Wednesday, January 30, 2008

My Car

I finally paid my car off, and as often happens, immediately had a major repair. This time it was the ball joints. When I went to pick up my car, my mechanic Frank recommended that I get four new tires . . . another big expense! But I prayed about it, and the Lord helped me find four Goodyear Wranglers for $65.00 each.

I have also been driving around for a few years with faded (supposedly black) panels on my doors and hatchback. The panels in the back were almost faded white. I started wondering if I could just spray paint the faded areas. I showed it to my friend Jerry who used to work in a paint & body shop, and he said we could do it.

So, we bought some sandpaper and a can of semi-flat black spray paint from Advance Auto Parts, and Jerry came over last weekend to help me out. The wind was blowing pretty hard at times, but we taped off everything, and then Jerry started spraying. I couldn't believe the difference it made in an instant. When we took off the tape and newspaper, the transformation was amazing.

Jerry and the project

Later, when I went by Advance Auto Parts again for help with my rear windshield wiper, I showed the salesman, and he commented that the job looked professional. Thanks, Jerry!

As good as new . . . .

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus

Nathan and I went to the opening night of the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa. (Is that a contradiction or what?) Wednesday night, January 2, was one of the coldest nights of the year, and we had to stand outside freezing for about thirty minutes before they let us inside.

Bubby freezing while we waited outside.

Nathan started doing his "duck the camera" tricks until I put a guilt trip on him about how much money Uncle Howie had spent on the circus and how he was going to Jamaica the next day and Uncle Howie was going to miss him and needed pictures. All true, mind you!

We got to see the elephants, tigers, horses, and goats outside before they let us in.

We made it to the pre-show floor and got a picture with a couple of the circus stars. As soon as the spectators started flooding in, I got claustrophobic, so we headed for the overpriced food vendors. We started out with a pizza, and then got some Outback chicken strips and fries.

Yes, I know it's cheesy, and I don't care! I love it!

That boy LOVES cotton candy!

So serious. It's supposed to be a happy place, Bubby!

The circus production was outstanding, totally entertaining, and completely worth the $15 tickets. We had great seats.

The grand finale

It was a great evening spent with my nephew and the perfect ending to the holidays we were blessed to share with Todd, Carla, and Nathan this year. I was not looking forward to saying goodbye the next morning . . . .

NOTE: If you ever attend an event at the St. Pete Times Forum, don't buy your parking tickets in advance at Ticketmaster. I paid $8 in advance plus all the miscellaneous charges they tack on, hoping to be assured of a parking place. When we turned in the parking garage the night of the circus, the sign said $6. Rip-off!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

New Year's Eve at Kendra's House

Kelsey, Emily & Nathan

My cousin Kendra and her sweet girls, Kelsey and Emily, invited our family over for New Year's Eve. She prepared a wonderful meal of roast beef and vegetables, mashed potatoes, salad, rolls, and apple dumplings a la mode. After we stuffed ourselves we watched the kids play Nintendo Wii. Nathan, my favorite video gamehead, played hard, but I think Emily was the best-all-around player of all the games including bowling and boxing. I think she may have even beat Todd at golf!

Nathan boxing.

Later in the evening we went outside so the kids could light sparklers. I think it was Nathan's first time. By midnight, I believe we were all home in bed. Thanks for a wonderful evening, DeeDah!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

After Christmas Party at Jeff & Tonya's

For more years than I can remember, a small group of friends who sang together in the group Alafia and the East Hillsborough Community Mass Choir have been getting together each Christmas for a small dinner party and an after-dinner sing-a-long. This year it didn't work out for us to get together before Christmas, so we got together the Friday after Christmas at Jeff & Tonya's house.

The food was amazing as always. We had grilled steaks, April's artichoke dip, Lisa's potato salad, Tonya's oatmeal cookies, Carla's eggplant casserole, and more delicacies than I can remember. But the highlight of the meal was Jeff's unending supply of lobster tails. Needless to say, we stuffed ourselves that night.

Todd, T.R., and Jeff

Tonya and Tootie, Mandy's new puppy

The Girls: Tonya, Carla, April & Lisa

John joins the girls in the kitchen.

Our singing this year was less than spectacular. For one, we missed Shellie and her strong soprano, and of course we were way out of practice on most of our songs from the past. Under extreme pressure from the girls, I sang "Light of a Million Mornings." But the highlight of the evening was Tonya singing our perennial favorite "Breath of Heaven." I love Amy Grant's version of the song, but I believe the song was written for Tonya. It fits her voice so perfectly and we are always moved emotionally each time we hear it, even when Tonya turns her back on us!

Tonya sings with her back to us.

Here's a clip of Tonya's rendition of "Breath of Heaven." Tonya don't kill me!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Christmas Morning 2007

To me, the best part of Christmas is Jesus.

The second best part of Christmas is Nathan. He has been my best gift for six years now, and watching him open his presents and give his personally selected gifts to us was almost more than I could contain. Last year we were amazed at how he hand-picked our gifts from Santa's Workshop at school. I had no idea a 5-year old could select such individually appropriate gifts. He gave me a tiger figurine for my desk at school, the home of the Tomlin Tigers. This year DeeDee took him to the dollar store and let him pick out his gifts for us. My gift was a hugging teddy bear. I keep it at school attached to one of Nathan's pictures for the times I need a hug from Bubby.

I think this was the best Christmas morning so far. Carla made a breakfast casserole, the coffee was perking, and then Nathan started handing out gifts and opening presents of his own. He was so excited and so grateful for his presents. We got hugs and kisses for every gift he opened. I hope we are not spoiling him, but he's the only one we have to spend our money on right now. Hint! Hint!

You know you are truly blessed when your family asks for your Christmas list and you can't think of one thing you need. Okay, at least any affordable thing you need. If I wrote a Christmas list it would go like this:

1. a new roof
2. my house tented and fumigated
3. new ball joints on my car
4. new carpet
5. new blinds

and most of all . . .

6. an iPhone!

No one in my family wanted to spend that big, so I settled for some DVDs and a nice cash gift from Mama and Daddy that has already been put in iPhone savings.

Here are a few snapshots from our wonderful Christmas morning . . . .

Carla & Todd

Nathan gives his daddy golf balls.

"It rhymes with Winnie the Pooh."

It IS Winnie the Pooh!

Nathan gives Uncle Howie a huggable teddy bear and a hug.

DeeDee gets a digital camera.

Mommy opens her scented candle.

A bit of drama induced by a Nintendo DS Mario Kart game from Uncle Howie.

Pokémon chapter books

Pokémon drawing books

After we finished opening presents, Nathan volunteered (can you believe it?) to do the sign language performance he gave at his school program in Jamaica. The song was "Living Word" by Fred Hammond. This anointed song, plus Nathan's sign language brought us to tears. We are such cry-babies!

Bread of Life, sent down from Glory,
Many things You were on Earth,
A Holy King, a carpenter,
You are the Living Word

Bread of Heaven, sent down from Glory
Many things You were on Earth,
A Holy King, a carpenter,
You are the Living Word

Awesome Ruler, Gentle Redeemer,
God With Us, the Living Truth,
And what a Friend we have in You,
You are the Living Word

Jesus, Jesus, that's what we call You,
Manger born, but on a tree,
You died to save humanity
You are the Living Word

And now a first for Nathan's Uncle. Not a YouTube link, but my own uploaded video. I give you my nephew, Nathan . . . .

Monday, January 7, 2008

Christmas Eve at April & John's House

Yes, I know I haven't posted in over a month. Things happen, but I'm back now. Forgive me!

We spent Christmas Eve at April & John's house. John fried turkeys, baked hams, and barbecued ribs. The ladies provided the sides and desserts. Love those mustard greens and pecan pie!

Gayle, Mark, Todd, Daddy, Carla, and part of April

Uncle Layne, Aunt Sharon, and Mama

April's daughter, Layna

Carla & Nathan

After Christmas Eve dinner, we gathered in the living room and sang carols. Thanks John & April for bringing us all together at your house.

You can read more about the evening on Carla's blog here.