Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: A year in Retrospect


I celebrated 23 years of life!

John celebrated 27 years of life!

We celebrated 1 year of marriage!

I started my business with Thirty-One!

John's cousin Drew graduated High School!
We visited the family in Houston for his graduation and made a trip to Galveston!

Jacob moved to college

Corpus Christi & San Antonio/Sea World Vacation

Milestones - we both held the same job for the entire year!
We lived in the same house for an entire year!
We accomplished several of our goals for from our 101 in 1,001 list!

Happy New Year!
Have a Safe and Happy New Years' Eve!!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

What's in a Name, Fourth... Fifth.

I don't know about other couples, but John and I always discuss names we like/dislike for our future children. {When we talk about our future children, I fondly refer to them as our "imaginary kids"}

One of the issues that keeps creeping up, is the name of our first born son.
My darling hubby is John B. Lewis IV
So naturally, we're pretty much locked into our son being named John B. Lewis V

I don't mind so much the name - but what I do mind is all the nicknames.
{none of this is meant to be offensive if you - or a loved one goes by one of these names, they're just not for me : ) }

My name is Rebekah - my family called me Bekah growing up. My mother despised the name Becky for me. She just didn't think it fit my personality (nor do I), and she refused for me to be called by "a name that is not yours" (as she so aptly put it).  She was also pretty particular about people spelling my name correctly. It was an uphill battle for her when I was young, I can't count the number of times I heard her correct someone for calling me Becky.  I so, do not want to have these battles but it looks like I'm going to get to!

Oh where to begin: All of John's friends seem to think that our first born son will go by "Cinco" - yup, Spanish for Numero 5. I'm not even pregnant and hormonal or a Momma Bear and that ticks me off!
{mind you, his friends don't mind stepping on toes - they tend to do what suits them}

Growing up: John's father was "Big John" and my husband was "Little John". I'm sorry, but no. I don't want to refer to my {imaginary} child with a size disclaimer. It just urks me.

Then we get into the really sticky stuff - I want a clear distinction between John - my husband, and John, my child. I like the name variation "Johnny", but I am pretty certain it will just naturally be shortened and we're back to the issue of two Johns.
So, my solution - we intend for our son to be called by his middle name (seems pretty reasonable to me!) - Benjamin. If it naturally gets shortened to Ben, then okay!
Not Benjie as was quickly suggested (UGH!)

When this came up with family recently we got a lot of flack. I knew it was coming, but if I'm going to have the battle, why not sooner than later?
Even after this little tiff - I'm sure it will still be an on-going issue.
I don't understand why it can't just be left to us, the parents {of that imaginary child}.

All of our other {imaginary} children will have their names kept secret for this very reason.

Do you have a generational or heritage name in your family?
Did you have this same battle?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Adding Buttons

This post may be redundant or useless for some,
BUT for others like me - this was a huge issue of confusion!
{I seriously felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders when I learned this!}

So many tutorials on how to add buttons to your side bar are done in an older version of Blogger,
or assume you know how to navigate to certain pages...
I had tried everything with no success - but the Bestie knew and I'm sharing her knowledge.

Hint: You can leave the "Title" blank if you're just listing buttons to link ups you participate in
Or - if you're wanting to put sponsor buttons or daily reading lists on your sidebar, this is the way to identify what buttons these are.

 **Another Helpful hint: If you need to add more than one button, just follow the same steps, using the same gadget, hit "enter" and paste in your second buttons HTML code. They will line up one after the other!**

I hope this helps you!
If you are confused about anything in Blogger, I am by no means an expert but please do not hesitate to ask!
{I always felt strange asking people questions when I started out}

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Treading Water

Keeping up with the Jones' is an expensive and dangerous activity.
But it's the way that most Americans choose to live.

Materialism run amok, debt up to their eyeballs - unfortunately, when I look at many of our friends this is what we see. We struggle to keep ourselves on our path to financial freedom and out of the paths that lead to more financial destruction. Fact is, living within your means isn't fun and it isn't socially accepted.

John and I will get on a kick and see something that we just have to have.
It's not usually something small that we can just save a little and purchase.
We want to find ourselves debt free living the life of tomorrow, today.
Treading water is tiring.

The Rich rules over the poor and the borrower is slave to the lender.
Proverbs 22:7

 I drive an old truck. I hear things from others all the time, financial myths - "you'll pay for the car payment in the gas money you save not driving the truck". False, it's interesting what others assume without doing the math to check it. Unless you drive a tank or an incredible distance in your daily commute - you'll only save about 20-25% towards a car payment.

In John's office, lunch is a social activity. We've cut his eat out days to about twice a month. It's really nice that they offer for him to go out with them, but dogging on him for brown bagging it gets old.

Eating out is a major social aspect with our friends. We're slowly adjusting our regular dinner dates to a pot luck night... others aren't so eager to jump on the bandwagon.

Shopping for new clothes is an interesting issue as well. I love shopping, but it just isn't a financially responsible approach to clothing ourselves. We're blessed to have access to great resources for purchasing good quality, second hand clothes.

All this makes my friends sound like jerks which isn't true. They think they're helping. They've bought into the financial myths. {And we're probably a little sensitive to it all since it's less than fun to begin with}

Sometimes sticking to our financial plan feels like we're just treading water.
But slowly and surely we're making progress, the shore is just in site and we're getting closer to it.

Today I pray for those who are walking in the same path as John & I.
I pray that you provide for all of our needs while guiding our financial path to freedom.
I pray that working together to live in financial peace will strengthen marriages.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas

We had a great & relaxing Christmas!
At the last minute we decided we were over the whole wrapping gifts concept - so we started a new tradition. Santa bags! It's the best solution for our immediate family considering I'm the only female amongst 5 men! (The collage above) I scrambled around and made letters to identify everyone's bags.

Did you notice that we ended up with a White Christmas?
In Texas?!?

I won't lie, I'm totally over the concept of a white Christmas.
We travel to see family & while it's pretty, it complicates the driving.

Our 1.5 hour drive home turned into 4 hours.

Weather aside, we had a great Christmas!

We learned the tales of Bondage Barbie?!?  Pretty sure my Aunt Ruthie had a bit too much cough syrup and she exclaimed that Rachel's new Barbie must be Bondage Barbie (as she undid the bindings around Barbie's ankles for packaging purposes).

Oh & I made vague threats to my brother on Christmas Eve - sorry about that, I blame sleep deprivation!

We had a very blessed Christmas!
We requested very practical things from the family - Josh is gifting us manual Labor!
He is going to do some sheet rock work we've been needing done in our bathroom, but I'm not gifted in that particular area of construction.

Robert gave us a home made coupon for a car detail! With our fur babies in and out of our car all the time - it needs it!

My Daddy was beyond generous! We asked for some new cables, our bedroom television was having some problems staying connected to the DVD player. We were hopeful it was just poor connection cables, or a loose wire in the TV. (Mind you, this was my Granny's TV) My Daddy went out and bought us a brand new bedroom TV!!

We are so blessed!!

I also kind of stumbled upon a "First" for John & I. It was our first Christmas to spend with my family!
It was our 4th Christmas together. 4 years ago we planned for him to spend Christmas Eve with my family & Christmas Day with his, but it was snowing (the only other White Christmas I've ever seen!) and right before Christmas Eve services (when we kick off our Christmas events) he had to head off to his Moms to get off the roads. I was nonchalantly discussing the evening when I realized he clearly had no clue what I was talking about: why it would be obvious that I needed to make chicken noodle soup or what? we're going to church tonight? Oh yeah, I guess he wouldn't know...duh.

I hope you all had a Blessed & Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas!

For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders. And He shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
- Isaiah 9:6

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Best Friend Date

Yesterday I had a date with my Bestie!
Technology is much more intuitive for her than it is for me
and I needed some serious help!

Pizza, breadsticks and Blogger!

A HUGE thanks to Lauren for updating my blog design, adding the nifty buttons and solving all of my Blogger mysteries!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Literary Junkies: Night Circus

With all the Christmas craziness, I didn't manage to pull my act together enough to post in the link up with all the other ladies in the Literary Junkies group. So here's my post, a tad bit late.

Goings on in Texas

1. What are you currently reading? Tell us about it.
I just finished Night Circus, which was our first selection with Literary Junkies. I loved it!! Very rarely am I immediately involved and engrossed in a story line. This book grabbed me from about page 3 and held my attention the whole way though!
I haven't started another book yet, but I'm probably going to jump into JK Rowlings Casual Vacancy (our January book selection).

 Currently Reading

2. If you could choose any author in the world to write a story based on your life, who would you choose to be the author? Why?
Stephanie Meyer. She gets a lot of flack because she isn't the most amazing author in the world. I pick her because she knows how to tell a good story. She may not use the best literary tools, but she can express an idea with great effectiveness.
(you should check out her non-Twilight book The Host if you hold Twilight against her ;)

3. Tell us about your favorite place to read.
 The couch. We have a little corner of the couch that butts up to the other couch creating a 'nook' of sorts (we seriously need to get a sectional). It's the perfect space for reading, a place for both elbows and back support!

4. What books would you buy for lovers of
a) suspense/mystery, b) chicklit, c) comedy, d) literary fiction, e)nonfiction, f) classics?
 Oh goodness, well I'm not great at picking out my own books, much less books for someone else...
a. suspense/mystery - The Night Circus, it's officially one of my favorite books!
b. chicklit - Anything by Jennifer Weiner. I particularly like Good in Bed
c. comedy - hmm... I'm not sure. I know I've read books that make me laugh, but I can't think of any off the top of my head.
d...e... no clue!
f. classics - My favorite book of all time The Great Gatsby!! 

Come join us with Literary Junkies!! You would be jumping in at a perfect time with plenty of time to get our next book read before our discussion (twitter party)!


renting vs. buying

 Secrets to renting a home

This is the current topic in our household right now and I'm curious what your take on it is.

When John and I left our last house for this one we swore we would never rent again.
We'd been burned by our landlord - in retrospect we would have seen the signs that we were signing an awful lease with awful businessmen but alas, we were young and naive.

Today we find ourselves in a financially comfortable house, but it's a temporary solution at best.

The facts: we've got to move. John is driving 115 miles to & from work each day. He is very sweet about it but I don't want that much of his time to be sucked into a commute in Dallas traffic each day. Fact, we have 2 dogs and a cat that need space to roam (not a ton, but a big back yards worth). Fact, we're still working on becoming debt free, so we want to make financially smart decisions.

My parents have only ever owned their homes.
I've never truly seen the world of renting beyond a temporary solution.
I'm having to move beyond the idea of it being a stop-gap and considering it as an option.

Right now we're leaning heavily towards renting a house in the spring between our two jobs.
We're excited about the possibilities of being closer than 30 minutes from the restaurants we like.
Closer than half an hour from the movies!
We're also thinking about starting a family, so in roughly 6 years we will have a child that will start kindergarten. I refuse to put my children in the ISDs we would be living in.

Should we even consider buying a house that we wouldn't live in for more than 5 or 6 years?

What did you do when you were first starting out as a young married couple?
Rent or buy - what swayed you?

Friday, December 21, 2012

SCC: 10th Anniversary

This past weekend was the 10th anniversary of the Sanger Christmas Celebration "SCC"

This year, we re-created popular scenes and songs from the last 9  years of productions.

I usually have multiple rolls or responsibilities in each production. This year I limited myself to the parts the Childrens Choir and Handbells were in. And, that was all I could handle, it was a full time job!

The Celebration Ringers: SCC 10th Anniversary
Follow the link embeded in the pic to see the Handbell Choir preform
My brother, Robert played Norman Rockwell
Reprising 2004, Bringing Christmas Cards to Life Size
The Childrens Choir represented Mexico by singing a reprise of "Let us go to Bethleham" in Spanish
(that's me on the left)

The children sang & danced showing various Christmas traditions in Mexico
John played Balthazar, the Ethiopian Santa

(A special thanks to Steve Robinson for his beautiful photos)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

10 things you should know about my best friend!

I've mentioned my bestie, Lauren, a time *ahem* or two ;) 
I personally think she's pretty neat - and the best part, you can get to know her too!
Here are some things you should know about her!
(and hop on over there and learn 10 things about me!)
  1. Don't call her before 10 am on a Saturday... for anything - ever! Lauren is less than a friendly morning person! But quite a delight once fully awake!
  2. She looks like a totally different person when her hair is straight as opposed to her gorgeous curly hair!
  3. She is a wonderfully talented artist! She makes beautiful unique pieces of jewelry! I love the pieces she has made for me!

  4. I am envious of her ability to say "no". She is very rarely over-committed or stressed out because she has a great outlook on life and priorities.
  5. She literally radiates Christs love for us! She is the perfect example of a Godly woman and I am so proud to call her my best friend!
  6. Lauren has a passion and a love for France. She has been three times!
  7. Though I proudly claim to be her best friend, the truth is - her best friend is her mom! (I'm okay with coming in second to Norma! She's pretty cool!!)
  8. Sanger is in her blood through and through.  Her family is our little towns heritage, literally - her ancestors were the first to live here! I wouldn't be surprised if when we're old and grey, she is still farming her family's land! 
  9. She has great fashion sense! If I manage to wear something trendy, chances are she had something to do with it!
  10. I couldn't pick between these two for the final thing... so:
    10a. She has a pretty nifty new car! In my book - that's big news!!
    10b. Lauren is a proud Delta Gamma! She has taught me a new appreciation for anchors!
Did I mention she was my Maid of Honor?
Now that you know these fun facts, you should check out her blog here.
Follow on Instagram @laurenmnel
Follow on Pinterest
Check out the Enjoying the Journey Etsy Shop

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It's ....

... Monday
... Tuesday
... Wednesday

If you read that with a tone of "blah", then you would be correct.  Much like the majority of Texans (thanks to our crazy weather), I have scummed to an awful cold. Friday I was feeling under the weather, by Sunday I was utterly miserable. Today I'm on the upward climb from this crud!

I've spent the better part of the week playing catch up with all the stuff that has piled up while I've been busy and sick (hence the post that was meant for Monday, delayed for Silence & Support Tuesday finally making it's way to Wednesday)

This weekend was a really busy one! We had our SCC performances that pretty much consumed my life! (post to come)

Friday was our office party! I have to brag on our local Dave & Busters - last minute, our planned party fell apart and I was responsible for figuring out something to do. I honestly didn't expect this party to go well at all - in fact I was really stressed about it. But it went perfectly!!

It was a weekend full of family! Saturday morning we got to see John's family from Houston (yay!) for a bit before they headed off to be with the in-laws! Saturday afternoon my Aunt, Uncle & their kiddos came to SCC! Then, John's parents came in for the second Saturday performance and we had dinner & a mini Christmas afterwards!

Last Weeks Goals

You are all getting to see just how bad I am at finishing tasks!
{To be honest, it isn't usually this bad, but SCC had a lot of prep time and kept me very busy.}

1.Send out Christmas Cards
Mostly finished - I have a few left...
2. Mail of 2 very over due packages
Does it count that I'm doing it today?? Plus one more that came in over the weekend.
3. Wrap Christmas Gifts/ Clear off desk
Didn't happen at all... In fact, I'm taking of Thursday afternoon of this week to tend to the wrapping disaster we've got going.
4. Make Childrens Choir Streamers
 Can I say failed attempt?? They were cute for one performance before the kids picked at the ribbons until they were a frayed mess. They hit the trash by the 3rd performance never to see the 4th or 5th.
5. Order catalogs & Spring add on kit for 31
add on kit ordered (so excited for the new stuff!!) but I haven't ordered catalogs yet.

This week - I need to...
1. Finish last weeks projects (duh.)
2. Do my 2 last minute Christmas DIY gifts
3. Finish my silver ornament wreath
4. Buy Santa Bags
5. Replace the edible parts of John's stocking stuffers that he ate...

Oh & to conclude - I wanted to share the beautiful gift I got from Lindsay at Follow the Ruels from a giveaway!

This beautiful lunch box came with a giftcard to Starbucks, a cute pair of Christmas socks (that are on my feet right now), and some delicious candy!
Thank you Lindsay!!