Saturday, August 30, 2008

Fantasy Football Begins

Thursday kicked off the '08-'09 season of our Fantasy Football league with our draft. Our league is comprised of me, my husband, my two brother-in-laws and six other friends.

I've always loved watching football, that is until the year the fantasy league was formed. That year my husband and brother-in-laws drove me crazy talking about "their guys" during the games (and all throughout the week, for that matter), while all I cared about was what was happening in relation to the Giants. It was so frustrating not knowing what they were talking about so when the following year rolled around I figured I better join them so I would know what they were talking about and they graciously took in a girl.

That year the Christmas Bells team was formed and won the whole thing. (Just had to make sure I threw that blog)

So now I'm hooked with the rest of them and its been six, seven, more? seasons.

In past years we've done the draft online but last year and this we got the whole league together in one room and did it the old-fashioned way. I was too stressed to take any pictures but here's one of me (and Shaun in the corner) that Avery took while I was letting her play with my camera so she would leave me alone (top-notch parenting!) I think my (little) camera suffered...see the white lines?

So, if you have any good fantasy football tips, pass them along and I hope you'll root for the Christmas Bells this season, along with your favorite NFL team!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Block Island 08

We just returned from a most incredible vacation to Block Island, RI. My sister's in-laws own a boat and have so generously included us on the trip for six years. This was our home-away-from-home for five days:

The weather was perfect and our time was very relaxing (no kids) and full. I ran, we biked around the island, went to the beach, read, talked, ate ice-cream, browsed at the shops downtown, watched movies, played cards.

We had beautiful sunsets and incredible views. We ate very well and enjoyed each other's company. I spent some time with my camera, taking in the scenery and trying to capture some of the breath-taking beauty of the island.

A special "thank-you" to Karen and Colombo for bringing us along. This trip has become one of the highlights of our year and you are so generous to include us.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Weekend in Boston

I just got in very late last night from an all-expense paid work trip to Boston (thanks, Boss!). Shaun and I went up Sunday morning and made it to the tailgating party hosted by one of the vendors we use for work. After eating great food, we walked the short block to Fenway park and watched the Red Sox get humiliated 15-4.

It was a gorgeous day, just a tad sunny out in centerfield. (Can I just say I am getting old?! Ten years ago I would have relished the opportunity to sit out in the sun for hours. Now I try to hit the shade more because I've come to realize this is the only skin I'm getting. Yes...old.) After, we met up with Amy and Colombo at our very nice hotel and had dinner.

And isn't this cool?? During the game, five barely visible jets were spelling out an advertisement in the sky.

The next morning Colombo (my boss) and I went to the Conference and Expo. Over the two days, we sat through training on new and existing products and strategies for building and running the business. We also had the opportunity to sit in on meetings with vendor executives and give feedback for what's working and what can be improved.

We talked with other agents and learned how they are doing business and answered questions about what we are doing. I connected with people who I speak and email with throughout the year and its always nice to put a face to a name. I have found the practice of shaking hands does wonders for dealing effectively with each other during the rest of the year.

These events make me wish I was back to my childless days when it was perfectly acceptable for me to pour all my efforts and time into excelling at my job and being better than the next guy. I did my work with excellence and pride and enjoyed the respect I had from my peers and co-workers.

But then I call home Tuesday evening after not having spoken to my girls since Saturday night when we dropped them off and I am nearly in tears just hearing their little voices excitedly saying "Hi Momma!" Then I wish I was "just a mommy" and didn't have to work at all.

Somewhere there is balance and I try everyday to find it. I ask God to form me into the Proverbs 31 woman I long to who is glorifying God in everything I do.

Anyway...back to the conference...

On Monday evening, after Shaun and Amy had spent the day golfing and sitting by the pool respectively, they joined us for a vendor-sponsored cruise with dinner on the harbour. The weather and view was magnificent, complete with a nearly full, orange moon. I would have spent the time taken pictures, but...well, Shaun forgot to bring my camera. We had some group time but Shaun and I also were able to get in some time together. Very romantic on the water, under the Boston city lights with a light breeze blowing...

Tuesday evening we were treated to a Duck Boat tour around the city. Have you seen these before? They travel by land and sea and are used when (not if) the Boston teams do their victory parades. Well, ours was purple and our driver was very colorful and fun. Undoubtedly, we had the most spirited bus. We toured Boston drawing smiles from unsuspecting onlookers as we went and when we were dropped off at our restaurant destination the entire bus was hurting from laughing. Or were we hurting from being flown through the air when going over bumps?

See THE Citgo sign?

It was a busy, fun couple days. Glad to have gone, glad to be back with my babies.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Summer in Pictures

Well, I've been bummed about it for two days now, but my entry for the Summer Fun Photo Contest was entered too late. I just misunderstood the cutoff time. It did, however, get me thinking about my "summer fun" photos.

Its the best season, in my opinion and so many great pictures came to mind. So, as a consolation to myself I thought I'd share some of my "summer fun" archives with you to show you in picture form why I love summer! And yes, I did narrow them down, I just take lots of pictures! So, here they are, in no particular order:

The Excellent Wife, Chapter 21

The Wife's Sorrow...Overcoming a Grieving Heart

Husbands (and wives) are capable of very hurtful sin, causing much grief to the spouse's heart. This chapter pointed out that there are really two different kids of sorrow, godly sorrow and sinful sorrow.

Sinful sorrow fills your heart with sorrow and causes you to be overcome by this emotion. It causes you to be overwhelmed and unable to function.

"Godly sorrow is manageable. It does not overwhelm you. It co-exists within your heart along with the peace of God, the joy of God, and love for God and others."

"The key to overcoming excessive and sinfully overwhelming sorrow is to repent of any specific sinful motives, thoughts or actions and to concentrate on showing love to God and others. In the process, the person's capacity to love grows and their sorrow shrinks back down to a level that is manageable."

"If you are in an especially difficult situation, you must seek your comfort and hope from God. He is to be your refuge and your strength. Let Him talk to you through His word."

The author also points out that developing a grateful heart and attitude will help you feel hope and will keep your sorrow at a manageable level.

Like most of the chapters we've gone through, the steps for overcoming sorrow go against our natural feelings. This is an area that we must deliberately deal with and trust that God is going to see us through.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden , and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light. Matthew 11: 28-30

There is comfort and and refuge in our mighty God.
Well, we've reached the end of The Excellent Wife book. I have really enjoyed being a part of an online study provides accountability and insight while being flexible. I want to thank Leslie for the tremendous job she did putting this together and for all those who stuck it out these 21 weeks. I've learned so much from reading this book the participating blog posts.

So, who is the excellent wife?

"She loves God with all her heart. She takes the Word of God seriously. She is not ignorant of her biblical responsibilities. She loves, respects, and submits to her husband as God desires. She is growing and learning personally, and she is teaching other women. She loves the role God has given her. She the glory of her husband. She truly glorifies God."

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Summer Fun Photo Contest

My sister told me about the Summer Fun Photo Contest being held at 5 Minutes For Mom.

The Excellent Wife, Chapter 20

The Wife's Loneliness...Overcoming a Lack of Oneness

The first thing I thought of when reading this chapter was one of the 'likes and dislikes' I listed in my high school yearbook. Likes: being alone, Dislikes: being lonely. Still rings true to me today, many years later. I cherish and crave alone time. In fact, to a fault, I think, I seek it out.

But being lonely? Oh, what an awful feeling, especially when I am with another person or a crowd. If I am with another, especially my husband, I expect to talk and connect and relate. When this doesn't happen, for whatever reason, feelings of loneliness can creep in.

That is when it is good for me to keep in perspective my place in this world and in God's kingdom. What am I ultimately looking for when I feel lonely?

"Nothing that you could possibly desire would be better than a closeness to God...Not even a husband who openly and freely shares himself with you. When you experience loneliness, let your emotions be a signal that you need God. Draw close to God in grateful submission to Him."

When I can turn my thoughts towards God and what He would desire instead of worrying about me and my needs, then the self-pity that often accompanies loneliness does not have a place. My selfish heart always wants to ensure my own comfort, but I am here to serve God, not God serving me.

"Work hard at knowing Christ in a more intimate way and at putting on gratitude and contentment. Thank God often for your circumstances and what God wants to teach you and how God wants to use you for His glory."

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Wedding Bells!

(Just a warning, this post contains lots of pictures!) Shaun's sister Sarah got married this past weekend, 08-08-08. We had a fantabulous, full day! All the girls left my house at 7:00am and were done decorating the church by 9:00. From there we went to the salon for manicures/pedicures and then we went to the Inn where the reception was to be held.

Lunch was brought to our suite and the hair stylist and make-up person came to the room. We hung out in our robes for a good part of the day being girly. Sarah was relaxed and seemed to enjoy every moment.
My sister Bethany was the hair magician...everyone was incredibly impressed. She even unexpectedly "whipped up" Avery's hair at the last minute.
Avery really likes the Shirley Temple movies, so she was quite pleased with her head of curls.

And this was the back of my hair, pre diamond hair clips.
Our ride over to the church in the limo, this picture was taken just before the hail started. Yes...hail. And lots of water!I think this picture captures the essence of the evening. Sarah was so relaxed and happy. I've never seen her happier and it was such joy to my heart to sit back and watch her in the moment. I breathed a prayer that these memories would be burned into her mind to carry her through the inevitable times to come when things are not so happy.
An attempt at our family portrait. Amanda was not interested in what we were trying to do.

This picture made me tear up the first time I saw it. The sweet innocence of a little three-year old who adores her daddy and this man who carries her in his strong arms, eyes full of love for his precious daughter. Sweetness. And SO handsome!

My man. Even did the goatee especially for me.

Amanda really struggles when Avery is participating in something that she is too little for. You see, Amanda doesn't think she's too little for anything. She doesn't do sitting-on-the-sidelines too well so she grabbed her opportunity when she saw Auntie's train unattended.

Jared got a family this day, something he's been wanting for a long time. They carved out a portion of the actual ceremony for him with Tony repeating vows to Jared...very touching.

Tony and Sarah out for the first dance...everything is right with their world.

We had such a fun day. Avery did a fantastic job being flower girl...Shaun's coaching and coaxing paid off. All the family was together and that's always a good thing, plus we gained a new member who we love and who has fit in from the start. Tony's a great guy and treats Sarah well.
I was honored to stand with Sarah and witness their union. I pray blessings on their new life together.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Too cute!

While I was cooking dinner the other night, I heard excessive giggling. When I peeked around the corner, this is what I saw:
This is one way Amanda stays busy in her room after she's woken up from her nap (her ankle matches).
I do believe this is what pure joy looks likes. Avery loves life!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Faithfulness By Night

It is a good and delightful thing to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to Your name, O Most High, To show forth Your loving-kindness in the morning and Your faithfulness by night. Psalm 92:1,2(beautiful scenes can be found out on the golf course :)