Saturday, September 30, 2006

Shawn, Miranda & Tyler

Being a Mom to Shawn (24), Miranda (21) and Tyler (17) has been a blessing beyond my wildest dreams!
As I told you, I played with dolls until the day my Mom brought home a real 'doll' for me to play with when I was 12 years old. I knew then and there that I couldn't wait to get married and have my own kids!

About three years after Randy and I married we gave birth to Shawn on May 30, 1982. I couldn't believe he was all ours! I was so excited to bring him home in the pale yellow blanket that his Daddy had been brought home in 28 years before. I LOVED being a stay-at-home Mommy!
Shawn was the love of our life!

Then 2 1/2 years later we brought home our precious daughter Miranda in that very same yellow blanket... she was born Nov. 23, 1984. We were elated to say the least... we had our little Deucy Lamb (as her Daddy called her)! And now I could play with dolls again! We adored her!

Tyler became a part of our family 4 1/2 years after Miranda...
born Mar. 16, 1989. I really and truly thank God EVERY day for him! Randy and I would be empty-nesters                                                
had he not come along. I LOVE being his Mom and                                        
I love his tender heart. He too, was brought home in the                                            
same blanket that his Daddy, brother and sister were brought
home in and all three wore the same sleeper that
I was given at Shawn's baby shower.

I am so thankful to have been a stay-at-home Mom for all these years. I got a job at a Christian Preschool when I moved out here to Phx and 5 years later, I put in my last day and Shawn was born two days later. Randy and I had made a decision when we got married that we would sacrifice WHATEVER for me to stay home with our kids. We may not have always had much... but nothing gave us greater peace than knowing the Lord was our Provider, that He was meeting our needs and that... well, I could stretch a buck like no other!!
But I can honestly say that there were times that I didn't handle it so well... often times fearful of the future... weary of living by faith. But the LORD was faithful... inspite of me. He blessed me with a loving, involved husband and kids that we are so proud of!
By the grace of God they are amazing kids... even though at times we didn't always feel like we were doing this parenting thing as well as we could have. I so appreciate it when Oprah says to her viewing audience that parenting is the hardest job ever! It really is...

Here they are... at their cousin Evan's wedding a couple months ago... thinking it would be funny to take the silver wedding rings decorating the tables and... to decorate their faces! (click on the pic to enlarge)

Come on, these can't be my babies!!!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

29 years ago today...

I arrived in Phoenix, Arizona!!

In 1977, I was a 20 year old farm girl looking for adventure!
Linda and I sang in church the morning we embarked upon this journey of faith. We hugged our family and friends and then we hit the road. I loved traveling. I enjoyed every single mile... the breathtaking scenery AND the music on board. Linda had brought 2 cassettes... 2nd Chapter of Acts and Keith Green. I had never heard such music! It would change my life!!

Even though I had become a Christian in H.S. while watching a Billy Graham Crusade on TV... I had grown little in my faith. But I always had such a deep longing to totally live for Him in everything I did. SO when my friend Linda started talking to me about going out to Phx for a year... well, I literally thought... OK, I will take up my cross and follow Him to Phx! I would learn and grow and become equipped to come back and make a difference in my community! I also had no idea where in the heck Phx was! So a couple weeks before we left, I was looking at the weather map on the news and was shocked to discover that AZ was way, WAY out West... like touching California! Oh my!
But in all my planning, in all the good byes, I was at total peace... knowing I was doing the right thing. I had never felt more sure about anything in my entire life! God's plan was unfolding and I was along for the ride! I was expecting GREAT things!

Upon arriving in Phx, Linda stopped at Coco's, where she worked the year before, to get on the schedule. I was bubbling over with excitement, anxious to tell ANYONE that I was new in town! So I turned to the guy sitting at the counter near me and told him I had just moved here from WI! He said where in WI... I said between Black River Falls and Eau Claire... and he said HE was from Black River Falls! I went wild! He even knew my cousins! Right then and there I knew I was right where the Lord wanted me to be. This big city didn't seem quite so big and scary after all. This was home.

We immediately found a fully-furnished apartment. The next day we bought new guitars from a neat man at a music store... who would eventually be our record producer in the studio. Then while trying to find Hand in Hand, we ended up at another Sat. night concert venue where we met the guy that was in charge... we sang for him two days later... he booked us to open for Barry Maguire. It was at that concert months later that the guy that we had been trying to audition for (so we could sing at Hand in Hand) came up to us and said he'd get us on the schedule... and it was at THAT VERY FIRST Hand in Hand concert that I met Randy! Hello!! Are you getting all this!!??

That FIRST WEEK IN PHX literally set the stage... pardon the pun, but LITERALLY SET THE STAGE for me to meet my future husband at that Hand in Hand concert 6 months later! Still gives me goose-bumps after all these years!!

And the only reason Randy took our phone number that night was because Linda and I were in the studio recording and he sorta accidently asked me out so we could talk about it. Oh, and did I happen to mention that Linda and I had the same first and last name... so that when he called, he thought to ask for the Linda Larson that was not engaged... cuz yes, I would still be wondering if he got the right one! Thank God the other Linda was engaged!

So there you go... 29 years ago I set out on a journey that forever changed my life! I cannot begin to tell you all that the Lord has done in my life... oh, but wait... through blogging... I just may try!
So stay tuned for more...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

my latest deals

I love a good deal... and I love a good story... so every once in a while I plan on telling you stories about my latest deals!

First off you need to know that I am all about the thrill of the hunt... I would live this way even if Randy and I were living on lots of money. Cuz shopping for 'deals' is what I LOVE to do!
I don't shop retail... I don't shop sales... I shop clearance, thrift stores, yard sales, consignment stores, IKEA 'As Is' (I'll explain that later). I enjoy shopping even if I come up empty handed. That's the key, you gotta enjoy the process of finding the deals. I find little joy in just going out and buying whatever I want. First of all I would be overwhelmed... too much to choose from. But when you shop clearance only, you have a smaller selection to choose from... not as overstimulating to the senses.
I shop year round for birthdays, Christmas, baby gifts, etc. I love finding good, quality gifts that cost a fraction of what it retails for. I will buy stocking stuffers year round... fun, special gifts that are unique to each person.
I have a huge stash of 'deals' that I can grab and wrap for most any occation.

I also love buying things at thrift stores and yard sales that I can REINVENT, RESTORE, RECYCLE, REFURBISH... REVIVE!!

I love looking at something and think... what can I do with that? What could it become? How can I give it another life? My creative juices kick in and I can hardly wait to get started!
I will buy designer clothes that end up at a Goodwill, or Savers, wherever... because of a missing button, a rip in the seam... something I can easily fix. I recently got a pair of DKNY jeans in mint condition for $2.00 because one end of the belt loop needed to be reattached. Can you believe my good fortune?!!
Now about IKEA... Randy and I have yet to put together anything that we have bought at IKEA... because we buy 'As Is' only. I know what I want... and will wait till it ends up in 'As Is'... for a fraction of the cost AND all put together! Don't you love that!

My deal of the day- went to Mervyn's for their 50% off clearance today. Didn't even know that they carried Aerobeds... well, they were clearancing the last one... they were no longer going to carry them... retailed $100.00... clearanced for $50.00 and today for $25.00!!! Randy and I had mentioned several time that we needed a Aerobed to sleep friends and family! YES!!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

the dentist

Went to the dentist last week... knowing they were once again going to tell me I needed three crowns over these massive fillings I had put in decades ago. You see back then they used materials that expand and loosen over the years... and then cavities form underneath and so they need to be refilled and crowned. Notice how they are called crowns now rather than caps... does sound rather noble, even less painful. So this time I said, sure, I got nothing going today. Five hours later I was on my way home. They had done the side needing two crowns. I know this sounds creepy... that's my new word... it can mean most anything... anyway, I enjoyed the whole process. I'm serious. The three shots did not even hurt... I know, creepy.
It was just... very interesting... and blog-worthy.

Mind you, I have had nothing done outside of fillings on my teeth... and growing up, having those procedures were the most terrifying experiences of my life... just ask my siblings.
Mom would take us to this creepy, old, three-story brick building (probably only two-story, but it seemed that we were climbing stairs forever)... and we'd walk down this dark, scary, creaky, echo-y hallway with 12 foot ceilings to the dentist chambers. The waiting area was a dark and dingy, medicinal-smelling holding room... you could hear every moan and groan from the other victims (I mean, patients) going on in the other room. The dentist was this heartless, evil-looking man that hated children. You think I am being funny... I'm not... he hated kids. He would get angry and holler at us if we moved in the slightest. He was like this crazy, fuzzy headed scientist and we were his tortured labratory rats. And this is no joke, the fillings we got back then were done without a single shot of novicaine! We felt everything... it was excruciatingly painful... and he seemed to take great pleasure in drilling every exposed nerve in sight. The one and only time I did get a shot, I proceeded to unknowingly suck on my lip till the novicaine wore off... leaving me with a canker sore to beat the band!

So needless to say, last week was a walk in the park... soothing music, my favorite magazines, bright lighting, pleasant scenery, friendly faces... times have truly changed.

*** edited ~ after this was posted, my older siblings confirmed my suspicions ~ the dentist actually slapped us kids if we moved or cried.

Monday, September 18, 2006

my Pyrex collection

OK, so I thought I would add a new feature to help spice up my blog site a little.
My various collections!
Every once in a while I will be highlighting one of the many treasures that I love to collect. My motto is "if you have more than one of something, then it's a collection that I need to start collecting"! So needless to say, I have many collections!

When Randy and I got married 27 years ago, we inherited the nesting set of Pyrex bowls from his Mamaw Bean. I fell in love with the yellow, green, red and blue bowls! Thus began my love affair with Pyrex!
I remembered growing up on the grey-rimmed Pyrex dishes and was able over the years, to find the red, chartreuse, and blue-rimmed dishes. I have two place-settings of each color cuz my Mom had saved two place-settings of the grey... but no grey-rim coffee cups. So several years ago when I went with Randy to Alaska on a concert tour, I found two grey-rimmed coffee cups!! (the only two!) How cool is that!

My favorite is the glass refrigerator containers. Around the 40's and 50's our parents used these containers to put their leftovers in... before Tupperware was invented. These square and rectangle vivid colored containers are simply adorable!
Oh and btw, I never spent more than a quarter or fifty-cents for any of my Pyrex till Martha did an article in her magazine about the up-and-coming collectibles... Pyrex being the newest craze. Then I started noticing that I wasn't seeing as much Pyrex in the thrift stores... they had made it to the bigtime... the antique stores.
Oh, and those six cute mugs on the bottom shelf of my hutch are Fire-King cola mugs. I found each of them at six different thrift stores over many years. It's like they were waiting for me to rescue them so all six could finally be together. I love when that happens!

Monday, September 11, 2006

check this out

Hey, it's me... back with a quicky.
You've got to check out one of my favorite blog sites-
She's the one that got me started in this whole blogging thing. And I thank her!
And her Mom, Nancy and I were pregnant with Amy and Shawn at the very same time.
Anyway, Amy has posted some pics from yesterdays scrapping.
Check them out and enjoy!

softball, 4-H and the York Rodeo

Yesterday was our monthly scrapping day. Nancy, Becky and I and our three grown daughters Amy, Nicole and Miranda get together once a month and scrap. I LOVE scrapbooking with these women! They are all strong, creative, entertaining women. We talk, laugh, eat, encourage and inspire one another.
Amy has started giving us monthly challenges and last month it was to scrap about our childhood summers. She just emailed us our Oct. challenge and I can't wait to blog about it!
So I began to think back on my summers growing up on a farm in WI... easy... softball, 4-H and the York Rodeo.
Softball was huge... fast-pitch softball. None of this slow-pitch stuff. I loved watching the men's fast-pitch games. I loved playing the game. I loved the hot buttered popcorn, the cool night air and cheering in the stands. I wasn't a very good hitter. I didn't have a very good arm, so I played 2nd base. But I could run fast. And I was very competive! This pic is of our softball team riding in the York Rodeo parade. I'm on the hood of the truck, on the driver's side.

4-H consumed a majority of my time during the summer months. We would enter the exhibits we had been working on all year long in the Jackson County Fair. I would enter various sewing garments, jars of canned goods, leather craft items and knitting projects to be judged. I still have all my ribbons and several outfits I sewed from those 10 years in 4-H. We would take shifts in the 4-H food stand throughout the 4 day event. I loved the atmosphere, the rides, the cattle barns, the cute carni guys, the hot carmel popcorn, the grand stand shows (even the tractor pulling contests) and seeing our fellow 4-Hers from other clubs. Our club was named the Northfield Go-Getters!

And then the summer ended with the Annual York Rodeo. Our farm was a mile from the little town of York. (pop. 32) York was "Home of the Biggest Little Rodeo in the U.S.A"! I still have the very T-shirt with that very saying on the front. People came from far and wide to see the parade, the rodeo, the garden tractor pull, play bingo, ride the shetland ponies, eat grilled chicken, watch softball and sit in the dunk-tank. The York Rodeo was a big deal in our little town and still is to this day! Did I mention my love for hot buttered popcorn!!

Well, there you go... my summer memories. What are yours?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

six random thoughts

Randy turns 53 today and was born in '53... is there a name for that when it happens?
My feet grew a half a size with each of my three kids... why?
I am convinced that if you talk to anyone long enough you will find you know someone mutually.
Why does red paint appear pink in the can but goes on red?
I have watched every single episode of "judging amy" many times over and I still cry.
How is it that "pure country" is the most romantic movie and the couple never even kiss!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

camping in the van

How could I have forgotten one of my favorite 'simple pleasures'... camping in our van!
And that is just what Randy and I did Sunday night.
Randy and I decided to take Tyler up to NAU in Flagstaff to see his best friend Zac. Zac had only been there a week... but Tyler was missing his buddy and we were anxious to get out of the heat.
We left Phx in 104 degrees and arrived 2 hours later in Flag to 74 degrees! After dropping Tyler off at Zac's dorm, we went to the Olive Garden for dinner... waited out in the patio sipping margaritas... feeling ourselves relaxing in the cool evening breeze. Loved the pasta, breadsticks, the new skinny sugar packets (when did those come out?) and the Andes mints with the check. Could the day get any better?! YES... we found the perfect camp site in the forest outside Flag near Marshall Lake.
Now you gotta know that for years we camped in our van on our trips to WI because we HAD to. Not only could we not justify a hotel but it was not worth waking the kids to get them in a hotel, only to have to get them back to sleep. So we'd tuck them here and there for the night.. and often times Randy and Shawn would sleep outside. (yes, we would not do that now)
But guess what? Those have become our favorite memories... sleeping in the van... through awesome thunderstorms surrounded by semi-trucks... or Randy and Shawn finding out at 3 am that they were sleeping only yards from a railroad track as the train came rumbling by... yes, scaring them to death! Tell ME you get that kind of adventure at a Motel 6?
So, do you guys remember what silence sounds like? Well, it is the absence of a humming frig, the AC, ice cubes falling in the tray, dogs, cars, sirens, airplanes... everything! We did not hear a single sound all night! So I did not sleep all night... ok, maybe a couple hours. But it was so fun camping in the van!! By the way, we only brought a change of clothes, deodorant, 4 water bottles and LOTS of pillows and blankets... I kid you not... nothing else!! Forgot the camera and flashlight. We woke up to 48 degrees, drove into town, had the best coffee and scones at Macy's on Beaver Street. Then to the 'Art in the Park' festival... met some real interesting artisans. Wanted to buy this amazing piece of steel work that twirls in the wind... $45.00 was too steep. Went over to the visitors center at the old train depot for some info... found the same thing in their gift shop for $25.00!!! Way cool!
The Indian fry bread for lunch took me WAY back... had not had that since Linda and I would go to Park 'n Swap for some in the late 70's! Yummo! Then we shopped, napped back at the camp site, to Bookmans for magazines, then Barnes & Nobles, TCBY for ice cream... talked, laughed and dreamed with Randy for hours and then picked up the boys for dinner... just the best weekend!
I am refreshed, hopeful and a little better prepared for the next thing. And God only knows what that will be...

Friday, September 01, 2006

simple pleasures

what are the simple pleasures in your life?

for me...
iced coffee w/ coconut creme
clean bed sheets
walking Koda
magazines in the mail
organizing a junk drawer
scrapbooking photos
mending clothes
comments on my blog
a fire in the woodstove
traveling anywhere with Randy
smell of orange blossoms
Miranda singing
yard sales & thrift stores
falling rain