Oregon Trailing -- Day 1

Biscoff Cookies make me happy.

Pure joy in a little red foil. The husband loves me so much that he even let me have one of his on this last flight. I tried to tell him it wasn’t necessary, but that was only after I shoveled the last crumb into my mouth.

In fact, I’m pretty sure my most favorite thing about flying is the almighty Biscoff.

Well, that and my small fascination with horribly gone wrong wardrobe mishaps and malfunctions demonstrated by the folks parading through the airports.

But, dad gum it… I was super slow on my trigger finger yesterday. But I did know I was in the North as soon as I saw this….the sock/sandal combo. Still bumfuzzles me.

So, I’m back in the land of all things flighty. The husband had another business trip, and obligingly let me tag along. I always get giddy on trips like this, because it means sleeping late, eating (and taking pictures of) interesting food, and having an excuse to actually purchase souvenirs. The husband never let s me buy miniature Arkansas spoons or refrigerator magnets, so he humors me when we’re on vaca.

I deposited the rascals at the place of all things fun and Yahtzee (a.k.a. Grammy’s house) on Monday, and Kirk and I left Tuesday morning to head to the airport while all of you people were still snoozing and snoring.

We’re headed to Oregon this time. Yes. Oregon. And apparently Oregon is SO special, they feel as though you need to use the entire day to ponder its magnificence, so they make you zig and zag around the country to get there. So very generous.

I think I have been to Oregon before, but I’m pretty sure that the last time was in the back of an old avocado green or bronze colored station wagon. And my dad used a CB to talk to the other car in our caravan. And I had dog ears (pigtails to you civilized folk). So…..it’s been awhile.

Oregon seems a fun enough of a visitin’ stop on its own, but I’m especially excited because this trip isn’t all about the rascal-escapin’ and makin’ everything about me.

I get to meet this girl.

That’s Cat. And she has been on e of my bloggie besties for awhile now. She and I share a love of PineappleDiet Dr. Pepper, tweeny-bop musicals, and cooking the least amount possible. Kindred.

And not only do I get to meet her, I get to hang out with her. And chat. And slurp PDDPs.

Snort giggling guaranteed.





I'm a fixer.  And a peacemaker.

And I usually handle the job well.  I'm swift with an emotional band-aide and quick on my feet to become the center of attention (not in a weird way) to divert a tense or potentially awkward situation.  I will put myself out there to lighten the mood or take the heat....just for the sake of NO CONFRONTATION.

Confrontation terrifies me.

Like break out in cold sweat, throw up in my mouth a little, and shake like the dickens -- terrify me.  And I will go to great lengths to avoid it. 

And it isn't just about me.  I go to the same lengths for those around me.  All for the sake of peace.

But what I've discovered is that though I felt I was being the hero of a group by constantly bringing peace and cordiality to the whole, I might have actually been harming it.  Because there are times that people just need to be honest.  And open.  And not hide behind silly stories and funny anecdotes.  No matter how much squirmage ensues.

My disdain for confrontation in all shapes and sizes has reached a new level this week.  I've squirmed in my chair more times this week than I have in my entire life.  I've tried to be a band-aide.  And a fixer.  And a peacemaker.  But it didn't work.

And though I am trying to talk myself into believing that I'm a failure, I'm also beginning to realize that it isn't me.  That sometimes situations come that aren't fixable.  That some people aren't willing to allow peace.  That band-aides sometimes are useless.

So though I'm hurting for my own feelings that have been hurt, as well as those of my dear friends, I'm trying to count it all as joy.

Because sometimes peace doesn't mean everyone stays together.

Sometimes peace means walking away.  And sometimes peace means staying put and letting the other party walk away.  Sometimes fixing a problem means choosing to act like a mature adult and not involve yourself in tactics and scenarios that are adolescent in nature.  

And sometimes being the glue that tends to hold people together means to sometimes allow the two pieces to go. 

And know that it is time to just walk away. 

And allow God to do His job.  Because He is the ultimate fixer.  And peace-giver.  And his love and provision is greater than any bandaide.


Empty Drawer

I got home from the gym this morning and plopped myself back in bed.  Kirk was in the shower when I got home, like he is most mornings, getting ready to head out to his gym and then off to work.

I grabbed my laptop and perused a few blogs, checked in on twitter, and read through some emails.  And I could hear Kirk going through his morning rituals in the bathroom.  The click of his deodorant.  The exact same water pressure speed that he uses every.day when he shaves.  The sound of his toothbrush. 

I grinned to myself because I love that I know those things about him.  I love that if a room full of 10 men were all doing those exact things, I could pick Kirk out just by KNOWING how he taps his razor on the side of the sink.

And then he did something amazing.

Small.  But amazing.

He walked into our bedroom to get dressed. (That's not the amazing part...by the way.)  He opened up the drawer where he keeps the shirts he works out in, and then shut it.  I cringed because I knew that drawer was empty.  That load of clothes was still in the washer.  And has been for 2 days.  And needs to be rewashed because now the clothes stink like soured gym shoes. 

But he didn't say anything.

He just walked to his closet where he keeps his other t-shirts and grabbed one of those.

And I realized that he does this all.the.time.

And then I just had to kiss him.

Because he never says anything. 

He goes to work everyday and works his tail off for his family.  But never so much as even utters a complaint about deadlines, schedules, or stress. 

He heads out everyday and trusts me to take care of his babies.  But he knows that I take a lot of naps and spend a lot of time on my computer, but never even hints that he wishes I didn't.

He comes home and usually has to step over huge piles of toys, blocks, and shoes not put away just to get to the kitchen to grab a glass of tea, which on some days isn't even made up yet.  But he just steps around it and comes in and plants big kisses on each and every one of us and tells us how glad he is just to be home.

And then he goes to get clothes out of his drawer...and they aren't there.  But he doesn't say anything.

I'm not sure why he doesn't.

Because I know it has to bother him. 

But I think he just respects me enough to not.  I know that I waste a lot of time around the house piddling on the computer, watching DVR'd episodes of GLEE over and over and over again, and catching cat naps on the couch.  But I take great comfort in being able to do those things and not feel guilty about them either, because I know that Kirk won't ever hound me about choosing a nap over folding a load of towels.  He just won't. 

Again...not because he's superman.  But because he respects me.

So this morning as I smiled to myself and counted out the rhythm of his razor taps, and then watched him open and close the empty drawer without a word....I decided that I want to be different.

I want his shelves and dresser drawers to be full.
I want his tea pitcher to be full every day.
I want there to be clean towels in the cabinet waiting on him.
I want there to be at least a clear path from the front door to his recliner.
I want there to be good food waiting for him when he gets home from work.

Because he deserves it.
Because I love him.
Because he loves us.

So blessed.


Guestie Bestie

I'm a terrible hostess.  Like always forget to offer lemonade and don't clean the toilet for company terrible.  I also don't close the door to my laundry room or vacuum up the squashed Cheetos that live in my carpet.  I just don't.

But, I'm a great guest.  I never look for spider webs in corners, and I don't mind heaps of dishes in sinks.  I don't critique fabric choices or paint colors.  I don't care if you answer your door in your jammies, and I won't tell your mama that you didn't make your bed. 

So the fact that I have so many great friends that are amazing hostesses works out wonderfully for me.  I don't have to do any of the grueling dirty work, and they can relax when I'm around.

My bloggie bestie, Tiffani, over at Bears and Belles, is one of those gracious hostesses.  And she was so super kind to ask me over to her place to not only hang out and slurp some virtual lemonade, but to guest post.

Head on over HERE to check it out.

Thanks, Tiff, for having me over.  As always, it was super fun!! 


Redneck Inoculation Week

So we dove into the world of all things Redneck this week.

You think I'm kidding.

I'm not.

First up:
Toby Keith and Trace Adkins in concert in Southaven, Mississippi. All courtesy of our good buddy Wes's incredible gift of chatter.

I was so ding dang excited about the whole thing, I even bought a hat.

Kirk, Lisa, and I headed off to Southaven Wednesday to meet Wes after dumping and running dropping our children off with a very tearful goodbye. We bribed some of our great friends to keep our kiddos, and shockingly enough, they obliged us so that we could run around and act like hooligans for a night.

We didn't waste anytime. We checked into our hotel and then skedaddled straight to the concert. For we had a Meet & Greet to get to. Only we came to find out that our idea of Meet & Greet is different than multi-million dollar recording artists' idea of a Meet & Greet. I was envisioning schmoozing it up next to Trace and Toby and chatting about our kids, our favorite restaurants, and then they would do things like sign my hat, sign autographs to all 938, 857, 839 people on my friends and family list, and then we would take multiple pictures together while we giggled quietly with eachother.

Um. No. Their idea of a Meet & Greet is herding you through a line like cattle. No joke. We were with Mr. Trace Adkins for exactly 43.7 seconds....long enough for him to ask me how I was and for us to take this picture together.

Um...yes. He really is that freakin' tall. And he is a very pretty man...that's all I'm going to say about that.

After his security dug out their cattle prods and herded us back out the gate, we found our seats! And were they good seats.

See where we're standing? Yep...we were that close. Any closer and I could have reached out and grabbed that long ole' hair of Trace's.

And then the music started. And Lisa, Wes, Kirk, and I danced. And we sang. And we danced some more. And we posed for pictures while we were dancing and singing and dancing some more.

And there the hotties are right there. That's Toby Keith on the left and Trace on the right. Each of their concerts were totally awesome, and then they closed the show together. Amazing. And patriotic. And I might have cried.

And this is Lisa and I after the show...giddy and squealy and totally ready to become groupies. Oh...those streamers? Those are Toby streamers! And I dressed myself in them. And swore that I would keep them forever. But then left them in my hotel room. Oops.

The concert was amazing. It was super fun, but what was even better than the music and being all kinds of star-struck was hanging out with 2 of the best friends that Kirk and I have ever had. So, once again, here's a big THANK YOU to Wes and Lisa for inviting us along! It was a blast!!!

Second Up on the Redneck agenda:

The County Fair. Nothing gets more rednecky than our county fair. And we did it up in high style.

We headed out Friday morning for the Petting Zoo portion of the fair. We went with some friends from our Homeschool group, and we had a good time joking about all the opportunities we were going to have to go home with a good ole' souvenir of swine flu.

We geared up in our boots so that we could have full reign of the fair....animal poop, mud puddles, and water galore included.

I have no idea what the boys are thinking in this picture, but I'm pretty sure Keaton is saying, "Mom....why did you let my baby brother wear turquoise boots out in public?"

To which I replied, "Well, darling, they go with his girl pants. And I don't really care if your brother looks like a girl if it saves me a temper tantrum."

So, we went on into the livestock barn, turquoise boots and all, and did lots of this:

And we saw a cow whose tail had been rolled on sponge rollers then night before. Only in Arkansas.

And then we looked at giant vegetables and fruit.

And then we milked a fake cow.

And then we looked at funny poultry. This rooster was my favorite. Isn't his hair groovy?

In fact, the only thing groovier may have been his woman's hair....check it out. It reminds me of little old lady hair. Cracked.Me.Up.

After an afternoon of poultry looking, we headed to the County Fair Rodeo. It only has about 4 entries in each event, but it was super fun. And the kids had a blast. They even got to chase the rodeo clowns around the arena in the mud, and Keaton rode a sheep. It's what we do here in the South. Good clean fun.Next Up on the Redneck Agenda:

The Demolition Derby at the County Fair. Oh...not our county's fair. We aren't high-classed enough to have a Crash 'Em Up Derby....nope. You have to travel over to the next county over to get in on that action.

We headed out with our besties, Wes and Lisa and their girls, and Danny and Jennifer and their son Hesley (who incidentally won a huge ole' belt buckle the night before for riding a sheep the longest! Go Hesley!!).

We held our ears and grimaced as we watched grown men in ripped up tee-shirts crash into eachother in nasty ole' beater cars. Talk about a great time.

It really was a great night. Keaton came home with his pockets stuffed full of car parts that had been blown off the cars and we were all covered in dirt and grime....a running trend for the weekend.

But probably the highlight of Redneck Inoculation Week is that only in the South can you see this. And upon seeing such a fascinating piece of fashion expertise you feel like a true American.
God Bless the Redneck U.S.A.



Because my Jesus is Beautiful.


Six Degrees of Separation.....Cawntry Style

See these two chicks?

That's Lisa and I.

I'm married to this guy. Groovy glasses and all.

And my husband's BFF and Lisa's husband is this guy. Hat and all.

Lisa's husband, Wes, has an incredible gift of being able to talk to anyone.anywhere.anytime.anyhow. And he just so happened to strike up a conversation while playing golf the other day with this guy.

That's Trace Adkins's brother. As in Trace Adkins country music superstar. And Chatty Wes was able to score tickets to his concert along with all-access/backstage passes from the brother. And Chatty Wes remembered the little people and invited the husband in the glasses and me to join 'em. Suhweet.

So now I get to meet this guy tonight. That's Trace. *squeal*

And Mr. Adkins just happens to be hanging out with this guy in concert tonight. Uh...yah...that's Toby Keith. All-American, patriotic, step-on-people's-toes Toby Keith. And I get to meet him, too. *double squeal*

And now I'm just plain giddy.

I'm still thinking I need me some boots. Because if you are going to schmooze in pictures with Toby and Trace....you should be wearing boots.

It just seems like the American thing to do.

Wes and Lisa, Thank y'all so much for the opportunity to go with y'all! We are so excited and cannot wait. We are going to have a blast, for sure!!!!!! Here's to making more memories!! --Amber


The Quest For a Self-Portrait With a Camera Phone....Apparently Harder Than It Seems

Finally. Success.
I love that kid.

So Far....All Limbs Intact

We have a new pet.

And I'm questioning my sanity as to why we did it. Because we aren't good pet people.

Every pet we've ever had has met a fate that is less than desirable. They've all died. Or lost limbs. Or have brain damage. We are known as the people that will take care of the pets that you don't care that much about. In fact, come to think of it, we have never ever been asked to pet sit. Oh...well, there was that one time that we fed our friends' dogs while they were gone on vacation, but the German Shepherd almost ate Kirk. Apparently our reputation preceded us. (You can read all about the hysterically funny horrifyingly awful experience of the husband's here...at Lisa's place. Snort.Giggle.)

But the children had been begging for a new pet, and because I'm such an amazing parent, I obliged.

And for about a week we've had our new family member.

She's great. Really.

She doesn't keep me up at night. I don't have to take her out for potty breaks. I don't have to walk her. Or feed her. She's great.

The perfect pet.

And we named her Charlotte. Isn't that a great name?

And it fits her.


Here she is.....our new angel.

She's a bit shy. Let's zoom in.

There's the little darling.

Isn't she beautiful?

Not the most conventional pet, I know, but I'm allowing Charlotte to hang out over our front door because I'm trying to turn over a new leaf. I'm tired of being known as "Those Pet People." So, my mission now is to be a friend and lover to all things crittery.

Totally kidding.

I'm really just waiting to see if she'll write in her web. Because I think she's a very smart spider.

And, well, in a weird way.....I kinda like her.

Just call me Wilbur.




I'm a GLEE-fully Giddy Girl

Have you seen this show?

With these people?

If not, you are missing out of something pretty fantastic.

If so, then you know of the divinity in which I speak.

Amazing. Simply majestically amazing.

GLEE is this fantastic mix of High School Musical meets Grease meets Porky's.


And it just makes me happy.

It hasn't been since my beloved Friends at Central Perk, that a show has made me this ding dang giddy.

And now I get to watch it. Every.Single.Wednesday. And to tide me over on all the other 6 days, I can watch full episodes online.

Not sure it gets better than this.


It's a Stinkin' Tragedy

A tragic thing happened.

Tragedy, indeed.

See this precious angel baby of a face?

My first born son. The little person that made me a mother.

And now he's growing up.

Know how I know?

It has nothing to do with his ski size feet. Or his giraffe legs. Or that he alone is responsible for depleting our fish stick stash of 200 in less 5 days.


It is because HE STANK.

Like more than wet puppy dog stank. Like full-blown nasty man stank. Like the gym shoes were left in the wet basement and then sucked on by a dog nasty man stank.

And now my angel baby is wearing this.

And know what else?

He hates it. He gives me dirty looks every morning when I march him to the bathroom and watch him put it on. Because if I don't watch...he won't swipe the ole' pit.

Just like a man....perfectly fine with the stank.

This cannot be happening to me.

(Dear Sister of Mine, Don't even think about bringing up my own puberty stories. Because I know some on you, and I'll tell. This is about me and my baby, so don't go there. Just don't. Thanks in advance for keeping your trap shut. Love ya, Amb)


Me...Like You've Never Seen Me Before

I love seeing pictures of people way back in the day.

I'm a people watcher by nature, so my eye immediately goes to hairstyles, jean washes, and shoewear. And then I giggle. And sometimes snort. And usually a beverage comes shooting out of my nose.

Because I love how we all thought we looked smokin' way back when.

But so did not.

It just makes me laugh.

Today I was being lazy and indulging myself by looking through old pictures instead of cleaning was scrubbing my house feverishly and this picture just popped out at me.

And it made me smile.

Because I hadn't thought about it in years.

And I thought it might be good for a giggle.


That's me. The clown on the right.

Well, "Twinkles", actually.

Yes. A real, true life clown. Me.

The spiffy clown next to me in the photo is my good good friend and clowning mentor, Terry (aka Spangles). She was the secretary of the association that my dad worked for, and our families became super close. A major ministry that Terry was involved in was clowning. It intrigued me, and she soon had me, my dad, and a host of others all decked out and clowning around with her.

It was great. Clowning is all about costumes and silly antics to put people and children at ease to open up the doors for sharing the Gospel. It is an amazing ministry, and I'm so honored to have been a part of it. This particular picture was taken on a mission trip to Wyoming that our association took. It was one of the few times that I clowned, but I loved every second of it.

So there you have it.

Betcha didn't know I was a real true life clown.

The husband tells me that I need to run away with the circus.

Then I remind him that he'd be left with the children. And he begs me to stay.