Married to the Empire

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Calvin, or, The Reason I'm Not at Youth Camp

Since I stayed home from youth camp this year because of Calvin, I figured I should let you know how he's doing. I was worried about leaving him, even for just a night, as he's recently exhibited some signs of having a bladder infection again. (The vet said that if he does that, just up his daily antibiotic from 1/4 pill to 1/2, which is exactly what I've done.) But he was good as gold for his auntie who came to care for him and Doogie. She said he took his pills like a champ, and he didn't make any messes. Whew!

He's actually been perfect since Steven left. Perfect. I even dared to let him nap in the bed with me on Sunday. I suspect that since he saw and understood Steven's packed bags, he was just so grateful that I returned home the same afternoon that Steven and I left the house with those bags, that he doesn't dare act up. Whatever his reasoning, I'll take it.

Calvin had a cute moment Friday night. We had a birthday dinner party with friends for Steven. I gave him a new Army of Darkness shirt, and he put it on Calvin, who was in his lap at the time. Everyone gave the appropriate awwwww at this, as Calvin didn't even flinch at being dressed, and in fact, started purring louder.

Last night I washed all the cat bowls and the placemat on the boys' food tray. I also moved the tray out so that I could sweep underneath it. The cats always get anxious whenever their bowls turn up empty, and this was no exception. Calvin made sure that I would notice him. You know, so I wouldn't forget to put the bowls back out. (As if.) He planted himself on top of his food tray, while Doogie milled about.

Speaking of Doogie, I snapped this adorable picture of him taking a nap in an odd place. It amazed me how cats can make themselves comfortable pretty much anywhere.

All in all, life is good right now, except that we all miss Steven terribly.

**I typed this up last night before bed and scheduled it to post later. I think I jinxed things. I woke up this morning and smelled cat urine in the craft room. Guess my boy is tired of being good. But he validated my reasons for staying home from camp this year.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Youth Camp

I drove to Oklahoma on Monday with the wives of the other men who went to youth camp as sponsors. Our kids are at a missions-focused camp, and they are doing some seriously hard work! Most of them are doing manual labor around the campus of the children's home where they're staying--cutting grass and weeds, trimming bushes, cutting downed trees, scraping and painting. Others are building relationships with autistic kids who are there for a camp (not our youth camp). I'm so proud of all of them, especially as they have amazingly positive attitudes. We feared there would be a lot of whining and complaining, but instead, they're excited about what they are doing!

I got a few pictures during their worship service on Monday night:

Monday was my husband's birthday, which was truthfully the main reason I went to Oklahoma. Getting to spend time with our students was a bonus. One of the other sponsors said that we wives needed to take Steven with us when we went out to dinner. So, we went here:

The name alone cracked us up. Say it fast, and it sounds like salmonella. Additionally, it's called Sam & Ella's Chicken Palace. But it's not chicken; it's pizza. The food was excellent, thankfully.

**If you're new here, you might wonder why my photos from camp really aren't very good. I have a general policy of not posting clear photos of my students' faces unless I know their parents won't mind. For those who are on Facebook with me, you'll be able to see good photos there.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Our youth group leaves for camp on Sunday. For the first time, I'm not going. I'm just not comfortable leaving Calvin for a week. Our friends would take fabulous care of him, but my concern is that he pees on stuff and makes messes. They shouldn't have to clean that up. And lately, he's been at it again, so I'm confident that I made the right choice in staying home.

Every year we put out information sheets on all of our students, and the church gets the opportunity to "adopt" a youth. This entails sending the kids off with snacks and small gifts and promising to pray for them while they are at camp. It's really a neat thing, and I loved it the year I was able to call a friend from camp to let her know that her adoptee had accepted Christ!

I've never adopted a camper before. It was always hard enough to just get Steven and me out the door with everything we needed for camp without trying to have presents for a student, too. But as I'm not going to camp this year, I happily chose a student. I love all of our students, but I especially love the girl I chose to adopt. We have a lot in common, so I've been having a lot of fun putting stuff together for her.

The students are always encouraged to bring a notebook to camp for taking notes and writing down prayer requests. My adoptee shares my love of pink, so I doctored up this composition book for her:

I also made a card for her:

I had fun making this stuff for her and buying treats for her, too. (Although it was a little weird to buy a bridal magazine for a teenage girl. Apparently several of our girls have a hobby of looking at bridal magazines!)

When I learned that two of our girls are celebrating birthdays at camp, I made notebooks for them, too. I figured if they have to be away from home during their birthdays, it would be nice for them to have a small gift to open from the youth minister and his wife. (And there is a birthday celebration planned for the birthday girls and my husband, who is also having a birthday at camp, including cakes in each person's favorite flavor.) I catered to each girl's personal tastes.

Would you join me in praying for our students and sponsors while they're at camp next week? It will be a new experience for them, as this year they're attending a missions-oriented camp, rather than going to Centrifuge at Glorieta again.

Monday, July 19, 2010

12th Anniversary

Steven and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary this past weekend. Our actual anniversary was Sunday, but our big anniversary thing was on Friday night. We went to the Winspear Opera House in Dallas to see Beauty and the Beast.

The show was fabulous! We had a great time, and it was wonderful to get dressed up for a night out.

We treated our actual anniversary as a low-key, relaxed day. We went to church in the morning, as usual, but we got someone else to cover our youth stuff in the evening. We went to lunch with friends, then came home and took a much-needed nap. Poor Steven has been working insane hours the past several weeks, and desperately needs some rest and downtime. Later, we went to Pappadeaux for dinner (my favorite Cajun restaurant), then to the huge Half-Price Books in Dallas. Very enjoyable day.

Someone asked us yesterday if it felt like 12 years. Neither of us knew how to answer that. On one hand, if we think back to our wedding day, it feels like forever ago. But on the other hand, 12 years really have flown by. Marriage has been a joy and not the hard work that most people say it is. In that sense, 12 years of marriage has been no time at all!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Blackberry Picking

Some friends found blackberries growing wild in a rather unexpected place: along the golf-cart trail of a local golf course. They'd been out there walking, found the blackberries, and went back later with containers to pick them. They invited me out with them last week. Painful and messy, but thoroughly enjoyable! And free!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


The Star Wars room is well on its way to becoming something else.

Would you believe Steven bought that weight thing for only $150? The weights it came with are still out in the garage. He did have to buy an Olympic bar for the weights, as the guy he bought it from kept the bar (but not the weights--weird). I didn't realize what an amazing deal my husband got until we started pricing weight bars. Wow. The bar he bought cost half of what he paid for that entire weight system!

And lest you think that Star Wars has completely been abandoned by my husband, I've included this picture so you can see that he intends to still decorate with it.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Weekend Thrifting

A new thrift store opened up close to my home, and it boasts a department store feel with thrift store prices. Hmmm. I finally checked it out on Friday. The ads were right; it does have more of a department store feel, especially as clothing was displayed neatly on tons of racks, and everything was organized according to size. I rarely look for clothes at thrift stores because I don't have the patience to dig, but this store made it easy. Besides, I was inspired by the Frugal Homemaker's video of her latest thrift store clothing finds.

I wound up buying three skirts. A black J. Crew skirt was a mere $2. A brown Talbot's skirt (that looked brand-new) was $4. A Hanna Andersson holiday-looking plaid skirt was $4. All in great condition.

(Please ignore the fact that I laid everything out for display on my kitchen floor. A certain Sick Kitty peed all over the bag I brought them home in. I still need to wash the skirts, and there was no way I was laying them on a less-washable surface after getting hit with cat urine. I'd also shoved some DVDs my pastor lent to me in that bag. Those got the brunt of the attack, so I now own Monk Season 1, and my pastor's family is getting a new set. The things I put up with...)

I wasn't impressed with this new thrift store when it came to housewares, though. That's my favorite thing to look at in thrift stores, as I keep hoping for another amazing find, like the brand-new Le Creuset casserole I found last year for only $11. This new store had a very paltry housewares section, and most of it was overpriced. Bummer.

Oh! I just remembered that two weeks ago I found this great little cast-iron skillet in my favorite thrift store. I can't remember, but I think I paid $4 for it.

I gave it a good washing and scrubbing (yes, I even used soap, which I know is a big no-no, but it's used), then I reseasoned it. Love it! I think it might be old, but I'm not sure. This is the underside.

I'm linking up to Thrift Share Monday at Apron Thrift Girl. Love here blog! Check it out if you've never visited before. She finds way cooler stuff than I do.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Star Wars Room Makeover

The Star Wars room is getting a major makeover.

It's becoming a workout room. Steven got an amazing deal on a weight thing on Craig's List. And we already had the treadmill, although I never used it much because the dark blue of the room made it really hard for me to spend time in there. (It felt too claustrophobic or something.)

Frankly, I don't know how much of a Star Wars room it will be in the end. Steven has some great posters and photos that will still hang on the walls, but I don't know what he'll do with his figures. I'm not sure he knows just yet.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Independence Day

I decided to attempt a reenactment of the Boston Tea Party as our 4th of July post. It didn't quite go according to plan. Our little "patriots" were not feeling cooperative. But hey! In the spirit of our fight for independence, our true patriots were not too cooperative, either.

No cats were harmed in the filming of this reenactment. They were, however, mildly humiliated, especially considering we were laughing hysterically at their antics throughout the entire process. They earned a trip outside for their trouble.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

C-R-E-A-T-E How-to

I have this strip of wall above the window box in my craft room that was just begging for some attention. I got the idea to spell out the word create, seeing as this is a room meant for creative pursuits.

First, my apologies for having very few pictures of this process. I did this project all the way back in January. (I just didn't put it on the wall until last week.) I thought I took pictures throughout the process, but apparently, I did not.

I started with 6 cork trivets from IKEA. They come in packs of 3 and cost a mere $2.99. I painted them with inexpensive acrylic paint (2 lime, 2 turquoise, 2 pink). This took a few coats because cork is ridiculously porous.

Then I created my letters. I considered printing out templates from the computer, but frankly, I'm starting to dislike how uncrafty a lot of crafts are becoming because of computers and machines like the Cricut. A little too generic for my liking. If I wanted my stuff to look like I'd bought it at a store, I'd just buy it in a store! Besides, I have nice handwriting, so why not put it to use? I measured my trivets to get an idea of how tall I wanted the letters to be, then I drew lines on cardstock. I drew letters within those lines to keep the letters all at a uniform size. (I could explain this so much better if I had photos, but I guess I forgot to take any.) Then I cut out my letters.

Once I had letter templates, I placed those on the papers I'd chosen to use, traced them, then cut them out.

The next step was to adhere them to the trivets. I brushed Mod Podge on the backs of them, using a sponge brush. Then I stuck them on the trivets.

Finally, I covered the trivets in Mod Podge. I think I did 2 layers, but I honestly can't remember.

I used the Mod Podge with glitter in it. At first, I wound up regretting that because the sparkles competed a bit with the busy paper patterns. However, this wound up being a good thing when it came time to hang them. I simply drove a nail through each trivet. The sparkle from the glitter made the silver nails completely unnoticeable. Otherwise, I think I would have needed to put a dot of paint on each small nail head.

I think that with the cost of the trivets, the paint, and the paper, I spent a total of $9 for this project.