Married to the Empire

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Christmas Gift

I shared a while back about my love of Page CXVI, who puts out albums of hymns that are done in a more modern fashion, yet keep the integrity of the original music.  I adore hymns and hate that they are fading into obscurity.  While I don't dislike modern praise-and-worship music, I don't think it's terribly meaningful in its message.  Some songs are, of course, but most aren't.  In general, they just seem repetitious and light on gospel truth. 

Interestingly, I'd noticed that on the rare occasions we sang hymns in church, our students really responded to them.  You just can't ignore the powerful lyrics in a good hymn!  When one of our boys stated that "It Is Well with My Soul" is the best hymn ever, I was moved.  And I didn't forget it. 

I saw on Page CXVI's blog that they have a Hymns for Youth program, so I emailed them to find out what that is exactly.  Basically, they make their hymn CDs available for $2 each when you're buying for a youth group.  After checking with my hubby the youth minister, I ordered 30 CDs.  Usually, we buy a few gift cards to use as prizes at our annual Christmas party, but this year we opted not to do that and gave each student a hymn CD instead.  I made sure to give a copy of Hymns I to the boy who loves "It Is Well with My Soul," as the song "Joy" on that album ends with that hymn. 

I explained to the students before I passed them out what they were and why I was doing this.  I mostly got blank looks back.  They really didn't seem all that interested until my husband mentioned that I'd given copies to our music minister, and he hadn't taken them out of his CD player ever since.  If he loves this group, then it must be cool.  Humph.  Some of the older ones hugged me and thanked me.  The younger ones still seemed disinterested, which was made more clear by the fact that a couple of CDs were left behind at the end of the night. 

I'll admit, that hurt my feelings.  I gave them a gift, and a few chose to reject it, or at least toss it aside and forget to pick it back up.  When I take great care in selecting and giving a gift with meaning, it hurts to have it treated so callously. 

Naturally, that got me thinking.  If I get hurt that a couple of kids treated the CDs I gave them like they didn't matter, how greatly it must hurt God when people reject the greatest gift ever given to the entirety of humanity: his Son.  When the Creator of the Universe gives the gift that can save people from their sins and allow them to live in glorious eternity with him, how deeply he must grieve when his gift is rejected. 

This is one lesson I never really expected to learn at Christmas time, to be honest.  But what a profound one it is! 

To give this a happy ending, the boy who sparked the idea for the giving of the CDs sent me a message on Facebook.  He said, "Anne Marie, thank you so much for the CD!  Has to be the best CD I've gotten! :-)  I love you, Anne Marie!" 

That one person made it all worth it. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sweet Reunion

My sister's family flew in on Saturday for a six-month stay in Texas.  I am beyond ecstatic!  Naturally, I met them at the airport. 

Oh, how I've missed those sweet nieces of mine!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ornament Wreath

This particular project has been on my list for a year.  I saw it on someone's blog last year(except now I can't figure out which blog--oops) and wanted to make it.  It's pretty basic, as it simply requires shatterproof Christmas balls and a wire hanger.  I bought a bunch of ornaments last year after Christmas for something like $1/box.  I figured it would be enough, but I wound up making an emergency run to Walmart one night this week to pick up a $5 box of coordinating ornaments.  Still, I'm pretty sure I spent a mere $9-10 on this. 

The general instructions:
  1. Remove the tops from the ornaments and put them back on with glue.  Be sure to do this.  I didn't, and my ornaments keep popping off. 
  2. Take apart a wire hanger and bend it into a circle. 
  3. Start stringing ornaments onto the wire.  It helps to have some small ornaments to mix in to help fill some of the spaces.
  4. Twist the wire closed.  (I had to have my husband do this, as I just didn't have the strength for it.  This is also where the ornaments started popping off their hangers, so seriously, follow step 1.)
  5. Add a ribbon, if you want.  (I'll probably go buy something more Christmasy, but that's what I had on hand.)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Early Christmas Gift

My 10-year-old dishwasher had a major problem: the racks were all rusted.  I looked into replacing the racks, but the cost was going to be approximately $350, which is kind of ridiculous.  I was willing to wait a while, but when I caught my sleeve on a tine on the rack, and that bit of rack came off, I was done.  My sweet husband offered to forgo much a Christmas for himself in order to give me a new dishwasher.  That, my friends, is love.

With all the stores desperate for sales, I found an amazing deal on a new dishwasher at one of those early Black Friday sales.  We bought it, and it was installed last week. 

When the man came to install the dishwasher, Doogie was interested in what he was doing.  However, Doogie is our little 'fraidy-cat, so he supervised from a very safe distance.  He stood in the foyer to watch the installation on the opposite side of the kitchen. 

Installation Supervisor

Boxes are fun!  Christmas came early for kitties, too!

Um, Mom?  Could you make Calvin get out of the box.  I want a turn!

My Christmas present

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Neiman Marcus City Lights

The stormtroopers were invited to City Lights, which was the Christmas tree lighting at the Neiman Marcus in downtown Dallas.  A few of the highlights:

This was seriously one of the cutest-ever stormtrooper moments

He can't help but be silly, even in his tough-guy costume

My stormtrooper and me

Santa doesn't need reindeer when he has rappelling equipment

Neiman Marcus all lit up

Monday, November 29, 2010


Kinda stinks that after blogging about my goal to do more crafting, the first things I had to make were sympathy cards.  A lot of people I know have lost family members in the past 2 weeks. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Catching Up

After posting about how I was going to make good use of my crafting supplies, I've made... nothing.  Sickness hit our house.  I was blissfully unaffected, which is rare, but Steven was sick.  He was supposed to lead a camping trip for our youth boys last Friday night.  There was no way he could do that, but thankfully, good friends stepped up and said they'd do a lock-in for the guys at the church that night.  Change of plans, but at least the boys' event wasn't totally cancelled.   

Saturday was a birthday celebration for our friend Marylou, as well as a Thanksgiving celebration among friends.  Marylou loves Scrabble, so we played that, then ate this amazing cake my friend Sandy made:

Sunday was weird for several reasons I won't go into, but the worst of it was someone trying to take Doogie.  I took the cats out with me to get my newspaper.  While they were enjoying the sunshine, a woman drove by, circled back, then stopped in front of my house.  I expected her to roll down her window to ask directions or something, but instead, she got out.  She didn't say a word to me--just walked past me and headed towards Doogie, calling him "MooMoo."  He was terrified and ran back into the house.  She asked if he's mine, and when I said yes, she then asked if I was sure.  Um, he ran into my house away from you!  Do you really think he's not mine?! 

We made three trips to the vet this week.  Two days in a row of taking Calvin in first thing in the morning to get a urine sample, then sending him home when he had nothing to give.  *sigh*  Thankfully, the third time truly was the charm.  His infection is gone!  I also took Doogie in with us on the second day for a blood pressure check-up.  After singing to him and praying over him for probably 15-20 minutes, he finally got calmed down enough to get a proper reading.  He's still doing well and doesn't need medicine, which is good, because this sick-cat stuff is ridiculously expensive! 

Life has been busy.  Maybe I'll get to make stuff other than food this weekend.  I can hope. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Crafting Accountability

I am terrible about buying craft supplies, then never using them.  I'm the sort of person who has all sorts of lofty ideas for projects, but then I rarely get around to actually doing them.  I mean, just look at how many books and magazines I have for ideas:

That's just some of my books/magazines!  I have two five-foot shelves filled with nothing but back issues of Martha Stewart Living.  It's a sickness. 

So, I've decided that for some accountability, I'll mention that I intend to use my stuff and actually make things before the year is over.  Just a few of the things I've bought and have either not used or barely used:

Okay, so most of the punches in the last photo were actually given to me by a very sweet friend, and I do use them... but not enough.  I didn't even show you the drawers full of pretty papers that need to be used.  I could probably never buy paper again, and still have enough to make thousands of cards or whatever else. 

I think what holds me back is a fear of failure.  I'm the sort of perfectionist who would rather not try than potentially fail at something or not have it turn out just right.  I need to get over that.  So now you know.  And because I've now made my intentions public (even if my blog is barely read anymore), I'll have to be accountable to actually making things. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Caddo Lake State Park

We needed a vacation, but our house and sick cat seem to take all our extra money.  So, we opted for camping, which costs little.  I felt a little guilty about leaving Calvin, especially after he was diagnosed only days earlier with yet another bladder infection, but let's be honest.  If I waited to leave until he was better, well, I'd never go anywhere.  And we were only about 3 hours away, so if there was an emergency with him, we could make it back.  Besides, we have very wonderful friends who are willing to give him his pills and anything else he needs. 

We went to Caddo Lake State Park.  I first read about it in an issue of Texas Highways magazine.  I was completely taken by the swampy photos.  It reminded me so much of Louisiana, which is where I more or less grew up.  We wound up loving the park and intend to go back at some point.  (Youth group retreat, perhaps?)  It's beautiful, and the facilities are very nice.  (I'm a city girl, so one of my camping requirements is bathrooms with flushing toilets and showers.)  We even had water and electricity at our campsite, which wound up being a huge blessing, as it meant we could keep a space heater on in our tent at night.  It was crazy cold. 

We had a very nice, relaxing time.  Just hanging out with no schedule or agenda was exactly what we needed.  And of course, hanging out in God's creation was just fabulous and sorely needed. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Calvin's Latest

Calvin's newest hidey-hole: Steven's stormtrooper bag
This weekend Calvin peed on the piano.  The PIANO.  Okay, so he actually peed on a shirt that Steven left sitting on the piano, but it sat for hours before it was discovered.  Yes, it messed up the finish, but at least it was closed, so he didn't hurt the musical components.  But still...

I figured he had yet another bladder infection.  He takes a daily antibiotic, and I feared he'd built up resistance to it.  Seeing as he runs out of it this week, and I really didn't want to shell out $76 for a new bottle (and that's for only 30 pills!) if he's resistant to it, I took him in for testing.  I brought him to the vet's on Monday, and he spent his day in a cage waiting for his bladder to fill enough for them to take a urine sample.  The longer he sat, the crankier he became.  Punk Cat slapped and snapped at anyone who dared to open his cage.  I was finally called to come get him because he wasn't going to let anyone near him.  *sigh*

Went back for attempt #2 this morning.  He went in with a full bladder, so they did the procedure right away and sent him home.  The vet called later in the day to say that he does have another bladder infection.  Based on the shape of the bacteria, he's ready for a different antibiotic.  She recommended a shot, so poor baby had to go in for a third time in a mere 36 hours to receive it.  Calvin looked so defeated when I got out the carrier and grabbed him yet again. 

Here's the worrisome news:  He also had some glucose in his urine.  My first reaction was, "Seriously?!"  I mean, how much more can this poor cat (and his tired parents) take?!  The vet said that sometimes that happens if the cat is stressed, and he certainly had a stressful couple of days, so we're hoping that's all it is.  Also, she didn't find keto-whatsits and something else that are usually present when there's diabetes, so that's encouraging.  We'll retest in a couple of weeks.

Frankly, though, if he turns out to have diabetes, we probably won't treat it.  He's had enough and doesn't need yet another medical procedure added to his daily regimen. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween Recap

Just a few photos from the weekend...

Steven's costume for the contest at work:

We decorated the house for our Hitchcock-themed party on Friday night.  We used things from Rear Window, The Birds, and Psycho:

Steven cleaned up the bloody knife that was on the bathroom counter before I could take a picture.  When he was outside splashing red paint on the shower curtain, our next-door neighbor came out and asked, "You didn't have much of a childhood, did you?"  Steven said that he did not.  Gotta make up for all that Halloween denial!

Saturday night we attended a party with a duct tape theme.  Some of the costumes that people came up with were amazing

Steven the Stick Person

Me--got the idea from a Target ad I saw for a girl's go-go dancer costume

A knight and a vending machine

Cyberman from Dr. Who

Betty Rubble--this was my favorite!

Rubik's cube and Nolan Ryan

The Joker--probably the best costume of the evening!