Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year!


It's been a good year for me. Sure, there's been hard times, struggles, and even the loss of a family member. But the thing that sticks out in my mind is that God is faithful. And that He listens to the cries of our hearts. He answers prayers in His own time, but He always answers prayer. And He answered the cry of my heart, to meet and become friends with fellow Christians.

This time last year, I had never heard of a blog, and I didn't know any of the names on my blog roll, or so many others that I have met through this thing we call the "blogosphere". But now I have friends, some of who are far away and will only be online. Others, that I have the privilege of meeting in person and sharing game nights with, sleepovers, movies, dinners, and even holidays.

We don't know what the future holds. Next year, tomorrow, or even today. But God is in control. He is faithful, and God is Good.

Happy New Year, my blogger friends. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!


The Amstaff Mom

posted by Amstaff Mom | 8:20 AM | 7 comments




Thursday, December 29, 2005

Too Quiet


This week has just been too quiet. We're on a skeleton crew at work, and the blogosphere is exceptionally quiet. It was nice having work be so quiet for a few days, but now it's just downright lonely.

Thankfully today is my "Friday", as tomorrow, I'll be enjoying the company of one K-T, as we watch our chic flicks and eat our snacks. All while enjoying the day off at my house. Yea!

posted by Amstaff Mom | 7:37 AM | 11 comments




Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A Merry Amstaff Christmas


Well, another Christmas has come and gone, but not without enjoying friends and family, the celebration of gifts and the addition of 5 pounds in places it shouldn't be. But it was a very Merry Christmas indeed, and the celebration began on Friday and lasted all weekend. Friday was spent with Brian's family. Saturday,Brian spent the evening with his family and I spent the evening going to the candlelight service at my parent's church, and then went to my aunt and uncle's afterwards for eats and fellowship. Sunday, my parents and Cat came over around 2 and the rest of the family came over around 5pm. Games were played, food was consumed and fun was had by all.

Here are some pictures to recap the weekend.


Here's Cat and Eddo at my aunt and uncle's. In their non-Christmas attire. Humbug!



















Oh Christmas Tree,
Oh Christmas Tree,
Oh How I love thee
Pre-lit Christmas Tree.

















We don't have a fireplace, so here's my "mantle".
Notice Abby's stocking has a present inside. She got all excited when I took her stocking down.












She got a smoked bone for Christmas and feasted on it heartily.











My little Reindeer.

Rudolph ain't got nothin' on her.




















Jolly ol' St. Me.

And yes, I did wear this all day on Christmas, much to my hubby's chagrin.
















Three generations. A Very Merry Christmas, indeed.

posted by Amstaff Mom | 7:16 AM | 19 comments




Friday, December 23, 2005

And a Partridge in a Pear Glace' ; My Christmas Wish For You


Christmas, Part I:

I've got lots of stuff to do this weekend as Christmas kicks into full gear for us, beginning tonight. I have wrapped NO PRESENTS. NONE. NADA. ZIPPO. And the kiddos will be opening their gifts in less than 12 hours. I need to clean house in anticipation of 15+ relatives coming over Christmas on Sunday. I need to get various items at Target, and, in no particular order, here are the items that need to get cranked out of my kitchen this weekend:

1. Sausage Balls
2. Snickerdoodles
3. Chili-cheese dip and chips
4. Chocolate Praline Pie
5. Corn (plain for the kids and "boys")
6. Green beans (")
7. Corn spoonbread (like corn casserole but creamer)
8. Hot cider
9. Pecan Pie
10. Whipped Cream
11. Corn casserole
12. Rolls (I bought 96 and plan on baking all of them)

Thankfully I'm not responsible for the ham, turkey and pork chops!!!

I really, really enjoy baking and cooking, when I have time. I just hope I have time for all of it, but thankfully, it's spread out over three days so I should be in good shape. Well, after eating all that there's no possible way I'LL be in good shape, but you know what I mean.

Christmas, Part II:

I get off work earlier today than the fellas, and so I drove to work by myself for the first time in a long time. Since I'm normally the first dropped off in the family carpool, I normally only drive about twice a week and that's normally in our hometown. So I was able to enjoy cranking up my newest Third Day CD this morning and sing my little lungs out, and shed some tears along the way. My favorite track is number 3, and when I listened to it a second time, it became my Christmas wish for each of you. Many of you have had difficulties and hard times this year, and especially recently. So many are hurting and are crushed in spirit. Some that I know about, and others that I don't. So please remember - that two thousand and five years ago, a baby was born. The One that is eternal came to earth as a baby, to be born in a manger, to grow up to die on a cross for one reason. Love. An earth-shattering, undescribable love that we can't even begin to fathom. And we beg "to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ". I just wanted to share these words of comfort to you for Christmas.

To everyone who's lost someone they love
Long before it was their time
You feel like the days you had were not enough
When you said goodbye

And to all of the people with burdens and pains
Keeping you back from your life
You believe that there's nothing and there is no one
Who can make it right

There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus
Cry out to Jesus

For the marriage that's struggling just to hang on
They've lost all of their faith in love
They've done all they can to make it right again
Still it's not enough

For the ones who can't break the addictions and chains
You try to give up but you come back again
Just remember that you're not alone in your shame
And your suffering

When you're lonely
And it feels like the whole world is falling on you
You just reach out
You just cry out to Jesus
Cry to Jesus

To the widow who suffers from being alone
Wiping the tears from her eyes
For the children around the world without a home
Say a prayer tonight

There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus
Cry out to Jesus


I hope each of you have a very Merry Christmas and that you remember the true meaning of Christmas. "For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord".


Merry Christmas, my blogger friends.

The Amstaff Mom

posted by Amstaff Mom | 5:25 AM | 16 comments




Thursday, December 22, 2005

Ripley's: Belize It or Not


A week ago yesterday I was in Belize, hiking through the jungle. The JUNGLE where we saw a very large cat paw in the mud where I was walking, passed the swamps where the alligators live, saw leaf-cutter ants (sans the leaves), and enjoyed cave tubing at it's finest. We were a fast group of hikers, so we made it through the jungle and mud in record time, (there were 24 people in our group) and then we got in our tubes and formed 3 chains. Each person put their feet under the armpits of the person in the tube in front of them and down the river and into the caves we went. The water was really cold at first but felt great after awhile. We had miner's lamps on our heads and so we could see the inside of the caves and the stalactites, as well as the "evidence" of bats. I was hooked to a person that I had just met that day, and I had Brian's feet under my arms. He had a lady with that was wearing cross trainers instead of sandals for the hike. Every time we started to drift close to the side or if the current picked up, she began to squeeze Brian's chest like that woman in the Bond movie Goldeneye. This was not comfortable for Brian, as he was wearing swimtrunks with no shirt, and she was wearing the aforementioned cross trainers. At one point, we started to get pulled one way so she dug in ever harder but then Brian went ahead and let her go as she scraped the skin of his chest. She lost a shoe in the process and when it was just Brian behind me he exclaimed "she scraped my ni**le!!" It was sooo funny, and sure enough, he had red marks on his side and ni**le (I don't want people to be searching for this word to find my site!) So, when she returned to once again form the chain, she had one cross trainer on, and one wet sock under his armpit, next to his face. It was too funny people, too funny.

I took this picture on the hiking path to the cave tubing.












This was looking up from the tube as we were about to go into a cave. Obviously the cave pictures didn't come out and my one tube picture didn't come out well at all, but it was much fun anyways.














Here's an orange grove we passed while on the bus back to the port.














We ate a fabulous Belizian lunch of rice and beans, coleslaw, and chicken. It was delicious and only $5! This was at the restaurant, which was not enclosed at all and beautiful. I wish I had taken a picture of their Christmas tree. Because where else do you have a Christmas tree up when hibiscus are still blooming?







They had a cool palm tree too.

posted by Amstaff Mom | 7:02 AM | 3 comments




Wednesday, December 21, 2005

He Got You, I Got Mexico


Cozumel/Playa Del Carmen was not our favorite port by any means, as we got ripped off on our ATV tour in the jungle, with old four-wheelers that had no shocks, no brakes, and bald tires, but it still beat sitting in traffic on a workday. We enjoyed an over-priced lunch in Playa and watched some guys play volleyball on the beach. So here's a few pics in Mexico, the pictures of both Belize and Roatan have them beat by a mile.

During the ATV tour, we stopped in a cave and swam in a cenote, which if I remember correctly, is an underground spring where the water is as pure as it gets in Mexico. It was frigidly cold, but it was also refreshing after being covered in dust on the ATV's. And it was our first taste of the jungle.














If you look closely, in the top right corner, you can see Brian's feet standing on a board. So I'm under water taking this picture of the sunlight shining through on the rocks below. In some places, this underground spring was 30 feet deep. It was pretty neat.







This is in Playa, at Carlos & Charlie's.













The water was a pretty torquoise though. There's our cruise ship! They can't dock at the port anymore since the port was destroyed in the hurricane, so you have to tender in to Cozumel.

posted by Amstaff Mom | 12:35 PM | 7 comments




Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Back to Life, Back to Reality


Ha! Now you have that little diddy in your head, right? Well, I'm back from vacation, back from bliss,with only memories and photos and small souvenirs to remind me of the fun times with my hubby in the land of paradise. It was truly a marvelous vacation. Filled with adventure, relaxation, and fun-filled days. We had a couple of days at sea, where I was able to read a novel, watch the hubby play basketball and volleyball, and watch the same movies over and over and over again. Oh, and not forgetting an occasional workout to combat the vast amounts of rich, decadent food that I consumed. Two desserts a night, my friends TWO desserts. After eating an appetizer, soup, salad, bread, main course and then a cup of coffee. Ugh, no wonder I feel slighted by my cup of ramen noodles today.

Of course I took numerous photos of the beauty of the Caribbean to perserve the memories and to share with you, my blogger friends. I will share some today with you and know that I weep with sorrow that I'm not there to take more. Sigh. But Christmas is coming, and is right around the corner, so I anticipate it with delight!

Now, back to our show. Here's our beautiful ship. All 13 stories of her. Nice, eh?















Hubby and I enjoy a beautiful sunset. Obviously I'm taking the picture.













I absolutely LOVE sunsets, which is why I took so many pictures of them, but really, isn't this just amazing? Man, I wish I was back at sea right now.











We spent a few extra bucks the first night on the ship in order to eat at a steakhouse. It was bar none the best steak I have ever tasted. Black Angus Filet Mignon is the way to go! Cooked to perfection it was. That must have been one happy cow.










Mints on the pillow, nightly turn-down service and a towel animal. I could get SO used to that. We had a great room steward. I went to a class on how to make the towel animals. Hopefully they will be identifiable!










More photos to come later on in the week. Back to work for me!

posted by Amstaff Mom | 10:13 AM | 8 comments




Friday, December 16, 2005

Forgive Me!


The last two posts were written by me - Eddo of Posted Note. I couldn't resist.

One time my buddy Alan went into the Airforce and I had his blogger password and so I posted as him the entire time he was gone and people actually believe it was him - no matter how ridiculous the posts became, they stilll believed.

However, last night I had a dream that JCOL came home and she was not happy about me blogging on her site. The dream was so crystal clear that it was more like a vision than a dream.

Me: Did you see that I posted as you on your site?!

JCOL: Yes, I did. (Sad Face)

Me: You didn't like it?

JCOL: Well, it is my personal space and when I saw what you had done I just started crying.

Me: I am so sorry, I thought you would really like it.

JCOL: (Just shakes her head and makes a face that no, she didn't like it)

So, I hope you guys can forgive me for deceiving you. I thought you would figure it out in the first post when I said that she should have invited me and Cat.

Anyway, I am sure JCOL appreciates all of your well wishes!

posted by Amstaff Mom | 5:12 AM | 12 comments




Thursday, December 15, 2005

"Cozy"mel



The internet cafe I found is really nice but really slow and so I only have time to upload this one picture. Hubby and I are having a great time. Look how blue the water is! I am runnning out of room on my camera and I brought my extra 1 gig card so you can only imagine how many pictures I have.

The food has been great and Brian and I are having fun despite a couple of seasickness episodes that Brian had. (I'll tell you more aboutt this when I get home)

I do miss my Amstaff and all of my blogger friends. I'll be home soon!

posted by Amstaff Mom | 6:35 AM | 6 comments




Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Miss Me?


Hello blog world, I know you are probably very envious of me right now because I am on a ship cruising around Cozumel and Porta Vallarta while you are sitting at your desk reading my blog! Jealous Much? I would be too. I wish you could be here with me, how fun would that be?! SUMO fun!

What have we done so far? The better question would be what have we NOT done. Relaxing, eating, playing bingo, watching the shows - it has been such a great time and a much-needed get away. The only thing that would have made this trip any better is if Eddo and Cat could have come too. We totally should have invited them and paid their way as a Christmas/Birthday gift, but we booked the trip already and so it wasn't an option at the time. But we are getting them some really AMAZING souvenirs and lots of pictures and so they can live vicariously through us when we return.

Well, I gotta run, time for some Karaoke!

Latras!

posted by Amstaff Mom | 3:13 PM | 9 comments




Friday, December 09, 2005

Bon Voyage


I will be out of the blog world for the next week as hubby and I get away for some much needed R&R. Our little Amstaff will be in the very capable hands of our great blog friend K-T. Thanks K-T! I will be back very soon with a plethora of pictures and memories. Take care my blogger friends!

posted by Amstaff Mom | 8:35 PM | 6 comments




Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Down Side of Having a 4-Wheel Drive Truck


You're able to come in to work when all your co-workers are still snoozing in their warm beds, not willing to get out on the treacherous roads. I made it to work safe and sound, thanks to the safe driving of my hubby. But we left the house at 5:15 AM to avoid the crazies driving out there. ugh. It's so EARLY. sigh.

Hope NOT to repeat the 2 hour commute home like last night. sigh.

Be careful out there my Texas friends. It's pure ice!

posted by Amstaff Mom | 4:39 AM | 8 comments




Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I Want Sunshine, On a Cloudy Day


It is freeeezing outside. Well, almost, it's 33 degrees. But it's supposed to be 20 tonight. Brrrrr. And to think, it was in the 80's on Saturday. And, since I had my camera with me at work the other day, I will reminisce on how sunny and pretty it was just TWO days ago.


















I do not want to spend multiple hours getting home in sleet and icy roads today. Oh please oh please oh please.

posted by Amstaff Mom | 5:50 AM | 12 comments




Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Note To Self:


Be Still and Know, by Steven Curtis Chapman

[Psalm 46:10 / Zec. 2:13]

Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is holy
Be still oh restless soul of mine
Bow before the prince of Peace
Let the noise and clamor cease

Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is faithful
Consider all that He has done
Stand in awe and be amazed
And know that He will never change
Be still

Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is God
Be still
Be speechless

Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know He is our Father
Come rest your head upon His breast
Listen to the rhythm of
His unfailing heart of love
Beating for His little ones
Calling each of us to come
Be still
Be still


This is one of the most comforting and yet convicting songs that I've heard. I love to hear this song, and it usually makes me tear up. Hope you get to hear it sometime. -AM

posted by Amstaff Mom | 11:56 AM | 5 comments




Monday, December 05, 2005

Aerobics: A Love/Hate Relationship


Since the Turkey Trot was a big goal of mine, my main form of exercise these past few months has been jogging. I transitioned from swimming during the summer to jogging around the complex, so it's been a looooong time since I've done any of the classes offered in our gym. Today was step aerobics. Which brings both fear and loathing to my un-coordinated self. On the other hand, I love that I feel like I have burned some serious calories and worked my little muscles to their death.

There's something about listening to normally upbeat songs at a speed that Alvin and the Chipmunks could only dream about. I finally get to do "jazz steps" that I was forbidden to do as a kiddo, when only ballet and tap were allowed but not jazz. I feel accomplished when I can actually complete the whole routine without falling over the step (yes, I did this once) or going completely the wrong direction (I do this often). So today, I survived my first day back to the land of Step Aerobics. Yee-haw!

Now, I just need to survive tomorrow's class and Wednesday's yoga. ugh.

posted by Amstaff Mom | 11:01 AM | 8 comments




Thursday, December 01, 2005

Straddling the Fence!


You Are 45% Left Brained, 55% Right Brained



The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning.
Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others.
If you're left brained, you are likely good at math and logic.
Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.

The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.
Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.
If you're right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.
Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.

posted by Amstaff Mom | 2:00 PM | 6 comments