands beating wives, children beating mothers, brothers beating sisters, deacons beating the was GREAT!!! Then, it was time to eat. Fried chicken, barbeque, butter potatoes, green beans, cole slaw, biscuits and a table full of desserts. I LOVE the South baby!!! Then, it was time to hit the wagon. Two farm tractors get hooked up to two HUGE flat bed wagons. The wagons are filled with hay and we pile high with homemade blankets and sweatshirts. The closer you get, the warmer you stay. It gets pretty chilly back in those open fields! This year's ride went perfectly. Not like last year when the wagon we were in ended up with two flat tires...yep, two flat tires in the middle of I don't know where and boy it's a long, dark walk back to the church - through the cemetary. Talk about a Halloween to beat all Halloweens!!! And that was my parent's first trip! I never thought I'd see them again - Ha! But they laughed and were great sports and came back for more this year! But before we took off this time, the tires were inflated and the gas tank was topped off, just to be sure! We sure have made some memories here...I love the South.

I was also treated to some spending dollars from my brother - how sweet was he? And my DH gave me a gift certificate to get my nails done for the next six months I think! Thank you Mikey! Got some nail polish and a wonderful Rascal Flatts CD and countless cards and emails from friends and family along with sweet well wishes from my church family this morning. I really am a lucky girl. And I love my life and everything about it and all that it brings me...ALL that it brings me.

I've had an interesting year and I'm prayerful that this coming year will be even more memorable and that I'll make a difference to someone. I want to work on staying healthy and continuing to run. I want to work on gaining a position in a company where I can be happy and be a quality employee and offer something special. I want to get more involved in my community. I want to join a committee of some sort in an organization that I'm passionate about - I have to research this further. I want to do more volunteer work. I want to be a better Christian, wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. I want to make sure I recognize the little things/moments in life. I want to say I Love You more. I want people to know I care about them. I want to have greater faith in the new leadership of my country and believe that things will get better for us all. I don't want to take anything for granted. I want to celebrate my life everyday.

My sweetest thanks to those of you who sent birthday wishes to me. Please know how they touch my heart to the deepest. I treasure each of you and I treasure each and every birthday!!

Happy birthday to me!!!! Yeah!!!!